I think that this was a holy war, in the best and noblest sense of that abused term, and that no war was ever charged with a higher mission.
I think there can be no doubt that that mission is now defeated and Russia's chain riveted; this time to stay. I think the Tsar will now withdraw the small humanities that have been forced from him, and resume his medieval barbarisms with a relieved spirit and an immeasurable joy. I think Russian liberty has had its last chance and has lost it.
I think nothing has been gained by the peace that is remotely comparable to what has been sacrificed by it. One more battle would have abolished the waiting chains of billions upon billions of unborn Russians, and I wish it could have been fought. I hope I am mistaken, yet in all sincerity I believe that this peace is entitled to rank as the most conspicuous disaster in political history.
It was the wisest public utterance on the subject--the deep, resonant note of truth sounding amid a clamor of foolish joy-bells. It was the message of a seer--the prophecy of a sage who sees with the clairvoyance of knowledge and human understanding. Clemens, a few days later, was invited by Colonel Harvey to dine with Baron Rosen and M. Sergius Witte; but an attack of his old malady--rheumatism--prevented his acceptance. His telegram of declination apparently pleased the Russian officials, for Witte asked permission to publish it, and declared that he was going to take it home to show to the Tsar. It was as follows:
To COLONEL HARVEY,--I am still a cripple, otherwise I should be more than glad of this opportunity to meet the illustrious magicians who came here equipped with nothing but a pen, & with it have divided the honors of the war with the sword. It is fair to presume that in thirty centuries history will not get done in admiring these men who attempted what the world regarded as the impossible & achieved it. MARK TWAIN.
But this was a modified form. His original draft would perhaps have been less gratifying to that Russian embassy. It read:
To COLONEL HARVEY,--I am still a cripple, otherwise I should be more than glad of this opportunity to meet those illustrious magicians who with the pen have annulled, obliterated, & abolished every high achievement of the Japanese sword and turned the tragedy of a tremendous war into a gay & blithesome comedy. If I may, let me in all respect and honor salute them as my fellow-humorists, I taking third place, as becomes one who was not born to modesty, but by diligence & hard work is acquiring it. MARK.
There was still another form, brief and expressive:
DEAR COLONEL,--No, this is a love-feast; when you call a lodge of sorrow send for me. MARK.
Clemens's war sentiment was given the widest newspaper circulation, and brought him many letters, most of them applauding his words. Charles Francis Adams wrote him:
It attracted my attention because it so exactly expresses the views I have myself all along entertained.
And this was the gist of most of the expressed sentiments which came to him.
Clemens wrote a number of things that summer, among them a little essay entitled, "The Privilege of the Grave"--that is to say, free speech. He was looking forward, he said, to the time when he should inherit that privilege, when some of the things he had said, written and laid away, could be published without damage to his friends or family. An article entitled, "Interpreting the Deity," he counted as among the things to be uttered when he had entered into that last great privilege. It is an article on the reading of signs and auguries in all ages to discover the intentions of the Almighty, with historical examples of God's judgments and vindications. Here is a fair specimen.