BECK index

American Literature 1869-97

by Sanderson Beck

American Writing
Louisa May Alcott & Little Women
George Washington Cable
William Dean Howells
Mark Twain’s Life up to 1869
Mark Twain & His Books 1869-96
Henry James & His American Novels

American Writing

      Horatio Alger Jr. (1832-99) worked on a story about “Ragged Dick” set in Manhattan, and installments began in Student and Schoolmate in January 1867. The book was a best seller, and he wrote five more novels for the Ragged Dick Series which was followed by series about Tattered Tom, Luck and Pluck, Brave and Bold, and several others. In 1868 his novel Ragged Dick; or, Street Life in New York with the Boot Blacks emphasized that honesty is the best policy, and tobacco was called a “noxious weed.” Alger supported the New York philanthropist Charles L. Brace who founded the Children’s Aid Society and the Newsboys’ Lodging House. Other novels he wrote were Mark the Match Boy, Ben the Luggage Boy, Dan the Newsboy, The Young Bank Manager, The Young Salesman, The District Messenger Boy, and The Young Miner. In 1890 Alger published the successful Struggling Upward or Luke Larkin’s Luck. Before his death in July 1899 Alger managed to write 100 stories showing how poor people could lift themselves up by virtue and thrift.
      In 1879 Albion W. Tourgée published A Fool's Errand, by One of the Fools, which sold 200,000 copies, and its sequel Bricks Without Straw the next year was also a best seller about the Reconstruction era.
      In 1880 General Lew Wallace, Governor of the New Mexico Territory, released his novel Ben Hur: A Tale of the Christ. On May 9 the St. Louis Post-Dispatch owner Joseph Pulitzer purchased the New York World from Jay Gould for $346,000, moved to New York, and began increasing its circulation.
      In 1881 Frances Hodgson Burnett’s novel for young people, Little Lord Fauntleroy, which is about an American boy who inherits an estate in England, was serialized in St. Nicholas Magazine from November 1885 to October 1886 and came out as a book in 1886.
      In 1883 Edgar Watson Howe (1853-1937) printed his novel The Story of a Country Town that realistically describes the difficult times, and it was reprinted 25 times within two years.
      In 1884 Helen Hunt Jackson wrote the romantic novel, Ramona, about a native American who was considered illegitimate in southern California after the Mexican War. Over 15,000 copies of Ramona were sold before Jackson’s death in 1885. In 1886 the North American Review recognized Ramona as the best novel written by an American woman and one of the most ethical novels of the century.
      In January 1888 theNational Geographic Society was founded in Washington DC, and in October they began publishing the National Geographic magazine.
      In 1890 Isaac K. Funk and Adam W. Wagnalls, who published the Standard Dictionary of the English Language, began publishing the Literary Digest.
      Francis Ellen E. W. Harper published her novel Iola Leroy, or Shadows Uplifted that described the life of an octoroon girl in the Reconstruction South.
      In 1887 and 1888 Hamlin Garland (1860-1940) wrote stories for the Century Magazine that were published in two volumes as Main-Traveled Roads in 1891. The stories are set in Wisconsin, Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, and South Dakota. Later in a 1922 preface he admitted that those stories were written in a “mood of bitterness” though they were “a record of the privations and hardships of the men and women who subdued the midland wilderness and prepared the way for the present golden age of agriculture.”1 In 1892 Garland published his novel Jason Edwards: An Average Man which he dedicated to the Farmers Alliance. The novel has two parts that describe a mechanic and a farmer.

      Stephen Crane (1871-1900) wrote the first draft of Maggie: A Girl of the Streets in two days in the spring of 1891. He spent $700 publishing it under a pseudonym in 1893, and it tells the realistic story of a poor girl driven to prostitution in the slums. Although he had never been to a war, in December 1894 The Red Badge of Courage by Crane was serialized in The Philadelphia Press. The completed work was published in October 1895 when he added the subtitle An Episode of the American Civil War. The book was published in England early in 1896, and its success there made him famous. On September 16 Crane was with two chorus girls in New York City when they were arrested for solicitation. In The Red Badge of Courage Henry Fleming imagines what battle might be like; he thinks about enlisting, and he joins the army. Henry is trained and gets tired of the marching. He wonders how he would react in a battle.

   But he instantly saw that it would be impossible for him
to escape from the regiment. It inclosed him.
And there were iron laws of tradition and law on four sides.
He was in a moving box.
   As he perceived this fact it occurred to him that
he had never wished to come to the war.
He had not enlisted of his free will.
He had been dragged by the merciless government.
And now they were taking him out to be slaughtered.2

When the attack occurs, he fires his rifle over and over. After the attack, the men retreat. He sees a squirrel run away, and he realizes the instinct to flee.

   At times he regarded wounded soldiers in an envious way.
He conceived persons with torn bodies to be peculiarly happy.
He wished that he, too, had a wound,
a red badge of courage.3

This novel portrayed the agony and futility of battle.

      In the September 1894 issue of the Atlantic Monthly E. V. Smalley wrote “The Isolation of Life on Prairie Farms.” He found that many of those farms in the Great Plains deprived people of valuable social relations especially in the winter when they had less work to do. He suggested that they “draw together in villages” as farmers in most other nations do.
      Also in 1894 Milford Howard published his novel If Christ Came to Congress and then The American Plutocracy the next year.
      On December 29 Joseph Pulitzer gave his editors at the New York World the following advice:

Always tell the truth,
always take the humane and moral side,
always remember that right feeling
is the vital spark of strong writing,
and that publicity, publicity, PUBLICITY
is the greatest moral factor and force in our public life.4

      In 1895 Charles M. Sheldon wrote the novel In His Steps: What Would Jesus Do? to show how a minister could imitate the life of Jesus by practicing the teachings of the Social Gospel movement. Theodore Roosevelt completed his 4-volume The Winning of the West. Burt L. Standish published the juvenile novel Frank Meriwell, or First Days at Fardale, the first of his 776 Frank Meriwell novels that would sell about 96 million copies.
      The lawyer William H. “Coin” Harvey promoted silver and bimetallism in his influential pamphlet Coin's Financial School that depicts the fictional Coin giving lectures in Chicago over six days. He sold 300,000 copies the first year, and in 1896 he would give away 125,000 during William Jennings Bryan’s presidential campaign.
      Also in 1896 the African-American J. McHenry Jones wrote the novel Hearts of Gold to describe the struggle against racism he experienced in Charleston, West Virginia as the editor of The Advocate.
      Adolph S. Ochs for $75,000 gained control of the New York Times and began changes by replacing romantic fiction and tiny type with financial reporting, weekly book reviews, and a Sunday magazine. He adopted the slogan “All the News That’s Fit to Print.” He promised to “give the news without fear or favor, regardless of any party, sect or interest involved.”

      Harold Frederic (1856-98) worked as a journalist. In 1890 he published his novel In the Valley about conflicts in Mohawk Valley that reached a climax in the battle at Oriskany on 6 August 1777. His friend Stephen Crane praised it as the best historical novel ever. By 1890 Kate Lyon had become Frederic’s mistress. He worked in England until his death after a stroke in 1898. Because Kate Lyon was a Christian Scientist, she was tried for manslaughter; the jury acquitted her.
      Frederic in 1893 published The Copperhead about the farmer Abner Beech who is called a “Copperhead” because he hates the abolitionists and the war. He adopts the orphan Jimmy who enlists in the Union Army, and his son Jeff loses an arm fighting in the Civil War. In 1896 Frederic wrote a novel that was released as Illumination in England and was published as The Damnation of Theron Ware in Chicago. Theron Ware is a young Methodist minister in upstate New York, and he has little education and moral failings. He experiences illumination and leaves the ministry.

Louisa May Alcott & Little Women

      Louisa May Alcott was born on 28 November 1832 and grew up in Boston. Her father Bronson Alcott was influenced by Plato and Pythagoras and became a friend of Ralph Waldo Emerson and a Transcendentalist. He ate no meat and was interested in progressive education and spiritual living, but his experimental school closed in 1839. He moved the family into the Fruitlands community in 1843, and in 1845 with support from Emerson they got a house in Concord. In 1847 the Alcott’s helped fugitive slaves on the Underground Railroad, and Frederick Douglass spent a week with them. That Hillside home was sold to the novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne in 1852, and after many moves they returned to a farmhouse at Concord in 1858. Bronson taught his children.
      Bronson earned little money, and Louisa began working as a governess, teacher, seamstress, and writer. Margaret Fuller and Julia Ward Howe were also her good friends. Louisa was influenced by the Seneca Falls Convention’s Declaration of Sentiments in July 1848, and she was the first woman in Concord to register to vote in a school board election. Louisa decided to read fewer novels. Her favorite writers included Carlyle, Goethe, Plutarch, Milton, Schiller, Madame de Staël, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Emerson. She wrote a play for the Boston Theatre, and she was depressed in 1857 until she read a biography of Charlotte Brontë by Elizabeth Gaskell. In 1858 Louisa’s younger sister Elizabeth died, and her older sister Anna got married. Bronson began writing for the Atlantic Monthly in 1860, and Louisa worked as a nurse for six weeks during the Civil War until she got typhoid in January 1863. Her Hospital Sketches described her patients and her nursing experience. Louisa had been tutored by Henry David Thoreau who died in 1862, and in the summer of 1863 her poem Thoreau’s flute about her time at Walden Pond was published in the Atlantic. She wrote,

To him no vain regrets belong
Whose soul that finer instrument,
Gave to the world no poor lament,
But wood-notes ever sweet and strong.
O lonely friend! He still will be
A potent presence, though unseen,—
Steadfast, sagacious, and serene;
Seek not for him—he is with thee.5

That year the editor of Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper gave Louisa the $100 prize for her “blood and thunder” story “Pauline’s Passion and Punishment.” Her first autobiographical novel Moods in 1864 made money and was influenced by her infatuation with Thoreau. The main character Sylvia longs for the freedom of her brother and Adam. She was given 10 copies on Christmas Eve and sent one to Henry James Sr. She wrote anonymously 33 gothic thrillers for periodicals between 1863 and 1872.
      Louisa’s autobiographical novel Little Women was published in two parts in 1868 and 1869. Her fictionalized account of her family became her most famous and successful work that has sold millions. Beginning when their father was away serving as a chaplain during the Civil War, the story describes their mother Abigal May (Marmee), and the four sisters Anna (Meg), Louisa May (Jo), Elizabeth (Beth), and Abby (Amy). Little Women has been adapted into six films and several television series.
      At Christmas time the March sisters decide to forgo presents for themselves and send gifts to their father who is serving in the Union Army. The oldest Meg is working as a governess for some wild youngsters. Jo tries to follow her ideals by being patient, forgiving, and unselfish. She likes to write and devises plays to entertain the family. Beth is self-sacrificing and helps her mother take care of the house. Amy is very pretty, cheerful, and self-centered, and she hopes to become a great artist. They all respect and love their mother. On Christmas morning they share their breakfast with a poor family, and then their wealthy neighbor Theodore Lawrence (Laurie) sends over ice cream and flowers for them. Laurie joins their family circle. He and Jo like to engage in pranks, and they get in trouble. Before their mother leaves to visit their ill father, Jo sells her long hair for $25 to pay for her mother’s expenses. While Marmee is away, Beth comes down with scarlet fever. The next year their father returns from the war.
      Laurie’s tutor, John Brook, falls in love with Meg and steals one of her gloves. Laurie finds it and tells Jo. She gets upset for a while, but three years later John and Meg marry. Their Aunt Carrol is going to Europe and wants to take one of the sisters. Jo is disappointed when Carrol chooses the artistic Amy instead of her. Marmee allows Jo to go to New York, and she gets a job there as a governess for Mrs. Kirke who runs a boarding-house. The older German tutor Bhaer and Jo become friends. After Jo returns home, Laurie comes back from college and asks her to marry him. She tries to talk him out of it, and he says both families approve the match. After he realizes she is really opposed, he leaves for Europe with his grandfather. There he sees Amy, and they become close friends. Beth becomes sick again, and Jo takes care of her; Beth dies in the spring. Jo turns to her writing and spends time with Meg’s two babies. Amy comes back married to Laurie. Professor Bhaer calls on Jo, and while walking in the rain she accepts his offer of marriage. Aunt March died and left her Plumfield home to Jo who with her husband decides to start a school for boys. The family celebrates Marmee’s sixtieth birthday, and Laurie proposes a toast for life-long happiness.
      Little Women is a brilliant novel because it portrays realistically a family just like the author’s that shows the spiritual influence of Transcendentalism on their ethical concerns to become good “little women” as the children are growing up.
      Louisa May Alcott left for Europe on 1 April 1870, and the next day was published her novel An Old-Fashioned Girl about a poor but virtuous girl who moves in with wealthy friends. By July that book brought Louisa $6,212, and she invested it in railroad stocks. Little Men, or Life at Plumfield with Jo's Boys (1871) is the first sequel to Little Women and describes Jo and her husband Friedrich teaching boys in a progressive school based on the ideas of her father Bronson Alcott. She wrote, “Grandpa March cultivated the little mind—not tasking it with long hard lessons, parrot-learned, but helping it to unfold as naturally and beautifully as sun and dew help roses bloom.”6 By fall 42,000 copies of Little Men had been sold, and Little Women’s sales reached 82,000. Jo's Boys, and How They Turned Out, the next and last sequel to Little Women, was not published until 1886. The story follows the lives of the former students.
      In 1873 Louisa published Work: A Story of Experience based on her own life and her friend Henry David Thoreau. Her Eight Cousins, or The Aunt-Hill in 1875 was a successful novel that described the education of girls and was followed by the sequel Roses in Bloom in 1876. Louisa’s beloved father died at the age of 88 on 4 March 1888, and Louisa, who suffered from health problems, died two days later. Her popular novels surely has beneficial effects on the ethics of her many readers and on those who have seen the movies based on Little Women.

George Washington Cable

      George Washington Cable was born in New Orleans on 12 October 1844, the son of slaveholders. He went to private schools and served in the Confederate army. He started writing for the New Orleans Picayune in 1870. From 1873 to 1876 he published six stories in Scribner’s Monthly magazine, and they were published in Old Creole Days in 1879. His multiracial novel The Grandissimes: A Story of Creole Life was serialized in Scribner’s from November 1879 to October 1880, the year it was published as a novel.
      The Grandissimes: A Story of Creole Life portrays different attitudes toward slavery and takes place in 1804 in New Orleans. Honoré Grandissime is the white head of the family, and his half-brother is called the “darker Honoré” because he is a quadroon (one-quarter black). Joseph Frowenfeld is a young abolitionist from Philadelphia, and he falls in love with Aurora’s daughter Clotilde. In the chapter “Frowenfeld Makes an Argument” he is urged “to philosophize,” and he says,

   It is largely owing, to a defective organization of society,
which keeps this community, and will continue to keep it
for an indefinite time to come, entirely unprepared
and disinclined to follow the course of modern thought.
   One great general subject of thought now is
human rights,—universal human rights.
The entire literature of the world is becoming tinctured
with contradictions of the dogmas
upon which society in this section is built.
Human rights is, of all subjects,
the one upon which this community
is most violently determined to hear no discussion.
It has pronounced that slavery and caste are right,
and sealed up the whole subject.
What, then, will they do with the world’s literature?
They will coldly decline to look at it, and will become,
more and more as the world moves on,
a comparatively illiterate people.
   I have heard that charge made, even by some Americans.
I do not know.
But there is a slavery that no legislation can abolish,—
the slavery of caste.
That, like all the slaveries on earth, is a double bondage.
And what a bondage it is which compels a community,
in order to preserve its established tyrannies,
to walk behind the rest of the intelligent world!
What a bondage is that which incites a people
to adopt a system of social and civil distinctions,
possessing all the enormities and none of the advantages
of those systems which Europe is learning to despise!
This system, moreover, is only kept up
by a flourish of weapons.
We have here what you may call an armed aristocracy.
The class over which these instruments of main force are held
is chosen for its servility, ignorance, and cowardice;
hence, indolence in the ruling class.
When a man’s social or civil standing
is not dependent on his knowing how to read,
he is not likely to become a scholar.7

      White Honoré’s uncle Agricola Fusilier supports slavery. He has killed Aurora’s husband over a gambling dispute, and then he wants to marry her. The darker Honoré falls in love with the freed slave Palmyra, and they run off to France.
      Cable included in the Appendix quotations from Etienne Arthur Gayarré’s History of Louisiana which was revised and published in 1879. From the Black Code promulgated in 1724 and still in force in 1803 he presented the following five from the 54 articles in the Black Code:

Article 7: The ceremonies and forms
prescribed by the ordinance of Blois, and by the edict of 1639,
for marriages, shall be observed
both with regard to free persons and to slaves.
But the consent of the father and mother of the slave
is not necessary;
that of the master shall be the only one required.
Article 12: We forbid slaves to carry offensive weapons
or heavy sticks, under the penalty of being whipped….
Article 13: We forbid slaves belonging to different masters
to gather in crowds either by day or by night,
under the pretext of a wedding, or for any other cause,
either at the dwelling or on the grounds
of one of their masters, or elsewhere,
and much less on the highways or in secluded places,
under the penalty of corporal punishment.
Article 27: The slave who, having struck his master,
his mistress, or their children, shall have produced a bruise,
or the shedding of blood in the face,
shall suffer capital punishment.
Article 32: The runaway slave, who shall continue
to be so for one month from the day
of his being denounced to the officers of justice,
shall have his ears cut off,
and shall be branded with the flower de luce on the shoulder:
and on a second offense of the same nature, persisted in
during one month from the day of his being denounced,
he shall be hamstrung,
and be marked with the flower de luce on the other shoulder.
On the third offense he shall suffer death.8

      From November 1884 through February 1885 Cable and his friend Mark Twain went on the “Twin Genius” speaking tour to Toronto and the Midwest as far as Iowa. In January 1885 Cable published his essay “The Freedman’s Case in Equity” in The Century, and it became the first chapter in The Silent South. That book was so controversial that he decided to move to Massachusetts. In that essay he wrote,

   The African slave was brought here by cruel force
and with everybody’s consent except his own.
Everywhere the practice was favored
as a measure of common aggrandizement.
When a few men and women protested,
they were mobbed in the public interest,
with the public consent.
There rests, therefore, a moral responsibility
on the whole nation never to lose sight
of the results of African-American slavery
until they cease to work mischief and injustice….
   The nation was to blame;
and so long as evils spring from it,
their correction must be the nation’s duty.
   The late Southern slave has within two decades
risen from slavery to freedom, from freedom to citizenship,
passed on into political ascendancy,
and fallen again from that eminence….
   The testimony of an Irish, German, Italian, French,
or Spanish beggar in a court of justice was taken on its merits;
but the coloured man’s was excluded by law
wherever it weighed against a white man.
The colored man was a prejudiced culprit….
   Let us but remove the hireling demagogue,
and we will see to it that the freedman
is accorded a practical, complete, and cordial recognition
of his equality with the white man before the law….
Compulsory reconstruction has been set aside
and a voluntary reconstruction is on trial….
   One relation and feeling the war destroyed—
the patriarchal tie and its often really tender
and benevolent sentiment of dependence and protection.
When the slave became a freedman, the sentiment
of alienism became for the first time complete….
   In these days of voluntary reconstruction
he is virtually freed by the consent of his master,
but the master retaining the exclusive right
to define the bounds of his freedom….
   It acknowledges in constitutions and statutes
his title to an American’s freedom and aspirations,
and then in daily practice heaps upon him
in every public place the most odious distinctions,
without giving ear to the humblest plea
concerning mental or moral character….
   These 6 million freedmen are dominated
by 9 million whites, immeasurably stronger than they,
backed by the virtual consent of 30-odd million more….
   I say the outraged intelligence of the South,
for there are thousands of Southern-born
white men and women in the minority in all these places—
in churches, courts, schools, libraries, theaters, concert halls
and on steamers, and railway carriages—
who see the wrong and the folly of these things,
silently blush for them and withhold their open protests
only because their belief is unfortunately stronger
in the futility of their counsel
than in the power of a just cause.9

      Cable also published The Negro Question in 1890. His treatment of racism would influence the novels of William Faulkner and Robert Penn Warren.

William Dean Howells

      Born in Ohio on 1 March 1837 William Dean Howells was the son of an editor and printer who encouraged him to write and got one of his poems published in 1852. In 1856 young Howells was elected clerk of the Ohio legislature, and in 1858 he began writing poems and short stories for the Ohio State Journal. Howells taught himself Spanish, French, Latin, and German. In 1860 he supported the Republican candidates by writing and editing the Lives and Speeches of Abraham Lincoln and Hannibal Hamlin. That year he visited Boston and met the Atlantic editor James Russell Lowell, Emerson, Thoreau, Hawthorne, and the senior Oliver Wendell Holmes. Later he became friends with O. W. Holmes Jr., Henry Adams, William and Henry James, and Mark Twain. Howells worked for President Lincoln as the consul in Venice 1861-65, and his marriage to Elinor Mead in 1862 helped him overcome his nervousness. He started working for the Atlantic Monthly in 1866 and was its editor 1871-81. He wrote many reviews and began publishing realistic novels with Their Wedding Journey in 1872 and A Chance Acquaintance in 1873. Howells’ most influential novels were A Modern Instance (1882), The Rise of Silas Lapham (1885), A Hazard of New Fortunes (1890), and a Traveler from Atruria (1894). He kept writing and publishing until his death in 1920.
      His novel A Modern Instance shows how a marriage could deteriorate because of greed. Howells begins the 6th chapter writing,

   The spectacle of a love affair in which the woman gives
more of her heart than the man gives of his is so pitiable
that we are apt to attribute a kind of merit to her,
as if it were a voluntary self-sacrifice
for her to love more than her share.
Not only other men, but other women,
look on with this canonizing compassion;
for women have a lively power of imagining themselves
in the place of any sister who suffers in matters of sentiment,
and are eager to espouse the common cause
in commiserating her.
Each of them pictures herself similarly wronged or slighted
by the man she likes best, and feels how cruel it would be
if he were to care less for her than she for him;
and for the time being, in order to realize the situation,
she loads him with all the sins of omission
proper to the culprit in the alien case.
But possibly there is a compensation in merely loving,
even where the love given is
out of all proportion to the love received.10

Various difficult relationships are described, and near the end the wife Clara says,

   He wishes to marry her.
It isn’t so much a question of what a man ought to have,
as what he wants to have, in marrying, is it?
Even the best of men. If she is exacting and quick-tempered,
he is good enough to get on with her.
If she had a husband that she could thoroughly trust,
she would be easy enough to get on with.
There is no woman good enough to get on with a bad man.11

      William Dean Howells in 1885 published his novel The Rise of Silas Lapham. A journalist interviews Silas Lapham and criticizes the way he lives. Lapham says that he discovered how to make paint from a mineral he found on his farm. After the Civil War the man Milton Rogers invests money in Lapham’s paint business and is made a partner but only for a while. Mrs. Lapham is concerned how Silas dismissed Rogers; but he says he was fair to him. The Laphams build a house in a desirable neighborhood. Tom Corey is from a wealthy Boston family, and he becomes Lapham’s friend. Tom gets to know the Lapham’s daughters Penelope and Irene, and he asks Lapham for a job. They suspect he is interested in Irene, but he actually likes the older Penelope who refuses to attend a dinner. Corey goes to apologize to Lapham who feels socially insecure. Lapham is out, and Corey tells Penelope that he loves her. She puts him off out of respect for Irene. Lapham is having financial problems, and Corey offers to loan him $30,000. Lapham does not accept the money and accidentally sets his house on fire. Rogers offers to buy some property that Lapham thinks is worth little. Rogers puts up security for the property, but he is not an effective businessman. Lapham is concerned the railroad will determine the value. Then the railroad forces him to sell his mills. Lapham lacks assets now to merge with a competitor. He is bankrupt, and Corey marries Penelope. Lapham is consoled by his belief that he was honest in his business.

      Also in 1885 Howells published his novel Indian Summer about a middle-aged American newspaperman Colville who is a bachelor and returns to Florence, Italy twenty years after he knew two American women there. He had been rejected by the one he loved and pursued. He now discovers that her friend is the widow Mrs. Lina Bowen. She has a 13-year-old daughter Effie and is the chaperone for the 20-year-old Imogene Graham who is beautiful and intelligent. Mrs. Bowen invites Colville to her home, and he gets to know and like the young ladies as well as her. He brings gifts to Effie who comes to love him as if he were her father. He and Imogene like each other even though he is twice her age. Mrs. Bowen lets the girls go to a masked ball with Colville during carnival. Effie feels ill and goes home, leaving Colville with Imogene. Mrs. Bowen becomes concerned about the budding love affair, and she asks Colville to leave Florence for the sake of propriety. He agrees it is best. Before he gets enough money together to pay for his hotel and travel expenses, he goes to a park and happens to see Imogene there. She asks him to stay, and he agrees. They realize they love each other and decide to marry. When they tell Mrs. Bowen, she writes to Imogene’s parents in America. The couple agrees to wait and hear from her parents, though Imogene says she will marry Colville regardless. A young minister Morton is in love with Imogene and comes to court her. Mrs. Graham decides to sail for Europe. Colville, Morton, and the three ladies visit Etruscan tombs and Roman ruins. On the way back the horses of their carriage are frightened by sheep, and Colville tells the ladies to jump as he goes to calm the horses. Morton helps Imogene out. Colville’s wrist is caught in a horse’s curb-bit chain, and he and the carriage go over the wall and crash. Colville wakes up in bed and is visited by Effie and her mother. Imogene is staying with her mother at a hotel. Mrs. Graham tells Colville that Imogene has realized that she is not in love with him and that she is taking her home. Colville accepts that because he feels the same way. He tells Effie that he is leaving, and she cries she cannot bear that. Then her mother Lina tells him that he must stay. Colville realizes that he loves Mrs. Bowen. She loves him too, and they decide to marry and move to Rome where their past is not known. Howells described well the feelings of the characters in this romantic novel.
      Howells’ novel A Hazard of New Fortunes was published in 1890. Like the author, Basil March moved from New England to New York City, and he gives up selling insurance to edit a new magazine. He looks for a place to live, and later his wife joins him. Mr. Fulkerson backs the enterprise. Mr. Dryfoos becomes the publisher, having made a fortune by controlling natural gas, and he makes his son Conrad the business manager. They publish Every Other Week, and the artist Angus Beaton falls in love with another artist Alma Leighton. Dryfoos has an older daughter Christine, and she feels unrequited love for the art editor. Fulkerson is attracted to a southern girl who lives in the same boarding house. Henry Lindau is a German-American socialist who lost an arm fighting for the Union, and after a while he refuses to work for the magazine’s capitalist owner. Mr. Dryfoos does not allow the art editor to see Christine in his house. Dryfoos decides to take his family to Europe, and he sells the magazine to Fulkerson with a low-interest loan. During a strike Conrad tries to intervene when a policeman is beating the striking Lindau who is shot dead. Conrad is also killed. March says to his wife,

   “He might as well offer a sacrifice at Conrad’s grave.
Children,” said March, turning to them,
“death is an exile that no remorse and no love can reach.
Remember that, and be good to everyone here on earth,
for your longing to retrieve any harshness or unkindness
to the dead will be the very ecstasy of anguish to you.
I wonder,” he mused, “if one of the reasons why
we’re shut up to our ignorance of what is to be hereafter
isn’t that we should be still more brutal to one another here,
in the hope of making reparation somewhere else.
Perhaps, if we ever come to obey the law of love on earth,
the mystery of death will be taken away.”
   “Well”—the ancestral Puritanism spoke in Mrs. Marsh—
“these two old men have been terribly punished.
They have both been violent and willful,
and they have both been punished.
No one need ever tell me
there is not a moral government of the universe!”12

      In 1894 William Dean Howells serialized stories in The Cosmopolitan magazine that were published during the depression that began in 1894 as the novel A Traveler From Altruria which criticized capitalism by comparing it to someone’s experience from a socialized society. Howells narrates the novel as an author. He meets the Altrurian visitor at a train station and is surprised to see him help porters and later a waitress. In their discussion of social inequality, the author admits,

   There is something terrible, something shocking,
in the frank brutality with which
Englishmen affirm the essential inequality of men.
The affirmation of the essential equality of men
was the first point of departure with us,
when we separated from them.13

The Altrurian replies praising the Declaration of Independence. The American author admits they do have ranks and classes. He claims they are voluntary, and then changes his response by calling the cause natural selection. When they take a walk to the beach the Altrurian discovers that a capitalist had some of the nearby forest chopped down, and he is surprised that America allows a person to do wrong with his property. He asks, “Wasn’t the state empowered to buy him off at the full value of his timber and his land?”14 The author replies,

   Certainly not. That would be rank paternalism….
You know that in America the law is careful
not to meddle with a man’s private affairs,
and we don’t attempt to legislate personal virtue.15

Soon the author admits that Americans have many laws against immoral actions. The author introduces his visiting friend as “Mr. Homos.” The discussion with others exposes the unequal and dependent social and economic status of men who work with their hands for a living. American wives of wealthy men are able to turn over housework to servants and pursue cultural and social activities.
      The manufacturer tells how he sent for the leader of the workers and asked him how their conflicts would end, and he replied, “It’s all going to end when you get the same amount of money for the same amount of work as we do.”16
      The purpose of a union is to protect weak workers from strong employers, and they seek “the equalization of earnings among all who do their best.”17 The manufacturer says that when a man gets his own house, he sees things differently.
      The minister asks the lawyer about questions of justice, and the lawyer confesses, “I find a certain wild equity in this principle, which I see nobody could do business on.”18 He and the minister agree that the ideal of the Christian state is the family, but the law does not recognize that principle.
      Homos asks what is the first principle of business, and the professor says, “Buying in the cheapest market and selling in the dearest,” and the manufacturer agreed, “The good of Number One first, last, and all the time.”
      The minister protested, “We mustn’t go to nature for our morality.”
      When the manufacturer replied, “We are not talking of morality; we were talking of business,”19 this brought laughter.
      The Altrurian explains how they no longer need trade unions which had to oppose those who did not join, and the nation became divided between the unions and syndicates. He says that Altrurians now all do some work with their hands and still have time for education and higher pleasures. In Altruria they do not work for a living but for others’ living. He says,

   We should think it monstrous in Altruria for any man
to have another’s means of life in his power;
and in our condition it is hardly imaginable….
   Why, you must realize that
our manual labor is never engrossing or exhausting.
It is no more than is necessary to keep the body in health.
I do not see how you remain well here,
you people of sedentary occupations.20

      The narrator wrote,

   I felt that it ought to have been self-evident to him that
when a commonwealth of sixty million Americans
based itself upon the great principle of self-seeking,
self-seeking was the best thing;
and whatever hardship it seemed to work,
it must carry with it unseen blessings in ten-fold measure.
If a few hundred thousand favored Americans
enjoyed the privilege of socially contemning all the rest,
it was as clearly right and just that they should do so,
as that four thousand American millionaires should be
richer than all the other Americans put together.21

Homos engaged the author in dialog asking,

   “But is it true that they have to pay such rates of interest
as our young friend mentioned?”
   “Well,” I said, seeing the thing in the humorous light,
which softens for us Americans
so many of the hardships of others,
“I suppose that man likes to squeeze his brother man,
when he gets him in his grip.
That’s human nature, you know.”
   “Is it?” asked the Altrurian.22

He explains that they have no poverty because they consider it “bad citizenship.” The practical altruism was found in the first Christians who followed Christ, and he called it “neighborliness.”
      The professor says that Americans can buy votes for $2. The banker asks how they decided that labor should own capital, and the Altrurian replied, “We voted it.” Mrs. Makely suggests they organize a talk by Homos and charge $2 per ticket.
      About 500 people attend, and the Altrurian first describes their country before the “time of Evolution.” He describes western civilization from the beginning of Christianity. Then the strong overpowered others until people were misruled by one supreme lord. After a long nightmare a vision of the future evolved. Invented machines saved labor, and the love of money became universal and caused hatred of men. The “Accumulation” controlled people as the rich lived in palaces and the poor in tenements. Economic competition was replaced by monopolies.
      A farmer complains he is talking about America and asks to hear about Altruria. Homos says they formed one large union, and justice had “become a mockery.” Telegraphs helped people organize politically, and they voted for a new government, and they passed a law that the Accumulation could no longer control production of what they ate. The plutocratic oligarchy fell. The people began to do things finely and beautifully. They had a capital in each region for public government, and officials alternated every year. They all shared in cultivating the earth, and love of home was strengthened. They abolished money, and every person did three hours of work per day in exchange for food, clothing, and shelter. Everyone worked for the common good. They chose the name Altruria because it means “absence of war.” For a while they kept coastal defenses, but that was a long time ago. The professor noted that the policies came from Plato, Utopia by Thomas More, New Atlantis by Francis Bacon, and City of the Sun by Campanella. Homos says,

   No man owned anything,
but every man had the right to anything that he could use;
when he could not use it, his right lapsed….
   But, after all, our life is serious,
and no one among us is quite happy, in the general esteem,
unless he has dedicated himself, in some special way,
to the general good.
Our ideal is not rights, but duties.”23

Homos concludes his speech this way:

   What we have already accomplished is
to have given a whole continent perpetual peace;
to have founded an economy
in which there is no possibility of want;
to have killed out political and social ambition;
to have disused money and eliminated chance;
to have realized the brotherhood of the race,
and to have outlived the fear of death.24

A man asks Homos if he can go to Altruria, and he replies, “You must let Altruria come to you.”25
      Howells wrote two sequels to this utopian novel publishing Letters of an Altrurian Traveler in 1904 and Through the Eye of the Needle: A Romance in 1907.

Mark Twain’s Life up to 1869

      Samuel Langhorne Clemens was born on 30 November 1835 in Missouri. Halley’s Comet had appeared in October and would return around the time of his death on 21 April 1910 becoming visible in May. Having arrived two months early, the frail child spent most of the next three years in bed. He walked in his sleep, and his mother believed he had second sight (psychic perception). In his Autobiography he wrote,

   When I was younger I could remember anything,
whether it had happened or not;
but my faculties are decaying now and soon I shall be so I
cannot remember any but the things that never happened.
It is sad to go to pieces like this but we all have to do it.26

In his fourth year the Clemens family moved to Hannibal by the Mississippi River. He wrote,

All the negroes were friends of ours,
and with those of our own age we were in effect comrades.
I say in effect, using the phrase as a modification.
We were comrades and yet not comrades;
color and condition interposed a subtle line
which both parties were conscious of
and which rendered complete fusion impossible.
We had a faithful and affectionate good friend,
ally and adviser in “Uncle Dan’l,” a middle-aged slave
whose head was the best one in the negro-quarter,
whose sympathies were wide and warm
and whose heart was honest and simple and knew no guile.
He has served me well these many, many years.
I have not seen him for more than half a century
and yet spiritually I have had his welcome company
a good part of that time and have staged him in books
under his own name and as “Jim,”
and carted him all around….
   The black face is as welcome to me now as it was then….
   In Hannibal we seldom saw a slave misused;
on the farm never….
   I can hear Uncle Dan’l telling the immortal tales
which Uncle Remus Harris was to gather into his books
and charm the world with, by and by.27

In “Concerning Jews” in 1898 he wrote,

I have no race prejudices,
and I think I have no color prejudices
or caste prejudices nor creed prejudices….
I can stand any society.
All that I care to know is that a man is a human being—
that is enough for me; he can’t be any worse.28

      His mother Jane sent Sammy to a “dame school” in a woman’s home in 1840. He enjoyed reading McGuffey’s Reader that contained stories, poems, essays, and speeches. He also found the Bible interesting and later wrote,

   It has noble poetry in it; and some clever fables;
and some blood-drenched history; and some good morals;
and a wealth of obscenity; and upwards of a thousand lies.29

In his Notebook he wrote, “If Christ were here now, there is one thing he would not be—a Christian.”30 His mother joined the Presbyterian Church, and he remained in that faith despite doubts after his brothers died in 1842 and 1858.
      In 1841 his father was on a jury that sentenced three abolitionists to 12 years in prison, and William Lloyd Garrison condemned the harsh penalty in The Liberator.
      At the age of seven Sammy led other boys in putting on plays based on legends and tales in which he starred as Robin Hood and others. He started smoking cheap cigars in his ninth year. His mother loved animals, and one day she stopped a man who was beating his horse on a street in St. Louis. He wrote,

That sort of interference in behalf of abused animals
was a common thing with her all her life;
and her manner must have been without offense
and her good intent transparent,
for she always carried her point and also won the courtesy
and often the friendly applause of the adversary.31

In 1845 they had 19 cats.
      When the Mexican War started in the spring of 1846, Sam saw soldiers marching and felt a desire to join; but he was too young. Later he wrote, “Before I had a chance in another war the desire to kill people to whom I had not been introduced had passed away.”32
      His father John Marshal Clemens was named after the first US Chief Justice. He started a store and practiced law, and he was elected justice of the peace in 1844, the year he helped found the Hannibal Library Institute and contributed most of the books. When land was cheap, he invested in the forests of Tennessee. In November 1846 Clemens was chairman of a committee that got a charter for the Hannibal & St. Joseph Railroad that would be completed in 1849 and provide wealth for Hannibal. Marshall Clemens while traveling for the court suffered during a storm, and Sam later described how he died of pneumonia in 24 March 1847.

When my father lay dying in our house in Hannibal
he put his arm around my sister’s neck
and drew her down and kissed her, saying, “Let me die.”
I remember that, and I remember the death rattle
which swiftly followed those words, which were his last.33

His widow Jane asked Sammy to give her a promise, and he said, “Oh mother, I will do anything, anything you ask of me except go to school; I can’t do that.”34 She accepted his promise to be faithful, industrious, and upright. That year Samuel began working at odd jobs with a blacksmith and in a grocery store, a pharmacy, and a book store where he complained that customers interrupted his reading. In June 1848 he was apprenticed to the publisher of the Hannibal Courier. Samuel read books by James Fenimore Cooper, Dickens, Byron, Walter Scott, and others. He was proud that his ancestor Clemens had been on the court that tried and ordered King Charles I executed. He noted how slavery in Missouri was not as bad as that in the South, writing,

   It was the mild domestic slavery,
not the brutal plantation article.
Cruelties were very rare
and exceedingly and wholesomely unpopular.
To separate and sell the members of a slave family
to different masters was a thing not well liked by the people
and so it was not often done,
except in the settling of estates.35

      In September 1849 the telegraph connected Hannibal to the world. Sam’s older brother Orion was born in 1825, and he was apprenticed in St. Louis and was advised by Edward Bates. Sam wrote that Orion joined various churches and “was correspondingly erratic in his politics—Whig today, Democrat next week, and anything fresh that he could find the week after.”36 In January 1850 Orion invited Sam to join him in publishing. On September 5 Orion initiated the Hannibal Western Union as a “thorough whig” in politics. In January 1851 Sam joined him for $3.50 a week, but he later wrote that Orion never paid him. After damage from a fire in January 1851 in September they started what soon became the weekly Hannibal Journal. In that Samuel published his first political satire “Babbling Government Secrets” on 23 September 1852. Although they had more readers than any other paper in Hannibal, they struggled to survive. Samuel set type and engaged in pranks and a verbal feud.
      In June 1853 Sam left to go to St. Louis. There on 7 August 1854 the Know Nothings attacked immigrants. He and a friend went to join the militia that drilled until 10 p.m. As they marched to stop the rioting, Sam felt thirsty. He handed his rifle to his friend and left to get a drink, and he went home. The riot lasted two days. He worked setting type for the Evening News, then for the Inquirer and the Public Ledger in Philadelphia before settling in Keokuk, Iowa for two years. Then he went to Cincinnati and worked in a printing office. Sam was influenced by Tom Paine’s free thinking in The Age of Reason and left behind the Presbyterian theology he had been taught. Emerson’s Essays also inspired Sam with “the great law of compensation—the great law that regulates Nature’s heedless agents.”
      Samuel Clemens in his Autobiography wrote,

   I was in New Orleans
when Louisiana went out of the Union, January 25, 1861,
and I started North the next day….
In June I joined the Confederates in Ralls County, Missouri,
as a second lieutenant under General Tom Harris
and came near having the distinction
of being captured by Colonel Ulysses S. Grant.
I resigned after two weeks’ service in the field,
explaining that I was “incapacitated by fatigue”
through persistent retreating.37

In 1861 he joined a Masonic lodge in St. Louis. In March the US Attorney General Edward Bates got Orion appointed secretary of the Nevada Territory with various duties and a salary of $1,800 a year. In May the river traffic became difficult, and Samuel in June went to Hannibal and helped organize schoolmates into the Confederate Marion Rangers. They camped and retreated, and after two weeks they disbanded. In 1885 he described that episode in “The Private History of a Campaign that Failed.”
      Samuel and Orion left for Nevada in July 1861, and they traveled by steamer and stagecoach. At St. Joseph they paid $300 for two tickets to Carson City, Nevada which they reached on August 14. Sam visited a mining area and began speculating in silver and gold stocks. During the fall session of the legislature he was paid $8 a day to be Orion’s secretary. In December he went prospecting.
      In the winter of 1862-63 Sam worked as a journalist for the Virginia City Enterprise reporting on the legislature in Carson City. He wrote letters for the paper on 3 February 1863 when he started using the name “Mark Twain,” which was a leadman’s call for two fathoms (12 feet). He persuaded the lawmakers to require corporations to record their entire charter. Secretary Orion was authorized to charge $5 to certify each record, and every mining corporation had to pay this. The service brought in about $1,000 in gold per month. On July 26 the hotel he was staying in burned down, and Sam lost all his possessions including his mining stocks. In 1864 Twain wrote articles for the Enterprise criticizing the police in San Francisco for being corrupt, incompetent, and for mistreating the Chinese. Gov. James Nye managed to get Nevada admitted into the Union as a state by October 31 so that President Lincoln could get their electoral votes. Orion failed to get a position in the new government, and Twain explained it writing,

He would examine both sides of a case so diligently
and so conscientiously that when he got through
with his argument neither he nor the jury
would know which side he was on.38

Fighting duels with revolvers became popular and deadly in Nevada, and Twain had no desire to fight a duel and barely escaped being in one. He wrote, “I thoroughly disapprove of duels. I consider them unwise and I know they are dangerous. Also, sinful.”39
      Twain left Nevada and went to San Francisco where he was hired as the only reporter for the Morning Call. He went to the police court every morning to observe the cases of mostly Irishmen and Chinamen. One article not published was critical of “hoodlums for stoning Chinamen.” In his later years he wrote,

I believe the entire population of the United States—
exclusive of the women—
to be rotten, as far as the dollar is concerned.
Understand, I am saying these things as a dead person.
I should consider it indiscreet in any live one
to make these remarks publicly.40

He also wrote,

   The last quarter of a century of my life
has been pretty constantly and faithfully devoted
to the study of the human race—that is to say,
the study of myself, for in my individual person
I am the entire human race compacted together….
The shades of difference between other people and me
serve to make variety and prevent monotony, but that is all;
broadly speaking, we are all alike;
and so by studying myself carefully and comparing myself
with other people and noting the divergences,
I have been enabled to acquire a knowledge
of the human race which I perceive is more accurate
and more comprehensive than that which has been acquired
and revealed by any other member of our species….
It follows that my estimate of the human race
is the duplicate of my estimate of myself.41

Twain quoted Benjamin Disraeli who said, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.”42 In 1866 he was a roving correspondent for the Sacramento Union which sent him to the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii) which he called “paradise for an indolent man.” He returned to San Francisco in August and gave lectures in several cities before leaving in December.
      He arrived in New York in January 1867 and met Charles H. Webb whom he had known as the editor of The Californian. Webb published The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, and Other Sketches by Mark Twain on April 30. Twain was a successful lecturer, and he wrote,

   What is called a “reading,” as a public platform
entertainment, was first essayed by Charles Dickens, I think.
He brought the idea with him from England in 1867.
He had made it very popular at home and he made it
so acceptable and so popular in America that his houses
were crowded everywhere, and in a single season
he earned two hundred thousand dollars….
   Mr. Dickens read scenes from his printed books….
   Lecturing and reading were quite different things;
the lecturer didn’t use notes or manuscript or book,
but got his lecture by heart and delivered it
night after night in the same words
during the whole lecture season of four winter months….
   I remained in the lecture field three seasons—
long enough to learn the trade;
then domesticated myself in my new married estate
after a weary life of wandering and remained
under shelter at home for fourteen or fifteen years.
Meantime, speculators and money-makers
had taken up the business of hiring lecturers,
with the idea of getting rich at it.
In about five years they killed that industry dead
and when I returned to the platform for a season, in 1884,
there had been a happy and holy silence for ten years
and a generation had come to the front
who knew nothing about lectures and readings
and didn’t know how to take them
nor what to make of them.43

Twain hired the novelist George W. Cable to help him and paid him $600 a week and expenses. Twain was friends with the humorists Nasby and Josh Billings.

Mark Twain & His Books 1869-96

      In 1867 a newspaper funded Mark Twain’s trip to Europe and the Mideast for five months. From the ship Quaker City he sent 52 letters to the San Francisco Alta California newspaper, and in 1869 his writing was published as The Innocents Abroad, or, the New Pilgrim’s Progress which became his best-selling book and established his reputation. They sold 82,524 copies, giving him a royalty of $16,504. Twain introduced the book as “a record of a pleasure trip.” He included a description of the “Excursion to the Holy Land, Egypt, the Crimea, Greece, and Intermediate Points of Interest” on a “first-class steamer.” In France he related the story of Abelard and Heloise. They visited Paris, Versailles, Genoa, Milan, Venice, Florence, Rome, Naples, Pompeii, Athens, Constantinople, Sebastopol, Odessa, Ephesus, and Lebanon before going to the Holy Land. He described places where Jesus went from Nazareth to Jerusalem, and finally they went to a pyramid in Egypt before the voyage home to America.
      In February 1869 Twain and Olivia Langdon became engaged, and they married one year later. She was from a wealthy family and introduced him to abolitionists, socialists, free-thinkers, and advocates of women’s rights. Her father provided them with a furnished house worth over $40,000. They had three daughters. Susy was born in 1872 and began writing a biography of him in 1886.
      His father-in-law in August 1869 helped him advance $25,000 for a third interest in the Buffalo Express. Twain became editor and let J. N. Larned handle political issues while he continued his social criticism. In April 1871 Twain and his family moved to Hartford, Connecticut where he knew the authors Harriet Beecher Stowe, Charles Dudley Warner, and others. Twain had first met William Dean Howells in 1869, and after his favorable review of Innocents Abroad he became Twain’s trusted literary advisor.
      On 16 April 1870 Twain wrote in “The New Crime,”

   Insanity certainly is on the increase in the world,
and crime is dying out.
There are no longer any murders—
none worth mentioning, at any rate.
Formerly, if you killed a man, it was possible
that you are a lunatic—but now if you kill a man
it is evidence that you are a lunatic….
   Really, what we want now, is not laws against crime,
but a law against insanity.
There is where the true evil lies.
   And the penalty attached should be imprisonment,
not hanging.44

      Twain published Roughing It in 1872 about his experience before he went to Europe. The book sold about 40,000 copies in the first three months, and in the first year his royalty was over $20,000. In his inimitable style he described his life in the West for six years. At St. Joseph he and his brother Orion had to reduce their baggage to 25 pounds each, and they sent their fancy clothes back to St. Louis in the trunks. Twain told how Slade used his revolver to kill men who bothered him and how his wife once rescued him using guns. Eventually vigilantes captured, tried, and hanged Slade. By Echo Cañon they met 60 US soldiers from Camp Floyd who had fought 300 or 400 Indians the day before. They decided not to join the soldiers but to go on to the Indians. In Salt Lake City he talked with Brigham Young who complained that because he gave wife #6 a breast-pin worth $25 that already it cost him $650 from other wives demanding the same. Prices were determined by how far away from the East they were. The smallest coin in the East was a penny, but in Salt Lake City the smallest was 25 cents. Twain wrote about the Book of Mormon, and in an appendix to the second volume of Roughing It he included his “Brief Sketch of Mormon History” and “The Mountain Meadows Massacre.” Twain in Nevada prospected with Cal and Higbie, and they discovered rich silver, and Higbie was offered $200,000 for his share. Law required work to be done on a claim within ten days; but each left the others to do it, and they lost their fortune.
      In volume 2 of Roughing It the author becomes an editor in Virginia City. He goes west to Sacramento, California and San Francisco and writes letters for the Sacramento Union. He goes to the “Sandwich Islands” and visits various of the Hawaiian islands. He wrote how Kamehameha the Great used an army to take over the islands. Captain Cook claimed to discover them in 1778, and Twain described how he died.

Perceiving that the people took him for the long-vanished
and lamented god Lono, he encouraged them in the delusion
for the sake of the limitless power it gave him;
but during the famous disturbance at this spot
and while he and his comrades were surrounded
by fifteen thousand maddened savages, he received
a hurt and betrayed his earthly origin with a groan.
It was his death-warrant.
Instantly a shout went up: “He groans!—he is not a god!”
So they closed in upon him and despatched him.45

Twain returned to New York by ships and crossing Panama.

      Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner, editor and co-owner of the Hartford Courant, began working on The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today in 1872, and they published it in December 1873 after Twain invested $5,000 in the American Publishing Company and became its director. After several reviewers suggested that Warner was the author and that Twain only added his name, he responded by listing the 32 chapters he wrote as 1-11, 24-5, 27-8, 30, 32-4, 36-7, 42-3, 45, 51-2, 57, and 59-62. The political process in Washington is satirized in this description by a Wall Street president of a navigation company of how much money is needed to pass legislation. He says,

   A Congressional appropriation costs money.
Just reflect, for instance—a majority
of the House Committee, say $10,000 apiece—$40,000;
a majority of the Senate Committee, the same each—
say $40,000; a little extra to one or two chairman
of one or two such committees, say $10,000 each—$20,000;
and there’s $100,000 of the money gone, to begin with.
Then, seven male lobbyists, at $3,000 each—$21,000;
one female lobbyist, $10,000; a high moral Congressman
or Senator here and there—the high moral ones cost more,
because they give tone to a measure—
say ten of these at $3,000 each, is $30,000;
then a lot of small-fry country members
who won’t vote for anything whatever without pay—
say twenty at $500 apiece, is $10,000;
a lot of dinners to members—say $10,000 altogether;
lot of jimcracks for Congressmen’s wives and children—
those go a long way—you can’t spend too much money
in that line—well, those things cost in a lump, say $10,000—
along there somewhere;
and then comes your printed documents—your maps,
your tinted engravings, your pamphlets,
your illuminated show cards, your advertisements
in a hundred and fifty papers at ever so much a line—
because you’ve got to keep the papers all right
or you are gone up, you know.
Oh, my dear sir, printing bills are destruction itself.46

Later Col. Sellers explains how it starts.

   The first preliminary it always starts out on,
is to clean itself, so to speak.
It will arraign two or three dozen of its members,
or maybe four or five dozen, for taking bribes
to vote for this and that and the other bill last winter.47

The religious press was used to help pass some laws. The Gilded Age sold 40,000 copies in the first two months, and the phrase became a popular description for the capitalistic culture of the United States from Reconstruction following the Civil War to the end of the 19th century. This and other Twain novels were also adapted into plays for the theater.
      In 1876 Twain published The Adventures of Tom Sawyer in England. He wrote this charming story based on his experiences with his friends as youths for young readers as well as “to pleasantly remind adults of what they once were themselves.”
      Twain urged people to read the 1878 “Manifesto of Wrongs and Demands of the Knights of Labor.” After another trip to Europe he published A Tramp Abroad in March 1880 that describes his experience in Germany, Switzerland, and northern Italy, and he mixed in some stories that used his imagination.
      In 1881 Twain published in Canada and in the United States the next year his first historical novel The Prince and the Pauper: A Tale for Young People of All Ages that praised democracy and satirized monarchy. At first it was a commercial failure, but critics saw its value. Near the end of England’s King Henry VIII’s reign a London beggar, Tom Canty, presides over an Offal Court in squalor. Tom wants to be a prince and manages to meet Edward Prince of Wales who changes clothes with him so that he can have a new experience. They are the same age and look alike, and Edward is thrown out into the streets as Tom pretends to be the prince. Henry VIII dies, and eventually Tom’s father finds Edward and brings him to court. Edward locates the Great Seal and is reinstated. King Edward then is merciful to Tom and his family.
      In May 1883 his Life on the Mississippi was also published in Canada. Twain wrote about the history of Europeans and Americans on the great river including his four years as a steamboat pilot until the Civil War ended commercial traffic. He noted that the Mississippi River Valley had more people than any other river valley in the world. In April 1857 Sam took a steamboat to New Orleans. He agreed to pay $500 to apprentice as a riverboat pilot, and in 1858 he worked under the tyrannical pilot William Brown. Sam helped his younger brother Henry get a job as a “mud clerk.” After Brown hit Henry, Sam fought Brown and left because Brown was not replaced. A boiler explosion seriously injured Henry. Sam was with him when Henry died at Memphis on June 21. Sam went back to steering for friendly pilots, and he got his pilot’s license on 9 April 1859. Pilots formed an association which enabled them to earn $250 a month with better working conditions. Captains relied on the pilot to steer the steamboat. Twain in chapter 46 launched a tirade against the influence of Walter Scott accusing him of doing more harm than any other person with his “decayed” religion and government especially in the South. Twain noted that six or seven pilots died as martyrs, and he wrote, “There is no instance of a pilot deserting his post to save his life while by remaining and sacrificing it he might secure other lives from destruction.”48
      The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn came out in the United States in 1885 and presented the runaway slave Jim and the radical life-style of young Huckleberry Finn. The story is a sequel to the first Tom Sawyer book. Set about 1840 Huckleberry decides to help his good friend Jim escape even though he believes slaves should not do that. Huckleberry narrates the novel, and he notes that Mark Twain stretched the truth some in his previous work about Tom Sawyer. At the end of that book Tom and Huck found in a cave a box of gold worth $6,000. Huck is afraid his father is going take his share, and he persuades Judge Thatcher to take the fortune, and he gives them each $1 a day. Huck leaves home dropping blood on the trail from a pig that leads people to believe that Jim killed him. The remainder of the novel describes the adventures of Huck and Tom helping Jim to escape to freedom.
      After his presidency Ulysses Grant and his wife Julia traveled around the world. They settled in New York, and he went into business with his son and Ferdinand Ward who exploited investors with a Ponzi scheme that resulted in bankruptcy in May 1884. Grant was diagnosed with throat cancer, and Twain offered to publish Grant’s memoirs. He predicted they would sell 600,000 volumes and offered Grant 70% which he said would be about $500,000 and that Twain would get $100,000. Grant completed his Memoirs five days before he died on 23 July 1885, and Twain published them in December. Twain’s prophesy proved fairly accurate. They sold 300,000 2-volume sets, and Grant’s wife received $450,000 in royalties.
      Twain blamed his publisher Charles L. Webster for poor treatment of another satire of monarchy later writing,

Webster kept back a book of mine,
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court,
as long as he could and finally published it so surreptitiously
that it took two or three years
to find out that there was any such book.
He suppressed a compilation made by Howells and me,
The Library of Humor, so long and finally issued it
so clandestinely that I doubt if anybody in America
ever did find out that there was such a book.49

      A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court was published in December 1889, and it is a fantasy that allows an engineer to wake up at Camelot in the year 528. The story uses the contrast between current technology and the feudalism at the time of King Arthur. By predicting a total eclipse of the sun the Yankee from Hartford is taken for a magician, and by using explosives he destroys Merlin’s tower and replaces him at court. The Yankee becomes the Boss and seeks to modernize England first by traveling to find intelligent people who could be educated. He also strings lines of telephone wires, repairs a leaking well, and uses his telephone to convince them of his magical power. He persuades Arthur to dress as a commoner as they travel to meet people. He calls Camelot to get Lancelot to lead knights to prevent slaves from being hanged. He manages to win a duel in a tournament by using a lasso and a revolver. With his two guns he is able to shoot twelve charging knights. The Boss has a fortress built protected by an electric charge. The violence of advanced technology is also satirized.
      Themes from The Gilded Age were extended in his comical novel The Claimant which Twain claimed was the first book written by dictation to a phonograph; it was published in May 1892. Twain decided to forgo any mention of the weather. The elderly character Col. Sellers appears, and he is portrayed as both greedy and generous. His daughter Sally tries to be practical and romantic. She falls in love with Howard Tracy who in America has transformed himself from being Viscount Berkeley. This novel also depicts the struggle between aristocrats and democrats.
      The American Publishing Company put out Twain’s novella Pudd’nhead Wilson as a subscription book in 1894, and this story satirizes racism and other social prejudices.
      Twain completed his long Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc in 1895, and installments came out anonymously until Harper & Brothers put it out in May 1896 and gave credit to Mark Twain. The book was presented as a free translation from ancient French. Joan was not only unusual as a woman who commanded a nation’s army, but she did it when she was only 17 years old. The preface describes her, “She was perhaps the only entirely unselfish person whose name has a place in profane history.”50 Mark Twain concluded that she embodied patriotism more than any other person.

Henry James & His American Novels

      Henry James (1843-1916) was the younger brother of William James. From 1855-60 he traveled with his family to London, Paris, Geneva, and Boulogne. Then he lived in Newport, Rhode Island and began reading Balzac and other French literature. He quit Harvard Law School after one year in 1862, and he pursued literature in Boston. He wrote fiction and nonfiction for the North American Review, The Nation, and the Atlantic Monthly. He spent 14 months in Europe in 1869-70 and met famous authors.
      In 1875 his novel Roderick Hudson was serialized in the Atlantic Monthly, and after a year in France he moved to London in 1876. In the novel in Boston the wealthy bachelor Rowland Mallet likes art and helps the young sculptor Roderick Hudson travel to Rome to practice his art. There Mallet is attracted to Roderick’s cousin Mary Garland who was pledged to Roderick. He falls in love with the beautiful American, Christina Light, who likes him but marries a prince. Rowland persuades them to move to Switzerland, and Roderick is mesmerized by Christina’s beauty. He stops sculpting and goes to see her there, but he is caught in a storm and dies. The James biographer Leon Edel suggested that the moral is that “great physical passion can be fatal to art.” James in 1886 published a sequel showing how Christina became The Princess Casamassima.
      Henry James published his novel The American in 1877. Christopher Newman is the American businessman who tours Europe hoping to get married. In Paris he is attracted to young Noémie, and he pays her father to tutor him in French. He proposes and offers to buy her paintings to provide a dowry, but she rejects him. Newman meets two brothers of Claire and eventually proposes to her, but her family thinks he is too “commercial.” Yet after a few months Claire agrees to wed him. Noémie had become a mistress. Claire enters a convent, and her family has no fear that Newman will use secret information against them because of his good character.
      James wrote The Europeans in 1878. That year he serialized his novella Daisy Miller about a flirtatious young American in Europe, and in 1879 the book became a best-seller. She explains why she likes America better.

The only thing I don’t like is the society.
There isn’t any society; or, if there is,
I don’t know where it keeps itself. Do you?
I suppose there is some society somewhere,
but I haven’t seen anything of it.
I’m very fond of society,
and I have always had a great deal of it.
I don’t mean only in Schenectady, but in New York.
I used to go to New York every winter.
In New York I had lots of society.
Last winter I had seventeen dinners given me;
and three of them were by gentlemen.
I have more friends in New York than in Schenectady—
more gentleman friends; and more young lady friends too.51

      His novel Washington Square published in December 1880 takes place in New York City in the 1840s and describes the family of a rich doctor. Morris Townsend pursues Dr. Sloper’s daughter Catherine and is distracted by Sloper’s sister who is a widow. Dr. Sloper threatens to disinherit Catherine if she weds Townsend who leaves New York. Years later Townsend returns after Dr. Sloper’s death. For Catherine he is much too late, and she dismisses him.
      In 1881 Henry James published his long novel Portrait of a Lady about another young American woman in Europe. After the death of Isabel Archer’s father her aunt Mrs. Touchette takes her to Europe where the English Lord Warburton and the American Caspar Goodwood compete for Isabel’s love. Ailing Ralph Touchette plans to leave half his fortune to Isabel. Mrs. Touchette takes Isabel to Paris. Isabel rejects two American suitors and marries charming Gilbert Osmond. They settle in Rome, but Gilbert is manipulative. Isabel wants to see Ralph before his death, and she decides to take charge of her own life.
      In 1886 James published his political novel The Bostonians about Americans. Olive Chancellor has written to her cousin Basic Ransom in Mississippi, and the Confederate veteran comes to see her in Boston. He has lost his slaves and other wealth, and he says he carries a bowie knife and a six-shooter. He believes these Boston women “are all witches and wizards, mediums, and spirit-rappers, and roaring radicals.”52 Olive offers to take him to Mrs. Farrinder who is a friend of the “great apostle of the emancipation of women,” Miss Birdseye. (James was accused of making Birdseye a satire of the famous Miss Elizabeth Peabody.)
      When Ransom says, “What strikes me most is that the human race has got to bear its troubles,” Olive replies, “That’s what men say to women, to make them patient in the position they have made for them.”53 Olive takes Ransom to hear Mrs. Farrinder lecture “on temperance and the rights of women.” Young Verena Tarrant is inexperienced, but she is a great orator. At the end of the first book James wrote about how Olive persuaded Verena.

She had analysed to an extraordinary fineness
their susceptibility, their softness; she knew
(or she thought she knew) all the possible tortures
of anxiety, of suspense and dread;
and she had made up her mind that it was women,
in the end, who had paid for everything.
In the last resort the whole burden of the human lot
came upon them; it pressed upon them far more
than on the others, the intolerable load of fate.
It was they who sat cramped and chained to receive it;
it was they who had done all the waiting
and taken all the wounds.
The sacrifices, the blood, the tears, the terrors were theirs.
Their organism was in itself a challenge to suffering,
and men had practised upon it
with an impudence that knew no bounds.
As they were the weakest most had been wrung from them,
and as they were the most generous
they had been most deceived.
Olive Chancellor would have rested her case,
had it been necessary, on those general facts;
and her simple and comprehensive contention was that
the peculiar wretchedness which had been the very essence
of the feminine lot was a monstrous artificial imposition,
crying aloud for redress.
She was willing to admit that women, too, could be bad;
that there were many about the world
who were false, immoral, vile.
But their errors were as nothing to their sufferings;
they had expiated, in advance, an eternity,
if need be, of misconduct.
Olive poured forth these views
to her listening and responsive friend;
she presented them again and again, and there was no light
in which they did not seem to palpitate with truth.
Verena was immensely wrought upon;
a subtle fire passed into her;
she was not so hungry for revenge as Olive,
but at the last, before they went to Europe …
she quite agreed with her companion that
after so many ages of wrong …
men must take their turn, men must pay!54

      Olive, who is older and somewhat masculine, loves Verena, and Olive tries to prevent Verena from marrying Ransom.


1. Main-Travelled Roads by Hamlin Garland, p. xi.
2. The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane, p. 21.
3. Ibid., p. 47.
4. The Annals of America, Volume 12 1895-1904 Populism, Imperialism, and Reform, p. 82.
5. Louisa May: A Modern Biography of Louisa May Alcott by Martha Saxton, p. 254.
6. Ibid., p. 302.
7. The Grandissimes: A Story of Creole Life by George Washington Cable, p. 143.
8. Ibid., p. 343-344.
9. The Annals of America, Volume 11 1884-1894 Agrarianism and Urbanization, p. 44, 46-49.
10. A Modern Instance by William Dean Howells, p. 228.
11. Ibid., p. 588
12. A Hazard of New Fortunes by William Dean Howells, p. 408-409.
13. A Traveler From Altruria by William Dean Howells, p. 8.
14. Ibid., p. 19.
15. Ibid., p. 19-20.
16. Ibid., p. 48.
17. Ibid.
18. Ibid., p. 49.
19. Ibid., p. 50-51.
20. Ibid., p. 58, 59.
21. Ibid., p. 80.
22. Ibid., p. 94.
23. Ibid., p. 202, 205.
24. Ibid., p. 206.
25. Ibid., p. 208.
26. Autobiography of Mark Twain ed. Charles Neider, p. 3.
27. Autobiography of Mark Twain Volume 1 ed. Harriet Elinor Smith, p. 211, 212, 217.
28. Mark Twain: A Life by Ron Powers, p. 37.
29. Letters from the Earth by Mark Twain, p. 20.
30. Mark Twain’s Notebook, p. 328.
31. Autobiography of Mark Twain ed. Charles Neider, p. 29.
32. Ibid., p. 82.
33. Ibid., p. 108.
34. Mark Twain: A Life by Ron Powers, p. 43.
35. Autobiography of Mark Twain ed. Charles Neider, p. 32.
36. Ibid., p. 92.
37. Ibid., p. 111.
38. Ibid., p. 116.
39. Ibid., p. 129.
40. Ibid., p. 132.
41. Ibid., p. 145-146.
42. Ibid., p. 163.
43. Ibid., p. 190-191.
44. Collected Tales, Sketches, Speeches, & Essays 1852-1890 by Mark Twain, p. 353, 354.
45. Roughing It Volume 2 by Mark Twain, p. 246.
46. The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today by Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner, p. 205.
47. Ibid., p. 369.
48. Mississippi Writings by Mark Twain, p. 513.
49. Autobiography of Mark Twain ed. Charles Neider, p. 279.
50. Historical Romances: Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc by Mark Twain, p. 546.
51. Daisy Miller by Henry James, p. 12-13.
52. The Bostonians by Henry James, p. 37.
53. Ibid., p. 53.
54. Ibid., p. 191-192.

Copyright © 2022 by Sanderson Beck

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