'Lining-out' in Huckleberry Finn
November 30, 2005
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The first half of the manuscript of Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, which was begun in 1876 and published in 1885, was discovered in 1990 ‘in an old steamer trunk stored in the attic of a Los Angeles house.’ It includes a description of a camp meeting that is more expansive than the published version. I thought the readers of this mail list would be interested in the published and manuscript versions of the beginning part of the story, in which a preacher is lining out a hymn. Twain is depicting a time ‘forty to fifty years ago’ (i.e., roughly 1835-1845):
The first shed we come to, the preacher was lining out a hymn. He lined out two lines, everybody sung it, and it was kind of grand to hear it, there was so many of them and they done it in such a rousing way; then he lined out two more for them to sing–and so on. The people woke up more and more, and sung louder and louder; and towards the end, some begun to groan, and some begun to shout.
The first shed we come to, the preacher was lining-out a hymn. He lined out two lines; everybody sung it–roared it out, they did, in a most rousing way:
“Am I a soldier of the cross,
A follower of the Lamb,”–
–then the preacher lined-out the next two:
“And shall I fear to own his cause,
Or blush to speak his name?”
–And so on. The people work up more and more, and sung louder and louder; and towards the end, some begun to groan, and some begun to shout.
This is from the Random House 1996 “The Adventures of Mark Twain: The Only Comprehensive Edition.” The dating comes from editors’ notes. [Note sent to the Fasola discussion list.]