FROM “THE JUMPING FROG” BOOK (MARK TWAIN’S FIRST PUBLISHED VOLUME)
(See Chapters lviii and lix)
“Mark Twain” is too well known to the
public to require a formal introduction at my hands.
By his story of the Frog he scaled the heights of
popularity at a single jump and won for himself the
‘sobriquet’ of The Wild Humorist of the
Pacific Slope. He is also known to fame as The
Moralist of the Main; and it is not unlikely that as
such he will go down to posterity. It is in his
secondary character, as humorist, however, rather
than in the primal one of moralist, that I aim to present
him in the present volume. And here a ready explanation
will be found for the somewhat fragmentary character
of many of these sketches; for it was necessary to
snatch threads of humor wherever they could be found—very
often detaching them from serious articles and moral
essays with which they were woven and entangled.
Originally written for newspaper publication, many
of the articles referred to events of the day, the
interest of which has now passed away, and contained
local allusions, which the general reader would fail
to understand; in such cases excision became imperative.
Further than this, remark or comment is unnecessary.
Mark Twain never resorts to tricks of spelling nor
rhetorical buffoonery for the purpose of provoking
a laugh; the vein of his humor runs too rich and deep
to make surface gliding necessary. But there are
few who can resist the quaint similes, keen satire,
and hard, good sense which form the staple of his
II from answers to correspondents
“Moral statistician”—I don’t want any of your statistics. I took your whole batch and lit my pipe with it. I hate your kind of people. You are always ciphering out how much a man’s health is injured, and how much his intellect is impaired, and how many pitiful dollars and cents he wastes in the course of ninety-two years’ indulgence in the fatal practice of smoking; and in the equally fatal practice of drinking coffee; and in playing billiards occasionally; and in taking a glass of wine at dinner, etc., etc., etc. . . .
Of course you can save money by denying yourself all these vicious little enjoyments for fifty years; but then what can you do with it? What use can you put it to? Money can’t save your infinitesimal soul. All the use that money can be put to is to purchase comfort and enjoyment in this life; therefore, as you are an enemy to comfort and enjoyment, where is the use in accumulating cash? It won’t do for you to say that you can use it to better purpose in furnishing good table, and in charities, and in supporting tract societies, because you know yourself that you people who have no petty vices are never known to give away a cent, and that you stint yourselves