Mark Twain, a Biography. Complete eBook

Albert Bigelow Paine
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 1,512 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.

MARK TWAIN, A BIOGRAPHY

By Albert Bigelow Paine

VOLUME I, Part 2:  1866-1875

LIV

THE LECTURER

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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