"O Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of our hearts, go forth to battle--be Thou near them! With them--in spirit--we also go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved firesides to smite the foe.

"O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with their little children to wander unfriended through wastes of their desolated land in rags & hunger & thirst, sport of the sun- flames of summer & the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring Thee for the refuge of the grave & denied it--for our sakes, who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet! We ask of one who is the Spirit of love & who is the ever-faithful refuge & friend of all that are sore beset, & seek His aid with humble & contrite hearts. Grant our prayer, O Lord; & Thine shall be the praise & honor & glory now & ever, Amen."

(After a pause.) "Ye have prayed it; if ye still desire it, speak!--the messenger of the Most High waits."

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

It was believed, afterward, that the man was a lunatic, because there was no sense in what he said.

To Dan Beard, who dropped in to see him, Clemens read the "War Prayer," stating that he had read it to his daughter Jean, and others, who had told him he must not print it, for it would be regarded as sacrilege.

"Still you--are going to publish it, are you not?"

Clemens, pacing up and down the room in his dressing-gown and slippers, shook his head.

"No," he said, "I have told the whole truth in that, and only dead men can tell the truth in this world. It can be published after I am dead."

He did not care to invite the public verdict that he was a lunatic, or even a fanatic with a mission to destroy the illusions and traditions and conclusions of mankind. To Twichell he wrote, playfully but sincerely:

Am I honest? I give you my word of honor (privately) I am not. For seven years I have suppressed a book which my conscience tells me I ought to publish. I hold it a duty to publish it. There are other difficult duties which I am equal to, but I am not equal to that one. Yes, even I am dishonest. Not in many ways, but in some. Forty-one, I think it is. We are certainly all honest in one or several ways--every man in the world--though I have a reason to think I am the only one whose blacklist runs so light. Sometimes I feel lonely enough in this lofty solitude.

It was his Gospel he referred to as his unpublished book, his doctrine of Selfishness, and of Man the irresponsible Machine. To Twichell he pretended to favor war, which he declared, to his mind, was one of the very best methods known of diminishing the human race.

What a life it is!--this one! Everything we try to do, somebody intrudes & obstructs it. After years of thought & labor I have arrived within one little bit of a step of perfecting my invention for exhausting the oxygen in the globe's air during a stretch of two minutes, & of course along comes an obstructor who is inventing something to protect human life. Damn such a world anyway.

He generally wrote Twichell when he had things to say that were outside of the pale of print. He was sure of an attentive audience of one, and the audience, whether it agreed with him or not, would at least understand him and be honored by his confidence.

Mark Twain
Classic Literature Library

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