MARK TWAIN'S LETTERS 1907-1910
By Mark Twain
ARRANGED WITH COMMENT
BY ALBERT BIGELOW PAINE
XLVI. LETTERS 1907-08. A DEGREE FROM OXFORD. THE NEW HOME AT REDDING.
The author, J. Howard Moore, sent a copy of his book, The Universal
Kinship, with a letter in which he said: "Most humorists have no
anxiety except to glorify themselves and add substance to their
pocket-books by making their readers laugh. You have shown, on many
occasions, that your mission is not simply to antidote the
melancholy of a world, but includes a real and intelligent concern
for the general welfare of your fellowman."
The Universal Kinship was the kind of a book that Mark Twain
appreciated, as his acknowledgment clearly shows.
To Mr. J. Howard Moore:
Feb. 2, '07.
DEAR MR. MOORE, The book has furnished me several days of deep pleasure and satisfaction; it has compelled my gratitude at the same time, since it saves me the labor of stating my own long-cherished opinions and reflections and resentments by doing it lucidly and fervently and irascibly for me.
There is one thing that always puzzles me: as inheritors of the mentality of our reptile ancestors we have improved the inheritance by a thousand grades; but in the matter of the morals which they left us we have gone backward as many grades. That evolution is strange, and to me unaccountable and unnatural. Necessarily we started equipped with their perfect and blemishless morals; now we are wholly destitute; we have no real, morals, but only artificial ones—morals created and preserved by the forced suppression of natural and hellish instincts. Yet we are dull enough to be vain of them. Certainly we are a sufficiently comical invention, we humans.
S. L. CLEMENS.
Mark Twain's own books were always being excommunicated by some
librarian, and the matter never failed to invite the attention and
amusement of the press, and the indignation of many correspondents.
Usually the books were Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn, the morals of which
were not regarded as wholly exemplary. But in 1907 a small library,
in a very small town, attained a day's national notoriety by