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.
. . .  I had no system—­and some sort of rational order of procedure is, of course, necessary to success in any study.  Well, Loisette furnished me a system.  I cannot undertake to say it is the best, or the worst, because I don’t know what the other systems are.  Loisette, among other cruelties, requires you to memorize a great long string of words that, haven’t any apparent connection or meaning—­there are perhaps 500 of these words, arranged in maniacal lines of 6 to 8 or 9 words in each line—­71 lines in all.  Of course your first impulse is to resign, but at the end of three or four hours you find to your surprise that you’ve got them and can deliver them backward or forward without mistake or hesitation.  Now, don’t you see what a world of confidence that must necessarily breed? —­confidence in a memory which before you wouldn’t even venture to trust with the Latin motto of the U. S. lest it mislay it and the country suffer.
Loisette doesn’t make memories, he furnishes confidence in memories that already exist.  Isn’t that valuable?  Indeed it is to me.  Whenever hereafter I shall choose to pack away a thing properly in that refrigerator I sha’n’t be bothered with the aforetime doubts; I shall know I’m going to find it sound and sweet when I go for it again.

Loisette naturally made the most of this advertising and flooded the public with Mark Twain testimonials.  But presently Clemens decided that after all the system was not sufficiently simple to benefit the race at large.  He recalled his printed letters and prevailed upon Loisette to suppress his circulars.  Later he decided that the whole system was a humbug.



It was one day in 1887 that Clemens received evidence that his reputation as a successful author and publisher—­a man of wealth and revenues—­had penetrated even the dimness of the British Tax Offices.  A formidable envelope came, inclosing a letter from his London publishers and a very large printed document all about the income tax which the Queen’s officers had levied upon his English royalties as the result of a report that he had taken Buckenham Hall, Norwich, for a year, and was to become an English resident.  The matter amused and interested him.  To Chatto & Windus he wrote: 

I will explain that all that about Buckenham Hall was an English newspaper’s mistake.  I was not in England, and if I had been I wouldn’t have been at Buckenham Hall anyway, but Buckingham Palace, or I would have endeavored to have found out the reason why . . .

But we won’t resist.  We’ll pay as if I were really a resident.  The
country that allows me copyright has a right to tax me.

Reflecting on the matter, Clemens decided to make literature of it.  He conceived the notion of writing an open letter to the Queen in the character of a rambling, garrulous, but well-disposed countryman whose idea was that her Majesty conducted all the business of the empire herself.  He began: 

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