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.


(See Chapter cxiv)

Address of Samuel L. Clemens (Mark Twain) from a report of the dinner given by the publishers of the Atlantic Monthly in honor of the Seventieth Anniversary of the Birth of John Greenleaf Whittier, at the Hotel Brunswick, Boston, December 17, 1877, as published in the Boston Evening Transcript, December 18, 1877.

Mr. Chairman, This is an occasion peculiarly meet for the digging up of pleasant reminiscences concerning literary folk, therefore I will drop lightly into history myself.  Standing here on the shore of the Atlantic, and contemplating certain of its largest literary billows, I am reminded of a thing which happened to me thirteen years ago, when I had just succeeded in stirring up a little Nevadian literary puddle myself, whose spume-flakes were beginning to blow thinly California-ward.  I started an inspection tramp through the southern mines of California.  I was callow and conceited, and I resolved to try the virtue of my ‘nom de guerre’.  I very soon had an opportunity.  I knocked at a miner’s lonely log cabin in the foothills of the Sierras just at nightfall.  It was snowing at the time.  A jaded, melancholy man of fifty, barefooted, opened the door to me.  When he heard my ‘nom de guerre’ he looked more dejected than before.  He let me in-pretty reluctantly, I thought—­and after the customary bacon and beans, black coffee and hot whisky, I took a pipe.  This sorrowful man had not said three words up to this time.  Now he spoke up and said, in the voice of one who is secretly suffering, “You’re the fourth—­I’m going to move.”  “The fourth what?” said I.  “The fourth littery man that has been here in twenty-four hours—­I’m going to move.”  “You don’t tell me!” said I; “who were the others?” “Mr. Longfellow.  Mr. Emerson, and Mr. Oliver Wendell Holmes—­consound the lot!”

You can easily believe I was interested.  I supplicated—­three hot whiskies did the rest—­and finally the melancholy miner began.  Said he: 

“They came here just at dark yesterday evening, and I let them in, of course.  Said they were going to the Yosemite.  They were a rough lot, but that’s nothing; everybody looks rough that travels afoot.  Mr. Emerson was a seedy little bit of a chap, red-headed.  Mr. Holmes was as fat as a balloon; he weighed as much as three hundered, and had double chins all the way down to his stomach.  Mr. Longfellow was built like a prize-fighter.  His head was cropped and bristly, like as if he had a wig made of hair-brushes.  His nose lay straight down in his face, like a finger with the end joint tilted up.  They had been drinking, I could see that.  And what queer talk they used!  Mr. Holmes inspected this cabin, then he took me by the buttonhole and says he: 

     “’Through the deep caves of thought
       I hear a voice that sings,

       “Build thee more stately mansions,
       O my soul!"’

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