Mark Twain

The Galaxy/June, 1870

For five years I have preserved the following miracle of pointless imbecility and bathos, waiting to see if I could find anything in literature that was worse. But in vain. I have read it forty or fifty times, altogether, and with a steadily-increasing pleasurable disgust. I now offer it for competition as the sickliest specimen of sham sentimentality that exists. I almost always get it out and read it when I am low-spirited, and it has cheered many and many a sad hour for me—I will remark in the way of general information, that in California, that land of felicitous nomenclature, the literary name of this sort of stuff is “hogwash.”

[From the “California Farmer.”]

A Touching Incident

  1. EDITOR—I hand you the following for insertion, if you think it worthy of publication; it is a picture, though brief, of a living reality which the writer witnessed, within a little time since, in a luxurious city:

A beautiful lady sat beneath a verandah overshadowed by clustering vines; in her lap was a young infant, apparently asleep; the mother sat, as she supposed, unobserved, and lost in deep meditation. Richly-robed and surrounded with all the outward appearances of wealth and station, wife and mistress of a splendid mansion and garden around it, it would have seemed as if the heart that could claim to be queen here should be a happy one. Alas! appearances are not always the true guide, for—

That mother sat there like a statue awhile,

When over her face beamed a sad, sad smile;

Then she started and shudder’d as if terrible fears

Were crushing her spirit—then came the hot tears

And the wife and mother, with all that was seemingly joyous around her, gave herself up to the full sweep of agonizing sorrow. I gazed upon this picture for a little while only, for my own tears fell freely and without any control; the lady was so truthful and innocent, to all outward appearances, that my own deepest sympathies went out instantly to her and her sorrows.

This is no fancy sketch, but a sad, sad reality. It occurred in the very heart of our city, and witnessing it with deep sorrow, I asked myself, how can these things be? But I remember that this small incident may only be a foreshadowing of some great sorrow deeply hidden in that mother’s aching heart. The Bard of Avon says:

“When sorrows come, they come not single spies,

But in battalions.”

I had turned away for a moment to look at some object that attracted my attention, when looking again, this child of sorrow was drying her eyes carefully and preparing to leave and go within—

“And there will canker sorrow eat her bud,

And chase the native beauty from her cheek.”

(Source: Project Gutenberg Australia, http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks09/0900821h.html)

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