Samuel Clemens Enjoys a Heart to Heart Talk with Mark Twain
An old man with a white mane, lying in a bed strewn with the ashes of his cigars; pipes, tobacco, cigars at his elbows; a stenographer catching his words as he talks on, slowly, reminiscently: an old teller of tales picking out of the jumble of his past those episodes, ideas, memories that come uppermost in his mind.
When Samuel Clemens set about leaving the world a record of himself as he saw himself, he resolved on a new method of autobiography. It comprised two new features: First, he would have no method. He would talk at his ease about whatever came first to his mind, leaving his readers to pluck unity from the disorder of his memories and opinions. This, he points out with not uncharacteristic complaisance, would be the perfect autobiography. Second, he specified that it should not be published until after his death. Thus, from the grave, he could speak his mind candidly, without reserve.
As a matter of fact, from the grave or otherwise, there is little in this account to shock the unwary or to change the opionions of those who have known him in his work. His memories paint the picture of a good man and a great American, but there is nothing to surprise or alarm the scholar.
His Life. "It is good to begin life poor; it is good to begin life rich— these things are wholesome; but to begin it poor and PROSPECTIVELY rich! The man who has not experienced it cannot imagine the curse of it,"says Samuel Clemens. He was born in Missouri, in an almost invisible village deep in mud or dust, as the case might be. His family had lost all their money, but owned 75,000 acres of undeveloped land on which they fed their hope of rapid wealth. The hope was not conducive to labor.