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Mark Twain

Mark Twain

Mark Twain (1835-1910)

Pseudonym of Samual langhorn Clemens

Early life

Susy, Mark Twain’s daughter began the biography of her father when she

was fourteen years old. She begins in this way:

“We are a very happy family. We consists of papa, Mama, Jean, Clara

and me

It’s a Papa I am wrihting about.

Papa has beautiful gray hair, not any too thick or any too long, but

just right, kind blue eyes and a small moustache. In short he is an

extraordinary fine-looking man. He is a very funny one. He does tell

perfectly delightful stories. Clara and I used to sit on each arm of his

chair and listen while he told us stories.”

And that, in 1885, was the family of Mark Twain, whose real name was

Samual langhorn Clemens.

Sam was born in a very small town called Florida in Missouri. The

village contained a hundred people and Sam “increased the population by 1

per cent.”

Most of the houses were of logs. Beyond and beyond, shining in the

sun, the Mississippi roled to the distant sea.

The beside this river, Samual Clemens grew into his boyhood. He saw

negrous chained like animals for transportation to richer slave markets to

the South. Sam’s father owned slaves. For a girl of fifteen he paid twelwe

dollars; for a woman of twenty-five – he paid twenty-five dollars; for a

strong negro woman of forty – he paid forty dollars. All the negroes of

his own age were good friends of Sam. The young boy has always remember

these sad things. Better things he remembered also. He remembered below

the village woods “a heavenly place” where he played with the boys.

When he was four Sam’s familly moved to Hannibal. Their in 1849 his

father died. Before the funeral Sam promised to his mother to be a better

boy, to go to work, and care for her.

His first job

Sam soon had to live school and take a part time job as delivery and

errand boy for Hannibal’s newspaper; serving at times as grocer’s clerk,

blacksmith’s helper and bookseller’s assistant.

Always hungry, poor Sam filched onions and potatoes from the cellar,

cooking them over the printing-office stove.

Sam decided he had had enough of such an unhappy life and went to

work, as a “skilled printer of fifteen”, for his brother Orion who managed

a newspaper in Hannibal.

Here Sam began his career writing humorous scetches, published in a

comic weekly.

One night Sam was reading the diary of an Amazon explorer. He read

about painted Indians shoting their poisoned arrows at tigers, of coloured

parrots and agile monkeys dancing in the high trees. Sam was enchanted. He

made up his mind to go to the head-waters of the Amazon and collect coco

from coco bushes and make a fortune.

Here is what Sam learned about the coco leaves: “The leaf of this

plant is to the Indian of Peru what tobacco is to our laboring classes is

to the South.”

From the night on the Amazon fever burnt in Sam. But poor Sam was


One winter day Sam was walking down the street. A strong wind was

blowing. Suddenly a small paper whirling on the pavement caught his eye. He

picked it up. It was a fifty dollar bancnote( “What a wonderful piece of

luck,” he thoght.

Sam gave an advertisment about his find and waited. As nobody was

looking for it, the boy left after some days for Amazon, with fifty dollars

in his pocket.

He bought a ticket to new Orleans. The streamer Paul Jones took him to

the country of coco leaves.

At New Orleans Sam asked about ships leaving to Para, the mouth of the

Amazon, only to learn that no ships was expected to sail for that part.

He had but ten dollars left. The dream of macking s fortune was over(

Pilot on Mississippi

One of the pilot of the Paul Jones made a pilot out of Sam. It was

in April 1857 that he started his four years of life on the Mississippi –

his pilot days.

For seven month Sam trained a cub pilot. The training went on and on.

All signs of the sky were very important to him; at night and in fog new

dangers came: cool bargers, floating logs...

“Piloting on the Mississippi River was not work to me, it was play –

delightful play, adventures play – and I loved it.”

Sam listened to the Mississippi leadman’s call:

“M-a-r-k three( M-a-r-k twain(”

On the twenty-third birthday he got a pilot’s license, and took the

name of Mark Twain.

Sam was happy, and life was beautiful. He played the piano, sang songs

of the river; he was gay and everybody liked him.

It was as pilot that Mark Twain learned to know human nature of the

world round him.

When in 1861 the Сivil War broke out steamboating ceased and Mark

Twain was left without work.

Writer again

So he went back at his old trade as a writer for newspaper, writing a

humorist scetches.

Now he was in Nevada with his brother Orion who was the new secretary

of Nevada Territory. Sam, as eager as any for a fast fortune decided to go

to the newly discovered Esmeralda mines to find his own mine.

He had expected to see silver lying loose upon the ground. The

dissapointed was bitter. Weeks of winter went by, and Sam’s provisions were


Sam was twenty-six. A year of looking for silver had brought him no

fortune – he found none. He lived like twenty thousand other men. He

observed them and wrote about them.

In 1863 Sam invited to Virginia City to work as a reporter on the

Territorial Enterprise, a daily paper.

At the time when Sam arrived in Virginia City, there was no town like

it in America. It was fantastically rich. Money burnt in every pocket. Most

of the people in the town were miners. Every man carried a gun or a

revolver. There were often street fights.

Sam, with miner’s beard, uncut hair, a blue woolen shirt on and a

revolver at his belt which he couldn’t manage, learned his new job. He had

to fill two collumns a day with local news.

He wrote about the big mines, about the desperados fighting among

themselves, about murders which were commited at all hours of the day and

night. Some of the desperadors were arrested, but never punished. They had

a law of their own. Sam’s news became very popular.

One day the editor-in-chief of the Enterprise went for a week’s

holiday and Sam had to take his place. He had no intention of provoking

the owner of a rival paper but as dueling became very fashionable in the

Territory of Nevada the editor, Mr. Laird , took advantage of the

oppotunity an insisted on a duel.

Sam was known as a hopeless ahot.

At four o’clock in the morning of the appointed dueling day, Steve,

Sam’s friend, took him a mile from town and taught him to fire a revolver.

“Take all the risk getting murder but don’t run any risk of murdering

him. Aim at his legs. Aim below the knee; kripple him, but leave the rest

of him to his mother.”

Poor Sam was shooting at a barn door but he couldn’t hit it.

Now just at this moment a little bird, no bigger than a sparrow, flew

along about thirty yards away. Steve whipped out his revolver ande shot its

head off. They ran down to pick up the bird and just then, Mr. Laird and

his second came and saw the bird with its head shot off. Laird lost colour,

and asked about who had done it. Steve spoke up, and said quit calmly that

Clemens did it.

So Laird and his second said good morning and went home. Laird sent a

note decklning to fight a duel with Sam. Thanks to the liittle bird Sam;s

life was saved.

The rambler

Sam was twenty-nine, and had earned his own living since he was

twelve. He had been a printer, a pilot, a miner, and a newspaper man.

At just this time, the Pacific Steamboat Company began a regular

passenger service between sun Francisco and Honolulu. Sam took the trip,

paying for it with letters as a special correspondent of the Sacramento


Now he would travel arround the world, and he would write of the

places he saw and the people he meet.

He rode horseback two hundred miles over the island of Hawaii,

throught the coffee, sugar and orange region of Kona.

Sam had found the work which suited him best: he could ramble as much

as he liked, and write funny letters to many newspapers to make the readers

laugh till their sides ached.

Dear, dear livy

The Langdons had been a happy family until the day of the accident.

Livy, their daughter, fell on the ice and a partial paralysis followed. For

two years after the accident, Livy lay in her bed. She was unable even to

sit up.

Then came a new, famous doctor and said to Livy,

“Now we will sit up my child.” Then he added “Take a step. Take just a


Livy stood on her feet, with doctors help.

It was like a dream for the poor girl!

And from this day on Livy’s health was steadily improwing. Livy’s

brother, Carsley Langdon, had gone off on a sea voyage. One of his

companions was the well-known newspaper correspondent who called himself

Mark Twain, the author of many scetches that were making him famous.

The Langdons were spending the Cristmas holiday in 1867 in New York

City. Twain was a on this way to his first meeting with Livy.

Now Livy was twenty-two. She was a small delicate girl with serious

dark eyes and black hair. She was lovely.

Sam was introduced to the mother and the father and to the “sweet and

timid and lovely girl.” He was head over heels in love with Livy. After the

first visit he got a standing invitation to the Langdon’s home in Elmira.

During the nights he was writing and soon as he was free, immedietly

he ran to the Langdon’s

Livy and Sam were married on the 2nd of February, 1870. The next day

they went to Buffalo where Sam bought a share in newspaper. Jervis Langdon

had bought and furnished a new and beautiful house for the young couple in

a fashionable street in Buffalo. The rambler finally had to settle-down.

Sam worked a lot, editing Buffalo Express, writing for the New York

magazines, and collecting material fo a new book Roughing It – the story of

his Nevada mining and newspaper days. It was published when he was thity-

six. It was a great success.

Happy years

The twenty years between 1875 and 1894 were the happiest and the

wealthiest for Samuel Clemens. He wrote his best book in Hartford, in a

wonderful house built for him and his family. The rooms were large and

always gay with company and friends.

Here was born Clara, and here in June, 1874, Sam began one of his

dreatest books the Adventures of Tom Sawer – the book about his own

childhood. In 1880, Mark Twain finished the Prience and the Pauper. In the

preface whe writes:

“It may be history, it may be only legend. It may have happend, it may

not have happend: but it could have happend.”

The book is dedicated to: “Those good-mannered and agreeable chidren

Susy and Clara Clemens.”

Susy writes in his fathers biography: “One of the papa’s latest books

is the Prience and the Pauper and it is the best book he haas ever

written. The book is full of lovely, charming ideas. Oh, it is so funny and

nice! Papa seldom writes a passage without some humor in it.”

The books mark Twain wrotes for chidren, he wrote with great


Mark Twain was writing and lecturing. At home he was a loving father,

playing jokes on his children, telling them stories. To his family and old

friends he was always “Sam”. His ftiends never used his pen name of “Mark


The tragic end

When Sam was in England Susy died in Hartford. The last thirteen days

Susy was very ill. She refused to see a doctor. Then came a sudden change

for the worse. When the doctor came it was too late. The poor girl was

unconscious during three days. The brain fever was raging.

The last word Susan spoke was “Mamma” – that was Susy’s good bye. She

was twenty four years old. For the parentsit was terrible shock. The loved

her dearly. A few days after Susy was buried in Elmira, Livy sailed with

Clara and Jean, the youngest daughter, for Endland and Italy. The never

lived in the Hartford house again.

When the thirty four annivesary came livy was very ill. “Her heart

soon began to alarm her.” She went to bed and Sam was allowed to see her

five minites a day.

One day Sam, Clara and Jean came to say her good night. The found her

silent. Sam bent over her. She was dead.

“She was my life and she is gone; ahe was my riches, and I am a


They sailed for home to bury Livy in Elmira, beside Susy. “In this 34

days we have made many voyages together, Livy dear, and now we are making

our last.”

In the morning of Cristmas night in 1909, Jean Clemens died. Ther in

her bathroom she lay, the fair young creature. The poor girl was an


“I shall never write any more.” It was as Sam Clemens said. The death

of Jean was Mark Twain’s last work.

“I lost Susy thirteen years ago; I lost her mother – her incomporable

mother! – five and a half years ago; Clara has gone away to live in Europe;

and now I have lost Jean. Now poor I am, who was the once rich.”

Now, he was alone and he was ill. Clara annd her husbund came back

from Europe and they were with their dying father the lust few days.

“Death, the most precious of all gift” he welcomed without fear. Late

in the afternoon on the 21st of April, 1910, Samuel Clemens died at the age

of seventy-four. At Elmira, next to Livy and Susy and Jean, Sam Clemens was

buried. For him, the great American Humonist, who had made the world laugh,

the sad pilgrimage was ended.


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