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

perjurers are contributing to the American Board with frequency:

it is money filched from the sworn-off personal tax; therefore it

is the wages of sin; therefore it is my money; therefore it is _I_

that contribute it; and, finally, it is therefore as I have said:

since the Board daily accepts contributions from me, why should it

decline them from Mr. Rockefeller, who is as good as I am, let the

courts say what they may?





by Pedro Carolino

In this world of uncertainties, there is, at any rate, one thing

which may be pretty confidently set down as a certainty: and that is,

that this celebrated little phrase-book will never die while the

English language lasts. Its delicious unconscious ridiculousness,

and its enchanting na:ivet’e, as are supreme and unapproachable,

in their way, as are Shakespeare’s sublimities. Whatsoever is

perfect in its kind, in literature, is imperishable: nobody can

imitate it successfully, nobody can hope to produce its fellow;

it is perfect, it must and will stand alone: its immortality

is secure.

It is one of the smallest books in the world, but few big books have

received such wide attention, and been so much pondered by the grave

and learned, and so much discussed and written about by the thoughtful,

the thoughtless, the wise, and the foolish. Long notices of it

have appeared, from time to time, in the great English reviews,

and in erudite and authoritative philological periodicals; and it

has been laughed at, danced upon, and tossed in a blanket by nearly

every newspaper and magazine in the English-speaking world.

Every scribbler, almost, has had his little fling at it, at one time

or another; I had mine fifteen years ago. The book gets out of print,

every now and then, and one ceases to hear of it for a season;

but presently the nations and near and far colonies of our tongue

and lineage call for it once more, and once more it issues from some

London or Continental or American press, and runs a new course around

the globe, wafted on its way by the wind of a world’s laughter.

Many persons have believed that this book’s miraculous stupidities

were studied and disingenuous; but no one can read the volume

carefully through and keep that opinion. It was written in

serious good faith and deep earnestness, by an honest and upright

idiot who believed he knew something of the English language,

and could impart his knowledge to others. The amplest proof

of this crops out somewhere or other upon each and every page.

There are sentences in the book which could have been manufactured

by a man in his right mind, and with an intelligent and deliberate

purposes to seem innocently ignorant; but there are other sentences,

and paragraphs, which no mere pretended ignorance could ever achieve–

nor yet even the most genuine and comprehensive ignorance,

when unbacked by inspiration.

It is not a fraud who speaks in the following paragraph of the

author’s Preface, but a good man, an honest man, a man whose conscience

is at rest, a man who believes he has done a high and worthy work for

his nation and his generation, and is well pleased with his performance:

We expect then, who the little book (for the care what we wrote him,

and for her typographical correction) that may be worth the

acceptation of the studious persons, and especially of the Youth,

at which we dedicate him particularly.

One cannot open this book anywhere and not find richness.

To prove that this is true, I will open it at random and copy

the page I happen to stumble upon. Here is the result:


For To See the Town

Anothony, go to accompany they gentilsmen, do they see the town.

We won’t to see all that is it remarquable here.

Come with me, if you please. I shall not folget nothing what can

to merit your attention. Here we are near to cathedral; will you

come in there?

We will first to see him in oudside, after we shall go in there

for to look the interior.

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Categories: Twain, Mark