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(美)马克·吐温(Mark Twain) 著



In this Autobiography I shall keep in mind the fact that I am speaking from the grave.I am literally speaking from the grave,because I shall be dead when the book issues from the press.

I speak from the grave rather than with my living tongue for a good reason:I can speak thence freely.When a man is writing a book dealing with the privacies of his life–a book which is to be read while he is still alive–he shrinks from speaking his whole frank mind;all his attempts to do it fail;he recognizes that he is trying to do a thing which is wholly impossible to a human being.The frankest and freest and privatest product of the human mind and heart is a love letter;the writer gets his limitless freedom of statement and expression from his sense that no stranger is going to see what he is writing.Sometimes there is a breach-of-promise case by and by;and when he sees his letter in print it makes him cruelly uncomfortable and he perceives that he never would have unbosomed himself to that large and honest degree if he had known that he was writing for the public.He cannot find anything in the letter that was not true,honest and respectworthy;but no matter,he would have been very much more reserved if he had known he was writing for print.

It has seemed to me that I could be as frank and free and unembarrassed as a love letter if I knew that what I was writing could be exposed to no eye until I was dead,and unaware and indifferent.



I was born the 30th of November,1835,in the almost invisible village of Florida,Monroe County,Missouri.My parents removed to Missouri in the early \'thirties;I do not remember just when,for I was not born then and cared nothing for such things.It was a long journey in those days and must have been a rough and tiresome one.The village contained a hundred people and I increased the population by 1 per cent.It is more than many of the best men in history could have done for a town.It may not be modest in me to refer to this but it is true.There is no record of a person doing as much–not even Shakespeare.But I did it for Florida and it shows that I could have done it for any place–even London,I suppose.

Recently someone in Missouri has sent me a picture of the house I was born in.Heretofore I have always stated that it was a palace but I shall be more guarded now.

The village had two streets,each a couple of hundred yards long;the rest of the avenues mere lanes,with railfences and cornfields on either side.Both the streets and the lanes were paved with the same material–tough black mud in wet times,deep dust in dry.

Most of the houses were of logs–all of them,indeed,except three or four;these latter were frame ones.There were none of brick and none of stone.There was a log church,with a puncheon floor and slab benches.A puncheon floor is made of logs whose upper surfaces have been chipped flat with the adz.The cracks between the logs were not filled;there was no carpet;consequently,if you dropped anything smaller than a peach it was likely to go through.The church was perched upon short sections of logs,which elevated it two or three feet from the ground.Hogs slept under there,and whenever the dogs got after them during services the minister had to wait till the disturbance was over.In winter there was always a refreshing breeze up through the puncheon floor;in summer there were fleas enough for all.

A slab bench is made of the outside cut of a saw-log,with the bark side down:it is supported on four sticks driven into auger holes at the ends;it has no back and no cushions.The church was twilighted with yellow tallow candles in tin sconces hung against the walls.Weekdays,the church was a schoolhouse.

There were two stores in the village.My uncle,John A.Quarles,was proprietor of one of them.It was a very small establishment,with a few rolls of“bit”calicoes on half a dozen shelves;a few barrels of salt mackerel,coffee and New Orleans sugar behind the counter;stacks of brooms,shovels,axes,hoes,rakes and such things here and there;a lot of cheap hats,bonnets and tinware strung on strings and suspended from the walls;and at the other end of the room was another counter with bags of shot on it,a cheese or two and a keg of powder;in front of it a row of nail kegs and a few pigs of lead,and behind it a barrel or two of New Orleans molasses and native corn whisky on tap.If a boy bought five or ten cents\' worth of anything he was entitled to half a handful of sugar from the barrel;if a woman bought a few yards of calico she was entitled to a spool of thread in addition to the usual gratis“trimmin\'s”;if a man bought a trifle he was at liberty to draw and swallow as big a drink of whisky as he wanted.

Everything was cheap:apples,peaches,sweet potatoes,Irish potatoes and corn,ten cents a bushel;chickens,ten cents apiece;butter,six cents a pound;eggs,three cents a dozen;coffee and sugar,five cents a pound;whisky,ten cents a gallon.I do not know how prices are out there in interior Missouri now but I know what they are here in Hartford,Connecticut.To wit:apples,three dollars a bushel;peaches,five dollars;Irish potatoes(choice Bermudas),five dollars;chickens,a dollar to a dollar and a half apiece,according to weight;butter,forty-five to sixty cents a pound;eggs,fifty to sixty cents a dozen;coffee,forty-five cents a pound;native whisky,four or five dollars a gallon,I believe,but I can only be certain concerning the sort which I use myself,which is Scotch and costs ten dollars a gallon when you take two gallons–more when you take less.

Thirty to forty years ago,out yonder in Missouri,the ordinary cigar cost thirty cents a hundred,but most people did not try to afford them,since smoking a pipe cost nothing in that tobacco-growing country.Connecticut is also given up to tobacco raising,today,yet we pay ten dollars a hundred for Connecticut cigars and fifteen to twenty-five dollars a hundred for the imported article.

At first my father owned slaves but by and by he sold them and hired others by the year from the farmers.For a girl of fifteen he paid twelve dollars a year and gave her two linsey-woolsey frocks and a pair of“stogy”shoes–cost,a modification of nothing;for a negro woman of twenty-five,as general house servant,he paid twenty-five dollars a year and gave her shoes and the afore-mentioned linsey-woolsey frocks;for a strong negro woman of forty,as cook,washer,etc.,he paid forty dollars a year and the customary two suits of clothes;and for an able-bodied man he paid from seventy-five to a hundred dollars a year and gave him two suits of jeans and two pairs of“stogy”shoes–an outfit that cost about three dollars.

I used to remember my brother Henry walking into a fire outdoors when he was a week old.It was remarkable in me to remember a thing like that and it was still more remarkable that I should cling to the delusion for thirty years that I did remember it–for of course it never happened;he would not have been able to walk at that age.If I had stopped to reflect I should not have burdened my memory with that impossible rubbish so long.It is believed by many people that an impression deposited in a child\'s memory within the first two years of its life cannot remain there five years but that is an error.The incident of Benvenuto Cellini and the salamander must be accepted as authentic and trustworthy;and then that remarkable and indisputable instance in the experience of Helen Keller.For many years I believed that I remembered helping my grandfather drink his whisky toddy when I was six weeks old but I do not tell about that any more now;I am grown old and my memory is not as active as it used to be.When I was younger I could remember anything,whether it had happened or not;but my faculties are decaying now and soon I shall be so I cannot remember any but the things that never happened.It is sad to go to pieces like this but we all have to do it.


My uncle,John A.Quarles,was also a farmer,and his place was in the country four miles from Florida.He had eight children and fifteen or twenty negroes and was also fortunate in other ways,particular in his character.I have not come across a better man than he was.I was his guest for two or three months every year,from the fourth year after we removed to Hannibal till I was eleven or twelve years old.I have never consciously used him or his wife in a book but his farm has come very handy to me in literature once or twice.In Huck Finn and in Tom Sawyer,Detective I moved it down to Arkansas.It was all of six hundred miles but it was no trouble;it was not a very large farm–five hundred acres,perhaps–but I could have done it if it had been twice as large.And as for the morality of it,I cared nothing for that;I would move a state if the exigencies of literature required it.

It was a heavenly place for a boy,that farm of my uncle John\'s.The house was a double log one,with a spacious floor(roofed in)connecting it with the kitchen.In the summer the table was set in the middle of that shady and breezy floor,and the sumptuous meals–well,it makes me cry to think of them.Fried chicken,roast pig;wild and tame turkeys,ducks and geese;venison just killed;squirrels,rabbits,pheasants,partridges,prairie-chickens;biscuits,hot batter cakes,hot buckwheat cakes,hot“wheat bread,”hot rolls,hot corn pone;fresh corn boiled on the ear,succotash,butter-beans,string-beans,tomatoes,peas,Irish potatoes,sweet potatoes;buttermilk,sweet milk,“clabber”;watermelons,muskmelons,cantaloupes–all fresh from the garden;apple pie,peach pie,pumpkin pie,apple dumplings,peach cobbler–I can\'t remember the rest.The way that the things were cooked was perhaps the main splendor–particularly a certain few of the dishes.For instance,the corn bread,the hot biscuits and wheat bread and the fried chicken.These things have never been properly cooked in the North–in fact,no one there is able to learn the art,so far as my experience goes.The North thinks it knows how to make corn b