CLEMENS, Samuel ("Mark Twain"). Autograph manuscript signed ("Mark Twain," "Clemens," and "SLC"), a draft of "My Boyhood Dreams," Sanna, Sweden, September 1899. 18 pages, 8vo, numerous corrections and emendations, signed several times in text ("Clemens"). In a quarter morocco slipcase.
"HE HAS FALLEN LIKE LUCIFER, NEVER TO RISE AGAIN"
A GREAT RARITY--A MARK TWAIN STORY MANUSCRIPT. In this wonderful comic tale, Clemens punctures the egos of his fellow literary luminaries by describing an imaginary gathering ("70 years ago," i.e., before any of the participants were born!) in which William Dean Howells, John Hay, T. B. Aldrich, Brander Matthews, Frank Stockton, George W. Cable, Joel Chandler Harris ("Uncle Remus") and others, revealed the lost dreams of their boyhoods. Howell's voice broke as he wept over his frustrated ambition to be an auctioneer. John Hay dreamed of being "a steamboat mate" who fancied himself "on the Mississippi & dictating terms to roustabouts in high & wounding tones." But "misfortune came & his fall began. Down - down - down - ever down: Private Secretary to the President...biographer of Lincoln; Ambassador to England; & now at last there he lies: Secretary of State...He has fallen like Lucifer, never to rise again." The joke goes on through the list of worthies: Aldrich wanted to be a "horse doctor." Brander Matthews, a cowboy ("What is he today? Nothing but a professor in a University.") Stockton, a bookkeeper ("See where he has landed.") Cable, a ring-master in a circus ("Nothing but a theologian & novelist"). He then offers a 20-stanza poem, "To the Above Old People," detailing the indignities and decay of old age, and concludes with a brilliant mock "Editorial Note": "Fearing there might be some mistake, we submitted a proof of this article to the (American) gentlemen named in it." A litany of complaints follows, with the author's rejoinder: "Do not worry about these former young people. They can write good literature, but when it comes to speaking the truth they have not had my training. Mark Twain."
The story is also notable for containing a reference to the persecution of Capt. Alfred Dreyfus-an example of frustrated dreams that can only be decipherable to the dreamer: Why, asks Clemens, would anyone want to subject themselves to the "strange serfage" of the French Army? Clemens wrote it while accompanying his daughter Jean to treatments for epilepsy in Sweden, and the story appeared in the January 1900 issue of McClure's Magazine, and was later reprinted in The Man that Corrupted Hadleyburg and other Stories and Essays.
COMPLETE STORY MANUSCRIPTS OF TWAIN ARE RARE.