Artemus Ward -- Charles Farrar Browne --
was also a 19th century humorist.
As I recall, his eccentricities on the plat-
form and in his personal life make his
popularity back then unfathomable to
modern day readers.
This is a man who used the same speech
year after year after year and began it with
the drop-dead laugh line "We are all descended
from our grandfathers." Try that out next time
you have to give a speech! Go figure.
There is a famous picture taken of Mark Twain
in a three-shot with Josh Billings and Petroleum
V. Nasby where Twain is seen standing in the
center with the other two seated to his left and
right. He towers over them in the photo, just as
he does in talent and legacy. (See Kaplan, Mr.
Clemens and Mark Twain, p.216) Similarly,
Twain eclipses Ward. But their friendship went
back as far as the days out West, where they
were not only itinerant lecturers but drinking
buddies as well.
The point being that in understanding Twain one
might do well to understand the context and
"characters" of his time. Ward plays a part in
that, thereby making Twain's life and achievement
all the more remarkable by comparison.
One man's opinion.