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[page 107]

This manuscript––which has not been published before––was left to a degree unfinished, judging from Clemens’s penciled (tentative) revision of its title to “Travel-Scraps from Autobiog.” Now in the Mark Twain Papers, it is thought to be a draft chapter written for the autobiography on that evidence, and also because, in 1900 during a later stay in London, Clemens wrote a sequel about the city entitled “Travel-Scraps II,” which he ultimately inserted in the Autobiographical Dictation of 27 February 1907. The subtitle “London, Summer, 1896,” refers to the events in the piece, not the time of writing, which was clearly soon after the Clemenses arrived in Vienna in late September 1897. The “village” Clemens referred to was the area around Tedworth Square, where they lived from October 1896 until they moved to Weggis, Switzerland, in July 1897 (Notebook 39, TS p. 6, CU-MARK).


[Travel-Scraps I
London, Summer, 1896]

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[All] over the world there seems to be a prejudice against the cab driver. [But] that is too sweeping; it must be modified. I think I may say [that] there is a prejudice against him [in] [many] American cities, but not in Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia and Boston; [that] in Europe, as a rule, there is a prejudice against him, but not in Munich and Berlin; that there is a prejudice against him in Calcutta but not in Bombay. I think I may say that the prejudice against him is strong in London, stronger in Paris, and strongest in New [York.] There are courteous and reasonable cabmen in Paris, but they seem to be rare. I think that in London four out of every six cabmen are pleasant and rational beings, and are satisfied with twenty-five per cent above legal fare; and that the other two are always ready and anxious for a dispute, and burning to conduct it in a [loud] and frantic [key. The citizen must pay from two to three prices, [when] he makes his bargain beforehand, and more [when] he doesn’t. When he makes his bargain beforehand he expects to be overcharged, and is not discontented unless the over-tax is extravagant, because he knows that the legal rate is too low, and that the hack-industry cannot live upon it. The heavy over-charge has kept the traffic down and made it meagre. The legal charge might not be too low if the traffic were as heavy as it ought to be for a city like New York, but it is not likely to expand while [hackmen] may continue to charge any price they please. And now that the hacks have driven all the business into the hands of the steam and electric companies, the periodical attempts to inaugurate a cheap hack-system in New York will presently [begin again,] I suppose. [Hacks] are but little needed in American cities for any but strangers who cannot find their way by tram-lines. The citizen should be [thankful] for the high hack-rates which have given him the trams; for by consequence he has the cheapest and swiftest city-transportation [that] exists in the world. London travels by omnibus—pleasant, but as deadly slow as a European [page 108] [“lift;”] and by underground railway, which is an invention of Satan himself. It goes no direct course, but alwaysaway around. When the train arrives you must jump, rush, fly, and swarm with the crowd into the first [cigar box] that is handy, lest you get left. You have hardly time to mash yourself into a portion of a seat before the train is off again. It goes blustering and [squttering] along, puking smoke and cinders in at the window, which some one has [opened] in [pursuance] of his right to make the whole cigar box uncomfortable if [his comfort requires it;] the fog of black smoke smothers the lamp and dims its light, and the [double] row of jammed people sit there and bark at each other, and the righteous and the unrighteous pray each [after] his own fashion. The train stops every few minutes, [and] there is a new rush and scramble each time. And every quarter of an hour you change cars, and [fly] thirty yards to a stairway, and up the stairway and fifty yards along a corridor, and down another stairway, and plunge headlong into a train just as it moves off; and of course it is the wrong one, and you must get out at the next station and come back. But it is no matter. If you had stopped to ask the official on duty, it would have been the right train and you would have lost it by stopping to ask; and so none but idiots stop to ask. The next time that you ought to change cars you are not aware of it, and you go on. You keep on going on and on and on, wondering what has become of [St.] John’s Wood, and if you are ever likely to get [to that brick-and-mortar forest;] and by and by you pull your courage together and ask a passenger if he can tell you whereabouts you are, and he says “We are just arriving at Sloane Square.” You thank him, and look gratified, look as gratified as you can on the spur of the moment and without sufficient preparation, and step out, [saying] “It is my station.” And so it is. That is where you started from. It is an hour or an hour and a half ago, and [is] getting toward bedtime, now. You have been plowing through tunnels all that time, and have been all around under London [amongst] its entrails, and been in first, second and third-class cars on a third-class ticket, and associated with all sorts of company, from Dukes and Bishops down to rank and mangy tramps and blatherskites who sat with their drunken [trunnions] in their laps and caressed and kissed them unembarrassed. You have missed the dinner you were aimed for, but you are alive yet, and that is something; and you have learned better than to go by tunnel any more, and that is also a gain. You cannot telephone your friend to go to bed and not keep the dinner waiting. There is not a telephone within a mile of you, and there is not a telephone within a mile of him. Years ago there was a telephone system in England, but in the country parts it is about dead, now, and [what] is left of it in London has no value. So you send a telegram to your friend, stating that you have met with an accident, and begging him not to wait dinner for you. You are aware that all the offices in his neighborhood close at eight in the evening and it is ten now; it is also Saturday night, and England keeps Sunday; but the telegram will reach his house Monday morning, and when he gets back from business at [five] in the evening he will get it, and will know then that you did not come Saturday evening, and why.

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One little wee [bunch] of houses in London, one little wee spot, is the centre of the globe, the heart of the globe, and the machinery that moves the world is located there. It is called the City, and [it, [with ] a patch of its borderland, is] a city. But the rest of London is not a city. It is [fifty] villages massed solidly together over a vast stretch of territory. Each village has its own name and its own government. Its ways are village ways, and the great body of its inhabitants [page 109] are just villagers, and have the simple, honest, untraveled, unworldly look of villagers. Its shops are village shops; little cramped places where you can buy an anvil or a paper of pins, [or] anything between; but you can’t buy two anvils, nor five papers of pins, nor seven white cravats, nor two hats of the same breed, because they do not keep such gross masses in stock. The shopman will not offer to get the things and send them to you, but will tell you where he thinks you may possibly find them. And he is not brusque and fussy and unpleasant, like a city person, but takes the simple and kindly interest of a villager in the matter, and will discuss it as long as you please. They have no hateful city ways, and indeed no ways that suggest that they have ever lived in a [city.]

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In my village there [are a] lot of little postoffices and one big one—in Sloane Square. One Saturday toward dusk I visited three of the little ones and asked if there was a Sunday mail for Paris; and if so, at [how] late an hour could I mail my letter and catch it? Nobody knew whether there was such a mail or not, but it was believed that there was. They could [not] refer to a table of mails, for they had none. Could they telephone the General Postoffice and find out for me? No, they had no [telephone]. The big office in Sloane Square might know. I went there. There were two or three girls and a woman [or two] on duty. Yes, there was a Paris [mail, they said;] they did not know at what hour it [left, but they believed it did.] Were my questions unusual ones in their experience? They could not remember that any one had asked them before. And those people looked [so] friendly, and innocent, and childlike, and [ignorant, and happy, and content.]

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I lived nine months in that village. I got my predecessor’s mail along with my own, every day. He had left his [new] address at the postoffice, but that did little or no good. The letters came to me. I reinstructed the carriers now and then; then, for as much as a week afterward I would get my own mail only; after that, I would get the double mail again, as before.

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But that was a pleasant village to live in. The spirit of accommodation was everywhere, just as it is in Germany, and just as it isn’t, in a good many parts of the earth. I went to my nearest postoffice one day to send a telegram. The office was in a little shop that had thirty dollars’ worth of miscellaneous merchandise in it, and a young woman was on duty. I was in a hurry. I wrote the telegram, and the young woman examined it and said she was afraid it would not reach its destination. A flaw in the address, perhaps—I do not remember what the trouble was. She wanted to call her husband and advise about the matter. I explained that I was following orders, and that if the man at the other end did not get the telegram he would have only himself to blame. But she was not satisfied with that. She reminded me that it would be a pure waste of money, and I the loser. She would rather call her husband and see about it. She had to have her way; I could not help myself; her kindly interest disarmed me, and I could not break out and say, “Oh, send it just as it is, and let me go.” She brought her husband, and the two reasoned the matter out at considerable length, and finally got it arranged to their satisfaction. But I was not to get away yet. There was a new difficulty. There were apparently more words than necessary, and if I could strike out a word or two the telegram would cost only sixpence. I came near saying I would rather pay four cents [extra] than lose another three shillings’ worth of time, but it would have been a shame to act like that when they were trying their best to do me a kindness, so I did not say it, but held in and let the ruinous expense of time [run] on. Amongst us, in the course of time, we managed to gut the telegram of a few of its most necessary words, [continued after diagram]

[page 110]
figure

[[Diagram of London].] [ ]

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[page 111] and then I was free, and paid my sixpence and got back to my work; and I would be glad to repeat that pleasant experience, even at cost of [half] the time and [twice the] money. That was a London episode. I am trying to imagine such a thing happening in a New York telegraph office, but there seems to be something the matter with my imagination to-day.

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The London ’bus driver does not seem like a city person, but like a blessed angel out of the country. He is often nattily dressed and nicely shaved, and often just the other way; but in either case the man is a choice man, and satisfactory. He hasn’t a hard city face, nor crusty and [repellent] city ways, nor indeed anything about him which can be called “citified”—that epithet which suggests the absence of all spirituality, and the presence of all kinds of paltry materialisms, and mean ideals, and mean vanities, and silly cynicisms. He is a pleasant and courteous and companionable person, he is [kindly] and conversational, he has a placid and dignified bearing which becomes him well, and he rides serene above the crush and turmoil of London as undisturbed by it and as unconcerned about [it] as if he were not aware that anything of the kind was going on. The choice part of the ’bus is [its] roof; and the choicest places on the roof are the two seats [back of] the driver’s elbows. The occupants of those seats talk to him all the time. That shows that he is a polite man, and interesting. And it shows that in his heart he is a villager, and has the simplicities and [sincerities] and spirit of comradeship which belong to a [man] whose city contacts have been of an undamaging infrequency. The ’bus driver not only likes to talk to his passengers, but likes to have a choice kind of passengers to talk to. I base this opinion upon some remarks made to a friend of mine by a driver toward the end of last February. My friend opened the conversation, along in [the] King’s Road somewhere:

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“I suppose you are glad the winter is about over?”

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“No, I don’t mind the cold weather, but I don’t like the road.”

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“What is the matter with the road?”

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“Well, I don’t like the society. Just villagers, you know, that’s about what they are. Good-hearted, and all that, but no style. No conversational powers. Chelsea—Walham Green—Battersea—that kind, [you know. No intellectual horizon.] Dull, honest, sincerely pious, and all that; but interested in the triflingest little commonplace things. I am degenerating, I know it. A man can’t live on that kind of mental diet and drive [a ’bus].”

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“Where were you before? Were you better off before?”

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“Well, I should think! Hammersmith—Earl’s Court—[Knightsbridge]. There’s society! And brains. Yes, sir, and fashion. Top of the ’bus looks like a Queen’s Drawing-Room. And the talk—[well,] the talk is [up high—]away [up] towards the snow-line. Away up, where, as you may say, your intellectual water boils at a hundred and forty-five. That is the ticket. I’m tired boiling mine at [two hundred and twelve].”

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[Part] of the ’bus driver’s serenity in the midst of the London turmoil springs no doubt from his consciousness of the fact that he and his ’bus have nothing to fear from collisions, part from his confidence in the steadiness and biddability of his horses, and the rest from the fact that he knows how to steer. Drivers of cabs and carriages know that a collision with a ’bus is not a desirable thing, and they take pains to avoid it. The ’bus is English. When that is said, all is said. As a rule, any English thing is nineteen times as strong and twenty-three times as heavy as it needs to be. The ’bus fills these requirements. It is a lumbering big ark, it weighs no one knows how [page 112] much and it minds collision with an ordinary vehicle no more than a planet would. It is a pity they did not keep the first English bicycle; it must have weighed upwards of three tons. And if it ever collided with an express train, the remains of the train must have been a spectacle.

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It is an inspiring thing to see the ’bus driver steer his ark. He weaves in and out among a writhing swarm of vehicles, just barely missing them—missing them by the thickness of a shingle sometimes, sometimes by the thickness of a brick—and while you are doing the gasping and shrinking he is chatting over his shoulder, and his hands seem to be mainly idle and himself not interested in anything but his talk. It is wonderful steering, and yet it seems to do itself, it has such an effortless look.

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Two horses draw the ark, only two; but they are capable. They are strong and sleek and handsome, well kept and well cared for, and on long routes they make but one trip a day. They are brought from America; they cost about [two hundred and fifty dollars] apiece; at the end of three years they are sold—often for more than they cost originally—and fresh importations take their place.

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Here in Vienna the cab driver ranks as he ranks in all other cities of [Europe—]as the wittiest person in town, the ablest chaffer, the quickest and brightest at repartee. We always believe that, wherever we go; but we have to take it on trust, because the instances never chance to fall under our own personal notice. In London the cabman is noted for his smart sayings, but I did not have the luck to hear them. Many years ago, in [Liverpool]—however, that time it was not wit, it was humor. I was there with the late [James R. Osgood], and we had several hours to spare, and much talking to do. It seemed a good idea to do the talking in a cab, and have the fresh air. The cabman asked where we wished to go. Mr. Osgood said—

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“Oh, just drive around an hour or so—anywhere—we are not particular.”

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The man sat still, and waited. Osgood presently asked what he was waiting for, and he said—

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“I want to know where I am to go.”

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“Why, I told you to go anywhere you pleased.”

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The man looked troubled, puzzled, worried. But he sat still. Presently Osgood said—

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“Why don’t you start?”

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“Dear me, I want to start; I want to start as bad as anybody, but how can I, when you won’t tell me [where] [you want to go?] I’ve drove for fourteen years, and I never heard of such a thing.”

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“Oh, do move along. I don’t care where you go. Go to Balmoral.”

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We were very busy talking, all through these interruptions. We probably started, now. After a long time we woke up out of the talk, and Osgood looked at his watch and said it was getting toward train time. Liverpool was nowhere in sight. We were troubled, and Osgood said—

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“Driver, what have you been doing? Where are you going?”

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“Balmoral, sir.”

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“Balmoral? What are you going to Balmoral for?”

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“Because you told me, sir.”

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“Because I told you! Did you suppose I was in earnest? How far is it?”

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“Four hundred miles, sir.”

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“Well, well, well. This is a joke—what there is of it. Get along back, as fast as you can.”

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“Just as you say, sir.”

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[page 113] The man had a pleasant voice and pleasant ways and manners, and a good face; a very good face indeed, but a preternaturally grave one; not melancholy, but just grave; grave and patient. He had probably never smiled in his life. He was not dull; [but] he was not animated, not excitable; he had the look of one who was given to much thinking, and little speaking. By his accent he was Scotch.

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On our way back Osgood amused himself a good deal over this matter. That we had lost our train did not disturb him; nothing ever disturbed that comfortable soul, that rare and beautiful spirit. He chuckled over this thing in his happy and contented and almost youthful way all the way back to Liverpool, and said we could add to it and trim it up and embroider it, and get the little [Kinsmen Club together in London] over a supper, and tell it, and have a good time over it. And while I mourned for the lost train he invented addition after addition for the story, and richer and ever richer embroideries, and got so much wholesome pleasure out of his work that it was a comfort to see him. At the hotel we climbed out of the cab and stretched our cramped legs, and Osgood put his hand in his pocket and asked the driver—

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“How much?”

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“Twelve pounds, sir.”

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“Twelve pounds?

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“Yes, sir.”

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“Why, man, you don’t mean pounds, you mean shillings.”

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“No, sir, it is pounds.”

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“By your face you are in earnest; but how do you make it out?”

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“You see, sir, it wasn’t I that interrupted the job, it was you. I [took] the job, and I never made any objections, you will allow that yourself, sir. I could have done it in [eight days; call it eighty hours.] I am allowed three shillings an hour outside of the city. Eighty times three shillings [is]—”

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“Oh—you propose to charge us from here to Balmoral; is that it?”

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“You remember it was my orders, sir; and the law—”

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“There, don’t say any more. I saw, myself, that this was a good joke [on some one]; I saw it early; but on account of not waiting till the details were all in, I made an error in locating it. We can’t afford to stay here and examine the case in a court, and so—come, we have had you five hours; let us see if we can’t arrange a compromise.”

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The man was willing, and proposed five pounds. Osgood gave him six. Everybody was satisfied, and there was no ill blood at the parting. We did not gather the Kinsmen together in London. Osgood said that a story which you could not add anything to by your fancy and invention wasn’t worth while, and there did [not] seem to be any way to add anything to this one; it seemed to be born full grown.

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If the cabman had been a German it could be believable that he did not know that the situation was a humorous one. But he was a Scotchman. There have been Scotchmen who have passed themselves off as being destitute of the sense of humor, but it was no credit to them that they succeeded. They could not have succeeded with intelligent people.

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[I] believe that London is the pleasantest and most satisfying village in the world. The stranger soon grows fond of it, and the native lives and dies worshiping it. It is a most singular and interesting place, and the engaging simplicities of [its fifty] village populations are an unending [page 114] [marvel] and delight to the wandering alien. For instance, he sees three or four brisk young men come along—idiots, apparently—with great loud-colored splotches painted on their faces, and wearing fantastic and bright-hued circus-costumes, and he will wonder [how] they can expose themselves like that and not perish with shame; and why they are not jeered at, and made fun of, and driven to concealment or suicide. But they are not thinking of being ashamed; they are gay and proud, and they hold their heads up, and smirk and grimace and gambol along, utterly complacent and happy; and they are not jeered at, but admired. They stop in the middle of the village street and begin to perform—for these sorry animals are comedians. The villagers come to the windows to see and enjoy; the maid-servants flock up the area-steps and their neat white caps with their flowing white streamers show above the level of the sidewalk; all kinds of [humble] folk gather and sit on the [curbstones] on both sides of the street and look glad and expectant. While one comedian brays a comic song, another shuffles off a pathetically rudimentary and ignorant dance to the rattle and thump of a tambourine, a third stands on his head, walks on his hands, throws summersaults and [handsprings], and does other innocent little juvenile gymnastics, and the principal ass of the party—the grotesquely-dressed clown—[awkwardly] repeats these [marvels] after him, and pretends to get falls and to hurt himself, and then limps about, rubbing his stomach and ruefully shaking his head, and is so unspeakably and self-consciously, and premeditatively and ostentatiously funny that the villagers do nearly expire with laughter over it, instead of lassoing the man and lynching him.

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Then the comedians play a play of unimaginable [simplicity] and incoherency and irrelevancy and juvenility—a play that lasts nearly ten minutes, sometimes—and the exhibition is over. All the spectators look pleased and happy, and greatly freshened-up. The whole performance has lasted twenty or thirty minutes, perhaps, and one comedian or another has passed the hat several times in the meantime. Not to the pit—the curbstone—for it is usually too poor to [pay—]but to the windows and the area. The solicitor holds up his cap and waltzes about with his beseeching eyes on the windows, and when a penny falls he jumps and catches it and returns a bow worth two thousand dollars. If there are as many as four comedians, and if their costumes are new and smart, the contributions are liberal; sometimes they foot up twenty-five or thirty cents for a single performance; but I have seen a troop consisting of two [comedians,] clothed in old and shabby finery, play seventeen minutes and collect only four cents.

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Still, it was enough. It was profitable. It was more than twenty cents an hour; say two dollars for the day’s work. Those young fellows would probably have found it difficult to earn that much at any ordinary work.

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Next, the stranger will see three or four “nigger minstrels” going along, with banjo, bones and tambourine. They are a sorrier lot than the comedians. They are “niggers” in [nothing]—not even in the black paint; for it is too black, or isn’t the right kind; at any rate it does not counterfeit any complexion [known] to our Southern States, and it is our negro that is ostensibly represented. The costumes are incredible. They counterfeit no clothes that were ever worn in this planet, or indeed anywhere in the solar system. These poor fellows [furnish] a [“comic”] performance which is so humble, and poor and pitiful, and childish, and asinine, and inadequate that it makes a person ashamed of the human race. Ah, [their timorous] dances—and their timorous antics—and their shamefaced attempts at funny grimacing—and their cockney-nigger songs and jokes— [page 115] they touch you, they pain you, they fill you with pity, they make you cry. I suppose that in any village but London these poor minstrels and the comedians would be [mercifully] taken out and [drowned]; but in London, no; London loves them; London has a warm big heart, and there is room and a welcome in it for all the [misappreciated] refuse of creation.

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In all the villages of prodigious London the villagers love music. They love it with a breadth and looseness of taste not known elsewhere but in heaven. If they were up there they would not shut their ears [Sundays] when the congregational singing was coming up from below. To them, anything that is a noise is music. And they enjoy it, not in an insipid way, but with a rapt and whole-hearted joy. Particularly if it is doleful. And there are no people anywhere who are so generous with their money if the music is doleful enough. In London poor old ragged men and women go up and down the middle of the empty streets, Sunday afternoons, singing the most heart-breakingly desolate hymns and sorrowful ditties in weak and raspy and wheezy voices—voices that are hardly strong enough to [carry] across the street—and the villagers listen and are grateful, and fling pennies out of the windows, and in the deep stillness of the Sabbath afternoon you can hear the money strike upon the stones a block away. The song drones along as monotonously and as tunelessly as a morning-service snore in a back-country church in the summer time, and I think that nothing could well be more dreary and saddening. But it brings pennies—pennies instead of bricks; and you note that [circumstance] with surprise and disappointment; or perhaps not exactly disappointment, but something between that and regret.

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Still, your respect is compelled: partly for the catholic width of taste that can find room for music like that, and partly for the spirit of benevolence that is in the breast of him who throws the penny. The spirit of benevolence is there, there can be no question about that. There is nothing that is quite so marvelous [to] the stranger as the free way in which England pours out money upon charities. About half or two-thirds of the time, the objects are unworthy, apparently, but that is no matter, that is nothing to the point. It is the spirit that [in many instances is] back of the gifts that makes the act fine. Not in all the instances, possibly not even in the majority of them; but after you have put aside the reluctant and unvoluntary contributions, there are enough of the other sort left to make you wonder and [admire] and take off your hat.

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The first [flush] of enthusiasm over [the Queen’s approaching Jubilee] sent every [Englishman’s] hand into his pocket after money [to] commemorate with, and he brought it out full, and gladly contributed it. The mass of those voluntary contributions was prodigious; [it] was monumental for vastness. But one is perhaps justified in believing that it was [by] no means as imposing as the mass of the unvoluntary contributions which followed [it.] I was [living] in London in those interesting months. The journals furnished appetising reading for the disconnected stranger. Every day, and the day after, and the day following that, and [so-on] and so-on and so-on, week in and week out the appeals for money filed through their columns in steady and compact procession, and gave one the feeling that all England was marching by and holding out its [hat]—its hat and an axe; the hat in one hand and an axe to grind in the other; [a] stretch of hats from horizon to horizon on one side along the mighty line of march, and of axes on the other. Everybody seemed to have an axe to grind, and [to recognise] that now was his chance; now that his prey could not escape; now that excuses which could save [his prey] ordinarily would injure him [at this time,] make him seem unpatriotic, and shame him before his neighbors. The opportunity [page 116] was the supremest that had [presented] itself in history; and by all the signs it was being worked with remorseless and devastating industry. Obscure people who wanted to get into notice, invented commemorative projects, and set them forth in the papers, and passed the hat. These projects were uncountable for number, and indescribable for variety. They seemed to include every possible contrivance, wise and otherwise, which by any pretext or excuse could be made commemorative of the Record Reign—and advertise the promoter. [Prominent and wise people, also, came forward with projects; projects which were good and worthy, and not tainted with sordidness and self-seeking.] They [included] statues, drinking fountains, public parks, [art galleries,] libraries, asylums for the insane, [the inebriate,] the blind, the dumb, the crippled, the poor, the aged, the orphan, the outcast; free institutions for the dissemination of all kinds of elevating culture; [institutions] for instruction in professional [nursing; and hospitals] of every conceivable kind, and practically without number. On Jubilee Day the [hospitals] and hospital-annexes subscribed for had multiplied to such a degree that the list of [their] mere names covered several fine-print octavo pages! The money involved was a [dizzy] figure. And on top of all that, and independent of it, the [Prince of Wales’s powerful name] and [popularity] gathered in a [Hospital] Fund of vast dimensions to reinforce the endowments of the already existent hospitals of London.

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It is believable that England furnished the money for these great things with little or no reluctance; possibly with even the same spontaneity with which she answered the famine-call from India, when she promptly handed out two and a half million dollars, although the call fell at a time when all the landscape visible to her from any point by naked eye or telescope consisted of a [monotonous] plain of hats held out for commemoration-assessments.

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Judging by the clerical appeals in the papers, in those days, there were not more than a [hundred] churches in England that had not been in a damaged condition for a generation [and needed commemoration repairs]; and no church at all that did not need something or other which could be made to do commemorative duty. The diligence of the Church seemed to leave all other diligences far behind in the race for commemoration-money. [The Church] gave England a harrying such as she [had] never had before, and will not have again until next [Record] Reign. It assessed its [public] for all the [serious and] [ostensibly] serious things it could think of, and when that source was exhausted it turned to humor for assistance. A country clergyman ninety-two years old and proportionately obscure fell dead; whereupon there was a prompt proposition that a fund be raised for a monument—to commemorate him? No—to commemorate the Record [Reign!]

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It is not to be disputed that in matters of charity the English are [by] a long way the most prodigal nation in the world. Speaking of this, we now and then, at long intervals, hear incidental mention of [George Müller and his orphanages]; then they pass out of our minds and memories, and we think that they have passed out of the earth. But it is not so. They go on. They have been going on for sixty years, and are as much alive to-day as ever they were. George Müller is more than ninety years old, now, but he is still at his work. He was poor when he projected his first orphanage for the sustenance of half a dozen waifs; since then he has collected and spent six or seven millions of dollars in his kindly work, and is as poor to-day as he was when he started. He has built five great orphanages; in them he clothes and teaches and [page 117] feeds two thousand children at a cost of a hundred thousand dollars a year, and England furnishes the money—not through solicitation, nor advertising, nor any kind of prodding, but by distinctly voluntary contributions. When money runs short Müller prays—not publicly but privately—and his treasury is replenished. In sixty years his orphans have not gone to bed unfed a single day; and yet many a time they have come within fifteen minutes of it. The names of the contributors are not revealed; no lists are published; no glory is to be gained by contributing; yet every day in the year the day’s necessary requirement of three or four hundred dollars arrives in the till. These splendid facts strain [belief; but] they are [true.]

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[Mark Twain]


glyphIf you call a policeman to settle the dispute you can depend on one thing—he will decide it against you every time. And so will the New York policeman. In London, if you carry your case into court, the man that is entitled to win it will win it. In New York—but no one carries a cab case into court there. It is my impression that [it] is now more than thirty years since any one has carried a cab case into court there. The foreigner is charged the wildest of prices, but the hotel keeper [advises] him to pay and keep quiet, and assures him that the court will of a certainty side with the hackman.]

Explanatory Notes: Expand | Collapse
Textual Commentary

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108.26 trunnions] Clemens evidently uses “trunnions” to mean trulls, trollops. A trunnion is a pin or pivot.

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110 Diagram of London] The diagram illustrates Clemens’s remark that London “is fifty villages massed solidly together” (108.40–41). It is reproduced from a London newspaper article

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112.19 Liverpool] No period of time during which Clemens and Osgood (see the note at 112.20) were both in Liverpool has been identified. Possibly Clemens was thinking of 10 September 1872,

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112.20 James R. Osgood] Clemens’s sometime publisher James Ripley Osgood (1836–92) started out as a clerk with Boston publishers Ticknor and Fields in 1855, later becoming a partner.

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113.10 Kinsmen Club together in London] The Kinsmen, a private social club for artists and performers, was founded in New York in April 1882. It was an informal society;

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115.29 the Queen’s approaching Jubilee] On 23 September 1896 Queen Victoria noted in her journal: “To-day is the day on which I have reigned longer, by a day, than any English sovereign.”

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116.15 Prince of Wales’s powerful name] Albert Edward, who became King Edward VII in 1901.

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116.36 George Müller and his orphanages] George Friedrich Müller (1805–98), a Prussian-born evangelical preacher, settled in Bristol in 1832 and founded the Ashley Down Orphanage.