Mark Twain's Burlesque Autobiography eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 15 pages of information about Mark Twain's Burlesque Autobiography.

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ETEKEEWIS (Mighty-Hunter-with-a-Hog-Eye) Twain adorned the middle of the eighteenth century, and aided Gen. Braddock with all his heart to resist the oppressor Washington.  It was this ancestor who fired seventeen times at our Washington from behind a tree.  So far the beautiful romantic narrative in the moral story-books is correct; but when that narrative goes on to say that at the seventeenth round the awe-stricken savage said solemnly that that man was being reserved by the Great Spirit for some mighty mission, and he dared not lift his sacrilegious rifle against him again, the narrative seriously impairs the integrity of history.  What he did say was: 

“It ain’t no (hic !) no use.  ‘At man’s so drunk he can’t stan’ still long enough for a man to hit him.  I (hic !) I can’t ’ford to fool away any more am’nition on him!”

That was why he stopped at the seventeenth round, and it was, a good plain matter-of-fact reason, too, and one that easily commends itself to us by the eloquent, persuasive flavor of probability there is about it.

I always enjoyed the story-book narrative, but I felt a marring misgiving that every Indian at Braddock’s Defeat who fired at a soldier a couple of times (two easily grows to seventeen in a century), and missed him, jumped to the conclusion that the Great Spirit was reserving that soldier for some grand mission; and so I somehow feared that the only reason why Washington’s case is remembered and the others forgotten is, that in his the prophecy’ came true, and in that of the others it didn’t.  There are not books enough on earth to contain the record of the prophecies Indians and other unauthorized parties have made; but one may carry in his overcoat pockets the record of all the prophecies that have been fulfilled.

I will remark here, in passing, that certain ancestors of mine are so thoroughly well known in history by their aliases, that I have not felt it to be worth while to dwell upon them, or even mention them in the order of their birth.  Among these may be mentioned Richard BRINSLEY Twain, alias Guy Fawkes; John Wentworth Twain, alias Sixteen-String Jack; William Hogarth Twain, alias Jack Sheppard; Ananias Twain, alias Baron Munchausen; John George Twain, alias Capt.  Kydd; and them there are George Francis Train, Tom Pepper, Nebuchadnezzar and Baalam’s Ass—­they all belong to our family, but to a branch of it somewhat distantly removed from the honorable direct line—­in fact, a collateral branch, whose members chiefly differ from the ancient stock in that, in order to acquire the notoriety we have always yearned and hungered for, they have got into a low way of going to jail instead of getting hanged.

It is not well; when writing an autobiography, to follow your ancestry down too close to your own time—­it is safest to speak only vaguely of your great-grandfather, and then skip from there to yourself, which I now do.

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Mark Twain's Burlesque Autobiography from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.