THE $30,000 BEQUEST and Other Stories by Mark Twain

looking tranquilly up to heaven, trying to think of a word, we know

that that is St. Matthew. When we see a monk sitting on a rock,

looking tranquilly up to heaven, with a human skull beside him,

and without other baggage, we know that that is St. Jerome.

Because we know that he always went flying light in the matter

of baggage. When we see other monks looking tranquilly up to heaven,

but having no trade-mark, we always ask who those parties are.

We do this because we humbly wish to learn.”

He then enumerates the thousands and thousand of copies of these

several pictures which he has seen, and adds with accustomed

simplicity that he feels encouraged to believe that when he has seen

“Some More” of each, and had a larger experience, he will eventually

“begin to take an absorbing interest in them”–the vulgar boor.

That we have shown this to be a remarkable book, we think no one

will deny. That is a pernicious book to place in the hands of the

confiding and uniformed, we think we have also shown. That the book

is a deliberate and wicked creation of a diseased mind, is apparent

upon every page. Having placed our judgment thus upon record,

let us close with what charity we can, by remarking that even in this

volume there is some good to be found; for whenever the author talks

of his own country and lets Europe alone, he never fails to make

himself interesting, and not only interesting but instructive.

No one can read without benefit his occasional chapters and paragraphs,

about life in the gold and silver mines of California and Nevada;

about the Indians of the plains and deserts of the West,

and their cannibalism; about the raising of vegetables in kegs of

gunpowder by the aid of two or three teaspoons of guano; about the

moving of small arms from place to place at night in wheelbarrows

to avoid taxes; and about a sort of cows and mules in the Humboldt

mines, that climb down chimneys and disturb the people at night.

These matters are not only new, but are well worth knowing.

It is a pity the author did not put in more of the same kind.

His book is well written and is exceedingly entertaining, and so it

just barely escaped being quite valuable also.

(One month later)

Latterly I have received several letters, and see a number of

newspaper paragraphs, all upon a certain subject, and all of about

the same tenor. I here give honest specimens. One is from a New

York paper, one is from a letter from an old friend, and one is

from a letter from a New York publisher who is a stranger to me.

I humbly endeavor to make these bits toothsome with the remark that

the article they are praising (which appeared in the December GALAXY,

and PRETENDED to be a criticism from the London SATURDAY REVIEW


The HERALD says the richest thing out is the “serious critique”

in the London SATURDAY REVIEW, on Mark Twain’s INNOCENTS ABROAD.

We thought before we read it that it must be “serious,” as everybody

said so, and were even ready to shed a few tears; but since perusing it,

we are bound to confess that next to Mark Twain’s “Jumping Frog”

it’s the finest bit of humor and sarcasm that we’ve come across in many

a day.

(I do not get a compliment like that every day.)

I used to think that your writings were pretty good, but after reading

the criticism in THE GALAXY from the LONDON REVIEW, have discovered

what an ass I must have been. If suggestions are in order, mine is,

that you put that article in your next edition of the INNOCENTS,

as an extra chapter, if you are not afraid to put your own humor

in competition with it. It is as rich a thing as I ever read.

(Which is strong commendation from a book publisher.)

The London Reviewer, my friend, is not the stupid, “serious” creature

he pretends to be, _I_ think; but, on the contrary, has a keep

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Categories: Twain, Mark