|From Boston Daily Globe|
22 April 1910
From Boston Daily Globe|
23 April 1910
Mark Twain was a natural, not a forced nor a mere verbal, humorist. He was also the first great American humorist and had no professional predecessor among all the laugh-provokers of the ages. As American as Franklin or Lincoln, his worth, like theirs, is appreciated in every land where newspapers or books are read.
The court jester of old had special privileges, and the obsequious and sycophantic paid homage to his drolleries in order to curry favor with the king.
The jester of democracy has no license from a sovereign to "blow on whom he pleases," nor no patent whereby flatterers are led to pay homage to his mirth. The fierce light that beats upon a throne is moonlight unto sunlight compared with the glaring lime blaze in which the words of the popular humorist are tested.
To withstand that test was a great achievement. Mark Twain did that, and more; for he never allowed his fun to fossilize into the somber platitudes with which some old men try to erase their reputations as laugh-makers and obtain standing in the ranks of the solemnly wise. He was a humorist to the last. His title was never disputed.
Endowed with abilities which might have enabled him to win fame as an interpreter of life by means of serious language, he chose for his patroness the comic muse, and was loyal to his choice. Hence he was always young and his humor always new, "Age could not wither, nor custom stale, his infinite variety." Even amid sorrows that in most cases wring the heart till not even hope is left in it, he showered his mellow sunshine on the world.
American in humor, he was also American in character. Beneath his radiant playfulness with kings and worlds and deep philosophies the chords of life responded to the touch of high ideals. His written and his spoken words were entertainers of peoples, presidents and princes. His unrecorded prayers were deeds.
He had experience of life in all its salient ways yet found no road, however rough, that did not have a flower along its marge. Whether wanderer, wage earner, author, capitalist or insolvent, or wearing an academic crown, whether lover, husband, father, neighbor or friend, his private joys or griefs could not raise a bar between him and the millions that were gladdened by his smile.
Nor can death come between him and the world. He will live in his works.
Hail, then, thou weaver of lingering laughter, but not farewell.