Inside a Mississippi Steamboat

picture courtesy of "Mark Twain in His Times"

"...all men--kings & serfs alike--are slaves to other men & to circumstance--save alone, the pilot--who comes at
no man's beck and call, obeys no man's orders & scorns all men's suggestions. The king would do this thing, &
would do that: but a cramped treasury overmasters him in the one case & a seditious people in the other. The
Senator must hob-nob with canaille whom he despises, & banker, priest & statesman trim their actions by the
breeze of the world's will & the world's opinion. It is a strange study,--a singular phenomenon, if you please,
that the only real, independent & genuine gentlemen in the world go quietly up and down the Mississippi
river, asking no homage of any one, seeking no popularity, no notoriety, & not caring a damn whether
school keeps or not." letter to Will Bowen, 8.25.1866, as quoted on

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