Greatest Downfall By Mark Twain Mark Twain is one of the greatest humorists and writers that the world has ever seen. Mark Twain had a natural ability to portray the lives of real people and also add a humorous twist to their lives. As most people know, Mark Twains real name was Samuel Clemens. Samuel Clemens, despite his fame from his books and short stories, did not have success with his financial dealings. Samuel Clemens was a regular man who took financial risks and suffered from them greatly.
Samuel Clemens was born the son of a Missouri lawyer, married Olivia Langdon, wrote various books, short stories, and other stories. He gave various lectures and traveled to many parts of the world. His life was always moving, always traveling from place to place. He was never happy with the success and fame that writing had given him. He was skilled in taking financial risks that probably wouldnt turn out.
He was always seeking another source of income or a way to get rich. Hot-tempered, profane, wreathed in tobacco smoke, enthralled by games and gadgets, extravagant, sentimental, superstitious, chivalrous to the point of the ridiculous-he was all these things (Kunitz 160). One example of Twains first deals involves a patent that a friend had talked him into participating in. Twain lost a lot of money, but managed to continue with his financial dealings. In 1906, Twain wrote about his first deal who suckered him into a patent that would eventually cost him $42,000 in the long run. After trying to work with patents over several occasions, Twain tried his luck with machinery. Like the other investment, he had to put out a lot of money.
Twain discusses what occurred with the machinery: Meantime, another old friend arrived with a wonderful invention. It was an engine or a furnace or something of the kind which would get out 99 per cent of all the stream that was in a pound of coal. I went to Mr. Richards of the Colt Arms Factory and told him about it. He seemed to be doubtful about this machine and I asked him why.
He said, because the amount of stream concealed in a pound of coal was known to a fraction and that my inventor was mistaken about his 99 per cent. He showed me that my mans machine couldnt come within 90 per cent of doing what it proposed to do. I went away a little discouraged. But I thought that maybe the book was mistaken and so I hired the inventor to build the machine on a salary of thirty-five dollars a week, I to pay all the expenses to build the machine. Finally, when I had spent five thousand on this enterprise the machine was finished, but it wouldnt go. It did save one per cent of the steam that was in a pound of coal but that was nothing (Neider 229-230). Twain also rejected the stock of the invention that became a huge success.
This invention was called the telephone, and the agent of Graham Bell tried to get Twain to buy some of the stock. He could have made a fortune with the telephone, but chose other investments that would cost him a lot of money. He refused to buy a paltry amount of the telephone company from Alexander Graham Bell at a real bargain-the small amount would have brought in $190,000 later. Perhaps this is why Mark Twain was so disgruntled (Howards 74). Twain relives the experience when the telephone stock was introduced to him and after it became a success: He was with Graham Bell and was agent for a new invention called the telephone.
He believed there was great fortune in store for it and wanted me to take some stock. I declined. I said I didnt want anything more to do with wildcat speculation. Then he offered the stock to me at twenty-five. I said I didnt want it at any price.
He became eager-insisted that I take five hundred dollars worth. He said he would sell me as much as I wanted for five hundred dollars-offered to let me gather it up in my hands and measure it in a plug hat-said I could have a whole hatful for five hundred dollars. But I was the burnt child and I resisted all these temptations. That young man couldnt sell me any stock but he sold a few hatfuls of it to an old dry-goods clerk in Hartford for five thousand dollars. We later saw that clerk driving around in a sumptuous barouche with liveried servants all over it-and his telephone stock was emptying greenbacks into his premises at such a rate that he had to handle them with a shovel (Neider 232-233).
These investments caused a strain on Twains financial standing. After many tries with various inventions, Twain finally found achievement in a type of scrapbook. The scrapbook, which was patented, was finally going to give Twain some monetary relief. Twain did invent a self-pasting scrapbook, which was made in several sizes and sold well and made a profit. The pages had dots and pressed the picture in place. These books were particularly good for persons who wanted to paste in clippings which covered the pages with no margin of glue exposed between columns (Howards 73). Twain patented it and put it in the hands of that old particular friend of mine who had originally interested me in patents and he mad a good deal of money out of it. But, by and by, just when Twain was about to begin to receive a share of the money myself, his firm failed.
Twain didnt know his firm was going to fail-he didnt say anything about it (Neider 230). Twain gave money to various investments. Whenever a friend needed money for an investment, Twain was always willing and eager to lend some. He helped stocks prosper and friends obtain a lot of money. He rarely received some of the money that his friends were taking in. Mark Twain lacked the dare-devil risking-taking attitude of a man who builds a fortune on a business acumen alone, but he was a sucker for anyone needing financial backing. Consequently, he took greater risks than many gamblers do.
Once he was convinced something was a good thing, he stayed with it, hoping to market it and amass a fortune (Howards 72). Twain was hoping that his friends would finally pay the money that was rightfully his. Finally, he received the money that had been promised he would receive. He drew his check for twenty-three thousand at once, said it ought to have been paid long ago and that it would have been paid the moment it was due if he had known the circumstances (Neider 232). Twain became his own publisher to help with the numerous financial problems that he had experienced.
He believed his nephew could help with the publishing. Twain comments on his dealing with his nephew: I had imported my nephew-in-law, Webster, from the village of Dunkirk, New York, to conduct that original first patent-right business for me, at a salary of fifteen hundred dollars. That enterprise had lost forty-two thousand dollars for me, so I thought this is a favorable time to close it up. I proposed to be my own publisher now and let young Webster …