The Boys’ Life of Mark Twain
by Paine

Presented by

Public Domain Books

XXXIV. A New Book and New English Triumphs

But if Mark Twain could find nothing to write of in England, he found no lack of material in America. That winter in Hartford, with Charles Dudley Warner, he wrote “The Gilded Age.” The Warners were neighbors, and the families visited back and forth. One night at dinner, when the two husbands were criticizing the novels their wives were reading, the wives suggested that their author husbands write a better one. The challenge was accepted. On the spur of the moment Warner and Clemens agreed that they would write a book together, and began it immediately.

Clemens had an idea already in mind. It was to build a romance around that lovable dreamer, his mother’s cousin, James Lampton, whom the reader will recall from an earlier chapter. Without delay he set to work and soon completed the first three hundred and ninety-nine pages of the new story. Warner came over and, after listening to its reading, went home and took up the story. In two months the novel was complete, Warner doing most of the romance, Mark Twain the character parts. Warner’s portion was probably pure fiction, but Mark Twain’s chapters were full of history.

Judge Hawkins and wife were Mark Twain’s father and mother; Washington Hawkins, his brother Orion. Their doings, with those of James Lampton as Colonel Sellers, were, of course, elaborated, but the story of the Tennessee land, as told in that book, is very good history indeed. Laura Hawkins, however, was only real in the fact that she bore the name of Samuel Clemens’s old playmate. “The Gilded Age,” published later in the year, was well received and sold largely. The character of Colonel Sellers at once took a place among the great fiction characters of the world, and is probably the best known of any American creation. His watchword, “There’s millions in it!” became a byword.

The Clemenses decided to build in Hartford. They bought a plot of land on Farmington Avenue, in the literary neighborhood, and engaged an architect and builder. By spring, the new house was well under way, and, matters progressing so favorably, the owners decided to take a holiday while the work was going on. Clemens had been eager to show England to his wife; so, taking little Sissy, now a year old, they sailed in May, to be gone half a year.

They remained for a time in London–a period of honors and entertainment. If Mark Twain had been a lion on his first visit, he was hardly less than royalty now. His rooms at the Langham Hotel were like a court. The nation’s most distinguished men–among them Robert Browning, Sir John Millais, Lord Houghton, and Sir Charles Dilke–came to pay their respects. Authors were calling constantly. Charles Reade and Wilkie Collins could not get enough of Mark Twain. Reade proposed to join with him in writing a novel, as Warner had done. Lewis Carroll did not call, being too timid, but they met the author of “Alice in Wonderland” one night at a dinner, “the shyest full-grown man, except Uncle Remiss, I ever saw,” Mark Twain once declared.

Little Sissy and her father thrived on London life, but it wore on Mrs. Clemens. At the end of July they went quietly to Edinburgh, and settled at Veitch’s Hotel, on George Street. The strain of London life had been too much for Mrs. Clemens, and her health became poor. Unacquainted in Edinburgh, Clemens only remembered that Dr. John Brown, author of “Rab and His Friends,” lived there. Learning the address, he walked around to 23 Rutland Street, and made himself known. Doctor Brown came forthwith, and Mrs. Clemens seemed better from the moment of his arrival.

The acquaintance did not end there. For a month the author of “Rab” and the little Clemens family were together daily. Often they went with him to make his round of visits. He was always leaning out of the carriage to look at dogs. It was told of him that once when he suddenly put his head from a carriage window he dropped back with a disappointed look.

“Who was it?” asked his companion. “Some one you know?”

“No, a dog I don’t know.”

Dr. John was beloved by everybody in Scotland, and his story of “Rab” had won him a world-wide following. Children adored him. Little Susy and he were playmates, and he named her “Megalopis,” a Greek term, suggested by her great, dark eyes.

Mark Twain kept his promise to lecture to a London audience. On the 13th of October, in the Queen’s Concert Rooms, Hanover Square, he gave “Our Fellow Savages of the Sandwich Islands.” The house was packed. Clemens was not introduced. He appeared on the platform in evening dress, assuming the character of a manager, announcing a disappointment. Mr. Clemens, he said, had fully expected to be present. He paused, and loud murmurs arose from the audience. He lifted his hand and the noise subsided. Then he added, “I am happy to say that Mark Twain is present and will now give his lecture.” The audience roared its approval.

He continued his lectures at Hanover Square through the week, and at no time in his own country had he won such a complete triumph. He was the talk of the streets. The papers were full of him. The “London Times" declared his lectures had only whetted the public appetite for more. His manager, George Dolby (formerly manager for Charles Dickens), urged him to remain and continue the course through the winter. Clemens finally agreed that he would take his family back to America and come back himself within the month. This plan he carried out. Returning to London, he lectured steadily for two months in the big Hanover Square rooms, giving his “Roughing It” address, and it was only toward the end that his audience showed any sign of diminishing. There is probably no other such a lecture triumph on record.

Mark Twain was at the pinnacle of his first glory: thirty-six, in full health, prosperous, sought by the world’s greatest, hailed in the highest places almost as a king. Tom Sawyer’s dreams of greatness had been all too modest. In its most dazzling moments his imagination had never led him so far.


Preface  •  I. The Family of John Clemens  •  II. The New Home, and Uncle John Quarles’s Farm  •  IV. Education Out of School  •  V. Tom Sawyer and His Band  •  VI. Closing School-Days  •  VII. The Apprentice  •  VIII. Orion’s Paper  •  IX. The Open Road  •  X. A Wind of Chance  •  XI. The Long Way to the Amazon  •  XII. Renewing an Old Ambition  •  XIII. Learning the River  •  XIV. River Days  •  XV. The Wreck of the “Pennsylvania”  •  XVI. The Pilot  •  XVII. The End of Piloting  •  XVIII. The Soldier  •  XIX. The Pioneer  •  XX. The Miner  •  XXI. The Territorial Enterprise  •  XXII. “Mark Twain”  •  XXIII. Artemus Ward and Literary San Francisco  •  XXIV. The Discovery of “The Jumping Frog”  •  XXV. Hawaii and Anson Burlingame  •  XXVI. Mark Twain, Lecturer  •  XXVII. An Innocent Abroad, and Home Again  •  XXVIII. Olivia Langdon. Work on the “Innocents”  •  XXIX. The Visit to Elmira and Its Consequences  •  XXX. The New Book and a Wedding  •  XXXI. Mark Twain in Buffalo  •  XXXII. At Work on “Roughing It”  •  XXXIII. In England  •  XXXIV. A New Book and New English Triumphs  •  XXXV. Beginning “Tom Sawyer”  •  XXXVI. The New Home  •  XXXVII. “Old Times,” “Sketches,” And “Tom Sawyer”  •  XXXVIII. Home Pictures  •  XXXIX. Tramping Abroad  •  XL. “The Prince and the Pauper”  •  XLI. General Grant at Hartford  •  XLII. Many Investments  •  XLIII. Back to the River, With Bixby  •  XLIV. A Reading-Tour With Cable  •  XLV. “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”  •  XLVI. Publisher to General Grant  •  XLVII. The High-Tide of Fortune  •  XLVIII. Business Difficulties. Pleasanter Things  •  XLIX. Kipling at Elmira. Elsie Leslie. The “Yankee”  •  L. The Machine. Good-By to Hartford. “Joan” Is Begun  •  LI. The Failure of Webster & Co. Around the World. Sorrow  •  LII. European Economies  •  LIII. Mark Twain Pays His Debts  •  LIV. Return After Exile  •  LV. A Prophet At Home  •  LVI. Honored by Missouri  •  LVII. The Close of a Beautiful Life  •  LVIII. Mark Twain at Seventy  •  LIX. Mark Twain Arranges for His Biography  •  LX. Working With Mark Twain  •  LXI. Dictations at Dublin, N. H.  •  LXII. A New Era of Billiards  •  LXIII. Living With Mark Twain  •  LXIV. A Degree From Oxford  •  LXV. The Removal to Redding  •  LXVI. Life at Stormfield  •  LXVII. The Death of Jean  •  LXVIII. Days in Bermuda  •  LXIX. The Return to Redding  •  LXX. The Close of a Great Life

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The boys' life of Mark Twain: The story of a man who made the world laugh and love him
By Albert Bigelow Paine
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