Mark Twain makes remarks about his mother –
Jane Lampton Clemens (1803-1890)
Her motto: “People born to be hanged are safe in water.” – Mark Twain, a Biography
Picture form “A Burlesque Biography” – The $30,000 Bequest and Other Stories.
Some thoughts about my mother from The Autobiography of Mark Twain, edited by Charles Neider, Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc., 1959, Chapter 7
…..Technically speaking, she had no career; but she had a character and it was of a fine and striking and lovable sort.
…..The greatest difference which I find between her and the rest of the people I have known is this, and it is a remarkable one: those others felt a strong interest in a few things, or as to the very day of her death she felt the strong interest in the whole world and everything and everybody in it. In all her life she never knew such a thing as a halfhearted interest in affairs and people, or an interest which drew a line and left out certain affairs and was indifferent to certain people. The invalid who takes a strenuous and indestructible interest in everything and everybody but himself, and to whom a dull moment is an unknown thing and an impossibility, is a formidable adversary for disease and a hard invalid to vanquish. I am certain that it was this feature of my mother’s make-up that carried her so far toward ninety.
Her interest in people and other animals was warm, personal, friendly. She always found something to excuse, and as a rule to love, in the toughest of them– even if she had put it there herself…. It was believed that, Presbyterian as she was, she could be beguiled into saying a soft word for the devil himself, and so the experiment was tried.
[She] was a most gentle spirit and an unstudied and unconscious pathos was her native speech.
Whenever anybody or any creature was being oppressed, the fears that belonged to her sex and her small stature retired to the rear in her soldierly qualities came promptly to the front.
Mark Twain said, “I’m related to Adam and Eve on my mother’s side…and Satan on my father’s.”
Mark Twain attributed many of his human qualities to what he observed in his mother. I believe some of these would include: a free spirit, laughter, kindness, determination, seeing the best in everyone, and being a superb storyteller. Several of his characters had her qualities.
I was always told that I was a sickly and precarious and tiresome and uncertain child, and lived mainly on allopathic medicines during the first seven years of my life. I asked my mother about this, in her old age—she was in her eighty-eighth year— and said:
“I suppose that during all that time you were uneasy about me?”
“Yes, the whole time.”
“Afraid I wouldn’t live?”
After a reflective pause—ostensibly to think out the facts— “No—afraid you would.”
Autobiography, ed. Paine,
Very much like his mother, Sam also had a life motto; he said this about morals, “It’s my opinion that every one I know has morals, though I wouldn’t like to ask. I know I have. But I’d rather teach them than practice them any day. “Give them to others’—that’s my motto.”
– ‘Morals and Memory’, Mark Twain Speeches.
The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree!
Read the book Mark Twain wrote and dedicated to his wife Livy –