Easy Mark Twain

Easy Mark Twain  (1907) 

Norfolk Ledger-Dispatch, April 27, 1907

The man whom a few people know as Samuel L. Clemens is an easy mark. That was demonstrated Thursday when he came here aboard the steam yacht Kanawha, as the guest of Henry H. Rogers, the Standard Oil Collossus, and talked when a newspaper reporter was within short ear shot.

He seems to have none of that quality which one who wished to exhibit a deplorable lack in a fancy dress might well perhaps, call business acumen. Why everyone of those little words which slipped out of his mouth might have been sold for something.

True, they were not exactly new words, but he could have dressed them up so no one would have known that they ever had been used and they could have been worked off at a good profit to the producer.

Instead of the producer profiting, however, the public profited. That goes to show that a man may have the art to dress up old words in a new style and amuse the public immoderately and still be without business acumen.

Men do not make money talking for nothing. Mark Twain, as he lies slumbering aboard the Kanawha, the breeze from the Dismal Swamp which Tom Moore peopled with the ghost of a maid which never ceases from paddling, fanning the sleeper, is surrounded by several luminous examples all pursuading to the contrary.

Not all he said yesterday has yet blossomed into print either, but may be expected to be hoarded and retailed by the newspaper men slowly, so as to not break the market. He said something to the effect that some people here expressed concern lest the Jamestown Exposition should not be complete.

Such a possibility as that, he could not comprehend in view of the fact that he really was the show and he was all here and it was all right. He allowed that his daughter once said that her Papa never went any where except it was some place where he could show himself off and he thought that he was doing that here pretty well.

The reporters say that he said these things. Of course, the reporters sometimes misquote a man. Who has not known men whom they have quoted in print as saying something which sounded entirely different when read than when uttered. Fortunately for reporters the things which they write which please the public and make that public applaud the man who uttered them are rarely misquotations.

Mark Twain, though, has rarely been misquoted. Perhaps the principal reason why this is true is that nobody else could think of anything which might be said which was so good as that which Mark Twain really said.

He can say good things, there isn't any doubt of that, but that he has business acumen three is no earthly use of pretending. Perhaps it is because of this very lack that the world loves him so dearly. The crippled child generally is loved by the mother better than the perfect one is.

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