The tributes called forth by Mark Twain's death show him to have been regarded not only as an American of the Americans, but as one of the foremost citizens of the world. "With the exception of Tolstoy," says The Morning Leader (London), "probably there is no writer whose death would rouse more universal emotions of respect and regret." Mr. Hamlin Garland is reported through the press as saying that he was "as distinctly American as Walt Whitman." "The work of most writers could be produced in any country," he adds, "but I think we, as well as everybody in foreign lands, will look upon Twain's work as being as closely related to this county as the Mississippi River itself."
Indeed, the Mississippi seems somehow to symbolize him and he it. A dispatch from Paris voices one of the most poignant expressions of personal loss among the many that now fill the papers. Mr. C. B. M. Farthing, friend and schoolmate of Mark Twain, and the original Huckleberry Finn, said when told of his loss:
"The old days are passing. The men who made them are gone, and even the long sweep of the majestic yellow river seems to have dwindled and lessened. The noise of its traffic, the music of its many deep-throated voices are practically no more. The man who caught them and froze them into human words for the delight of the world is dead."
One of those upon whom the mantle of humor which we call "American" has fallen, George Ade says:
"I read every line Twain wrote, for he was a kind of literary god to me. His influence has already worked itself into the literature of our day. We owe much of our cheerfulness, simplicity, and hope to him. Most of all, Twain grew old beautifully, showing his simple, childlike faith for ultimate success throughout all his adversities."
Among the tributes of personal affection that of President Woodrow Wilson, of Princeton, is especially appealing:
"All the world knows that in Mark Twain it has lost a delightful humorist, a man able to interpret human life with a flavor all his own; but only those who had the privilege of knowing him personally can feel the loss to the full-the loss of a man of high and lovely character, a friend quick to excite and give affection; a citizen of the world, who loved every wholesome adventure of the mind or heart; an American who spoke much of the spirit of America in speaking his native thoughts."
"He was one of the most ethical of humorist," says The Daily News (London), to which The Daily Chronicle (London) adds: "His aspect of things is in reality serious and his judgment often peculiarly wise." It is further noted that he had "the ironic gift of puzzling people and leaving them divided between seriousness and laughter." The Daily Express (London) thinks "Huckleberry Finn" his best work.
Samuel Langhorne Clemens was born November 30, 1835, in the little town of Florida, Monroe County, Mo. His father was accounted a man of "education and social importance" in the frontier town of that early day. Three years after the son's birth the family moved to Hannibal on the Mississippi, where Samuel at twelve years of age first touched printer's ink. His young life was somewhat adventurous, as the obituary in the New York Sun recounts:
"He determined that if he must be a printer he would be a tramp printer, and before he was sixteen he had worked in the composing-rooms of newspapers in St. Louis, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, and New York. The river called him back. In 1851 he returned to Hannibal determined to become a pilot, or as it was called, 'to learn the river.' This was not an inexpensive matter. Master pilots demanded $500 to take a cadet and thoroughly instruct him in the business. Young Clemens could not then pay any premium, but he worked for several years with the sole end in view, making money as a printer at times, at times working as a clerk on river-boats. In 1857 he was able to satisfy a master pilot of his ability to pay the $500 fee, and two years later he had a pilot's license, his first boat being the Alonso Child under Captain De Haven.
"In 1862 he enlisted in the Confederate Army of Gen. Sterling Price, but after a few months he returned to St. Louis to join his brother Orrin, who had been appointed Secretary of the Territory of Nevada as his clerk to Carson City.
"Up in Esmeralda County, Nev., near the present Goldfield mines, in a camp called Aurora, men were finding rich gold quartz in surface outcroppings, and the excitement of this 'rush' drew Clemens from his desk in Carson City. The romance of a new mining-camp near the very peak of the Sierra Nevada addrest the sympathies of the young adventurer more than the hard work of prospecting for pay rock.
"He made no discoveries of importance in mining, but he made many acquaintances with stage-drivers, gamblers, and 'bad' men, all of whom appear in 'Roughing It.'"
After a year of mining-camp life he returned to newspaper work on the staff of The Enterprise in Virginia City, Nev. It was here that some of his broadly humorous articles appeared over the signature "Mark Twain," and were copied widely by papers of the Pacific Coast. Then:
"The San Francisco Call made an offer to the writer of the Mark Twain stories, and Clemens in 1865 went on The Call staff, but he remained there only six months, for the mining-camp called again. In Calaveras County, Cal., he found little gold dust, but he did find material for stories which gave him his first fame east of the Rockies, the stories in the book 'The Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.'
"In 1866 Clemens went to the Sandwich Islands and wrote from there some sketches for the Sacramento Union, which sketches were the basis for his first lectures delivered in San Francisco after his return from Honolulu.
In the following year the stories of the 'Jumping Frog' book were published, and Mark Twain became known in the Eastern States as a writer of exaggerated humor. It was the reputation these stories gained for him that prompted some newspapers editors to select Mr. Clemens to go with a party of tourists on a journey abroad and write for his employers what would now be called a 'syndicate' letter. This trip resulted (1869) in the publication of 'Innocents Abroad,' an extended revision of the letters, and with the instant success of that book the writer became famous in this country and most of the countries of Europe.
"In spite of the very profitable sales of the book, which would have warranted the author in devoting all his time to book-writing, he soon after his return from that now famous trip became editor of the Buffalo Express. This was probably in pursuance of a contract entered into before the trip to Europe. He remained in Buffalo only two years, marrying there Miss Olivia Langdon, whose acquaintance he had made on the ocean voyage.
"Mr. Clemens went to Hartford to live, and at once began work the material he had gathered while he was not gathering other pay ore in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and out of that material came the book 'Roughing It.' This fixt his reputation as a story-teller and humorist, and his work was urgently demanded by editors on both sides of the ocean. Contributing frequently to magazines, he wrote also in the following year, collaborating with Charles Dudley Warner, 'The Gilded Age,' which was soon successfully dramatized.
"Next came from his pen what many Americans and nearly all English critics consider his best work of fiction, 'The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.' (1876).
"After writing several other books Mr. Clemens in 1884 invested largely in the publishing enterprise of the Charles L. Webster Company, which had contracted to pay Mrs. Grant $500,000 for the copyright of General Grant's autobiography. Ten years later the failure of this firm left Mr. Clemens in debt far beyond his resources.
"It was believed by his friends and advisers that a round-the-world lecture tour would help to recoup Mr. Clemens, and the tour was undertaken. Its success was vastly beyond the most hopeful expectations; the author was received everywhere with high social and sometimes with civic honors; his lectures were everywhere attended by delighted crowds and frequently delivered under the 'patronage' of the most distinguished people. The profits of the tour enabled Mr. Clemens to pay every cent he owed and left him a considerable balance."
Mark Twain's later books were: "A Yankee at the Court of King Arthur," 1889; "The American Claimant," 1892; "The œ1,000,000 Bank Note," 1893; "Pudd'nhead Wilson," 1894; "Tom Sawyer Abroad," 1894; "Joan of Arc," 1896; "More Tramps Abroad," 1897; "The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg," 1900; "Christian Science," 1907.