Early years in Florida,Missouri(written in 1877)I was born the 30th of November, 1835, in the almost invisible village of Florida, Monroe County, Missouri. I suppose Florida had less than three hundred inhabitants. It had two streets, each a couple of hundred yards long; the rest of the avenues mere lanes, with rail fences and cornfields on either side. Both the streets and the lanes were paved with the same material--tough black mud in wet times, deep dust in dry.Most of the houses were of logs--all of them, indeed, except three or four; these latter were frame ones. There were none of brick, and none of stone. There was a log church, with a puncheon floor and slab benches. A puncheon floor is made of logs whose upper surfaces have been chipped flat with the adz. The cracks between the logs were not filled; there was no carpet; consequently, if you dropped anything smaller than a peach, it was likely to go through. The church was perched upon short sections of logs, which elevated it two or three feet from the ground. Hogs slept under there, and whenever the dogs got after them during services, the minister had to wait till the disturbance was over. In winter there was always a refreshing breeze up through the puncheon floor; in summer there were fleas enough for all.A slab bench is made of the outside cut of a saw-log, with the bark side down; it is supported on four sticks driven into auger holes at the ends; it has no back and no cushions. The church was twilighted with yellow tallow candles in tin sconces hung against the walls. Week days, the church was a schoolhouse.There were two stores in the village. My uncle, John A. Quarles, was proprietor of one of them. It was a very small establishment, with a few rolls of "bit" calicoes on half a dozen shelves; a few barrels of salt mackerel, coffee, and New Orleans sugar behind the counter; stacks of brooms, shovels, axes, hoes, rakes, and such things here and there; a lot of cheap hats, bonnets, and tinware strung on strings and suspended from the walls; and at the other end of the room was another counter with bags of shot on it, a cheese or two, and a keg of powder; in front of it a row of nail kegs and a few pigs of lead, and behind it a barrel or two of New Orleans molasses and native corn whisky on tap. If a boy bought five or ten cents' worth of anything, he was entitled to half a handful of sugar from the barrel; if a woman bought a few yards of calico she was entitled to a spool of thread in addition to the usual gratis "trimmin's"; if a man bought a trifle, he was at liberty to draw and swallow as big a drink of whisky as he wanted.Everything was cheap: apples, peaches, sweet potatoes, Irish potatoes, and corn, ten cents a bushel; chickens, ten cents apiece; butter, six cents a pound; eggs, three cents a dozen; coffee and sugar, five cents a pound; whisky, ten cents a gallon. I do not know how prices are out there in interior Missouri now, but I know what they are here in Hartford, Connecticut. To wit: apples, three dollars a bushel; peaches, five dollars; Irish potatoes (choice Bermudas), five dollars; chickens, a dollar to a dollar and a half apiece, according to weight; butter, forty-five to sixty cents a pound; eggs, fifty to sixty cents a dozen; coffee, forty-five cents a pound; native whisky, four or five dollars a gallon, I believe, but I can only be certain concerning the sort which I use myself, which is Scotch and costs ten dollars a gallon when you take two gallons--more when you take less.Thirty to forty years ago, out yonder in Missouri, the ordinary cigar cost thirty cents a hundred, but most people did not try to afford them, since smoking a pipe cost nothing in that tobacco-growing country. Connecticut is also given up to tobacco raising, today, yet we pay ten dollars a hundred for Connecticut cigars and fifteen to twenty-five dollars a hundred for the imported article.At first my father owned slaves, but by and by he sold them and hired others by the year from the farmers. For a girl of fifteen he paid twelve dollars a year and gave her two linsey-wolsey frocks and a pair of "stogy" shoes--cost, a modification of nothing; for a negro woman of twenty-five, as general house servant, he paid twenty-five dollars a year and gave her shoes and the aforementioned linsey-wolsey frocks; for a strong negro woman of forty, as cook, washer, etc., he paid forty dollars a year and the customary two suits of clothes; and for an able-bodied man he paid from seventy-five to a hundred dollars a year and gave him two suits of jeans and two pairs of "stogy" shoes--an outfit that cost about three dollars. But times have changed. We pay our German nursemaid 5 a year; Irish housemaid, 0; Irish laundress, 0; negro woman, a cook, 0; young negro man, to wait on door and table, 0; Irish coachman, 0 a year, with gas, hot and cold water, and dwelling consisting of parlor, kitchen, and two bedrooms, connected with the stable, free.11 These prices of 1877 are as interesting to-day as those of forty years earlier.
The Machine Episode(written in 1890)This episode has now spread itself over more than one-fifth of my life--a considerable stretch of time, as I am now fifty-five years old.Ten or eleven years ago, Dwight Buell, a jeweler, called at our house and was shown up to the billiard room--which was my study; and the game got more study than the other sciences. He wanted me to take some stock in a type-setting machine. He said it was at the Colt arms factory, and was about finished. I took ,000 of the stock. I was always taking little chances like that--and almost always losing by it, too--a thing which I did not greatly mind, because I was always careful to risk only such amounts as I could easily afford to lose. Some time afterward I was invited to go down to the factory and see the machine, I went, promising myself nothing, for I knew all about type-setting by practical experience, and held the settled and solidified opinion that a successful type-setting machine was an impossibility, for the reason that a machine cannot be made to think, and the thing that sets movable type must think or retire defeated. So the performance I witnessed did most thoroughly amaze me. Here was a machine that was really setting type, and doing it with swiftness and accuracy, too. Moreover, it was distributing its case at the same time. The distribution was automatic. The machine fed itself from a galley of dead matter, and without human help or suggestion; for it began its work of its own accord when the type channels needed filling, and stopped of its own accord when they were full enough. The machine was almost a complete compositor; it lacked but one feature--it did not "justify" the lines; this was done by the operator's assistant.I saw the operator set at the rate of 3,000 ems an hour, which, counting distribution, was but little short of four case-men's work.Mr. H---- was there. I had known him long; I thought I knew him well. I had great respect for him and full confidence in him. He said he was already a considerable owner and was now going to take as much more of the stock as he could afford. Wherefore I set down my name for an additional ,000. It is here that the music begins( This was the Farnam machine--so called).Before very long H---- called on me and asked me what I would charge to raise a capital of 0,000 for the manufacture of the machine. I said I would undertake it for 0,000. He said, "Raise 0,000, then, and take 0,000." I agreed. I sent for my partner, Webster. He came up from New York and went back with the project. There was some correspondence. H---- wrote Webster a letter.I will remark here that James W. Paige, the little bright-eyed, alert, smartly dressed inventor of the machine is a most extraordinary compound of business thrift and commercial insanity; of cold calculation and jejune sentimentality; of veracity and falsehood; of fidelity and treachery; of nobility and baseness; of pluck and cowardice; of wasteful liberality and pitiful stinginess; of solid sense and weltering moonshine; of towering genius and trivial ambitions; of merciful bowels and a petrified heart; of colossal vanity and--But there the opposites stop. His vanity stands alone, sky-piercing, as sharp of outline as an Egyptian monolith. It is the only unpleasant feature in him that is not modified, softened, compensated by some converse characteristic. There is another point or two worth mentioning. He can persuade anybody, he can convince nobody. He has a crystal-clear mind as regards the grasping and concreting of an idea which has been lost and smothered under a chaos of baffling legal language; and yet it can always be depended upon to take the simplest half dozen facts and draw from them a conclusion that will astonish the idiots in the asylum. It is because he is a dreamer, a visionary. His imagination runs utterly away with him. He is a poet, a most great and genuine poet, whose sublime creations are written in steel. He is the Shakespeare of mechanical invention. In all the ages he has no peer. Indeed, there is none that even approaches him. Whoever is qualified to fully comprehend his marvelous machine will grant that its place is upon the loftiest summit of human invention, with no kindred between it and the far foothills below.But I must explain these strange contradictions above listed or the man will be misunderstood and wronged. His business thrift is remarkable, and it is also of a peculiar cut. He has worked at his expensive machine for more than twenty years, but always at somebody else's cost. He spent hundreds and thousands of other folks' money, yet always kept his machine and its possible patents in his own possession, unencumbered by an embarrassing lien of any kind--except once, which will be referred to by and by. He could never be beguiled into putting a penny of his own into his work. Once he had a brilliant idea in the way of a wonderfully valuable application of electricity. To test it, he said, would cost but twenty-five dollars. I was paying him a salary of nearly 0 a month and was spending ,200 on the machine, besides. Yet he asked me to risk the twenty-five dollars and take half of the result. I declined, and he dropped the matter. Another time he was sure he was on the track of a splendid thing in electricity. It would cost only a trifle--possibly 0--to try some experiments; I was asked to furnish the money and take half of the result. I furnished money until the sum had grown to about a thousand dollars, and everything was pronounced ready for the grand exposition. The electric current was turned on--the thing declined to go. Two years later the same thing was successfully worked out and patented by a man in the State of New York and was at once sold for a huge sum of money and a royalty reserve besides. The drawings in the electrical journal showing the stages by which that inventor had approached the consummation of his idea, proving his way step by step as he went, were almost the twins of Paige's drawings of two years before. It was almost as if the same hand had drawn both sets. Paige said we had had it, and we should have known it if we had only tried an alternating current after failing with the direct current; said he had felt sure, at the time, that at cost of a hundred dollars he could apply the alternating test and come out triumphant. Then he added, in tones absolutely sodden with self-sacrifice and just barely touched with reproach:"But you had already spent so much money on the thing that I hadn't the heart to ask you to spend any more."If I had asked him why he didn't draw on his own pocket, he would not have understood me. He could not have grasped so strange an idea as that. He would have thought there was something the matter with my mind. I am speaking honestly; he could not have understood it. A cancer of old habit and long experience could as easily understand the suggestion that it board itself awhile.In drawing contracts he is always able to take care of himself; and in every instance he will work into the contracts injuries to the other party and advantages to himself which were never considered or mentioned in the preceding verbal agreement. In one contract he got me to assign to him several hundred thousand dollars' worth of property for a certain valuable consideration--said valuable consideration being the regiving to me of another piece of property which was not his to give, but already belonged to me! I quite understand that I am confessing myself a fool; but that is no matter, the reader would find it out anyway as I go along. H---- was our joint lawyer, and I had every confidence in his wisdom and cleanliness.Once when I was lending money to Paige during a few months, I presently found that he was giving receipts to my representative instead of notes! But that man never lived who could catch Paige so nearly asleep as to palm off on him a piece of paper which apparently satisfied a debt when it ought to acknowledge a loan.I must throw in a parenthesis here or I shall do H---- an injustice. Here and there I have seemed to cast little reflections upon him. Pay no attention to them. I have no feeling about him; I have no harsh words to say about him. He is a great, fat, good-natured, kind-hearted, chicken-livered slave; with no more pride than a tramp, no more sand than a rabbit, no more moral sense than a wax figure, and no more sex than a tapeworm. He sincerely thinks he is honest, he sincerely thinks he is honorable. It is my daily prayer to God that he be permitted to live and die in those superstitions. I gave him a twentieth of my American holding, at Paige's request; I gave him a twentieth of my foreign holding, at his own supplication; I advanced nearly forty thousand dollars in five years to keep these interests sound and valid for him. In return, he drafted every contract which I made with Paige in all that time--clear up to September, 1890--and pronounced them good and fair; and then I signed.Yes, it is as I have said: Paige is an extraordinary compound of business thrift and commercial insanity. Instances of his commercial insanity are simply innumerable. Here are some examples. When I took hold of the machine, February 6, 1886, its faults had been corrected and a setter and a justifier could turn out about 3,500 ems an hour on it, possibly 4,000. There was no machine that could pretend rivalry to it. Business sanity would have said, put it on the market as it was, secure the field, and add improvements later. Paige's business insanity said, add the improvements first and risk losing the field. And that is what he set out to do. To add a justifying mechanism to that machine would take a few months and cost ,000 by his estimate, or ,000 by Pratt and Whitney's. I agreed to add said justifier to that machine. There could be no sense in building a new machine, yet in total violation of the agreement, Paige went immediately to work to build a new machine, although aware, by recent experience, that the cost could not fall below 0,000 and that the time consumed would be years instead of months. Well, when four years had been spent and the new machine was able to exhibit a marvelous capacity, we appointed the 12th of January for Senator Jones of Nevada to come and make an inspection. He was not promised a perfect machine, but a machine which could be perfected. He had agreed to invest one or two hundred thousand dollars in its fortunes, and had also said that if the exhibition was particularly favorable he might take entire charge of the elephant. At the last moment Paige concluded to add an air blast (afterward found to be unnecessary); wherefore, Jones had to be turned back from New York to wait a couple of months and lose his interest in the thing. A year ago Paige made what he regarded as a vast and magnanimous concession, and said I might sell the English patent for ,000,000! A little later a man came along who thought he could bring some Englishmen who would buy that patent, and he was sent off to fetch them. He was gone so long that Paige's confidence began to diminish, and with it his price. He finally got down to what he said was his very last and bottom price for that patent--,000! This was the only time in five years that I ever saw Paige in his right mind. I could furnish other examples of Paige's business insanity--enough of them to fill six or eight volumes, perhaps, but I am not writing his history, I am merely sketching his portrait.* * * * * *I went on footing the bills and got the machine really perfected at last, at a full cost of about 0,000, instead of the original ,000.W. tells me that Paige tried his best to cheat me out of my royalties when making a contract with the Connecticut Company.Also that he tried to cheat out of all share Mr. North (inventor of the justifying mechanism), but that North frightened him with a lawsuit threat and is to get a royalty until the aggregate is ,000,000.Paige and I always meet on effusively affectionate terms, and yet he knows perfectly well that if I had him in a steel trap I would shut out all human succor and watch that trap till he died(1 The machine in the end proved a complete failure, being too complicated, too difficult to keep in order. It cost Mark Twain a total of about 0,000.--A. B. P.)
In Heidelberg, when she was six, she noticed that the Schloss gardens--
If we would learn what the human race really is at bottom, we need only observe it in election times. A Hartford clergyman met me in the street and spoke of a new nominee--denounced the nomination, in strong, earnest words--words that were refreshing for their independence, their manliness. He said, "I ought to be proud, perhaps, for this nominee is a relative of mine; on the contrary, I am humiliated and disgusted, for I know him intimately--familiarly--and I know that he is an unscrupulous scoundrel, and always has been." You should have seen this clergyman preside at a political meeting forty days later, and urge, and plead, and gush--and you should have heard him paint the character of this same nominee. You would have supposed he was describing the Cid, and Greatheart, and Sir Galahad, and Bayard the Spotless all rolled into one. Was he sincere? Yes--by that time; and therein lies the pathos of it all, the hopelessness of it all. It shows at what trivial cost of effort a man can teach himself to lie, and learn to believe it, when he perceives, by the general drift, that that is the popular thing to do. Does he believe his lie yet? Oh, probably not; he has no further use for it. It was but a passing incident; he spared to it the moment that was its due, then hastened back to the serious business of his life.
Playing This was in 1849. I was fourteen years old, then. We were still living in Hannibal, Missouri, on the banks of the Mississippi, in the new "frame" house built by my father five years before. That is, some of us lived in the new part, the rest in the old part back of it and attached to it. In the autumn my sister gave a party and invited all the marriageable young people of the village. I was too young for this society, and was too bashful to mingle with young ladies, anyway, therefore I was not invited--at least not for the whole evening. Ten minutes of it was to be my whole share. I was to do the part of a bear in a small fairy play. I was to be disguised all over in a close-fitting brown hairy stuff proper for a bear. About half past ten I was told to go to my room and put on this disguise, and be ready in half an hour. I started, but changed my mind, for I wanted to practice a little, and that room was very small. I crossed over to the large unoccupied house on the corner of Main Street, unaware that a dozen of the young people were also going there to dress for their parts. I took the little black boy, Sandy, with me, and we selected a roomy and empty chamber on the second floor. We entered it talking, and this gave a couple of half-dressed young ladies an opportunity to take refuge behind a screen undiscovered. Their gowns and things were hanging on hooks behind the door, but I did not see them; it was Sandy that shut the door, but all his heart was in the theatricals, and he was as unlikely to notice them as I was myself.That was a rickety screen, with many holes in it, but, as I did not know there were girls behind it, I was not disturbed by that detail. If I had known, I could not have undressed in the flood of cruel moonlight that was pouring in at the curtainless windows; I should have died of shame. Untroubled by apprehensions, I stripped to the skin and began my practice. I was full of ambition, I was determined to make a hit, I was burning to establish a reputation as a bear and get further engagements; so I threw myself into my work with an abandon that promised great things. I capered back and forth from one end of the room to the other on all fours, Sandy applauding with enthusiasm; I walked upright and growled and snapped and snarled, I stood on my head, I flung handsprings, I danced a lubberly dance with my paws bent and my imaginary snout sniffing from side to side, I did everything a bear could do, and many things which no bear could ever do and no bear with any dignity would want to do, anyway; and of course I never suspected that I was making a spectacle of myself to anyone but Sandy. At last, standing on my head, I paused in that attitude to take a minute's rest. There was a moment's silence, then Sandy spoke up with excited interest and said:"Mars Sam, has you ever seed a dried herring?""No. What is that?""It's a fish.""Well, what of it? Anything peculiar about it?""Yes, suh, you bet you dey is. Dey eats 'em innards and all!"There was a smothered burst of feminine snickers from behind the screen! All the strength went out of me and I toppled forward like an undermined tower and brought the screen down with my weight, burying the young ladies under it. In their fright they discharged a couple of piercing screams--and possibly others--but I did not wait to count. I snatched my clothes and fled to the dark hall below, Sandy following. I was dressed in half a minute, and out the back way. I swore Sandy to eternal silence, then we went away and hid until the party was over. The ambition was all out of me. I could not have faced that giddy company after my adventure, for there would be two performers there who knew my secret and would be privately laughing at me all the time. I was searched for, but not found, and the bear had to be played by a young gentleman in his civilized clothes. The house was still and everybody asleep when I finally ventured home. I was very heavy hearted and full of a bitter sense of disgrace. Pinned to my pillow I found a slip of paper which bore a line which did not lighten my heart, but only made my face burn. It was written in a laboriously disguised hand, and these were its mocking terms:You probably couldn't have played bear, but you played bare very well--oh, very very well!We think boys are rude, unsensitive animals, but it is not so in all cases. Each boy has one or two sensitive spots, and if you can find out where they are located you have only to touch them and you can scorch him as with fire. I suffered miserably over that episode. I expected that the facts would be all over the village in the morning, but it was not so. The secret remained confined to the two girls and Sandy and me. That was some appeasement of my pain, but it was far from sufficient--the main trouble remained: I was under four mocking eyes, and it might as well have been a thousand, for I suspected all girls' eyes of being the ones I so dreaded. During several weeks I could not look any young lady in the face; I dropped my eyes in confusion when any one of them smiled upon me and gave me greeting; I said to myself, "That is one of them," and got quickly away. Of course I was meeting the right girls everywhere, but if they ever let slip any betraying sign I was not bright enough to catch it. When I left Hannibal, four years later, the secret was still a secret; I had never guessed those girls out, and was no longer hoping or expecting to do it.One of the dearest and prettiest girls in the village at the time of my mishap was one whom I will call Mary Wilson, because that was not her name. She was twenty years old; she was dainty and sweet, peach-blooming and exquisite, gracious and lovely in character. I stood in awe of her, for she seemed to me to be made out of angel clay and rightfully unapproachable by just any unholy ordinary kind of boy like me. I probably never suspected her. But--The scene changes to Calcutta--forty-seven years later. It was in 1896. I arrived there on a lecturing trip. As I entered the hotel a vision passed out of it, clothed in the glory of the Indian sunshine--the Mary Wilson of my long-vanished boyhood! It was a startling thing. Before I could recover from the pleasant shock and speak to her she was gone. I thought maybe I had seen an apparition, but it was not so, she was flesh. She was the granddaughter of the other Mary. The other Mary, now a widow, was upstairs, and presently sent for me. She was old and gray-haired, but she looked young and was very handsome. We sat down and talked. We steeped our thirsty souls in the reviving wine of the past, the pathetic past, the beautiful past, the dear and lamented past; we uttered the names that had been silent upon our lips for fifty years, and it was as if they were made of music; with reverent hands we unburied our dead, the mates of our youth, and caressed them with our speech; we searched the dusty chambers of our memories and dragged forth incident after incident, episode after episode, folly after folly, and laughed such good laughs over them, with the tears running down; and finally Mary said, suddenly, and without any leading up:"Tell me! What is the special peculiarity of dried herrings?"It seemed a strange question at such a hallowed time as this. And so inconsequential, too. I was a little shocked. And yet I was aware of a stir of some kind away back in the deeps of my memory somewhere. It set me to musing--thinking--searching. Dried herrings? Dried herrings? The peculiarity of dri . . . I glanced up. Her face was grave, but there was a dim and shadowy twinkle in her eye which--All of a sudden I knew and far away down in the hoary past I heard a remembered voice murmur. "Dey eats 'em innards and all!""At--last! I've found one of you, anyway! Who was the other girl?"But she drew the line there. She wouldn't tell me.But a boy's life is not all comedy; much of the tragic enters into it. The drunken tramp--mentioned elsewhere--who was burned up in the village jail lay upon my conscience a hundred nights afterward and filled them with hideous dreams--dreams in which I saw his appealing face as I had seen it in the pathetic reality, pressed against the window bars, with the red hell glowing behind him--a face which seemed to say to me, "If you had not given me the matches, this would not have happened; you are responsible for my death." I was not responsible for it, for I had meant him no harm, but only good, when I let him have the matches; but no matter, mine was a trained Presbyterian conscience and knew but the one duty--to hunt and harry its slave upon all pretexts and on all occasions, particularly when there was no sense nor reason in it. The tramp--who was to blame--suffered ten minutes; I, who was not to blame, suffered three months.The shooting down of poor old Smarr in the main street at noonday supplied me with some more dreams; and in them I always saw again the grotesque closing picture--the great family Bible spread open on the profane old man's breast by some thoughtful idiot, and rising and sinking to the labored breathings, and adding the torture of its leaden weight to the dying struggles. We are curiously made. In all the throng of gaping and sympathetic onlookers there was not one with common sense enough to perceive that an anvil would have been in better taste there than the Bible, less open to sarcastic criticism, and swifter in its atrocious work. In my nightmares I gasped and struggled for breath under the crush of that vast book for many a night.All within the space of a couple of years we had two or three other tragedies, and I had the ill luck to be too near by, on each occasion. There was the slave man who was struck down with a chunk of slag for some small offense; I saw him die. And the young Californian emigrant who was stabbed with a bowie knife by a drunken comrade; I saw the red life gush from his breast. And the case of the rowdy young brothers and their harmless old uncle: one of them held the old man down with his knees on his breast while the other one tried repeatedly to kill him with an Allen revolver which wouldn't go off, I happened along just then, of course.Then there was the case of the young Californian emigrant who got drunk and proposed to raid the "Welshman's house" all alone one dark and threatening night. This house stood halfway up Holliday's Hill and its sole occupants were a poor but quite respectable widow and her blameless daughter. The invading ruffian woke the whole village with his ribald yells and coarse challenges and obscenities. I went up there with a comrade--John Briggs, I think--to look and listen. The figure of the man was dimly visible; the women were on their porch, nor visible in the deep shadow of its roof, but we heard the elder woman's voice. She had loaded an old musket with slugs, and she warned the man that if he stayed where he was while she counted ten it would cost him his life. She began to count, slowly; he began to laugh. He stopped laughing at "six"; then through the deep stillness, in a steady voice, followed the rest of the tale: "Seven . . . eight . . . nine"--a long pause, we holding our breaths--"ten!" A red spout of flame gushed out into the night, and the man dropped with his breast riddled to rags. Then the rain and the thunder burst loose and the waiting town swarmed up the hill in the glare of the lightning like an invasion of ants. Those people saw the rest; I had had my share and was satisfied. I went home to dream, and was not disappointed.My teaching and training enabled me to see deeper into these tragedies than an ignorant person could have done. I knew what they were for. I tried to disguise it from myself, but down in the secret deeps of my troubled heart I knew--and I knew I knew. They were inventions of Providence to beguile me to a better life. It sounds curiously innocent and conceited, now, but to me there was nothing strange about it; it was quite in accordance with the thoughtful and judicious ways of Providence as I understood them. It would not have surprised me, nor even overflattered me, if Providence had killed off that whole community in trying to save an asset like me. Educated as I had been, it would have seemed just the thing, and well worth the expense. Why Providence should take such an anxious interest in such a property, that idea never entered my head, and there was no one in that simple hamlet who would have dreamed of putting it there. For one thing, no one was equipped with it.It is quite true, I took all the tragedies to myself, and tallied them off in turn as they happened, saying to myself in each case, with a sigh, "Another one gone--and on my account; this ought to bring me to repentance; the patience of God will not always endure." And yet privately I believed it would. That is, I believed it in the daytime; but not in the night. With the going down of the sun my faith failed and the clammy fears gathered about my heart. It was then that I repented. Those were awful nights, nights of despair, nights charged with the bitterness of death. After each tragedy I recognized the warning and repented; repented and begged; begged like a coward, begged like a dog; and not in the interest of those poor people who had been extinguished for my sake, but only in my own interest. It seems selfish, when I look back on it now.My repentances were very real, very earnest; and after each tragedy they happened every night for a long time. But as a rule they could not stand the daylight. They faded out and shredded away and disappeared in the glad splendor of the sun. They were the creatures of fear and darkness, and they could not live out of their own place. The day gave me cheer and peace, and at night I repented again. In all my boyhood life I am not sure that I ever tried to lead a better life in the daytime--or wanted to. In my age I should never think of wishing to do such a thing. But in my age, as in my youth, night brings me many a deep remorse. I realize that from the cradle up I have been like the rest of the race--never quite sane in the night. When "Injun Joe" died . . . But never mind. Somewhere I have already described what a raging hell of repentance I passed through then. I believe that for months I was as pure as the driven snow. After dark.
Henry H.Rogers(Added in 1909)The value of his advice.--His beautiful nature.Since he passed from life many months have gone by, and still I have not found myself competent to put into words my feelings for him and my estimate of him. For he is as yet too near, the restraint of his spirit too effective.All through my life I have been the easy prey of the cheap adventurer. He came, he lied, he robbed, and went his way, and the next one arrived by the next train and began to scrape up what was left. I was in the toils of one of these creatures sixteen years ago, and it was Mr. Rogers who got me out. We were strangers when we met, and friends when we parted, half an hour afterward. The meeting was accidental and unforeseen, but it had memorable and fortunate consequences for me. He dragged me out of that difficulty, and also out of the next one--a year or two later--which was still more formidable than its predecessor. He did these saving things at no cost to my self-love, no hurt to my pride; indeed, he did them with so delicate an art that I almost seemed to have done them myself. By no sign, no hint, no word did he ever betray any consciousness that I was under obligations to him. I have never been so great as that, and I have not known another who was. I have never approached it; it belongs among the loftiest of human attributes. This is a world where you get nothing for nothing; where you pay value for everything you get and 50 per cent over; and when it is gratitude you owe, you have to pay a thousand. In fact, gratitude is a debt which usually goes on accumulating, like blackmail; the more you pay, the more is exacted. In time you are made to realize that the kindness done you is become a curse and you wish it had not happened. You find yourself situated as was Mr. W., a friend of friends of mine, years ago. He was rich and good-hearted and appreciative. His wife's life was saved by a grocer's young man, who stopped her runaway horses. Her husband was grateful beyond words. For he supposed gratitude was a sentiment; he did not know it had a price and that he was not the one to determine the rate. But by and by he was educated. Then he said to the grocer's young man, "Take this five hundred dollars and vanish; I have had you and your tribe on my back three years, and if ever another man saves my wife's life, let him buy a coffin, for he will need it."Mr. Rogers was a great man. No one denies him that praise. He was great in more ways than one--ways in which other men are great, ways in which he had not a monopoly; but in that fine trait which I have mentioned he was uniquely great; he held that high place almost alone, almost without a sharer. If nobilities of character were accorded decorations symbolizing degrees of merit and distinction, I think this one could claim rank, unchallenged, with the Garter and the Golden Fleece.But what I am trying to place before unfamiliar eyes is the heart of him.When the publishing house of Webster & Company failed, in the early '90's, its liabilities exceeded its assets by 66 per cent. I was morally bound for the debts, though not legally. The panic was on, business houses were falling to ruin everywhere, creditors were taking the assets--when there were any--and letting the rest go. Old business friends of mine said: "Business is business, sentiment is sentiment--and this is business. Turn the assets over to the creditors and compromise on that; other creditors are not getting 33 per cent." My wife said, "No, you will pay a hundred cents on the dollar." Mr. Rogers was certainly a business man--no one doubts that. People who know him only by printed report will think they know what his attitude would be in the matter. And they will be mistaken. He sided with my wife. He was the only man who had a clear eye for the situation, and could see that it differed from other apparently parallel situations. In substance he said this: "Business has its laws and customs, and they are justified; but a literary man's reputation is his life; he can afford to be money poor, but he cannot afford to be character poor; you must earn the cent per cent, and pay it." My nephew, the late Samuel E. Moffett--himself a literary man--felt in the same way, naturally enough; but I only mention him to recall and revivify a happy remark which he made, and which traveled around the globe: "Honor knows no statute of limitations."So it was decided. I must cease from idling and take up work again. I must write a book; also I must return to the lecture platform. My wife said I could clear off the load of debt in four years. Mr. Rogers was more cautious, more conservative, more liberal. He said I could have as many years as I wanted--seven to start with. That was his joke. When he was not in the humor for pleasantry, it was because he was asleep. Privately I was afraid his seven might be nearer the mark than Mrs. Clemens's four.One day I got a shock--a shock which disturbed me a good deal. I overheard a brief conversation between Mr. Rogers and a couple of other seasoned men of affairs.First Man of Affairs. "How old is Clemens?"Mr. Rogers. "Fifty-eight."First Man of Affairs. "Ninety-five per cent of the men who fail at fifty-eight never get up again."Second Man of Affairs. "You can make it ninety-eight per cent and be nearer right."Those sayings haunted me for several days, troubling me with melancholy forebodings, and would not be reasoned away by me. There wasn't any room for reasoning, anyway, so far as I could see. If, at fifty-eight, ninety-eight men in a hundred who fail never get up again, what chance had I to draw No. 99 or No. 100? However, the depression did not last; it soon passed away, because Mrs. Clemens took her always-ready pencil and paper, when she learned my trouble, and clearly and convincingly ciphered out the intake of the four years and the resultant success. I could see that she was right. Indeed, she was always right. In foresight, wisdom, accurate calculation, good judgment, and the ability to see all sides of a problem, she had no match among people I have known, except Mr. Rogers.Necessarily it took a good while to arrange the details and make the engagements for a lecture trip around the globe, but this labor was completed at last, and we made our start in the middle of July, 1895, booked ahead for twelve months.Meantime he was in command, in the matter of the creditors--and had been from the beginning. There were ninety-six creditors. He had meetings with them, discussions, arguments, persuasions, but no quarrels. Mrs. Clemens wanted to turn over to the creditors the house she had built in Hartford, and which stood in her name, but he would not allow it. Neither would he allow my copyrights to go to them. Mrs. Clemens had lent the Webster firm ,000 upon its notes, in its perishing days, in the hope of saving its life, and Mr. Rogers insisted upon making her a preferred creditor and letting her have the copyrights in liquidation of the notes. He would not budge from this position, and the creditors finally yielded the point.Mr. Rogers insisted upon just two things besides the relinquishment of the copyrights: the creditors must be content with the Webster assets, for the present, and give me time to earn the rest of the firm's debt. He won them over. There were a clarity about his reasonings, and a charm about his manner, his voice, and the kindness and sincerity that looked out of his eyes, that could win anybody that had brains in his head and a heart in his body. Of the ninety-six creditors, only three or four stood out for rigorous and uncompromising measures against me and refused to relent. The others said I could go free and take my own time. They said they would obstruct me in no way and would bring no actions; and they kept their word. As to the three or four, I have never resented their animosity, except in my Autobiography. And even there, not in spite, not in malice, but only frankly and in only a brief chapter--a chapter which can never wound them, for I have every confidence that they will be in hell before it is printed.The long, long head that Mr. Rogers carried on his shoulders! When he was so strenuous about my copyrights, and so determined to keep them in the family, I was not able to understand why he should think the matter so important. He insisted that they were a great asset. I said they were not an asset at all; I couldn't even give them away. He said, wait--let the panic subside and business revive, and I would see; they would be worth more than they had ever been worth before.That was his idea--the idea of a financier, familiar with finance; of a capitalist, deep in railroads, oil, banks, iron, copper, telegraphs, and so on, and familiar with those things, but what could he know about books? What was his opinion about copyright values worth, if it clashed with the opinion of experienced old publishers? Which it did. The Webster failure threw seven of my books on my hands. I had offered them to three first-class publishers; they didn't want them. If Mr. Rogers had let Mrs. Clemens and me have our way, the copyrights would have been handed over to the publishers.I am grateful to his memory for many a kindness and many a good service he did me, but gratefulest of all for the saving of my copyrights--a service which saved me and my family from want and assured us permanent comfort and prosperity.How could he look into the future and see all that, when the men whose trade and training it was to exercise that technical vision were forecast blind and saw no vestige of it? This is only one example of the wonders of his mind; his intimates could cite many others, products of that rich treasury.I was never able to teach him anything about finance, though I tried hard and did the best I could. I was not able to move him. Once I had hopes for a little while. The Standard Oil declared one of its customary fury-breeding 40- or 50-per-cent dividends on its 0,000,000 capital, and the storm broke out, as usual. To the unposted public a 40- or 50-per-cent dividend could mean only one thing--the giant Trust was squeezing an utterly and wickedly unfair profit out of the helpless people; whereas in truth the giant Trust was not doing anything of the kind, but was getting only 5 or 6 per cent on the money actually invested in its business, which was eight or ten times a hundred millions. In my quality of uneducated financial expert I urged that the nominal capital be raised to ,000,000,000; then next year's dividend would drop to 4 or 5 per cent, the year's profit would be the same as usual, but the usual storm would not happen. If I remember rightly, I think he offered the objection that the tenfold increase of taxes would be too heavy, and I rejoined that by the ill-veiled exultation in his eye I knew he regarded my suggestion as of vast value and was trying to invent some plausible way of getting out of paying a commission on it. I often gave him fresh financial ideas, quite uninvited; and in return--uninvited--he told me how to write my literature better; but nothing came of it, both of us remained as poor as ever.Unconsciously we all have a standard by which we measure other men, and if we examine closely we find that this standard is a very simple one, and is this: we admire them, we envy them, for great qualities which we ourselves lack. Hero worship consists in just that. Our heroes are the men who do things which we recognize, with regret, and sometimes with a secret shame, that we cannot do. We find not much in ourselves to admire, we are always privately wanting to be like somebody else. If everybody was satisfied with himself, there would be no heroes.Mr. Rogers was endowed with many great qualities; but the one which I most admired, and which was to me a constant reproach because I lacked it, was his unselfishness where a friend or a cause that was near his heart was concerned, and his native readiness to come forward and take vigorous hold of the difficulty involved and abolish it. I was born to indolence, idleness, procrastination, indifference--the qualities that constitute a shirk; and so he was always a wonder to me, and a delight--he who never shirked anything, but kept his master brain and his master hands going all day long, and every day, and was happiest when he was busiest, and apparently lightest of heart when his burden of labor and duty was heaviest.He could take trouble; I could not take trouble, either for myself or for anyone else. I dreaded anything that might disturb my ease and comfort, and would put that thing from me even when it cost me shame to do it; and so to see him take trouble, no end of trouble, days and days of trouble, and take it so patiently, so placidly, so interestedly--and so affectionately, too, if it was for somebody else--was to me a strange and marvelous thing, and beautiful. It probably never occurred to him to admire it; no, he would be occupied in admiring some quality in some one else which was lacking in his own composition.The question of what is a gentleman was being thrashed out in the newspapers shortly after Mr. Rogers's death, and many definitions were furnished, but no decision reached. The larger part of the definitions were in substance alike, differing only in small details and delicate shadings. They painted a lofty and charming and lovable personality. Mr. Rogers could have sat for that portrait.