I know how I came to be literary, and I will tell the stepsthat lead up to it and brought it about.
The crossing of the Rubicon was not the first one, it washardly even a recent one; I should have to go back ages before Caesar's day to find the first one.
But it also implies--withoutintention, perhaps--that that turning-point ITSELF was thecreator of the new condition.
This gives it too muchdistinction, too much prominence, too much credit.
I escaped from the house and went tothe house of a neighbor where a playmate of mine was very illwith the malady.
When the chance offered I crept into his roomand got into bed with him.THE DIE IS CAST."So he crossed--and changed the future of the whole humanrace, for all time. For I was one of the unavoidableresults of the crossing of the Rubicon.But that stranger was a link in Caesar'slife-chain, too; and a necessary one. If the stranger, withhis trumpet blast, had stayed away (which he COULDN'T, for he wasthe appointed link) Caesar would not have crossed.Chapter IITo me, the most important feature of my life is its literaryfeature.I have been professionally literary something more thanforty years.When not only the shepherds, but a number of soldiers also,flocked to listen to him, and some trumpeters among them, hesnatched a trumpet from one of them, ran to the river with it,and, sounding the advance with a piercing blast, crossed to theother side.Upon this, Caesar exclaimed: "Let us go whither theomens of the gods and the iniquity of our enemies call up. Such vast events--each a link inthe HUMAN RACE'S life-chain; each event producing the next one,and that one the next one, and so on: the destruction of therepublic; the founding of the empire; the breaking up of theempire; the rise of Christianity upon its ruins; the spread ofthe religion to other lands--and so on; link by link took itsappointed place at its appointed time, the discovery of Americabeing one of them; our Revolution another; the inflow of Englishand other immigrants another; their drift westward (my ancestorsamong them) another; the settlement of certain of them in Missouri, which resulted in ME.And all theincidents, big and little, of Caesar's previous life had beenleading up to it, stage by stage, link by link.This was the LAST link--merely the last one, and no bigger than the others;but as we gaze back at it through the inflating mists of ourimagination, it looks as big as the orbit of Neptune.It know we have a fashion of saying"such and such an event was the turning-point in my life," but weshouldn't say it.We should merely grant that its place as LASTlink in the chain makes it the most CONSPICUOUS link; in realimportance it has no advantage over any one of its predecessors.