Mark Twain is dead, and the world will mourn him. With a style which made free use of colloquialism, which depended for effect largely upon American points of view, naturally incomprehensible to other peoples, he yet combined the spirit of humor, which is the gift of the heart, in a vehicle of charity making universal appeal.
There was and can be but one Mark Twain. He was of that select company which could bear the designation "unique." He made his own art out of his own personality. He left no "school," because what he was, he grew. Despite his later artistry and workmanship, it may be said truthfully that he acquired little. He was what he was because he was born so. He was a gift to humanity, for which all peoples are the better.
We do not think that there is any room for "criticism" of Twain and his works. He made his own standards, and exerted his own appeal. He was found good and wholesome and uplifting. In all his frolicsome humor, underlying all his fantasies, there was a strain of philosophy, a hint of satire, and a suggestion of faith that made for the discerning both sermon and poem. More than any other writer he was the apostle of the good in that of everyday, of the need in the midst of misery to smile, and of the capacity in misfortune to discover a laugh. He has left behind him a tonic without depression, the record of a brave heart and an individuality innate with love.
How many of us feel that we know Mark Twain! That what he wrote was written for us, with the intimate frankness of a friend talking over a cigar! In some way his work leaves that impression of confidence possible only to the tete a tete. It is this fact that makes his life of struggle, of heartache and sorrow, all the more pitiful because through it all he preserved his gift of friendship for the world, and poured out, ever fresh, the goodness of a heart that nothing could embitter.
It is more than a humorist who has passed. The world is poorer for the loss of one of its humanities.