(Publishing the above paragraph thus, gives me a sort of authority
for reproducing the SATURDAY REVIEW’S article in full in these pages.
I dearly wanted to do it, for I cannot write anything half so
delicious myself. If I had a cast-iron dog that could read this
English criticism and preserve his austerity, I would drive him
off the door-step.)
(From the London “Saturday Review.”)
REVIEWS OF NEW BOOKS
THE INNOCENTS ABROAD. A Book of Travels. By Mark Twain.
London: Hotten, publisher. 1870.
Lord Macaulay died too soon. We never felt this so deeply as when we
finished the last chapter of the above-named extravagant work.
Macaulay died too soon–for none but he could mete out complete
and comprehensive justice to the insolence, the impertinence,
the presumption, the mendacity, and, above all, the majestic ignorance
of this author.
To say that the INNOCENTS ABROAD is a curious book, would be to
use the faintest language–would be to speak of the Matterhorn
as a neat elevation or of Niagara as being “nice” or “pretty.”
“Curious” is too tame a word wherewith to describe the imposing insanity
of this work. There is no word that is large enough or long enough.
Let us, therefore, photograph a passing glimpse of book and author,
and trust the rest to the reader. Let the cultivated English student
of human nature picture to himself this Mark Twain as a person capable
of doing the following-described things–and not only doing them,
but with incredible innocence PRINTING THEM calmly and tranquilly
in a book. For instance:
He states that he entered a hair-dresser’s in Paris to get shaved,
and the first “rake” the barber gave him with his razor it LOOSENED
HIS “HIDE” and LIFTED HIM OUT OF THE CHAIR.
This is unquestionably exaggerated. In Florence he was so annoyed
by beggars that he pretends to have seized and eaten one in a
frantic spirit of revenge. There is, of course, no truth in this.
He gives at full length a theatrical program seventeen or eighteen
hundred years old, which he professes to have found in the ruins
of the Coliseum, among the dirt and mold and rubbish. It is a
sufficient comment upon this statement to remark that even a cast-iron
program would not have lasted so long under such circumstances.
In Greece he plainly betrays both fright and flight upon one occasion,
but with frozen effrontery puts the latter in this falsely tamed form:
“We SIDLED toward the Piraeus.” “Sidled,” indeed! He does not hesitate
to intimate that at Ephesus, when his mule strayed from the proper course,
he got down, took him under his arm, carried him to the road again,
pointed him right, remounted, and went to sleep contentedly till
it was time to restore the beast to the path once more. He states
that a growing youth among his ship’s passengers was in the constant
habit of appeasing his hunger with soap and oakum between meals.
In Palestine he tells of ants that came eleven miles to spend
the summer in the desert and brought their provisions with them;
yet he shows by his description of the country that the feat was
an impossibility. He mentions, as if it were the most commonplace
of matters, that he cut a Moslem in two in broad daylight in Jerusalem,
with Godfrey de Bouillon’s sword, and would have shed more blood IF
HE HAD HAD A GRAVEYARD OF HIS OWN. These statements are unworthy
a moment’s attention. Mr. Twain or any other foreigner who did
such a thing in Jerusalem would be mobbed, and would infallibly
lose his life. But why go on? Why repeat more of his audacious
and exasperating falsehoods? Let us close fittingly with this one:
he affirms that “in the mosque of St. Sophia at Constantinople
I got my feet so stuck up with a complication of gums, slime,
and general impurity, that I wore out more than two thousand
pair of bootjacks getting my boots off that night, and even then
some Christian hide peeled off with them.” It is monstrous.
Such statements are simply lies–there is no other name for them.
Will the reader longer marvel at the brutal ignorance that pervades
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