The Complete Works of Mark Twain

Mark Twain > Christian Science > Preface

Christian Science


"There were remarkable things about the stranger called the Man--Mystery-
things so very extraordinary that they monopolized attention and made all
of him seem extraordinary; but this was not so, the most of his qualities
being of the common, every-day size and like anybody else's. It was
curious. He was of the ordinary stature, and had the ordinary aspects;
yet in him were hidden such strange contradictions and disproportions!
He was majestically fearless and heroic; he had the strength of thirty
men and the daring of thirty thousand; handling armies, organizing
states, administering governments--these were pastimes to him; he
publicly and ostentatiously accepted the human race at its own valuation-
-as demigods--and privately and successfully dealt with it at quite
another and juster valuation--as children and slaves; his ambitions were
stupendous, and his dreams had no commerce with the humble plain, but
moved with the cloud-rack among the snow-summits. These features of him
were, indeed, extraordinary, but the rest of him was ordinary and usual.
He was so mean-minded, in the matter of jealousy, that it was thought he
was descended from a god; he was vain in little ways, and had a pride in
trivialities; he doted on ballads about moonshine and bruised hearts; in
education he was deficient, he was indifferent to literature, and knew
nothing of art; he was dumb upon all subjects but one, indifferent to all
except that one--the Nebular Theory. Upon that one his flow of words was
full and free, he was a geyser. The official astronomers disputed his
facts and deeded his views, and said that he had invented both, they not
being findable in any of the books. But many of the laity, who wanted
their nebulosities fresh, admired his doctrine and adopted it, and it
attained to great prosperity in spite of the hostility of the experts."
--The Legend of the Man-Mystery, ch. i.

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