His name "of record" was Samuel Langhorne Clemens, but he lives in the affections of the world as Mark Twain. Through many years, he made the world laugh in pure healthful enjoyment. He made it chuckle and he made it think sane thoughts when it might have become gloomy or morose. In dying he caused grief for the first time.
Perhaps one reason why Mark Twain gained so large a place in the hearts of his fellow men, was that men understood, or thought they understood him. Few writers have taken the public into their confidence in more pleasing and, at times, in more touching manner. Those who know most of the man's history are nowise surprised to hear the verdict of his physician, that he died of a broken heart.
Americans at least, realize that underneath the bubbling humor, the gentle searching satire that are the most apparent characteristics of his later and better work, mere craftmanship aside, there is a solid foundation of solid good sense, broad sympathy, keen perception, quick, accurate observation, which drag from their hiding places false pretense, poor logic, counterfeit charity. Critics he had and will always have, because some natures seem unable to appreciate his genius. Mark Twain was never, even at the beginning a mere juggler of words. His quips were never aimless. His funny stories were funny for what there was in them. His "Prince and Pauper" has satire on the social order clothed in sobriety of style. His "Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court," displays that satire in its more playful but no less effective aspect.
It was in large part his ability to interpret and portray character and the condition of humanity that gave Mark Twain his great strength as a humorist. His philosophical outlook was by no means to be despised. How delightfully, how lightly he could pillory the villain, the fakir and the cheat! Mark Twain was one of the giants of American literature along with Irving, Hawthorne and Poe. His humor was less gentle than that of Irving, but it meant infinitely more, because it probed farther into the world soul. This perhaps was in part because the world dealt less gently with him, but chiefly because his perceptions were more rapier like.
Mark Twain had his joys and his sorrows. He was acquainted with grief, and his fellow countrymen rejoiced with him and mourned with him because they recognized him as one of themselves. They envied him his pipe, his reprehensible habit of writing and smoking in bed, his disregard of the rules of mere convention, his affectations, which, perhaps after all were only acted satires. They admired the manhood that would not permit him the refuge of the bankruptcy court, but forced him into years of privation. They loved him for his ideal beautiful home life, his deep affection for and tender tributes to his wife and children. They will cherish his memory.