|To find a petrified man, or break a stranger's
leg, or cave an imaginary mine, or discover some dead Indians in a Gold
Hill tunnel, or massacre a family at Dutch Nick's, were feats and calamities
that we never hesitated about devising when the public needed matters of
thrilling interest for breakfast. The seemingly tranquil ENTERPRISE
office was a ghastly factory of slaughter, mutilation and general destruction
in those days.
- "Mark Twain's Letters from Washington. Number IX," Virginia City Territorial Enterprise, 7 March 1868
Clemens the reporter.
Frontispiece for American Artists
edition of ROUGHING IT.
We were all young fellows then and there were twenty-six of us in the Virginia
Enterprise office, a most gay and cheerful and noisy lot. The paper went
to press at two in the morning, then all the staff and all the compositors gathered
themselves together in the composing-room, and drank beer and sang the popular
war songs of the day until dawn. When I look back now, they do seem preposterously
young, those boys; and now when I read what Taylor has said about the remnant
of them in his letter they seem as preposterously and impossibly old. No doubt
the great majority of them are in the cemetery long ago, and I suppose the rest
of us will join them before long. Speaking for myself I am willing; in fact
I believe I have been willing ever since I was eighteen years old; not urgent,
but willing, merely willing.
- Autobiographical dictation, 16 December 1908. Published in Autobiography of Mark Twain, Vol. 3 (University of California Press, 2015)
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