Mark Twain was asked to contribute to the album of artists' sketches and autograph letters, to be raffled for at the Bartholdi Pedestal Fund Art Loan Exhibition. This response, which accompanied his contribution:
Statue of Liberty
| You know my weakness for
Adam, and you know how I have struggled to get him a monument and failed.
Now, it seems to me, here is my chance. What do we care for a statue of
liberty when we've got the thing itself in its wildest sublimity? What you
want of a monument is to keep you in mind of something you haven't got -
something you've lost. Very well; we haven't lost liberty; we've lost Adam.
Another thing: What has liberty done for us? Nothing in particular that I know of. What have we done for her? Everything. We've given her a home, and a good home too. And if she knows anything, she knows it's the first time she ever struck that novelty. She knows that when we took her in she had been a mere tramp for 6,000 years, biblical measure. Yes, and we not only ended her troubles and made things soft for her permanently, but we made her respectable - and that she hadn't ever been before. And now, after we've poured out these Atlantics of benefits upon this aged outcast, lo! and behold you, we are asked to come forward and set up a monument to her! Go to. Let her set up a monument to us if she wants to do the clean thing.
But suppose your statue represented her old, bent, clothed in rags, downcast, shame-faced, with the insults and humiliation of 6,000 years, imploring a crust and all hour's rest for God's sake at our back door? - come, now you're shouting! That's the aspect of her which we need to be reminded of, lest we forget it - not this proposed one, where she's hearty and well-fed, and holds up her head and flourishes her hospitable schooner of flame, and appears to be inviting all the rest of the tramps to come over. O, go to - this is the very insolence of prosperity.
But, on the other hand - look at Adam. What have we done for Adam? Nothing. What has Adam done for us? Everything. He gave us life, he gave us death, he gave us heaven, he gave us hell. These are inestimable privileges - and remember, not one of them should we have had without Adam. Well, then, he ought to have a monument - for Evolution is steadily and surely abolishing him; and we must get up a monument, and be quick about it, or our children's children will grow up ignorant that there ever was an Adam. With trifling alterations, this present statue will answer very well for Adam. You can turn that blanket into an ulster without any trouble; part the hair on one side, or conceal the sex of his head with a fire helmet, and at once he's a man; put a harp and a halo and a palm branch in the left hand to symbolize a part of what Adam did for us, and leave the fire basket just where it is, to symbolize the rest. My friend, the father of life and death and taxes, has been neglected long enough. Shall this infamy be allowed to go on or shall it stop right here?
Is it but a question of finance? Behold the inclosed (paid bank) checks.
Use them as freely as they are freely contributed. Heaven knows I would
there were a ton of them; I would send them all to you, for my heart is
in the sublime work!
Irreverence is the champion of liberty.
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