Mark Twain: A Biography, by Albert Bigelow Paine

Chapter LXXV

As to Destiny

If any reader has followed these chapters thus far, he may have wondered, even if vaguely, at the seeming fatality of events. Mark Twain had but to review his own life for justification of his doctrine of inevitability — an unbroken and immutable sequence of cause and effect from the beginning. Once he said:

“When the first living atom found itself afloat on the great Laurentian sea the first act of that first atom led to the second act of that first atom, and so on down through the succeeding ages of all life, until, if the steps could be traced, it would be shown that the first act of that first atom has led inevitably to the act of my standing here in my dressing-gown at this instant talking to you.”

It seemed the clearest presentment ever offered in the matter of predestined circumstance — predestined from the instant when that primal atom felt the vital thrill. Mark Twain’s early life, however imperfectly recorded, exemplifies this postulate. If through the years still ahead of us the course of destiny seems less clearly defined, it is only because thronging events make the threads less easy to trace. The web becomes richer, the pattern more intricate and confusing, but the line of fate neither breaks nor falters, to the end.

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Last updated Tuesday, March 4, 2014 at 20:05