The Boys' Life of Mark Twain eBook

Albert Bigelow Paine
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 300 pages of information about The Boys' Life of Mark Twain.

The story of the “Yankee”—­a fanciful narrative of a skilled Yankee mechanic swept backward through the centuries to the dim day of Arthur and his Round Table—­is often grotesque enough in its humor, but under it all is Mark Twain’s great humanity in fierce and noble protest against unjust laws, the tyranny of an individual or of a ruling class —­oppression of any sort.  As in “The Prince and the Pauper,” the wandering heir to the throne is brought in contact with cruel injustice and misery, so in the “Yankee” the king himself becomes one of a band of fettered slaves, and through degradation and horror of soul acquires mercy and humility.

The “Yankee in King Arthur’s Court” is a splendidly imagined tale.  Edmund Clarence Stedman and William Dean Howells have ranked it very high.  Howells once wrote:  “Of all the fanciful schemes in fiction, it pleases me most.”  The “Yankee” has not held its place in public favor with Mark Twain’s earlier books, but it is a wonderful tale, and we cannot afford to leave it unread.

When the summer came again, Mark Twain and his family decided for once to forego Quarry Farm for a season in the Catskills, and presently found themselves located in a cottage at Onteora in the midst of a most delightful colony.  Mrs. Mary Mapes Dodge, then editor of St. Nicholas, was there, and Mrs. Custer and Brander Matthews and Lawrence Hutton and a score of other congenial spirits.  There was constant visiting from one cottage to another, with frequent gatherings at the Inn, which was general headquarters.  Susy Clemens, now eighteen, was a central figure, brilliant, eager, intense, ambitious for achievement—­lacking only in physical strength.  She was so flower-like, it seemed always that her fragile body must be consumed by the flame of her spirit.  It was a happy summer, but it closed sadly.  Clemens was called to Keokuk in August, to his mother’s bedside.  A few weeks later came the end, and Jane Clemens had closed her long and useful life.  She was in her eighty-eighth year.  A little later, at Elmira, followed the death of Mrs. Clemens’s mother, a sweet and gentle woman.

[9] Gillette was originally a Hartford boy.  Mark Twain had recognized his ability, advanced him funds with which to complete his dramatic education, and Gillette’s first engagement seems to have been with the Colonel Sellers company.  Mark Twain often advanced money in the interest of education.  A young sculptor he sent to Paris for two years’ study.  Among others, he paid the way of two colored students through college.



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The Boys' Life of Mark Twain from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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