Boston Evening Transcript
"Tom Folio" [Joseph E. Babson]
1872: 1 May

Roughing It is not mere "flam and romance," but as true and veracious an account of the author's seven years' adventure in the "far West" as it was possible for him to make it without ceasing to be a "matter-of-lie-man," and therefore ceasing to be himself. And though abounding in facts, and brimful of new and interesting information, the work belongs, not to the literature of knowledge, but to the literature of nonsense, and will be read not so much for its wisdom as for its wit. It will be safer, as well as more agreeable, to quote its jokes rather than its statistics. There is, however, a serious side to Mark Twain's genius, and in Roughing It it has something like justice done to it. Some of the desciptions of mountains, lakes, rivers, and other marvels and wonders of nature are graphic, eloquent and almost poetical. The ride across the continent in a stage-coach--the pony-express, the "fleeting messenger who sped across the continent from St. Joe to Sacramento, carrying letters nineteen hundred miles in eight days"--the happy life on the shores of Lake Tahoe--the picnic excursion in the Sandwich Islands--the silver mining fever in Nevada, and numerous other scenes, incidents and adventures are described with delightful freshness and vigor. The worthies of the "flush times" of Nevada are so admirably depicted that one is almost induced to call Mark Twain a comic Plutarch.

Dick Baker's story of his cat, and Jim Blaine's story of his grandfather's old ram, will satisfy and delight the lovers of Mark Twain's peculiar humor. But Scotty Briggs' Visit to the Minister is perhaps the best thing in the book, if not the best thing of its kind that Mark has yet done. The whole chapter on Scotty is rich in humor--the sweetest and tenderest humor in all Twain's writings. Scotty must have been a noble Christian, and it must indeed have been a "large privilege" to hear him tell the beautiful story of Joseph and his brethren to his Sunday-school class. . . .

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