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.
his prestige on the Pacific coast.  They were convincing, informing; tersely—­even eloquently—­descriptive, with a vein of humor adapted to their audience.  Yet to read them now, in the fine nonpareil type in which they were set, is such a wearying task that one can only marvel at their popularity.  They were not brilliant literature, by our standards to-day.  Their humor is usually of a muscular kind, varied with grotesque exaggerations; the literary quality is pretty attenuated.  Here and there are attempts at verse.  He had a fashion in those days of combining two or more poems with distracting, sometimes amusing, effect.  Examples of these dislocations occur in the Union letters; a single stanza will present the general idea: 

    The Assyrian came down like a wolf on the fold,

    The turf with their bayonets turning,
    And his cohorts were gleaming with purple and gold,
    And our lanterns dimly burning.

Only a trifling portion of the letters found their way into his Sandwich Island chapters of ‘Roughing It’, five years later.  They do, however, reveal a sort of transition stage between the riotous florescence of the Comstock and the mellowness of his later style.  He was learning to see things with better eyes, from a better point of view.  It is not difficult to believe that this literary change of heart was in no small measure due to the influence of Anson Burlingame.


By Albert Bigelow Paine

VOLUME I, Part 2:  1866-1875



It was not easy to take up the daily struggle again, but it was necessary.—­[Clemens once declared he had been so blue at this period that one morning he put a loaded pistol to his head, but found he lacked courage to pull the trigger.]—­Out of the ruck of possibilities (his brain always thronged with plans) he constructed three or four resolves.  The chief of these was the trip around the world; but that lay months ahead, and in the mean time ways and means must be provided.  Another intention was to finish the Hornet article, and forward it to Harper’s Magazine—­a purpose carried immediately into effect.  To his delight the article found acceptance, and he looked forward to the day of its publication as the beginning of a real career.  He intended to follow it up with a series on the islands, which in due time might result in a book and an income.  He had gone so far as to experiment with a dedication for the book—­an inscription to his mother, modified later for use in ’The Innocents Abroad’.  A third plan of action was to take advantage of the popularity of the Hawaiian letters, and deliver a lecture on the same subject.  But this was a fearsome prospect—­he trembled when he thought of it.  As Governor of the Third House he had been

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