Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Innocents Abroad - Chapter Four - 30

by Mark Twain

Alas! that journals so voluminously begun should come to so lame and impotent a conclusion as most of them did! I doubt if there is a single pilgrim of all that host but can show a hundred fair pages of journal concerning the first twenty days' voyaging in the Quaker City, and I am morally certain that not ten of the party can show twenty pages of journal for the succeeding twenty thousand miles of voyaging! At certain periods it becomes the dearest ambition of a man to keep a faithful record of his performances in a book; and he dashes at this work with an enthusiasm that imposes on him the notion that keeping a journal is the veriest pastime in the world, and the pleasantest. But if he only lives twenty-one days, he will find out that only those rare natures that are made up of pluck, endurance, devotion to duty for duty's sake, and invincible determination may hope to venture upon so tremendous an enterprise as the keeping of a journal and not sustain a shameful defeat.

One of our favorite youths, Jack, a splendid young fellow with a head full of good sense, and a pair of legs that were a wonder to look upon in the way of length and straightness and slimness, used to report progress every morning in the most glowing and spirited way, and say:

"Oh, I'm coming along bully!" (he was a little given to slang in his happier moods.) "I wrote ten pages in my journal last night--and you know I wrote nine the night before and twelve the night before that. Why, it's only fun!"

Continued next week. Tomorrow's installment from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum.

More About This Book

This travelogue cemented this rising author's reputation when it was published in 1869.

Chapter Summary: The Pilgrims Becoming Domesticated--Pilgrim Life at Sea--"Horse-Billiards"--The "Synagogue"--The Writing School--Jack's "Journal"--The "Q. C. Club"--The Magic Lantern--State Ball on Deck--Mock Trials--Charades--Pilgrim Solemnity--Slow Music--The Executive Officer Delivers an Opinion

Photo: Samuel Clemens (aka Mark Twain) by Matthew Brady Feb. 7, 1871.

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