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

in the next sentence; and when he gets there at last, he “surveys

with wonder and astonishment” the invisible structure, “which time

has buried in the dust, and thought to himself his happiness was

not yet complete.” One doesn’t know why it wasn’t, nor how near it

came to being complete, nor what was still wanting to round it up

and make it so. Maybe it was the Indian; but the book does not say.

At this point we have an episode:

Beside the shore of the brook sat a young man, about eighteen or twenty,

who seemed to be reading some favorite book, and who had a remarkably

noble countenance–eyes which betrayed more than a common mind.

This of course made the youth a welcome guest, and gained him

friends in whatever condition of his life he might be placed.

The traveler observed that he was a well-built figure which showed

strength and grace in every movement. He accordingly addressed

him in quite a gentlemanly manner, and inquired of him the way

to the village. After he had received the desired information,

and was about taking his leave, the youth said, “Are you not

Major Elfonzo, the great musician [2]–the champion of a noble cause–

the modern Achilles, who gained so many victories in the Florida War?”

“I bear that name,” said the Major, “and those titles,

trusting at the same time that the ministers of grace will carry

me triumphantly through all my laudable undertakings, and if,”

continued the Major, “you, sir, are the patronizer of noble deeds,

I should like to make you my confidant and learn your address.”

The youth looked somewhat amazed, bowed low, mused for a moment,

and began: “My name is Roswell. I have been recently admitted

to the bar, and can only give a faint outline of my future success

in that honorable profession; but I trust, sir, like the Eagle, I shall

look down from the lofty rocks upon the dwellings of man, and shall

ever be ready to give you any assistance in my official capacity,

and whatever this muscular arm of mine can do, whenever it shall be

called from its buried GREATNESS.” The Major grasped him by the hand,

and exclaimed: “O! thou exalted spirit of inspiration–thou flame

of burning prosperity, may the Heaven-directed blaze be the glare

of thy soul, and battle down every rampart that seems to impede

your progress!”

There is a strange sort of originality about McClintock;

he imitates other people’s styles, but nobody can imitate his,

not even an idiot. Other people can be windy, but McClintock blows

a gale; other people can blubber sentiment, but McClintock spews it;

other people can mishandle metaphors, but only McClintock knows

how to make a business of it. McClintock is always McClintock,

he is always consistent, his style is always his own style. He does

not make the mistake of being relevant on one page and irrelevant

on another; he is irrelevant on all of them. He does not make

the mistake of being lucid in one place and obscure in another;

he is obscure all the time. He does not make the mistake of slipping

in a name here and there that is out of character with his work;

he always uses names that exactly and fantastically fit his lunatics.

In the matter of undeviating consistency he stands alone in authorship.

It is this that makes his style unique, and entitles it to a name

of its own–McClintockian. It is this that protects it from being

mistaken for anybody else’s. Uncredited quotations from other writers

often leave a reader in doubt as to their authorship, but McClintock

is safe from that accident; an uncredited quotation from him would

always be recognizable. When a boy nineteen years old, who had

just been admitted to the bar, says, “I trust, sir, like the Eagle,

I shall look down from lofty rocks upon the dwellings of man,”

we know who is speaking through that boy; we should recognize

that note anywhere. There be myriads of instruments in this

world’s literary orchestra, and a multitudinous confusion of sounds

that they make, wherein fiddles are drowned, and guitars smothered,

and one sort of drum mistaken for another sort; but whensoever the

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Categories: Twain, Mark