Embodying a Few Remarks on the Gentle Art of Laugh-Making.
Marshall P. Wilder.
Happiness and laughter are two of the most beautiful things in the world, for they are of the few that are
purely unselfish. Laughter is not for yourself, but for others. When people are happy they present a cheerful
spirit, which finds its reflection in every one they meet, for happiness is as contagious as a yawn. Of all the
emotions, laughter is the most versatile, for it plays equally well the role of either parent or child to happiness.
Then can we say too much in praise of the men who make us laugh? God never gave a man a greater gift than
the power to make others laugh, unless it is the privilege of laughing himself. We honor, revere, admire our
great soldiers, statesmen, and men of letters, but we love the man who makes us laugh.
No other man to-day enjoys to such an extent the close personal affection, individual yet national, that is given
to Mr. Samuel L. Clemens. He is ours, he is one of us, we have a personal pride in him\ue000dear "Mark[Pg ii]
Twain," the beloved child of the American nation. And it was through our laughter that he won our love.
"Yes, Marsh, it was at school. All boys had the habit of going to school in those days, and they hadn't any
more respect for the desks than they had for the teachers. There was a rule in our school that any boy marring
his desk, either with pencil or knife, would be chastised publicly before the whole school, or pay a fine of five
dollars. Besides the rule, there was a ruler; I knew it because I had felt it; it was a darned hard one, too. One
day I had to tell my father that I had broken the rule, and had to pay a fine or take a public whipping; and he
"I went upstairs with father, and he was for-giving me. I came downstairs with the feeling in one hand and the five dollars in the other, and decided that as I'd been punished once, and got used to it, I wouldn't mind taking the other licking at school. So I did, and I kept the five dollars. That was the first money I ever earned."
The humorous story as expounded by Mark Twain, Artemus Ward, and Robert J. Burdette, is purely
American. Artemus Ward could get laughs out of nothing, by mixing the absurd and the unexpected, and then
backing the combination with a solemn face and earnest manner. For instance, he was fond of such
incongruous[Pg iii] statements as: "I once knew a man in New Zealand who hadn't a tooth in his head," here
he would pause for some time, look reminiscent, and continue: "and yet he could beat a base-drum better than
any man I ever knew."
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?