BY ALBERT BIGELOW PAINE
Clara Clemens Gabrilowitsch who steadily upheld the
author’s purpose to write history rather than eulogy as
the story of her father’s life
Dear William Dean Howells, Joseph Hopkins Twichell, Joseph T. Goodman, and other old friends of Mark Twain:
I cannot let these volumes go to press without some grateful word to you who have helped me during the six years and more that have gone to their making.
First, I want to confess how I have envied you your association with Mark Twain in those days when you and he “went gipsying, a long time ago.” Next, I want to express my wonder at your willingness to give me so unstintedly from your precious letters and memories, when it is in the nature of man to hoard such treasures, for himself and for those who follow him. And, lastly, I want to tell you that I do not envy you so much, any more, for in these chapters, one after another, through your grace, I have gone gipsying with you all. Neither do I wonder now, for I have come to know that out of your love for him grew that greater unselfishness (or divine selfishness, as he himself might have termed it), and that nothing short of the fullest you could do for his memory would have contented your hearts.
My gratitude is measureless; and it is world-wide, for there is no land so distant that it does not contain some one who has eagerly contributed to the story. Only, I seem so poorly able to put my thanks into words.
Albert Bigelow Paine.
Certain happenings as recorded in this work will be found to differ materially from the same incidents and episodes as set down in the writings of Mr. Clemens himself. Mark Twain’s spirit was built of the very fabric of truth, so far as moral intent was concerned, but in his earlier autobiographical writings—and most of his earlier writings were autobiographical—he made no real pretense to accuracy of time, place, or circumstance—seeking, as he said, “only to tell a good story”—while in later years an ever-vivid imagination and a capricious memory made history difficult, even when, as in his so-called “Autobiography,” his effort was in the direction of fact.
“When I was younger I could remember anything, whether it happened or not,” he once said, quaintly, “but I am getting old, and soon I shall remember only the latter.”
The reader may be assured, where discrepancies occur, that the writer of this memoir has obtained his data from direct and positive sources: letters, diaries, account-books, or other immediate memoranda; also from the concurring testimony of eye-witnesses, supported by a unity of circumstance and conditions, and not from hearsay or vagrant printed items.