Was the World Made for Man?, Mark Twain, 1903
1. The Palaeozoic time-limit having now been reached, it was necessary to begin the next stage in the
2. preparation of the world for man, by opening up the Mesozoic Age and instituting some reptiles. For
3. man would need reptiles. Not to eat, but to develop himself from. This being the most important
4. detail of the scheme, a spacious liberality of time was set apart for it – thirty million years. What
5. wonders followed! From the remaining ganoids and asteroids and alkaloids were developed by slow
6. and steady and pains-taking culture those stupendous saurians that used to prowl about the steamy
7. world in those remote ages, with their snaky heads reared forty feet in the air and sixty feet of body
8. and tail racing and thrashing after. All gone, now, alas — all extinct, except the little handful of
9. Arkansawrians left stranded and lonely with us here upon this far-flung verge and fringe of time.
10. Yes, it took thirty million years and twenty million reptiles to get one that would stick long enough
11. to develop into something else and let the scheme proceed to the next step.
12. Then the Pterodactyl burst upon the world in all his impressive solemnity and grandeur, and all
13. Nature recognized that the Cainozoic threshold was crossed and a new Period open for business, a
14. new stage begun in the preparation of the globe for man. It may be that the Pterodactyl thought the
15. thirty million years had been intended as a preparation for himself, for there was nothing too
16. foolish for a Pterodactyl to imagine, but he was in error, the preparation was for man. Without
17. doubt the Pterodactyl attracted great attention, for even the least observant could see that there
18. was the making of a bird in him. And so it turned out. Also the makings of a mammal, in time.
19. One thing we have to say to his credit, that in the matter of picturesqueness he was the triumph of
20. his Period; he wore wings and had teeth, and was a starchy and wonderful mixture altogether, a
21. kind of long-distance premonitory symptom of Kipling's marine:
‘’E isn’t one O’the reg’lar Line,
nor ’e isn’t one of the crew,
’E’s a kind of a giddy harumfrodite [hermaphrodite] —
soldier an’ sailor too!"
22. From this time onward for nearly another thirty million years the preparation moved briskly. From
23. the Pterodactyl was developed the bird; from the bird the kangaroo, from the kangaroo the other
24. marsupials; from these the mastodon, the megatherium, the giant sloth, the Irish elk, and all that
25. crowd that you make useful and instructive fossils out of — then came the first great Ice Sheet, and
26. they all retreated before it and crossed over the bridge at Behring’s strait and wandered around
27. over Europe and Asia and died. All except a few, to carry on the preparation with. Six Glacial Periods
28. with two million years between Periods chased these poor orphans up and down and about the
29. earth, from weather to weather — from tropic swelter at the poles to Arctic frost at the equator
30. and back again and to and fro, they never knowing what kind of weather was going to turn up next;
31. and if ever they settled down anywhere the whole continent suddenly sank under them without the
32. least notice and they had to trade places with the fishes and scramble off to where the seas had
33. been, and scarcely a dry rag on them; and when there was nothing else doing a volcano would let go
34. and fire them out from wherever they had located. They led this unsettled and irritating life for
35. twenty-five million years, half the time afloat, half the time aground, and always wondering what it
36. was all for, they never suspecting, of course, that it was a preparation for man and had to be done
37. just so or it wouldn’t be any proper and harmonious place for him when he arrived.
38. And at last came the monkey, and anybody could see that man wasn’t far off, now. And in truth that
39. was so. The monkey went on developing for close upon 5,000,000 years, and then turned into a man
40. — to all appearances.
41. Such is the history of it. Man has been here 32,000 years. That it took a hundred million years to
42. prepare the world for him is proof that that is what it was done for. I suppose it is. I dunno. If the
43. Eiffel tower were now representing the world’s age, the skin of paint on the pinnacle-knob at its
44. summit would represent man’s share of that age; and anybody would perceive that that skin was
45. what the tower was built for. I reckon they would, I dunno.
Twain, Mark. “Was the World Made for Man?" Letters From The Earth: Uncensored Writings by Mark Twain, edited by Bernard Devoto. Harper Perennial, 2004.
The main rhetorical strategy of the final paragraph is intended to