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.

One of the more fantastic of his conceptions was a plan to advertise for ante-mortem obituaries of himself—­in order, as he said, that he might look them over and enjoy them and make certain corrections in the matter of detail.  Some of them he thought might be appropriate to read from the platform.

    I will correct them—­not the facts, but the verdicts—­striking out
    such clauses as could have a deleterious influence on the other
    side, and replacing them with clauses of a more judicious character.

He was much taken with the new idea, and his request for such obituaries, with an offer of a prize for the best—­a portrait of himself drawn by his own hand—­really appeared in Harper’s Weekly later in the year.  Naturally he got a shower of responses—­serious, playful, burlesque.  Some of them were quite worth while.

The obvious “Death loves a shining Mark” was of course numerously duplicated, and some varied it “Death loves an Easy Mark,” and there was “Mark, the perfect man.”

The two that follow gave him especial pleasure.

Obituary forMark twain

Worthy of his portrait, a place on his monument, as well as a place
among his “perennial-consolation heirlooms”: 

“Got up; washed; went to bed.”

The subject’s own words (see Innocents Abroad).  Can’t go back on
your own words, Mark Twain.  There’s nothing “to strike out”;
nothing “to replace.”  What more could be said of any one?

“Got up!”—­Think of the fullness of meaning!  The possibilities of
life, its achievements—­physical, intellectual, spiritual.  Got up
to the top!—­the climax of human aspiration on earth!

“Washed”—­Every whit clean; purified—­body, soul, thoughts,
purposes.

    “Went to bed”—­Work all done—­to rest, to sleep.  The culmination of
    the day well spent!

    God looks after the awakening.

Mrs. S. A. Oren-Haynes.

    Mark Twain was the only man who ever lived, so far as we know, whose
    lies were so innocent, and withal so helpful, as to make them worth
    more than a whole lot of fossilized priests’ eternal truths.

D. H. Kenner.

CCXIX

YACHTING AND THEOLOGY

Clemens made fewer speeches during the Riverdale period.  He was as frequently demanded, but he had a better excuse for refusing, especially the evening functions.  He attended a good many luncheons with friendly spirits like Howells, Matthews, James L. Ford, and Hamlin Garland.  At the end of February he came down to the Mayor’s dinner given to Prince Henry of Prussia, but he did not speak.  Clemens used to say afterward that he had not been asked to speak, and that it was probably because of his supposed breach of etiquette at the Kaiser’s dinner in Berlin; but the fact that Prince Henry sought him out, and was most cordially and humanly attentive during a considerable portion of the evening, is against the supposition.

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