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Forty centuries of Grant


From Mark Twain’s The Innocents Abroad (1869):

“Men lived long lives, in the olden time, and struggled feverishly through them, toiling like slaves, in oratory, in generalship, or in literature, and then laid them down and died, happy in the possession of an enduring history and a deathless name. Well, twenty little centuries nutter away, and what is left of these things? A crazy inscription on a block of stone, which snuffy antiquarians bother over and tangle up and make nothing out of but a bare name (which they spell wrong)—no history, no tradition, no poetry—nothing that can give it even a passing interest. What may be left of General Grant’s great name forty centuries hence? This—in the Encyclopedia for A.D. 5868, possibly:

‘URIAH S. (OR Z.) GRAUNT—popular poet of ancient times in the Aztec provinces of the United States of British America. Some authors say flourished about A.D. 742; but the learned Ah-ah Foo-foo states that he was a cotemporary of Scharkspyre, the English poet, and flourished about A.D. 1328, some three centuries after the Trojan war instead of before it. He wrote Rock me to Sleep, Mother.’