Years ago they erected in a London Park, a statue of Peter Pan. A fanciful, appealing little figure; the figure of a boy that never was and never will be. Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer--like Peter Pan--are only characters in fiction, but in every way how tremendously different! Peter Pan is a fairy child, a whimsical creation. He is "the little boy who never grew up." There is nothing whimsical or fanciful or fairy-like about Huck and Tom. They are very solid flesh, they are about as real as anything we know. They are eternal boys for us, because we know them only as boys. They have never "grown up," but their immortal youth is not due to any enchantment or fairy trick. Their creator (Mark Twain) spared us the wretchedness of thinking of them as men.
Tom Sawyer's book is a boy's story; the adventures of Huckleberry Finn make a book for the comfort of all Americans. Both are books of pure delight. Perhaps no two other American books have brought so much unalloyed entertainment to American readers.
So real are Huck and Tom that the monument to be unveiled will not seem fanciful. It will perpetuate solidly two genuine Americans who have done more than a little to make American life enjoyable. They have probably done more than Peter Pan--but comparisons between the dainty fairy boy and the ragged Huck Finn are utterly impossible. Peter in his London Park and Huck and Tom atop Cardiff Hill in Hannibal each in his own way emphasizes the wonder of youth and persuades us to think of young thoughts. There can be no rivalry in such good work.
The title for the new statue to be unveiled this spring might well be termed "Starting Out On Mischief Bent." It has given to Hannibal and Northeast Missouri, world-wide recognition through the efforts of the donors. We estimate that this publicity is worth at least a million dollars for Hannibal. It is publicity that money cannot buy.