While the origin of Samuel Clemens’ pen name is in dispute, it is indisputable that the name “Mark Twain” conjures up images of life on the Mississippi Delta in the late 1800’s. Most believe the moniker was part of riverboat lingo used to measure/announce the water depth as the paddle boat cruised along the river. “By the mark, twain” was the best of news while plumbing the depths. It meant it was safe for the boat to move forward in safety. Others believe Samuel Clemens picked up the name from a deceased riverboat captain. Whatever the source, I believe Mark Twain to be one of the finest pen names ever put to paper.
Tom Sawyer, a fictional character in Twain’s writing shares wit and wisdom in the coming of age novel by his name, “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.” My favorite scene is the whitewashed fence scene:
“Oh come, now, you don’t mean to let on that you like it?”
The brush continued to move.
“Like it? Well I don’t see why I oughtn’t to like it. Does a boy get a chance to whitewash a fence every day?”
That put the thing in a new light. Ben stopped nibbling his apple. Tom swept his brush daintily back and forth—stepped back to note the effect—added a touch here and there—criticized the effect again—Ben watching every move and getting more and more interested, more and more absorbed. Presently he said:
“Say, Tom, let me whitewash a little.”
Do you have a favorite Mark Twain quote, either from his books are just Twain commenting on the world around him? Here are a few nuggets of wisdom that I love:
“If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.”
“The secret to getting ahead is getting started.”
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
“A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.”