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 for “Mark 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?
of the fullness of meaning! The possibilities
life, its achievements—physical, intellectual, spiritual. Got up
to the top!—the climax of human aspiration on earth!
whit clean; purified—body, soul, thoughts,
“Went to bed”—Work
all done—to rest, to sleep. The culmination
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.
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.