In this essay I focus on Mark Twain's relationship with Joseph Hopkins Twichell, pastor of the Asylum Hill Congregationalist Church in Hartford, Connecticut, tracing the lifelong effects of the two men's friendship on Twain's "religious" life. This aspect of Twain's life divides into three stages that illustrate the larger patterns of his thinking and beliefs. Twain's courtship, and the role that Twichell played in his life at the time, shows the author at his most pious, seriously engaging with the task of spiritual reformation necessary to the successful fulÞllment of his relationship with Livy, his wife-to-be. The Hartford years following close after Twain's marriage show him living a relatively conventional life, regularly attending religious services and giving considerable support to Twichell's Asylum Hill church. The extensive and committed part that Twain played in this church community gives the lie to the view put forward by Alfred Bigelow Paine and others that Twain completely retreated from religious commitment after the early marriage years. Finally, in the years following Twain's departure from Hartford, Twichell takes the role of gentle and temperate respondent as Twain's attitude toward religious belief, and indeed toward human nature itself, becomes increasingly mordant. Predictably, their exchanges ended in stalemate, though the role that the minister played in deßecting the full public force of Twain's more intemperate outbursts was recognized by both men. I use previously unpublished material here to provide a type of "thick description" of the religious dimension of their relationship and to ßesh out what we already know of their friendship.
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