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Is Shakespeare Dead? Mark Twain

Chapter VI

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Now then, I am away along in life--my seventy-third year being already well behind me--yet SIXTEEN of my Hannibal schoolmates are still alive to-day, and can tell--and do tell--inquirers dozens and dozens of incidents of their young lives and mine together; things that happened to us in the morning of life, in the blossom of our youth, in the good days, the dear days, "the days when we went gipsying, a long time ago." Most of them creditable to me, too. One child to whom I paid court when she was five years old and I eight still lives in Hannibal, and she visited me last summer, traversing the necessary ten or twelve hundred miles of railroad without damage to her patience or to her old-young vigor. Another little lassie to whom I paid attention in Hannibal when she was nine years old and I the same, is still alive--in London--and hale and hearty, just as I am. And on the few surviving steamboats-- those lingering ghosts and remembrancers of great fleets that plied the big river in the beginning of my water-career--which is exactly as long ago as the whole invoice of the life-years of Shakespeare number--there are still findable two or three river-pilots who saw me do creditable things in those ancient days; and several white-headed engineers; and several roustabouts and mates; and several deck-hands who used to heave the lead for me and send up on the still night air the "six--feet--SCANT!" that made me shudder, and the "M-a-r-k--twain!" that took the shudder away, and presently the darling "By the d-e-e-p--four!" that lifted me to heaven for joy. [1] They know about me, and can tell. And so do printers, from St. Louis to New York; and so do newspaper reporters, from Nevada to San Francisco. And so do the police. If Shakespeare had really been celebrated, like me, Stratford could have told things about him; and if my experience goes for anything, they'd have done it.

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Is Shakespeare Dead?
Mark Twain

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