My reading of the Sherburne incident is that Twain sees Sherburne for the
pathetic pompous ass he is, especially in light of the business of honor and
the chivalric code which demands that honor impugned be avenged. Sherburne,
however, has enough backbone to face down a mob of moral invertebrates who,
no matter how right they may be in wanting Sherburne hung, have no right,
under our system of justice, in summarily hanging the man. Sherburne, to me,
comes off as a fairly pathetic example of aristocratic power run amok and it
is the nature of this aristocracy that, in part, helps to turn the mob away.
Marcus W. Koechig