The Letters Of Mark Twain, Vol 4

This etext was produced by David Widger MARK TWAIN’S LETTERS 1886-1900 ARRANGED WITH COMMENT BY ALBERT BIGELOW PAINE VOLUME IV. XXVI LETTERS, 1886-87. JANE CLEMENS’S ROMANCE. UNMAILED LETTERS, ETC. When Clemens had been platforming with Cable and returned to Hartford for his Christmas vacation, the Warner and Clemens families had joined in preparing for him
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  • 1853-1910
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This etext was produced by David Widger






When Clemens had been platforming with Cable and returned to Hartford for his Christmas vacation, the Warner and Clemens families had joined in preparing for him a surprise performance of The Prince and the Pauper. The Clemens household was always given to theatricals, and it was about this time that scenery and a stage were prepared–mainly by the sculptor Gerhardt–for these home performances, after which productions of The Prince and the Pauper were given with considerable regularity to audiences consisting of parents and invited friends. The subject is a fascinating one, but it has been dwelt upon elsewhere.–[In Mark Twain: A Biography, chaps. cliff and clx.]–We get a glimpse of one of these occasions as well as of Mark Twain’s financial progress in the next brief note.

To W. D. Howells; in Boston:

Jan. 3, ’86. MY DEAR HOWELLS,–The date set for the Prince and Pauper play is ten days hence–Jan. 13. I hope you and Pilla can take a train that arrives here during the day; the one that leaves Boston toward the end of the afternoon would be a trifle late; the performance would have already begun when you reached the house.

I’m out of the woods. On the last day of the year I had paid out $182,000 on the Grant book and it was totally free from debt. Yrs ever

Mark Twain’s mother was a woman of sturdy character and with a keen sense of humor and tender sympathies. Her husband, John Marshall Clemens, had been a man of high moral character, honored by all who knew him, respected and apparently loved by his wife. No one would ever have supposed that during all her years of marriage, and almost to her death, she carried a secret romance that would only be told at last in the weary disappointment of old age. It is a curious story, and it came to light in this curious way:

To W. D. Howells, in Boston:

HARTFORD, May 19, ’86. MY DEAR HOWELLS,–….. Here’s a secret. A most curious and pathetic romance, which has just come to light. Read these things, but don’t mention them. Last fall, my old mother–then 82–took a notion to attend a convention of old settlers of the Mississippi Valley in an Iowa town. My brother’s wife was astonished; and represented to her the hardships and fatigues of such a trip, and said my mother might possibly not even survive them; and said there could be no possible interest for her in such a meeting and such a crowd. But my mother insisted, and persisted; and finally gained her point. They started; and all the way my mother was young again with excitement, interest, eagerness, anticipation. They reached the town and the hotel. My mother strode with the same eagerness in her eye and her step, to the counter, and said:

“Is Dr. Barrett of St. Louis, here?”

“No. He was here, but he returned to St. Louis this morning.”

“Will he come again?”


My mother turned away, the fire all gone from her, and said, “Let us go home.”

They went straight back to Keokuk. My mother sat silent and thinking for many days–a thing which had never happened before. Then one day she said:

“I will tell you a secret. When I was eighteen, a young medical student named Barrett lived in Columbia (Ky.) eighteen miles away; and he used to ride over to see me. This continued for some time. I loved him with my whole heart, and I knew that he felt the same toward me, though no words had been spoken. He was too bashful to speak–he could not do it. Everybody supposed we were engaged–took it for granted we were–but we were not. By and by there was to be a party in a neighboring town, and he wrote my uncle telling him his feelings, and asking him to drive me over in his buggy and let him (Barrett) drive me back, so that he might have that opportunity to propose. My uncle should have done as he was asked, without explaining anything to me; but instead, he read me the letter; and then, of course, I could not go–and did not. He (Barrett) left the country presently, and I, to stop the clacking tongues, and to show him that I did not care, married, in a pet. In all these sixty-four years I have not seen him since. I saw in a paper that he was going to attend that Old Settlers’ Convention. Only three hours before we reached that hotel, he had been standing there!”

Since then, her memory is wholly faded out and gone; and now she writes letters to the school-mates who had been dead forty years, and wonders why they neglect her and do not answer.

Think of her carrying that pathetic burden in her old heart sixty-four years, and no human being ever suspecting it! Yrs ever,

We do not get the idea from this letter that those two long ago sweethearts quarreled, but Mark Twain once spoke of their having done so, and there may have been a disagreement, assuming that there was a subsequent meeting. It does not matter, now. In speaking of it, Mark Twain once said: “It is as pathetic a romance as any that has crossed the field of my personal experience in a long lifetime.”–[When Mark Twain: A Biography was written this letter had not come to light, and the matter was stated there in accordance with Mark Twain’s latest memory of it.]

Howells wrote: “After all, how poor and hackneyed all the inventions are compared with the simple and stately facts. Who could have imagined such a heart-break as that? Yet it went along with the fulfillment of everyday duty and made no more noise than a grave under foot. I doubt if fiction will ever get the knack of such things.”

Jane Clemens now lived with her son Orion and his wife, in Keokuk, where she was more contented than elsewhere. In these later days her memory had become erratic, her realization of events about her uncertain, but there were times when she was quite her former self, remembering clearly and talking with her old-time gaiety of spirit. Mark Twain frequently sent her playful letters to amuse her, letters full of such boyish gaiety as had amused her long years before. The one that follows is a fair example. It was written after a visit which Clemens and his family had paid to Keokuk.

To Jane Clemens, in Keokuk:

ELMIRA, Aug. 7, ’86. DEAR MA,–I heard that Molly and Orion and Pamela had been sick, but I see by your letter that they are much better now, or nearly well. When we visited you a month ago, it seemed to us that your Keokuk weather was pretty hot; Jean and Clara sat up in bed at Mrs. McElroy’s and cried about it, and so did I; but I judge by your letter that it has cooled down, now, so that a person is comparatively comfortable, with his skin off. Well it did need cooling; I remember that I burnt a hole in my shirt, there, with some ice cream that fell on it; and Miss Jenkins told me they never used a stove, but cooked their meals on a marble-topped table in the drawing-room, just with the natural heat. If anybody else had told me, I would not have believed it. I was told by the Bishop of Keokuk that he did not allow crying at funerals, because it scalded the furniture. If Miss Jenkins had told me that, I would have believed it. This reminds me that you speak of Dr. Jenkins and his family as if they were strangers to me. Indeed they are not. Don’t you suppose I remember gratefully how tender the doctor was with Jean when she hurt her arm, and how quickly he got the pain out of the hurt, whereas I supposed it was going to last at least an hour? No, I don’t forget some things as easily as I do others.

Yes, it was pretty hot weather. Now here, when a person is going to die, he is always in a sweat about where he is going to; but in Keokuk of course they don’t care, because they are fixed for everything. It has set me reflecting, it has taught me a lesson. By and by, when my health fails, I am going to put all my affairs in order, and bid good-bye to my friends here, and kill all the people I don’t like, and go out to Keokuk and prepare for death.

They are all well in this family, and we all send love. Affly Your Son

The ways of city officials and corporations are often past understanding, and Mark Twain sometimes found it necessary to write picturesque letters of protest. The following to a Hartford lighting company is a fair example of these documents.

To a gas and electric-lighting company, in Hartford:

GENTLEMEN,–There are but two places in our whole street where lights could be of any value, by any accident, and you have measured and appointed your intervals so ingeniously as to leave each of those places in the centre of a couple of hundred yards of solid darkness. When I noticed that you were setting one of your lights in such a way that I could almost see how to get into my gate at night, I suspected that it was a piece of carelessness on the part of the workmen, and would be corrected as soon as you should go around inspecting and find it out. My judgment was right; it is always right, when you axe concerned. For fifteen years, in spite of my prayers and tears, you persistently kept a gas lamp exactly half way between my gates, so that I couldn’t find either of them after dark; and then furnished such execrable gas that I had to hang a danger signal on the lamp post to keep teams from running into it, nights. Now I suppose your present idea is, to leave us a little more in the dark.

Don’t mind us–out our way; we possess but one vote apiece, and no rights which you are in any way bound to respect. Please take your electric light and go to–but never mind, it is not for me to suggest; you will probably find the way; and any way you can reasonably count on divine assistance if you lose your bearings.


[Etext Editor’s Note: Twain wrote another note to Hartford Gas and Electric, which he may not have mailed and which Paine does not include in these volumes:
“Gentleman:–Someday you are going to move me almost to the point of irritation with your God-damned chuckle headed fashion of turning off your God-damned gas without giving notice to your God-damned parishioners–and you did it again last night–” D.W.]

Frequently Clemens did not send letters of this sort after they were written. Sometimes he realized the uselessness of such protest, sometimes the mere writing of them had furnished the necessary relief, and he put, the letter away, or into the wastebasket, and wrote something more temperate, or nothing at all. A few such letters here follow.

Clemens was all the time receiving application from people who wished him to recommend one article or another; books, plays, tobacco, and what not. They were generally persistent people, unable to accept a polite or kindly denial. Once he set down some remarks on this particular phase of correspondence. He wrote:


No doubt Mr. Edison has been offered a large interest in many and many an electrical project, for the use of his name to float it withal. And no doubt all men who have achieved for their names, in any line of activity whatever, a sure market value, have been familiar with this sort of solicitation. Reputation is a hall-mark: it can remove doubt from pure silver, and it can also make the plated article pass for pure.

And so, people without a hall-mark of their own are always trying to get the loan of somebody else’s.

As a rule, that kind of a person sees only one side of the case. He sees that his invention or his painting or his book is–apparently–a trifle better than you yourself can do, therefore why shouldn’t you be willing to put your hall-mark on it? You will be giving the purchaser his full money’s worth; so who is hurt, and where is the harm? Besides, are you not helping a struggling fellow-craftsman, and is it not your duty to do that?

That side is plenty clear enough to him, but he can’t and won’t see the other side, to-wit: that you are a rascal if you put your hall-mark upon a thing which you did not produce yourself, howsoever good it may be. How simple that is; and yet there are not two applicants in a hundred who can, be made to see it.

When one receives an application of this sort, his first emotion is an indignant sense of insult; his first deed is the penning of a sharp answer. He blames nobody but that other person. That person is a very base being; he must be; he would degrade himself for money, otherwise it would not occur to him that you would do such a thing. But all the same, that application has done its work, and taken you down in your own estimation. You recognize that everybody hasn’t as high an opinion of you as you have of yourself; and in spite of you there ensues an interval during which you are not, in your own estimation as fine a bird as you were before.

However, being old and experienced, you do not mail your sharp letter, but leave it lying a day. That saves you. For by that time you have begun to reflect that you are a person who deals in exaggerations–and exaggerations are lies. You meant yours to be playful, and thought you made them unmistakably so. But you couldn’t make them playfulnesses to a man who has no sense of the playful and can see nothing but the serious side of things. You rattle on quite playfully, and with measureless extravagance, about how you wept at the tomb of Adam; and all in good time you find to your astonishment that no end of people took you at your word and believed you. And presently they find out that you were not in earnest. They have been deceived; therefore, (as they argue–and there is a sort of argument in it,) you are a deceiver. If you will deceive in one way, why shouldn’t you in another? So they apply for the use of your trade-mark. You are amazed and affronted. You retort that you are not that kind of person. Then they are amazed and affronted; and wonder “since when?”

By this time you have got your bearings. You realize that perhaps there is a little blame on both sides. You are in the right frame, now. So you write a letter void of offense, declining. You mail this one; you pigeon-hole the other.

That is, being old and experienced, you do, but early in your career, you don’t: you mail the first one.


An enthusiast who had a new system of musical notation, wrote to me and suggested that a magazine article from me, contrasting the absurdities of the old system with the simplicities of his new one, would be sure to make a “rousing hit.” He shouted and shouted over the marvels wrought by his system, and quoted the handsome compliments which had been paid it by famous musical people; but he forgot to tell me what his notation was like, or what its simplicities consisted in. So I could not have written the article if I had wanted to–which I didn’t; because I hate strangers with axes to grind. I wrote him a courteous note explaining how busy I was–I always explain how busy I am–and casually drooped this remark:

“I judge the X-X notation to be a rational mode of representing music, in place of the prevailing fashion, which was the invention of an idiot.”

Next mail he asked permission to print that meaningless remark. I answered, no–courteously, but still, no; explaining that I could not afford to be placed in the attitude of trying to influence people with a mere worthless guess. What a scorcher I got, next mail! Such irony! such sarcasm, such caustic praise of my superhonorable loyalty to the public! And withal, such compassion for my stupidity, too, in not being able to understand my own language. I cannot remember the words of this letter broadside, but there was about a page used up in turning this idea round and round and exposing it in different lights.

Unmailed Answer:

DEAR SIR,–What is the trouble with you? If it is your viscera, you cannot have them taken out and reorganized a moment too soon. I mean, if they are inside. But if you are composed of them, that is another matter. Is it your brain? But it could not be your brain. Possibly it is your skull: you want to look out for that. Some people, when they get an idea, it pries the structure apart. Your system of notation has got in there, and couldn’t find room, without a doubt that is what the trouble is. Your skull was not made to put ideas in, it was made to throw potatoes at.
Yours Truly.

Mailed Answer:

DEAR SIR,–Come, come–take a walk; you disturb the children. Yours Truly.

There was a day, now happily nearly over, when certain newspapers made a practice of inviting men distinguished in any walk of life to give their time and effort without charge to express themselves on some subject of the day, or perhaps they were asked to send their favorite passages in prose or verse, with the reasons why. Such symposiums were “features” that cost the newspapers only the writing of a number of letters, stationery, and postage. To one such invitation Mark Twain wrote two replies. They follow herewith:

Unmailed Answer:

DEAR SIR,–I have received your proposition–which you have imitated from a pauper London periodical which had previously imitated the idea of this sort of mendicancy from seventh-rate American journalism, where it originated as a variation of the inexpensive “interview.”

Why do you buy Associated Press dispatches? To make your paper the more salable, you answer. But why don’t you try to beg them? Why do you discriminate? I can sell my stuff; why should I give it to you? Why don’t you ask me for a shirt? What is the difference between asking me for the worth of a shirt and asking me for the shirt itself? Perhaps you didn’t know you were begging. I would not use that argument–it makes the user a fool. The passage of poetry–or prose, if you will–which has taken deepest root in my thought, and which I oftenest return to and dwell upon with keenest no matter what, is this: That the proper place for journalists who solicit literary charity is on the street corner with their hats in their hands.

Mailed Answer:

DEAR SIR,–Your favor of recent date is received, but I am obliged by press of work to decline.

The manager of a traveling theatrical company wrote that he had taken the liberty of dramatizing Tom Sawyer, and would like also the use of the author’s name–the idea being to convey to the public that it was a Mark Twain play. In return for this slight favor the manager sent an invitation for Mark Twain to come and see the play– to be present on the opening night, as it were, at his (the manager’s) expense. He added that if the play should be a go in the cities there might be some “arrangement” of profits. Apparently these inducements did not appeal to Mark Twain. The long unmailed reply is the more interesting, but probably the briefer one that follows it was quite as effective.

Unmailed Answer:

HARTFORD, Sept. 8, ’87. DEAR SIR,–And so it has got around to you, at last; and you also have “taken the liberty.” You are No. 1365. When 1364 sweeter and better people, including the author, have “tried” to dramatize Tom Sawyer and did not arrive, what sort of show do you suppose you stand? That is a book, dear sir, which cannot be dramatized. One might as well try to dramatize any other hymn. Tom Sawyer is simply a hymn, put into prose form to give it a worldly air.

Why the pale doubt that flitteth dim and nebulous athwart the forecastle of your third sentence? Have no fears. Your piece will be a Go. It will go out the back door on the first night. They’ve all done it –the 1364. So will 1365. Not one of us ever thought of the simple device of half-soling himself with a stove-lid. Ah, what suffering a little hindsight would have saved us. Treasure this hint.

How kind of you to invite me to the funeral. Go to; I have attended a thousand of them. I have seen Tom Sawyer’s remains in all the different kinds of dramatic shrouds there are. You cannot start anything fresh. Are you serious when you propose to pay my expence–if that is the Susquehannian way of spelling it? And can you be aware that I charge a hundred dollars a mile when I travel for pleasure? Do you realize that it is 432 miles to Susquehanna? Would it be handy for you to send me the $43,200 first, so I could be counting it as I come along; because railroading is pretty dreary to a sensitive nature when there’s nothing sordid to buck at for Zeitvertreib.

Now as I understand it, dear and magnanimous 1365, you are going to recreate Tom Sawyer dramatically, and then do me the compliment to put me in the bills as father of this shady offspring. Sir, do you know that this kind of a compliment has destroyed people before now? Listen.

Twenty-four years ago, I was strangely handsome. The remains of it are still visible through the rifts of time. I was so handsome that human activities ceased as if spellbound when I came in view, and even inanimate things stopped to look–like locomotives, and district messenger boys and so-on. In San Francisco, in the rainy season I was often mistaken for fair weather. Upon one occasion I was traveling in the Sonora region, and stopped for an hour’s nooning, to rest my horse and myself. All the town came out to look. The tribes of Indians gathered to look. A Piute squaw named her baby for me,–a voluntary compliment which pleased me greatly. Other attentions were paid me. Last of all arrived the president and faculty of Sonora University and offered me the post of Professor of Moral Culture and the Dogmatic Humanities; which I accepted gratefully, and entered at once upon my duties. But my name had pleased the Indians, and in the deadly kindness of their hearts they went on naming their babies after me. I tried to stop it, but the Indians could not understand why I should object to so manifest a compliment. The thing grew and grew and spread and spread and became exceedingly embarrassing. The University stood it a couple of years; but then for the sake of the college they felt obliged to call a halt, although I had the sympathy of the whole faculty. The president himself said to me, “I am as sorry as I can be for you, and would still hold out if there were any hope ahead; but you see how it is: there are a hundred and thirty-two of them already, and fourteen precincts to hear from. The circumstance has brought your name into most wide and unfortunate renown. It causes much comment–I believe that that is not an over-statement. Some of this comment is palliative, but some of it –by patrons at a distance, who only know the statistics without the explanation,–is offensive, and in some cases even violent. Nine students have been called home. The trustees of the college have been growing more and more uneasy all these last months–steadily along with the implacable increase in your census–and I will not conceal from you that more than once they have touched upon the expediency of a change in the Professorship of Moral Culture. The coarsely sarcastic editorial in yesterday’s Alta, headed Give the Moral Acrobat a Rest–has brought things to a crisis, and I am charged with the unpleasant duty of receiving your resignation.”

I know you only mean me a kindness, dear 1365, but it is a most deadly mistake. Please do not name your Injun for me. Truly Yours.

Mailed Answer:

NEW YORK, Sept. 8. 1887. DEAR SIR,–Necessarily I cannot assent to so strange a proposition. And I think it but fair to warn you that if you put the piece on the stage, you must take the legal consequences.
Yours respectfully,

Before the days of international copyright no American author’s books were pirated more freely by Canadian publishers than those of Mark Twain. It was always a sore point with him that these books, cheaply printed, found their way into the United States, and were sold in competition with his better editions. The law on the subject seemed to be rather hazy, and its various interpretations exasperating. In the next unmailed letter Mark Twain relieves himself to a misguided official. The letter is worth reading today, if for no other reason, to show the absurdity of copyright conditions which prevailed at that time.

Unmailed Letter to H. C. Christiancy, on book Piracy:


DEAR SIR,–As I understand it, the position of the U. S. Government is this: If a person be captured on the border with counterfeit bonds in his hands–bonds of the N. Y. Central Railway, for instance–the procedure in his case shall be as follows:

1. If the N. Y. C. have not previously filed in the several police offices along the border, proof of ownership of the originals of the bonds, the government officials must collect a duty on the counterfeits, and then let them go ahead and circulate in this country.

2. But if there is proof already on file, then the N. Y. C. may pay the duty and take the counterfeits.

But in no case will the United States consent to go without its share of the swag. It is delicious. The biggest and proudest government on earth turned sneak-thief; collecting pennies on stolen property, and pocketing them with a greasy and libidinous leer; going into partnership with foreign thieves to rob its own children; and when the child escapes the foreigner, descending to the abysmal baseness of hanging on and robbing the infant all alone by itself! Dear sir, this is not any more respectable than for a father to collect toll on the forced prostitution of his own daughter; in fact it is the same thing. Upon these terms, what is a U. S. custom house but a “fence?” That is all it is: a legalized trader in stolen goods.

And this nasty law, this filthy law, this unspeakable law calls itself a “regulation for the protection of owners of copyright!” Can sarcasm go further than that? In what way does it protect them? Inspiration itself could not furnish a rational answer to that question. Whom does it protect, then? Nobody, as far as I can see, but the foreign thief- sometimes–and his fellow-footpad the U. S. government, all the time. What could the Central Company do with the counterfeit bonds after it had bought them of the star spangled banner Master-thief? Sell them at a dollar apiece and fetch down the market for the genuine hundred-dollar bond? What could I do with that 20-cent copy of “Roughing It” which the United States has collared on the border and is waiting to release to me for cash in case I am willing to come down to its moral level and help rob myself? Sell it at ten or fifteen cents–duty added–and destroy the market for the original $3,50 book? Who ever did invent that law? I would like to know the name of that immortal jackass.

Dear sir, I appreciate your courtesy in stretching your authority in the desire to do me a kindness, and I sincerely thank you for it. But I have no use for that book; and if I were even starving for it I would not pay duty on in either to get it or suppress it. No doubt there are ways in which I might consent to go into partnership with thieves and fences, but this is not one of them. This one revolts the remains of my self- respect; turns my stomach. I think I could companion with a highwayman who carried a shot-gun and took many risks; yes, I think I should like that if I were younger; but to go in with a big rich government that robs paupers, and the widows and orphans of paupers and takes no risk–why the thought just gags me.

Oh, no, I shall never pay any duties on pirated books of mine. I am much too respectable for that–yet awhile. But here–one thing that grovels me is this: as far as I can discover–while freely granting that the U. S. copyright laws are far and away the most idiotic that exist anywhere on the face of the earth–they don’t authorize the government to admit pirated books into this country, toll or no toll. And so I think that that regulation is the invention of one of those people–as a rule, early stricken of God, intellectually–the departmental interpreters of the laws, in Washington. They can always be depended on to take any reasonably good law and interpret the common sense all out of it. They can be depended on, every time, to defeat a good law, and make it inoperative–yes, and utterly grotesque, too, mere matter for laughter and derision. Take some of the decisions of the Post-office Department, for instance–though I do not mean to suggest that that asylum is any worse than the others for the breeding and nourishing of incredible lunatics–I merely instance it because it happens to be the first to come into my mind. Take that case of a few years ago where the P. M. General suddenly issued an edict requiring you to add the name of the State after Boston, New York, Chicago, &c, in your superscriptions, on pain of having your letter stopped and forwarded to the dead-letter office; yes, and I believe he required the county, too. He made one little concession in favor of New York: you could say “New York City,” and stop there; but if you left off the “city,” you must add “N. Y.” to your “New York.” Why, it threw the business of the whole country into chaos and brought commerce almost to a stand-still. Now think of that! When that man goes to–to–well, wherever he is going to–we shan’t want the microscopic details of his address. I guess we can find him.

Well, as I was saying, I believe that this whole paltry and ridiculous swindle is a pure creation of one of those cabbages that used to be at the head of one of those Retreats down there–Departments, you know–and that you will find it so, if you will look into it. And moreover–but land, I reckon we are both tired by this time. Truly Yours,



We have seen in the preceding chapter how unknown aspirants in one field or another were always seeking to benefit by Mark Twain’s reputation. Once he remarked, “The symbol of the human race ought to be an ax; every human being has one concealed about him somewhere.” He declared when a stranger called on him, or wrote to him, in nine cases out of ten he could distinguish the gleam of the ax almost immediately. The following letter is closely related to those of the foregoing chapter, only that this one was mailed–not once, but many times, in some form adapted to the specific applicant. It does not matter to whom it was originally written, the name would not be recognized.

To Mrs. T. Concerning unearned credentials, etc.

HARTFORD, 1887. MY DEAR MADAM,–It is an idea which many people have had, but it is of no value. I have seen it tried out many and many a time. I have seen a lady lecturer urged and urged upon the public in a lavishly complimentary document signed by Longfellow, Whittier, Holmes and some others of supreme celebrity, but–there was nothing in her and she failed. If there had been any great merit in her she never would have needed those men’s help and (at her rather mature age,) would never have consented to ask for it.

There is an unwritten law about human successes, and your sister must bow to that law, she must submit to its requirements. In brief this law is:

1. No occupation without an apprenticeship.

2. No pay to the apprentice.

This law stands right in the way of the subaltern who wants to be a General before he has smelt powder; and it stands (and should stand) in everybody’s way who applies for pay or position before he has served his apprenticeship and proved himself. Your sister’s course is perfectly plain. Let her enclose this letter to Maj. J. B. Pond, and offer to lecture a year for $10 a week and her expenses, the contract to be annullable by him at any time, after a month’s notice, but not annullable by her at all. The second year, he to have her services, if he wants them, at a trifle under the best price offered her by anybody else.

She can learn her trade in those two years, and then be entitled to remuneration–but she can not learn it in any less time than that, unless she is a human miracle.

Try it, and do not be afraid. It is the fair and right thing. If she wins, she will win squarely and righteously, and never have to blush. Truly yours,

Howells wrote, in February, offering to get a publisher to take the Library of Humor off Mark Twain’s hands. Howells had been paid twenty-six hundred dollars for the work on it, and his conscience hurt him when he reflected that the book might never be used. In this letter he also refers to one of the disastrous inventions in which Clemens had invested–a method of casting brass dies for stamping book-covers and wall-paper. Howells’s purpose was to introduce something of the matter into his next story. Mark Twain’s reply gives us a light on this particular invention.

HARTFORD, Feb. 15, ’87. DEAR HOWELLS,–I was in New York five days ago, and Webster mentioned the Library, and proposed to publish it a year or a year and half hence. I have written him your proposition to-day. (The Library is part of the property of the C. L. W. & Co. firm.)

I don’t remember what that technical phrase was, but I think you will find it in any Cyclopedia under the head of “Brass.” The thing I best remember is, that the self-styled “inventor” had a very ingenious way of keeping me from seeing him apply his invention: the first appointment was spoiled by his burning down the man’s shop in which it was to be done, the night before; the second was spoiled by his burning down his own shop the night before. He unquestionably did both of these things. He really had no invention; the whole project was a blackmailing swindle, and cost me several thousand dollars.

The slip you sent me from the May “Study” has delighted Mrs. Clemens and me to the marrow. To think that thing might be possible to many; but to be brave enough to say it is possible to you only, I certainly believe. The longer I live the clearer I perceive how unmatchable, how unapproachable, a compliment one pays when he says of a man “he has the courage (to utter) his convictions.” Haven’t you had reviewers talk Alps to you, and then print potato hills?

I haven’t as good an opinion of my work as you hold of it, but I’ve always done what I could to secure and enlarge my good opinion of it. I’ve always said to myself, “Everybody reads it and that’s something–it surely isn’t pernicious, or the most acceptable people would get pretty tired of it.” And when a critic said by implication that it wasn’t high and fine, through the remark “High and fine literature is wine” I retorted (confidentially, to myself,) “yes, high and fine literature is wine, and mine is only water; but everybody likes water.”

You didn’t tell me to return that proof-slip, so I have pasted it into my private scrap-book. None will see it there. With a thousand thanks. Ys Ever

Our next letter is an unmailed answer, but it does not belong with the others, having been withheld for reasons of quite a different sort. Jeanette Gilder, then of the Critic, was one of Mark Twain’s valued friends. In the comment which he made, when it was shown to him twenty-two years later, he tells us why he thinks this letter was not sent. The name, “Rest-and-be-Thankful,” was the official title given to the summer place at Elmira, but it was more often known as “Quarry Farm.”

To Jeannette Gilder (not mailed):

HARTFORD, May 14, ’87. MY DEAR MISS GILDER,–We shall spend the summer at the same old place-the remote farm called “Rest-and-be-Thankful,” on top of the hills three miles from Elmira, N. Y. Your other question is harder to answer. It is my habit to keep four or five books in process of erection all the time, and every summer add a few courses of bricks to two or three of them; but I cannot forecast which of the two or three it is going to be. It takes seven years to complete a book by this method, but still it is a good method: gives the public a rest. I have been accused of “rushing into print” prematurely, moved thereto by greediness for money; but in truth I have never done that. Do you care for trifles of information? (Well, then, “Tom Sawyer” and “The Prince and the Pauper” were each on the stocks two or three years, and “Old Times on the Mississippi” eight.) One of my unfinished books has been on the stocks sixteen years; another seventeen. This latter book could have been finished in a day, at any time during the past five years. But as in the first of these two narratives all the action takes place in Noah’s ark, and as in the other the action takes place in heaven, there seemed to be no hurry, and so I have not hurried. Tales of stirring adventure in those localities do not need to be rushed to publication lest they get stale by waiting. In twenty-one years, with all my time at my free disposal I have written and completed only eleven books, whereas with half the labor that a journalist does I could have written sixty in that time. I do not greatly mind being accused of a proclivity for rushing into print, but at the same time I don’t believe that the charge is really well founded. Suppose I did write eleven books, have you nothing to be grateful for? Go to—remember the forty-nine which I didn’t write. Truly Yours

Notes (added twenty-two years later):

Stormfield, April 30, 1909. It seems the letter was not sent. I probably feared she might print it, and I couldn’t find a way to say so without running a risk of hurting her. No one would hurt Jeannette Gilder purposely, and no one would want to run the risk of doing it unintentionally. She is my neighbor, six miles away, now, and I must ask her about this ancient letter.

I note with pride and pleasure that I told no untruths in my unsent answer. I still have the habit of keeping unfinished books lying around years and years, waiting. I have four or five novels on hand at present in a half-finished condition, and it is more than three years since I have looked at any of them. I have no intention of finishing them. I could complete all of them in less than a year, if the impulse should come powerfully upon me: Long, long ago money-necessity furnished that impulse once, (” Following the Equator”), but mere desire for money has never furnished it, so far as I remember. Not even money-necessity was able to overcome me on a couple of occasions when perhaps I ought to have allowed it to succeed. While I was a bankrupt and in debt two offers were made me for weekly literary contributions to continue during a year, and they would have made a debtless man of me, but I declined them, with my wife’s full approval, for I had known of no instance where a man had pumped himself out once a week and failed to run “emptyings” before the year was finished.

As to that “Noah’s Ark” book, I began it in Edinburgh in 1873;–[This is not quite correct. The “Noah’s Ark” book was begun in Buffalo in 1870.] I don’t know where the manuscript is now. It was a Diary, which professed to be the work of Shem, but wasn’t. I began it again several months ago, but only for recreation; I hadn’t any intention of carrying it to a finish
–or even to the end of the first chapter, in fact.

As to the book whose action “takes place in Heaven.” That was a small thing, (“Captain Stormfield’s Visit to Heaven.”) It lay in my pigeon- holes 40 years, then I took it out and printed it in Harper’s Monthly last year.
S. L. C.

In the next letter we get a pretty and peaceful picture of “Rest-and-be- Thankful.” These were Mark Twain’s balmy days. The financial drain of the type-machine was heavy but not yet exhausting, and the prospect of vast returns from it seemed to grow brighter each day. His publishing business, though less profitable, was still prosperous, his family life was ideal. How gratefully, then, he could enter into the peace of that “perfect day.”

To Mrs. Orion Clemens, in Keokuk, Ia.:

ON THE HILL NEAR ELMIRA, July 10, ’87. DEAR MOLLIE,–This is a superb Sunday for weather–very cloudy, and the thermometer as low as 65. The city in the valley is purple with shade, as seen from up here at the study. The Cranes are reading and loafing in the canvas-curtained summer-house 50 yards away on a higher (the highest) point; the cats are loafing over at “Ellerslie” which is the children’s estate and dwellinghouse in their own private grounds (by deed from Susie Crane) a hundred yards from the study, amongst the clover and young oaks and willows. Livy is down at the house, but I shall now go and bring her up to the Cranes to help us occupy the lounges and hammocks–whence a great panorama of distant hill and valley and city is seeable. The children have gone on a lark through the neighboring hills and woods. It is a perfect day indeed.
With love to you all.

Two days after this letter was written we get a hint of what was the beginning of business trouble–that is to say, of the failing health of Charles L. Webster. Webster was ambitious, nervous, and not robust. He had overworked and was paying the penalty. His trouble was neurasthenia, and he was presently obliged to retire altogether from the business. The “Sam and Mary” mentioned were Samuel Moffet and his wife.

To Mrs. Pamela Moffett, in Fredonia, N. Y.

ELMIRA, July 12, ’87 MY DEAR SISTER,–I had no idea that Charley’s case was so serious. I knew it was bad, and persistent, but I was not aware of the full size of the matter.

I have just been writing to a friend in Hartford’ who treated what I imagine was a similar case surgically last fall, and produced a permanent cure. If this is a like case, Charley must go to him.

If relief fails there, he must take the required rest, whether the business can stand it or not.

It is most pleasant to hear such prosperous accounts of Sam and Mary, I do not see how Sam could well be more advantageously fixed. He can grow up with that paper, and achieve a successful life.

It is not all holiday here with Susie and Clara this time. They have to put in some little time every day on their studies. Jean thinks she is studying too, but I don’t know what it is unless it is the horses; she spends the day under their heels in the stables–and that is but a continuation of her Hartford system of culture.

With love from us all to you all.

Mark Twain had a few books that he read regularly every year or two. Among these were ‘Pepys’s Diary’, Suetonius’s ‘Lives of the Twelve Caesars’, and Thomas Carlyle’s ‘French Revolution’. He had a passion for history, biography, and personal memoirs of any sort. In his early life he had cared very little for poetry, but along in the middle eighties he somehow acquired a taste for Browning and became absorbed in it. A Browning club assembled as often as once a week at the Clemens home in Hartford to listen to his readings of the master. He was an impressive reader, and he carefully prepared himself for these occasions, indicating by graduated underscorings, the exact values he wished to give to words and phrases. Those were memorable gatherings, and they must have continued through at least two winters. It is one of the puzzling phases of Mark Twain’s character that, notwithstanding his passion for direct and lucid expression, he should have found pleasure in the poems of Robert Browning.

To W. D. Howells, in Boston:

ELMIRA, Aug. 22, ’87. MY DEAR HOWELLS,–How stunning are the changes which age makes in a man while he sleeps. When I finished Carlyle’s French Revolution in 1871, I was a Girondin; every time I have read it since, I have read it differently being influenced and changed, little by little, by life and environment (and Taine and St. Simon): and now I lay the book down once more, and recognize that I am a Sansculotte!–And not a pale, characterless Sansculotte, but a Marat. Carlyle teaches no such gospel so the change is in me–in my vision of the evidences.

People pretend that the Bible means the same to them at 50 that it did at all former milestones in their journey. I wonder how they can lie so. It comes of practice, no doubt. They would not say that of Dickens’s or Scott’s books. Nothing remains the same. When a man goes back to look at the house of his childhood, it has always shrunk: there is no instance of such a house being as big as the picture in memory and imagination call for. Shrunk how? Why, to its correct dimensions: the house hasn’t altered; this is the first time it has been in focus.

Well, that’s loss. To have house and Bible shrink so, under the disillusioning corrected angle, is loss-for a moment. But there are compensations. You tilt the tube skyward and bring planets and comets and corona flames a hundred and fifty thousand miles high into the field. Which I see you have done, and found Tolstoi. I haven’t got him in focus yet, but I’ve got Browning . . . .
Ys Ever

Mention has been made already of Mark Twain’s tendency to absentmindedness. He was always forgetting engagements, or getting them wrong. Once he hurried to an afternoon party, and finding the mistress of the house alone, sat down and talked to her comfortably for an hour or two, not remembering his errand at all. It was only when he reached home that he learned that the party had taken place the week before. It was always dangerous for him to make engagements, and he never seemed to profit by sorrowful experience. We, however, may profit now by one of his amusing apologies.

To Mrs. Grover Cleveland, in Washington:

HARTFORD, Nov. 6, 1887. MY DEAR MADAM,–I do not know how it is in the White House, but in this house of ours whenever the minor half of the administration tries to run itself without the help of the major half it gets aground. Last night when I was offered the opportunity to assist you in the throwing open the Warner brothers superb benefaction in Bridgeport to those fortunate women, I naturally appreciated the honor done me, and promptly seized my chance. I had an engagement, but the circumstances washed it out of my mind. If I had only laid the matter before the major half of the administration on the spot, there would have been no blunder; but I never thought of that. So when I did lay it before her, later, I realized once more that it will not do for the literary fraction of a combination to try to manage affairs which properly belong in the office of the business bulk of it. I suppose the President often acts just like that: goes and makes an impossible promise, and you never find it out until it is next to impossible to break it up and set things straight again. Well, that is just our way, exactly-one half of the administration always busy getting the family into trouble, and the other half busy getting it out again. And so we do seem to be all pretty much alike, after all. The fact is, I had forgotten that we were to have a dinner party on that Bridgeport date–I thought it was the next day: which is a good deal of an improvement for me, because I am more used to being behind a day or two than ahead. But that is just the difference between one end of this kind of an administration and the other end of it, as you have noticed, yourself–the other end does not forget these things. Just so with a funeral; if it is the man’s funeral, he is most always there, of course- but that is no credit to him, he wouldn’t be there if you depended on hint to remember about it; whereas, if on the other hand–but I seem to have got off from my line of argument somehow; never mind about the funeral. Of course I am not meaning to say anything against funerals– that is, as occasions–mere occasions–for as diversions I don’t think they amount to much But as I was saying–if you are not busy I will look back and see what it was I was saying.

I don’t seem to find the place; but anyway she was as sorry as ever anybody could be that I could not go to Bridgeport, but there was no help for it. And I, I have been not only sorry but very sincerely ashamed of having made an engagement to go without first making sure that I could keep it, and I do not know how to apologize enough for my heedless breach of good manners.
With the sincerest respect, S. L. CLEMENS.

Samuel Clemens was one of the very few authors to copyright a book in England before the enactment of the international copyright law. As early as 1872 he copyrighted ‘Roughing It’ in England, and piratical publishers there respected his rights. Finally, in 1887, the inland revenue office assessed him with income tax, which he very willingly paid, instructing his London publishers, Chatto & Windus, to pay on the full amount he had received from them. But when the receipt for his taxes came it was nearly a yard square with due postage of considerable amount. Then he wrote:

To Mr. Chatto, of Chatto & Windus, in London:

HARTFORD, Dec. 5, ’87. MY DEAR CHATTO,–Look here, I don’t mind paying the tax, but don’t you let the Inland Revenue Office send me any more receipts for it, for the postage is something perfectly demoralizing. If they feel obliged to print a receipt on a horse-blanket, why don’t they hire a ship and send it over at their own expense?

Wasn’t it good that they caught me out with an old book instead of a new one? The tax on a new book would bankrupt a body. It was my purpose to go to England next May and stay the rest of the year, but I’ve found that tax office out just in time. My new book would issue in March, and they would tax the sale in both countries. Come, we must get up a compromise somehow. You go and work in on the good side of those revenue people and get them to take the profits and give me the tax. Then I will come over and we will divide the swag and have a good time.

I wish you to thank Mr. Christmas for me; but we won’t resist. The country that allows me copyright has a right to tax me. Sincerely Yours

Another English tax assessment came that year, based on the report that it was understood that he was going to become an English resident, and had leased Buckenham Hall, Norwich, for a year. Clemens wrote his publishers: “I will explain that all that about Buckenham Hall was an English newspaper’s mistake. I was not in England, and if I had been I wouldn’t have been at Buckenham Hall, anyway, but at Buckingham Palace, or I would have endeavored to find out the reason why.” Clemens made literature out of this tax experience. He wrote an open letter to Her Majesty Queen Victoria. Such a letter has no place in this collection. It was published in the “Drawer” of Harper’s Magazine, December, 1887, and is now included in the uniform edition of his works under the title of, “A Petition to the Queen of England.”

From the following letter, written at the end of the year, we gather that the type-setter costs were beginning to make a difference in the Clemens economies.

To Mrs. Moffett, in Fredonia:

HARTFORD, Dec. 18, ’87. DEAR PAMELA,–will you take this $15 and buy some candy or some other trifle for yourself and Sam and his wife to remember that we remember you, by?

If we weren’t a little crowded this year by the typesetter, I’d send a check large enough to buy a family Bible or some other useful thing like that. However we go on and on, but the type-setter goes on forever–at $3,000 a month; which is much more satisfactory than was the case the first seventeen months, when the bill only averaged $2,000, and promised to take a thousand years. We’ll be through, now, in 3 or 4 months, I reckon, and then the strain will let up and we can breathe freely once more, whether success ensues or failure.

Even with a type-setter on hand we ought not to be in the least scrimped- but it would take a long letter to explain why and who is to blame.

All the family send love to all of you and best Christmas wishes for your prosperity.



Mark Twain received his first college degree when he was made Master of Arts by Yale, in June, 1888. Editor of the Courant, Charles H. Clarke, was selected to notify him of his new title. Clarke was an old friend to whom Clemens could write familiarly.

To Charles H. Clarke, in Hartford:

ELMIRA, July 2, ’88. MY DEAR CHARLES,–Thanks for your thanks, and for your initiation intentions. I shall be ready for you. I feel mighty proud of that degree; in fact, I could squeeze the truth a little closer and say vain of it. And why shouldn’t I be?–I am the only literary animal of my particular subspecies who has ever been given a degree by any College in any age of the world, as far as I know.
Sincerely Yours
S. L. Clemens M. A.

Reply: Charles H. Clarke to S. L Clemens:

MY DEAR FRIEND, You are “the only literary animal of your particular subspecies” in existence and you’ve no cause for humility in the fact. Yale has done herself at least as much credit as she has done you, and “Don’t you forget it.”
C. H. C.

With the exception of his brief return to the river in 1882. Mark Twain had been twenty-seven years away from pilots and piloting. Nevertheless, he always kept a tender place in his heart for the old times and for old river comrades. Major “Jack” Downing had been a Mississippi pilot of early days, but had long since retired from the river to a comfortable life ashore, in an Ohio town. Clemens had not heard from him for years when a letter came which invited the following answer.

To Major “Jack” Downing, in Middleport Ohio:

ELMIRA, N. Y.[no month] 1888. DEAR MAJOR,–And has it come to this that the dead rise up and speak? For I supposed that you were dead, it has been so long since I heard your name.

And how young you’ve grown! I was a mere boy when I knew you on the river, where you had been piloting for 35 years, and now you are only a year and a half older than I am! I mean to go to Hot Springs myself and get 30 or 40 years knocked off my age. It’s manifestly the place that Ponce de Leon was striking for, but the poor fellow lost the trail.

Possibly I may see you, for I shall be in St. Louis a day or two in November. I propose to go down the river and “note the changes” once more before I make the long crossing, and perhaps you can come there. Will you? I want to see all the boys that are left alive.

And so Grant Marsh, too, is flourishing yet? A mighty good fellow, and smart too. When we were taking that wood flat down to the Chambers, which was aground, I soon saw that I was a perfect lubber at piloting such a thing. I saw that I could never hit the Chambers with it, so I resigned in Marsh’s favor, and he accomplished the task to my admiration. We should all have gone to the mischief if I had remained in authority. I always had good judgement, more judgement than talent, in fact.

No; the nom de plume did not originate in that way. Capt. Sellers used the signature, “Mark Twain,” himself, when he used to write up the antiquities in the way of river reminiscences for the New Orleans Picayune. He hated me for burlesquing them in an article in the True Delta; so four years later when he died, I robbed the corpse–that is I confiscated the nom de plume. I have published this vital fact 3,000 times now. But no matter, it is good practice; it is about the only fact that I can tell the same way every time. Very glad, indeed, to hear from you Major, and shall be gladder still to see you in November.

Truly yours,

He did not make the journey down the river planned for that year. He had always hoped to make another steamboat trip with Bixby, but one thing and another interfered and he did not go again.

Authors were always sending their books to Mark Twain to read, and no busy man was ever more kindly disposed toward such offerings, more generously considerate of the senders. Louis Pendleton was a young unknown writer in 1888, but Clemens took time to read his story carefully, and to write to him about it a letter that cost precious time, thought, and effort. It must have rejoiced the young man’s heart to receive a letter like that, from one whom all young authors held supreme.

To Louis Pendleton, in Georgia:

ELMIRA, N. Y., Aug. 4, ’88. MY DEAR SIR,–I found your letter an hour ago among some others which had lain forgotten a couple of weeks, and I at once stole time enough to read Ariadne. Stole is the right word, for the summer “Vacation” is the only chance I get for work; so, no minute subtracted from work is borrowed, it is stolen. But this time I do not repent. As a rule, people don’t send me books which I can thank them for, and so I say nothing–which looks uncourteous. But I thank you. Ariadne is a beautiful and satisfying story; and true, too–which is the best part of a story; or indeed of any other thing. Even liars have to admit that, if they are intelligent liars; I mean in their private [the word conscientious written but erased] intervals. (I struck that word out because a man’s private thought can never be a lie; what he thinks, is to him the truth, always; what he speaks–but these be platitudes.)

If you want me to pick some flaws–very well–but I do it unwillingly. I notice one thing–which one may notice also in my books, and in all books whether written by man or God: trifling carelessness of statement or Expression. If I think that you meant that she took the lizard from the water which she had drawn from the well, it is evidence–it is almost proof–that your words were not as clear as they should have been. True, it is only a trifling thing; but so is mist on a mirror. I would have hung the pail on Ariadne’s arm. You did not deceive me when you said that she carried it under her arm, for I knew she didn’t; still it was not your right to mar my enjoyment of the graceful picture. If the pail had been a portfolio, I wouldn’t be making these remarks. The engraver of a fine picture revises, and revises, and revises–and then revises, and revises, and revises; and then repeats. And always the charm of that picture grows, under his hand. It was good enough before–told its story, and was beautiful. True: and a lovely girl is lovely, with freckles; but she isn’t at her level best with them.

This is not hypercriticism; you have had training enough to know that.

So much concerning exactness of statement. In that other not-small matter–selection of the exact single word–you are hard to catch. Still, I should hold that Mrs. Walker considered that there was no occasion for concealment; that “motive” implied a deeper mental search than she expended on the matter; that it doesn’t reflect the attitude of her mind with precision. Is this hypercriticism? I shan’t dispute it. I only say, that if Mrs. Walker didn’t go so far as to have a motive, I had to suggest that when a word is so near the right one that a body can’t quite tell whether it is or isn’t, it’s good politics to strike it out and go for the Thesaurus. That’s all. Motive may stand; but you have allowed a snake to scream, and I will not concede that that was the best word.

I do not apologize for saying these things, for they are not said in the speck-hunting spirit, but in the spirit of want-to-help-if-I-can. They would be useful to me if said to me once a month, they may be useful to you, said once.

I save the other stories for my real vacation–which is nine months long, to my sorrow. I thank you again.
Truly Yours

In the next letter we get a sidelight on the type-setting machine, the Frankenstein monster that was draining their substance and holding out false hopes of relief and golden return. The program here outlined was one that would continue for several years yet, with the end always in sight, but never quite attained.

To Orion Clemens, in Keokuk, Ia.:

Oct. 3, ’88. Private

Saturday 29th, by a closely calculated estimate, there were 85 days’ work to do on the machine.

We can use 4 men, but not constantly. If they could work constantly it would complete the machine in 21 days, of course. They will all be on hand and under wages, and each will get in all the work there is opportunity for, but by how much they can reduce the 85 days toward the 21 days, nobody can tell.

To-day I pay Pratt & Whitney $10,000. This squares back indebtedness and everything to date. They began about May or April or March 1886–along there somewhere, and have always kept from a dozen to two dozen master- hands on the machine.

That outgo is done; 4 men for a month or two will close up that leak and caulk it. Work on the patents is also kind of drawing toward a conclusion.

Love to you both. All well here.

And give our love to Ma if she can get the idea.


Mark Twain that year was working pretty steadily on ‘The Yankee at King Arthur’s Court’, a book which he had begun two years before. He had published nothing since the Huck Finn story, and his company was badly in need of a new book by an author of distinction. Also it was highly desirable to earn money for himself; wherefore he set to work to finish the Yankee story. He had worked pretty steadily that summer in his Elmira study, but on his return to Hartford found a good deal of confusion in the house, so went over to Twichell’s, where carpenter work was in progress. He seems to have worked there successfully, though what improvement of conditions he found in that numerous, lively household, over those at home it would be difficult to say.

To Theodore W. Crane, at Quarry Farm, Elmira, N. Y.

Friday, Oct.,5, ’88. DEAR THEO,–I am here in Twichell’s house at work, with the noise of the children and an army of carpenters to help. Of course they don’t help, but neither do they hinder. It’s like a boiler-factory for racket, and in nailing a wooden ceiling onto the room under me the hammering tickles my feet amazingly sometimes, and jars my table a good deal; but I never am conscious of the racket at all, and I move my feet into position of relief without knowing when I do it. I began here Monday morning, and have done eighty pages since. I was so tired last night that I thought I would lie abed and rest, to-day; but I couldn’t resist. I mean to try to knock off tomorrow, but it’s doubtful if I do. I want to finish the day the machine finishes, and a week ago the closest calculations for that indicated Oct. 22–but experience teaches me that their calculations will miss fire, as usual.

The other day the children were projecting a purchase, Livy and I to furnish the money–a dollar and a half. Jean discouraged the idea. She said: “We haven’t got any money. Children, if you would think, you would remember the machine isn’t done.”

It’s billiards to-night. I wish you were here. With love to you both
S. L. C.

P. S. I got it all wrong. It wasn’t the children, it was Marie. She wanted a box of blacking, for the children’s shoes. Jean reproved her- and said:

“Why, Marie, you mustn’t ask for things now. The machine isn’t done.”

S. L. C.

The letter that follows is to another of his old pilot friends, one who was also a schoolmate, Will Bowen, of Hannibal. There is today no means of knowing the occasion upon which this letter was written, but it does not matter; it is the letter itself that is of chief value.

To Will Bowen, in Hannibal, Mo.:

HARTFORD, Nov 4, ’88. DEAR WILL,–I received your letter yesterday evening, just as I was starting out of town to attend a wedding, and so my mind was privately busy, all the evening, in the midst of the maelstrom of chat and chaff and laughter, with the sort of reflections which create themselves, examine themselves, and continue themselves, unaffected by surroundings –unaffected, that is understood, by the surroundings, but not uninfluenced by them. Here was the near presence of the two supreme events of life: marriage, which is the beginning of life, and death which is the end of it. I found myself seeking chances to shirk into corners where I might think, undisturbed; and the most I got out of my thought, was this: both marriage and death ought to be welcome: the one promises happiness, doubtless the other assures it. A long procession of people filed through my mind–people whom you and I knew so many years ago–so many centuries ago, it seems like-and these ancient dead marched to the soft marriage music of a band concealed in some remote room of the house; and the contented music and the dreaming shades seemed in right accord with each other, and fitting. Nobody else knew that a procession of the dead was passing though this noisy swarm of the living, but there it was, and to me there was nothing uncanny about it; Rio, they were welcome faces to me. I would have liked to bring up every creature we knew in those days–even the dumb animals–it would be bathing in the fabled Fountain of Youth.

We all feel your deep trouble with you; and we would hope, if we might, but your words deny us that privilege. To die one’s self is a thing that must be easy, and of light consequence, but to lose a part of one’s self –well, we know how deep that pang goes, we who have suffered that disaster, received that wound which cannot heal. Sincerely your friend

His next is of quite a different nature. Evidently the typesetting conditions had alarmed Orion, and he was undertaking some economies with a view of retrenchment. Orion was always reducing economy to science. Once, at an earlier date, he recorded that he had figured his personal living expenses down to sixty cents a week, but inasmuch as he was then, by his own confession, unable to earn the sixty cents, this particular economy was wasted. Orion was a trial, certainly, and the explosion that follows was not without excuse. Furthermore, it was not as bad as it sounds. Mark Twain’s rages always had an element of humor in them, a fact which no one more than Orion himself would appreciate. He preserved this letter, quietly noting on the envelope, “Letter from Sam, about ma’s nurse.”

Letter to Orion Clemens, in Keokuk, Iowa:

NOV. 29, ’88. Jesus Christ!–It is perilous to write such a man. You can go crazy on less material than anybody that ever lived. What in hell has produced all these maniacal imaginings? You told me you had hired an attendant for ma. Now hire one instantly, and stop this nonsense of wearing Mollie and yourself out trying to do that nursing yourselves. Hire the attendant, and tell me her cost so that I can instruct Webster & Co. to add it every month to what they already send. Don’t fool away any more time about this. And don’t write me any more damned rot about “storms,” and inability to pay trivial sums of money and–and–hell and damnation! You see I’ve read only the first page of your letter; I wouldn’t read the rest for a million dollars.

P. S. Don’t imagine that I have lost my temper, because I swear. I swear all day, but I do not lose my temper. And don’t imagine that I am on my way to the poorhouse, for I am not; or that I am uneasy, for I am not; or that I am uncomfortable or unhappy–for I never am. I don’t know what it is to be unhappy or uneasy; and I am not going to try to learn how, at this late day.

Few men were ever interviewed oftener than Mark Twain, yet he never welcomed interviewers and was seldom satisfied with them. “What I say in an interview loses it character in print,” he often remarked, “all its life and personality. The reporter realizes this himself, and tries to improve upon me, but he doesn’t help matters any.”

Edward W. Bok, before he became editor of the Ladies Home Journal, was conducting a weekly syndicate column under the title of “Bok’s Literary Leaves.” It usually consisted of news and gossip of writers, comment, etc., literary odds and ends, and occasional interviews with distinguished authors. He went up to Hartford one day to interview Mark Twain. The result seemed satisfactory to Bok, but wishing to be certain that it would be satisfactory to Clemens, he sent him a copy for approval. The interview was not returned; in the place of it came a letter-not altogether disappointing, as the reader may believe.

To Edward W. Bok, in New York:

MY DEAR MR. BOK,–No, no. It is like most interviews, pure twaddle and valueless.

For several quite plain and simple reasons, an “interview” must, as a rule, be an absurdity, and chiefly for this reason–It is an attempt to use a boat on land or a wagon on water, to speak figuratively. Spoken speech is one thing, written speech is quite another. Print is the proper vehicle for the latter, but it isn’t for the former. The moment “talk” is put into print you recognize that it is not what it was when you heard it; you perceive that an immense something has disappeared from it. That is its soul. You have nothing but a dead carcass left on your hands. Color, play of feature, the varying modulations of the voice, the laugh, the smile, the informing inflections, everything that gave that body warmth, grace, friendliness and charm and commended it to your affections–or, at least, to your tolerance–is gone and nothing is left but a pallid, stiff and repulsive cadaver.

Such is “talk” almost invariably, as you see it lying in state in an “interview”. The interviewer seldom tries to tell one how a thing was said; he merely puts in the naked remark and stops there. When one writes for print his methods are very different. He follows forms which have but little resemblance to conversation, but they make the reader understand what the writer is trying to convey. And when the writer is making a story and finds it necessary to report some of the talk of his characters observe how cautiously and anxiously he goes at that risky and difficult thing. “If he had dared to say that thing in my presence,” said Alfred, “taking a mock heroic attitude, and casting an arch glance upon the company, blood would have flowed.”

“If he had dared to say that thing in my presence,” said Hawkwood, with that in his eye which caused more than one heart in that guilty assemblage to quake, “blood would have flowed.”

“If he had dared to say that thing in my presence,” said the paltry blusterer, with valor on his tongue and pallor on his lips, “blood would have flowed.”

So painfully aware is the novelist that naked talk in print conveys no meaning that he loads, and often overloads, almost every utterance of his characters with explanations and interpretations. It is a loud confession that print is a poor vehicle for “talk”; it is a recognition that uninterpreted talk in print would result in confusion to the reader, not instruction.

Now, in your interview, you have certainly been most accurate; you have set down the sentences I uttered as I said them. But you have not a word of explanation; what my manner was at several points is not indicated. Therefore, no reader can possibly know where I was in earnest and where I was joking; or whether I was joking altogether or in earnest altogether. Such a report of a conversation has no value. It can convey many meanings to the reader, but never the right one. To add interpretations which would convey the right meaning is a something which would require –what? An art so high and fine and difficult that no possessor of it would ever be allowed to waste it on interviews.

No; spare the reader, and spare me; leave the whole interview out; it is rubbish. I wouldn’t talk in my sleep if I couldn’t talk better than that.

If you wish to print anything print this letter; it may have some value, for it may explain to a reader here and there why it is that in interviews, as a rule, men seem to talk like anybody but themselves. Very sincerely yours,



In January, 1889, Clemens believed, after his long seven years of waiting, fruition had come in the matter of the type machine. Paige, the inventor, seemed at last to have given it its finishing touches. The mechanical marvel that had cost so much time, mental stress, and a fortune in money, stood complete, responsive to the human will and touch –the latest, and one of the greatest, wonders of the world. To George Standring, a London printer and publisher, Clemens wrote: “The machine is finished!” and added, “This is by far the most marvelous invention ever contrived by man. And it is not a thing of rags and patches; it is made of massive steel, and will last a century.”

In his fever of enthusiasm on that day when he had actually seen it in operation, he wrote a number of exuberant letters. They were more or less duplicates, but as the one to his brother is of fuller detail and more intimate than the others, it has been selected for preservation here.

To Orion Clemens, in Keokuk:

HARTFORD, Jan. 5, ’89. DEAR ORION,–At 12.20 this afternoon a line of movable types was spaced and justified by machinery, for the first time in the history of the world! And I was there to see. It was done automatically–instantly– perfectly. This is indeed the first line of movable types that ever was perfectly spaced and perfectly justified on this earth.

This was the last function that remained to be tested–and so by long odds the most amazing and extraordinary invention ever born of the brain of man stands completed and perfect. Livy is down stairs celebrating.

But it’s a cunning devil, is that machine!–and knows more than any man that ever lived. You shall see. We made the test in this way. We set up a lot of random letters in a stick–three-fourths of a line; then filled out the line with quads representing 14 spaces, each space to be 35/1000 of an inch thick. Then we threw aside the quads and put the letters into the machine and formed them into 15 two-letter words, leaving the words separated by two-inch vacancies. Then we started up the machine slowly, by hand, and fastened our eyes on the space-selecting pins. The first pin-block projected its third pin as the first word came traveling along the race-way; second block did the same; but the third block projected its second pin!

“Oh, hell! stop the machine–something wrong–it’s going to set a 30/1000 space!”

General consternation. “A foreign substance has got into the spacing plates.” This from the head mathematician.

“Yes, that is the trouble,” assented the foreman.

Paige examined. “No–look in, and you can see that there’s nothing of the kind.” Further examination. “Now I know what it is–what it must be: one of those plates projects and binds. It’s too bad–the first testis a failure.” A pause. “Well, boys, no use to cry. Get to work– take the machine down.–No–Hold on! don’t touch a thing! Go right ahead! We are fools, the machine isn’t. The machine knows what it’s about. There is a speck of dirt on one of those types, and the machine is putting in a thinner space to allow for it!”

That was just it. The machine went right ahead, spaced the line, justified it to a hair, and shoved it into the galley complete and perfect! We took it out and examined it with a glass. You could not tell by your eye that the third space was thinner than the others, but the glass and the calipers showed the difference. Paige had always said that the machine would measure invisible particles of dirt and allow for them, but even he had forgotten that vast fact for the moment.

All the witnesses made written record of the immense historical birth– the first justification of a line of movable type by machinery–and also set down the hour and the minute. Nobody had drank anything, and yet everybody seemed drunk. Well-dizzy, stupefied, stunned.

All the other wonderful inventions of the human brain sink pretty nearly into commonplace contrasted with this awful mechanical miracle. Telephones, telegraphs, locomotives, cotton gins, sewing machines, Babbage calculators, jacquard looms, perfecting presses, Arkwright’s frames–all mere toys, simplicities! The Paige Compositor marches alone and far in the lead of human inventions.

In two or three weeks we shall work the stiffness out of her joints and have her performing as smoothly and softly as human muscles, and then we shall speak out the big secret and let the world come and gaze.

Return me this letter when you have read it.


Judge of the elation which such a letter would produce in Keokuk! Yet it was no greater than that which existed in Hartford–for a time.

Then further delays. Before the machine got “the stiffness out of her joints” that “cunning devil” manifested a tendency to break the types, and Paige, who was never happier than when he was pulling things to pieces and making improvements, had the type-setter apart again and the day of complete triumph was postponed.

There was sadness at the Elmira farm that spring. Theodore Crane, who had long been in poor health, seemed to grow daily worse. In February he had paid a visit to Hartford and saw the machine in operation, but by the end of May his condition was very serious. Remembering his keen sense of humor, Clemens reported to him cheering and amusing incidents.

To Mrs. Theodore Crane. in Elmira, N. Y.:

HARTFORD, May 28, ’89. Susie dear, I want you to tell this to Theodore. You know how absent- minded Twichell is, and how desolate his face is when he is in that frame. At such times, he passes the word with a friend on the street and is not aware of the meeting at all. Twice in a week, our Clara had this latter experience with him within the past month. But the second instance was too much for her, and she woke him up, in his tracks, with a reproach. She said:

“Uncle Joe, why do you always look as if you were just going down into the grave, when you meet a person on the street?”–and then went on to reveal to him the funereal spectacle which he presented on such occasions. Well, she has met Twichell three times since then, and would swim the Connecticut to avoid meeting him the fourth. As soon as he sights her, no matter how public the place nor how far off she is, he makes a bound into the air, heaves arms and legs into all sorts of frantic gestures of delight, and so comes prancing, skipping and pirouetting for her like a drunken Indian entering heaven.

With a full invoice of love from us all to you and Theodore.

S. L. C.

The reference in the next to the “closing sentence” in a letter written by Howells to Clemens about this time, refers to a heart- broken utterance of the former concerning his daughter Winnie, who had died some time before. She had been a gentle talented girl, but never of robust health. Her death had followed a long period of gradual decline.

To W. D. Howells, in Boston:

HARTFORD, Judy 13, ’89. DEAR HOWELLS,–I came on from Elmira a day or two ago, where I left a house of mourning. Mr. Crane died, after ten months of pain and two whole days of dying, at the farm on the hill, the 3rd inst: A man who had always hoped for a swift death. Mrs. Crane and Mrs. Clemens and the children were in a gloom which brought back to me the days of nineteen years ago, when Mr. Langdon died. It is heart-breaking to see Mrs. Crane. Many a time, in the past ten days, the sight of her has reminded me, with a pang, of the desolation which uttered itself in the closing sentence of your last letter to me. I do see that there is an argument against suicide: the grief of the worshipers left behind; the awful famine in their hearts, these are too costly terms for the release.

I shall be here ten days yet, and all alone: nobody in the house but the servants. Can’t Mrs. Howells spare you to me? Can’t you come and stay with me? The house is cool and pleasant; your work will not be interrupted; we will keep to ourselves and let the rest of the world do the same; you can have your choice of three bedrooms, and you will find the Children’s schoolroom (which was built for my study,) the perfection of a retired and silent den for work. There isn’t a fly or a mosquito on the estate. Come–say you will.

With kindest regards to Mrs. Howells, and Pilla and John, Yours Ever

Howells was more hopeful. He wrote: “I read something in a strange book, The Physical Theory of Another Life, that consoles a little; namely, we see and feel the power of Deity in such fullness that we ought to infer the infinite justice and Goodness which we do not see or feel.” And a few days later, he wrote: “I would rather see and talk with you than any other man in the world outside my own blood.”

A Connecticut Yankee at King Arthur’s Court was brought to an end that year and given to the artist and printer. Dan Beard was selected for the drawings, and was given a free hand, as the next letter shows.

To Fred J. Hall, Manager Charles L. Webster & Co.:

[Charles L. Webster, owing to poor health, had by this time retired from the firm.]

ELMIRA, July 20, ’89. DEAR MR. HALL,–Upon reflection–thus: tell Beard to obey his own inspiration, and when he sees a picture in his mind put that picture on paper, be it humorous or be it serious. I want his genius to be wholly unhampered, I shan’t have fears as to the result. They will be better pictures than if I mixed in and tried to give him points on his own trade.

Send this note and he’ll understand.
S. L. C.

Clemens had made a good choice in selecting Beard for the illustrations. He was well qualified for the work, and being of a socialistic turn of mind put his whole soul into it. When the drawings were completed, Clemens wrote: “Hold me under permanent obligations. What luck it was to find you! There are hundreds of artists that could illustrate any other book of mine, but there was only one who could illustrate this one. Yes, it was a fortunate hour that I went netting for lightning bugs and caught a meteor. Live forever!”

Clemens, of course, was anxious for Howells to read The Yankee, and Mrs. Clemens particularly so. Her eyes were giving her trouble that summer, so that she could not read the MS. for herself, and she had grave doubts as to some of its chapters. It may be said here that the book to-day might have been better if Mrs. Clemens had been able to read it. Howells was a peerless critic, but the revolutionary subject-matter of the book so delighted him that he was perhaps somewhat blinded to its literary defects. However, this is premature. Howells did not at once see the story. He had promised to come to Hartford, but wrote that trivial matters had made his visit impossible. From the next letter we get the situation at this time. The “Mr. Church” mentioned was Frederick S. Church, the well- known artist.

To W. D. Howells, in Boston:

ELMIRA, July 24, ’89. DEAR HOWELLS,–I, too, was as sorry as I could be; yes, and desperately disappointed. I even did a heroic thing: shipped my book off to New York lest I should forget hospitality and embitter your visit with it. Not that I think you wouldn’t like to read it, for I think you would; but not on a holiday that’s not the time. I see how you were situated–another familiarity of Providence and wholly wanton intrusion–and of course we could not help ourselves. Well, just think of it: a while ago, while Providence’s attention was absorbed in disordering some time-tables so as to break up a trip of mine to Mr. Church’s on the Hudson, that Johnstown dam got loose. I swear I was afraid to pray, for fear I should laugh. Well, I’m not going to despair; we’ll manage a meet yet.

I expect to go to Hartford again in August and maybe remain till I have to come back here and fetch the family. And, along there in August, some time, you let on that you are going to Mexico, and I will let on that I am going to Spitzbergen, and then under cover of this clever stratagem we will glide from the trains at Worcester and have a time. I have noticed that Providence is indifferent about Mexico and Spitzbergen. Ys Ever

Possibly Mark Twain was not particularly anxious that Howells should see his MS., fearing that he might lay a ruthless hand on some of his more violent fulminations and wild fancies. However this may be, further postponement was soon at an end. Mrs. Clemens’s eyes troubled her and would not permit her to read, so she requested that the Yankee be passed upon by soberminded critics, such as Howells and Edmund Clarence Stedman. Howells wrote that even if he hadn’t wanted to read the book for its own sake, or for the author’s sake, he would still want to do it for Mrs. Clemens’s. Whereupon the proofs were started in his direction.

To W. D. Howells, in Boston:

ELMIRA, Aug. 24, ’89. DEAR HOWELLS,–If you should be moved to speak of my book in the Study, I shall be glad and proud–and the sooner it gets in, the better for the book; though I don’t suppose you can get it in earlier than the November number–why, no, you can’t get it in till a month later than that. Well, anyway I don’t think I’ll send out any other press copy–except perhaps to Stedman. I’m not writing for those parties who miscall themselves critics, and I don’t care to have them paw the book at all. It’s my swan-song, my retirement from literature permanently, and I wish to pass to the cemetery unclodded.

I judge that the proofs have begun to reach you about this time, as I had some (though not revises,) this morning. I’m sure I’m going to be charmed with Beard’s pictures. Observe his nice take-off of Middle-Age art-dinner-table scene.
Ys sincerely

Howells’s approval of the Yankee came almost in the form of exultant shouts, one after reading each batch of proof. First he wrote: “It’s charming, original, wonderful! good in fancy and sound to the core in morals.” And again, “It’s a mighty great book, and it makes my heart burn with wrath. It seems God did not forget to put a soul into you. He shuts most literary men off with a brain, merely.” Then, a few days later: “The book is glorious–simply noble; what masses of virgin truth never touched in print before!” and, finally, “Last night I read your last chapter. As Stedman says of the whole book, it’s titanic.”

To W. D. Howells, in Boston:

HARTFORD, Sept. 22, ’89. DEAR HOWELLS,–It is immensely good of you to grind through that stuff for me; but it gives peace to Mrs. Clemens’s soul; and I am as grateful to you as a body can be. I am glad you approve of what I say about the French Revolution. Few people will. It is odd that even to this day Americans still observe that immortal benefaction through English and other monarchical eyes, and have no shred of an opinion about it that they didn’t get at second-hand.

Next to the 4th of July and its results, it was the noblest and the holiest thing and the most precious that ever happened in this earth. And its gracious work is not done yet–not anywhere in the remote neighborhood of it.

Don’t trouble to send me all the proofs; send me the pages with your corrections on them, and waste-basket the rest. We issue the book Dec. 10; consequently a notice that appears Dec. 20 will be just in good time.

I am waiting to see your Study set a fashion in criticism. When that happens–as please God it must–consider that if you lived three centuries you couldn’t do a more valuable work for this country, or a humaner.

As a rule a critic’s dissent merely enrages, and so does no good; but by the new art which you use, your dissent must be as welcome as your approval, and as valuable. I do not know what the secret of it is, unless it is your attitude–man courteously reasoning with man and brother, in place of the worn and wearisome critical attitude of all this long time–superior being lecturing a boy.

Well, my book is written–let it go. But if it were only to write over again there wouldn’t be so many things left out. They burn in me; and they keep multiplying and multiplying; but now they can’t ever be said. And besides, they would require a library–and a pen warmed up in hell. Ys Ever

The type-setting machine began to loom large in the background. Clemens believed it perfected by this time. Paige had got it together again and it was running steadily–or approximately so –setting type at a marvelous speed and with perfect accuracy. In time an expert operator would be able to set as high as eight thousand ems per hour, or about ten times as much as a good compositor could set and distribute by hand. Those who saw it were convinced–most of them–that the type-setting problem was solved by this great mechanical miracle. If there were any who doubted, it was because of its marvelously minute accuracy which the others only admired. Such accuracy, it was sometimes whispered, required absolutely perfect adjustment, and what would happen when the great inventor–“the poet in steel,” as Clemens once called him–was no longer at hand to supervise and to correct the slightest variation. But no such breath of doubt came to Mark Twain; he believed the machine as reliable as a constellation.

But now there was need of capital to manufacture and market the wonder. Clemens, casting about in his mind, remembered Senator Jones, of Nevada, a man of great wealth, and his old friend, Joe Goodman, of Nevada, in whom Jones had unlimited confidence. He wrote to Goodman, and in this letter we get a pretty full exposition of the whole matter as it stood in the fall of 1889. We note in this communication that Clemens says that he has been at the machine three years and seven months, but this was only the period during which he had spent the regular monthly sum of three thousand dollars. His interest in the invention had begun as far back as 1880.

To Joseph T. Goodman, in Nevada:

Private. HARTFORD, Oct. 7, ’89. DEAR JOE,-I had a letter from Aleck Badlam day before yesterday, and in answering him I mentioned a matter which I asked him to consider a secret except to you and John McComb,–[This is Col. McComb, of the Alta- California, who had sent Mark Twain on the Quaker City excursion]–as I am not ready yet to get into the newspapers.

I have come near writing you about this matter several times, but it wasn’t ripe, and I waited. It is ripe, now. It is a type-setting machine which I undertook to build for the inventor(for a consideration). I have been at it three years and seven months without losing a day, at a cost of $3,000 a month, and in so private a way that Hartford has known nothing about it. Indeed only a dozen men have known of the matter. I have reported progress from time to time to the proprietors of the N. Y. Sun, Herald, Times, World, Harper Brothers and John F. Trow; also to the proprietors of the Boston Herald and the Boston Globe. Three years ago I asked all these people to squelch their frantic desire to load up their offices with the Mergenthaler (N. Y. Tribune) machine, and wait for mine and then choose between the two. They have waited–with no very gaudy patience–but still they have waited; and I could prove to them to-day that they have not lost anything by it. But I reserve the proof for the present–except in the case of the N. Y. Herald; I sent an invitation there the other day–a courtesy due a paper which ordered $240,000 worth of our machines long ago when it was still in a crude condition. The Herald has ordered its foreman to come up here next Thursday; but that is the only invitation which will go out for some time yet.

The machine was finished several weeks ago, and has been running ever since in the machine shop. It is a magnificent creature of steel, all of Pratt & Whitney’s super-best workmanship, and as nicely adjusted and as accurate as a watch. In construction it is as elaborate and complex as that machine which it ranks next to, by every right–Man–and in performance it is as simple and sure.

Anybody can set type on it who can read–and can do it after only 15 minutes’ instruction. The operator does not need to leave his seat at the keyboard; for the reason that he is not required to do anything but strike the keys and set type–merely one function; the spacing, justifying, emptying into the galley, and distributing of dead matter is all done by the machine without anybody’s help–four functions.

The ease with which a cub can learn is surprising. Day before yesterday I saw our newest cub set, perfectly space and perfectly justify 2,150 ems of solid nonpareil in an hour and distribute the like amount in the same hour–and six hours previously he had never seen the machine or its keyboard. It was a good hour’s work for 3-year veterans on the other type-setting machines to do. We have 3 cubs. The dean of the trio is a school youth of 18. Yesterday morning he had been an apprentice on the machine 16 working days (8-hour days); and we speeded him to see what he could do in an hour. In the hour he set 5,900 ems solid nonpareil, and the machine perfectly spaced and justified it, and of course distributed the like amount in the same hour. Considering that a good fair compositor sets 700 and distributes 700 in the one hour, this boy did the work of about 8 x a compositors in that hour. This fact sends all other type-setting machines a thousand miles to the rear, and the best of them will never be heard of again after we publicly exhibit in New York.

We shall put on 3 more cubs. We have one school boy and two compositors, now,–and we think of putting on a type writer, a stenographer, and perhaps a shoemaker, to show that no special gifts or training are required with this machine. We shall train these beginners two or three months–or until some one of them gets up to 7,000 an hour–then we will show up in New York and run the machine 24 hours a day 7 days in the week, for several months–to prove that this is a machine which will never get out of order or cause delay, and can stand anything an anvil can stand. You know there is no other typesetting machine that can run two hours on a stretch without causing trouble and delay with its incurable caprices.

We own the whole field–every inch of it–and nothing can dislodge us.

Now then, above is my preachment, and here follows the reason and purpose of it. I want you to run over here, roost over the machine a week and satisfy yourself, and then go to John P. Jones or to whom you please, and sell me a hundred thousand dollars’ worth of this property and take ten per cent in cash or the “property” for your trouble–the latter, if you are wise, because the price I ask is a long way short of the value.

What I call “property” is this. A small part of my ownership consists of a royalty of $500 on every machine marketed under the American patents. My selling-terms are, a permanent royalty of one dollar on every American-marketed machine for a thousand dollars cash to me in hand paid. We shan’t market any fewer than 5,000 machines in 15 years–a return of fifteen thousand dollars for one thousand. A royalty is better than stock, in one way–it must be paid, every six months, rain or shine; it is a debt, and must be paid before dividends are declared. By and by, when we become a stock company I shall buy these royalties back for stock if I can get them for anything like reasonable terms.

I have never borrowed a penny to use on the machine, and never sold a penny’s worth of the property until the machine was entirely finished and proven by the severest tests to be what she started out to be–perfect, permanent, and occupying the position, as regards all kindred machines, which the City of Paris occupies as regards the canvas-backs of the mercantile marine.

It is my purpose to sell two hundred dollars of my royalties at the above price during the next two months and keep the other $300.

Mrs. Clemens begs Mrs. Goodman to come with you, and asks pardon for not writing the message herself–which would be a pathetically-welcome spectacle to me; for I have been her amanuensis for 8 months, now, since her eyes failed her. Yours as always

While this letter with its amazing contents is on its way to astonish Joe Goodman, we will consider one of quite a different, but equally characteristic sort. We may assume that Mark Twain’s sister Pamela had been visiting him in Hartford and was now making a visit in Keokuk.

To Mrs. Moffett, in Keokuk:

HARTFORD, Oct 9, ’89. DEAR PAMELA,–An hour after you left I was suddenly struck with a realizing sense of the utter chuckle-headedness of that notion of mine: to send your trunk after you. Land! it was idiotic. None but a lunatic would, separate himself from his baggage.

Well, I am soulfully glad the baggage fetcher saved me from consummating my insane inspiration. I met him on the street in the afternoon and paid him again. I shall pay him several times more, as opportunity offers.

I declined the invitation to banquet with the visiting South American Congress, in a polite note explaining that I had to go to New York today. I conveyed the note privately to Patrick; he got the envelope soiled, and asked Livy to put on a clean one. That is why I am going to the banquet; also why I have disinvited the boys I thought I was going to punch billiards with, upstairs to-night.

Patrick is one of the injudiciousest people I ever struck. And I am the other.
Your Brother

The Yankee was now ready for publication, and advance sheets were already in the reviewers’ hands. Just at this moment the Brazilian monarchy crumbled, and Clemens was moved to write Sylvester Baxter, of the Boston Herald, a letter which is of special interest in its prophecy of the new day, the dawn of which was even nearer than he suspected.

DEAR MR. BAXTER, Another throne has gone down, and I swim in oceans of satisfaction. I wish I might live fifty years longer; I believe I should see the thrones of Europe selling at auction for old iron. I believe I should really see the end of what is surely the grotesquest of all the swindles ever invented by man-monarchy. It is enough to make a graven image laugh, to see apparently rational people, away down here in this wholesome and merciless slaughter-day for shams, still mouthing empty reverence for those moss-backed frauds and scoundrelisms, hereditary kingship and so-called “nobility.” It is enough to make the monarchs and nobles themselves laugh–and in private they do; there can be no question about that. I think there is only one funnier thing, and that is the spectacle of these bastard Americans–these Hamersleys and Huntingtons and such–offering cash, encumbered by themselves, for rotten carcases and stolen titles. When our great brethren the disenslaved Brazilians frame their Declaration of Independence, I hope they will insert this missing link: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all monarchs are usurpers, and descendants of usurpers; for the reason that no throne was ever set up in this world by the will, freely exercised, of the only body possessing the legitimate right to set it up–the numerical mass of the nation.”

You already have the advance sheets of my forthcoming book in your hands. If you will turn to about the five hundredth page, you will find a state paper of my Connecticut Yankee in which he announces the dissolution of King Arthur’s monarchy and proclaims the English Republic. Compare it with the state paper which announces the downfall of the Brazilian monarchy and proclaims the Republic of the United States of Brazil, and stand by to defend the Yankee from plagiarism. There is merely a resemblance of ideas, nothing more. The Yankee’s proclamation was already in print a week ago. This is merely one of those odd coincidences which are always turning up. Come, protect the Yank from that cheapest and easiest of all charges–plagiarism. Otherwise, you see, he will have to protect himself by charging approximate and indefinite plagiarism upon the official servants of our majestic twin down yonder, and then there might be war, or some similar annoyance.

Have you noticed the rumor that the Portuguese throne is unsteady, and that the Portuguese slaves are getting restive? Also, that the head