The obituary notices and appreciations of Mark Twain in the foreign press reveal an acquaintance with his works and an intimate interest in his personality such as it has been the lot of no other American author to deserve. From the comments of the London journals it might be inferred that a favorite British writer had passed away, and the tributes of the German and Italian press indicate that his death is regarded in Berlin and Rome as a personal loss.
One reason of his popularity abroad is no doubt to be found in the universality of the sense of humor which makes what New York is laughing at laughable in Berlin. But it was chiefly the very difference of the quality of Mark Twain's humor from anything in British or Continental humorous literature which appealed to foreign readers. It was as characteristically American as negro minstrelsy or the Wild West, as Dan Rice or Buffalo Bill, and was relished accordingly by virtue of its originality and contrast.
Foreign and particularly British appreciation of our native authors has been largely based on their distinctive Americanism, as in the case of Cooper, Walt Whitman, and Bret Harte. These attributes Mark Twain possessed in an unusual degree. His was a new and racy humor, more representatively American than that of any of his predecessors and with its roots deeper down in national traits -- more democratic than Lowell's and with more substance than that of his early contemporaries. To Europe, Mark Twain was the American character personified -- Uncle Sam himself in his drollest mood masking a shrewd philosophy with a jest.