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Mark Twain
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A Tramp Abroad 1891-1901
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Strange Customs Across the Atlantic
 
 

“People here seem always to express distances by parables. To a stranger it just a little confusing to be so parabolic—so to speak. I collar a citizen, and think I am going to get some valuable information out of him. I ask him how far it is to get to Birmingham, and he says it is twenty-one shilling and six-pence. Now, we know that doesn’t help a man who is trying to learn. I find myself down-town somewhere, and I want to get some sort of idea where I am—being usually lost when alone—and I stop a citizen and say: ‘How far is it to Charing Cross?’ ‘Shilling far in a cab,’ and off he goes. I suppose if I were to ask a Londoner how far it is from the sublime to the ridiculous, he would try to express it in coin.”—Mark Twain, “Savage Club Dinner” speech, 1872

Dollis Hill, England, 1900
Dollis Hill, England, 1900
Courtesy of The Mark Twain House, Hartford
Dollis Hill, England, 1900
Dollis Hill, England, 1900
Courtesy of The Mark Twain Project, Bancroft Library, Berkeley
 
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Russell Banks, “Center of the Universe”

Dollis Hill, England, 1900
Dollis Hill, England, 1900
Courtesy of The Mark Twain
House, Hartford
 
You perceive that I generalize with intrepidity from single instances. It is the tourist's custom. When I see a man jump from the Vendome column, I say, They do it like that in France.  Mark Twain, Notebooks and Journals, 1879
Dollis Hill, England, 1900
Dollis Hill, England, 1900
Courtesy of The Mark Twain House, Hartford
 
 
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