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

which he shall deliver upon them. The Verdicts, you understand:

that is the danger-line.

In considering this matter, in view of my approaching change,

it has seemed to me wise to take such measures as may be feasible,

to acquire, by courtesy of the press, access to my standing obituaries,

with the privilege–if this is not asking too much–of editing,

not their Facts, but their Verdicts. This, not for the present profit,

further than as concerns my family, but as a favorable influence

usable on the Other Side, where there are some who are not friendly

to me.

With this explanation of my motives, I will now ask you of your

courtesy to make an appeal for me to the public press. It is my

desire that such journals and periodicals as have obituaries of me

lying in their pigeonholes, with a view to sudden use some day,

will not wait longer, but will publish them now, and kindly send

me a marked copy. My address is simply New York City–I have no

other that is permanent and not transient.

I will correct them–not the Facts, but the Verdicts–striking out

such clauses as could have a deleterious influence on the Other Side,

and replacing them with clauses of a more judicious character.

I should, of course, expect to pay double rates for both the omissions

and the substitutions; and I should also expect to pay quadruple

rates for all obituaries which proved to be rightly and wisely worded

in the originals, thus requiring no emendations at all.

It is my desire to leave these Amended Obituaries neatly bound

behind me as a perennial consolation and entertainment to my family,

and as an heirloom which shall have a mournful but definite

commercial value for my remote posterity.

I beg, sir, that you will insert this Advertisement (1t-eow, agate,

inside), and send the bill to

Yours very respectfully.

Mark Twain.

P.S.–For the best Obituary–one suitable for me to read in public,

and calculated to inspire regret–I desire to offer a Prize,

consisting of a Portrait of me done entirely by myself in pen and ink

without previous instructions. The ink warranted to be the kind

used by the very best artists.



Some one has revealed to the TRIBUNE that I once suggested

to Rev. Thomas K. Beecher, of Elmira, New York, that we get up

a monument to Adam, and that Mr. Beecher favored the project.

There is more to it than that. The matter started as a joke,

but it came somewhat near to materializing.

It is long ago–thirty years. Mr. Darwin’s DESCENT OF MAN has been

in print five or six years, and the storm of indignation raised

by it was still raging in pulpits and periodicals. In tracing

the genesis of the human race back to its sources, Mr. Darwin had

left Adam out altogether. We had monkeys, and “missing links,”

and plenty of other kinds of ancestors, but no Adam. Jesting with

Mr. Beecher and other friends in Elmira, I said there seemed to be

a likelihood that the world would discard Adam and accept the monkey,

and that in the course of time Adam’s very name would be forgotten

in the earth; therefore this calamity ought to be averted;

a monument would accomplish this, and Elmira ought not to waste

this honorable opportunity to do Adam a favor and herself a credit.

Then the unexpected happened. Two bankers came forward and took

hold of the matter–not for fun, not for sentiment, but because they

saw in the monument certain commercial advantages for the town.

The project had seemed gently humorous before–it was more than

that now, with this stern business gravity injected into it.

The bankers discussed the monument with me. We met several times.

They proposed an indestructible memorial, to cost twenty-five

thousand dollars. The insane oddity of a monument set up in a village

to preserve a name that would outlast the hills and the rocks without

any such help, would advertise Elmira to the ends of the earth–

and draw custom. It would be the only monument on the planet

to Adam, and in the matter of interest and impressiveness could

Page: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124 125 126 127 128 129 130 131 132 133 134 135

Categories: Twain, Mark