By the laws of my club there can be only one member in each country, & there can be no male member but myself. Some day I may admit males, but I don't know- they are capricious & inharmonious, & their ways provoke me a good deal. It is a matter, which the club shall decide. I have made four appointments in the past three or four months: You as a member for Scotland--oh, this good while!; a young citizeness of Joan of Arc's home region as a member for France; a Mohammedan girl as member for Bengal; & a dear & bright young niece of mine as member for the United States--for I do not represent a country myself, but am merely member-at-large for the human race. You must not try to resign, for the laws of the club do not allow that. You must console yourself by remembering that you are in the best company; that nobody knows of your membership except yourself; that no member knows another's name, but only her country; that no taxes are levied and no meetings held (but how dearly I should like to attend one!). One of my members is a princess of a royal house, another is the daughter of a village bookseller on the continent of Europe, for the only qualification for membership is intellect & the spirit of good- will; other distinctions, hereditary or acquired, do not count. May I send you the constitution & laws of the club? I shall be so glad if I may.

It was just one of his many fancies, and most of the active memberships would not long be maintained; though some continued faithful in their reports, as he did in his replies, to the end.

One of the more fantastic of his conceptions was a plan to advertise for ante-mortem obituaries of himself--in order, as he said, that he might look them over and enjoy them and make certain corrections in the matter of detail. Some of them he thought might be appropriate to read from the platform.

I will correct them--not the facts, but the verdicts--striking out such clauses as could have a deleterious influence on the other side, and replacing them with clauses of a more judicious character.

He was much taken with the new idea, and his request for such obituaries, with an offer of a prize for the best--a portrait of himself drawn by his own hand--really appeared in Harper's Weekly later in the year. Naturally he got a shower of responses--serious, playful, burlesque. Some of them were quite worth while.

The obvious "Death loves a shining Mark" was of course numerously duplicated, and some varied it "Death loves an Easy Mark," and there was "Mark, the perfect man."

The two that follow gave him especial pleasure.


Worthy of his portrait, a place on his monument, as well as a place among his "perennial-consolation heirlooms":

"Got up; washed; went to bed."

The subject's own words (see Innocents Abroad). Can't go back on your own words, Mark Twain. There's nothing "to strike out"; nothing "to replace." What more could be said of any one?

"Got up!"--Think of the fullness of meaning! The possibilities of life, its achievements--physical, intellectual, spiritual. Got up to the top!--the climax of human aspiration on earth!

"Washed"--Every whit clean; purified--body, soul, thoughts, purposes.

"Went to bed"--Work all done--to rest, to sleep. The culmination of the day well spent!

God looks after the awakening.


Mark Twain was the only man who ever lived, so far as we know, whose lies were so innocent, and withal so helpful, as to make them worth more than a whole lot of fossilized priests' eternal truths.




Clemens made fewer speeches during the Riverdale period. He was as frequently demanded, but he had a better excuse for refusing, especially the evening functions.

Mark Twain
Classic Literature Library

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