To those who have followed the career of Mark Twain, his appearance as the author of a charming and noble romance is really no more of a surprise than to see a stately structure risen upon sightly ground owned by an architect of genius, with the resources of abundant building material and ample training at command. Of his capacity they have had no doubt, and they rejoice in his taking a step which they felt he was able to take. Through all his publications may be traced the marks of the path which half led up to this happy height. His humor has often been the cloak, but not the mask, of a sturdy purpose. His work has been characterized by a manly love of truth, a hatred of humbug, and a scorn for cant. A genial warmth and whole-souledness, a beautiful fancy, a fertile imagination, and a native feeling for the picturesque and a fine eye for color have afforded the basis of a style which has become more and more plastic and finished.
And in closing:
The characters of these two
boys, twins in spirit, will rank with
the purest and loveliest creations of child-life in the realm of
CERTAIN ATTACKS AND REPRISALS
Beyond the publication of The Prince and the Pauper Clemens was sparingly represented in print in ’81. A chapter originally intended for the book, the “Whipping Boy’s Story,” he gave to the Bazaar Budget, a little special-edition sheet printed in Hartford. It was the story of the ’Bull and the Bees’ which he later adapted for use in Joan of Arc, the episode in which Joan’s father rides a bull to a funeral. Howells found that it interfered with the action in the story of the Prince, and we might have spared it from the story of Joan, though hardly without regret.
The military story “A Curious Episode” was published in the Century Magazine for November. The fact that Clemens had heard, and not invented, the story was set forth quite definitely and fully in his opening paragraphs. Nevertheless, a “Captious Reader” thought it necessary to write to a New York publication concerning its origin:
I am an admirer of the writings of Mr. Mark Twain, and consequently, when I saw the table of contents of the November number of the Century, I bought it and turned at once to the article bearing his name, and entitled, “A Curious Episode.” When I began to read it, it struck me as strangely familiar, and I soon recognized the story as a true one, told me in the summer of 1878 by an officer of the United States artillery. Query: Did Mr. Twain expect the public to credit this narrative to his clever brain?
The editor, seeing a chance for Mark Twain “copy,” forwarded a clipping to Clemens and asked him if he had anything to say in the matter. Clemens happened to know the editor very well, and he did have something to say, not for print, but for the editor’s private ear.