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.

     “In bed with a chest cold and other company.

     “Dear Gilder,—­I can’t.  If I were a well man I could explain
     with this pencil, but in the cir—­ces I will leave it all to
     your imagination.

     “Was it Grady that killed himself trying to do all the dining
     and speeching?  No, old man, no, no!

“Ever yours, mark.”

In the various dinner speeches and other utterances made by Mark Twain at this time, his hearers recognized a new and great seriousness of purpose.  It was not really new, only, perhaps, more emphasized.  He still made them laugh, but he insisted on making them think, too.  He preached a new gospel of patriotism—­not the patriotism that means a boisterous cheering of the Stars and Stripes wherever unfurled, but the patriotism that proposes to keep the Stars and Stripes clean and worth shouting for.  In one place he said: 

“We teach the boys to atrophy their independence.  We teach them to take their patriotism at second hand; to shout with the largest crowd without examining into the right or wrong of the matter —­exactly as boys under monarchies are taught, and have always been taught.”

He protested against the blind allegiance of monarchies.  He was seldom “with the largest crowd” himself.  Writing much of our foreign affairs, then in a good deal of a muddle, he assailed so fearlessly and fiercely measures which he held to be unjust that he was caricatured as an armed knight on a charger and as Huck Finn with a gun.

But he was not always warlike.  One of the speeches he made that winter was with Col.  Henry Watterson, a former Confederate soldier, at a Lincoln birthday memorial at Carnegie Hall.  “Think of it!” he wrote Twichell, “two old rebels functioning there; I as president and Watterson as orator of the day.  Things have changed somewhat in these forty years, thank God!”

The Clemens household did not go back to Hartford.  During their early years abroad it had been Mrs. Clemens’s dream to return and open the beautiful home, with everything the same as before.  The death of Susy had changed all this.  The mother had grown more and more to feel that she could not bear the sorrow of Susy’s absence in the familiar rooms.  After a trip which Clemens himself made to Hartford, he wrote, “I realize that if we ever enter the house again to live, our hearts will break.”

So they did not go back.  Mrs. Clemens had seen it for the last time on that day when the carriage waited while she went back to take a last look into the vacant rooms.  They had taken a house at 14 West Tenth Street for the winter, and when summer came they went to a log cabin on Saranac Lake, which they called “The Lair.”  Here Mark Twain wrote “A Double-barreled Detective Story,” a not very successful burlesque of Sherlock Holmes.  But most of the time that summer he loafed and rested, as was his right.  Once during the summer he went on a cruise with H. H. Rogers, Speaker “Tom” Reed, and others on Mr. Rogers’s yacht.

Project Gutenberg
The Boys' Life of Mark Twain from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
Follow Us on Facebook