Mark Twain: A Biographical Summary, Детальна інформація

Mark Twain: A Biographical Summary
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Mark Twain, now provided with money, decided to pay a visit to his people. He HYPERLINK "http://www.boondocksnet.com/twaintexts/biography/paine_bio056.html" set out for the East in December, 1866, via Panama, arriving in New York in January. A few days later he was with his mother, then living with his sister, in St. Louis. A little later he lectured in Keokuk, and in Hannibal, his old home.

It was about this time that the first great Mediterranean steamship excursion began to be exploited. No such ocean picnic had ever been planned before, and it created a good deal of interest East and West. Mark Twain HYPERLINK "http://www.boondocksnet.com/twaintexts/biography/paine_bio057.html" heard of it and wanted to go. He wrote to friends on the Alta-California, of San Francisco, and the publishers of that paper had sufficient faith to advance the money for his passage, on the understanding that he was to contribute frequent letters, at twenty dollars apiece. It was a liberal offer, as rates went in those days, and a godsend in the fullest sense of the word to Mark Twain.

Clemens now hurried to New York in order to be there in good season for the sailing date, which was in June. In New York he met Frank Fuller, whom he had known as territorial Governor of Utah, an energetic and enthusiastic admirer of the Western humorist. Fuller immediately proposed that Clemens HYPERLINK "http://www.boondocksnet.com/twaintexts/biography/paine_bio058.html" give a lecture in order to establish his reputation on the Atlantic coast. Clemens demurred, but Fuller insisted, and engaged Cooper Union for the occasion. Not many tickets were sold. Fuller, however, always ready for an emergency, sent out a flood of complimentaries to the school teachers of New York and adjacent territory, and the house was crammed. It turned out to be a notable event. Mark Twain was at his best that night; the audience laughed until, as some of them declared when the lecture was over, they were too weak to leave their seats. His success as a lecturer was assured.

The Quaker City was the steamer selected for the great Oriental tour. HYPERLINK "http://www.boondocksnet.com/twaintexts/biography/paine_bio060.html" It sailed as advertised, June 8, 1867, and was absent five months, during which Mark Twain contributed regularly to the Alta-California, and wrote several letters for the New York Tribune. They were read and copied everywhere. They preached a new gospel in travel literature -- a gospel of seeing with an overflowing honesty; a gospel of sincerity in according praise to whatever he considered genuine, and ridicule to the things believed to be shams. It was a gospel that Mark Twain continued to preach during his whole career. It became, in fact, his chief literary message to the world, a world ready for that message.

He HYPERLINK "http://www.boondocksnet.com/twaintexts/biography/paine_bio062.html" returned to find himself famous. Publishers were ready with plans for collecting the letters in HYPERLINK "http://www.boondocksnet.com/twaintexts/biography/paine_bio063.html" book form . The American Publishing Company, of Hartford, proposed a volume, elaborately illustrated, to be sold by subscription. He agreed with them as to terms, and went to Washington to prepare copy. But he could not work quietly there, and presently was HYPERLINK "http://www.boondocksnet.com/twaintexts/biography/paine_bio066.html" back in San Francisco , putting his book together, lecturing occasionally, always to crowded houses. He returned in August, 1868, with the manuscript of the Innocents Abroad, and that winter, while his book was being manufactured, HYPERLINK "http://www.boondocksnet.com/twaintexts/biography/paine_bio069.html" lectured throughout the East and Middle West, making his headquarters in Hartford, and in Elmira, New York.

He had an especial reason for HYPERLINK "http://www.boondocksnet.com/twaintexts/biography/paine_bio067.html" going to Elmira . On the Quaker City he had met a young man by the name of Charles Langdon, and one day, HYPERLINK "http://www.boondocksnet.com/twaintexts/biography/paine_bio061.html" in the Bay of Smyrna , had seen a miniature of the boy's sister, HYPERLINK "http://www.boondocksnet.com/twaintexts/biography/paine_bio064.html" Olivia Langdon , then a girl of about twenty-two. He fell in love with that picture, and still more deeply in love with the original when he met her in New York on his return. The Langdon home was in Elmira, and it was for this reason that as time passed he frequently sojourned there. When the proofs of the Innocents Abroad were sent him he took them along, and he and sweet "Livy" Langdon HYPERLINK "http://www.boondocksnet.com/twaintexts/biography/paine_bio070.html" read them together . What he lacked in those days in literary delicacy she detected, and together they pruned it away. She became his editor that winter -- a position which she held until her death.

The HYPERLINK "http://www.boondocksnet.com/twaintexts/biography/paine_bio070.html" book was published in July, 1869, and HYPERLINK "http://www.boondocksnet.com/twaintexts/biography/paine_bio071.html" its success was immediate and abundant. On his HYPERLINK "http://www.boondocksnet.com/twaintexts/biography/paine_bio074.html" wedding-day , February 2, 1870, Clemens received a check from his publishers for more than four thousand dollars, royalty accumulated during the three months preceding. The sales soon amounted to more than fifty thousand copies, and had increased to very nearly one hundred thousand at the end of the first three years. It was a book of travel, its lowest price three dollars and fifty cents. Even with our increased reading population no such sale is found for a book of that description today. And the Innocents Abroad holds its place -- still outsells every other book in its particular field.

Mark Twain now decided to settle down. He had bought an interest in the HYPERLINK "http://www.boondocksnet.com/twaintexts/biography/paine_bio072.html" Express , of Buffalo, New York, and took up his residence in that city in a house presented to the young couple by Mr. Langdon. It did not prove a fortunate beginning. Sickness, death, and trouble of many kinds put a blight on the happiness of their first married year and gave them a distaste for the home in which they had made such a promising start. A baby boy, Langdon Clemens, came along in November, but he was never a strong child. By the end of the following year the Clemenses had arranged for a residence in Hartford, temporary at first, later made permanent. It was in Hartford that little Langdon died, in 1872.

Clemens, meanwhile, had sold out his interest in the Express, severed his connection with the HYPERLINK "http://www.boondocksnet.com/twaintexts/biography/paine_bio077.html" Galaxy , a magazine for which he was doing a department each month, and had HYPERLINK "http://www.boondocksnet.com/twaintexts/biography/paine_bio082.html" written a second book for the American Publishing Company, HYPERLINK "http://www.boondocksnet.com/twaintexts/biography/paine_bio084.html" Roughing It , published in 1872. In August of the same year he made a trip to London, to get material for a book on England, but was too much sought after, too continuously feted, to do any work. He went alone, but in November returned with the purpose of taking Mrs. Clemens and the new baby, Susy, to England the following spring. They sailed in April, 1873, and spent a good portion of the year in England and Scotland. They returned to America in November, and Clemens hurried back to London alone to deliver a notable series of lectures under the management of George Dolby, formerly managing agent for Charles Dickens. For two months Mark Twain lectured steadily to London audiences -- the big Hanover Square rooms always filled. He returned to his family in January, 1874.

Meantime, a HYPERLINK "http://www.boondocksnet.com/twaintexts/biography/paine_bio089.html" home was being built for them in Hartford, and in the autumn of 1874 they HYPERLINK "http://www.boondocksnet.com/twaintexts/biography/paine_bio096.html" took up residence in it -- a happy residence, continued through seventeen years -- well-nigh perfect years. Their summers they spent in Elmira, on Quarry Farm -- a beautiful hilltop, the home of Mrs. Clemens's sister. It was in Elmira that much of Mark Twain's literary work was done. He had a special study there, some distance from the house, where he loved to work out his fancies and put them into visible form.

It was not so easy to work at Hartford; there was too much going on. The Clemens home was a sort of general headquarters for literary folk, near and far, and for distinguished foreign visitors of every sort. Howells and Aldrich used it as their half-way station between Boston and New York, and every foreign notable who visited America made a pilgrimage to Hartford to see Mark Twain. Some even went as far as Elmira, among them HYPERLINK "http://www.boondocksnet.com/twaintexts/biography/paine_bio169.html" Rudyard Kipling , who recorded his visit in a chapter of his American Notes. Kipling declared he had come all the way from India to see Mark Twain.

Hartford had its own literary group. Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe lived near the Clemens home; also Charles Dudley Warner. The Clemens and Warner families were constantly associated, and HYPERLINK "http://www.boondocksnet.com/twaintexts/biography/paine_bio088.html" The Gilded Age , published in 1873, resulted from the friendship of Warner and Mark Twain. The character of Colonel Sellers in that book has become immortal, and it is a character that only Mark Twain could create, for, though drawn from his mother's cousin, James Lampton, it embodies -- and in no very exaggerated degree -- characteristics that were his own. The tendency to make millions was always imminent; temptation was always hard to resist. Money-making schemes are continually being placed before men of means and prominence, and Mark Twain, to the day of his death, found such schemes fatally attractive.

It was because of the Sellers characteristics in him that he invested in a typesetting-machine which cost him nearly two hundred thousand dollars and helped to wreck his fortunes by and by. It was because of this characteristic that he invested in numberless schemes of lesser importance, but no less disastrous in the end. His one successful commercial venture was his association with Charles L. Webster in the HYPERLINK "http://www.boondocksnet.com/twaintexts/biography/paine_bio154.html" publication of the Grant Memoirs , of which enough copies were sold to HYPERLINK "http://www.boondocksnet.com/twaintexts/biography/paine_bio156.html" pay a royalty of more than four hundred thousand dollars to Grant's widow -- the largest royalty ever paid from any single publication. It saved the Grant family from poverty. Yet even this triumph was a misfortune to Mark Twain, for it led to scores of HYPERLINK "http://www.boondocksnet.com/twaintexts/biography/paine_bio164.html" less profitable book ventures and eventual disaster.

Meanwhile he had written and published a number of books. HYPERLINK "http://www.boondocksnet.com/twaintexts/biography/paine_bio101.html" Tom Sawyer , HYPERLINK "http://www.boondocksnet.com/twaintexts/biography/paine_bio136.html" The Prince and the Pauper , HYPERLINK "http://www.boondocksnet.com/twaintexts/biography/paine_bio142.html" Life on the Mississippi , HYPERLINK "http://www.boondocksnet.com/twaintexts/biography/paine_bio153.html" Huckleberry Finn , and HYPERLINK "http://www.boondocksnet.com/twaintexts/biography/paine_bio171.html" A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court were among the volumes that had entertained the world and inspired it with admiration and love for their author. In 1878-79 he had taken his family HYPERLINK "http://www.boondocksnet.com/twaintexts/biography/paine_bio116.html" to Europe , where they spent their time in traveling over the Continent. It was during this period that he was joined by his intimate friend, the Rev. Joseph H. Twichell, of Hartford, and the two HYPERLINK "http://www.boondocksnet.com/twaintexts/biography/paine_bio118.html" made a journey , the story of which is told in HYPERLINK "http://www.boondocksnet.com/twaintexts/biography/paine_bio126.html" A Tramp Abroad .

In 1891 the Hartford house was again closed, this time indefinitely, and the family, now five in number, took up residence in Berlin. The HYPERLINK "http://www.boondocksnet.com/twaintexts/biography/paine_bio174.html" typesetting-machine and the unfortunate publishing venture were drawing heavily on the family finances at this period, and the cost of the Hartford establishment was too great to be maintained. During the next three years he was distracted by the financial struggle which ended in April, 1894, with the HYPERLINK "http://www.boondocksnet.com/twaintexts/biography/paine_bio188.html" failure of Charles L. Webster & Co. Mark Twain now found himself bankrupt, and nearly one hundred thousand dollars in debt. It had been a losing fight, with this bitter ending always in view; yet during this period of hard, hopeless effort he had written a large portion of the book which of all his works will perhaps survive the longest -- his tender and beautiful story of HYPERLINK "http://www.boondocksnet.com/twaintexts/biography/paine_bio195.html" Joan of Arc . All his life Joan had been his favorite character in the world's history, and during those trying months and years of the early nineties -- in Berlin, in Florence, in Paris -- he was conceiving and putting his picture of that gentle girl-warrior into perfect literary form. It was HYPERLINK "http://www.boondocksnet.com/twaintexts/biography/paine_bio183.html" published in Harper's Magazine -- anonymously, because, as he said, it would not have been received seriously had it appeared over his own name. The authorship was presently recognized. Exquisitely, reverently, as the story was told, it had in it the touch of quaint and gentle humor which could only have been given to it by Mark Twain.

It was only now and then that Mark Twain lectured during these years. He had made a HYPERLINK "http://www.boondocksnet.com/twaintexts/biography/paine_bio152.html" reading tour with George W. Cable during the winter of 1884-85, but he abominated the platform, and often vowed he would never appear before an audience again. Yet, in 1895, when he was sixty years old, he decided to rebuild his fortunes by making a HYPERLINK "http://www.boondocksnet.com/twaintexts/biography/paine_bio190.html" reading tour around the world . It was not required of him to pay his debts in full. The creditors were willing to accept fifty percent of the liabilities, and had agreed to a settlement on that basis. But this did not satisfy Mrs. Clemens, and it did not satisfy him. They decided to pay dollar for dollar. They sailed for America, and in July, 1895, set out from Elmira on the long trail across land and sea. Mrs. Clemens, and Clara Clemens, joined this pilgrimage, Susy and Jean Clemens remaining at Elmira with their aunt. Looking out of the car windows, the travelers saw Susy waving them an adieu. It was a picture they would long remember.

The HYPERLINK "http://www.boondocksnet.com/twaintexts/biography/paine_bio192.html" reading tour was one of triumph. High prices and crowded houses prevailed everywhere. The author-reader visited Australia, New Zealand, India, Ceylon, South Africa, arriving in England, at last, with the money and material which would pay off the heavy burden of debt and make him once more free before the world. And in that hour of triumph came the heavy blow. Susy Clemens, never very strong, had been HYPERLINK "http://www.boondocksnet.com/twaintexts/biography/paine_bio193.html" struck down . The first cable announced her illness. The mother and Clara sailed at once. Before they were half-way across the ocean a second cable announced that Susy was dead. The father had to meet and endure the heartbreak alone; he could not reach America in time for the burial. He remained in England, and was joined there by the sorrowing family.

They passed that HYPERLINK "http://www.boondocksnet.com/twaintexts/biography/paine_bio194.html" winter in London , where he worked at the story of his travels, HYPERLINK "http://www.boondocksnet.com/twaintexts/biography/paine_bio197.html" Following the Equator , the proofs of which he read the next summer in Switzerland. The returns from it, and from his reading venture, wiped away Mark Twain's indebtedness and made him free. He could go back to America, as he said, able to look any man in the face again.

Yet he did not go immediately. He could live more economically abroad, and economy was still necessary. The family spent two winters HYPERLINK "http://www.boondocksnet.com/twaintexts/biography/paine_bio201.html" in Vienna , and their apartments there constituted a veritable court where the world's notables gathered. Another winter in England followed, and then, in the latter part of 1900, they went home -- that is, to America. Mrs. Clemens never could bring herself to return to Hartford, and never saw their home there again.

Mark Twain's HYPERLINK "http://www.boondocksnet.com/twaintexts/biography/paine_bio212.html" return to America was in the nature of a national event. Wherever he appeared throngs turned out to bid him welcome. Mighty banquets were planned in his honor.

In a house at 14 West Tenth Street, and in a beautiful place at Riverdale, on the Hudson, most of the next three years were passed. Then Mrs. Clemens's health failed, and in the autumn of 1903 the family went to Florence for her benefit. There, on the 5th of June, 1904, she died. They brought her back and laid her beside Susy, at Elmira. That winter the family took up residence HYPERLINK "http://www.boondocksnet.com/twaintexts/biography/paine_bio234.html" at 21 Fifth Avenue , New York, and remained there until the completion of Stormfield, at Redding, Connecticut, in 1908.

In his later life Mark Twain was accorded high academic honors. Already, in 1888, he had received from Yale College the degree of Master of Arts, and the same college made him a Doctor of Literature in 1901. A year later the university of his own State, at Columbia, Missouri, conferred the same degree, and then, in 1907, came the crowning honor, when venerable Oxford tendered him the doctor's robe.

"I don't know why they should give me a degree like that," he said, quaintly. "I never doctored any literature. I wouldn't know how."

He had thought never to cross the ocean again, but he declared he would travel to Mars and back, if necessary, to get that Oxford degree. He appreciated its full meaning -- recognition by the world's foremost institution of learning of the achievements of one who had no learning of the institutionary kind. He sailed in June, and his sojourn in England was marked by a continuous ovation. His hotel was besieged by callers. Two secretaries were busy nearly twenty hours a day attending to visitors and mail. When he appeared on the street his name went echoing in every direction and the multitudes gathered. On the day when he rose, in his scarlet robe and black mortar-board, to receive his degree (he must have made a splendid picture in that dress, with his crown of silver hair), the vast assembly went wild. What a triumph, indeed, for the little Missouri printer-boy! It was the climax of a great career.

Mark Twain's work was always of a kind to make people talk, always important, even when it was mere humor. Yet it was seldom that, there was always wisdom under it, and purpose, and these things gave it dynamic force and enduring life. Some of his aphorisms -- so quaint in form as to invite laughter -- are yet fairly startling in their purport. His paraphrase, "When in doubt, tell the truth," is of this sort. "Frankness is a jewel; only the young can afford it," he once said to the writer, apropos of a little girl's remark. His daily speech was full of such things. The secret of his great charm was his great humanity and the gentle quaintness and sincerity of his utterance.

His work did not cease when the pressing need of money came to an end. He was full of ideas, and likely to begin a new article orstory at any time. He wrote and published a number of notable sketches, articles, stories, even books, during these later years, among them that marvelous short story -- " HYPERLINK "http://www.boondocksnet.com/twaintexts/twain_hadleyburg.html" The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg ." In that story, as in most of his later work, he proved to the world that he was much more than a humorist -- that he was, in fact, a great teacher, moralist, philosopher -- the greatest, perhaps, of his age.

His life at Stormfield -- he had never seen the place until the day of his arrival, June 18, 1908 -- was a peaceful and serene old age. Not that he was really old; he never was that. His step, his manner, his point of view, were all and always young. He was fond of children and frequently had them about him. He delighted in games -- especially in billiards -- and in building the house at Stormfield the billiard-room was first considered. He had a genuine passion for the sport; without it his afternoon was not complete. His mornings he was likely to pass in bed, smoking -- he was always smoking -- and attending to his correspondence and reading. History and the sciences interested him, and his bed was strewn with biographies and stories of astronomical and geological research. The vastness of distances and periods always impressed him. He had no head for figures, but he would labor for hours over scientific calculations, trying to compass them and to grasp their gigantic import. I remember once finding him highly elated over the fact that he had figured out for himself the length in hours and minutes of a "light year." He showed me the pages covered with figures, and was more proud of them than if they had been the pages of an immortal story. Then we played billiards, but even his favorite game could not make him altogether forget his splendid achievement.

It was on the day before Christmas, 1909, that heavy bereavement once more came into the life of Mark Twain. His daughter Jean, long subject to epileptic attacks, was seized with a convulsion while in her bath and HYPERLINK "http://www.boondocksnet.com/twaintexts/biography/paine_bio289.html" died before assistance reached her. He was dazed by the suddenness of the blow. His philosophy sustained him. He was glad, deeply glad for the beautiful girl that had been released.

"I never greatly envied anybody but the dead," he said, when he had looked at her. "I always envy the dead."

The coveted estate of silence, time's only absolute gift, it was the one benefaction he had ever considered worth while.

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