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Mark Twain

Mark Twain Today

On Oct. 19, 1865, the day after he finished the "Jumping Frog" story, Sam Clemens wrote to his brother and sister-in-law that he had at last found his vocation—"seriously scribbling to excite the laughter of God's creatures." Written across the top of the letter was an afterthought: "P.S. You had better shove this in the stove—for if we strike a bargain I don't want any absurd "literary remains" & "unpublished letters of Mark Twain" published after I am planted." In this lucid moment, just as he was approaching the age of 30, Mark Twain could see both where his heretofore miscellaneous career as typesetter-steamboat pilot-miner-reporter was apparently heading, and what the consequences of such a career might be.

The Literary Remains of Mark Twain

On October 19, 1865, Sam Clemens—nearly 30 years old, in debt, haphazardly employed—wrote a letter to his brother Orion. Encouraged by the completion of his first significant creation, "Jim Smiley and His Jumping Frog," Clemens overflowed with occupational reflections: "I never had but two powerful ambitions in my life. One was to be a pilot, & the other a preacher of the gospel." He had become a pilot, but preaching was a failure "because I could not supply myself with the necessary stock in trade— i.e., religion. . . . I have a religion—but you will call it blasphemy. It is that there is a God for the rich man but none for the poor."