Mark Twain, a Biography. Complete eBook

Albert Bigelow Paine
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 1,890 pages of information about Mark Twain, a Biography. Complete.

Mark Twain resumed his daily letters to the Enterprise, without further annoyance from official sources.  Perhaps there was a temporary truce in that direction, though he continued to attack various abuses—­civic, private, and artistic—­becoming a sort of general censor, establishing for himself the title of the “Moralist of the Main.”  The letters were reprinted in San Francisco and widely read.  Now and then some one had the temerity to answer them, but most of his victims maintained a discreet silence.  In one of these letters he told of the Mexican oyster, a rather tough, unsatisfactory article of diet, which could not stand criticism, and presently disappeared from the market.  It was a mistake, however, for him to attack an Alta journalist by the name of Evans.  Evans was a poet, and once composed an elegy with a refrain which ended: 

       Gone, gone, gone
       —­Gone to his endeavor;
       Gone, gone, gone,
       Forever and forever.

In the Enterprise letter following its publication Mark Twain referred to this poem.  He parodied the refrain and added, “If there is any criticism to make on it I should say there is a little too much ‘gone’ and not enough ‘forever.’”

It was a more or less pointless witticism, but it had a humorous quotable flavor, and it made Evans mad.  In a squib in the Alta he retaliated: 

Mark Twain has killed the Mexican oyster.  We only regret that the act was not inspired by a worthier motive.  Mark Twain’s sole reason for attacking the Mexican oyster was because the restaurant that sold them refused him credit.

A deadly thrust like that could not be parried in print.  To deny or recriminate would be to appear ridiculous.  One could only sweat and breathe vengeance.

“Joe,” he said to Goodman, who had come over for a visit, “my one object in life now is to make enough money to stand trial and then go and murder Evans.”

He wrote verses himself sometimes, and lightened his Enterprise letters with jingles.  One of these concerned Tom Maguire, the autocrat manager of San Francisco theaters.  It details Maguire’s assault on one of his actors.

       Tom Maguire,
       Roused to ire,
       Lighted on McDougal;
       Tore his coat,
       Clutched his throat,
       And split him in the bugle.

       For shame! oh, fie! 
       Maguire, why
       Will you thus skyugle? 
       Why curse and swear,
       And rip and tear
       The innocent McDougal?

       Of bones bereft,
       Almost, you’ve left
       Vestvali, gentle Jew gal;
       And now you’ve smashed
       And almost hashed
       The form of poor McDougall

Project Gutenberg
Mark Twain, a Biography. Complete from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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