Mark Twain, a Biography — Volume I, Part 1: 1835-1866 eBook

Albert Bigelow Paine
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 325 pages of information about Mark Twain, a Biography — Volume I, Part 1.

Goodman remembers that Clemens and Gillis were together again on California Street at this time, and of hearing them sing, “The Doleful Ballad of the Rejected Lover,” another of Mark Twain’s compositions.  It was a wild, blasphemous outburst, and the furious fervor with which Mark and Steve delivered it, standing side by side and waving their fists, did not render it less objectionable.  Such memories as these are set down here, for they exhibit a phase of that robust personality, built of the same primeval material from which the world was created—­built of every variety of material, in fact, ever incorporated in a human being—­equally capable of writing unprintable coarseness and that rarest and most tender of all characterizations, the ‘Recollections of Joan of arc’.



Along with his Enterprise work, Clemens continued to write occasionally for the Californian, but for some reason he did not offer the story of the jumping frog.  For one thing, he did not regard it highly as literary material.  He knew that he had enjoyed it himself, but the humor and fashion of its telling seemed to him of too simple and mild a variety in that day of boisterous incident and exaggerated form.  By and by Artemus Ward turned up in San Francisco, and one night Mark Twain told him his experiences with Jim Gillis, and in Angel’s Camp; also of Ben Coon and his tale of the Calaveras frog.  Ward was delighted.

“Write it,” he said.  “There is still time to get it into my volume of sketches.  Send it to Carleton, my publisher in New York.”—­[This is in accordance with Mr. Clemens’s recollection of the matter.  The author can find no positive evidence that Ward was on the Pacific coast again in 1865.  It seems likely, therefore, that the telling of the frog story and his approval of it were accomplished by exchange of letters.]—­Clemens promised to do this, but delayed fulfilment somewhat, and by the time the sketch reached Carleton, Ward’s book was about ready for the press.  It did not seem worth while to Carleton to make any change of plans that would include the frog story.  The publisher handed it over to Henry Clapp, editor of the Saturday Press, a perishing sheet, saying:  “Here, Clapp, here’s something you can use in your paper.”  Clapp took it thankfully enough, we may believe.

“Jim Smiley and His Jumping Frog”—­[This was the original title.] —­appeared in the Saturday Press of November 18, 1865, and was immediately copied and quoted far and near.  It brought the name of Mark Twain across the mountains, bore it up and down the Atlantic coast, and out over the prairies of the Middle West.  Away from the Pacific slope only a reader here and there had known the name before.  Now every one who took a newspaper was treated to the tale of the wonderful Calaveras frog, and received a mental impress of the author’s signature.  The name Mark Twain became hardly an institution, as yet, but it made a strong bid for national acceptance.

Project Gutenberg
Mark Twain, a Biography — Volume I, Part 1: 1835-1866 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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