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

the other 845 railroads kill an average of one-third of a man each;

and the rest of that million, amounting in the aggregate to that

appalling figure of 987,631 corpses, die naturally in their beds!

You will excuse me from taking any more chances on those beds.

The railroads are good enough for me.

And my advice to all people is, Don’t stay at home any more than

you can help; but when you have GOT to stay at home a while,

buy a package of those insurance tickets and sit up nights.

You cannot be too cautious.

[One can see now why I answered that ticket-agent in the manner

recorded at the top of this sketch.]

The moral of this composition is, that thoughtless people grumble

more than is fair about railroad management in the United States.

When we consider that every day and night of the year full fourteen

thousand railway-trains of various kinds, freighted with life

and armed with death, go thundering over the land, the marvel is,

NOT that they kill three hundred human beings in a twelvemonth,

but that they do not kill three hundred times three hundred!



I never can look at those periodical portraits in THE GALAXY magazine

without feeling a wild, tempestuous ambition to be an artist.

I have seen thousands and thousands of pictures in my time–

acres of them here and leagues of them in the galleries of Europe–

but never any that moved me as these portraits do.

There is a portrait of Monsignore Capel in the November number,

now COULD anything be sweeter than that? And there was Bismarck’s,

in the October number; who can look at that without being purer

and stronger and nobler for it? And Thurlow and Weed’s picture

in the September number; I would not have died without seeing that,

no, not for anything this world can give. But looks back still

further and recall my own likeness as printed in the August number;

if I had been in my grave a thousand years when that appeared,

I would have got up and visited the artist.

I sleep with all these portraits under my pillow every night, so that I

can go on studying them as soon as the day dawns in the morning.

I know them all as thoroughly as if I had made them myself; I know

every line and mark about them. Sometimes when company are present

I shuffle the portraits all up together, and then pick them out

one by one and call their names, without referring to the printing

on the bottom. I seldom make a mistake–never, when I am calm.

I have had the portraits framed for a long time, waiting till

my aunt gets everything ready for hanging them up in the parlor.

But first one thing and then another interferes, and so the thing

is delayed. Once she said they would have more of the peculiar kind

of light they needed in the attic. The old simpleton! it is as dark

as a tomb up there. But she does not know anything about art,

and so she has no reverence for it. When I showed her my “Map of

the Fortifications of Paris,” she said it was rubbish.

Well, from nursing those portraits so long, I have come at last

to have a perfect infatuation for art. I have a teacher now,

and my enthusiasm continually and tumultuously grows, as I learn

to use with more and more facility the pencil, brush, and graver.

I am studying under De Mellville, the house and portrait painter.

[His name was Smith when he lived in the West.] He does any kind

of artist work a body wants, having a genius that is universal,

like Michael Angelo. Resembles that great artist, in fact.

The back of his head is like this, and he wears his hat-brim tilted

down on his nose to expose it.

I have been studying under De Mellville several months now.

The first month I painted fences, and gave general satisfaction.

The next month I white-washed a barn. The third, I was doing

tin roofs; the forth, common signs; the fifth, statuary to stand

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Categories: Twain, Mark