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.
Mr. Arnold would doubtless claim that that last phrase is not strictly grammatical, and yet it did certainly wake up this nation as a hundred million tons of A-number-one fourth-proof, hard-boiled, hide-bound grammar from another mouth could not have done.  And finally we have that gentler phrase, that one which shows you another true side of the man, shows you that in his soldier heart there was room for other than gory war mottoes and in his tongue the gift to fitly phrase them:  “Let us have peace.”



Being A portion of A paper onConsistency,” Read before the Monday evening club in 1887

(See Chapter clxiii)

. . .  I have referred to the fact that when a man retires from his political party he is a traitor—­that he is so pronounced in plain language.  That is bold; so bold as to deceive many into the fancy that it is true.  Desertion, treason—­these are the terms applied.  Their military form reveals the thought in the man’s mind who uses them:  to him a political party is an army.  Well, is it?  Are the two things identical?  Do they even resemble each other?  Necessarily a political party is not an army of conscripts, for they are in the ranks by compulsion.  Then it must be a regular army or an army of volunteers.  Is it a regular army?  No, for these enlist for a specified and well-understood term, and can retire without reproach when the term is up.  Is it an army of volunteers who have enlisted for the war, and may righteously be shot if they leave before the war is finished?  No, it is not even an army in that sense.  Those fine military terms are high-sounding, empty lies, and are no more rationally applicable to a political party than they would be to an oyster-bed.  The volunteer soldier comes to the recruiting office and strips himself and proves that he is so many feet high, and has sufficiently good teeth, and no fingers gone, and is sufficiently sound in body generally; he is accepted; but not until he has sworn a deep oath or made other solemn form of promise to march under, that flag until that war is done or his term of enlistment completed.  What is the process when a voter joins a party?  Must he prove that he is sound in any way, mind or body?  Must he prove that he knows anything—­is capable of anything—­whatever?  Does he take an oath or make a promise of any sort?—­or doesn’t he leave himself entirely free?  If he were informed by the political boss that if he join, it must be forever; that he must be that party’s chattel and wear its brass collar the rest of his days—­would not that insult him?  It goes without saying.  He would say some rude, unprintable thing, and turn his back on that preposterous organization.  But the political boss puts no conditions upon him at all; and this volunteer makes no promises, enlists

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