“Sketches new and old”
The long-delayed book of Sketches, contracted for five years before, was issued that autumn. “The Jumping Frog,” which he had bought from Webb, was included in the volume, also the French translation which Madame Blanc (Th. Bentzon) had made for the Revue des deux mondes, with Mark Twain’s retranslation back into English, a most astonishing performance in its literal rendition of the French idiom. One example will suffice here. It is where the stranger says to Smiley, “I don’t see no p’ints about that frog that’s any better’n any other frog.”
Says the French, retranslated:
“Eh bien! I no saw not that that frog had nothing of better than each frog” (Je ne vois pas que cette grenouille ait mieux qu’aucune grenouille). (If that isn’t grammar gone to seed then I count myself no judge.—M. T.)
“Possible that you not it saw not,” said Smiley; “possible that you you comprehend frogs; possible that you not you there comprehend nothing; possible that you had of the experience, and possible that you not be but an amateur. Of all manner (de toute maniere) I bet forty dollars that she batter in jumping, no matter which frog of the county of Calaveras.”
He included a number of sketches originally published with the Frog, also a selection from the “Memoranda” and Buffalo Express contributions, and he put in the story of Auntie Cord, with some matter which had never hitherto appeared. True Williams illustrated the book, but either it furnished him no inspiration or he was allowed too much of another sort, for the pictures do not compare with his earlier work.
Among the new matter in the book were-"Some Fables for Good Old Boys and Girls,” in which certain wood creatures are supposed to make a scientific excursion into a place at some time occupied by men. It is the most pretentious feature of the book, and in its way about as good as any. Like Gulliver’s Travels, its object was satire, but its result is also interest.