Mark Twain, a Biography — Volume II, Part 1: 1886-1900 eBook

Albert Bigelow Paine
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 251 pages of information about Mark Twain, a Biography Volume II, Part 1.

In a written word of good-by to Howells, Clemens remembered a debt of gratitude, and paid it in the full measure that was his habit.

And that reminds me, ungrateful dog that I am, that I owe as much to your training as the rude country job-printer owes to the city boss who takes him in hand and teaches him the right way to handle his art.  I was talking to Mrs. Clemens about this the other day, and grieving because I never mentioned it to you, thereby seeming to ignore it or to be unaware of it.  Nothing that has passed under your eye needs any revision before going into a volume, while all my other stuff does need so much.

In that ancient day, before the wireless telegraph, the voyager, when the land fell away behind him, felt a mighty sense of relief and rest, which to some extent has gone now forever.  He cannot entirely escape the world in this new day; but then he had a complete sense of dismissal from all encumbering cares of life.  Among the first note-book entries Mark Twain wrote: 

To go abroad has something of the same sense that death brings—­“I am no longer of ye; what ye say of me is now of no consequence—­but of how much consequence when I am with ye and of ye.  I know you will refrain from saying harsh things because they cannot hurt me, since I am out of reach and cannot hear them.  This is why we say no harsh things of the dead.”

It was a rough voyage outside, but the company made it pleasant within.  Halstead and Taylor were good smoking-room companions.  Taylor had a large capacity for languages and a memory that was always a marvel.  He would repeat for them Arabian, Hungarian, and Russian poetry, and show them the music and construction of it.  He sang German folk-lore songs for them, and the “Lorelei,” then comparatively unknown in America.  Such was his knowledge of the language that even educated Germans on board submitted questions of construction to him and accepted his decisions.  He was wisely chosen for the mission he had to fill, but unfortunately he did not fill it long.  Both Halstead and Taylor were said to have heart trouble.  Halstead, however, survived many years.  Taylor died December 19, 1878.

CXVII

GERMANY AND GERMAN

From the note-book: 

It is a marvel that never loses its surprise by repetition, this aiming a ship at a mark three thousand miles away and hitting the bull’s-eye in a fog—­as we did.  When the fog fell on us the captain said we ought to be at such and such a spot (it had been eighteen hours since an observation was had), with the Scilly islands bearing so and so, and about so many miles away.  Hove the lead and got forty-eight fathoms; looked on the chart, and sure enough this depth of water showed that we were right where the captain said we were.
Another idea.  For ages man probably did not know why God carpeted the ocean bottom
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Mark Twain, a Biography — Volume II, Part 1: 1886-1900 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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