Image provided by: University of Nebraska-Lincoln Libraries, Lincoln, NE
About Hesperian student / (Lincoln [Neb.]) 1872-1885 | View Entire Issue (Jan. 20, 1883)
THE HESPERIAN STUDENT.
ghc Student's gemybooh.
SAMUEL L. CLEMENS.
Ours is a practical age nml a practical land. Tho Nine
teenth century will not be remembered for the produc
tion of master pieces in art and litcratuie, but for the ad
vnnccment of practical ideas and scientific methods to a
pluco more important than that held by the still India
pensiblo beautiful. American life is (preeminently prac
tical. In the conditions brought about by the develop
ment of a new continent the contrary is u impossibility
Among the many tendencies fostered by this practical
word-a-day life of ours, not the least important is the de
mand for humor the cheerful, sunny fun which bubMcs
up continually from the most common and homely cir
cumstances, and which asks only to be noticed and en
joyed. The active, working citizen, with wits sharpened
by contnet with his little world, is the one -vho most fully
appreciates a well-pointed joke or droll narrative; with
out means and in many cases without inclination to ex
rlorc the hidden treasures of our literature, he turns to
smiles for mental recreation. Practical life, then, creates
n demand for luimT and is in Itself a snuicc of supply.
Remembering llieeo facts, we are not surprised thai
America, with her great body cf intelligent, thinking peo
ple people who know neither riches nor poverty should
lead the world in humorous productions. That. she haw
gouu still farther and given birth to anew school of hu
mor; a school as charitable as our ideal religion, as cheer
fill and bright as midday,
Among the many who have risen to prominence as its
representatives arc Artemus Ward, Mrs. Partington, Josh
Billings, R. J. liurdetlc, and last but not least Samuel L.
Clemens, more familiarly known as "Mark Twain."
"Wherever the English language is spoken the works of
this true genius may be found. In our land the party
who has not read 'Roughing It," "The Gilded Age," "In
nocence Abroad," or "Tom Snywer" can not converse in.
telligenlly on literature of this class, while the bare an
nouncement of a new book bearing the signature of Mark
Twain is suflicicnt to bring in thousands of orders To
read but a few pages is to understand the wonderful suc
cess of the author. To rend all his works is to know
Samuel L. Clemens his history, thought?, joys and nor.
rows and his frailties as thoroughly aa you know a life
long friend In his writings he has given us the history
of his lite; not egotistically, but lie insensibly weaves
himself into the fabric of the story in a manner as unuf
icctcd as it is charming.
Of his boyhood a thorough knowledge may be ac
quired by a perusal of "Tom Sawyer." In this intensely
interesting story of southwestern life of three decades ago
Mr. Clctr ens figures as the ubiquitous Tom. The exyc
riences olth s young hopeful are to a certain extent the
experiences of every American boy, no matter what his
condition, and when woven into a plot, and told in Mark
Twain's unique style, And a responsive chord in the breast
of every person whose early youth is not entirely forgotten.
The story which closes like a fairy tale would be much
more in harmony with the general plan of the other
worka of the author if, instead of finding the hidden
treasure, Thomas. Sawyer had. gone to work as boys iu his
.condition must, to earn a livehood. Instead of follow
ing himself to tho printing oillco and then on hi travels
as a journeymnn printer, afterwards to become a steam
boat pilot, Mr. Clemens closed this book with tho sud
den acquisition of wealth by Tom, and uard the latter
events aB material for"The Gilded Ago" and'Pilotlng on
Appointed as private secretary to tho lieutenant govern
nor of tho then territory of Nevada, when twcntyifour
i-care of age, he crossed tho plains in the early days. His
experience here as miner, journalist and correspondent
were used in "Roughing It," which gave him a rcputas
lion. His subsequent life has been quietly and comfort,
ably spent in the eastern slates, with the exception of two
or vfrec ythra on tho continent, the events of which ho
has used In his characteristic and happy manner in "Ins
noccncc" and'Tramp Abroad."
Mark Twain is the humorist of tho people. Eschew
ing nil eccentricities in orthography and style, upon which
many depend for tho ludicronsness of their effects, ho
gives his own experiences in his own way and in his own
mother-tongue. He never strains a point to make his
narrative funny. All is as nntural as ualurerand this is
'he secret of his success.
or have all the contributions of Mr. Clemens to the
literature of the day been in the line of humor. He
handles the pathetic in a masterly manner, although as
suming nothing in that direction; and while making no
pretensions in philosophy, tho strong undercurrent of
sound reasoning and common sense in all his writings
gives him a place as a philosopher, if not a moralist. AK
though not at present recognized as mch, for the masses
care not to go below the (.parklu and foam of the surface,
in time Mark Twain will receive credit for much in ad
dition to that which now gives him his reputation.
When the fashion of fun changes, a it surely will, mak.
ing the jokes of tosday insipid, if not stupid, his books
Will still be read for the homely philosophy and accurate
reflection of human nature which they contain. '87.
Noar the beginning of the 19th oonlury the .sen of conti
nental politics was much troubled, and each nation look
ing into those broken waters seemed to see itself shattered
and destroyed its individuality utterly lost. It acoined
that no power could still those waves save Hie hand of the
mighty magician who had cnusod all this commotion,
and his wand glittered steel-blue, and its edge wass'taincd
with red from point to hilt. Even this possible fiat of
"Peace be still" would not leave tranquillity it would
bring only that calm which follows tho wreck of a vessel,
the cra6h of a thunder-boll; it would leave Europe crush
ed and destroyed; ground down under the iron heel of
one mighty power.
Atone time indeed there appeared a ray of liope; the
enchanter was imprisoned and closely watched, and-all
things began to assume their normal condition. France
breathed easily for Eome months after Napoleon was sent
to Elba, and the prospects looked bright.
The Little Corporal had departed with a nation's curse
ringing in his ears, and one would think hit very life iu
danger if ho ever ventured within tho boundaries of liis
adopted country as a simple citizen. What then thought
the world when it saw this solitary man, with a mero
handful of attendants in three little vessels, invading
WV "IIXCBD ivmrrr..
n hiiiiiimiiiiii H uimmmsm
Powered by Open ONI