Mark Twain, a Biography — Volume III, Part 2: 1907-1910 eBook

Albert Bigelow Paine
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 349 pages of information about Mark Twain, a Biography — Volume III, Part 2.

Mark Twain, dressed in the white he loved so well, lay there with the nobility of death upon him, while a multitude of those who loved him passed by and looked at his face for the last time.  The flowers, of which so many had been sent, were banked around him; but on the casket itself lay a single laurel wreath which Dan Beard and his wife had woven from the laurel which grows on Stormfield hill.  He was never more beautiful than as he lay there, and it was an impressive scene to see those thousands file by, regard him for a moment gravely, thoughtfully, and pass on.  All sorts were there, rich and poor; some crossed themselves, some saluted, some paused a little to take a closer look; but no one offered even to pick a flower.  Howells came, and in his book he says: 

I looked a moment at the face I knew so well; and it was patient with the patience I had so often seen in it:  something of a puzzle, a great silent dignity, an assent to what must be from the depths of a nature whose tragical seriousness broke in the laughter which the unwise took for the whole of him.

That night we went with him to Elmira, and next day—­a somber day of rain—­he lay in those stately parlors that had seen his wedding-day, and where Susy had lain, and Mrs. Clemens, and Jean, while Dr. Eastman spoke the words of peace which separate us from our mortal dead.  Then in the quiet, steady rain of that Sunday afternoon we laid him beside those others, where he sleeps well, though some have wished that, like De Soto, he might have been laid to rest in the bed of that great river which must always be associated with his name.



There is such a finality about death; however interesting it may be as an experience, one cannot discuss it afterward with one’s friends.  I have thought it a great pity that Mark Twain could not discuss, with Howells say, or with Twichell, the sensations and the particulars of the change, supposing there be a recognizable change, in that transition of which we have speculated so much, with such slender returns.  No one ever debated the undiscovered country more than he.  In his whimsical, semi-serious fashion he had considered all the possibilities of the future state —­orthodox and otherwise—­and had drawn picturesquely original conclusions.  He had sent Captain Stormfield in a dream to report the aspects of the early Christian heaven.  He had examined the scientific aspects of the more subtle philosophies.  He had considered spiritualism, transmigration, the various esoteric doctrines, and in the end he had logically made up his mind that death concludes all, while with that less logical hunger which survives in every human heart he had never ceased to expect an existence beyond the grave.  His disbelief and his pessimism were identical in their structure.  They were of his mind; never of his heart.

Project Gutenberg
Mark Twain, a Biography — Volume III, Part 2: 1907-1910 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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