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To those who are interested in American life and letters there has been no question of greater significance, during the last few years, than the pessimism of Mark Twain. During the last few years, I say, for his own friends and contemporaries were rather inclined to make light of his oft-expressed belief that man is the meanest of the animals and life a tragic mistake.
For some time before his death Mark Twain had appeared before the public in the rôle less of a laughing philosopher than of a somewhat gloomy prophet of modern civilization. But he was old and he had suffered many misfortunes and the progress of society is not a matter for any one to be very jubilant about: to be gloomy about the world is a sort of prerogative of those who have lived long and thought much.

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