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For some time before his death Mark Twain had appeared before the public in the rôle less of a laughing philosopher than of a somewhat gloomy prophet of modern civilization. But he was old and he had suffered many misfortunes and the progress of society is not a matter for any one to be very jubilant about: to be gloomy about the world is a sort of prerogative of those who have lived long and thought much. The public that had grown old with him could hardly, therefore, accept at its face value a point of view that seemed to be contradicted by so many of the facts of Mark Twain’s life and character. Mr. Howells, who knew him intimately for forty years, spoke only with an affectionate derision of his “pose” regarding “the damned human race,” and we know the opinion of his loyal biographer, Mr. Paine, that he was “not a pessimist in his heart, but only by premeditation.” These views were apparently borne out by his own testimony. “My temperament,” he wrote, shortly after the death of his daughter Jean, “has never allowed my spirits to remain depressed long at a time.” That he remained active and buoyant to the end was, in fact, for his associates, sufficient evidence that his philosophical despair was only an anomaly, which had no organic part in the structure of his life.
Was it not natural that they should feel thus about him, those contemporaries of his, so few of whom had seen his later writings and all the tell-tale private memoranda which Mr. Paine has lately given to the world? What a charmed life was Mark
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