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.

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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


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