The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg Etc. (World Digital Library Edition)

Overview

About the Author

Samuel Langhorne Clemens, or Mark Twain, as he was better known was born on November 30, 1835 in Florida, Missouri, the sixth child of John Marshall and Jane Lampton Clemens. His father ran a dry goods and grocery store, practiced law and involved himself in local politics after the family's move to Hannibal, Missouri, when Sam was four years old.

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Overview

About the Author

Samuel Langhorne Clemens, or Mark Twain, as he was better known was born on November 30, 1835 in Florida, Missouri, the sixth child of John Marshall and Jane Lampton Clemens. His father ran a dry goods and grocery store, practiced law and involved himself in local politics after the family's move to Hannibal, Missouri, when Sam was four years old.

Hannibal seems to have been a good place for a boy to grow up. Sam was entranced by the Mississippi River and enjoyed both the barges and the people who traveled on them. When Sam was just eleven his father died and Sam went to work for his brother at the Hannibal Journal first as a printer's apprentice and later a compositor. While still in his teens Sam went on the road as an itinerant printer. In 1857 he conceived a plan to seek his fortune in South America but on the way he met a steamboat captain, Horace Bixby who took him on as a cub riverboat pilot and taught him until he acquired his own license.

This enjoyable style of life, which Twain always spoke of later with special warmth was ended by the Civil War. Twain went west with his brother Orion to prospect in Nevada but in 1862 joined the staff of the Virginia City Territorial Enterprise, a paper to which he had already begun submitting his work. Later Twain went to California and submitted "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County" to the New York Saturday Press.

By 1871 Twain had published Innocents Abroad and had married Olivia Langdon, the sister of a friend from a socially prominent New York City family. He and his wife moved to Hartford, Connecticut, where they made their family home for thenext 20 years.

Books that he wrote in Hartford confirmed his popular reputation but despite their success Twain found himself in financial difficulty primarily because of his investments in the Paige typesetting business as well as his own publishing company. Eventually Twain was forced to declare bankruptcy.

Twain's last major books were successful commercially but they also reflect his increasing pessimism. His satire becomes at times more biting and mean-spirited than it is humorous. Despite the downturn in Twain's outlook in later life and despite the unevenness of much of his work, he remains one of the major writers of the American nineteenth century, and one who has been enormously influential on subsequent writers.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780594086802
  • Publisher: Barnes & Noble World Digital Library
  • Publication date: 2/27/2002
  • Pages: 296

Meet the Author

Mark Twain
Riverboat pilot, journalist, failed businessman (several times over): Samuel Clemens -- the man behind the figure of “Mark Twain” -- led many lives. But it was in his novels and short stories that he created a voice and an outlook on life that will be forever identified with the American character.

Biography

Mark Twain was born Samuel Langhorne Clemens on November 30, 1835, in Florida, Missouri; his family moved to the port town of Hannibal four years later. His father, an unsuccessful farmer, died when Twain was eleven. Soon afterward the boy began working as an apprentice printer, and by age sixteen he was writing newspaper sketches. He left Hannibal at eighteen to work as an itinerant printer in New York, Philadelphia, St. Louis, and Cincinnati. From 1857 to 1861 he worked on Mississippi steamboats, advancing from cub pilot to licensed pilot.

After river shipping was interrupted by the Civil War, Twain headed west with his brother Orion, who had been appointed secretary to the Nevada Territory. Settling in Carson City, he tried his luck at prospecting and wrote humorous pieces for a range of newspapers. Around this time he first began using the pseudonym Mark Twain, derived from a riverboat term. Relocating to San Francisco, he became a regular newspaper correspondent and a contributor to the literary magazine the Golden Era. He made a five-month journey to Hawaii in 1866 and the following year traveled to Europe to report on the first organized tourist cruise. The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County and Other Sketches (1867) consolidated his growing reputation as humorist and lecturer.

After his marriage to Livy Langdon, Twain settled first in Buffalo, New York, and then for two decades in Hartford, Connecticut. His European sketches were expanded into The Innocents Abroad (1869), followed by Roughing It (1872), an account of his Western adventures; both were enormously successful. Twain's literary triumphs were offset by often ill-advised business dealings (he sank thousands of dollars, for instance, in a failed attempt to develop a new kind of typesetting machine, and thousands more into his own ultimately unsuccessful publishing house) and unrestrained spending that left him in frequent financial difficulty, a pattern that was to persist throughout his life.

Following The Gilded Age (1873), written in collaboration with Charles Dudley Warner, Twain began a literary exploration of his childhood memories of the Mississippi, resulting in a trio of masterpieces --The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876), Life on the Mississippi (1883), and finally The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885), on which he had been working for nearly a decade. Another vein, of historical romance, found expression in The Prince and the Pauper (1882), the satirical A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1889), and Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc (1896), while he continued to draw on his travel experiences in A Tramp Abroad (1880) and Following the Equator (1897). His close associates in these years included William Dean Howells, Bret Harte, and George Washington Cable, as well as the dying Ulysses S. Grant, whom Twain encouraged to complete his memoirs, published by Twain's publishing company in 1885.

For most of the 1890s Twain lived in Europe, as his life took a darker turn with the death of his daughter Susy in 1896 and the worsening illness of his daughter Jean. The tone of Twain's writing also turned progressively more bitter. The Tragedy of Pudd'nhead Wilson (1894), a detective story hinging on the consequences of slavery, was followed by powerful anti-imperialist and anticolonial statements such as 'To the Person Sitting in Darkness' (1901), 'The War Prayer' (1905), and 'King Leopold's Soliloquy' (1905), and by the pessimistic sketches collected in the privately published What Is Man? (1906). The unfinished novel The Mysterious Stranger was perhaps the most uncompromisingly dark of all Twain's later works. In his last years, his financial troubles finally resolved, Twain settled near Redding, Connecticut, and died in his mansion, Stormfield, on April 21, 1910.

Author biography courtesy of Random House, Inc.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Samuel Langhorne Clemens (real name); Sieur Louis de Conte
    1. Date of Birth:
      November 30, 1835
    2. Place of Birth:
      Florida, Missouri
    1. Date of Death:
      April 21, 1910
    2. Place of Death:
      Redding, Connecticut

Read an Excerpt

THE MAN THAT CORRUPTED HADLEYBURG


IT was many years ago. Hadleyburg was the most honest and upright town in all the region round about. It had kept that reputation unsmirched during three generations, and was prouder of it than of any other of its possessions. It was so proud of it, and so anxious to insure its perpetuation, that it began to teach the principles of honest dealing to its babies in the cradle, and made the like teachings the staple of their culture thenceforward through all the years devoted to their education. Also, throughout the formative years temptations were kept out of the way of the young people, so that their honesty could have every chance to harden and solidify, and become a part of their very bone. The neighboring towns were jealous of this honorable supremacy, and affected to sneer at Hadleyburg's pride in it and call it vanity; but all the same they were obliged to acknowledge that Hadleyburg was in reality an incorruptible town; and if pressed they would also acknowledge that the mere fact that a young man hailed from Hadleyburg was all the recommendation he needed when he went forth from his natal town to seek for responsible employment.

But at last, in the drift of time, Hadleyburg had the ill luck to offend a passing stranger - possibly without knowing it, certainly without caring, for Hadleyburg was sufficient unto itself, and cared not a rap for strangers or their opinions. Still, it would have been well to make an exception in this one's case, for he was a bitter man and revengeful. All through his wanderings during a whole year he kept his injury in mind, and gave all his leisure moments to trying to invent a compensating satisfaction for it. He contrived many plans, and all of them were good, but none of them was quite sweeping enough; the poorest of them would hurt a great many individuals, but what he wanted was a plan which would comprehend the entire town, and not let so much as one person escape unhurt. At last he had a fortunate idea, and when it fell into his brain it lit up his whole head with an evil joy. He began to form a plan at once, saying to himself, " That is the thing to do - I will corrupt the town."

Six months later he went to Hadleyburg, and arrived in a buggy at the house of the old cashier of the bank about ten at night. He got a sack out of the buggy, shouldered it, and staggered with it through the cottage yard, and knocked at the door. A woman's voice said " Come in," and he entered, and set his sack behind the stove in the parlor, saying politely to the old lady who sat reading the Missionary Herald by the lamp:

"Pray keep your seat, madam, I will not disturb you. There - now it is pretty well concealed; one would hardly know it was there. Can I see your husband a moment, madam? ''

No, he was gone to Brixton, and might not return before morning.

"Very well, madam, it is no matter. I merely wanted to leave that sack in his care, to be delivered to the rightful owner when he shall be found. I am a stranger; he does not know me; I am merely passing through the town to-night to discharge a matter which has been long in my mind. My errand is now completed, and I go pleased and a little proud, and you will never see me again. There is a paper attached to the sack which will explain everything. Good-night, madam."

The old lady was afraid of the mysterious big stranger, and was glad to see him go. But her curiosity was roused, and she went straight to the sack and brought away the paper. It began as follows:

"TO BE PUBLISHED; or, the right man. sought out by private inquiry - either will answer. This sack contains gold coin weighing a hundred and sixty pounds four ounces - "

"Mercy on us, and the door not locked!"

Mrs. Richards flew to it all in a tremble and locked it, then pulled down the window-shades and stood frightened, worried, and wondering if there was anything else she could do toward making herself and the money more safe. She listened awhile for burglars, then surrendered to curiosity and went back to the lamp and finished reading the paper:

"I am a foreigner, and am presently going back to my own country, to remain there permanently. I am grateful to America for what I have received at her hands during my long stay under her flag; and to one of her citizens - a citizen of Hadleyburg - I am especially grateful for a great kindness done me a year or two ago. Two great kindnesses, in fact. I will explain. I was a gambler. I say I WAS. I was a ruined gambler. I arrived in this village at night, hungry and without a penny. I asked for help - in the dark; I was ashamed to beg in the light. I begged of the right man. He gave me twenty dollars - that is to say, he gave me life, as I considered it. He also gave me fortune; for out of that money I have made myself rich at the gaming-table. And finally, a remark which he made to me has remained with me to this day, and has at last conquered me; and in conquering has saved the remnant of my morals: I shall gamble no more. Now I have no idea who that man was, but I want him found, and I want him to have this money, to give away, throw away, or keep, as he pleases. It is merely my way of testifying my gratitude to him. If I could stay, I would find him myself; but no matter, he will be found. This is an honest town, an incorruptible town, and I know I can trust it without fear. This man can be identified by the remark which he made to me; I feel persuaded that he will remember it.

And now my plan is this: If you prefer to conduct the inquiry privately, do so. Tell the contents of this present writing to any one who is likely to be the right man. If he shall answer, ' I am the man; the remark I made was so-and-so,' apply the test - to wit: open the sack, and in if you will find a sealed envelope containing that remark. If the remark mentioned by the candidate tallies with it, give him the money, and ask no further questions, for he is certainly the right man.

"But if you shall prefer a public inquiry, then publish this presentwriting in the local paper - with these instructions added, to wit; Thirty days from now, let the candidate appear at the town-hall at eight in the evening (Friday), and hand his remark, in a sealed envelope, to the Rev. Mr. Burgess (if he will be kind enough to act); and let Mr. Burgess there and then destroy the seals of the sack, open it, and see if the remark is correct; if correct, let the money be delivered, with my sincere gratitude, to my benefactor thus identified."


Mrs. Richards sat down, gently quivering with excitement, and was soon lost in thinkings - after this pattern: "What a strange thing it is! … And what a fortune for that kind man who set his bread afloat upon the waters!… If it had only been my husband that did it! - for we are so poor, so old and poor! …" Then, with a sigh - "But it was not my Edward; no, it was not he that gave a stranger twenty dollars. It is a pity, too; I see it now.…" Then, with a shudder - " But it is gambler's money! the wages of sin: we couldn't take it; we couldn't touch it. I don't like to be near it; it seems a defilement." She moved to a farther chair.…"I wish Edward would come, and take it to the bank; a burglar might come at any moment, it is dreadful to be here all alone with it."

At eleven Mr. Richards arrived, and while his wife was saying, "I am so glad you've come! " he was saying, " I'm so tired - tired clear out; it is dreadful to be poor, and have to make these dismal journeys at my time of life. Always at the grind, grind, grind, on a salary - another man's slave, and he sitting at home in his slippers, rich and comfortable."

"I am so sorry for you, Edward, you know that; but be comforted: we have our livelihood; we have our good name -"

"Yes, Mary, and that is everything. Don't mind my talk - it's just a moment's irritation and doesn't mean anything. Kiss me - there, it's all gone now, and I am not complaining any more. What have you been getting? What's in the sack?"

Then his wife told him the great secret. It dazed him for a moment; then he said:

"It weighs a hundred and sixty pounds? Why, Mary, it's for-ty thou-sand dollars - think of it - a whole fortune! Not ten men in this village are worth that much. Give me the paper."

He skimmed through it and said:

"Isn't it an adventure! Why, it's a romance; it's like the impossible things one reads about in books, and never sees in life." He was well stirred up now; cheerful, even gleeful. He tapped his old wife on the cheek, and said, humorously, "Why, we're rich, Mary, rich; all we've got to do is to bury the money and burn the papers. If the gambler ever comes to inquire, we'll merely look coldly upon him and say: 'What is this nonsense you are talking? We have never heard of you and your sack of gold before;' and then he would look foolish, and - "

"And in the meantime, while you are running on with your jokes, the money is still here, and it is fast getting along toward burglar-time."

"True. Very well, what shall we do - make the inquiry private? No, not that: it would spoil the romance. The public method is better. Think what a noise it will make! And it will make all the other towns jealous; for no stranger would trust such a thing to any town but Hadleyburg, and they know it. It's a great card for us. I must get to the printing-office now, or I shall be too late."

"But stop - stop - don't leave me here alone with it, Edward!"

But he was gone. For only a little while, however. Not far from his own house he met the editor-proprietor of the paper, and gave him the document, and said, " Here is a good thing for you, Cox - put it in."

"It may be too late, Mr. Richards, but I'll see."

At home again he and his wife sat down to talk the charming mystery over; they were in no condition for sleep. The first question was, Who could the citizen have been who gave the stranger the twenty dollars? It seemed a simple one; both answered it in the same breath -

"Barclay Goodson."

"Yes," said Richards, "he could have done it, and it would have been like him, but there's not another in the town."

"Everybody will grant that, Edward - grant it privately, anyway. For six months, now, the village has been its own proper self once more - honest, narrow, self-righteous, and stingy."

"It is what he always called it, to the day of his death - said it right out publicly, too."

"Yes, and he was hated for it."

"Oh, of course; but he didn't care. I reckon he was the best-hated man among us, except the Reverend Burgess."

"Well, Burgess deserves it - he will never get another congregation here. Mean as the town is, it knows how to estimate him. Edward, doesn't it seem odd that the stranger should appoint Burgess to deliver the money?"

"Well, yes - it does. That is - that is - "

"Why so much that-is-ing? Would you select him?"

"Mary, maybe the stranger knows him better than this village does.''

"Much that would help Burgess!"

The husband seemed perplexed for an answer; the wife kept a steady eye upon him, and waited. Finally Richards said, with the hesitancy of one who is making a statement which is likely to encounter doubt,

"Mary, Burgess is not a bad man."

His wife was certainly surprised.

"Nonsense! "she exclaimed.

"He is not a bad man. I know. The whole of his unpopularity had its foundation in that one thing - the thing that made so much noise."

"That 'one thing,' indeed! As if that 'one thing' wasn't enough, all by itself."

"Plenty. Plenty. Only he wasn't guilty of it."

"How you talk! Not guilty of it! Everybody knows he was guilty."

"Mary, I give you my word - he was innocent."

"I can't believe it, and I don't. How do you know?"

"It is a confession. I am ashamed, but I will make it. I was the only man who knew he was innocent. I could have saved him, and - and - well, you know how the town was wrought up - I hadn't the pluck to do it. It would have turned everybody against me. I felt mean, ever so mean; but I didn't dare; I hadn't the manliness to face that."

Mary looked troubled, and for a while was silent. Then she said, stammeringly:

"I - I don't think it would have done for you to - to - One mustn't - er - public opinion - one has to be so careful - so -" It was a difficult road, and she got mired; but after a little she got started again. "It was a great pity, but - Why, we couldn't afford it, Edward - we couldn't indeed. Oh, I wouldn't have had you do it for anything!"
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