Hartford Christian Secretary [unsigned]
1877: May 17

Our city of Hartford can boast the greatest humorist in current literature. Mr. Clemens owes nothing to erratic spelling like "Artemas Ward," or to exciting political themes like some other witty writers. He is altogether original and unique. "The Innocents Abroad," is an exhaustless feast vastly entertaining and full of information as a book of travels. The same charm of genius in an unusual direction fills the fascinating pages of "Tom Sawyer." The boy hero and the other children are so lifelike that the reader hardly needs the author's assurance that real boys and genuine parts are in the book. One gets very fond of Tom notwithstanding his grave faults, some of which you almost wish had been omitted. But he is a brave, manly boy after all, and the finest scene in the whole story to one reader at least, is where he receives a whipping to shield a little, terrified girl. The childish attachment between these two and the manly protection Tom accords to little Becky both at school and amid the horrors of being lost in the cave, are very finely described. To one who had only seen the other side of Tom's character these noble traits would have seemed impossible. The "pain-killer" adventure is funny beyond expression as is much of Tom's career. The last few chapters are extremely sensational and strike one as too remarkable to be natural adventures for little boys. One cannot help regretting that so fine a fellow as Tom lies and smokes, but the intention was not to describe a model boy. Yet these traits solely detract from the hero. Those who regard Mark Twain as only "a funny man," greatly underestimate his power. Wit is the spice of his books not the substance. In this story are some most exquisitely beautiful descriptions. That of early morning in one place particularly, is delicious in its perfect picture of nature and its beautiful poetry.