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

appreciation and enjoyment of your book. As I read his article in

THE GALAXY, I could imagine him giving vent to many a hearty laugh.

But he is writing for Catholics and Established Church people,

and high-toned, antiquated, conservative gentility, whom it is

a delight to him to help you shock, while he pretends to shake his

head with owlish density. He is a magnificent humorist himself.

(Now that is graceful and handsome. I take off my hat to my life-long

friend and comrade, and with my feet together and my fingers spread

over my heart, I say, in the language of Alabama, “You do me proud.”)

I stand guilty of the authorship of the article, but I did not mean

any harm. I saw by an item in the Boston ADVERTISER that a solemn,

serious critique on the English edition of my book had appeared

in the London SATURDAY REVIEW, and the idea of SUCH a literary

breakfast by a stolid, ponderous British ogre of the quill was too

much for a naturally weak virtue, and I went home and burlesqued it–

reveled in it, I may say. I never saw a copy of the real SATURDAY

REVIEW criticism until after my burlesque was written and mailed

to the printer. But when I did get hold of a copy, I found it

to be vulgar, awkwardly written, ill-natured, and entirely serious

and in earnest. The gentleman who wrote the newspaper paragraph

above quoted had not been misled as to its character.

If any man doubts my word now, I will kill him. No, I will not

kill him; I will win his money. I will bet him twenty to one,

and let any New York publisher hold the stakes, that the statements I

have above made as to the authorship of the article in question are

entirely true. Perhaps I may get wealthy at this, for I am willing

to take all the bets that offer; and if a man wants larger odds,

I will give him all he requires. But he ought to find out whether

I am betting on what is termed “a sure thing” or not before he

ventures his money, and he can do that by going to a public

library and examining the London SATURDAY REVIEW of October 8th,

which contains the real critique.

Bless me, some people thought that _I_ was the “sold” person!

P.S.–I cannot resist the temptation to toss in this most savory

thing of all–this easy, graceful, philosophical disquisition,

with his happy, chirping confidence. It is from the Cincinnati ENQUIRER:

Nothing is more uncertain than the value of a fine cigar.

Nine smokers out of ten would prefer an ordinary domestic article,

three for a quarter, to fifty-cent Partaga, if kept in ignorance

of the cost of the latter. The flavor of the Partaga is too delicate

for palates that have been accustomed to Connecticut seed leaf.

So it is with humor. The finer it is in quality, the more danger

of its not being recognized at all. Even Mark Twain has been taken

in by an English review of his INNOCENTS ABROAD. Mark Twain is by

no means a coarse humorist, but the Englishman’s humor is so much

finer than his, that he mistakes it for solid earnest, and “lafts

most consumedly.”

A man who cannot learn stands in his own light. Hereafter, when I

write an article which I know to be good, but which I may have reason

to fear will not, in some quarters, be considered to amount to much,

coming from an American, I will aver that an Englishman wrote it

and that it is copied from a London journal. And then I will occupy

a back seat and enjoy the cordial applause.

(Still later)

Mark Twain at last sees that the SATURDAY REVIEW’S criticism of his

INNOCENTS ABROAD was not serious, and he is intensely mortified at the

thought of having been so badly sold. He takes the only course left him,

and in the last GALAXY claims that HE wrote the criticism himself,

and published it in THE GALAXY to sell the public. This is ingenious,

but unfortunately it is not true. If any of our readers will take

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Categories: Twain, Mark