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Autobiography of Mark Twain, Vol. 1 1/3 (English) (Mark Twain)

Autobiography of Mark Twain, Vol. 1
Mark Twain

Resultado de imagen de AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MARK TWAIN VOLUME 1




The Mark Twain Papers
The Mark Twain Project is an editorial and publishing program of The Bancroft Library, working since 1967 to create a comprehensive critical edition of everything Mark Twain wrote.
This volume is the first one in that edition to be published simultaneously in print and as an electronic text at http://www.marktwainproject.org. The textual commentaries for all Mark Twain texts in this volume are published only there.
THE MARK TWAIN PAPERS

Robert H. Hirst, General Editor
Board of Directors of the Mark Twain Project
Jo Ann Boydston
Laura Cerruti
Don L. Cook
Frederick Crews
Charles B. Faulhaber
Peter E. Hanff
Thomas C. Leonard
Michael Millgate
George A. Starr
G. Thomas Tanselle
Lynne Withey
Contributing Editors for This Volume
Natalia Cecire
Michelle Coleman
George Derk
Christine Hong
Rachel Perez
Leslie Walton



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF
MARK
TWAIN
VOLUME 1

HARRIET ELINOR SMITH, EDITOR
Associate Editors
Benjamin Griffin
Victor Fischer
Michael B. Frank
Sharon K. Goetz
Leslie Diane Myrick




A publication of the Mark Twain Project
of The Bancroft Library

Frontispiece: Photograph by Albert Bigelow Paine, 25 June 1906, Upton House, Dublin, New Hampshire
University of California Press, one of the most distinguished university presses in the United States, enriches lives around the world by advancing scholarship in the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. Its activities are supported by the UC Press Foundation and by philanthropic contributions from individuals and institutions. For more information, visit http://www.ucpress.edu.
University of California Press
Berkeley and Los Angeles, California
University of California Press, Ltd.
London, England
Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 1 Copyright© 2010, 2001 by the Mark Twain Foundation. All Rights Reserved. Transcription, reconstruction, and creation of the texts, introduction, notes, and appendixes Copyright© 2010 by The Regents of the University of California. The Mark Twain Foundation expressly reserves to itself, its successors and assigns, all dramatization rights in every medium, including without limitation, stage, radio, television, motion picture, and public reading rights, in and to the Autobiography of Mark Twain and all other texts by Mark Twain in copyright to the Mark Twain Foundation.
All texts by Mark Twain in Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 1 have been published previously, by permission of the Mark Twain Foundation, in the Mark Twain Project’s Microfilm Edition of Mark Twain’s Literary Manuscripts Available in the Mark Twain Papers, The Bancroft Library, University of California Berkeley (Berkeley: The Bancroft Library, 2001), and some texts have been published previously in one or more of the following: Albert Bigelow Paine, editor, Mark Twain’s Autobiography (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1924); Bernard DeVoto, editor, Mark Twain in Eruption (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1940); Charles Neider, editor, The Autobiography of Mark Twain, Including Chapters Now Published for the First Time (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1959). Unless otherwise noted, all illustrations are reproduced from original documents in the Mark Twain Papers of The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.
MARK TWAIN PROJECT® is a registered trademark of The Regents of the University of California in the United States and the European Community.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Twain, Mark, 1835–1910
[Autobiography]
Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 1 / editor: Harriet Elinor Smith;
associate editors: Benjamin Griffin, Victor Fischer, Michael B. Frank, Sharon K. Goetz, Leslie Diane Myrick
    p. cm. — (The Mark Twain Papers)
“A publication of the Mark Twain Project of The Bancroft Library.”
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 978-0-520-26719-0 (cloth : alk. paper)
1. Twain, Mark, 1835–1910. 2. Authors, American—19th century—Biography. I. Smith, Harriet Elinor. II. Griffin, Benjamin, 1968– III. Fischer, Victor, 1942– IV. Frank, Michael B. V. Goetz, Sharon K. VI. Myrick, Leslie Diane. VII. Bancroft Library. VIII. Title.
PS1331.A2 2010
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Manufactured in the United States of America
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This book is printed on Natures Book, which contains 50% post-consumer waste and meets the minimum requirements of ANSI/NISO z39.48–1992 (R 1997) (Permanence of Paper).
Editorial work for this volume has been supported by a generous gift to the Mark Twain Project of The Bancroft Library from the
KORET FOUNDATION
and by matching and outright grants from the
NATIONAL ENDOWMENT
FOR THE HUMANITIES,
an independent federal agency.
Without that support, this volume could not
have been produced.
The Mark Twain Project at the University of California, Berkeley, gratefully acknowledges generous support from the following, for editorial work on the Autobiography of Mark Twain and for the acquisition of important new documents:
The University of California, Berkeley, Class of 1958
Members of the Mark Twain Luncheon Club
The Barkley Fund
The Mark Twain Foundation
The Beatrice Fox Auerbach Foundation Fund at the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving
Lawrence E. Brooks
Helen Kennedy Cahill
Kimo Campbell
Virginia Robinson Furth
The Herrick Fund
The Hofmann Foundation
The House of Bernstein, Inc.
Robert and Beverly Middlekauff
The Renee B. Fisher Foundation
The Benjamin and Susan Shapell Foundation
Jeanne and Leonard Ware
Patricia Wright, in memory of Timothy J. Fitzgerald
and
The thousands of individual donors over the past fifty years
who have helped sustain the ongoing work
of the Mark Twain Project.

The publication of this volume has been made possible by a gift to the University of California Press Foundation by
WILSON GARDNER COMBS

FRANK MARION GIFFORD COMBS
in honor of
WILSON GIFFORD COMBS

BA 1935, MA 1950, University of California, Berkeley
MARYANNA GARDNER COMBS

MSW 1951, University of California, Berkeley
University of California Press gratefully acknowledges the support of
John G. Davies
and the Humanities Endowment Fund of the UC Press Foundation
CONTENTS

List of Manuscripts and Dictations
Acknowledgments
Introduction
Preliminary Manuscripts and Dictations, 1870–1905
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MARK TWAIN
Explanatory Notes
Appendixes
Samuel L. Clemens: A Brief Chronology
Family Biographies
Speech at the Seventieth Birthday Dinner, 5 December 1905
Speech at The Players, 3 January 1906
Previous Publication
Note on the Text
Word Division in This Volume
References
Index
Photographs
LIST OF MANUSCRIPTS
AND DICTATIONS


Preliminary Manuscripts and Dictations, 1870–1905
1870
[The Tennessee Land]
1877
[Early Years in Florida, Missouri]
1885
The Grant Dictations

The Chicago G.A.R. Festival

[A Call with W. D. Howells on General Grant]

Grant and the Chinese

Gerhardt

About General Grant’s Memoirs

[The Rev. Dr. Newman]
1890, 1893–94
The Machine Episode
1897
Travel-Scraps I
1898
Four Sketches about Vienna

[Beauties of the German Language]

[Comment on Tautology and Grammar]

[A Group of Servants]

[A Viennese Procession]
1898
My Debut as a Literary Person
1898–99
Horace Greeley
1898–99
Lecture-Times
1898–99
Ralph Keeler
1900
Scraps from My Autobiography. From Chapter IX
1900
Scraps from My Autobiography. Private History of a Manuscript That Came to Grief
1903
[Reflections on a Letter and a Book]
1903
[Something about Doctors]
1904
[Henry H. Rogers]
1905
[Anecdote of Jean]

Except for the subtitle “Random Extracts from It” (which Clemens himself enclosed in brackets), bracketed titles have been editorially supplied for works that Clemens left untitled.



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MARK TWAIN
1906
An Early Attempt
1897–98
My Autobiography [Random Extracts from It]
1906
The Latest Attempt
1906
The Final (and Right) Plan
1906
Preface. As from the Grave
1904
The Florentine Dictations

[John Hay]

Notes on “Innocents Abroad”

[Robert Louis Stevenson and Thomas Bailey Aldrich]

[Villa di Quarto]
1906
Autobiographical Dictations, January–March

  9 January
  7 February
  8 March

10 January
  8 February
  9 March

11 January
  9 February
12 March

12 January
12 February
14 March

13 January
13 February
15 March

15 January
14 February
16 March

16 January
15 February
20 March

17 January
16 February
21 March

18 January
20 February
22 March

19 January
21 February
23 March

23 January
22 February
26 March

24 January
23 February
27 March

  1 February
26 February
28 March

  2 February
  5 March
29 March

  5 February
  6 March
30 March

  6 February
  7 March

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

Intensive editorial work on the Autobiography of Mark Twain began some six years ago and will continue for several more years. But the collective skills and expertise that have allowed us to solve the daunting problems posed by this manuscript came gradually into existence over four decades of editorial work on Mark Twain. We therefore thank the National Endowment for the Humanities, an independent federal agency, both for its three most recent outright and matching grants over the last six years, and for its patient, generous, and uninterrupted support of the Mark Twain Project since 1966. At the same time and with the same fervor, we thank the Koret Foundation for its recent generous grant in support of editorial and production work on the Autobiography, all of which has gone (or will go) to satisfy the matching component of the Endowment’s recent grants to the Project.
For additional continuing support of work on the Autobiography and for help in acquiring important original documents for the Mark Twain Papers, we thank those institutions and individuals listed on page ix. The Mark Twain Project has been sustained over the years in so many ways by so many people that we are obliged, with regret, to thank them as one large group rather than by individual names. For donations to sustain our work, ranging from five dollars to five million dollars, we here thank all our loyal and generous supporters. Without their support, the Project would long ago have ceased to exist, and would certainly not be completing work on the Autobiography at this time.
Recent efforts have been made to create an endowment to support the present and future work of the Mark Twain Project, and we want to acknowledge those efforts here. First and foremost we thank all the members of the University of California, Berkeley, Class of 1958, led by Roger and Jeane Samuelsen, Edward H. Peterson, and Don and Bitsy Kosovac, who recently created an endowment of $1 million dedicated to the Mark Twain Project. We thank each and every member of the Class for their far-seeing wisdom and generosity. To that endowment fund we may now add, with renewed gratitude, contributions from the estate of Phyllis R. Bogue and the estate of Peter K. Oppenheim.
Instrumental in all recent fund-raising for the Project has been the Mark Twain Luncheon Club, organized ten years ago by Ira Michael Heyman, Watson M. (Mac) Laetsch, and Robert Middlekauff. Their leadership has been unflagging and indispensable, and we thank them for it and for a thousand other forms of help. We also thank all of the Club’s nearly one hundred members for their loyal financial and moral support of the Project, and on their behalf we extend thanks to the several dozen speakers who have agreed to address the Luncheon Club members over the years. Our thanks also go to Dave Duer, director of development in the Berkeley University Library, for his continuing wise and judicious counsel, and for his unprecedented efforts to raise financial support for the Project. Last but not least we want to thank the Berkeley campus as a whole for granting the Project relief from indirect costs on its several grants from the Endowment. We are grateful for this and all other forms of support from our home institution.
We thank the staff of the University Library and The Bancroft Library at Berkeley, especially Thomas C. Leonard, University Librarian; Charles Faulhaber, the James D. Hart Director of The Bancroft Library; and Peter E. Hanff, its Deputy Director, all of whom serve on the Board of Directors of the Mark Twain Project. To them and to the other members of the Board—Jo Ann Boydston, Laura Cerruti, Don L. Cook, Frederick Crews, Michael Millgate, George A. Starr, G. Thomas Tanselle, and Lynne Withey—we are indebted for multiple forms of moral and intellectual support.
Scholars and archivists at other institutions have been vital to editorial work on this volume. Barbara Schmidt, an independent scholar who maintains an invaluable website (www.twainquotes.com) for Mark Twain research, tops our list when it comes to information and documentation freely and generously volunteered. For this particular volume she also provided us with photocopies of important original documents not previously known to us. Kevin Mac Donnell, an expert dealer and collector of Mark Twain documents, has as always been generous in sharing his extensive collection. Photographs and other documentation were also provided by the following, to whom we express our thanks: Lee Brumbaugh of the Nevada Historical Society, Reno; Christine Montgomery of The State Historical Society of Missouri, Columbia; Patti Philippon of the Mark Twain House and Museum, Hartford; and Henry Sweets of the Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum, Hannibal. At our own university, we are grateful to Dan Johnston of the Digital Imaging Laboratory for generating superb digital files from negatives of rare photographs. We would also like to thank the following archivists who generously assisted us in our research: Louise A. Merriam of the Andersen Library, University of Minnesota; Eva Guggemos of the Beinecke Library at Yale University; and Kathleen Kienholz of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, New York. Patricia Thayer Muno and James R. Toncray contributed important information about their families.
We are grateful for the tireless help of Kathleen MacDougall, our highly skilled copy editor and project manager at UC Press, who contributed much to the accuracy of the editorial matter and was a guiding hand at every stage of the production process. We thank Sandy Drooker, who designed the book and the dust jacket with her usual consummate skill. As of old, we again thank Sam Rosenthal, who expertly supervised the printing and binding process, and Laura Cerruti, our sponsoring editor, whose enthusiasm and support for this edition were essential to its publication.
All volumes produced by the Mark Twain Project are the products of complex and sustained collaboration. The student employees listed on page iii as Contributing Editors carried out much of the preliminary work of transcribing, proofreading, and collating the source documents that form the basis of the critical text. Associate editors Benjamin Griffin, Victor Fischer, and Michael B. Frank contributed to every aspect of the editorial work. They carried out original research for and drafted much of the annotation, and helped with the painstaking preparation and checking required to produce accurate texts, apparatus, and index. Associate editors Sharon K. Goetz and Leslie Diane Myrick brought their unmatched technical expertise and innovative programming to bear on the challenge of publishing this edition simultaneously in print and on Mark Twain Project Online (www.marktwainproject.org). None of us would be able to edit as we do without the Project’s administrative assistant, Neda Salem, who skillfully held the bureaucracy at bay and patiently answered the myriad requests for information and copies of documents which the Project receives from scholars and the general public.
We wish to express special gratitude to my colleague Lin Salamo, who retired from the Project before this volume was completed. After more than two decades of dedicated editorial work, she contributed to this edition what is arguably her most significant professional accomplishment—reassembling and analyzing the hundreds of typescript pages that make up the Autobiographical Dictations. Her research was the indispensable key to our new understanding of Mark Twain’s plan for his autobiography.
H. E. S.
INTRODUCTION

Between 1870 and 1905 Mark Twain (Samuel L. Clemens) tried repeatedly, and at long intervals, to write (or dictate) his autobiography, always shelving the manuscript before he had made much progress. By 1905 he had accumulated some thirty or forty of these false starts—manuscripts that were essentially experiments, drafts of episodes and chapters; many of these have survived in the Mark Twain Papers and two other libraries. To some of these manuscripts he went so far as to assign chapter numbers that placed them early or late in a narrative which he never filled in, let alone completed. None dealt with more than brief snatches of his life story.
He broke this pattern in January 1906 when he began almost daily dictations to a stenographer. He soon decided that these Autobiographical Dictations would form the bulk of what he would call the Autobiography of Mark Twain. Within a few months he reviewed his accumulation of false starts and decided which to incorporate into the newer dictation series and which to leave unpublished. By the time he had created more than two hundred and fifty of these almost daily dictations (and written a final chapter in December 1909, about the recent death of his daughter Jean), he had compiled more than half a million words. He declared the work done, but insisted that it should not be published in its entirety until a hundred years after his death, which occurred less than four months later, on 21 April 1910.
This belated success with a project that had resisted completion for thirty-five years can be traced to two new conditions. First, he had at last found a skilled stenographer who was also a responsive audience—Josephine S. Hobby—which encouraged him to embrace dictation as the method of composition, something he had experimented with as early as 1885. Second, and just as important, dictating the text made it easier to follow a style of composition he had been drifting toward for at least twenty years. As he put it in June 1906, he had finally seen that the “right way to do an Autobiography” was to “start it at no particular time of your life; wander at your free will all over your life; talk only about the thing which interests you for the moment; drop it the moment its interest threatens to pale, and turn your talk upon the new and more interesting thing that has intruded itself into your mind meantime.”1
Combining dictation and discursiveness in this bold way was unexpectedly liberating, in large part because it produced not a conventional narrative marching inexorably toward the grave, but rather a series of spontaneous recollections and comments on the present as well as the past, arranged simply in the order of their creation. The problem of method had been solved. It was also liberating to insist on posthumous publication, but that idea had been around from the start and was closely tied to Clemens’s ambition to tell the whole truth, without reservation. As he explained to an interviewer in 1899: “A book that is not to be published for a century gives the writer a freedom which he could secure in no other way. In these conditions you can draw a man without prejudice exactly as you knew him and yet have no fear of hurting his feelings or those of his sons or grandsons.” Posthumous publication was also supposed to make it easier for Clemens to confess even shameful parts of his own story, but that goal proved illusory. In that same 1899 interview he admitted that a “man cannot tell the whole truth about himself, even if convinced that what he wrote would never be seen by others.”2
But if delaying publication failed to make him into a confessional autobiographer, it did free him to express unconventional thoughts about religion, politics, and the damned human race, without fear of ostracism. In January 1908 he recalled that he had long had “the common habit, in private conversation with friends, of revealing every private opinion I possessed relating to religion, politics, and men”—adding that he would “never dream of printing one of them.”3 The need to defer publication of subversive ideas seemed obvious to him. “We suppress an unpopular opinion because we cannot afford the bitter cost of putting it forth,” he wrote in 1905. “None of us likes to be hated, none of us likes to be shunned.”4 So having the freedom to speak his mind (if not confess his sins) was still ample justification for delaying publication until after his death.
Seven months after he began the Autobiographical Dictations in 1906, however, Clemens did permit—indeed actively pursued—partial publication of what he had so far accumulated. He supervised the preparation of some twenty-five short extracts from his autobiographical manuscripts and dictations for publication in the North American Review, each selection deliberately tamed for that time and audience, and each prefaced by a notice: “No part of the autobiography will be published in book form during the lifetime of the author.”5 But not long after Clemens died, his instruction to delay publication for a hundred years began to be ignored—first in 1924 by Albert Bigelow Paine, Mark Twain’s official biographer and first literary executor, then in 1940 by Paine’s successor, Bernard DeVoto, and most recently by Charles Neider in 1959.
Each of these editors undertook to publish only a part of the text, and none ventured to do so in the way that Clemens actually wanted it published. Paine began his two-volume edition with all but a handful of the manuscripts and dictations carried out before 1906, as well as several texts that were probably never part of those early experiments. He arranged all of them “in accordance with the author’s wish . . . in the order in which they were written, regardless of the chronology of events.”6 It now seems clear that Paine’s understanding of “the author’s wish” was mistaken: Clemens never intended to include all those false starts, let alone in chronological order; he intended only the dictations begun in 1906 to be published that way. But having chosen this course, Paine then had space for only a relative handful of the dictations. And on top of that, he felt obliged to suppress or even alter certain passages without notice to the reader. He eventually acknowledged that he had published only about one-third of what he regarded as the whole text.7
DeVoto was critical of Paine’s acceptance of “the arrangement Mark Twain originally gave” the dictations, “interspersed as they were with trivialities, irrelevancies, newspaper clippings, and unimportant letters—disconnected and without plan.” Instead he chose to print only passages that Paine had left unpublished, drawn from “the typescript in which everything that Mark wanted in his memoirs had been brought together” (that is, the Autobiographical Dictations begun in 1906). DeVoto then arranged the selections by topic, “omitting trivialities and joining together things that belonged together.” And he said with great satisfaction that he had “modernized the punctuation by deleting thousands of commas and dashes, and probably should have deleted hundreds more.” He was confident that he had “given the book a more coherent plan than Mark Twain’s” and he was unapologetic about having “left out” what seemed to him “uninteresting.”8
Neider, too, was unhappy with Paine’s acceptance of Mark Twain’s plan to publish the autobiography “not in chronological order but in the sequence in which it was written and dictated. What an extraordinary idea! As though the stream of composition time were in some mysterious way more revealing than that of autobiographical time!”9 Neider had permission from the Mark Twain Estate to combine some thirty thousand words from the unpublished dictations with what Paine and DeVoto had already published. Like DeVoto, he omitted what he disliked, and was also obliged to exclude portions that Clara Clemens Samossoud (Clemens’s daughter, by then in her eighties) disapproved of publishing. He then (figuratively) cut apart and rearranged the texts he had selected so that they approximated a conventional, chronological narrative—exactly the kind of autobiography Mark Twain had rejected.
The result of these several editorial plans has been that no text of the Autobiography so far published is even remotely complete, much less completely authorial. It is therefore the goal of the present edition to publish the complete text as nearly as possible in the way Mark Twain intended it to be published after his death. That goal has only recently become attainable, for the simple reason that no one knew which parts of the great mass of autobiographical manuscripts and typescripts Mark Twain intended to include. In fact, the assumption had long prevailed that Mark Twain did not decide what to put in and what to leave out—that he left the enormous and very complicated manuscript incomplete and unfinished.
That assumption was wrong. Although Mark Twain left no specific instructions (not even documentation for the instructions that Paine professed to follow), hidden within the approximately ten file feet of autobiographical documents are more than enough clues to show that he had in fact decided on the final form of the Autobiography, and which of the preliminary experiments were to be included and which omitted. This newly discovered and unexpected insight into his intentions is itself a story worth telling, and it is told for the first time in this introduction.
Three printed volumes are planned for this edition, which will also be published in full at Mark Twain Project Online (MTPO). Exhaustive documentation of all textual decisions will only be published online.10 This first volume begins with the extant manuscripts and dictations that must now be regarded as Clemens’s preliminary efforts to write the autobiography and that he reviewed and rejected (but did not destroy) in June 1906. They are arranged arbitrarily in the order of their date of composition, solely because Clemens himself never specified any order. Some of these texts he explicitly labeled “autobiography,” and some are judged to be part of his early experiments on other grounds, always explained in the brief headnotes that introduce them. We include those preliminary texts for which the evidence is reasonably strong, without asserting that there were no others.
The Autobiography of Mark Twain proper begins on p. 201 in this volume, starting with the several prefaces Clemens created in June 1906 to frame the early manuscripts and dictations he had selected as opening texts, followed by his almost daily Autobiographical Dictations from 9 January through the end of March 1906—all that will fit into this volume. The dictations are arranged in the chronological order of their creation because that is how Clemens instructed his editors to publish them. The remaining volumes in this edition will include all the dictations he created between April 1906 and October 1909, likewise arranged chronologically, the whole concluding with the “Closing Words of My Autobiography,” a manuscript about the death of his youngest daughter, Jean.
PRELIMINARY MANUSCRIPTS AND DICTATIONS
Autobiographical Fiction and Fictional Autobiography
Autobiography as a literary form had a special fascination for Mark Twain. Long before he had given serious thought to writing his own, he had published both journalism and fiction that were, in the most straightforward way, autobiographical. From the earliest juvenilia in his brother’s Hannibal, Missouri, newspaper (1851–53) to his personal brand of journalism in Nevada and California (1862–66), he played endlessly with putting himself at the center of what he wrote. Twenty years and nine books later, in October 1886, he acknowledged (and oversimplified) the result: “Yes, the truth is, my books are simply autobiographies. I do not know that there is an incident in them which sets itself forth as having occurred in my personal experience which did not so occur. If the incidents were dated, they could be strung together in their due order, & the result would be an autobiography.”11 He was thinking of his travel books and personal narratives—The Innocents Abroad, Roughing It, A Tramp Abroad, and Life on the Mississippi—the only books up to that point in which he set forth anything “as having occurred” in his own experience. To be sure he also made extensive fictional use of that experience. The factual basis of characters and situations in works like The Gilded Age, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has been thoroughly documented, and the autobiographical content is obvious in dozens of shorter works like “The Private History of a Campaign That Failed” and “My First Lie and How I Got Out of It,” even when they are not entirely factual.12
More germane to Clemens’s thinking about his own autobiography is his interest in fictional autobiography—that is, fictions in the shape and form of an autobiography. Mark Twain’s (Burlesque) Autobiography was written in late 1870 and published in pamphlet form in March 1871. Mark Twain tells us that his own parents were “neither very poor nor conspicuously honest,” and that almost all of his ancestors were born to be hanged—and for the most part were hanged. An even briefer “burlesque” called simply “An Autobiography” appeared in the Aldine magazine in April 1871: “I was born November 30th, 1835. I continue to live, just the same.”13 The whole sketch takes fewer than two hundred words and pointedly leaves the reader as ignorant of the facts as before.
Burlesque implies familiarity with genuine autobiographies, despite what Clemens told William Dean Howells in 1877 (“I didn’t know there were any but old Franklin’s & Benvenuto Cellini’s”). Benjamin Franklin’s didactic bent made him a lifelong target of Mark Twain’s ridicule. But he thought Cellini’s autobiography the “most entertaining of books,” and he admired the daring frankness of Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Confessions and Giovanni Giacomo Casanova’s Mémoires, as well as Samuel Pepys’s Diary, which Paine said was the book Clemens “read and quoted most.”14
In 1871 he proposed writing “an Autobiography of Old Parr, the gentleman who lived to be 153 years old,” but apparently he never did so.15 In the summer of 1876 he wrote four hundred pages of a work he was then calling “Huck Finn’s Autobiography.” And in March 1877, he told Howells he was writing such a work about his own older brother: “I began Orion’s autobiography yesterday & am charmed with the work. I have started him at 18, printer’s apprentice, soft & sappy, full of fine intentions & shifting religions & not aware that he is a shining ass.” He assigned various real incidents of Orion’s life and aspects of his character to an apprentice named Bolivar, and wrote more than a hundred pages before abandoning the project.16
In 1880, Orion’s decision to write a real autobiography prompted Clemens to suggest that he instead “write two books which it has long been my purpose to write, but I judge they are so far down on my docket that I shan’t get to them in this life. I think the subjects are perfectly new. One is ‘The Autobiography of a Coward,’ & the other ‘Confessions of a Life that was a Failure.’ ” The object here was not burlesque, but rather a kind of thought experiment to test the difficulty of telling the whole truth in an autobiographical narrative—in this case, by shielding it behind a deliberate fiction.
My plan was simple—to take the absolute facts of my own life & tell them simply & without ornament or flourish, exactly as they occurred, with this difference, that I would turn every courageous action (if I ever performed one) into a cowardly one, & every success into a failure. You can do this, but only in one way; you must banish all idea of an audience—for no man ^few men^ can straitly & squarely confess shameful things to others—you must tell your story to yourself, & to no other; you must not use your own name, for that would keep you from telling shameful things, too.
Another version of this scheme Clemens said was more difficult, to “tell the story of an abject coward who is unconscious that he is a coward,” and to do the same for “an unsuccessful man.”
In these cases the titles I have suggested would not be used. This latter plan is the one I should use. I should confine myself to my own actual experiences (to invent would be to fail) & I would name everybody’s actual name & locality & describe his character & actions unsparingly, then change these names & localities after the book was finished. To use fictitious names, & localities while writing is a befogging & confusing thing.
The inspiration for both of these ideas was obviously two autobiographies that Clemens admired.
The supremest charm in Casanova’s Memoires (they are not printed in English) is, that he frankly, flowingly, & felicitously tells the dirtiest & vilest & most contemptible things on himself, without ever suspecting that they are other than things which the reader will admire & applaud. . . . Rousseau confesses to masturbation, theft, lying, shameful treachery, & attempts made upon his person by Sodomites. But he tells it as a man who is perfectly aware of the shameful nature of these things, whereas your coward & your Failure should be happy & sweet & unconsciousof their own contemptibility.17
Clemens himself seems not to have attempted what he urged Orion to try, but it is obvious he was thinking about the challenge of writing with the perfect frankness he admired in these writers. The question of how fully he could tell the truth about himself, and especially to what extent he could confess what he regarded as his own shameful behavior, occupied him off and on throughout work on the Autobiography.
The First Attempts (1876 and 1877)
Clemens’s plan to write his own autobiography is more or less distinct from these fictional uses of the form. The first indication that he had such a plan survives only in the report of a conversation that took place when he was forty. Mrs. James T. Fields and her husband were visiting the Clemenses in Hartford. She recorded in her diary that at lunch, on 28 April 1876, Clemens
proceeded to speak of his Autobiography which he intends to write as fully and sincerely as possible to leave behind him—His wife laughingly said, she should look it over and leave out objectionable passages—No, he said very earnestly almost sternly, you are not to edit it—it is to appear as it is written with the whole tale told as truly as I can tell it—I shall take out passages from it and publish as I go along, in the Atlantic and elsewhere, but I shall not limit myself as to space and at whatever ever age I am writing about even if I am an infant and an idea comes to me about myself when I am forty I shall put that in. Every man feels that his experience is unlike that of anybody else and therefore he should write it down—he finds also that everybody else has thought and felt on some points precisely as he has done, and therefore he should write it down.18
This remarkable statement shows that Clemens was already committed to several ideas that would govern the autobiography he worked on over the next thirty-five years. The notion is already present that publication must be posthumous, a requirement linked to the ambition to have “the whole tale told as truly as I can tell it,” without censoring himself or allowing others to do it for him. He also plans to publish selections from the narrative while still alive, withholding the rest “to leave behind him.” He will not limit himself “as to space,” but will be as digressive and discursive as he likes, even ignoring chronology when it suits him. These cardinal points are clearly interrelated: absolute truth telling would be made easier by knowing that his own death would precede publication, and discursiveness (quite apart from his natural preference for it) would help to disarm his own impulse toward self-censorship. But it would take another thirty years to actually apply these various ideas to a real autobiography.
Just a year or so later, sometime in 1877, Clemens seems actually to have begun writing, prompted (as he recalled in 1904) by a conversation with his good friend John Milton Hay. Hay “asked if I had begun to write my autobiography, and I said I hadn’t. He said that I ought to begin at once” (since the time to begin was at age forty, and Clemens was already forty-two).
I had lost two years, but I resolved to make up that loss. I resolved to begin my autobiography at once. I did begin it, but the resolve melted away and disappeared in a week and I threw my beginning away. Since then, about every three or four years I have made other beginnings and thrown them away. Once I tried the experiment of a diary, intending to inflate that into an autobiography when its accumulation should furnish enough material, but that experiment lasted only a week; it took me half of every night to set down the history of the day, and at the week’s end I did not like the result.19
In late November 1877 Clemens listed “My Autobiography” among other projects in his notebook, reminding himself to “Publish scraps from my Autobiography occasionally.” He did indeed write an eleven-page manuscript at this time which he intended as the first chapter of an autobiography—very likely the “beginning” that in 1904 he remembered having thrown away. He titled it merely “Chapter 1,” but it is commonly known as “Early Years in Florida, Missouri,” the title Paine assigned it.20 It begins, “I was born the 30th of November, 1835”—the same way Clemens began his Aldine burlesque in 1871—and it goes on to reminisce briefly about his early memories of childhood in that “almost invisible village of Florida, Monroe county, Missouri.” Like “The Tennessee Land” (the only extant autobiographical fragment that was written earlier, in 1870) it ends somewhat abruptly, exactly as if the author’s interest had “melted away and disappeared.”
If Clemens did, as he says, make successive attempts to write the autobiography “every three or four years” after 1877, few are known to survive.21 What we have instead are such things as his advice in 1880 to Orion about his autobiography: “Keep in mind what I told you—when you recollect something which belonged in an earlier chapter, do not go back, but jam it in where you are. Discursiveness does not hurt an autobiography in the least.”22
Clemens took between three and seven years to complete almost all of his major books. He required that much time chiefly because he always encountered stretches during which he was unable to proceed, and composition came to a complete halt. Since at least 1871 he had found it necessary, when his “tank had run dry” in this way, to “pigeonhole” his manuscripts. And he learned to resume work on them only after the “tank” had been refilled by “unconscious and profitable cerebration.”23 But the time he spent on his earlier books is brief compared with the nearly four decades it took him to finish his autobiography. Its construction was certainly punctuated by long interruptions as well, but for somewhat different reasons. Until January 1906, the tank seemed to “run dry” after relatively brief stints of writing, or dictating, because he grew dissatisfied with his method of composing the work, or with its overall plan, or both.
General Grant and James W. Paige (1885 and 1890)
In the spring of 1885 Clemens made his first attempt at doing an autobiography for which more than a few pages survive. He had some previous experience with dictating letters and brief memoranda to a secretary, but he had never tried it for literary composition.24 Now he decided that it might be a good way to work on the autobiography. In late March he wrote in his notebook:
Get short-hander in New York & begin my autobiography at once & continue it straight through the summer.
Which reminds me that Susie, aged 13, (1885), has begun to write my biography—solely of her own motion—a thing about which I feel proud & gratified. At breakfast this morning I intimated that if I seemed to be talking on a pretty high key, in the way of style, it must be remembered that my biographer was present. Whereupon Susie struck upon the unique idea of having me sit up & purposely talk for the biography!25
At about the same time, he realized that dictation might be of help to his friend Ulysses S. Grant. Grant had written several articles for the Century Magazine’s series on the Civil War. In the spring of 1885, when he was dying of throat cancer, Grant was close to completing the manuscript of the first volume of his two-volume Memoirs. Clemens had recently secured them for his own publishing house, Charles L. Webster and Co., confident they would earn large profits both for Grant’s family and for himself. As a frequent visitor to Grant’s New York house, Clemens knew that Grant feared dying before he could finish his book. He suggested that Grant hire a stenographer to ease his task. Grant at first demurred, but later hired a former secretary, Noble E. Dawson. On 29 April Clemens visited Grant on his first day of dictation and learned that it “was a thorough success.”26
No doubt encouraged by Grant’s experience, in early May Clemens asked his friend and former lecture manager James Redpath to serve as his stenographer. He liked and respected Redpath, who had been a journalist and knew shorthand. On 4 May 1885 Redpath replied to Clemens’s proposal: “Now about the auto. When I do work by the week, I charge $100 a week for the best I can do. I have had a run of ill-luck lately but I found that that was what I averaged. It wd take you much less time than you think. I get you word for word & it takes a long time to write out.” Clemens accepted these terms and urged Redpath to come to Hartford soon. “I think we can make this thing blamed enjoyable.” It is clear that he was beginning to intuit the need for a responsive, human audience when dictating—something he articulated quite clearly six years later in a letter to Howells.27
The two men began working together sometime in mid-May and continued for several weeks. In the six dictations that survive, Clemens traced the history of his friendship with Grant, then talked about his own protégé, the young sculptor Karl Gerhardt, who had a commission to create a bust of Grant. In the longest of these dictations he launched into a detailed account of how he had acquired the right to publish Grant’s Memoirs, defending his tactics and countering newspaper insinuations that he had acted unethically.
Clemens probably stopped dictating shortly before Grant died on 23 July 1885.28 In July and August (and possibly earlier) Clemens read over some of the typescripts that Redpath had created from his stenographic notes, adding his own corrections here and there but making few changes in wording. He found the result far from satisfactory, as he implied in a letter to Henry Ward Beecher:
I will enclose some scraps from my Autobiography—scraps about Gen. Grant—they may be of some trifle of use, & they may not—they at least verify known traits of his character. My Autobiography is pretty freely dictated, but my idea is to jack-plane it a little before I die, some day or other; I mean the rude construction & rotten grammar. It is the only dictating I ever did, & it was most troublesome & awkward work.29
Redpath’s work as an amanuensis was unskillful. None of his stenographic notes are known to survive, but his typescripts are manifestly ill-prepared—full of typing errors, struck-over characters, and extraneous marks—and his numerous penciled corrections create punctuation that is in no way characteristic of Clemens’s own habits.
No manuscripts for the autobiography written between 1885 and 1890 have survived, but the project was certainly not forgotten. In late 1886 as he worked on A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, Clemens wrote to Mary Mason Fairbanks: “I fully expect to write one other book besides this one; two others, in fact, if one’s autobiography may be called a book—in fact mine will be nearer a library.” His 1876 plan for a work not limited “as to space” was evidently alive and well. And in August 1887, two years after halting the Grant Dictations, Clemens wrote to his nephew, “I want a perfect copy of Fred Grant’s letter, for my Autobiography. I was supposing I had about finished the detailed private history of the Grant Memoirs, but doubtless more than one offensive chapter must be added yet, if Fred Grant lives.” A few months earlier he told another correspondent, “No, I’ll leave those details in my autobiography when I die, but they won’t answer for a speech.”30
Then, in December 1887, Orion wrote to ask his brother’s permission to reveal “something of your boyhood” in an upcoming interview with a local journalist. He listed a few “points” he wanted to offer:
I thought of mentioning Grandpa and Grandma Casey; some younger and older characteristics of ma (fondness for or tenderness for animals, &c.); pa’s studying law under Cyrus Walker; their marriage and removal to Tennessee; pa’s treatment of the strange preacher about the cow; his facing down the old bully, Frogg; his settling a dispute before him as justice of the peace with a mallet; your philosophical dissatisfaction with your lack of a tail; your sleep-walking and entrance into Mrs. Ament’s room; your year’s schooling; your quitting at 11; your work in my office; your first writing for the paper (Jim Wolf, the wash-pan and the broom); your going to Philadelphia at 17 . . . ; your swimming the river and back; ma’s complaint that you broke up her scoldings by making her laugh; Pa’s death; his sharp pen writing for the paper; her present age and vigor; fondness for theatre.31
Clemens had already used a number of these “points” in published work. His making wicked fun of Jim Wolf’s pointless rescue of a wash-pan and broom from the threat of a fire next door was in fact his “first writing” for Orion’s Hannibal newspaper, “A Gallant Fireman” (1851).32 And in the first chapter of Tom Sawyer Aunt Polly (based on Jane Clemens) had mildly complained that Tom knew that if he could “make me laugh,” her anger toward him would disappear. Still, Clemens refused Orion’s request:
I have never yet allowed an interviewer or biography-sketcher to get out of me any circumstance of my history which I thought might be worth putting some day into my AUTObiography. . . .
I have been approached as many as five hundred times on the biographical-sketch lay, but they never got anything that was worth printing.33
Clemens would make use of only a few of these “points” in the autobiography. But his stinginess about letting others reveal the raw materials of his history is certainly understandable, and it may suggest that at this time in 1887 he still intended to write an autobiography that would include these anecdotes from his early life.
By the fall of 1890, Clemens had been investing money in the typesetting machine invented by James W. Paige for almost ten years (since 1881). It was, however, still not completed. The relevance of this project to his autobiography was inescapable, and in the “closing days” of that year he began to write “The Machine Episode,” an unsparing account of the way Paige had charmed and beguiled him into an enormous investment without having yet achieved a salable product. By the time Clemens added the second part to this self-revealing account, in the winter of 1893–94, Paige had still not perfected the machine but was about to sign a new, more satisfactory contract for it. Left in a rather unfinished state, the manuscript was very likely among those Clemens reviewed in 1906 before deciding to omit it from the final form. He did return to the subject in an Autobiographical Dictation of 2 June 1906.
Vienna (1897 and 1898)
Clemens’s hopes for the Paige typesetting machine were finally crushed in December 1894, and the bankruptcy of Webster and Company earlier that year had placed its debts solely on his shoulders. In the summer of 1895, in order to repay them, he, Olivia, and Clara undertook a lecture tour around the world (Susy and Jean stayed at home), which ended when they arrived in England on 31 July 1896. The family landed at Southampton and then traveled to Guildford, where they learned that Susy was ill in Hartford. “A fortnight later Mrs. Clemens and Clara sailed for home to nurse Susy,” Clemens recalled in 1906, and “found her in her coffin in her grandmother’s house.” Within weeks of this calamity Clemens wrote his friend Henry H. Rogers that he intended to “submerge myself & my troubles in work.” In the last week of September 1896 he reminded himself to “Write my autobiography in full & with remorseless attention to facts & proper names.”34 But he still needed to finish the book about his around-the-world lecture tour.35 The family spent the winter and spring of 1897 in London while Clemens wrote Following the Equator, which would be published in November.
In the summer of 1897 they retreated to Switzerland, and in late September they moved to Vienna. Two autobiographical manuscripts were begun that fall, “Travel-Scraps I” and a much longer sketch called “My Autobiography [Random Extracts from It].” “Travel-Scraps I” appears to be unfinished, or at least not quite ready for the typist, since Clemens made a tentative revision of its title, in pencil (“Travel-Scraps. ^from Autobiog^”) and the manuscript itself still has two sets of page numbers (1–20 and 1–28). It was probably written soon after Clemens arrived in Vienna, for it is largely a complaint about London’s cab drivers and its postal service, things that would naturally have been on his mind since the spring.
On the evidence of the paper and ink used, “My Autobiography [Random Extracts from It]” was begun about the same time, but probably not completed until 1898. Clemens identified the text as “From Chapter II.”36 (The first page of this manuscript is reproduced in facsimile in figure 1.) It begins as a history of the Clemens and Lampton relatives and ancestors and, more briefly, the despised Tennessee land. But it meanders, without apology, into an anecdote about an incident in Berlin in 1891, and it ends with an evocative description of Clemens’s idyllic summers on his uncle’s farm near Florida, Missouri. This typical combination of early memories and later experiences helps to make clear why Clemens would reject the idea of a completely chronological narrative: his preference for juxtaposing related events from different times deeply resisted that way of organizing his story. At the same time, labeling the sketch “From Chapter II” implied that most of what it contained would come early in the autobiography, as would befit a review of ancestors. The chapter number suggests that while he was not writing about his experiences in the order of their occurrence, he was still making an attempt to assign chapter numbers that respected chronology.
Before Clemens completed “Random Extracts” in 1898, he wrote several more sketches for the autobiography between February and June of that year, grouped here under the supplied title “Four Sketches about Vienna”: “Beauties of the German Language,” “Comment on Tautology and Grammar,” “A Group of Servants” (the only one that Paine did not include in his edition), and “A Viennese Procession.” These were not reminiscences but rather more like entries in a diary, with each piece prefaced by a date. None of these sketches would be included in his final plan, but he did eventually include another manuscript written at this time, “Dueling,” in the Autobiographical Dictation of 19 January 1906.
Two further sketches were written in the fall of 1898 and also later inserted into the final structure of autobiographical dictations. The first was “Wapping Alice,” a tale deemed unsuitable for magazine publication, which was based on an actual event. It joined a growing collection of manuscripts that Clemens would eventually draw on for what he called “fat”—“old pigeon-holed things, of the years gone by, which I or editors didn’t das’t to print”—that he would use to enlarge the bulk of the Autobiography.37 More than a year after he began dictating his autobiography in 1906, he inserted “Wapping Alice” in the Autobiographical Dictation of 9 April 1907.
The second sketch was “My Debut as a Literary Person,” which he dated “October 1, 1898” and labeled “Chapter XIV.” The revision of this manuscript reflects a season of discouragement about the autobiography, a mood that shows up sporadically during the winter of 1898–99. Just below the title he first inserted a footnote: “This is Chapter XIV of my unfinished Autobiography and the way it is getting along it promises to remain an unfinished one.” Then he changed “unfinished” to “unpublished” and canceled the words following “Autobiography.” When the sketch appeared in the Century Magazine for November 1899, it omitted any reference to his autobiography. Still, it is the first “chapter” to be published in fulfillment of his long-held plan to publish selections from it.38



FIGURE 1. The first page of the manuscript of “My Autobiography [Random Extracts from It].” Clemens deleted the epigraph shown here—two stanzas from The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám—and “From Chapter II” when revising the forty-four-page typescript (now lost) that was made from the manuscript; they are therefore omitted from the present text. Two notes at the top were written by Paine: “Vienna | 1897–8” and “no 109” (a filing designation). Rosamond Chapman, DeVoto’s assistant, wrote “Publ. Auto, 81ff”—where Paine published the text.
Clemens’s unsettled attitude toward his “unfinished” autobiography is clear, but not readily explained. On 10 October 1898, even as he was preparing “My Debut” for magazine publication, he told Edward Bok, editor of the Ladies’ Home Journal,
A good deal of the Autobiography is written, but I never work on it except when a reminiscence of some kind crops up in a strong way & in a manner forces me; so it is years too early yet to think of publishing—except now & then at long intervals a single chapter, maybe. I intend to do that, someday. But it would not answer for your Magazine. Indeed a good deal of it is written in too independent a fashion for a magazine. One may publish a book & print whatever his family shall approve & allow to pass, but it is the Public that edit a Magazine, & so by the sheer necessities of the case a magazine’s liberties are rather limited. For instance: a few days ago I wrote Chapter XIV—“My Debut as a Literary Person”—my wife edited it, approved it (with enthusiasm—this is unusual), & said send it to you & retire the “Platonic Sweetheart.” It was a good idea, & I said I would. But on my way to the village postoffice with it I remembered that it contained a sentence of nine words which you would have to drive a blue pencil through—so that blocked that scheme.39
A month later, in a more ambitious frame of mind, he wrote to Rogers that he now planned to “take up my uncompleted Autobiography & finish it, & let Bliss and Chatto each make $15,000 out of it for me next fall (as they did with the Equator-book).” But almost immediately he changed his mind about the need for money, and concluded that he would “never write the Autobiography till I’m in a hole. It is best for me to be in a hole sometimes, I reckon.” Then, just a few days later, he wrote again to Rogers: “I have resumed my Autobiography, and I suppose I shall have Vol. 1 done by spring time. I hope so I expect so.” And at last, in February 1899, still trying to find a magazine publisher for “My Debut,” he told Century editor Richard Watson Gilder: “I have abandoned my Autobiography, & am not going to finish it; but I took a reminiscent chapter out of it some time ago & & had it copyrighted & had it type-written, thinking it would make a readable magazine article.”40 So within the span of a few months he claimed that a “good deal” of the autobiography was written; that he would never finish it until he was “in a hole”; that he expected to have the first volume “done by spring time”; and that he had “abandoned” it altogether. He was obviously struggling with how, or even whether, to proceed with a work that had been in and out of the pigeonhole for twenty years.
Innumerable Biographies (1898 and 1899)
It is difficult to be entirely sure, but Clemens seems to have become discouraged at least in part over his inability to be completely frank and self-revealing, after the fashion of Rousseau and Casanova. His solution was, at least temporarily, to recast the autobiography as a series of thumbnail biographies of people he had met over the years. Several autobiographical manuscripts written in Vienna—“Horace Greeley,” “Lecture-Times,” and “Ralph Keeler”—are character sketches that were part of this reconception, one that he also relied on to some extent in 1904. The Vienna portraits recall men and women whom he knew in his days on the lyceum circuit in the early 1870s. The new plan probably owed something to the idea of a lecture he wrote back then called “Reminiscences of Some un-Commonplace Characters I Have Chanced to Meet.” He delivered this lecture, which he said covered his “whole acquaintance—kings, humorists, lunatics, idiots & all,” only twice. No text of it is known to survive, but in Vienna he evidently resurrected its premise.41 In an interview for the London Times in May 1899 the reporter explained:
Mr. Clemens has kindly given me permission to telegraph to The Times some particulars of a pet scheme of his to which he has already devoted a great deal of his time and which will occupy a great part of the remainder of his life. In some respects it will be unparalleled in the history of literature. It is a bequest to posterity, in which none of those now living and comparatively few of their grandchildren even will have any part or share. This is a work which is only to be published 100 years after his death as a portrait gallery of contemporaries with whom he has come into personal contact. These are drawn solely for his own pleasure in the work, and with the single object of telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, without malice, and to serve no grudge, but, at the same time, without respect of persons or social conventions, institutions, or pruderies of any kind.
Clemens even spelled out exactly why he had abandoned his original plan for an autobiography: “You cannot lay bare your private soul and look at it. You are too much ashamed of yourself. It is too disgusting. For that reason I confine myself to drawing the portraits of others.” And in an interview after he returned to London, he said again that the new idea had actually supplanted his earlier ideas for the autobiography:
I’m not going to write autobiography. The man has yet to be born who could write the truth about himself. Autobiography is always interesting, but howsoever true its facts may be, its interpretation of them must be taken with a great deal of allowance. In the innumerable biographies I am writing many persons are represented who are not famous today, but who may be some day.42
If this switch to biographical portraits signaled frustration over the puzzle of how to tell even the shameful truths, his interest in it was still relatively brief. We have no indication that he wrote any further portraits until 1904, and by 1906 the character-sketch idea had fallen entirely out of favor. For about a year Clemens seems not to have added anything to his accumulation of autobiographical “chapters.” In the fall of 1899 he moved his family to London, and for about a year seems to have taken leave of the autobiography.
Scraps and Chapters (1900 to 1903)
Clemens’s use of the terms “Scraps” and “Extracts” (as well as “Random”) in 1897–98 suggests that he was looking for a way to label “chapters” which, while not themselves strictly chronological, might still have been parts of some coherent narrative sequence. In the fall of 1900 he used the term “Scraps” in the titles of three more sketches for the autobiography: “Travel-Scraps II,” “Scraps from My Autobiography. Private History of a Manuscript That Came to Grief,” and “Scraps from My Autobiography. From Chapter IX.” Only one of these made it into the final form: “Travel-Scraps II” continued the 1897 recital of grievances about London’s telephones and postal system and was ultimately inserted in the Autobiographical Dictation for 27 February 1907. “Scraps from My Autobiography. Private History of a Manuscript That Came to Grief” was much longer. It concerned a recent experience with T. Douglas Murray, an amateur historian, who had invited Clemens to write an introduction for an English translation of Joan of Arc’s trial records. Clemens submitted his draft, and wrote Murray: “When I send the Introduction, I must get you to do two things for me—knock the lies out of it & purify the grammar (which I think stinks, in one place.)”43 Murray took this invitation all too literally and proceeded to revise the text extensively, making the language more formal, even pretentious. Enraged by this tampering, Clemens proceeded to draft a reply in the shape of a scathing letter to Murray, which of course he never sent, preparing it instead for the autobiography.44 The third manuscript, also excluded from the final form, nevertheless illustrates a rather different dynamic, namely the persistent reluctance or inability to break entirely free from the chronological structure of conventional autobiography. The manuscript was titled (as revised) “Selections ^Scraps^ from my Autobiography. Passages rom Chapter IX.” Paine thought it was written “about 1898” but it was in fact written in 1900, as one reference in the text makes clear. The assignment of a chapter number is something that it shares with only a handful of other manuscripts, summarized in the following list.
Chap I
Written in 1877. Describes Clemens’s home until aged 4, when the family moved to Hannibal.
Chap II
Written in 1897–98. “My Autobiography [Random Extracts from It].” Clemens aged 7 to 12.
Chap IV
Written in 1903. “Scraps from My Autobiography. From Chapter IV.” Transcribed in ADs, 1 and 2 Dec 1906. Clemens aged 14.
Chap IX
Written in 1900. “Scraps from My Autobiography. From Chapter IX.” Clemens aged 14, 38, and 61.
Chap XII
Not found, but written after 1898 since it refers to Vienna. Clemens aged 62. Mentioned in chapter XVII.
Chap XIV
Written in 1898. “My Debut as a Literary Person.” Clemens aged 30.
Chap XVII
Written in 1903. “From Chapter XVII.” Transcribed in AD, 3 Dec 1906. Clemens aged 62.
Although some additional numbered chapters may have been written and subsequently lost or destroyed, it is highly unlikely that in 1903, when Clemens labeled a text “Chapter XVII,” he had actually written seventeen chapters. But the numbers assigned to the chapters that do survive correspond roughly to the chronology of their topics, even though they do not accurately reflect the lapse of time: Clemens was fourteen in both Chapter IV and Chapter IX, but between Chapter IX and Chapter XIV he aged from fourteen to thirty, and then to age sixty-two by Chapter XVII. Still, this rough approximation is exactly what one would expect if the chapter numbers were only estimates, intended to place the chapters in approximate chronological order. Together they again suggest that although he was not writing about his life in the order of its occurrences, he was still trying to maintain an overall chronology, even as late as 1903.
The text numbered “Chapter IX” (“Scraps from My Autobiography,” written in 1900) is suggestive in a related way. The chapter number would place it relatively early in his life. It recounts two stories from Clemens’s youth, when he was fourteen (1849–50), but it concludes each story with much later events—the first in Calcutta in 1896 when he was sixty-one, and the second in London in 1873 when he was thirty-eight. In both cases it seems that to follow the stories to what Clemens regarded as their natural conclusion, it was necessary to skip over several decades of his life. So whatever else “Chapter IX” was in 1900, it was not a purely chronological account—even though the chapter number placed it toward the beginning of the narrative.
A similar tension occurs in the two manuscripts with chapter numbers written in 1903 but revised in 1906 after Clemens had settled on discursiveness as the principle for the whole autobiography: both were inserted into the dictations for 1, 2, and 3 December 1906. In 1903 he titled the first one “Scraps from My Autobiography. From Chapter IV,” and began it with a marginal date (“1849–51”). It concerns his youthful encounters with mesmerism in Hannibal. The second 1903 manuscript, paginated separately but probably written at the same time (they share the same ink and paper), brought this story to its conclusion. It is another story about mesmerism, in which a haughty aristocrat is embarrassed by being hypnotized and ordered to undress, in retaliation for his incredulity. Clemens originally titled it “From Chapter XVII.” But when he decided to use the manuscripts in the December dictations, he removed all reference to chapter numbers. So the first mesmerism story was originally assigned to Chapter IV, and its natural conclusion to Chapter XVII, separated by some twelve putative chapters. Their revision shows that in 1903 Clemens was still wrestling with the compulsion to maintain some semblance of his life’s chronology, while in 1906, when he made the manuscripts into one continuous narrative, he had clearly shed that compulsion.
On 15 October 1900 the family arrived in New York City, where they soon rented a house at 14 West 10th Street. “Jean is learning to type-write,” Clemens wrote a friend, “& presently I’ll dictate & thereby save some scraps of time.”45 Jean’s new skill may have prompted Clemens to think again of dictating, rather than writing, the autobiography. There were other temptations as well. The president of Harper and Brothers, George Harvey, was clearly interested in the prestige that would flow from having the rights to publish the autobiography, even though it would not actually appear until long after both men had died. On 17 October 1900 Harvey proposed to Rogers (who was acting as Clemens’s agent) to “publish the memoirs in the year 2000” and suggested that Clemens “insert a clause in his will to the effect that the memoirs shall be sealed without reading by his executors, and deposited with a trust company.”
The agreement would, of course, provide for publication in whatever modes should then be prevalent, that is, by printing as at present, or by use of phonographic cylinders, or by electrical method, or by any other mode which may then be in use, any number of which would doubtless occur to his vivid imagination, and would form an interesting clause in the agreement.46
Harvey was in fact eager to make Harper and Brothers into Clemens’s exclusive American publisher, and on 14 November, after much discussion, he proposed a rate of twenty cents a word for the exclusive serial rights to anything he might write in the next year, as well as the exclusive right to publish all of his books in the same period. One week later Clemens wrote to Harvey, “Let us add the 100-year book to the arrangements again, & make it definite; for I am going to dictate that book to my daughter, with the certainty that as I go along I shall grind out chapters which will be good for magazine & book to-day, & not need to wait a century.” Nothing dictated to Jean at this time has been found, but Clemens soon agreed to Harvey’s “proposal regarding the publication of my memoirs 100 years hence,” although no formal contract for the autobiography was signed at this time.47
In August 1902, Olivia’s health grew alarmingly worse. Despite temporary improvements, it continued to decline, and in 1903, on the recommendation of her doctors, Clemens decided to take the family to Italy. In early November they settled into the Villa di Quarto near Florence. In addition to Clemens himself, the travelers included Olivia, Clara, and Jean. Three employees were also with them: longtime family servant Katy Leary, a nurse for Olivia, and Isabel V. Lyon, who had been hired in 1902 as Olivia’s secretary but had since assumed more general duties.
The Florentine Dictations (1904)
During his eight-month stay in Florence Clemens made unusual progress on the autobiography, in large part because of a renewed enthusiasm for dictation as a method of composition. He had experimented with mechanical methods of transferring words to paper ever since the dictations to Redpath in 1885. In 1888 he tried (and failed) to get access to one of Thomas Edison’s recording phonographs.48 Then in 1891 he suffered an attack of rheumatism in his right arm and, compelled by the necessity of working on his current book (The American Claimant), he did briefly experiment with the phonograph. “I feel sure I can dictate the book into a phonograph if I don’t have to yell. I write 2,000 words a day; I think I can dictate twice as many,” he wrote to Howells on 28 February. But by 4 April he had concluded that the machine “is good enough for mere letter-writing” but
you can’t write literature with it, because it hasn’t any ideas & it hasn’t any gift for elaboration, or smartness of talk, or vigor of action, or felicity of expression, but is just matter-of-fact, compressive, unornamental, & as grave & unsmiling as the devil. I filled four dozen cylinders in two sittings, then found I could have said about as much with the pen & said it a deal better. Then I resigned. I believe it could teach one to dictate literature to a phonographer—& some time I will experiment in that line.49
His expectation in December 1900 of relying on Jean to type up dictated autobiography at last became a reality in January 1904, when he tried dictating once more, but not to a machine. According to Isabel Lyon,
About January 14, Mr. Clemens began to dictate to me. His idea of writing an autobiography had never proved successful, for to his mind autobiography is like narrative & should be spoken. At Mrs. Clemens’s suggestion we tried, and Mr. Clemens found that he could do it to a charm. In fact he loves the work. But we have had to stop for he has been ill, Mrs. Clemens has been very ill, & I too have taken a weary turn in bed.50
Lyon did not know shorthand and so took down Clemens’s words in full, then gave Jean her record to be typed. Shortly after he had begun to dictate, Clemens wrote to Howells on 16 January:
I’ve struck it! And I will give it away—to you. You will never know how much enjoyment you have lost until you get to dictating your autobiography; then you will realize, with a pang, that you might have been doing it all your life if you had only had the luck to think of it. And you will be astonished (& charmed) to see how like talk it is, & how real it sounds, & how well & compactly & sequentially it constructs itself, & what a dewy & breezy & woodsy freshness it has, & what a darling & worshipful absence of the signs of starch, & flatiron, & labor & fuss & the other artificialities! Mrs. Clemens is an exacting critic, but I have not talked a sentence yet that she has wanted altered. There are little slips here & there, little inexactnesses, & many desertions of a thought before the end of it has been reached, but these are not blemishes, they are merits, their removal would take away the naturalness of the flow & banish the very thing—the nameless something—which differentiates real narrative from artificial narrative & makes the one so vastly better than the other—the subtle something which makes good talk so much better than the best imitation of it that can be done with a pen.
It seems that he recognized Lyon’s lack of shorthand as an advantage, for he went on to urge Howells to try this method, but “with a long-hand scribe, not with a stenographer. At least not at first. Not until you get your hand in, I should say. There’s a good deal of waiting, of course, but that is no matter; soon you do not mind it.” More important even than the leisurely pace was the scribe’s role as audience: “Miss Lyons does the scribing, & is an inspiration, because she takes so much interest in it. I dictate from 10. 30 till noon. The result is about 1500 words. Then I am a free man & can read & smoke the rest of the day, for there’s not a correction to be made.”
Dictation proved so congenial, in fact, that his opinion of the drafts and experiments he had written over the years now began to change. He continued to Howells:
I’ve a good many chapters of Auto—written with a pen from time to time & laid away in envelops—but I expect that when I come to examine them I shall throw them away & do them over again with my mouth, for I feel sure that my quondam satisfaction in them will have vanished & that they will seem poor & artificial & lacking in color. . . .
One would expect dictated stuff to read like an impromptu speech—brokenly, catchily, repetitiously, & marred by absence of coherence, fluent movement, & the happy things that didn’t come till the speech was done—but it isn’t so.51
Howells replied to this letter on 14 February, shrewdly raising a familiar issue (clearly not for the first time)—the difficulty of telling the whole truth:
I’d like immensely to read your autobiography. You always rather bewildered me by your veracity, and I fancy you may tell the truth about yourself. But all of it? The black truth, which we all know of ourselves in our hearts, or only the whity-brown truth of the pericardium, or the nice, whitened truth of the shirtfront? Even you wont tell the black heart’s-truth. The man who could do it would be famed to the last day the sun shone upon.52
Clemens had of course already reached the same skeptical conclusion. He answered Howells:
Yes, I set up the safeguards, in the first day’s dictating—taking this position: that an Autobiography is the truest of all books; for while it inevitably consists mainly of extinctions of the truth, shirkings of the truth, partial revealments of the truth, with hardly an instance of plain straight truth, the remorseless truth is there, between the lines, where the author-cat is raking dust upon it which hides from the disinterested spectator neither it nor its smell (though I didn’t use that figure)—the result being that the reader knows the author in spite of his wily diligences.53
What those “safeguards” were remains unknown, since no copy of the “first day’s dictating” has survived. The most one can say is that Clemens seems to have moved on from his despair at not being able to tell “the black heart’s-truth,” rationalizing that that truth would emerge anyway, in spite of all his attempts to suppress it. In a dictation made in late January 1904 he hinted at the disinhibiting nature of talk:
Within the last eight or ten years I have made several attempts to do the autobiography in one way or another with a pen, but the result was not satisfactory, it was too literary. . . .
With a pen in the hand the narrative stream is a canal; it moves slowly, smoothly, decorously, sleepily, it has no blemish except that it is all blemish. It is too literary, too prim, too nice; the gait and style and movement are not suited to narrative.
Two years later, in mid-June 1906, he would look back on this time in 1904 as the moment he discovered free-wheeling, spoken narrative as “the right way to do an Autobiography.”54
Only six Florentine Dictations are known to survive. Three of them are portraits of friends or acquaintances—“John Hay,” “Robert Louis Stevenson and Thomas Bailey Aldrich,” and “Henry H. Rogers”—presumably products of the “portrait gallery” concept. Two are reminiscences: “Notes on ‘Innocents Abroad’ ” and a sketch (untitled) recalling his first use of the typewriter. The sixth is a complaint about the Villa di Quarto, the family’s current residence near Florence.55 It is the longest and the least polished, an extended diatribe about the rented villa and especially its hated owner, the Countess Massiglia. Clemens concluded it by inserting an 1892 manuscript about the Villa Viviani, where the Clemenses had lived during an earlier, more enjoyable stay in Florence. Despite that moderating addition, the 1904 dictation is replete with fiery insults to the countess—so much so that when, in May and June 1906, Clemens considered publishing selections of autobiography with S. S. McClure, he marked in blue pencil the offending passages on Jean’s typescript and wrote (on the verso of page 2), “Leave out that blue-penciled ^passage^ (& all blue-penciled passages[)] in the first edition,” and added, “Restore them in later editions.”56
It is clear that there were Florentine Dictations that have not survived, at least not as originally dictated. In August 1906 Clemens said that he had created more than a dozen “little biographies,” of which we have almost none.
By my count, estimating from the time when I began these dictations two years ago, in Italy, I have been in the right mood for competently and exhaustively feeding fat my ancient grudges in the cases of only thirteen deserving persons—one woman and twelve men. It makes good reading. Whenever I go back and re-read those little biographies and characterizations it cheers me up, and I feel that I have not lived in vain. The work was well done. The art of it is masterly. I admire it more and more every time I examine it. I do believe I have flayed and mangled and mutilated those people beyond the dreams of avarice.57
Only one such Florentine Dictation is known to survive: Clemens certainly “flayed” the Countess Massiglia in “Villa di Quarto.” We can only guess who the “deserving” men were by considering other evidence. For example, in a letter of 29 January 1904 Clemens vented his anger toward Henry A. Butters, head of the American Plasmon Company, whom he held responsible for his investment losses: “As soon as I get back we will pull Butters into Court, & I guess we can jail him. . . . He occupies space enough in my Autobiography to pay back all he & his pimp have robbed me of.”58 But no such text from 1904 or earlier survives, and Butters is mentioned only in passing in the later Autobiographical Dictations. (On 31 October 1908, for example, Clemens described him as “easily the meanest white man, and the most degraded in spirit and contemptible in character I have ever known.”) There are others who might have received harsh treatment in now-lost dictations from 1904 whose portraits were then “done over” between January and August 1906. Clemens scattered a few sarcastic remarks about Charles L. Webster in the early 1906 dictations, then excoriated him at length in the one for 29 May 1906. Other candidates include Daniel Whitford, Clemens’s attorney; James W. Paige, inventor of the failed typesetter; and of course Bret Harte.59
The Copyright Extension Gambit (1904 to 1909)
When Olivia died suddenly on 5 June 1904, Clemens’s interest in his autobiography quite naturally evaporated, and in the next year and a half he wrote only one short sketch for it, “Anecdote of Jean.” But before Olivia died, his new enthusiasm for dictating the autobiography gave rise to a scheme to provide income for the family he thought would survive him (he was then sixty-eight). In the same January letter to Howells in which he enthused about dictation he described this new idea: “If I live two years this Auto will cover many volumes, but they will not be published independently, but only as notes (copyrightable) to my existing books. Their purpose is, to add 28 years to the life of the existing books. I think the notes will add 50% of matter to each book, & be some shades more readable than the book itself.”60
This notion was still alive almost a year after Clemens had begun his dictations to Josephine Hobby in January 1906. In December of that year he spoke of it to a reporter, who then summarized it in the New York Times:
As soon as the copyright expires on one of his books Mark Twain or his executors will apply for a new copyright on the book, with a portion of the autobiography run as a footnote. For example, when the copyright on “Tom Sawyer” expires, a new edition of that book will be published. . . . About one third of this new edition of “Tom Sawyer” will be autobiography, separated from the old text only by the rules or lines. The same course will be followed with each book, as the copyright expires.
So far as possible the part of the autobiography will be germane to the book in which it appears. . . .
He is confirmed in this by the experience of Sir Walter Scott, from whom he got the germ of his idea. Scott kept his copyrights alive by publishing new editions with commentaries. . . . He believes his scheme will insure a copyright of eighty-four years instead of forty-two, and, as he said the other day: “The children are all I am interested in; let the grandchildren look out for themselves.61
It is difficult to know just how serious Clemens was about this scheme because it was never put to the test. On 24 December 1909, in “Closing Words of My Autobiography,” he explained that the
reason that moved me was a desire to save my copyrights from extinction, so that Jean and Clara would always have a good livelihood from my books after my death. . . .
That tedious long labor was wasted. Last March Congress added fourteen years to the forty-two-year term, and so my oldest book has now about fifteen years to live. I have no use for that addition, (I am seventy-four years old), poor Jean has no use for it now, Clara is happily and prosperously married and has no use for it.
Because of that change in the law, he evidently told Clara much the same thing. She protested, and he replied on 23 February 1909:
Maybe I ought to have said “half-wasted.” Bless your heart I put in two or three years on that Autobiography in order to add 28 years to my book-lives. Congress has ^now^ gone & added 14 of the 28; & the law is now in such a sane shape that Congress can be persuaded presently, without difficulty, to add another 14. . . .
My child, I wasn’t doing the Autobiography in the world’s interest, but only in yours & Jean’s.62
Still, it is clear that extending his copyrights had never been his primary motive for creating the Autobiography.
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MARK TWAIN
The Autobiographical Dictations Begin (January 1906)
Clemens, his two daughters, Katy Leary, and Isabel Lyon accompanied Olivia’s body back to America in July 1904. They buried her at Quarry Farm, and Clara entered a rest home in New York City while Clemens, Jean, and Lyon spent the rest of the month in a rented summer home in Lee, Massachusetts. On 10 August Clemens went to New York and soon signed a three-year lease for a town house at 21 Fifth Avenue, which he and Jean occupied in December 1904 after it was renovated and furnished.
One year later, in January 1906, work on the autobiography had been at a standstill for eighteen months. A catalyst was needed to revive the enthusiasm of 1904, and on the night of 3 January it arrived in the form of Albert Bigelow Paine. Paine was an experienced writer and editor who in 1904 had published a biography of Thomas Nast which Clemens admired. On that January evening Paine attended a dinner in honor of Clemens, hosted by The Players club, and happened to be seated “nearly facing” him. Three days later he called at 21 Fifth Avenue and asked to write Mark Twain’s biography. After brief preliminaries Clemens turned to him and said: “When would you like to begin?” Paine went on to suggest that a stenographer be hired to take notes of what Clemens said in response to the biographer’s questions. Clemens said that he thought he would “enjoy dictating to a stenographer, with some one to prompt me and to act as audience,” and he offered Paine office room and access to “a trunkful or two” of his manuscripts, notes, and letters. “Whatever you need will be brought to you. We can have the dictation here in the morning, and you can put in the rest of the day to suit yourself. You can have a key and come and go as you please.”63
It was agreed that work should begin on 9 January. On that Saturday morning, Paine arrived accompanied by a stenographer, Josephine S. Hobby. The procedure for working on the biography was promptly decided, but Clemens
proposed to double the value and interest of our employment by letting his dictations continue the form of those earlier autobiographical chapters, begun with Redpath in 1885, and continued later in Vienna and at the Villa Quarto. He said he did not think he could follow a definite chronological program; that he would like to wander about, picking up this point and that, as memory or fancy prompted, without any particular biographical order. It was his purpose, he declared, that his dictations should not be published until he had been dead a hundred years or more—a prospect which seemed to give him an especial gratification.64
Josephine Hobby was an experienced stenographer and an excellent typist, known to Paine for about eight years. She had previously worked for Charles Dudley Warner and Mary Mapes Dodge and was currently employed by the Century Company, which, since 1899, had also employed Paine as an editor of St. Nicholas, a magazine for young people. Hobby charged one dollar per hour of dictation and five cents per hundred words of typescript. She began immediately with a transcription of the morning’s conversation. “We will try this,” Clemens told Paine, “see whether it is dull or interesting, or whether it will bore us and we will want to commit suicide. I hate to get at it. I hate to begin, but I imagine that if you are here to make suggestions from time to time, we can make it go along, instead of having it drag.” He proposed a schedule of four or five days a week, for roughly two hours each morning.65 Clemens talked while Hobby took him down in shorthand and Paine listened appreciatively. For these early sessions, Paine recalled, Clemens usually dictated from bed, “clad in a handsome silk dressing-gown of rich Persian pattern, propped against great snowy pillows.”66
Before Clemens was done dictating in 1909, he and Hobby, along with three other typists, generated more than five thousand pages of typescript. That enormous body of material has, since Clemens’s death, constituted the largest part of the manuscript known as the “Autobiography.” But probably since DeVoto’s time as editor of the Mark Twain Papers, anyone who consulted that file was likely to be puzzled by two things. First, most of the Autobiographical Dictations between January and August 1906 were filed in folders—one per dictation—containing between two and four separate, distinct typed copies of essentially the same text. No one understood the purpose of the duplicates. Second, the differences (if any) between these various “duplicates” were not obvious or readily intelligible: pagination differed, seemingly without pattern; some contained handwritten authorial revisions, while others were unmarked; and many were extensively marked by at least half a dozen different (mostly unidentified) hands, in addition to the author’s. These documents constituted the central puzzle confronting anyone who set out to publish the Autobiography of Mark Twain.
The First Typescript (TS1)
A first step in solving the puzzle was to find reliable ways of distinguishing between the several, nearly identical typed copies in any given folder. The paper used, specific characteristics of the typewriter and habits of the typist, and of course the unexplained differences in pagination proved to be essential pieces of evidence. The very first typescript Hobby created from her stenographic notes was eventually isolated and identified in this way, and it is called hereafter TS1 (for typescript 1). Each of the other typescripts (sometimes with carbon copies as well) were similarly identified, and are herein referred to by number (TS2, TS3, and TS4). Once they were physically distinguishable in this way, it became possible to see that the (understandable) fashion in which daily dictations were filed had in fact long obscured why there were different typed copies.67 It was in turn possible to decide, on the basis of meticulous collation, which was copied from which, and to begin to make some sense of the various differences between them.
By 18 January Hobby had settled on a standard format for each session: she recorded the time spent on dictation and a word count at the top left of the first page, with the page number centered, and the date of dictation at the right, usually followed by a summary of the contents. Hobby marked in pencil any errors she had failed to correct on the machine. The typescript then went to Clemens for correction and revision. TS1 would total roughly twenty-six hundred consecutively numbered pages, beginning at page 1 with the dictation of 9 January 1906 and ending with the dictation of 14 July 1908, which Hobby completed shortly before leaving Clemens’s employment. Two later stenographer-typists produced another hundred or so pages of typescript, which did not continue the TS1 pagination sequence.68
Hobby soon agreed to give up her job with the Century Company in order to work for Clemens exclusively during the summer and possibly longer. On 13 March Lyon commented in her journal, “Mr. Clemens finds her entirely to his liking & he says ‘it is a case of established competency’ which is saying a great deal—for she is a good audience, is sympathetic & very appreciative.”69 By 8 April Hobby had transcribed her notes through the end of the 28 March 1906 dictation.
Despite the risk of somehow losing TS1, a unique copy (there was no carbon copy at this point), Clemens allowed Clara to carry away and read about five hundred pages, through the end of the 16 March dictation. He also lent Twichell three days’ dictation, probably those for 23, 26, and 27 March. On 8 April, Lyon recorded that “Mr. Twichell is here—Mrs., too—& Mr. T. thinks the auto. MS. is absorbingly interesting.” He presumably returned the three dictations at that time. The same day Clemens took the entire 28 March dictation (Orion’s misadventure with Dr. Meredith’s “old-maid sisters”) up to lunch with Howells at the Hotel Regent. Howells returned the pages by the next day’s mail:
I want to see every word of the 578 pages before this, which is one of the humanest and richest pages in the history of man. If you have gone this gate [i.e., gait] all through you have already gone farther than any autobiographer ever went before. You are nakeder than Adam and Eve put together, and truer than sin. But—but—but you really mustn’t let Orion have got into the bed. I know he did, but—
Lyon noted that Clara had written “enthusiastically about it too,” but her letter has not been found. Clemens replied to her in Atlantic City, two days before she was supposed to return the pages to him:
I am so glad, you dear ashcat! so glad the auto interests you; I was so afraid it wouldn’t. I couldn’t guess as to how it might read, for I have purposely refrained from reading a line of it myself, lest I should find myself disappointed & throw up the job. I wanted it to gather age before I should look at it, so that it would read to me as it would to a stranger—then I could judge it intelligently. However, as Twichell wanted to experiment with it I took the last 3 days instalments & corrected them—& in this way I found out that I was doing well enough for an apprentice who was an unpractised learner in the art of dictating to a stenographer. Twichell’s verdict is, that the interest doesn’t flag. That’s all I want. I only want to interest the reader, he can go elsewhere for profit & instruction.70
On 11 April Clemens took a break from his dictating routine, and did not resume until 21 May, after he, Jean, and Lyon were settled for the summer in the isolated Upton House near the village of Dublin, New Hampshire. Clemens arrived there on 15 May; Paine and Hobby arrived a few days later and found quarters nearby. Paine reported, “We began in his bedroom, as before, but the feeling there was depressing.” He described the view from the verandah of the Upton House as “one of the most beautiful landscape visions on the planet,” and reported that Clemens soon saw the opportunity it presented: “I think we’ll do our dictating out here hereafter. It ought to be an inspiring place.” Lyon occasionally recorded Clemens’s (and her own) impatience with the “old-maidish whims” and slowness of the “Hobby horse,” but for the most part the morning sessions seem to have been remarkably amicable.71 Lyon described one of them in her journal:
There was a long—a 3 hour dictation this morning, when Mr. Clemens used letters as a subject. . . . It was beautiful to hear the laughter from the porch; the King’s rich laugh, the biographer’s falsetto delight & the stenographer’s chirping gurgle—it made a lovely song. I stole out to sit on a wicker thing in the hall & watch & listen. The King in white—the biographer in soft grey & the stenographer in dark blue, with a kitten in her lap.72
In late May Clemens also began in earnest the job of reading and correcting the four months’ accumulation of TS1, which by then consisted of over seven hundred pages (through the dictation for 11 April). He revised the typescript in black ink, only rarely in pencil, making relatively few changes in wording—at least after the first ten dictations—and he consistently made a smattering of changes or corrections to spelling, punctuation, and paragraphing. For the most part Hobby seems to have learned, directly or indirectly from Clemens, how he preferred to spell and punctuate. Inevitably there were mistakes, especially in proper names (“Katie” instead of “Katy,” “Susie” instead of the preferred “Susy,” “Twitchell” instead of “Twichell”). And with a backlog of hundreds of pages typed before he began his review, Clemens inevitably found repetitive errors. Lyon noted in her journal:
Day after day Mr. Clemens is harassed and tormented when he is reading the dictated matter by continually coming across Hobby blunders, & the worst one—the most exasperating one is where she invariably corrects Mr. Clemens, writing “one thousand” or “one hundred,” where he has said “a thousand”, or “a hundred.” Today it passed the limit of his endurance. Through his tightly shut teeth he damned that “hell-fired word” until he was tired; & then he went for “that idiot!”—“that devilish woman! I’d like some one to take her out & have her scalped and gutted!”—73
He had found (and corrected) over two dozen instances of this trivial but irritating error. One can only hope that he alerted Hobby to her mistake in a less ferocious mood.
S. S. McClure and Syndication
Clemens’s correction and revision of TS1 was given a special impetus by S.S. McClure, founder of McClure’s Syndicate and McClure’s Magazine, who offered to pay Clemens a dollar per word for the right to syndicate fifty thousand words from the autobiography. As Clemens reviewed Hobby’s typescripts and some of his pre-1906 texts, he began noting likely candidates for McClure’s proposed syndication. For instance, the blue-penciled notation “Mc” is written at the top of the first page of the 1904 “Villa di Quarto” typescript, and the same or a similar notation can be seen on several other pages of TS1 prepared between January and March 1906. Still other dictations were marked “Not for MC.”
Clemens was not, however, free to accept McClure’s bid. He had signed an exclusive contract with Harper and Brothers on 22 October 1903, which prohibited his publishing with another firm any of his “books, writings or works now existing or which may hereafter be created.” It further stipulated that all “miscellaneous articles accepted for magazines or periodicals shall be paid for at the rate of thirty cents a word.” Even so, on 27 May Clemens kept Lyon busy for two hours taking notes while he outlined “a course of action to be followed out in his scheme of breaking away from the Harper Contract & selling 50000 words to McClure for $50000.00 to be syndicated.” His interest in publishing with McClure was more than financial, however. He had an express desire to see the selections “go into the papers—even into the Hearst papers—to reach his ‘submerged clientele.’”74 He further explained to Rogers,
I’d like to see a lot of this stuff in print before I die—but not the bulk of it, oh no! I am not desiring to be crucified yet. Howells thinks the Auto will outlive the Innocents Abroad a thousand years, & I know it will. I would like the literary world to see (as Howells says) that the form of this book is one of the most memorable literary inventions of the ages. And so it is. It ranks with the steam engine, the printing press & the electric telegraph. I’m the only person who has ever found out the right way to build an autobiography.
Rogers, however, did not favor accepting McClure’s offer. Believing that the Harper contract was “so valuable that they would seize the opportunity of breaking the arrangement if it were possible,” he urged Clemens not to “think of anything that will vitiate” it.75
“The Final (and Right) Plan” (June 1906)
On 10 June Clemens wrote to a friend, “I’ve stopped dictating—tired of it. I’ve stopped reading autobiography & admiring it—tired to death of it!”76 Clemens’s lack of enthusiasm must have been merely a passing mood, however, since he did not in fact stop dictating or “reading autobiography.” From 11 to 14 June he dictated every day (as well as on six more days before the end of the month), while he continued to read and revise TS1, working his way through the backlog of over nine hundred pages by 21 June. And it was also at this time that he decided to return to a task that he had begun the previous winter but suspended in May: reviewing his earlier manuscripts, including his preliminary attempts at autobiography. On 8 June he sent Paine to the house at 21 Fifth Avenue to fetch the cache of manuscripts that he had gathered together for use in the biography as well as for his copyright scheme.77 Many years later, Lyon annotated a copy of Paine’s edition where “The Tennessee Land” began, explaining that “in the winter of 1905–6” Clemens pursued his idea of using “autobiographical notes to be added to each volume on its copyright expiration, thus creating a new volume with its new copyright to be extended for 14 years. . . . He asked me for the notes he wrote in 1870 & later—& here is the beginning.” It is also likely that at about the same time she heard Clemens read the manuscript of what Paine titled “Early Years in Florida, Missouri.” She noted in Paine’s edition, “Mr Clemens called for this MS. which he read aloud to me; often deeply moved by memories his voice momentarily lost in emotion.”78
Paine arrived back in Dublin on the thirteenth with a “small steamer trunk” of manuscripts. On 22 June Lyon wrote in her journal:
. . . & then after luncheon we sat on the porch & Mr. Clemens read the very first autobiography beginning, a bit written many years ago ^about 1879^—44 typewritten pages, & telling of his boyhood days, & the farm, & the joys of living in It is a beautiful bit of poetry—it is full of pictures & the afternoon was very very lovely ^He was deeply moved as he read on & on.^79
Clemens may have been considering which of his early reminiscences he liked well enough to add to the autobiography, if only to enlarge its bulk. A few days earlier (17 June) he had written a long letter to Howells in which he referred to yet another way to expand his text, this one taking advantage of posthumous publication:
There’s a good deal of “fat.” I’ve dictated, (from Jan. 9) 210,000 words, & the “fat” adds about 50,000 more.
The “fat” is old pigeon-holed things, of the years gone by, which I or editors didn’t das’t to print. For instance, I am dumping in the little old book which I read to you in Hartford about 30 years ago & which you said “publish—& ask Dean Stanley to furnish an introduction; he’ll do it.” “(Captain Stormfield’s Visit to Heaven.”) It reads quite to suit me, without altering a word, now that it isn’t to see print until I am dead.
And, in a postscript, he added: “I’ve written a short Preface. I like the title of it: ‘Spoken from the Grave.’ It will prepare the reader for the solemnities within.”80
The manuscript of this preface (whose subtitle is “As from the Grave”) and a draft of the title page survive in the Mark Twain Papers, as does a typed copy of the title page, on which Clemens drafted a series of notes specifying restrictions and conditions for publishing the autobiography. He then decided to add to his short “Preface” by enlarging on these notes. Addressing his “editors, heirs and assigns,” he dwelt at facetious length on how successive editions could include more and more of his (supposedly shocking) “sound and sane expressions of opinion.”
It is now clear that by the time Clemens read aloud the “44 typewritten pages . . . telling of his boyhood days, & the farm” on 22 June, he had already decided to use that sketch to begin the Autobiography. He wrote a one-page preface called “An Early Attempt” to introduce it, then followed that with a single page instruction: “Here insert the 44 old type-written pages.” This “old” typescript has been lost, but we now know that it was a typed copy of the manuscript he called “My Autobiography [Random Extracts from It],” written in Vienna in 1897–98. It is not known when this (now missing) typescript was prepared, but it was probably no later than 1900.81
At about the same time he also decided to further illustrate the evolution of his ideas about autobiography by including some of the dictations produced in Florence in 1904. To frame these he wrote a matching preface called “The Latest Attempt,” characterizing them as examples of “the right way” to do an autobiography. And he made one more change, adding “The Final (and Right) Plan” and an epigraph (“What a wee little part of a person’s life . . . ”).82 The result was a three-part preface, concluding with the “Preface. As from the Grave” (divided into three sections), followed by the introductory note “Here begin the Florentine Dictations.”
The present edition prints this extensive front matter, complete and in the sequence that Clemens intended, for the first time. All of the material was known to Paine (his penciled page numbers are on the manuscript pages). But he apparently realized that it interfered with his own plan for the autobiography: a sequence of early sketches and the Florentine Dictations in the order of their composition, followed by a selection of the Autobiographical Dictations from January through April 1906. He included the epigraph and the first section of “As from the Grave” at the beginning of his first volume, placing “The Latest Attempt” before the Florentine Dictations but calling it “Author’s Note.” He omitted entirely “An Early Attempt” and the second and third sections of “Preface. As from the Grave.”83 The prefatory pages, all in the Mark Twain Papers, are shown in sequence on the facing page and reproduced in facsimile in figures 2-13.
Since the “44 old type-written pages” are admittedly lost, how can we be sure that they were in fact a copy of “My Autobiography [Random Extracts from It]”? And how can we tell which of the six surviving Florentine Dictations were intended to follow “As from the Grave”?
The multiple typescripts of the January–August 1906 dictations hold the answer to both questions.
Two More Typescripts: TS2 and TS4
In his postscript to the 17 June letter to Howells, Clemens had said: “I think Miss Lyon told you the reason we couldn’t send you the Autobiography—there’s only one typed copy, & we had to have it for reference, to guard against repetitions. The making of a second copy is now begun; & so, we can presently begin to mail batches of it to you.”84 TS1 had been begun without any provision for a carbon copy. But Howells’s and Twichell’s interest in seeing the text earlier in April, and McClure’s interest in late May, made it increasingly clear that duplicates were vitally needed—hence the decision to begin a carbon copy of TS1 from that point, certainly no later than 11 June.85 But that still left more than eight hundred pages of dictation in a unique copy, much of which had been revised.
Clemens’s postscript shows that by 17 June “a second copy” had been commissioned. In fact, not one but two typed copies of TS1 were begun in mid- to late June, soon after the various prefaces had been created: the first typed by Hobby (TS2) and the second by an unidentified typist (TS4). These sequences are distinguishable by their differences in pagination and by minute differences in their typists’ styles. Collation demonstrates that TS2 and TS4 were both copied independently from the recently revised TS1, not one from the other. Both TS2 and TS4 originally began with the “Random Extracts” text, but both omit the “Early Attempt” preface written for it. TS4 includes the other three-part preface and four of the Florentine Dictations (“John Hay,” “Notes on ‘Innocents Abroad,’” “Robert Louis Stevenson and Thomas Bailey Aldrich,” and “Villa di Quarto”), and TS2 originally did so as well. But only parts of TS2 for these early texts survive: gaps in it (shown by missing page numbers) cannot always be certainly reconstructed, but all surviving evidence shows that the missing pages were identical in content to those of TS4, which is the only complete record of these initial elements in Clemens’s plan. This conjecture explains why the page numbers for the January-August 1906 dictations in TS2 and TS 4 are different from each other and consistently higher than the page numbers of TS1 for the corresponding dictation. TS 1 begins with the Autobiographical Dictation of 9 January, having been started before Clemens decided to include any of the early material.86







FIGURE 2. Manuscript page 1, Clemens’s title page.



FIGURE 3. Manuscript page 2, the “Early Attempt” preface introducing the “44 old type-written pages.”



FIGURE 4. Manuscript page 3, the instruction to insert what has now been identified as “My Autobiography [Random Extracts from It].”



FIGURE 5. Manuscript page 45, the first page of “The Latest Attempt” preface, numbered to continue the sequence after the inserted forty-four-page typescript. (The page number 9, and the numbers 10–17 on the following pages, were all added by Paine in pencil and were not part of Clemens’s plan.)



FIGURE 6. Manuscript page 46, the second page of “The Latest Attempt” preface.



FIGURE 7. Manuscript page 47, “THE FINAL (& RIGHT) PLAN,” originally placed immediately before the page inscribed with “Here begin the Florentine Dictations” (shown in figure 13).



FIGURE 8. The typed epigraph. In an earlier version, Clemens had deleted the title “A Text For All Biographies,” and added, “I will construct a text”; here he inserted “to precede the Autobiography; also a Preface, to follow said Text” and “(which are but the mute articulation of his feelings.)” He placed the page after “THE FINAL (& RIGHT) PLAN,” where it was transcribed in TS4. Clemens wrote “All usable” and “SMALL TYPE to save space” in the margin. The circled “I” in the top margin may have been written by either Clemens or Paine. The other writing on the page is Paine’s.



FIGURE 9. Manuscript page 48, “PREFACE. As from the Grave.” This page and the three that follow were first numbered 1–4. When Clemens inserted them into the sequence after page 47, he renumbered them 48–51. He moved the page originally numbered 48, containing “Here begin the Florentine Dictations,” to the end and renumbered it 52 (figure 13).





FIGURE 10. Manuscript page 49, the second page of “As from the Grave,” first numbered 2 and later changed to 49. Clemens initially ended the preface at the bottom of this page, then canceled his signature and added two more sections.



FIGURE 11. Manuscript page 50, section II of “As from the Grave,” which Clemens first numbered 3 and later changed to 50.



FIGURE 12. Manuscript page 51, section III of “As from the Grave,” which Clemens first numbered 4 and later changed to 51.



FIGURE 13. Manuscript page 52, “Here begin the Florentine Dictations,” which Clemens first numbered 48 and later changed to 52 when he inserted the four-page “PREFACE. As from the Grave.”
We now understand why there are often two, three, or even four nearly identical typescripts for the January through August 1906 Autobiographical Dictations. The resolution of this first part of the textual mystery shows, among other things, that TS1 is the primary source for the text of those dictations, and that when parts of TS1 are lost, the missing text can be reliably restored from either TS2 or TS4, because they were created by copying TS 1 before the losses occurred. Our understanding of the typescripts also helps to explain the multiple inscriptions on so many of their pages: they are the traces left behind by the editors and typists who collaborated with Clemens in 1906–9, and by the editors who published parts of the autobiography after his death, from Paine to DeVoto. The four typescript pages reproduced in facsimile in figures 14–17 illustrate some of the many hands that had to be identified and, above all, distinguished from Clemens’s own hand.
The North American Review (August and September 1906)
To recapitulate: by 21 June Clemens had read through and corrected all of TS1 that Hobby had so far typed (over nine hundred pages, probably through the dictation for 20 June 1906).87 He had reviewed his earlier manuscripts and selected at least those he wanted to begin with (he would later select several more, inserting them in later dictations). And he had written the title page and the several prefaces to frame those early pieces and introduce the 1906 dictations. Hobby began to create TS2, and an unidentified typist started TS4, probably as soon as Hobby made the revised TS1 available.
With all that in train, Clemens left Dublin on 26 June to be away for a month, in Boston and New York City, occasionally visiting Henry Rogers at his home in Fairhaven, Massachusetts, and joining him on his yacht, the Kanawha. Following Rogers’s advice, he met several times with the Harper executives and lawyers in order to resolve their mutual disagreements about the recent republication of Mark Twain’s Library of Humor. While in New York he also met with S. S. McClure and left with him some pages from the dictations about Susy—probably those of 2–7 February. McClure wrote Clemens about them on 2 July:
This is not a business letter it is a love-letter. I read the wonderful chapters of your autobiography all are wonderful, but the chapters about the dear dear child are the finest I have ever read in literature
I wept & loved & suffered & enjoyed



FIGURE 14. The first page of the Autobiographical Dictation of 11 January 1906 (TS2, 178). Clemens wrote in ink at the top of the page and in the left margin, and crossed out the entire page. The “$3-Dog” (which he suggested as part “II” of a Review installment) is from AD, 3 Oct 1907. David Munro, a Review editor, wrote the title, the author’s name, and an instruction to include the “Prefatory note as usual.” “1877” is in an unidentified hand. The excerpt was published in December 1907 (NAR 25), typeset directly from this page.



FIGURE 15. The first page of the Autobiographical Dictation of 12 January 1906 (TS2, 199). Clemens noted in ink in the left margin: “None of this is printable while I am alive. It is too personal. . . . Leave it till I am dead, then print all of it some day. SLC.” In pencil in the right margin, he wrote, “USE ONLY THE DREAM.” Stenographer Josephine Hobby wrote “Auto. Part” in the center and Harvey, editor of the Review, wrote inclusive page numbers “199 to 242” at the top right. Paine, who in early 1907 helped Clemens prepare a section for publication in the Review, wrote in the top left corner, and later added (in blue pencil), “Copied for use”—referring to another typescript, TS3, prepared from this one to serve as printer’s copy for the excerpt, which was published in the Review for 19 April 1907 (NAR 16).



FIGURE 16. The first page of the Autobiographical Dictation of 7 March 1906 (TS1, 419). Clemens wrote “Follow Susy’s spelling & punctuation always. SLC” at the top left; inserted the head “From Susy’s Biography” (twice); and noted that the extracts were to be set “solid” (i.e., with reduced line spacing). Another typescript, TS3, was prepared from this one to serve as printer’s copy for an excerpt published in the Review for 16 November 1906 (NAR 6). The rest of the writing is by Paine, who used this typescript to prepare his 1924 edition (MTA, 2:166–72), from which he omitted all of page 420 and most of page 421. He cut a strip from the bottom of page 421 and pasted it to this page (covering part of the text), crossed out the second heading for Susy’s biography, and altered Clemens’s “solid” to “smaller.”



FIGURE 17. The fourth page of the Autobiographical Dictation of 29 August 1906 (TS1, 1092). All of the revisions are in pencil, but only some of them are Clemens’s: DeVoto added his own before he published the dictation in Mark Twain in Eruption (243). They can all be correctly identified by examining the text of TS4, which followed only Clemens’s markings, and DeVoto’s book, which followed all of them. Clemens made no changes in the punctuation; he wrote “tell” and “imagined,” and underlined “I,” “himself,” and “she” to italicize them.
These chapters should be issued soon in a little book. It would be a classic for a thousand years, & it could later be published in the large book. I am off to Chicago tomorrow & back on the 9th I wish I could print this wonderful thing in McClure’s Magazine. It would civilize a nation. It will uplift the Sunday press.
Finally, with Harvey’s return from England in mid-July, the troublesome Library of Humor problem was resolved and Clemens was able to return to Dublin on 25 July.88
Clemens had already published several essays in Harvey’s North American Review: “To the Person Sitting in Darkness” and “To My Missionary Critics” (1901) as well as his satirical commentary on Christian Science (1902–3). His first impulse had been to sell Harvey selections from the autobiography to go into Harper’s Weekly (which Harvey also edited), a much more widely read journal than the Review. But when Harvey finally made the twice-postponed visit to Dublin, arriving late on 31 July, he had big plans for the Review.89 He promptly immersed himself in the autobiography, and by the time he left Dublin on 4 August he and Clemens had agreed on what would become a sixteen-month series in the Review. “I like this arrangement,” Clemens confided to his friend Mary Rogers (Henry’s daughter-in-law), even as Harvey departed, “& so will Mr. Rogers; but he didn’t much like the idea of McClure’s newspaper syndicate, & I ceased to like it myself & stopped the negociations before I left New York.”90 As Clemens wrote to Clara on 3 August, he was impressed by Harvey’s “great plan: to turn the North American Review into a fortnightly the 1st of Sept, introduce into it a purely literary section, of high class, & in other ways make a great & valuable periodical of it.” He was also clearly flattered by Harvey’s response to his text:
He was always icily indifferent to the Autobiography before, but thought he would like to look at it now, so I told him to come up. He arrived 3 days ago, & has now carefully read close upon a hundred thousand words of it (there are 250,000). He says it is the “greatest book of the age,” & has in it “the finest literature.”
He has done some wonderful editing; for he has selected 5 instalments of 5,000 words each; & although these are culled from here & there & yonder, he has made each seem to have been written by itself—& without altering a word. At 10,000 words a month we shall place about 110,000 or 120,000 words before the public in 12 months. . . .
To-morrow Harvey will carry away one full set of the MSS to Howells & get him to help select instalments. I can’t do the selecting myself. The instalments will come to me in galley-proofs for approval, but I guess I will pass them on to you for final judgment after I have examined them.91
Not only did Harvey “carefully read close upon a hundred thousand words” of the autobiography’s 250,000, but by the time he left Dublin on 4 August he had read the remaining 150,000 words, encompassing the pre-1906 material and all the dictations through the end of June.92
A Composite Typescript: TS3
Harvey’s “wonderful editing” was exactly as Clemens characterized it: he selected excerpts and patched them together to create five installments, essentially without “altering a word.” Domestic anecdotes were a principal theme. He used the moving description of Olivia, and of Susy and her death, with nearly all the excerpts from Susy’s biography of her father that were quoted in the February and March dictations. Other favored topics included Clemens’s amusing misdeeds, such as his swearing about the missing shirt buttons; Susy’s charming eccentricities of spelling; Clemens’s puzzlement over the “spoon-shaped drive”; and the challenges of the burglar alarm at the Hartford house. Harvey also included the recollections of Hannibal, such as the story of “playing bear” from “Scraps from My Autobiography. From Chapter IX” (which Clemens had omitted from his plan for the Autobiography), the dreadful anticholera “Pain-Killer,” and Orion’s 3:00 A.M. call on a young lady. Harvey did not share Howells’s squeamishness about Orion climbing (by mistake) into bed with the “middle-aged maiden sisters” (as they were called in the North American Review text): he included that episode without apparent concern. He rejected material with less broad appeal, such as the death of Patrick McAleer (the Clemenses’ beloved coachman), and omitted Clemens’s excursions into political commentary—the massacre of the “rebellious” Moro people in the Philippines and the treatment of Mrs. Morris, who had been thrown out of the White House. Harvey’s penciled notations on the typescripts, such as “Begin,” “End,” and “Continue,” show that Clemens’s own participation in the selection process was probably much smaller than has previously been supposed.93
Since Harvey drew each Review installment from several different daily dictations, Hobby was now charged with creating yet another typescript to serve as printer’s copy, working “under high pressure” to get it ready in time for the first chapter of the series, in the issue slated for 1 September. This composite typescript, called TS3, was typed from the start with a carbon copy, and was paginated independently of the three other ongoing sequences.94 Hobby managed to complete two batches of TS3, of some two dozen pages each, in time for Clemens to revise them lightly and give them to Harvey when he left Dublin on 4 August. She immediately set to work typing a third large batch of TS3 (sixty-three pages), which Clemens agreed to send off “as soon as finished.” These three batches of TS3 were intended for installments 1–5 in the Review. Because TS2 had at that time been completed only through 12 February, Harvey also asked that the “copy of complete dictation beginning with Feb. 13 as it proceeds” be forwarded to him.95
Clemens soon revised and returned the proof for the first installment, first to Clara for her approval, and then to the Review editors. But no sooner had he done so than a new decision was made: an excerpt from the first half of “My Autobiography [Random Extracts from It],” the text that he had just recently chosen to begin the Autobiography, would now lead off the series. It has not been discovered who made this late change, or why, but by the end of August Clemens had read galley proofs for this “Virginia-Clemens” installment, as he called it in a letter to Mary Rogers.96
The first issue of “Chapters from My Autobiography” appeared on 7 September, accompanied by a statement that would be repeated before each installment:
PREFATORY NOTE.—Mr. Clemens began to write his autobiography many years ago, and he continues to add to it day by day. It was his original intention to permit no publication of his memoirs until after his death; but, after leaving “Pier No. 70,” he concluded that a considerable portion might now suitably be given to the public. It is that portion, garnered from the quarter-million of words already written, which will appear in this REVIEW during the coming year. No part of the autobiography will be published in book form during the lifetime of the author.—EDITOR N.A.R.
In the “Editor’s Diary” section of the same issue Harvey “let go all holts,” as Clemens might say, in an announcement of the upcoming series:
The proverbial irony of fate was never more clearly marked than by the fact that the life of the world’s greatest humorist has consisted of a succession of personal tragedies. . . . But in his breast there lived a spirit which rose triumphant over all depressing emotions, and still continues, after half a century, to make joy for more millions of human beings the world over than any other now existing. An attempt, even by one accomplished in the art, to analyze the character of this unique human genius would be futile. Its phases are too multifarious. There is humor pre-eminent, wit unexcelled, philosophy rare, if uneven; repugnance, often violent, to wrong in any form; instinctive and invariable, though occasionally ill-timed, revolt against oppression of humanity whether by God or man; all supplemented by the reasonableness of a comrade, the kindliness of a friend, the devotion of a lover and the sweetness of a child. . . . It is a wonderful autobiography that he is writing,—wonderful, because of the variety of experiences it depicts, wonderful because of its truth, its sincerity, its frankness, its unhesitating and unrestricted human feeling. . . . We have read perhaps a quarter of the million of words which will finally be written, and are convinced that a life story of such surpassing interest was never told before.97
Reading the above in proof, Clemens facetiously professed himself “troubled” and suggested to Mary Rogers that she write a letter of protest to Harvey, even providing her with a text. She was to say that Harvey’s “prodigal, even extravagant” praises “sounded cold & indifferent” to him. “He is almost morbidly fond of compliments, & he realizes that these are good ones, but thinks they are over-cautious & thin. When we of the family butter him we do not do it with a knife, we use a trowel.”98
Harvey’s first round of selections, the second through sixth installments, appeared in the Review between 21 September and 16 November. According to Clemens, during his August visit he had actually earmarked a total of twenty-four selections—“a year’s lot”—drawing on the dictations of January, March, and April 1906, “John Hay,” and the second part of the “Random Extracts” sketch for installments 7–8 and 10–13, published through 1 March 1907.99 Later material, from the dictations of October 1906 through February 1907, began to appear in installments 14 and 15, published on 15 March and 5 April 1907. Hobby made only one additional batch of TS3, for installment 16, published 19 April 1907. Apart from the dictation of 21 May 1906 (“My experiences as an author . . . ”), which had been used in installment 2, no material from the dictations of May through August 1906 was published in the Review.100 In those months Clemens dictated some rather stringent comments about religion, business, and various of his associates—comments he had no intention of publishing during his lifetime. Besides, there were soon so many excerpts stockpiled that the making of further selections could be safely postponed.
This basic work flow remained in place for the next sixteen months. Clemens continued to revise his typescripts, censoring or “softening” them as needed. For example, he deleted the phrase “‘Stud’ Williams was his society name”; altered “Plasmon thieves” to “Plasmon buccaneers”; changed his description of “Dr. Meredith’s two ripe old-maid sisters” to “Dr. G.’s two middle-aged maiden sisters”; altered “a dying parishioner” to “a fictitious ailing parishioner”; and deleted “God forgive me.”101 The revised typescripts were sent to the Review and marked for house style by editor David A. Munro; after typesetting, the typescripts were returned to Clemens along with the galley proofs ready for correction. The editorial relationship was easygoing: Munro and Harvey offered very few substantive revisions, and Clemens often took a joking tone in his responses. He occasionally addressed remarks to Munro in the margins of the printer’s copy or the galley proofs; pressing matters might be handled by mail and telegram and, conceivably, by telephone.102
Critical Reception and “Sunday Magazine” (1906 to 1908)
Between September and December 1906 brief excerpts from the early North American Review “Chapters from My Autobiography” appeared in several newspapers, accompanied by a scattering of complimentary remarks. The New York Times, for example, reprinted the passage from the first installment (excerpted from “My Autobiography [Random Extracts from It]”) in which Clemens identified James Lampton as the real Colonel Sellers, commenting that the passage was “noteworthy” as an example of “honest self-revelation.” Two weeks later the Times remarked that the second installment, the “story of how G. W. Carleton refused Mr. Clemens’s first book and twenty years afterward called himself for so doing ‘the prize ass of the nineteenth century,’” was “a good story.”103 Other reprinted passages included the Florentine Dictation about Robert Louis Stevenson; the emotional descriptions of Olivia and Susy; the humorous episode about the burglar alarm in the Hartford house; and the essay about dueling.104 A reviewer in the Louisville, Kentucky, Courier-Journal (possibly its editor, Clemens’s lifelong friend and distant relative Henry Watterson) called the autobiography “delightful,” and while conceding that Clemens did not claim to be “strictly speaking a historian,” went on to correct the inaccuracies in his account of Jeremiah and Sherrard Clemens.105 The Washington Post characterized the installments as “filled with his gentle humor,” and an editor of Pearson’s Magazine noted:
It is the old Mark Twain that speaks to us again, not the solemn reformer and critic whose heavy essays have so long afflicted a good-natured and affectionate public. . . . We see him frolicking with the creatures of his fancy, stirring the dust of their droll adventures and wagging his venerable head at their quaint sayings. And then we see him kneeling beside the graves of his wife and child, recalling their every look and word, and we forget the world’s great humorist, knowing only the father, the husband, the true American gentleman.106
None of the notices of the autobiography found in contemporary newspapers and journals, however, offered any substantial critical commentary or analysis, and after the early months of 1907, the installments received little attention.
For all Clemens’s insistence on publishing the Autobiography only long after his death, the excerpts in the North American Review were surprisingly important to him. Just how important became clear only when he realized how few readers had actually seen the magazine text. On 30 July 1907, nine months after the installments began, Lyon made the following entry in her journal:
Evidently the N.A. Review is on very shaky legs, for the Colonel asked Mr. Clemens to wait for the autobiographical monies that are due him; to wait until the first of the year, for funds are low & he must borrow if he pays. It annoyed the King—for it is, as he says, “doing business through sentimental channels[”]—& he doesn’t like it atall. And it isn’t fair to the King.107
One result of this problem was that between 27 October 1907 and 27 September 1908 the North American Review chapters were reprinted, with newly commissioned illustrations, as a series in the weekly “Sunday Magazine,” a supplement that was syndicated in many large-circulation newspapers. Harvey himself proposed the syndication, but he implied that greater circulation was his only concern, not how much money it made. Lyon noted on 6 September 1907 that Harvey
got the King’s consent—his glad consent—to syndicate the autobiography in newspapers throughout the country & so the King will reach his “submerged clientele.” It will not bring him in a penny though. If any one gets anything it will be the Harpers & they will not get much for the newspapers do not pay much for matter—no matter how great—which has been already published. It will be a good advertisement for the King’s books though.108
Clemens hoped that this syndication would expose his work to a very different class of readers. He was undoubtedly pleased, and he even praised his portrait by F. Luis Mora that accompanied the first installment reprinted in “Sunday Magazine.”109 Many years later, on 28 October 1941, the artist John Thomson Willing, who was the art editor of the Associated Sunday Magazines at the time of the syndication, wrote to an unidentified correspondent in response to a “request for Mark Twain stories”:
I had charge of the serial issuing of his autobiography in the Sunday Magazine[,] a supplement to many important papers and aggregating nearly two million copies a week. This autobiography was first begun in The North American Review, edited by George Harvey,—published by Harper Bros Mr Clemens was much dissatisfied by the limited circulation of this Review and so arranged for the larger distribution of the newspapers. When I showed him the initial copy of our magazine with the heading Autobiography of Mark Twain as the title he turned to me and said “Barkis, you have left something out. It should have added ‘Hitherto confidentially circulated’”—referring to its having run in the Review—110
Autobiography as Literature (1909)
Not surprisingly, in 1907 and 1908 the intensity of Clemens’s interest in adding to the autobiography gradually abated. In each successive year the number of dictations declined by half, they became briefer, and the proportion of inserted clippings and other documents grew larger. By 1908 much of what he produced for the autobiography was actually original manuscript that he labeled as dictation. When on 24 December 1909 he wrote that because of Jean’s death “this Autobiography closes here,” he had in fact produced fewer than twelve new pages of typescript in the previous eight months.
In 1910, after Clemens’s death, Howells reported in My Mark Twain that at some point Clemens had “suddenly” told him he was no longer working on the autobiography, although Howells was unclear whether Clemens “had finished it or merely dropped it; I never asked.” He also recalled that at the outset of his work Clemens had intended the autobiography to be “a perfectly veracious record of his life and period,” but he now admitted that “as to veracity it was a failure; he had begun to lie, and that if no man ever yet told the truth about himself it was because no man ever could.”111 Of course, by 1904 Clemens had already convinced himself, by experiment, that an autobiography “consists mainly of extinctions of the truth,” even if “the remorseless truth is there, between the lines.” And in April 1906 he had said in one of his dictations,
I have been dictating this autobiography of mine daily for three months; I have thought of fifteen hundred or two thousand incidents in my life which I am ashamed of, but I have not gotten one of them to consent to go on paper yet. I think that that stock will still be complete and unimpaired when I finish these memoirs, if I ever finish them. I believe that if I should put in all or any of those incidents I should be sure to strike them out when I came to revise this book.112
We have seen that in 1898 Clemens had been so discouraged by this insight that he (temporarily) decided to change the very nature of his autobiography. But there is good reason to suppose that by the time of his death he had reached a more enlightened understanding of what his or anyone else’s autobiography could accomplish. In mid-1909 he was asked whether his remarks about the Tennessee land as published in the North American Review were true. “Yes,” he replied, “literarily they are true, that is to say they are a product of my impressions—recollections. As sworn testimony they are not worth anything; they are merely literature.”113
A hundred years have now passed since Clemens’s death. It certainly seems fitting that his plan for publishing the Autobiography of Mark Twain in its entirety should just now be recovered from his vast accumulation of papers, and that the Autobiography’s standing and value as “literature” be at last recognized. This edition, prepared by his editors (if not his “heirs and assigns”), relies on the eloquent evidence of historical documents to understand and carry out his wishes for this, his last major literary work. His long-standing plan to speak as truthfully as possible “from the grave” is no longer just a plan. And as Colonel Harvey predicted more than a hundred years ago, the Autobiography is being published both as printed volumes and “by electrical method,” a fact that would no doubt have appealed to Mark Twain’s “vivid imagination.”114
Harriet Elinor Smith
Mark Twain Project, Berkeley
1. “The Latest Attempt,” one of the prefaces written to introduce the final form of the autobiography; see p. 220.
2. “Mark Twain’s Bequest,” London Times, 23 May 1899, 4, in Scharnhorst 2006, 334. All of the abbreviations and short forms of citation used in these notes are fully defined in References.
3. AD, 13 Jan 1908.
4. “The Privilege of the Grave,” written in 1905, published in SLC 2009, 56.
5. These words came at the end of the editorial note that preceded each of the twenty-five selections in the Review.
6. MTA, 1:1. The following pre-1906 writings published by Paine in the autobiography did not meet the criteria for inclusion in this edition: “Jane Lampton Clemens” (1890; published in Inds, 82–92), “Macfarlane” (1894–95; published in WIM, 76–78), and “Henry H. Rogers (Continued)” (1909) (MTA, 1:115–25, 143–47, 256–65).
7. Paine told a reporter in 1933 that the “complete autobiography . . . would fill about six volumes, including the two already published, and probably would not be made public for ‘many, many years’” (“Canard Blasted by Biographer of Mark Twain” New York Herald Tribune, 8 July 1933, clipping in CU-MARK).
8. “Introduction,” Mark Twain in Eruption, edited by Bernard DeVoto (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1940), vi–ix; hereafter MTE.
9. “Introduction,” The Autobiography of Mark Twain, Including Chapters Now Published for the First Time, arranged and edited, with an introduction and notes, by Charles Neider (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1959), ix, xvi, xx–xxiii; hereafter AMT
10. MTPO (http://www.marktwainproject.org) is an open access website maintained by the Mark Twain Project in order to make all of its editions available online. Autobiography of Mark Twain is the first work to be published there simultaneously with the print edition, and the first to publish the textual apparatus only in electronic form.
11. 8 Oct 1886 to Kate Staples, NN-BGC.
12. SLC 1869a, 1872, 1880a, 1883, 1873–74, 1876, 1885a, 1885b, 1899e.
13. SLC 1871a, 1871c.
14. Howells had asked for suggestions for a series of “Choice Biographies.” 6 June 1877 to Howells, Letters 1876–1880; “The Late Benjamin Franklin,” SLC 1870c; Gribben 1980, 1:134, 241–43, 2:539–40; MTB, 3:1538.
15. 18 Aug 1871 to OLC, L4, 446–47. He may have been reading Henry Wilson’s Wonderful Characters; Comprising Memoirs and Anecdotes of the Most Remarkable Persons of Every Age and Nation (1854). Among its subjects was Thomas Parr, who reputedly lived from 1483 to 1635.
16. 9 Aug 1876 and 23? Mar 1877 to Howells, Letters 1876–1880. The manuscript is unfinished and untitled; Paine titled it “Autobiography of a Damned Fool” (SLC 1877b).
17. 26 Feb 1880 to OC, Letters 1876–1880. Clemens would remember and rehearse his advice to Orion in his Autobiographical Dictation of 23 February 1906; see the note at 378.25–27 for a fuller account of Orion’s autobiography, which is now lost.
18. Annie Adams Fields Papers, diary entry for 28 Apr 1876, MHi, published in Howe 1922, 250–51.
19. See “John Hay,” note at 223.27–28, for a discussion of the possible date of this conversation. No such “diary” is known to survive, but some of the texts written in Vienna in 1898 have the look of diary entries. See “Four Sketches about Vienna.”
20. N&J2, 50–51; MTA, 1:7.
21. In 1940 DeVoto published a manuscript about Joseph H. Twichell’s encounter with a profane ostler which he described as “one of the random pieces that preceded Mark’s sustained work on the Autobiography,” suggesting that it was “probably written in the 1880s and at one time formed part of a long manuscript—I cannot tell which one” (MTE, 366–72). But this anecdote was not part of any draft of the autobiography. It was written for Life on the Mississippi (1883) and removed from the manuscript before publication.
22. 6 May 1880 to OC, Letters 1876–1880.
23. AD, 30 Aug 1906. Clemens said that he made this discovery while writing The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, but there is good reason to suppose that he experienced the same difficulty in 1871 while writing Roughing It, even though he did not then know to “pigeonhole” the manuscript until the “tank” had refilled itself. See RI 1993, 823.
24. Back in 1873 he had hired Samuel C. Thompson to accompany him to England as his secretary. Thompson was a novice at shorthand, and he was dismissed almost immediately when Clemens became dissatisfied with this “first experience in dictating.” He later explained, “I remember that my sentences came slow & painfully, & were clumsily phrased, & had no life in them—certainly no humor.” It also did not help that he found Thompson to be a humorless and unpleasant companion (N&J1, 517–18, Thompson’s notebook is on 526–71; “To Rev. S. C. Thompson,” SLC 1909a, 12). A later experiment with dictation came in the spring of 1882 when Clemens hired Roswell Phelps, a trained stenographer, to accompany him and James Osgood on their trip down the Mississippi. Phelps recorded Clemens’s (and others’) remarks at the time, but Clemens did not dictate to him when writing Life on the Mississippi (N&J2, 516–18, Phelps’s notebook is transcribed on 521–74).
25. N&J3, 112. Clemens would eventually reproduce much of Susy’s biography in the final form of his autobiography, beginning with AD, 7 Feb 1906.
26. Grant 1885a, 1885b, 1885c, and 1886; “Grant’s Last Stand,” Philadelphia Inquirer, 6 Feb 1894, unknown page; AD, 26 Feb 1906.
27. Redpath to SLC, 4 May 1885, CU-MARK; 5 May 1885 to Redpath, MiU-H. See 4 Apr 1891 to Howells, NN-BGC, in MTHL, 2:641, quoted below in the section on the Florentine Dictations. Clemens’s earlier letter containing the proposal that Redpath accepted has not been found.
28. 17 June 1885 to Pond, NN-BGC; 12 Sept 1885 to Redpath, CU-MARK.
29. 11 Sept 1885 to Beecher, draft in CU-MARK. Beecher was then preparing a eulogy for Grant to be delivered in Boston on 22 October 1885, and had written Clemens for biographical information; in particular, he wanted to know if Grant had been “a drunkard for a time” (Beecher to SLC, 8 Sept 1885, CU-MARK).
30. 16 Nov 1886 to Fairbanks, CSmH, in MTMF, 258; 3 Aug 1887 to Webster, NN-BGC; 3 and 4 Feb 1887 to Smith, ODaU (the “details” referred to have not been identified). Clemens returned to the topic of Grant’s Memoirs in the Autobiographical Dictations for 6 February, 28 May, 1 June, and 2 June 1906. The last of these included remarks about Fred Grant, but not his letter of 22 July 1887 (TS in CU-MARK), which disputed the accuracy of the financial statement from the Webster Company accountant.
31. OC to SLC, 5 Dec 1887, typed copy of the original letter made by or for Paine, given to the Mark Twain Papers by Anne E. Cushman in 2004. The typescript reads “your mark in my office,” clearly a mistranscription.
32. SLC 1851.
33. 8 Dec 1887 to OC, NPV.
34. AD, 4 June 1906; 20 Sept 1896 to Rogers, Salm, in HHR, 237; Notebook 39, TS p. 4, CU-MARK.
35. On 1 November he again wrote Rogers: “After I finish the present subscription book, I shall go straight on & clear out my skull. There are several books in there, & I mean to dig them out, one after the other without stopping. . . . One of them—my Autobiography—should be sold by subscription, I judge” (1 Nov 1896 to Rogers, Salm, in HHR, 243–44).
36. Paine published it as “Early Days” (MTA, 1:81–115).
37. 17 June 1906 to Howells, NN-BGC, in MTHL, 2:811.
38. Clemens evidently revised the title again on the typescript (now lost) that he sent to the Century. See the editorial headnote to this manuscript.
39. 10 Oct 1898 to Bok, ViU. The “too independent” words may have been “the bowels of some of the men virtually ceased from their functions” (143.35–36). Clemens had sent Bok “My Platonic Sweetheart” on 2 September, but Bok rejected it and soon Clemens himself decided against publishing it (Notebook 40, TS p. 32, CU-MARK; HHR, 365 n. 1, 373 n. 3).
40. 6 and 7 Nov 1898 and 12 Nov 1898 to Rogers (2nd of 2), Salm, in HHR, 374, 376; 25 Feb 99 to Gilder, CtY-BR.
41. L4: 27 June 1871 to OC (2nd of 2), 414; 15 Oct 1871 to OLC, 472 n. 1; 17 Oct 1871 to OLC, 475 n. 1; 24 Oct 1871 to Redpath, 478.
42. “Mark Twain’s Bequest,” datelined “Vienna, May 22,” London Times, 23 May 1899, 4, in Scharnhorst 2006, 332–34; Curtis Brown 1899.
43. 3 Sept 1899 to Murray, CU-MARK.
44. The text was not included in the final form and, like the third manuscript written in 1900, is therefore published in the “Preliminary Manuscripts and Dictations” section of this volume.
45. 31 Dec 1900 to MacAlister, ViU.
46. Harvey for Harper and Brothers to Rogers, 17 Oct 1900, CU-MARK. For Harvey’s biography, see AD, 12 Jan 1906, note at 267.35.
47. Harvey for Harper and Brothers to SLC, 14 Nov 1900, CU-MARK (the term of this 14 November letter agreement was “between this date and January 1st, 1902”); 20 Nov 1900 to Harvey, MH-H; SLC per Harvey to Harvey, 26 Nov 1900, Harper and Row archives, photocopy in CU-MARK.
48. In May 1888, having “spent an hour & a half” with one of Thomas Edison’s recently marketed phonographs “with vast satisfaction,” he tried to leverage his friendship with Edison to secure two of the machines “immediately, instead of having to wait my turn. Then all summer long I could use one of them in Elmira, N. Y., & express the wax cylinders to my helper in Hartford to be put into the phonograph here & the contents transferred to paper by typewriter.” At the end of July, however, when the machines failed to arrive, he canceled the order (25 May 1888 to Edison, NjWoE; SLC per Whitmore to the North American Phonograph Company, 30 July 1888, CU-MARK).
49. SLC 1892; SLC and OLC to Howells, 28 Feb 1891, NN-BGC, in MTHL, 2:637; 4 Apr 1891 to Howells, NN-BGC, in MTHL, 2:641.
50. Lyon 1903–6, entry for 28 Feb 1904. Clemens actually began dictating earlier than 14 January; see “Villa di Quarto”: “I am dictating these informations on this 8th day of January 1904” (233.12–13).
51. 16 Jan 1904 to Howells, MH-H, in MTHL, 2:778–79.
52. Howells to SLC, 14 Feb 1904, CU-MARK, in MTHL, 2:781.
53. 14 Mar 1904 to Howells, NN-BGC, in MTHL, 2:782.
54. “John Hay,” 224.26–39; “The Latest Attempt,” 220.17.
55. Lyon’s longhand notes for these dictations are presumedlost, and one of only two typescripts by Jean Clemens to survive is the first part (twenty-one pages) of the “Villa di Quarto” dictation. With that exception, all the Florentine Dictations are preserved only in typed copies made in 1906 from Jean’s (now lost) typescripts. The dictation about the typewriter was published under the heading “From My Unpublished Autobiography” in Harper’s Weekly for 18 March 1905, and Clemens later inserted it in AD, 27 Feb 1907 (SLC 1905c).
56. See the Textual Commentary for “Villa di Quarto,” MTPO.
57. AD, 6 Aug 1906.
58. 29 Jan 1904 to Stanchfield, CU-MARK.
59. See the ADs of 26 May (Whitford), 2 June (Paige), and 14 June 1906 (Bret Harte).
60. 16 Jan 1904 to Howells, MH-H, in MTHL, 2:779.
61. “Twain’s Plan to Beat the Copyright Law,” New York Times, 12 Dec 1906, 1. The then current copyright law granted protection for twenty-eight years, with one extension of fourteen, for a total term of forty-two years. Clemens thought that if the autobiographical notes were attached to a book at the end of its term, they would create a new publication with its own term of forty-two years, for an overall total of eighty-four years.
62. 21, 22, and 23 Feb 1910 to CC, photocopy in CU-MARK. The “Copyright Act of 1909” passed both houses of Congress on 4 March 1909.
63. MTB, 3:1260–64. The following account of the history of the Autobiographical Dictation series is founded upon and greatly indebted to the ground-breaking research of Lin Salamo, an editor at the Mark Twain Project until 2009.
64 MTB, 3:1266.
65. AD, 9 Jan 1906; Lyon 1906, entry for 25 May; MTB, 3:1266.
66. MTB, 3:1267.
67. If TS1 through TS4 had been preserved in the way they were doubtless left to Paine—as four stacks of consecutively numbered pages—it would long ago have been obvious that each was a discrete sequence. But the pages of each typescript were distributed into individual folders labeled by the date of the relevant dictation, blocking that simple insight.
68. The two later employees were Mary Louise Howden (who began in October 1908) and William Edgar Grumman (who began in February 1909). They worked during a period when work on the autobiography was drawing to a close, and their combined typescripts totaled only slightly more than a hundred pages.
69. Lyon 1906, entry for 13 Mar.
70. Lyon 1906, entries for 8 and 9 Apr; Howells to SLC, 8 Apr 1906, CU-MARK, in MTHL, 2:803–4 (which misidentifies the typescript pages lent to Howells); 8 Apr 1906 to CC, MoPlS and CU-MARK.
71. Lyon 1906, entries for 15 May, 20 May, 25 May, and 21 June; MTB, 3:1307–8.
72. Lyon 1906, entry for 29 Aug. “The King” was the pet name that Lyon and Paine used for Clemens.
73. Lyon 1906, entry for 20 June. Hobby’s stenographic record apparently did not make a distinction between “a” and “one.”
74. Lyon 1906, entry for 27 May; HHR, 697. See “Robert Louis Stevenson and Thomas Bailey Aldrich” for Clemens’s comments on “submerged renown.”
75. 17 June 1906 to Rogers, Salm, in HHR, 611; Rogers to SLC, 4 June 1906, CU-MARK, in HHR, 608.
76. 10 June 1906 to Teller, NN-BGC.
77. Lyon 1906, entries for 8 June and 21 June.
78. Pages 3 and 7 of Lyon’s copy of Paine’s Autobiography, quoted courtesy of Kevin Mac Donnell, its owner. Lyon made her notes in 1947 or 1948.
79. Paine to Lyon, 11 June 1906, CU-MARK; Lyon 1906, entries for 13 and 22 June. Lyon’s date (1879) for this typescript was wrong; she may have intended to write “1897” which would have been about right.
80. 17 June 1906 to Howells, NN-BGC, in MTHL, 2:811; Lyon 1906, entry for 14 June. The sketch Clemens referred to here was “Captain Stormfield’s Visit to Heaven,” a manuscript written as early as 1868 and several times revised. Among the “fat” must have been other unfinished or unpublished manuscripts he later inserted into the autobiography, motivated at least in part by his copyright renewal scheme: “Down the Rhone,” known as “The Innocents Adrift,” written in 1891 (see the Textual Commentary for “Villa di Quarto” at MTPO); and “Wapping Alice,” written in 1898. See the A Ds of 6 June and 9 Apr 1906. Many other such “nonautobiographical” manuscripts were ultimately inserted in the Autobiographical Dictations.
81. Hobby had already begun to retype the forty-four pages, but her typescript (TS2) is also now missing. Collation of the manuscript against another 1906 typescript (TS4) derived from the “old” lost typescript shows that Clemens had revised it (see the next section: “Two More Typescripts: TS2 and TS4”). TS4 has “[1900]” typed at the top, which suggests that the lost typescript included this date.
82. The first draft of the epigraph was inscribed by Clemens in a small calendar notebook for “November, 1901” and identified on the cover as “Autobiography” (CU-MARK). Other notes by Clemens indicate that he was using it in early 1902. The 1906 version, which survives only in a typescript, shows that he revised it on a document that is now missing.
83. For details, see the Appendix “Previous Publication” (pp. 663–67).
84. 17 June 1906 to Howells, NN-BGC, in MTHL, 2:811.
85. The first surviving carbon copy of TS1 is of the 11 June 1906 dictation.
86. The only large difference between TS2 and TS4 is the placement of “John Hay.” In TS4 it precedes “The Latest Attempt” and other prefaces, but it apparently followed them in TS2. The TS2 order is adopted in the present edition on the assumption that TS4 was in error. See the Textual Commentary for “The Latest Attempt” preface, MTPO.
87. Lyon 1906, entry for 21 June.
88. McClure to SLC, 2 July 1906, CU-MARK; 4 June 1906 to Duneka, MFai; 17 June 1906 to Rogers, MFai, in HHR, 611–13; Lyon 1906, entry for 25 July; Harvey to SLC, 4 June 1906, CU-MARK; McClure to SLC, 2 July 1906, CU-MARK; 3 Aug 1906 to CC, photocopy in CU-MARK.
89. Mott 1938, 219–20, 256–57; Johnson 1935, 73, 205, 268; SLC 1902d, 1903b–d; Lyon 1906, entry for 31 July.
90. 4 and 5 Aug 1906 to Rogers, NNC, in Leary 1961, 39.
91. 3 Aug 1906 to CC, photocopy in CU-MARK. If Howells did help make selections, no sign of it has survived.
92. 7 Aug 1906 to Teller, NN-BGC.
93. See Michael J. Kiskis’s “Afterword” in the facsimile edition of the North American Review installments (SLC 1996), 10–20. Other critical studies of the autobiography include Cox 1966, Krauth 1999, Robinson 2007, and Kiskis’s “Introduction” to SLC 1990.
94. 3 Aug 1906 to CC, photocopy in CU-MARK. Because the TS3 batches contained excerpts from several different Autobiographical Dictations, the way they were filed in the Mark Twain Papers also created a confusing anomaly until their function was understood.
95. Harvey to SLC, 3 or 4 Aug 1906, CU-MARK. Harvey carried away TS3 typescripts of selections intended for installments 1 and 5, and the third batch in progress was for installments 2, 3, and 4.
96. 25–28 Aug 1906 to Rogers, NNC, in Leary 1961, 53. By the time the early installments were published, they had been further rearranged. Harvey’s note to Clemens of 3 or 4 Aug 1906, listing the batches of TS3 he was taking with him (CU-MARK), referred to installments “No. 1” and “No. 5,” which ultimately became installments 3 and 2, respectively; his “Nos. 2, 3 & 4” became 4, 5, and 6.
97. Harvey 1906, 442–43. Clemens used the expression “pier No. 70” in his speech at his seventieth birthday dinner (see the Appendix, pp. 657–61).
98. 25–28 Aug 1906 to Rogers, NNC, in Leary 1961, 45–46.
99. 4 and 5 Aug 1906 to Rogers, NNC, in Leary 1961, 39. Installment 9, published on 4 Jan 1907, was based on ADs from December 1906, which consisted largely of manuscript material.
100. There were twenty-five Review installments in all. See the Appendix “Previous Publication” (pp. 666–67) for a list of all the excerpts and a summary of their contents.
101. See the ADs of 9 Jan, 8 Feb, 28 Mar, 12 Jan, and 9 Feb 1906.
102. For example, on the printer’s copy for NAR 6 Clemens noted, “I think a date necessary now and then. I think they should be let into the margin, David. | M.T.” He had begun adding such marginal dates to guide the reader through his nonchronological narrative when preparing” Scraps from My Autobiography. From Chapter IX” for NAR 2, but Munro had ignored them; they are adopted in this edition. And on the galley proofs of NAR 7 Clemens wrote, “David, if you don’t send stamped & addressed envelops with these things I’ll have your scalp! With love, Mark” (ViU; see the Textual Commentaries for the ADs of 26 Feb and 5 Mar 1906, MTPO). For Munro’s biography see AD, 16 Jan 1906, note at 284.7.
103. New York Times: “Topics of the Week,” 15 Sept 1906, BR568, and 29 Sept 1906, BR602; see AD, 21 May 1906.
104. See the ADs of 1 Feb, 2 Feb, 5 Feb, 8 Feb, and 19 Jan 1906.
105. “Mark Twain’s Memory,” Louisville (Kentucky) Courier-Journal, 20 Nov 1906, 6; see the explanatory notes for the “Random Extracts” sketch.
106. “Mark Twain Declares That His Wife Made Him Swear off Swearing,” Washington Post, 16 Dec 1906, B8; “The Two Sides of It,” Pearson’s Magazine, Jan 1907, 117; this journal was an American affiliate of the British journal of the same name, devoted to literature, politics, and the arts.
107. Lyon 1907, entry for 30 July.
108. Lyon 1907, entry for 9 Sept.
109. See Schmidt 2009b for a detailed comparison of the syndicated texts with those in the North American Review, access to almost all the illustrations, and a record of newspapers known to have carried “Sunday Magazine.”
110. Willing to Unidentified, 28 Oct 1941, photocopy in CU-MARK; Clemens’s words to Willing were a pun on the catch-phrase “Barkis is willing” from David Copperfield (chapter 5).
111. Howells 1910, 93–94.
112. AD, 6 Apr 1906.
113. Clemens was giving a deposition as a plaintiff in a lawsuit involving the land (“Interrogatories for Saml. L. Clemens,” filed 3 April 1909, and “Deposition S. L. Clemens,” filed 11 June 1909, U.S. National Archives and Records Administration 1907–9; copies of these documents provided courtesy of Barbara Schmidt).
114. For Harvey’s 17 Oct 1900 draft of publishing terms for Clemens’s “memoirs in the year 2000,” see p. 19 above. For details of the textual policy and practices applied throughout this edition, see “Note on the Text,” pp. 669–79.
PRELIMINARY MANUSCRIPTS AND DICTATIONS

1870–1905
Clemens wrote this manuscript, now in the Mark Twain Papers, sometime in 1870, leaving it incomplete and without a title (but with space for one on the first page). It is the earliest extant manuscript that might fairly be called a draft chapter for his autobiography, although he did not explicitly identify it as such. He evidently planned to publish it in some way, for he changed the reference to his father’s nemesis from “Ira Stout” to “Ira ——.”
The text has never been accurately published before. Albert Bigelow Paine did include it in Mark Twain’s Autobiography under the title he gave it, “The Tennessee Land,” but he silently omitted the anecdote at the end of the third paragraph (beginning with “A venerable lady . . . “) and changed Clemens’s description of his father as a “candidate for county judge, with a certainty of election” to say instead that he “had been elected to the clerkship of the Surrogate Court” (MTA, 1:3–6; neither description is accurate: see the Appendix “Family Biographies,” p. 654). Charles Neider reprinted the text from the manuscript, restoring the anecdote omitted by Paine but adopting Paine’s changed description of John Marshall Clemens; he also made dozens of his own omissions and changes, and he appended two paragraphs from “My Autobiography [Random Extracts from It],” written in Vienna in 1897–98 (AMT, 22–24). Clemens returned to the subject of the Tennessee land in that manuscript and in the Autobiographical Dictation of 5 April 1906.
John Marshall Clemens’s land purchases and the family’s subsequent sales of the land have been only partly documented from independent sources. The extant grants, deeds, and bills of sale are incomplete, but it was also the case that contradictory or inaccurate deeds often led to disputed claims. Orion Clemens referred to one cause of such conflict in a letter to his brother on 7 July 1869, alleging that “Tennessee grants the same land over and over again to different parties” (OC to SLC, 7 July 1869, CU-MARK, quoted in 3? July 1869 to OC, L3, 279 n. 1 [bottom]; for family correspondence on the subject from 1853 to 1870, see L1, L2, L3, and L4).
[The Tennessee Land]
The monster tract of land which our family own in Tennessee, was purchased by my father a little over forty years ago. He bought the enormous area of seventy-five thousand acres at one purchase. The entire lot must have cost him somewhere in the neighborhood of four hundred dollars. That was a good deal of money to pass over at one payment in those days—at least it was so considered away up there in the pineries and the “Knobs” of the Cumberland Mountains of Fentress county, East Tennessee. When my father paid down that great sum, and turned and stood in the courthouse door of Jamestown, and looked abroad over his vast possessions, he said: “Whatever befalls me, my heirs are secure; I shall not live to see these acres turn to silver and gold, but my children will.” Thus, with the very kindest intentions in the world toward us, he laid the heavy curse of prospective wealth upon our shoulders. He went to his grave in the full belief that he had done us a kindness. It was a woful mistake, but fortunately he never knew it.
He further said: “Iron ore is abundant in this tract, and there are other minerals; there are thousands of acres of the finest yellow pine timber in America, and it can be rafted down Obeds river to the Cumberland, down the Cumberland to the Ohio, down the Ohio to the Mississippi, and down the Mississippi to any community that wants it. There is no end to the tar, pitch and turpentine which these vast pineries will yield. This is a natural wine district, too; there are no vines elsewhere in America, cultivated or otherwise, that yield such grapes as grow wild here. There are grazing lands, corn lands, wheat lands, potato lands, there are all species of timber—there is everything in and on this great tract of land that can make land valuable. The United States contain fourteen millions of inhabitants; the population has increased eleven millions in forty years, and will henceforth increase faster than ever; my children will see the day that immigration will push its way to Fentress county, Tennessee, and then, with seventy-five thousand acres of excellent land in their hands, they will become fabulously wealthy.”
Everything my father said about the capabilities of the land was perfectly true—and he could have added with like truth, that there were inexhaustible mines of coal on the land, but the chances are that he knew very little about the article, for the innocent Tennesseeans were not accustomed to digging in the earth for their fuel. And my father might have added to the list of eligibilities, that the land was only a hundred miles from Knoxville, and right where some future line of railway leading south from Cincinnati could not help but pass through it. But he never had seen a railway, and it is barely possible that he had not even heard of such a thing. Curious as it may seem, as late as eight years ago there were people living close to Jamestown who never had heard of a railroad and could not be brought to believe in steamboats. They do not vote for Jackson in Fentress county, they vote for Washington. A venerable lady of that locality said of her son: “Jim’s come back from Kaintuck and fotch a stuck-up gal with him from up thar; and bless you they’ve got more new-fangled notions, massy on us! Common log house ain’t good enough for them—no indeedy!—but they’ve tuck ’n’ gaumed the inside of theirn all over with some kind of nasty disgustin’ truck which they say is all the go in Kaintuck amongst the upper hunky, and which they calls it plarsterin’!”
My eldest brother was four or five years old when the great purchase was made, and my eldest sister was an infant in arms. The rest of us—and we formed the great bulk of the family—came afterwards, and were born along from time to time during the next ten years. Four years after the purchase came the great financial crash of ’34, and in that storm my father’s fortunes were wrecked. From being honored and envied as the most opulent citizen of Fentress county—for outside of his great landed possessions he was considered to be worth not less than three thousand five hundred dollars—he suddenly woke up and found himself reduced to less than one-fourth of that amount. He was a proud man, a silent, austere man, and not a person likely to abide among the scenes of his vanished grandeur and be the target for public commiseration. He gathered together his household and journeyed many tedious days through wilderness solitudes, toward what was then the “Far West,” and at last pitched his tent in the almost invisible little town of Florida, Monroe county, Missouri. He “kept store” there several years, but had no luck, except that I was born to him. He presently removed to Hannibal, and prospered somewhat, and rose to the dignity of justice of the peace, and was candidate for county judge, with a certainty of election, when the summons came which no man may disregard. He had been doing tolerably well, for that age of the world, during the first years of his residence in Hannibal, but ill fortune tripped him once more. He did the friendly office of “going security” for Ira ——, and Ira —— walked off and deliberately took the benefit of the new bankrupt law—a deed which enabled him to live easily and comfortably along till death called for him, but a deed which ruined my father, sent him poor to his grave, and condemned his heirs to a long and discouraging struggle with the world for a livelihood. But my father would brighten up and gather heart, even upon his death-bed, when he thought of the Tennessee land. He said that it would soon make us all rich and happy. And so believing, he died.
We straightway turned our waiting eyes upon Tennessee. Through all our wanderings and all our ups and downs for thirty years they have still gazed thitherward, over intervening continents and seas, and at this very day they are yet looking toward the same fixed point, with the hope of old habit and a faith that rises and falls, but never dies.
After my father’s death we reorganized the domestic establishment, but on a temporary basis, intending to arrange it permanently after the land was sold. My brother borrowed five hundred dollars and bought a worthless weekly newspaper, believing, as we all did, that it was not worth while to go at anything in serious earnest until the land was disposed of and we could embark intelligently in something. We rented a large house to live in, at first, but we were disappointed in a sale we had expected to make (the man wanted only a part of the land and we talked it over and decided to sell all or none,) and we were obliged to move to a less expensive one.
Paine published this manuscript, with typical errors and omissions, under a title he contrived for it, “Early Years in Florida, Missouri” (MTA, 1:7–10). The text itself shows that Clemens wrote it in 1877, heading it simply “Chap. 1” (omitted by Paine). Neider copied Paine’s version (errors and all), but he left off the last sixty words and inserted three paragraphs from “My Autobiography [Random Extracts from It],” two after the first sentence and one at the end (AMT, 1–3). It seems likely that the manuscript was the “beginning,” or one of the beginnings, of an autobiography that Clemens made in response to prodding from his friend John Milton Hay (see “John Hay”). The manuscript was doubtless part of the Mark Twain Papers on which Paine drew for the biography and other works, but in about 1920 he gave the manuscript to the American Academy of Arts and Letters, where it now resides.
[Early Years in Florida, Missouri]
Chapter 1
I was born the 30th of November, 1835, in the almost invisible village of Florida, Monroe county, Missouri. I suppose Florida had less than three hundred inhabitants. It had two streets, each a couple of hundred yards long; the rest of the avenues mere lanes, with rail fences and corn fields on either side. Both the streets and the lanes were paved with the same material—tough black mud, in wet times, deep dust in dry.
Most of the houses were of logs—all of them, indeed, except three or four; these latter were frame ones. There were none of brick, and none of stone. There was a log church, with a puncheon floor and slab benches. A puncheon floor is made of logs whose upper surfaces have been chipped flat with the adze. The cracks between the logs were not filled; there was no carpet; consequently, if you dropped anything smaller than a peach, it was likely to go through. The church was perched upon short sections of logs, which elevated it two or three feet from the ground. Hogs slept under there, and whenever the dogs got after them during services, the minister had to wait till the disturbance was over. In winter there was always a refreshing breeze up through the puncheon floor; in summer there were fleas enough for all.
A slab bench is made of the outside cut of a saw-log, with the bark side down; it is supported on four sticks driven into augur-holes at the ends; it has no back, and no cushions. The church was twilighted with yellow tallow candles in tin sconces hung against the walls. Week-days, the church was a schoolhouse.
There were two stores in the village. My uncle, John A. Quarles, was proprietor of one of them. It was a very small establishment, with a few rolls of “bit” calicoes in half a dozen shelves, a few barrels of salt mackerel, coffee, and New Orleans sugar behind the counter, stacks of brooms, shovels, axes, hoes, rakes, and such things, here and there, a lot of cheap hats, bonnets and tin-ware strung on strings and suspended from the walls; and at the other end of the room was another counter with bags of shot on it, a cheese or two, and a keg of powder; in front of it a row of nail kegs and a few pigs of lead; and behind it a barrel or two of New Orleans molasses and native corn whisky on tap. If a boy bought five or ten cents’ worth of anything, he was entitled to half a handful of sugar from the barrel; if a woman bought a few yards of calico she was entitled to a spool of thread in addition to the usual gratis “trimmins;” if a man bought a trifle, he was at liberty to draw and swallow as big a drink of whisky as he wanted.
Everything was cheap: apples, peaches, sweet potatoes, Irish potatoes, and corn, ten cents a bushel; chickens ten cents apiece, butter six cents a pound, eggs three cents a dozen, coffee and sugar five cents a pound, whisky ten cents a gallon. I do not know how prices are out there in interior Missouri now, (1877,) but I know what they are here in Hartford, Connecticut. To wit: apples, three dollars a bushel; peaches five dollars; Irish potatoes (choice Bermudas), five dollars; chickens a dollar to a dollar and a half apiece according to weight; butter forty-five to sixty cents apound, eggs fifty to sixty cents a dozen; coffee forty-five cents apound; sugar about the same; native whisky four or five dollars a gallon, I believe, but I can only be certain concerning the sort which I use myself, which is Scotch and costs ten dollars a gallon when you take two gallons—more when you take less.
Thirty and forty years ago, out yonder in Missouri, the ordinary cigar cost thirty cents a hundred, but most people did not try to afford them, since smoking a pipe cost nothing in that tobacco-growing country. Connecticut is also given up to tobacco raising, to-day, yet we pay ten dollars a hundred for Connecticut cigars and fifteen to twenty-five dollars a hundred for the imported article.
At first my father owned slaves, but by and by he sold them, and hired others by the year from the farmers. For a girl of fifteen he paid twelve dollars a year and gave her two linsey-wolsey frocks and a pair of “stogy” shoes—cost, a modification of nothing; for a negro woman of twenty-five, as general house servant, he paid twenty-five dollars a year and gave her shoes and the aforementioned linsey-wolsey frocks; for a strong negro woman of forty, as cook, washer, etc., he paid forty dollars a year and the customary two suits of clothes; and for an able bodied man he paid from seventy-five to a hundred dollars a year and gave him two suits of jeans and two pairs of “stogy” shoes—an outfit that cost about three dollars. But times have changed. We pay our German nursemaid $155 a year; Irish housemaid, $150; Irish laundress, $150; negro woman, as cook, $240; young negro man, to wait on door and table, $360; Irish coachman, $600 a year, with gas, hot and cold water, and dwelling consisting of parlor, kitchen and two bed-rooms, connected with the stable, free.
THE GRANT DICTATIONS
The following six typed dictations, known ever since Paine published them (out of order) in 1924 as “The Grant Dictations” (MTA, 1:13–70), are now in the Mark Twain Papers. They were all created in May and June 1885; Clemens dictated to his friend and colleague James Redpath, who transcribed his shorthand notes on an all-capitals typewriter (for Redpath see “Lecture-Times,” note at 148.8). Redpath then reviewed the typescripts, adding punctuation but overlooking many errors, and passed them on to Clemens, who lightly revised and corrected them. They make up the earliest known substantial body of texts that Clemens said were intended for his autobiography. The subjects he covered were all of recent date, and all touch on one aspect or another of his relationship with Ulysses S. Grant, who was by then dying of throat cancer. The six dictations are here printed for the first time in the order they were created.
• “The Chicago G.A.R. Festival” is about Clemens’s experience, including his toast to “The Babies,” when Grant was honored at the convention of the Grand Army of the Republic in 1879. This is the only one of the six Grant dictations that Neider chose to reprint, and he followed Paine’s text in all of its details (AMT, 241–45).
• “A Call with W.D. Howells on General Grant” treats three seemingly unrelated topics: Grant’s help for the father of William Dean Howells, Grant’s appreciation of George Horatio Derby (John Phoenix), and Clemens’s own efforts to persuade Grant to write his memoirs. The title adopted here was supplied by Paine.
• “Grant and the Chinese” describes Grant’s efforts to preserve a program for educating Chinese students in the United States.
• “Gerhardt” (previously unpublished) is about the frustration that Clemens’s protégé, the sculptor Karl Gerhardt, experienced in competing to make a statue of Nathan Hale. Gerhardt also made a commercially successful bust of Grant, discussed in the fifth dictation, “About General Grant’s Memoirs.”
• “About General Grant’s Memoirs,” a long and detailed account of how Clemens secured the contract for Grant’s Personal Memoirs, was written to some extent in response to newspaper comments insinuating that he had done so unethically. Paine published the first section and part of the third as continuous text, and made the middle section into a separate dictation, which he titled “Gerhardt and the Grant Bust”; he also omitted the newspaper clippings at the end of this section.
• “The Rev. Dr. Newman” is about Grant’s spiritual adviser during the days approaching his death on 23 July 1885. Paine suppressed the identity of the Reverend John Philip Newman, altering every mention of his name to “N——.” He also provided the title adopted here.
Clemens was not pleased with the text that Redpath prepared. As he explained to Henry Ward Beecher after he had called a halt to his dictation, this part of the autobiography was “pretty freely dictated, but my idea is to jack-plane it a little before I die, some day or other; I mean the rude construction & rotten grammar. It is the only dictating I ever did, & it was most troublesome & awkward work” (11 Sept 1885, CU-MARK). Clemens never did polish the texts or prepare them for publication. In fact, many years after his death his former secretary, Isabel Lyon, annotated a copy of Paine’s edition, saying in part that “Mr Clemens would not have allowed” the Grant dictations “to be included in the autobiography without serious editing. . . . These Redpath notes were notes only, & held for drastic revision” (page 13, quoted courtesy of Kevin Mac Donnell). Clemens did go on to retell the story of his involvement with Grant’s memoirs in his 1906 Autobiographical Dictations (see “About General Grant’s Memoirs,” note at 75.28).
The Chicago G.A.R. Festival
1866.
The first time I ever saw General Grant was in the fall or winter of 1866 at one of the receptions at Washington, when he was General of the Army. I merely saw and shook hands with him along with a general crowd but had no conversation. It was there also that I first saw General Sheridan.
I next saw General Grant during his first term as President.
Senator Bill Stewart of Nevada proposed to take me in and see the President. We found him in his working costume with an old short linen duster on and it was well spattered with ink. I had acquired some trifle of notoriety through some letters which I had written in the New York Tribune during my trip round about the world in the Quaker City expedition. I shook hands and then there was a pause and silence. I couldn’t think of anything to say. So I merely looked into the General’s grim, immovable countenance a moment or two in silence and then I said: “Mr. President, I am embarrassed—are you?” He smiled a smile which would have done no discredit to a cast-iron image, and I got away under the smoke of my volley.
I did not see him again for some ten years. In the meantime I had become very thoroughly notorious.
Then, in 1879 the General had just returned from his journey through the European and Asiatic world and his progress from San Francisco eastward had been one continuous ovation and now he was to be feasted in Chicago by the veterans of the Army of the Tennessee—the first army over which he had had command. The preparations for this occasion were in keeping with the importance of it. The toast committee telegraphed me and asked me if I would be present and respond at the grand banquet to the toast to the ladies. I telegraphed back that the toast was worn out. Everything had been said about the ladies that could be said at a banquet, but there was one class of the community that had always been overlooked upon such occasions and if they would allow me I would take that class for a toast: “The Babies.” They were willing—so I prepared my toast and went out to Chicago.
There was to be a prodigious procession. General Grant was to review it from a rostrum which had been built out for the purpose from the second story window of the Palmer House. The rostrum was carpeted and otherwise glorified with flags and so on.
The best place of all to see the procession was of course from this rostrum. So I sauntered upon that rostrum while as yet it was empty in the hope that I might be permitted to sit there. It was rather a conspicuous place, since upon it the public gaze was fixed, and there was a countless multitude below. Presently two gentlemen came upon that platform from the window of the hotel and stepped forward to the front. A prodigious shout went up from the vast multitude below, and I recognized in one of these two gentlemen General Grant. The other was Carter Harrison, the mayor of Chicago, with whom I was acquainted. He saw me, stepped over to me and said wouldn’t I like to be introduced to the General? I said, I should. So he walked over with me and said, “General, let me introduce Mr. Clemens,” and we shook hands. There was the usual momentary pause and then the General said: “I am not embarrassed—are you?”
It showed that he had a good memory for trifles as well as for serious things.
That banquet was by all odds the most notable one I was ever present at. There were six hundred persons present, mainly veterans of the Army of the Tennessee, and that in itself would have made it a most notable occasion of the kind in my experience but there were other things which contributed. General Sherman and in fact nearly all of the surviving great Generals of the war sat in a body on a dais round about General Grant.
The speakers were of a rare celebrity and ability.
That night I heard for the first time a slang expression which had already come into considerable vogue but I had not myself heard it before.
When the speaking began about ten o’clock I left my place at the table and went away over to the front side of the great dining room where I could take in the whole spectacle at one glance. Among others, Colonel Vilas was to respond to a toast and also Colonel Ingersoll, the silver-tongued infidel, who had begun life in Illinois, and was exceedingly popular there. Vilas was from Wisconsin and was very famous as an orator. He had prepared himself superbly for this occasion.
He was about the first speaker on the list of fifteen toasts and Bob Ingersoll was the ninth.
I had taken a position upon the steps in front of the brass band, which lifted me up and gave me a good general view. Presently I noticed, leaning against the wall near me, a simple-looking young man wearing the uniform of a private and the badge of the Army of the Tennessee. He seemed to be nervous and ill at ease about something. Presently, while the second speaker was talking, this young man said: “Do you know Colonel Vilas?” I said I had been introduced to him. He sat silent a while and then said: “They say he is hell when he gets started!”
I said: “In what way? What do you mean?”
“Speaking! Speaking! They say he is lightning!”
“Yes,” I said, “I have heard that he is a great speaker.”
The young man shifted about uneasily for a while and then he said: “Do you reckon he can get away with Bob Ingersoll?”
I said: “I don’t know.”
Another pause. Occasionally he and I would join in the applause when a speaker was on his legs, but this young man seemed to applaud unconsciously.
Presently he said, “Here in Illinois we think there can’t nobody get away with Bob Ingersoll.”
I said: “Is that so?”
He said, “Yes: we don’t think anybody can lay over Bob Ingersoll.”
Then he added sadly, “But they do say that Vilas is pretty nearly hell.”
At last Vilas rose to speak, and this young man pulled himself together and put on all his anxiety. Vilas began to warm up and the people began to applaud. He delivered himself of one especially fine passage and there was a general shout: “Get up on the table! Get up on the table! Stand up on the table! We can’t see you!” So a lot of men standing there picked Vilas up and stood him on the table in full view of the whole great audience and he went on with his speech. The young man applauded with the rest, and I could hear the young fellow mutter without being able to make out what he said. But presently when Vilas thundered out something especially fine, there was a tremendous outburst from the whole house and then this young man said in a sort of despairing way:
“It ain’t no use: Bob can’t climb up to that!”
During the next hour he held his position against the wall in a sort of dazed abstraction, apparently unconscious of place or of anything else, and at last when Ingersoll mounted the supper table his worshipper merely straightened up to an attitude of attention but without manifesting any hope.
Ingersoll with his fair and fresh complexion, handsome figure and graceful carriage was beautiful to look at.
He was to respond to the toast of “The Volunteers,” and his first sentence or two showed his quality. As his third sentence fell from his lips the house let go with a crash, and my private looked pleased and for the first time hopeful but he had been too much frightened to join in the applause. Presently, when Ingersoll came to the passage in which he said that these volunteers had shed their blood and perilled their lives in order that a mother might own her own child, the language was so fine, whatever it was, for I have forgotten, and the delivery was so superb that the vast multitude rose as one man and stood on their feet, shouting, stamping, and filling all the place with such a waving of napkins that it was like a snow storm. This prodigious outburst continued for a minute or two, Ingersoll standing and waiting. And now I happened to notice my private. He was stamping, clapping, shouting, gesticulating like a man who had gone truly mad. At last when quiet was restored once more, he glanced up to me with the tears in his eyes and said:
“Egod! He didn’t get left!”

My own speech was granted the perilous distinction of the place of honor. It was the last speech on the list, an honor which no person, probably, has ever sought. It was not reached until two o’clock in the morning. But when I got on my feet I knew that there was at any rate one point in my favor: the text was bound to have the sympathy of nine-tenths of the men present and of every woman, married or single, of the crowds of the sex who stood huddled in the various doorways.
I expected the speech to go off well—and it did.
In it I had a drive at General Sheridan’s comparatively new twins and various other things calculated to make it go. There was only one thing in it that I had fears about, and that one thing stood where it could not be removed in case of disaster.
It was the last sentence in the speech.
I had been picturing the America of fifty years hence, with a population of two hundred million souls, and was saying that the future President, Admirals and so forth of that great coming time were now lying in their various cradles, scattered abroad over the vast expanse of this country, and then said “And now in his cradle somewhere under the flag the future illustrious Commander-in-Chief of the American armies is so little burdened with his approaching grandeur and responsibilities as to be giving his whole strategic mind at this moment to trying to find out some way to get his big toe into his mouth—something, meaning no disrespect to the illustrious guest of this evening, which he turned his entire attention to some fifty-six years ago”—
And here, as I had expected, the laughter ceased and a sort of shuddering silence took its place—for this was apparently carrying the matter too far.
I waited a moment or two to let this silence sink well home.
Then, turning toward the General I added:
“And if the child is but the father of the man there are mighty few who will doubt that he succeeded.”
Which relieved the house: for when they saw the General break up in good-sized pieces they followed suit with great enthusiasm.
[A Call with W. D. Howells on General Grant]
Howells
1881.
Howells wrote me that his old father, who is well along in the seventies, was in great distress about his poor little consulate, up in Quebec. Somebody not being satisfied with the degree of poverty already conferred upon him by a thoughtful and beneficent Providence, was anxious to add to it by acquiring the Quebec consulate. So Howells thought that if we could get General Grant to say a word to President Arthur it might have the effect of stopping this effort to oust old Mr. Howells from his position. Therefore, at my suggestion Howells came down and we went to New York to lay the matter before the General. We found him at number 2, Wall street, in the principal office of Grant and Ward, brokers.
I stated the case and asked him if he wouldn’t write a word on a card which Howells could carry to Washington and hand to the President.
But, as usual, General Grant was his natural self—that is to say, ready and also determined to do a great deal more for you than you could possibly have the effrontery to ask him to do. Apparently he never meets anybody half way: he comes nine-tenths of the way himself voluntarily. “No” he said,—he would do better than that and cheerfully: he was going to Washington in a couple of days to dine with the President and he would speak to him himself and make it a personal matter. Now as General Grant not only never forgets a promise but never even the shadow of a promise, he did as he said he would do, and within a week came a letter from the Secretary of State, Mr. Frelinghuysen, to say that in no case would old Mr. Howells be disturbed. [And he wasn’t. He resigned, a couple of years later.]
1881.
But to go back to the interview with General Grant, he was in a humor to talk—in fact he was always in a humor to talk when no strangers were present—and he resisted all our efforts to leave him.
He forced us to stay and take luncheon in a private room and continued to talk all the time. [It was bacon and beans. Nevertheless, “How he sits and towers”—Howells, quoting from Dante.]
He remembered “Squibob” Derby at West Point very well. He said that Derby was forever drawing caricatures of the professors and playing jokes of all kinds on everybody. He also told of one thing, which I had heard before, but which I have never seen in print. At West Point, the professor was instructing and questioning a class concerning certain particulars of a possible siege and he said this, as nearly as I can remember: I cannot quote General Grant’s words:
Given: That a thousand men are besieging a fortress whose equipment of men, provisions, etc., are so and so—it is a military axiom that at the end of forty-five days the fort will surrender. Now, young men, if any of you were in command of such a fortress, how would you proceed?
Derby held up his hand in token that he had an answer for that question. He said: “I would march out, let the enemy in, and at the end of forty-five days I would change places with him.”
Grant’s Memoirs
1881.
I tried very hard to get General Grant to write his personal memoirs for publication but he would not listen to the suggestion. His inborn diffidence made him shrink from voluntarily coming forward before the public and placing himself under criticism as an author. He had no confidence in his ability to write well, whereas I and everybody else in the world excepting himself are aware that he possesses an admirable literary gift and style. He was also sure that the book would have no sale and of course that would be a humiliation, too. He instanced the fact that General Badeau’s military history of General Grant had had but a trifling sale, and that John Russell Young’s account of General Grant’s trip around the globe had hardly any sale at all. But I said that these were not instances in point; that what another man might tell about General Grant was nothing, while what General Grant should tell about himself with his own pen was a totally different thing. I said that the book would have an enormous sale: that it should be in two volumes sold in cash at $3 50 apiece, and that the sale in two volumes would certainly reach half a million sets. I said that from my experience I could save him from making unwise contracts with publishers and could also suggest the best plan of publication—the subscription plan—and find for him the best men in that line of business.
I had in my mind at that time the American Publishing Company of Hartford, and while I suspected that they had been swindling me for ten years I was well aware that I could arrange the contract in such a way that they could not swindle General Grant. But the General said that he had no necessity for any addition to his income. I knew that he meant by that that his investments through the firm in which his sons were partners were paying him all the money he needed. So I was not able to persuade him to write a book. He said that some day he would make very full notes and leave them behind him and then if his children chose to make them into a book that would answer.
Grant and the Chinese
1884.
Early in this year or late in 1883, if my memory serves me, I called on General Grant with Yung Wing, late Chinese Minister at Washington, to introduce Wing and let him lay before General Grant a proposition. Li-Hung-Chang, one of the greatest and most progressive men in China since the death of Prince Kung, had been trying to persuade the Imperial government to build a system of military railroads in China, and had so far succeeded in his persuasions that a majority of the government were willing to consider the matter—provided that money could be obtained for that purpose, outside of China—this money to be raised upon the customs of the country and by bonding the railway or some such way. Yung Wing believed that if General Grant would take charge of the matter here and create the syndicate the money would be easily forthcoming. He also knew that General Grant was better and more favorably known in China than any other foreigner in the world and was aware that if his name were associated with the enterprise—the syndicate—it would inspire the Chinese government and people and give them the greatest possible sense of security. We found the General cooped up in his room with a severe rheumatism resulting from a fall on the ice, which he had got some months before. He would not undertake a syndicate, because times were so hard here that people would be loath to invest money so far away. Of course Yung Wing’s proposal included a liberal compensation for General Grant for his trouble, but that was a thing that the General would not listen to for a moment. He said that easier times would come by and bye, and that the money could then be raised, no doubt, and that he would enter into it cheerfully and with zeal and carry it through to the very best of his ability, but he must do it without compensation. In no case would he consent to take any money for it. Here again he manifested the very strongest interest in China, an interest which I had seen him evince on previous occasions. He said he had urged a system of railways on Li-Hung-Chang when he was in China and he now felt so sure that such a system would be a great salvation for the country and also the beginning of the country’s liberation from the Tartar rule and thraldom that he would be quite willing at a favorable time to do everything he could toward carrying out that project without other compensation than the pleasure he would derive from being useful to China.
This reminds me of one other circumstance.
About 1879 or 1880, the Chinese pupils in Hartford and other New England towns had been ordered home by the Chinese government. There were two parties in the Chinese government: one headed by Li-Hung-Chang, the progressive party, which was striving to introduce Western arts and education into China, and the other was opposed to all progressive measures. Li-Hung-Chang and the progressive party kept the upper hand for some time and during this period the government had sent one hundred or more of the country’s choicest youth over here to be educated. But now the other party had got the upper hand and had ordered these young people home. At this time an old Chinaman named Wong, non-progressionist, was the chief China Minister at Washington and Yung Wing was his assistant. The order disbanding the schools was a great blow to Yung Wing, who had spent many years in working for their establishment. This order came upon him with the suddenness of a thunder clap. He did not know which way to turn.
First, he got a petition signed by the Presidents of various American colleges setting forth the great progress that the Chinese pupils had made and offering arguments to show why the pupils should be allowed to remain to finish their education. This paper was to be conveyed to the Chinese government through the Minister at Pekin. But Yung Wing felt the need of a more powerful voice in the matter and General Grant occurred to him. He thought that if he could get General Grant’s great name added to that petition that that alone would outweigh the signatures of a thousand college professors. So the Rev. Mr. Twichell and I went down to New York to see the General. I introduced Mr. Twichell, who had come with a careful speech for the occasion in which he intended to load the General with information concerning the Chinese pupils and the Chinese question generally. But he never got the chance to deliver it. The General took the word out of his mouth and talked straight ahead and easily revealed to Twichell the fact that the General was master of the whole matter and needed no information from anybody and also the fact that he was brimful of interest in the matter. Now as always the General was not only ready to do what we asked of him but a hundred times more. He said yes, he would sign that paper if desired, but he would do better than that: he would write a personal letter to Li-Hung-Chang and do it immediately. So Twichell and I went down stairs into the lobby of the Fifth Avenue Hotel, a crowd of waiting and anxious visitors sitting in the anteroom, and in the course of half an hour he sent for us again and put into our hands his letter to Li-Hung-Chang to be sent directly and without the intervention of the American Minister or any one else. It was a clear, compact and admirably written statement of the case of the Chinese pupils with some equally clear arguments to show that the breaking up of the schools would be a mistake. We shipped the letter and prepared to wait a couple of months to see what the result would be.
But we had not to wait so long. The moment the General’s letter reached China a telegram came back from the Chinese government which was almost a copy in detail of General Grant’s letter and the cablegram ended with the peremptory command to old Minister Wong to continue the Chinese schools.
It was a marvelous exhibition of the influence of a private citizen of one country over the counsels of an empire situated on the other side of the globe. Such an influence could have been wielded by no other citizen in the world outside of that empire—in fact the policy of the Imperial government had been reversed from room 45, Fifth Avenue Hotel, New York, by a private citizen of the United States.
Gerhardt
1884. (September: at the farm at Elmira.)
Gerhardt arrived home from Paris,—leaving his wife and his little boy behind him. He had found living much more expensive at Paris than it had been in J. Q. A. Ward’s day. Consequently Ward’s estimate of $3,000 for five years had fallen woefully short. Gerhardt’s expenses for three years and a half had already amounted to $6,000. There was nothing for him to do—so he made a bust of me in the hope that it might bring him work. The times were very hard and he was not able to get anything to do.
(October.)
About this time Gerhardt heard that a competition was about ready to begin for a statue of Nathan Hale, the Revolutionary spy and patriot caught and hanged by the British. This statue had been voted by the Connecticut Legislature and the munificent price to be paid for it was $5,000. The speech which ex-Governor Hubbard had made in advocacy of the proposition was worth four times the sum.
The committee in whose hands the Legislature had placed the matter consisted of Mr. Coit, a railroad man, of New London, a modest, sensible, honorable, worthy gentleman, who while wholly unacquainted with art and confessing it, was willing and anxious to do his duty in the matter. Another committeeman was an innocent ass by the name of Barnard, who knew nothing about art and in fact about nothing else, and if he had a mind was not able to make it up on any question. As for any sense of duty, that feature was totally lacking in him—he had no notion of it whatever. The third and last committeeman was the reigning Governor of the state, Waller, a smooth-tongued liar and moral coward.
Gerhardt designed and made a clay Nathan Hale and offered it for competition.
A salaried artist of Mr. Batterson, a stone cutter, designed a figure and placed it in competition, and so also did Mr. Woods, an elderly man who was sexton of Mrs. Colt’s private church.
Woods had some talent but no genius and no instruction in art. The stone cutter’s man had the experience and the practice that comes from continually repeating the same forms on hideous tombstones—robust prize-fighting angels, mainly.
The figure and pedestal made by Gerhardt were worthy of a less stingy price than the Legislature had offered, decenter companionship in the competition and a cleaner and less stupid committee.
In the opinion of William C. Prime and Charles D. Warner, Gerhardt’s was a very fine work of art and these men would not have hesitated to award the contract to him. The Governor looked at the three models and said that as far as he could see Gerhardt’s was altogether the preferable design. Mr. Coit said the same. But it was found impossible to get the aged Barnard to come to look at Gerhardt’s model. He offered among other excuses that he didn’t like to give a statue to a man who still had his reputation to make—that the statue ought to be made by an artist of established reputation. When asked what artist of established reputation would make a statue for $5,000 he was not able to reply. It was difficult for some time to find out what the real reason was for this old man’s delay, but it finally came out that Mrs. Colt’s money and influence were at the bottom of it. Mrs. Colt was anxious to throw that statue into the hands of her sexton in some way or other. She wrote a letter to the Governor, in which she argued the claims of her sexton, and it presently became quite manifest that the Governor found himself in an uncomfortable position, for the reason that he had characterized the sexton’s attempt as exceedingly poor and crude, and had also stated quite distinctly that of the three models he much preferred Gerhardt’s and was ready to vote in that way.
This incredible puppy actually described Gerhardt’s design to the sexton and advised him to make a new design for competition—which he did; and he used Gerhardt’s design in it! The Governor had no more sense than to tell Gerhardt that he had done this thing. Taking the whole thing round it has been the most comical competition for a statue the country has ever seen. It was so ludicrous and so paltry—in every way contemptible—that I tried to get Gerhardt to retire from the competition and make a group for me to be called the Statue Committee to present portraits of these cattle and mousers over a clay image. I said I would write a history of the Nathan Hale committee to go with the statue and I believed he could put it in terra cotta and make some money out of it. But he did not wish to degrade his art in gratifying his personal spite and he declined to do it.
It is customary everywhere else, I believe, for such a committee to specify what is the latest date for the offering of designs and also a date when a judgment on them shall be rendered, but this committee made no limit—at least in writing. Their policy evidently was to give Mrs. Colt’s sexton time enough to get up a satisfactory image—no matter how long that might take—and then give him the contract.
Waller failed to be reelected Governor, but was appointed Consul-General to London and sailed on the 10th of May with the Nathan Hale statue still undecided, although, as he had a personal favor to ask of a friend of Gerhardt’s, just before sailing he said “Grant me the favor and I will pledge my word that the Nathan Hale business shall be settled before I sail.”
Gerhardt kept his clay image wet and waiting three or four months and then he let it crumble to pieces because the prospects of the design seemed to be as far away as ever.
About General Grant’s Memoirs
1885. (Spring.)
I want to set down somewhat of a history of General Grant’s memoirs.
By way of preface I will make a remark or two indirectly connected therewith.
During the Garfield campaign General Grant threw the whole weight of his influence and endeavor toward the triumph of the Republican Party. He made a progress through many of the states, chiefly the doubtful ones, and this progress was a daily and nightly ovation as long as it lasted. He was received everywhere by prodigious multitudes of enthusiastic people and to strain the facts a little one might almost tell what part of the country the General was in for the moment by the red reflections on the sky caused by the torch processions and fireworks.
He was to visit Hartford from Boston and I was one of the committee sent to Boston to bring him down here. I was also appointed to introduce him to the Hartford people when the population and the soldiers should pass in review before him. On our way from Boston in the palace car I fell to talking with Grant’s eldest son, Colonel Fred Grant, whom I knew very well, and it gradually came out that the General, so far from being a rich man, as was commonly supposed, had not even income enough to enable him to live as respectably as a third-rate physician.
Colonel Grant told me that the General left the White House at the end of his second term a poor man, and I think he said he was in debt but I am not positively sure. (Said he was in debt $45,000, at the end of one of his terms.) Friends had given the General a couple of dwelling houses but he was not able to keep them or live in either of them. This was all so shameful and such a reproach to Congress that I proposed to take the General’s straitened circumstances as my text in introducing him to the people of Hartford.
I knew that if this nation, which was rising up daily to do its chief citizen unparalleled honor, had it in its power by its vote to decide the matter, that it would turn his poverty into immeasurable wealth, in an instant. Therefore, the reproach lay not with the people but with their political representatives in Congress and my speech could be no insult to the people.
I clove to my plan, and, in introducing the General, I referred to the dignities and emoluments lavished upon the Duke of Wellington by England and contrasted with that conduct our far finer and higher method toward the savior of our country: to wit—the simple carrying him in our hearts without burdening him with anything to live on.
In his reply, the General, of course, said that this country had more than sufficiently rewarded him and that he was well satisfied.
He could not have said anything else, necessarily.
A few months later I could not have made such a speech, for by that time certain wealthy citizens had privately made up a purse of a quarter of a million dollars for the General, and had invested it in such a way that he could not be deprived of it either by his own want of wisdom or the rascality of other people.
Later still, the firm of Grant and Ward, brokers and stock-dealers, was established at number 2, Wall street, New York City.
This firm consisted of General Grant’s sons and a brisk young man by the name of Ferdinand Ward. The General was also in some way a partner, but did not take any active part in the business of the house.
In a little time the business had grown to such proportions that it was apparently not only profitable but it was prodigiously so.
The truth was, however, that Ward was robbing all the Grants and everybody else that he could get his hands on and the firm was not making a penny.
The General was unsuspicious, and supposed that he was making a vast deal of money, whereas indeed he was simply losing such as he had, for Ward was getting it.
About the 5th of May, I think it was, 1884, the crash came and the several Grant families found themselves absolutely penniless.
Ward had even captured the interest due on the quarter of a million dollars of the Grant fund, which interest had fallen due only a day or two before the failure.
General Grant told me that that month, for the first time in his life, he had paid his domestic bills with checks. They came back upon his hands dishonored. He told me that Ward had spared no one connected with the Grant name however remote—that he had taken all that the General could scrape together and $45,000 that the General had borrowed on his wife’s dwelling house in New York; that he had taken $65,000—the sum for which Mrs. Grant had sold, recently, one of the houses which had been presented to the General; that he had taken $7,000, which some poverty-stricken nieces of his in the West had recently received by bequest, and which was all the money they had in the world—that, in a word, Ward had utterly stripped everybody connected with the Grant family.
It was necessary that something be immediately done toward getting bread.
The bill to restore to General Grant the title and emoluments of a full General in the army, on the retired list, had been lagging for a long time in Congress—in the characteristic, contemptible and stingy congressional fashion. No relief was to be looked for from that source, mainly because Congress chose to avenge on General Grant the veto of the Fitz-John Porter Bill by President Arthur.
The editors of the Century Magazine some months before conceived the excellent idea of getting the surviving heroes of the late Civil War, on both sides, to write out their personal reminiscences of the war and publish them now in the magazine. But the happy project had come to grief, for the reason that some of these heroes were quite willing to write out these things only under one condition that they insisted on as essential. They refused to write a line unless the leading actor of the war should also write.* All persuasions and arguments failed on General Grant. He would not write; so, the scheme fell through.
Now, however, the complexion of things had changed and General Grant was without bread. [Not figurative, but actual.]
The Century people went to him once more and now he assented eagerly. A great series of war articles was immediately advertised by the Century publishers.
I knew nothing of all this, although I had been a number of times to the General’s house to pass half an hour talking and smoking a cigar.
However, I was reading one night in Chickering Hall early in November, 1884, and as my wife and I were leaving the building we stumbled over Mr. Gilder, the editor of the Century, and went home with him to a late supper at his house. We were there an hour or two and in the course of the conversation Gilder said that General Grant had written three war articles for the Century and was going to write a fourth. I pricked up my ears. Gilder went on to describe how eagerly General Grant had entertained the proposition to write when it had last been put to him and how poor he evidently was and how eager to make some trifle of bread and butter money and how the handing him a check for $500 for the first article had manifestly gladdened his heart and lifted from it a mighty burden.
The thing which astounded me was, that, admirable man as Gilder certainly is, and with a heart which is in the right place, it had never seemed to occur to him that to offer General Grant $500 for a magazine article was not only the monumental insult of the nineteenth century, but of all centuries. He ought to have known that if he had given General Grant a check for $10,000 the sum would still have been trivial; that if he had paid him $20,000 for a single article the sum would still have been inadequate; that if he had paid him $30,000 for a single magazine war article it still could not be called paid for; that if he had given him $40,000 for a single magazine article he would still be in General Grant’s debt. Gilder went on to say that it had been impossible, months before, to get General Grant to write a single line, but that now that he had once got started it was going to be as impossible to stop him again; that, in fact, General Grant had set out deliberately to write his memoirs in full and to publish them in book form.
I went straight to General Grant’s house next morning and told him what I had heard. He said it was all true.
I said I had foreseen a fortune in such a book when I had tried in 1881 to get him to write it; that the fortune was just as sure to fall now. I asked him who was to publish the book, and he said doubtless the Century Company.
I asked him if the contract had been drawn and signed?
He said it had been drawn in the rough but not signed yet.
I said I had had a long and painful experience in book making and publishing and that if there would be no impropriety in his showing me the rough contract I believed I might be useful to him.
He said there was no objection whatever to my seeing the contract, since it had proceeded no further than a mere consideration of its details without promises given or received on either side. He added that he supposed that the Century offer was fair and right and that he had been expecting to accept it and conclude the bargain or contract.
He read the rough draft aloud and I didn’t know whether to cry or laugh.
Whenever a publisher in the trade thinks enough of the chances of an unknown author’s book to print it and put it on the market, he is willing to risk paying the man 10 per cent royalty and that is what he does pay him. He can well venture that much of a royalty but he cannot well venture any more. If that book shall sell 3,000 or 4,000 copies there is no loss on any ordinary book, and both parties have made something; but whenever the sale shall reach 10,000 copies the publisher is getting the lion’s share of the profits and would continue to get the lion’s share as long thereafter as the book should continue to sell.
When such a book is sure to sell 35,000 copies an author ought to get 15 per cent: that is to say, one-half of the net profit. When a book is sure to sell 80,000 or more, he ought to get 20 per cent royalty: that is, two-thirds of the total profits.
Now, here was a book that was morally bound to sell several hundred thousand copies in the first year of its publication and yet the Century people had had the hardihood to offer General Grant the very same 10 per cent royalty which they would have offered to any unknown Comanche Indian whose book they had reason to believe might sell 3,000 or 4,000 or 5,000 copies.
If I had not been acquainted with the Century people I should have said that this was a deliberate attempt to take advantage of a man’s ignorance and trusting nature, to rob him; but I do know the Century people and therefore I know that they had no such base intentions as these but were simply making their offer out of their boundless resources of ignorance and stupidity. They were anxious to do book publishing as well as magazine publishing, and had tried one book already, but owing to their inexperience had made a failure of it. So, I suppose they were anxious, and had made an offer which in the General’s instance commended itself as reasonable and safe, showing that they were lamentably ignorant and that they utterly failed to rise to the size of the occasion. This was sufficiently shown in the remark of the head of that firm to me a few months later: a remark which I shall refer to and quote in its proper place.
I told General Grant that the Century offer was simply absurd and should not be considered for an instant.
I forgot to mention that the rough draft made two propositions—one at 10 per cent royalty and the other the offer of half the profits on the book after subtracting every sort of expense connected with it, including OFFICE RENT, CLERK HIRE, ADVERTISING and EVERY-THING ELSE, a most complicated arrangement and one which no business-like author would accept in preference to a 10 per cent royalty. They manifestly regarded 10 per cent and half profits as the same thing—which shows that these innocent geese expected the book to sell only 12,000 or 15,000 copies.
I told the General that I could tell him exactly what he ought to receive: that, if he accepted a royalty, it ought to be 20 per cent on the retail price of the book, or if he preferred the partnership policy then he ought to have 70 per cent of the profits on each volume over and above the mere cost of making that volume. I said that if he would place these terms before the Century people they would accept them; but, if they were afraid to accept them, he would simply need to offer them to any great publishing house in the country and not one would decline them. If any should decline them let me have the book. I was publishing my own book, under the business name of Charles L. Webster & Co., I being the company, (and Webster being my business man, on a salary, with a one-tenth interest,) and I had what I believed to be much the best-equipped subscription establishment in the country.
I wanted the General’s book and I wanted it very much, but I had very little expectation of getting it. I supposed that he would lay these new propositions before the Century people, that they would accept immediately, and that there the matter would end, for the General evidently felt under great obligations to the Century people for saving him from the grip of poverty by paying him $1,500 for three magazine articles which were well worth $100,000; and he seemed wholly unable to free himself from this sense of obligation, whereas to my mind he ought rather to have considered the Century people under very high obligations to him, not only for making them a present of $100,000, but for procuring for them a great and desirable series of war articles from the other heroes of the war which they could never have got their hands on if he had declined to write. (According to Gilder.)
I now went away on a long western tour on the platform, but Webster continued to call at the General’s house and watch the progress of events.
Colonel Fred Grant was strongly opposed to letting the Century people have the book and was at the same time as strongly in favor of my having it.
The General’s first magazine article had immediately added 50,000 names to their list of subscribers and thereby established the fact that the Century people would still have been the gainers if they had paid General Grant $50,000 for the articles—for the reason that they could expect to keep the most of these subscribers for several years and consequently get a profit out of them in the end of $100,000 at least.
Besides this increased circulation, the number of the Century’s advertising pages at once doubled—a huge addition to the magazine’s cash income in itself. (An addition of $25,000 a month as I estimate it from what I have paid them for one-fifth of a page for six months [$1,800].)
The Century people had eventually added to the original check of $1,500 a check for $1,000 after perceiving that they were going to make a fortune out of the first of the three articles.
This seemed a fine liberality to General Grant, who is the most simple-hearted of all men; but to me it seemed merely another exhibition of incomparable nonsense, as the added check ought to have been for $30,000 instead of $1,000. Colonel Fred Grant looked upon the matter just as I did, and had determined to keep the book out of the Century people’s hands if possible. This action merely confirmed and hardened him in his purpose.
While I was in the West, propositions from publishers came to General Grant daily, and these propositions had a common form—to wit: “Only tell us what your best offer is and we stand ready to make a better one.”
The Century people were willing to accept the terms which I had proposed to the General but they offered nothing better. The American Publishing Company of Hartford offered the General 70 per cent of the profits but would make it more if required.
These things began to have their effect. The General began to perceive from these various views that he had narrowly escaped making a very bad bargain for his book and now he began to incline toward me for the reason, no doubt, that I had been the accidental cause of stopping that bad bargain.
He called in George W. Childs of Philadelphia and laid the whole matter before him and asked his advice. Mr. Childs said to me afterwards that it was plain to be seen that the General, on the score of friendship, was so distinctly inclined toward me that the advice which would please him best would be the advice to turn the book over to me.
He advised the General to send competent people to examine into my capacity to properly publish the book and into the capacity of the other competitors for the book. (This was done at my own suggestion—Fred Grant was present.) And if they found that my house was as well equipped in all ways as the others, that he give the book to me.
The General sent persons selected by a couple of great law firms (Clarence Seward’s was one,) to make examinations, and Colonel Fred Grant made similar examinations for himself personally.
The verdict in these several cases was that my establishment was as competent to make a success of the book as was that of any of the firms competing.
The result was that the contract was drawn and the book was placed in my hands.
In the course of one of my business talks with General Grant he asked me if I felt sure I could sell 25,000 copies of his book and he asked the question in such a way that I suspected that the Century people had intimated that that was about the number of the books that they thought ought to sell. [See Roswell Smith’s remark, later on.]
I replied that the best way for a man to express an opinion in such a case was to put it in money—therefore, I would make this offer: if he would give me the book I would advance him the sum of $25,000 on each volume the moment the manuscript was placed in my hands, and if I never got the $50,000 back again, out of the future copyrights due, I would never ask him to return any part of the money to me.
The suggestion seemed to distress him. He said he could not think of taking in advance any sum of money large or small which the publisher would not be absolutely sure of getting back again. Some time afterwards when the contract was being drawn and the question was whether it should be 20 per cent royalty or 70 per cent of the profits, he inquired which of the two propositions would be the best all round. I sent Webster to tell him that the 20 per cent royalty would be the best for him, for the reason that it was the surest, the simplest, the easiest to keep track of, and, better still, would pay him a trifle more, no doubt, than with the other plan.
He thought the matter over and then said in substance that by the 20 per cent plan he would be sure to make, while the publisher might possibly lose: therefore, he would not have the royalty plan, but the 70-per-cent-profit plan; since if there were profits he could not then get them all but the publisher would be sure to get 30 per cent of it.
This was just like General Grant. It was absolutely impossible for him to entertain for a moment any proposition which might prosper him at the risk of any other man.
After the contract had been drawn and signed I remembered I had offered to advance the General some money and that he had said he might possibly need $10,000 before the book issued. The circumstance had been forgotten and was not in the contract but I had the luck to remember it before leaving town; so I went back and told Colonel Fred Grant to draw upon Webster for the $10,000 whenever it should be wanted.
That was the only thing forgotten in the contract and it was now rectified and everything was smooth.
And now I come to a circumstance which I have never spoken of and which cannot be known for many years to come, for this paragraph must not be published until the mention of so private a matter cannot offend any living person.
The contract was drawn by the great law firm of Alexander & Green on my part and Clarence Seward, son of Mr. Lincoln’s Secretary of State, on the part of General Grant.
Appended to the contract was a transfer of the book to General Grant’s wife, and the transfer from her to my firm for the consideration of $1,000 in hand paid.
This was to prevent the General’s creditors from seizing the proceeds of the book.
Webster had said yes when the sum named was $1,000 and after he had signed the contract and was leaving the law office he mentioned incidentally that the $1,000 was of course a mere formality in such a paper and means nothing. But Mr. Seward took him privately aside and said “No, it means just what it says—for the General’s family have not a penny in the house and they are waiting at this moment with lively anxiety for that small sum of money.”
Webster was astonished. He drew a check at once and Mr. Seward gave it to a messenger boy, and told him to take it swiftly—by the speediest route—to General Grant’s house, and not let the grass grow under his feet.
It was a shameful thing that the man who had saved this country and its government from destruction should still be in a position where so small a sum—so trivial an amount—as $1,000, could be looked upon as a godsend. Everybody knew that the General was in reduced circumstances, but what a storm would have gone up all over the land if the people could have known that his poverty had reached such a point as this.
The newspapers all over the land had been lauding the princely generosity of the Century people in paying General Grant the goodly sum of $1,500 for three magazine articles, whereas if they had paid him the amount which was his just due for them he would still have been able to keep his carriage and not have been worrying about $1,000. Neither the newspapers nor the public were probably aware that fifty-five years earlier the publishers of an annual in London had offered little Tom Moore twice $1,500 for two articles and had told him to make them long or short and to write about whatever he pleased. The difference between the financial value of any article written by Tom Moore in his best day and a war article written by General Grant in these days was about as one to fifty.
To go back a while. After being a month or two in the West, during the winter of 1884–5, I returned to the East, reaching New York about the 20th of February.
No agreement had at that time been reached as to the contract, but I called at General Grant’s house simply to inquire after his health, for I had seen reports in the newspapers that he had been sick and confined to his house for some time.
The last time I had been at his house he told me that he had stopped smoking because of the trouble in his throat, which the physicians had said would be quickest cured in that way. But while I was in the West the newspapers had reported that this throat affection was believed to be in the nature of a cancer. However, on the morning of my arrival in New York the newspapers had reported that the physicians had said that the General was a great deal better than he had been and was getting along very comfortably. So, when I called, at the house, I went up to the General’s room and shook hands and said I was very glad he was so much better and so well along on the road to perfect health again.
He smiled and said “If it were only true.”
Of course I was both surprised and discomfited and asked his physician, Dr. Douglas, if the General were in truth not progressing as well as I had supposed. He intimated that the reports were rather rose-colored and that this affection was no doubt a cancer.
I am an excessive smoker and I said to the General that some of the rest of us must take warning by his case, but Dr. Douglas spoke up and said that this result must not be attributed altogether to smoking. He said it was probable that it had its origin in excessive smoking, but that that was not the certain reason of its manifesting itself at this time: that more than likely the real reason was the General’s distress of mind and year-long depression of spirit, arising from the failure of the Grant and Ward firm.
This remark started the General at once to talking and I found then and afterwards that when he did not care to talk about any other subject, he was always ready and willing to talk about that one.
He told what I have before related about the robberies perpetrated upon him and upon all the Grant connection by this man Ward, whom he had so thoroughly trusted, but he never uttered a phrase concerning Ward which an outraged adult might not have uttered concerning an offending child. He spoke as a man speaks who has been deeply wronged and humiliated and betrayed; but he never used a venomous expression or one of a vengeful nature.
As for myself I was inwardly boiling all the time: I was scalping Ward, flaying him alive, breaking him on the wheel, pounding him to jelly, and cursing him with all the profanity known to the one language that I am acquainted with, and helping it out in times of difficulty and distress with odds and ends of profanity drawn from the two other languages of which I have a limited knowledge.
He told his story with deep feeling in his voice, but with no betrayal upon his countenance of what was going on in his heart. He could depend upon that countenance of his in all emergencies. It always stood by him. It never betrayed him.
July 1st or 2d, 1885, (at Mt. McGregor,) about three weeks before the General’s death, Buck Grant and I sat talking an hour to each other across the General’s lap—just to keep him company—he had only to listen. The news had just come that that Marine Bank man (Ward’s pal—what was that scoundrel’s name?) had been sent up for ten years. Buck Grant said the bitterest things about him he could frame his tongue to; I was about as bitter myself. The General listened for some time, then reached for his pad and pencil and wrote “He was not as bad as the other”—meaning Ward. It was his only comment. Even his writing looked gentle.
While he was talking, Colonel Grant said:
“Father is letting you see that the Grant family are a pack of fools, Mr. Clemens!”
The General combatted that statement. He said in substance that facts could be produced which would show that when Ward laid siege to a man that man would turn out to be a fool too—as much of a fool as any Grant: that all men were fools if the being successfully beguiled by Ward was proof by itself that the man was a fool. He began to present instances. He said, (in effect,) that nobody would call the President of the Erie Railroad a fool, yet Ward beguiled him to the extent of $800,000: robbed him of every cent of it. He mentioned another man who could not be called a fool, yet Ward had beguiled that man out of more than half a million dollars and had given him nothing in return for it. He instanced a man with a name something like Fisher, though that was not the name, whom he said nobody could call a fool: on the contrary, a man who had made himself very rich by being sharper and smarter than other people and who always prided himself upon his smartness and upon the fact that he could not be fooled, he could not be deceived by anybody; but what did Ward do in his case? He fooled him into buying a portion of a mine belonging to ex-Senator Chaffee—a property which was not for sale, which Ward could produce no authority for selling—yet he got out of that man $300,000 in cash, without the passage of a single piece of paper or a line of writing, to show that the sale had been made. This man came to the office of Grant and Ward every day for a good while and talked with Ward about the prospects of that rich mine, and it was very rich, and these two would pass directly by Mr. Chaffee and go into the next room and talk. You would think that a man of his reputation for shrewdness would at some time or other have concluded to ask Mr. Chaffee a question or two; but, no: Ward had told this man that Chaffee did not want to be known in the transaction at all, that he must seem to be at Grant and Ward’s office on other business, and that he must not venture to speak to Chaffee or the whole business would be spoiled.
There was a man who prided himself on being a smart business man and yet Ward robbed him of $300,000 without giving him a scrap of anything to show that the transaction had taken place and to-day that man is not among the prosecutors of Ward at all for the reason perhaps that he would rather lose all of that money than have the fact get out that he was deceived in so childish a way.
General Grant mentioned another man who was very wealthy, whom no one would venture to call a fool, either business-wise or otherwise, yet this man came into the office one day and said “Ward, here is my check for $50,000, I have no use for it at present, I am going to make a flying trip to Europe; turn it over for me, see what you can do with it.” Some time afterwards I was in the office when this gentleman returned from his trip and presented himself. He asked Ward if he had accomplished anything with that money? Ward said “Just wait a moment,” went to his books, turned over a page, mumbled to himself a few moments, drew a check for $250,000, handed it to this man with the air of a person who had really accomplished nothing worth talking of! The man stared at the check a moment, handed it back to Ward, and said “That is plenty good enough for me, set that hen again,” and he went out of the place. It was the last he ever saw of any of that money.
I had been discovering fools all along when the General was talking, but this instance brought me to my senses. I put myself in this fellow’s place and confessed that if I had been in that fellow’s clothes it was a hundred to one that I would have done the very thing that he had done, and I was thoroughly well aware that, at any rate, there was not a preacher nor a widow in Christendom who would not have done it: for these people are always seeking investments that pay illegitimately large sums; and they never, or seldom, stop to inquire into the nature of the business.
When I was ready to go, Colonel Fred Grant went down stairs with me, and stunned me by telling me confidentially that the physicians were trying to keep his father’s real condition from him, but that in fact they considered him to be under sentence of death and that he would not be likely to live more than a fortnight or three weeks longer.
This was about the 21st of February, 1885.
After the 21st of February General Grant busied himself daily as much as his strength would allow in revising the manuscript of his book. It was read to him by Colonel Grant very carefully and he made the corrections as he went along. He was losing valuable time because only one-half or two-thirds of the second and last volume was as yet written. However, he was more anxious that what was written should be absolutely correct than that the book should be finished in an incorrect form and then find himself unable to correct it. His memory was superb and nearly any other man with such a memory would have been satisfied to trust it. Not so the General. No matter how sure he was of the fact or the date, he would never let it go until he had verified it with the official records. This constant and painstaking searching of the records cost a great deal of time, but it was not wasted. Everything stated as a fact in General Grant’s book may be accepted with entire confidence as being thoroughly trustworthy.
Speaking of his memory, what a wonderful machine it was! He told me one day that he never made a report of the battles of the Wilderness until they were all over, and he was back in Washington. Then he sat down and made a full report from memory and when it was finished, examined the reports of his subordinates and found that he had made hardly an error. To be exact, he said he had made two errors.
This is his statement as I remember it, though my memory is not absolutely trustworthy and I may be overstating it.
(These and other statements of mine to be laid before Colonel Fred Grant for verification.)
The General lost some more time in one other way. Three Century articles had been written and paid for, but he had during the summer before promised to write a fourth one. He had written it in a rough draft but it had remained unfinished.
The Century people had advertised these articles and were now fearful that the General would never be able to complete them. By this time the General’s condition had got abroad and the newspapers were full of reports about his perilous condition. The Century people called several times to get the fourth article and this hurt and offended Colonel Fred Grant because he knew that they were aware, as was all the world, that his father was considered to be in a dying condition. Colonel Grant thought that they ought to show more consideration—more humanity. By fits and starts the General worked at that article whenever his failing strength would permit him and was determined to finish it if possible because his promise had been given and he would in no way depart from it while any slight possibility remained of fulfilling it. I asked if there was no contract or no understanding as to what was to be paid by the Century people for the article. He said there was not. Then, I said, “Charge them $20,000 for it. It is well worth it—worth double the money. Charge them this sum for it in its unfinished condition and let them have it and tell them that it will be worth still more in case the General shall be able to complete it. This may modify their ardor somewhat and bring you a rest.” He was not willing to put so large a price upon it but thought that if he gave it to them he might require them to pay $5,000. It was plain that the modesty of the family in money matters was indestructible.
Just about this time I was talking to General Badeau there one day when I saw a pile of type-writer manuscript on the table and picked up the first page and began to read it. I saw that it was an account of the siege of Vicksburg. I counted a page and there were about three hundred words on the page: 18,000 or 20,000 words altogether.
General Badeau said it was one of the three articles written by General Grant for the Century.
I said, “Then they have no sort of right to require the fourth article, for there is matter enough in this one to make two or three ordinary magazine articles.” The copy of this and the other two articles were at this moment in the Century’s safe; the fourth article agreement was therefore most amply fulfilled already without an additional article: yet the Century people considered that the contract would not be fulfilled without the fourth article and so insisted upon having it. At the ordinary price paid me for Century articles, this Vicksburg article, if I had written it, would have been worth about $700. Therefore, the Century people had paid General Grant no more than they would have paid me, and this including the $1,000 gratuity which they had given him.
It is impossible to overestimate the enormity of this gouge. If the Century people knew anything at all; if they were not steeped to the marrow in ignorance and stupidity, they knew that a single page of General Grant’s manuscript was worth more than a hundred of mine. But they were steeped to such a degree in ignorance and stupidity. They were honest, honorable and good-hearted people according to their lights, and if anybody could have made them see that it was shameful to take such an advantage of a dying soldier, they would have rectified the wrong. But all the eloquence that I was able to pour out upon them went for nothing, utterly for nothing. They still thought that they had been quite generous to the General and were not able to see the matter in any other light.

Afterwards, at Mount McGregor they consented to give up half of the Vicksburg article; and they did; they gave up more than half of it—cut it from twenty-two galleys down to nine, and only the nine will appear in the magazine. And they added $2,500 to the $2,500 already paid. Those people could learn to be as fair and liberal as anybody, if they had the right schooling.
I will make a diversion here, and get back upon my track again later.
While I was away with G. W. Cable, giving public readings in the theatres, lecture halls, skating rinks, jails and churches of the country, the travel was necessarily fatiguing and therefore I ceased from writing letters excepting to my wife and children. This foretaste of heaven, this relief from the fret of letter-answering, was delightful, but it finally left me in the dark concerning things which I ought to have been acquainted with at the moment.
Among these the affairs of Karl Gerhardt, the young artist, should be mentioned.
I had started out on this reading pilgrimage the day after the Presidential election: that is to say, I had started on the 5th of November and had visited my home only once between that time and the 2d of March following.
During all these four months Gerhardt had been waiting for the verdict of that dilatory committee, and had taken it out in waiting: that is to say, he had sat still and done nothing to earn his bread. He had been tirelessly diligent in asking for work in the line of his art, and had used all possible means in that direction: he had written letters to every man he could hear of who was likely to need a mortuary monument for himself, or his friends, or acquaintances, and had also applied for the chance of a competition for a soldiers’ monument—for all things of this sort—but always without success; the natural result, as his name was not known. He had no reputation.
When I closed my reading campaign at Washington, the last day of February, I came home and found the state of things which I have just spoken of. Gerhardt had waited four long months on that committee which would have needed four centuries in which to make up its mind, and I was thoroughly provoked. I told him that he ought to have had more pride than to permit me to support him and his family during all that time with no assistance from his idle hands. He said that he had wanted to work and had felt the humiliation of the state of things as much as any one could, but that he had been afraid of the effect which it might have if it became known that this artist who was applying for statues and monuments was not to be found in a studio but in some one’s workshop. I said I thought the argument had not a leg to stand on, that he ought to have made it his business to find something to do: that he ought to have been shoveling snow, sawing wood, all these four months, and that the revelation that he had been so engaged would have been a credit to him in anybody’s eyes whose respect was worth anything. It was hard to have to talk to him so plainly, but it was manifest that mere hints were valueless when leveled at him: I had tried them before. He said he would find some work to do immediately.
He came back the next day and said he had got work at Pratt & Whitney’s shop and could go on corresponding with people about statues without interfering with that work.
It seemed to me that Gerhardt compactly filled James Redpath’s definition of an artist: “A man who has a sense of beauty and no sense of duty.”
Once, J. Q. A. Ward, in speaking of his early struggles to get a status as a sculptor, had told me that he had made his beginning by hanging around the studios of sculptors of repute and picking up odd jobs of journey work in them, for the sake of the bread he could gain in that way. I had turned this suggestion over to Gerhardt, but his reply from Paris had been an almost indignant scouting of the idea, as being a thing which no true artist could bring himself to do; and I saw by that that Gerhardt was a true artist because he was manifestly determined not to do it.
I may as well say here and be done with it that my connection with Gerhardt had very little sentiment in it, from my side of the house, and no romance. I took hold of his case, in the first place, solely because I had become convinced that he had it in him to become a very capable sculptor. I was not adopting a child, I was not adding a member to the family, I was merely taking upon myself a common duty—the duty of helping a man who was not able to help himself. I never expected him to be grateful, I never expected him to be thankful—my experience of men had long ago taught me that one of the surest ways of begetting an enemy was to do some stranger an act of kindness which should lay upon him the irritating sense of an obligation. Therefore my connection with Gerhardt had nothing sentimental or romantic about it. I told him in the first place that if the time should ever come when he could pay back to me the money expended upon him and pay it without inconvenience to himself, I should expect it at his hands, and that when it was paid I should consider the account entirely requited—sentiment and all: that that act would leave him free from any obligation to me. It was well all round that things had taken that shape in the beginning and had kept it, for, if the foundation had been sentiment, that sentiment would have grown sour when I saw that he did not want to work for a living in outside ways when art had no living to offer. It had saved me from applying in his case a maxim of mine that whenever a man preferred being fed by any other man to starving in independence he ought to be shot.
One evening Gerhardt appeared in the library and I hoped he had come to say he was getting along very well at the machine shop and was contented; so I was disappointed when he said he had come to show me a small bust he had been making, in clay, of General Grant, from a photograph. I was the more irritated for the reason that I had never seen a portrait of General Grant—in oil, water-colors, crayon, steel, wood, photograph, plaster, marble or any other material,—that was to me at all satisfactory; and, therefore, I could not expect that a person who had never even seen the General could accomplish anything worth considering in the way of a likeness of him.
However, when he uncovered the bust my prejudices vanished at once. The thing was not correct in its details, yet it seemed to me to be a closer approach to a good likeness of General Grant than any one which I had ever seen before. Before uncovering it Gerhardt had said he had brought it in the hope that I would show it to some member of the General’s family, and get that member to point out its chief defects for correction; but I had replied that I could not venture to do that, for there was a plenty of people to pester these folks without me adding myself to the number. But a glance at the bust had changed all that in an instant. I said I would go to New York in the morning and ask the family to look at the bust and that he must come along to be within call in case they took enough interest in the matter to point out the defects.
We reached the General’s house at one o’clock the next afternoon, and I left Gerhardt and the bust below and went up stairs to see the family.
And now, for the first time, the thought came into my mind, that perhaps I was doing a foolish thing, that the family must of necessity have been pestered with such matters as this so many times that the very mention of such a thing must be nauseating to them. However, I had started and so I might as well finish. Therefore I said I had a young artist down stairs who had been making a small bust of the General from a photograph and I wished they would look at it, if they were willing to do me that kindness.
Jesse Grant’s wife spoke up with eagerness and said “Is it the artist who made the bust of you that is in Huckleberry Finn?” I said, yes. She said with great animation, “How good it was of you, Mr. Clemens, to think of that!” She expressed this lively gratitude to me in various ways until I began to feel somehow a great sense of merit in having originated this noble idea of having a bust of General Grant made by so excellent an artist. I will not do my sagacity the discredit of saying that I did anything to remove or modify this impression that I had originated the idea and carried it out to its present state through my own ingenuity and diligence.
Mrs. Jesse Grant added, “How strange it is; only two nights ago I dreamed that I was looking at your bust in Huckleberry Finn and thinking how nearly perfect it was, and then I thought that I conceived the idea of going to you and asking you if you could not hunt up that artist and get him to make a bust of father!”
Things were going on very handsomely!
The persons present were Colonel Fred Grant, Mrs. Jesse Grant, and Dr. Douglas.
I went down for Gerhardt and he brought up the bust and uncovered it. All of the family present exclaimed over the excellence of the likeness, and Mrs. Jesse Grant expended some more unearned gratitude upon me.
The family began to discuss the details and then checked themselves and begged Gerhardt’s pardon for criticising. Of course he said that their criticisms were exactly what he wanted and begged them to go on. The General’s wife said that in that case they would be glad to point out what seemed to them inaccuracies, but that he must not take their speeches as being criticisms upon his art at all. They found two inaccuracies: in the shape of the nose and the shape of the forehead. All were agreed that the forehead was wrong, but there was a lively dispute about the nose. Some of those present contended that the nose was nearly right—the others contended that it was distinctly wrong. The General’s wife knelt on the ottoman to get a clearer view of the bust and the others stood about her—all talking at once. Finally the General’s wife said, hesitatingly, with the mien of one who is afraid he is taking a liberty and asking too much—“If Mr. Gerhardt could see the General’s nose and forehead himself, that would dispose of this dispute at once”; finally, “The General is in the next room—would Mr. Gerhardt mind going in there and making the correction himself?”
Things were indeed progressing handsomely!
Of course, Mr. Gerhardt lost no time in expressing his willingness.
While the controversy was going on concerning the nose and the forehead, Mrs. Fred Grant joined the group, and then presently each of the three ladies in turn disappeared for a few minutes and came back with a handful of photographs and hand-painted miniatures of the General.
These pictures had been made in every quarter of the world. One of them had been painted in Japan. But, good as many of these pictures were they were worthless as evidence for the reason that they contradicted each other in every detail.
The photograph apparatus had lied as distinctly and as persistently as had the hands of the miniature-artists. No two noses were alike and no two foreheads were alike.
We stepped into the General’s room—all but General Badeau and Dr. Douglas.
The General was stretched out in a reclining chair with his feet supported upon an ordinary chair. He was muffled up in dressing gowns and afghans with his black woolen skull-cap on his head.
The ladies took the skull-cap off and began to discuss his nose and his forehead and they made him turn this way and that way and the other way to get different views and profiles of his features. He took it all patiently and made no complaint. He allowed them to pull and haul him about in their own affectionate fashion without a murmur. Mrs. Fred Grant, who is very beautiful and of the most gentle and loving character, was very active in this service and very deft with her graceful hands in arranging and re-arranging the General’s head for inspection and repeatedly called attention to the handsome shape of his head—a thing which reminds me that Gerhardt had picked up an old plug hat of the General’s down stairs and had remarked upon the perfect oval shape of the inside of it, this oval being so uniform that the wearer of the hat could never be able to know by the feel of it whether he had it right-end in front or wrong-end in front, whereas the average man’s head is broad at one end and narrow at the other.
The General’s wife placed him in various positions, none of which satisfied her, and finally she went to him and said—“Ulyss! Ulyss! Can’t you put your feet to the floor?” He did so at once and straightened himself up.
During all this time, the General’s face wore a pleasant, contented and, I should say, benignant aspect, but he never opened his lips once. As had often been the case before, so now, his silence gave ample room to guess at what was passing in his mind—and to take it out in guessing. I will remark, in passing, that the General’s hands were very thin, and they showed, far more than did his face, how his long siege of confinement and illness and insufficient food had wasted him. He was at this time suffering great and increasing pain from the cancer at the root of his tongue, but there was nothing ever discoverable in the expression of his face to betray this fact as long as he was awake. When asleep his face would take advantage of him and make revelations.
At the end of fifteen minutes Gerhardt said he believed he could correct the defects now. So, we went back to the other room.
Gerhardt went to work on the clay image, everybody standing round, observing and discussing with the greatest interest.
Presently, the General astonished us by appearing there, clad in his wraps, and supporting himself in a somewhat unsure way upon a cane. He sat down on the sofa and said he could sit there if it would be for the advantage of the artist.
But his wife would not allow that. She said that he might catch cold. She was for hurrying him back at once to his invalid chair. He succumbed, and started back, but at the door he turned and said:
“Then can’t Mr. Gerhardt bring the clay in here and work?”
This was several hundred times better fortune than Gerhardt could have dreamed of. He removed his work to the General’s room at once. The General stretched himself out in his chair, but said that if that position would not do, he would sit up. Gerhardt said it would do very well, indeed; especially if it were more comfortable to the sitter than any other would be.
The General watched Gerhardt’s swift and noiseless fingers for some time with manifest interest in his face, and no doubt this novelty was a valuable thing to one who had spent so many weeks that were tedious with sameness and unemphasized with change or diversion. By and bye, one eyelid began to droop occasionally; then everybody stepped out of the room excepting Gerhardt and myself and I moved to the rear where I would be out of sight and not be a disturbing element.
Harrison, the General’s old colored body-servant, came in presently and remained a while watching Gerhardt, and then broke out with great zeal and decision:
“That’s the General! Yes, sir! That’s the General! Mind! I tell you! That’s the General!”
Then he went away, and the place became absolutely silent.
Within a few minutes afterwards the General was sleeping, and for two hours he continued to sleep tranquilly, the serenity of his face disturbed only at intervals by a passing wave of pain. It was the first sleep he had had for several weeks uninduced by narcotics.
To my mind this bust, completed at this sitting, has in it more of General Grant than can be found in any other likeness of him that has ever been made since he was a famous man. I think it may rightly be called the best portrait of General Grant that is in existence. It has also a feature which must always be a remembrancer to this nation of what the General was passing through during the long weeks of that spring. For, into the clay image went the pain which he was enduring but which did not appear in his face when he was awake. Consequently, the bust has about it a suggestion of patient and brave and manly suffering which is infinitely touching.
At the end of two hours General Badeau entered abruptly and spoke to the General and this woke him up. But for this animal’s interruption he might have slept as much longer possibly.
Gerhardt worked on as long as it was light enough to work and then he went away. He was to come again, and did come the following day; but, at the last moment, Colonel Fred Grant would not permit another sitting. He said that the face was so nearly perfect that he was afraid to allow it to be touched again, lest some of the excellence might be refined out of it, instead of adding more excellence to it. He called attention to an oil painting on the wall down stairs and asked if we knew that man. We couldn’t name him—had never seen his face before. “Well,” said Colonel Grant, “that was a perfect portrait of my father once: it was given up by all the family to be the best that had ever been made of him. We were entirely satisfied with it, but the artist, unhappily, was not: he wanted to do a stroke or two to make it absolutely perfect and he insisted on taking it back with him. After he had made those finishing touches it didn’t resemble my father or any one else. We took it, and have always kept it as a curiosity. But with that lesson behind us we will save this bust from a similar fate.”
He allowed Gerhardt to work at the hair, however: he said he might expend as much of his talent on that as he pleased but must stop there.
Gerhardt finished the hair to his satisfaction but never touched the face again. Colonel Grant required Gerhardt to promise that he would take every pains with the clay bust and then return it to him to keep as soon as he had taken a mould from it. This was done.
Gerhardt prepared the clay as well as he could for permanent preservation and gave it to Colonel Grant.
Up to the present day, May 22, 1885, no later likeness of General Grant of any kind has been made from life and if this shall chance to remain the last ever made of him from life, coming generations can properly be grateful that one so nearly perfect of him was made after the world learned his name.
Grant’s Memoirs
1885. (Spring.)
Some time after the contract for General Grant’s book was completed, I found that nothing but a verbal understanding existed between General Grant and the Century Company giving General Grant permission to use his Century articles in his book. There is a law of custom which gives an author the privilege of using his magazine article in any way he pleases after it shall have appeared in the magazine, and this law of custom is so well established that an author never expects to have any difficulty about getting a magazine copyright transferred to him whenever he shall ask for it with the purpose in view of putting it in a book. But in the present case I was afraid that the Century Company might fall back upon their legal rights and ignore the law of custom, in which case we should be debarred from using General Grant’s Century articles in his book—an awkward state of things, because he was now too sick a man to re-write them. It was necessary that something should be done in this matter, and done at once.
Mr. Seward, General Grant’s lawyer, was a good deal disturbed when he found that there was no writing. But I was not. I believed that the Century people could be relied upon to carry out any verbal agreement which they had made. The only thing I feared was that their idea of the verbal agreement and General Grant’s idea of it might not coincide. So I went back to the General’s house and got Colonel Fred Grant to write down what he understood the verbal agreement to be and this piece of writing he read to General Grant, who said it was correct and then signed it with his own hand: a feeble and trembling signature, but recognizable as his.
Then I sent for Webster, and our lawyer, and we three went to the Century office, where we found Roswell Smith, (the head man of the company,) and several of the editors. I stated my case plainly and simply and found that their understanding and General Grant’s were identical; so, the difficulty was at an end at once, and we proceeded to draw a writing to cover the thing.
When the business was finished, or, perhaps, in the course of it, I made another interesting discovery.
I was already aware that the Century people were going to bring out all their war articles in book form eventually, General Grant’s among the number; but as I knew what a small price had been paid to the General for his articles I had a vague general notion that he would receive a further payment for the use of them in their book, a remuneration which an author customarily receives in our day by another unwritten law of custom. But when I spoke of this, to my astonishment they told me that they had bought and paid for every one of these war articles with the distinct understanding that that first payment was the last. In confirmation of this amazing circumstance, they brought out a receipt which General Grant had signed, and therein it distinctly appeared that each $500 not only paid for the use of the article printed in the magazine but also in the subsequent book!
One thing was quite clear to me: if we consider the value of those articles to that book, we must grant that the General was paid very much less than nothing at all for their issue in the magazine.
This was altogether the sharpest trade I have ever heard of, in any line of business, horse trading included.
The Century people didn’t blush and therefore it is plain that they considered the transaction fair and legitimate; and I believe myself that they had no idea that they were doing an unfair thing. It was easily demonstrable that they were buying ten-dollar gold pieces from General Grant at twenty-five cents apiece, and I think it was as easily demonstrable that they did not know that there was anything unfair about it.
During our talk Roswell Smith said to me, with the glad air of a man who has stuck a nail in his foot, “I’m glad you’ve got the General’s book, Mr. Clemens, and glad there was somebody with courage enough to take it, under the circumstances. What do you think the General wanted to require of me?” “What?” “He wanted me to insure a sale of 25,000 sets of his book. I wouldn’t risk such a guarantee on any book that ever was published.” This is the remark I have already several times referred to. I’ve got Smith’s exact language; (from my note-book); it proves that they thought 10 per cent royalty would actually represent half profits on General Grant’s book! Imagine it.
I did not say anything, but I thought a good deal. This was one more evidence that the Century people had no more just idea of the value of the book than as many children might be expected to have. At this present writing (May 25, 1885) we have not advertised General Grant’s book in any way: we have not spent a dollar in advertising of any kind; we have not even given notice by circulars or otherwise that we are ready to receive applications from book agents, and yet to-day we have bona fide orders for 100,000 sets of the book—that is to say, 200,000 single volumes, and these orders are from men who have bonded themselves to take and pay for them, and who have also laid before us the most trustworthy evidence that they are financially able to carry out their contracts. The territory which these men have taken is only about one-fourth of the area of the Northern states. We have also under consideration applications for 50,000 sets more and although we have confidence in the energy and ability of the men who have made these applications, we have not closed with them because as yet we are not sufficiently satisfied as to their financial strength. [Sept. 10; 250,000 sets (500,000 single copies,) have been sold, to date—and only half the ground canvassed.]
When it became known that the General’s book had fallen into my hands, the New York World and a Boston paper, (I think the Herald) came out at once with the news; and, in both instances, the position was taken that, by some sort of superior under-handed smartness, I had taken an unfair advantage of the confiding simplicity of the Century people, and got the book away from them—a book which they had the right to consider their property, inasmuch as the terms of its publication had been mutually agreed upon, and the contract covering it was on the point of being signed by General Grant when I put in my meddling appearance.
None of the statements of these two papers was correct, but the Boston paper’s account was considered to be necessarily correct, for the reason that it was furnished by the sister of Mr. Gilder, editor of the Century. So, there was considerable newspaper talk about my improper methods, but nobody seemed to have wit enough to discover that if one gouger had captured the General’s book, here was evidence that he had only prevented another gouger from getting it, since the Century’s terms were distinctly mentioned in the Boston paper’s account as being 10 per cent royalty. No party observed that, and nobody commented upon it. It was taken for granted all round that General Grant would have signed that 10 per cent contract without being grossly cheated.
It is my settled policy to allow newspapers to make as many misstatements about me or my affairs as they like; therefore I had no mind to contradict either of these newspapers or explain my side of the case in any way. But a reporter came to our house at Hartford from one of the editors of the Courant to ask me for my side of the matter for use in the Associated Press dispatches. I dictated a short paragraph in which I said that the statement made in the World that there was a coolness between the Century Company and General Grant, and that in consequence of it the Century would not publish any more articles by General Grant, notwithstanding the fact that they had advertised them far and wide, was not true. I said there was no coolness and no ground for coolness; that the contract for the book had been open for all competitors; that I had put in my application and had asked the General to state its terms to the other applicants in order that he might thereby be enabled to get the best terms possible; that I had got the book eventually, but by no underhand or unfair method. The statement I made was concise and brief and contained nothing offensive. It was sent over the wires to the Associated Press headquarters in New York, but it was not issued by that concern. It did not appear in print. I inquired why, and was told that although it was a piece of news of quite universal interest, it was also more or less of an advertisement for the book—a thing I had not thought of before. I was also told that if I had had a friend round about the Associated Press office, I could have had that thing published all over the country for a reasonable bribe. I wondered if that were true. I wondered if so great and important a concern dealt in that sort of thing.
I presently got something in the way of a confirmation in New York. A few days afterwards, I found that our lawyers, Alexander & Green, and also Mr. Webster, had been disturbed by the World’s statement of this matter and had thought a correction ought to be made through the press of the country. They had imagined that the Associated Press, having for its sole business the collection of valuable news for newspapers, would be very glad to have a statement of the facts in this case. Therefore, they called on an employee of that concern and put into his hands a brief statement of the affair. He read it over, hesitated, said it was certainly a matter of great public interest but that he couldn’t see anyway to make the statement without its being also a pretty good advertisement for General Grant’s book, and for my publishing firm; but he said if we would pay $500 he would send it over the wires to every newspaper in the country connected with that institution.
This pleasant offer was declined. But the proposition seemed to explain to me a thing which had often puzzled me. That was the frequent appearance among the Associated Press dispatches of prodigious puffs of speculative schemes. One, in particular, was a new electric light company of Boston. During a number of weeks there had been almost daily a wildly extravagant puff of this company’s prosperous condition in the Associated Press dispatches of the Hartford papers. The prosperity or the unprosperity of that company was a matter of not the slightest interest to the generality of newspaper readers, and I had always wondered before why the Associated Press people should take such an apparent interest in the matter. It seemed quite satisfactorily explained now. The Associated Press had sent the World’s misstatements over the wires to all parts of the country free of charge for the reason, no doubt, that that statement slandered General Grant, lied about his son, dealt the Century Company a disastrous blow, and was thoroughly well calculated to sharply injure me in both character and pocket. Therefore it was apparent that the Associated Press were willing to destroy a man for nothing, but required cash for rehabilitating him again. That was Associated Press morals. It was newspaper morals, too. Speaking in general terms it was always easy to get any print to say any injurious thing about a citizen in a newspaper, but it was next to impossible to get that paper or any other to right an injured man. We have a law of libel, but it is inoperative and merely cumbers the statute books. For several reasons: First—The case must take its routine place in the calendar of the court and that ensures that some months must elapse before the courts get down to it, so that whatever injury the libel might do has been already done. Second—A jury is afraid of the newspapers and always lets a newspaper off at the cheapest and easiest rate. As the result libel suits are very uncommon and whenever one is tried it simply serves as a reminder to later comers that the best way is to let libel suits alone and take what the newspapers choose to give you in the way of abuse.
GEN GRANT, MARK TWAIN AND THE CENTURY.—The story of Gen Grant’s last days includes yet another disagreeable episode, according to the New York correspondent of the Boston Herald. It has been generally understood that Grant’s papers on the war in the Century magazine have been chapters from the autobiography which he is preparing, and that they were to be followed by other chapters; and it now seems that it was all but concluded that the Century company should publish the book. Arrangements, says this correspondent, were made for the printing of the volumes and the making of the pictures, and terms nearly settled, on the basis of a royalty, when in stepped Mark Twain and spoiled it all. It is stated by this writer that Mr Clemens is the principal partner in the subscription book firm of Charles L. Webster & Co, which publishes his own books, and that Webster & Co made a proposition to Gen Grant to take his son Jesse into the enterprise of publishing and circulating the autobiography, showing the general that he could get a clean profit treble the royalty offered by the Century company. The consequence is represented to be that no more of Gen Grant’s work will appear in the magazine, and it is intimated that Mark Twain cannot have any more of his “Huckleberry Finn” literature published hereafter in those offended pages. The readers of the magazine may well hope the last item of this news is true. “Brunswick,” the Boston Saturday Gazette correspondent from New York, who is Miss Jeannette L. Gilder, sister of the editor of the Century, and, therefore, ought to know—gives a somewhat different account, saying:—
The terms offered Gen Grant, by Mr Webster, are the same, I believe, as those offered by the Century company—10 per cent on the retail price. But Mr Webster’s contract includes one of the young Grants, which makes it more attractive to the general. The Century company would probably have published the Grant autobiography if it had not been for the “son” clause; but that put a new aspect on the thing, and while it was perfectly natural for Gen Grant to want to see his son fixed in business, it was not so natural for the Century company to want to be forced into a bargain of this sort. The relations between Gen Grant and the Century people are still perfectly friendly, and it may be that, after all, they will publish the book.
Springfield Republican
March 9, 1885
GRANT AND HIS MEMOIRS.

WHY AN ADVERTISED ARTICLE
DID NOT APPEAR IN THE “CENTURY.”

A Brilliant Business Scheme by Which Mark Twain Takes Jesse Grant
for a Partner and Becomes the Publisher of the Forthcoming Work.
The March number of the Century appeared without the promised and much-advertised article from the pen of Gen. Grant on one of the great battles of the civil war. The fact caused much comment in literary circles, and in some quarters it was thought that the absence of the article was due to the General’s serious illness. Better informed people, however, have known that nearly all, if not all, the papers of the series had been prepared before the first appeared.
It has just leaked out that Gen. Grant and the Century Company have had a “falling out” and it is not likely that any further papers from the General will appear in the Century. Gen. Grant is preparing an autobiography and it was all but concluded that the book would be published by the Century Company. He was paid $1,000 for the article on “Shiloh,” which appeared in the February number. The managers expected that chapters from the autobiography would first appear in their magazine and that the volumes would bear their imprint. Negotiations were in progress in regard to the illustrations and the printing of the volumes, and terms between Gen. Grant and the company had almost been concluded on the basis of a royalty. The contract, however, had not yet been signed when Mark Twain appeared upon the scene with more advantageous terms than the Century Company offered. Mark Twain, besides being a rollicking humorist, is a smart business man, and it is said that in recent years he has not shared the profits of his fun with any one. He has mastered the art of selling books by subscription, and, moreover, is the principal in the firm of Charles L. Webster & Co. Mr. Webster is a relative, and his duties are mainly to look after the regiments of agents who go about the country soliciting customers for any literary novelties that the firm may have to offer.
The story goes that Mr. Webster, acting for Mark Twain, proposed to Gen. Grant to take his son Jesse, who travelled with him during a part of his famous trip around the world, into the firm as partner. This proposition was regarded favorably, and then it was suggested that the firm would publish and circulate the General’s autobiography. Mr. Webster told the General that the mechanical cost of producing each $2 volume would not exceed 30 cents, and that if large editions were sold, as was sure to be the case, the profits would be three times larger than the royalty offered by the Century Company. Gen. Grant accepted the offer not only because his profits would be larger but because also it would make a business for his son, who was almost “cleaned out” by the failure of Grant & Ward.
A representative of the Century Company when questioned about the matter said that a contract had not been completed for the publication of Gen. Grant’s reminiscences, but it had been considered almost settled that the book would be issued by the company. The General visited the office almost daily, when able to go about, to consult about the material and make-up of the book and the advice given was generally followed.
“We have no grievance,” continued the Century’s representative. “Gen. Grant had the right to go elsewhere, his main object being to create a place for his son. We were not prepared to do that.”
It is said, however, that the Century people feel exceedingly “sore” about the matter, and it is doubtful if any more of Gen. Grant’s papers will appear in the magazine. It is not likely that any passages from the forthcoming book will appear in it in advance, either.
N. Y. World
THE GENERAL’S LITERARY WORK.
FOUR ARTICLES FOR “THE CENTURY”—
HIS MEMOIRS TO FILL TWO SUBSCRIPTION VOLUMES.
Many curious and anxious eyes ran over the columns of The Century for March expecting to find therein another paper from the pen of General Grant. The impression had gone forth that the article on Shiloh which appeared in the February number was the first of a series that were to be published regularly every month and when the March number was issued without containing the expected paper speculation was rife as to its cause. Some attributed the omission to the General’s ill health; others to the fact that he was more anxious that his more important memoirs should be first completed; but it was left for The World to discover the fact that there had been a “falling out” between the publishers of The Century and General Grant and that it was not likely that any more of his papers would be published in the magazine. The cause of the falling-out was said to be that General Grant had taken the publication of his memoirs away from The Century and had entered into a contract for their publication by Charles L. Webster & Co., because The Century could not find a place for Jesse Grant in any of its departments.
The facts are that General Grant stipulated some time ago to write for The Century four papers on the War, and the following subjects were selected: Shiloh, Vicksburg, Chattanooga, and the Wilderness Campaign. As soon as the terms were agreed upon the General entered upon his literary work with characteristic energy, working frequently from eight to ten hours a day: and though he was hampered by the insidious disease that is now sapping his vitality, only a comparatively short interval elapsed from the time he began his labors when the papers on Shiloh, Vicksburg and Chattanooga were completed and handed over to The Century. They were paid for in accordance with the agreement, and are now in the possession of The Century. The manuscript for “The Wilderness Campaign” is completed and is now being revised by the General as rapidly as his health and other duties will permit.
There has been no falling-out between General Grant and The Century, and their relations are in every way cordial and pleasant. The Century Publishing Company entered into competition for the publication of General Grant’s books and its failure to obtain the contract was simply a business incident, the General being better satisfied with the arrangements made with Webster & Co. In the negotiation for the publication of the book the question of giving his son a position was not a matter of consideration.
The contract between Webster & Co. and General Grant was signed on February 28, and it is denied at the publishers’ office that taking Jesse Grant into partnership, as The World alleged, had anything to do with awarding them the contract, for the reason that such an arrangement has not been made. Samuel L. Clemens (Mark Twain) is a silent partner in the firm of Webster & Co., but entrusts the management of the business to his nephew, Charles L. Webster, who conducted all the negotiations with General Grant. The book is to be complete in two volumes. The manuscript for the first is completed and will be delivered to Mr. Webster, the latter part of this week. The General is working as much as possible on the materials for the second volume, which is also nearly finished, the principal labor now being that of revision. The book will be sold by subscription, and the price will probably be $3 50 a volume. It is expected that the two volumes will be ready for delivery in October or November.
N. Y. Tribune
GEN. GRANT AND HIS BOOK.

Over 100,000 Orders for the Set Received by His Publishers.
Gen. Grant has done much towards completing his book during his period of convalescence and expects to finish it within the next few days. The first volume is written and revised. Only about one hundred pages are needed to complete the second, though only a portion of it has been revised. The story of Lee’s surrender was finished on Monday and revised yesterday. The General’s connection with Lincoln’s assassination has been related. It is his intention to begin work to-day on a description of the grand review of the Federal armies in Washington at the close of the war. He writes little himself, but dictates to a stenographer. Not only is his mind clear, but the story as he dictates it is lucid and requires but little revision. His daily average is about thirty pages and the work apparently fatigues him little, if any.
The title of the book is “The Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant.” It tells the story of his life from childhood down to the grand review. It is replete with interesting sketches and anecdote of Lincoln and other great men, with whom Gen. Grant came in contact in civil and military life. Each volume will contain about 500 pages with numerous illustrations and maps. Charles L. Webster & Co., of this city, are the publishers. The work will be published simultaneously by them in the United States, England, France, Germany and Canada. Mr. Webster will go abroad in July to arrange for translating and publishing it in foreign countries. The first volume will be issued Dec. 1, and the second about March 1, 1886. Already orders for over 100,000 sets of the “Memoirs” have been received without solicitation or advertising. At least 50,000 additional orders have come in which have not yet been accepted. It is expected that the sales will be unprecedentedly large. If nothing unforeseen happens the publishers expect to have all the manuscript in hand inside of a month. It will require but a few days to finish the second volume, after which it will be leisurely revised. Nearly all of volume II. has been written since the General was confined to the house by his present illness.
Gen. Grant yesterday sent the following letter to his publishers:
NEW YORK, May 2,1885.
To Charles L. Webster & Co.
DEAR SIRS: My attention has been called to a paragraph in a letter published in THE WORLD newspaper of this city of Wednesday, April 29, of which the following is a part:
“The work upon his new book, about which so much has been said, is the work of Gen. Adam Badeau. Gen. Grant, I have no doubt, has furnished all of the material and all of the ideas in the memoirs as far as they have been prepared, but Badeau has done the work of composition. The most that Gen. Grant has done upon this book has been to prepare the rough notes and memoranda for its various chapters.”
I will divide this into four parts and answer each of them.
First—“The work upon his new book, about which so much has been said, is the work of Gen. Adam Badeau.” This is false. The composition is entirely my own.
Second—“Gen. Grant, I have no doubt, has furnished all of the material and all of the ideas in the memoirs as far as they have been prepared.” This is true.
Third—“But Badeau has done the work of composition.” The composition is entirely my own.
Fourth—“The most that Gen. Grant has done upon this book has been to prepare the rough notes and memoranda for its various chapters.” This is false. I have not only prepared myself whatever rough notes were made, but, as above stated, have done the entire work of composition and preparing notes, and no one but myself has ever used one of such notes in any composition.
You may take such measures as you see fit to correct this report, which places me in the attitude of claiming the authorship of a book which I did not write, and is also injurious to you who are publishing and advertising such book as my work.
Yours truly,
U.S.GRANT.
N. Y. World
[The Rev. Dr. Newman]
1885.
Extract from my note book:
April 4, 1885. General Grant is still living, this morning. Many a person between the two oceans lay hours awake, last night, listening for the booming of the fire-bells that should speak to the nation in simultaneous voice and tell it its calamity. The bell-strokes are to be thirty seconds apart and there will be sixty-three—the General’s age. They will be striking in every town in the United States at the same moment—the first time in the world’s history that the bells of a nation have tolled in unison, beginning at the same moment and ending at the same moment.
More than once during two weeks, the nation stood watching with bated breath expecting the news of General Grant’s death.
The family in their distress desired spiritual help and one Rev. Dr. Newman was sent for to furnish it. Newman had lately gone to California where he had got a ten-thousand-dollar job to preach a funeral sermon over the son of ex-Governor Stanford, the millionaire, and a most remarkable sermon it was—and worth the money. If Newman got the facts right, neither he nor anybody else—any ordinary human being—was worthy to preach that youth’s funeral sermon and it was manifest that one of the disciples ought to have been imported into California for the occasion. Newman came on from California at once, and began his ministration at the General’s bedside; and if one might trust his daily reports the General had conceived a new and perfect interest in spiritual things. It is fair to presume that the most of Newman’s daily reports originated in his own imagination.
Colonel Fred Grant told me that his father was, in this matter, what he was in all matters and at all times—that is to say, perfectly willing to have family prayers going on, or anything else that could be satisfactory to anybody, or increase anybody’s comfort in any way; but he also said that while his father was a good man, and indeed as good as any man, Christian or otherwise, he was not a praying man.
Some of the speeches put into General Grant’s mouth were to the last degree incredible to people who knew the General, since they were such gaudy and flowery misrepresentations of that plain-spoken man’s utterances.
About the 14th or 15th of April, Rev. Mr. Newman reported that upon visiting the General in his sick chamber, the General pressed his hand and delivered himself of this astounding remark:
“Thrice have I been in the shadow of the valley of death and thrice have I come out again.”
General Grant never used flowers of speech, and dead or alive he never could have uttered anything like that, either as a quotation or otherwise.
About that time I came across a gentleman in the railway train who had been connected with our embassy in China during the past sixteen years and was now at home on leave of absence, and he told me something about Newman. He said that once, when General Grant was President, Newman wanted to travel about the world a little and he was given the post of Inspector of Consulates. It was a salaried position and the salary was paid out of an appropriation set apart for that purpose. Whenever an inspector’s time expired, whatever might be left unexpended of that appropriation had to be turned in to the Treasury.
This Secretary of Legation tried to make me understand how there was some crookedness about Newman’s expenditures, but I am not able to call to mind in what the crookedness consisted, so I will not make the attempt. The Secretary was mainly interested in showing not that Newman was a knave but that he was simply an ass. He said he came out to China and proceeded to investigate the legation, and hauled it vigorously over the coals, and was getting along very satisfactorily with his work when the American Minister spoiled it all by calling his attention to the fact that the legation was not a consulate and did not come within the jurisdiction of his powers.
There was a social club there, composed of American ladies and gentlemen, who met occasionally to discuss things, and Newman showed a good deal of anxiety to get an invitation to address it and to furnish an essay for one of their discussions. His hints were not favorably received. So he compacted them into a clear form: in fact he invited himself. In introducing him the chairman almost apologized to the company and said in substance that Rev. Mr. Newman had asked permission to address the club.
This chilly introduction didn’t distress the essayist a bit apparently. He opened his remarks with a graceful reference to the urgency which had been brought to bear upon him to address the club and which he could not politely decline.
The Secretary of Legation may have exaggerated the case, but from what I can gather Dr. Newman is really about that kind of a man.
Clemens’s unsparing account of his own beguilement into financially supporting James W. Paige’s development of an automatic typesetter is so manifestly autobiographical that it is judged to be among the chapters Clemens drafted for the autobiography, although he did not explicitly identify it that way. The manuscript, now in the Mark Twain Papers, was written in two separately paginated stages. The first part (twenty manuscript pages) was written in December 1890, almost ten years after Clemens began investing in the typesetter and at a point when his total investment had reached or exceeded $170,000, despite Paige’s failure to produce a successful prototype. The second part (nine manuscript pages) starts with “End of 1885” and was written in late 1893 or early 1894, when Clemens had left his family in Europe and traveled to New York to participate in negotiations concerning the typesetter. He must have written it before 1 February 1894, when he reached a new agreement with Paige that he believed would make him wealthy (Notebook 33, TS pp. 47, 51, CU-MARK).
Paine quoted from the manuscript in his biography (MTB, 2:903–5, 913), and in his edition of the autobiography he published most of the first part (with the usual silent omissions), but only four paragraphs of the second part (MTA, 1:70–78). Neider did not include any part of this text in his edition. Clemens continued to excoriate Paige in the Autobiographical Dictation of 2 June 1906.
The Machine Episode
[Written in the closing days of 1890.]
This episode has now spread itself over more than one-fifth of my life—a considerable stretch of time, as I am now fifty-five years old.
Ten or eleven years ago, Dwight Buell, a jeweler, called at our house and was shown up to the billiard room—which was my study; and the game got more study than the other sciences. He wanted me to take some stock in a type-setting machine. He said it was at the Colt Arms factory, and was about finished. I took $2,000 of the stock. I was always taking little chances like that; and almost always losing by it, too—a thing which I did not greatly mind, because I was always careful to risk only such amounts as I could easily afford to lose. Some time afterward I was invited to go down to the factory and see the machine. I went, promising myself nothing; for I knew all about type-setting by practical experience, and held the settled and solidified opinion that a successful type-setting machine was an impossibility, for the reason that a machine cannot be made to think, and the thing that sets movable type must think or retire defeated. So, the performance I witnessed did most thoroughly amaze me. Here was a machine that was really setting type; and doing it with swiftness and accuracy, too. Moreover, it was distributing its case at the same time. The distribution was automatic: the machine fed itself from a galley of dead matter, and without human help or suggestion; for it began its work of its own accord when the type channels needed filling, and stopped of its own accord when they were full enough. The machine was almost a complete compositor; it lacked but one feature—it did not “justify” the lines; this was done by the operator’s assistant.
I saw the operator set at the rate of 3,000 ems an hour, which, counting distribution, was but little short of four case-men’s work.
William Hamersley was there. I had known him long, I thought I knew him well. I had great respect for him, and full confidence in him. He said he was already a considerable owner, and was now going to take as much more of the stock as he could afford. Wherefore I set down my name for an additional $3,000. It is here that the music begins.
Footnote. Hamersley now says we never had any such agreement. He will revise that remark presently.
Before very long Hamersley called on me and asked me what I would charge to raise a capital of $500,000 for the manufacture of the machines. I said I would undertake it for $100,000. He said, raise $600,000, then, and take $100,000. I agreed. I sent for my partner, Webster; he came up from New York and went back with the project. There was some correspondence. Hamersley wrote Webster a letter which will be inserted later on.
I will remark, here, that James W. Paige, the little bright-eyed, alert, smartly dressed inventor of the machine, is a most extraordinary compound of business thrift and commercial insanity; of cold calculation and jejune sentimentality; of veracity and falsehood; of fidelity and treachery; of nobility and baseness; of pluck and cowardice; of wasteful liberality and pitiful stinginess; of solid sense and weltering moonshine; of towering genius and trivial ambitions; of merciful bowels and a petrified heart; of colossal vanity and— But there the opposites stop. His vanity stands alone, sky-piercing, as sharp of outline as an Egyptian monolith. It is the only unpleasant feature in him that is not modified, softened, compensated by some converse characteristic. There is another point or two worth mentioning: he can persuade anybody; he can convince nobody. He has a crystal-clear mind, as regards the grasping and concreting of an idea which has been lost and smothered under a chaos of baffling legal language; and yet it can always be depended upon to take the simplest half dozen facts and draw from them a conclusion that will astonish the idiots in the asylum. It is because he is a dreamer, a visionary. His imagination runs utterly away with him. He is a poet; a most great and genuine poet, whose sublime creations are written in steel. He is the Shakespeare of mechanical invention. In all the ages he has no peer. Indeed, there is none that even approaches him. Whoever is qualified to fully comprehend his marvelous machine will grant that its place is upon the loftiest summit of human invention, with no kindred between it and the far foothills below.
But I must explain these strange contradictions above listed, or the man will be misunderstood and wronged. His business thrift is remarkable, and it is also of a peculiar cut. He has worked at his expensive machine for more than twenty years, but always at somebody else’s cost. He spent hundreds and thousands of other folk’s money, yet always kept his machine and its possible patents in his own possession, unencumbered by an embarrassing lien of any kind—except once, which will be referred to by and by. He could never be beguiled into putting a penny of his own into his work. Once he had a brilliant idea in the way of a wonderfully valuable application of electricity. To test it, he said, would cost but $25. I was paying him a salary of nearly $600 a month and was spending $1,200 on the machine besides; yet he asked me to risk the $25 and take half of the result. I declined, and he dropped the matter. Another time he was sure he was on the track of a splendid thing in electricity. It would cost only a trifle—possibly $200—to try some experiments; I was asked to furnish the money and take half of the result. I furnished money until the sum had grown to about $1,000, and everything was pronounced ready for the grand exposition. The electric current was turned on—the thing declined to go. Two years later the same thing was successfully worked out and patented by a man in the State of New York and was at once sold for a huge sum of money and a royalty-reserve besides. The drawings in the electrical journal showing the stages by which that inventor had approached the consummation of his idea, proving his way step by step as he went, were almost the twins of Paige’s drawings of two years before. It was almost as if the same hand had drawn both sets. Paige said we had had it, and we should have known it if we had only tried an alternating current after failing with the direct current; said he had felt sure, at the time, that at cost of $100 he could apply the alternating test and come out triumphant. Then he added, in tones absolutely sodden with self-sacrifice, and just barely touched with reproach,
“But you had already spent so much money on the thing that I hadn’t the heart to ask you to spend any more.”
If I had asked him why he didn’t draw on his own pocket, he would not have understood me. He could not have grasped so strange an idea as that. He would have thought there was something the matter with my mind. I am speaking honestly; he could not have understood it. A cancer of old habit and long experience could as easily understand the suggestion that it board itself a while.
In drawing contracts he is always able to take care of himself; and in every instance he will work into the contracts injuries to the other party and advantages to himself which were never considered or mentioned in the preceding verbal agreement. In one contract he got me to assign to him several hundred thousand dollars’ worth of property for a certain valuable consideration—said valuable consideration being the re-giving to me of another piece of property which was not his to give but already belonged to me! See assignment, Aug. 12, 1890. I quite understand that I am confessing myself a fool; but that is no matter, the reader would find it out anyway, as I go along. Hamersley was our joint lawyer, and I had every confidence in his wisdom and cleanliness.
Once when I was lending money to Paige during a few months, I presently found that he was giving receipts to my representative instead of notes! But that man never lived who could catch Paige so nearly asleep as to palm off on him a piece of paper which apparently satisfied a debt when it ought to acknowledge a loan.
I must throw in a parenthesis here, or I shall do Hamersley an injustice. Here and there I have seemed to cast little reflections upon him. Pay no attention to them. I have no feeling about him, I have no harsh words to say about him. He is a great fat good-natured, kind-hearted, chicken-livered slave; with no more pride than a tramp, no more sand than a rabbit, no more moral sense than a wax figure, and no more sex than a tape-worm. He sincerely thinks he is honest, he sincerely thinks he is honorable. It is my daily prayer to God that he be permitted to live and die in those superstitions. I gave him a twentieth of my American holding, at Paige’s request; I gave him a twentieth of my foreign holding at his own supplication; I advanced near $40,000 in five years to keep these interests sound and valid for him. In return, he drafted every contract which I made with Paige in all that time—clear up to September, 1890—and pronounced it good and fair; and then I signed. These unique contracts will be found in the Appendix. May they be instructive to the struggling student of law.
Yes, it is as I have said: Paige is an extraordinary compound of business thrift and commercial insanity. Instances of his commercial insanity are simply innumerable. Here are some examples. When I took hold of the machine Feb. 6, 1886, its faults had been corrected and a setter and a justifier could turn out about 3,500 ems an hour on it; possibly 4,000. There was no machine that could pretend rivalry to it. Business sanity would have said, put it on the market as it was, secure the field, and add improvements later. Paige’s business insanity said, add the improvements first, and risk losing the field. And that is what he set out to do. To add a justifying mechanism to that machine would take a few months and cost $9,000 by his estimate, or $12,000 by Pratt & Whitney’s. I agreed to add said justifier to that machine. There could be no sense in building a new machine. Yet in total violation of the agreement, Paige went immediately to work to build a new machine, although aware, by recent experience, that the cost could not fall below $150,000, and that the time consumed would be years instead of months. Well, when four years had been spent and the new machine was able to exhibit a marvelous capacity, we appointed the 12th of January for Senator Jones of Nevada to come and make an inspection. He was not promised a perfect machine, but a machine which could be perfected. He had agreed to invest one or two hundred thousand dollars in its fortunes; and had also said that if the exhibition was particularly favorable, he might take entire charge of the elephant. At the last moment Paige concluded to add an air-blast, (afterwards found to be unnecessary); wherefore, Jones had to be turned back from New York to wait a couple of months and lose his interest in the thing. A year ago, Paige made what he regarded as a vast and magnanimous concession: Hamersley and I might sell the English patent for $10,000,000! A little later a man came along who thought he could bring some Englishmen who would buy that patent, and he was sent off to fetch them. He was gone so long that Paige’s confidence began to diminish, and with it his price. He finally got down to what he said was his very last and bottom price for that patent—$50,000! This was the only time in five years that I ever saw Paige in his right mind. I could furnish other examples of Paige’s business insanity—enough of them to fill six or eight volumes, perhaps, but I am not writing his history, I am merely sketching his portrait.
Greatest of all mistakes that things warn’t arranged so as to have four persons in the Trinity. But even then Paige wouldn’t stir a peg unless he could have the boss-ship.
End of 1885.
Paige arrives at my house unheralded. [I was a small stockholder in the Farnham Co., but had seen little or nothing of Paige for a year or two.] He said “What’ll you complete the machine for?”
“What will it cost?”
“$20,000—certainly not over $30,000.”
“What will you give?”
“I’ll give you half.”
“I’ll do it—but the limit must be $30,000.”
“Hamersley’s a good fellow and will be invaluable to us—we can’t get along without him as our lawyer. Shan’t we give him a slice?”
“Yes. How much?”
“Shall we say a tenth?”
“All right—yes.”

The contract, (signed Feb. 6, 1886) was drawn by Hamersley. It is an excruciatingly absurd piece of paper. It bound me to requirements which had not been talked about, but they looked easy and I accepted them. But it was not till months afterward that upon trying to sell a part of my interest to raise money for the machine I found I hadn’t any ownership of any kind. My 9/20 interest had become a purely conditional one. Failing the conditions, I would have nothing back but my $30,000 and 6 per cent interest.
Hamersley was my trusted old friend, and as I thought, my lawyer also. I was spending $30,000 to build his tenth of the machine. Yet he drew that contract and was present at the signing of it, and found nothing unrighteous about it.
II
The $30,000 lasted about a year, I should say. My contract was fulfilled, but Paige had fallen far short of finishing the machine—though he said he could finish it for $4,000; and could finish it and give it a big exhibition in New York for $10,000. After an interval, during which I did not see him, he applied for a loan of this money and offered to pay back double some day.
I sent word that I would furnish the $4,000, but would take nothing but 6 per cent. (Witness, F. G. Whitmore.)
When the $4,000 was gone, he said a little more would do. I furnished a little more and a little more, taking 6 per cent notes until at last the machine was finished but not absolutely perfected. It could not have stood a lengthy test-exhibition. The notes then aggregated (with interest) about $53,000 or $55,000. I was out of pocket more than $80,000, with nothing to show for it but the original idiotic contract.
I then struck the idea of asking for royalties to raise money on. I asked for five hundred. Paige said—
“You can have as many as you want. I’ll give you a thousand.”
I said no, I would take only five hundred.
The royalty deed was made and signed. We were all feeling fine. Paige asked me to give him back his notes. I made Whitmore do it, though he strenuously objected.

I went on finishing the machine at the rate of $4,000 and upwards a month. I had no fears or doubts. [But I found royalties not very salable, and stopped trying to sell them.]
Hamersley was in a sweat to get a new contract out of Paige allowing a company to organize in the ordinary way and manufacture the machine. Presently Paige consented—and contract No. 2 was the result. It recognized my share. A rough one on me, but anything seemed better than the old contract—which was a mistake.
A few months later contract No. 3 (the May contract?) was made. It recognized my share.
These were not promising contracts for a company to take hold of.
Then came the “June” contract—a good and rational one. All this time these various contracts merely recognized my American rights. My foreign 9/20 were conditioned upon my paying the patent-expenses as they accrued (which I did) and the ultimate expenses of starting work in the foreign countries—a condition which has not yet arrived. Now none of the previous contracts actually gave me an ownership, but this June one gave me the machine and everything, bag and baggage.
However, John P. Jones thought the foreign rights should be put into this contract, and I wrote to Paige to interline this addition. He sent for my copy of the June contract and Whitmore brought it and left it with him—which was a mistake.
We couldn’t get it from him any more. He said it wasn’t a real contract, because it had a blank in it (for his salary.)
I came down from Onteora to see what the trouble was, and Whitmore urged me to stand out for the restoration of that stolen contract; but Paige insisted that a new one which he had been drawing up was much better. I signed it, and also assigned my foreign rights back to Paige, who now owned the entire thing (Hamersley’s shares, too) if this contract failed to materialize. It had but six months to run.
After signing it I spoke doubtfully of my chances, and Paige shed a few tears, as usual, and was deeply hurt at being doubted; asked me if he hadn’t always taken care of me? and had he ever failed of his word with me? hadn’t he always said that no matter what happened (meaning a falling-out—which I had suggested) I should have my 9/20 of every dollar he ever got out of the machine, domestic and foreign; that if he died (as I had suggested) his family would see to it that I got my 9/20. Then—
“Here, Charley Davis, take a pen and write what I say.”
He dictated and Davis wrote.
“There, now,” said Paige, “are you satisfied now?”
I went on footing the bills, and got the machine really perfected at last, at a full cost of about $150,000, instead of the original $30,000.
Ward tells me that Paige tried his best to cheat me out of my royalties when making a contract with the Connecticut Co.
Also that he tried to cheat out of all share Mr. North (inventor of the justifying mechanism;) but that North frightened him with a lawsuit-threat, and is to get a royalty until the aggregate is $2,000,000.
Paige and I always meet on effusively affectionate terms; and yet he knows perfectly well that if I had his nuts in a steel-trap I would shut out all human succor and watch that trap till he died.
This manuscript—which has not been published before—was left to a degree unfinished, judging from Clemens’s penciled (tentative) revision of its title to “Travel-Scraps from Autobiog.” Now in the Mark Twain Papers, it is thought to be a draft chapter written for the autobiography on that evidence, and also because, in 1900 during a later stay in London, Clemens wrote a sequel about the city entitled “Travel-Scraps II,” which he ultimately inserted in the Autobiographical Dictation of 27 February 1907. The subtitle “London, Summer, 1896,” refers to the events in the piece, not the time of writing, which was clearly soon after the Clemenses arrived in Vienna in late September 1897. The “village” Clemens referred to was the area around Tedworth Square, where they lived from October 1896 until they moved to Weggis, Switzerland, in July 1897 (Notebook 39, TS p. 6, CU-MARK).
Travel-Scraps I
London, Summer, 1896
All over the world there seems to be a prejudice against the cab driver. But that is too sweeping; it must be modified. I think I may say that there is a prejudice against him in many American cities, but not in Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia and Boston; that in Europe, as a rule, there is a prejudice against him, but not in Munich and Berlin; that there is a prejudice against him in Calcutta but not in Bombay. I think I may say that the prejudice against him is strong in London, stronger in Paris, and strongest in New York. There are courteous and reasonable cabmen in Paris, but they seem to be rare. I think that in London four out of every six cabmen are pleasant and rational beings, and are satisfied with twenty-five per cent above legal fare; and that the other two are always ready and anxious for a dispute, and burning to conduct it in a loud and frantic key.* The citizen must pay from two to three prices, when he makes his bargain beforehand, and more when he doesn’t. When he makes his bargain beforehand he expects to be overcharged, and is not discontented unless the over-tax is extravagant, because he knows that the legal rate is too low, and that the hack-industry cannot live upon it. The heavy over-charge has kept the traffic down and made it meagre. The legal charge might not be too low if the traffic were as heavy as it ought to be for a city like New York, but it is not likely to expand while hackmen may continue to charge any price they please. And now that the hacks have driven all the business into the hands of the steam and electric companies, the periodical attempts to inaugurate a cheap hack-system in New York will presently begin again, I suppose. Hacks are but little needed in American cities for any but strangers who cannot find their way by tram-lines. The citizen should be thankful for the high hack-rates which have given him the trams; for by consequence he has the cheapest and swiftest city-transportation that exists in the world. London travels by omnibus—pleasant, but as deadly slow as a European “lift;” and by underground railway, which is an invention of Satan himself. It goes no direct course, but always away around. When the train arrives you must jump, rush, fly, and swarm with the crowd into the first cigar box that is handy, lest you get left. You have hardly time to mash yourself into a portion of a seat before the train is off again. It goes blustering and squttering along, puking smoke and cinders in at the window, which some one has opened in pursuance of his right to make the whole cigar box uncomfortable if his comfort requires it; the fog of black smoke smothers the lamp and dims its light, and the double row of jammed people sit there and bark at each other, and the righteous and the unrighteous pray each after his own fashion. The train stops every few minutes, and there is a new rush and scramble each time. And every quarter of an hour you change cars, and fly thirty yards to a stairway, and up the stairway and fifty yards along a corridor, and down another stairway, and plunge headlong into a train just as it moves off; and of course it is the wrong one, and you must get out at the next station and come back. But it is no matter. If you had stopped to ask the official on duty, it would have been the right train and you would have lost it by stopping to ask; and so none but idiots stop to ask. The next time that you ought to change cars you are not aware of it, and you go on. You keep on going on and on and on, wondering what has become of St. John’s Wood, and if you are ever likely to get to that brick-and-mortar forest; and by and by you pull your courage together and ask a passenger if he can tell you whereabouts you are, and he says “We are just arriving at Sloane Square.” You thank him, and look gratified, look as gratified as you can on the spur of the moment and without sufficient preparation, and step out, saying “It is my station.” And so it is. That is where you started from. It is an hour or an hour and a half ago, and is getting toward bedtime, now. You have been plowing through tunnels all that time, and have been all around under London amongst its entrails, and been in first, second and third-class cars on a third-class ticket, and associated with all sorts of company, from Dukes and Bishops down to rank and mangy tramps and blatherskites who sat with their drunken trunnions in their laps and caressed and kissed them unembarrassed. You have missed the dinner you were aimed for, but you are alive yet, and that is something; and you have learned better than to go by tunnel any more, and that is also a gain. You cannot telephone your friend to go to bed and not keep the dinner waiting. There is not a telephone within a mile of you, and there is not a telephone within a mile of him. Years ago there was a telephone system in England, but in the country parts it is about dead, now, and what is left of it in London has no value. So you send a telegram to your friend, stating that you have met with an accident, and begging him not to wait dinner for you. You are aware that all the offices in his neighborhood close at eight in the evening and it is ten now; it is also Saturday night, and England keeps Sunday; but the telegram will reach his house Monday morning, and when he gets back from business at five in the evening he will get it, and will know then that you did not come Saturday evening, and why.
One little wee bunch of houses in London, one little wee spot, is the centre of the globe, the heart of the globe, and the machinery that moves the world is located there. It is called the City, and it, with a patch of its borderland, is a city. But the rest of London is not a city. It is fifty villages massed solidly together over a vast stretch of territory. Each village has its own name and its own government. Its ways are village ways, and the great body of its inhabitants are just villagers, and have the simple, honest, untraveled, unworldly look of villagers. Its shops are village shops; little cramped places where you can buy an anvil or a paper of pins, or anything between; but you can’t buy two anvils, nor five papers of pins, nor seven white cravats, nor two hats of the same breed, because they do not keep such gross masses in stock. The shopman will not offer to get the things and send them to you, but will tell you where he thinks you may possibly find them. And he is not brusque and fussy and unpleasant, like a city person, but takes the simple and kindly interest of a villager in the matter, and will discuss it as long as you please. They have no hateful city ways, and indeed no ways that suggest that they have ever lived in a city.
In my village there are a lot of little postoffices and one big one—in Sloane Square. One Saturday toward dusk I visited three of the little ones and asked if there was a Sunday mail for Paris; and if so, at how late an hour could I mail my letter and catch it? Nobody knew whether there was such a mail or not, but it was believed that there was. They could not refer to a table of mails, for they had none. Could they telephone the General Postoffice and find out for me? No, they had no telephone. The big office in Sloane Square might know. I went there. There were two or three girls and a woman or two on duty. Yes, there was a Paris mail, they said; they did not know at what hour it left, but they believed it did. Were my questions unusual ones in their experience? They could not remember that any one had asked them before. And those people looked so friendly, and innocent, and childlike, and ignorant, and happy, and content.
I lived nine months in that village. I got my predecessor’s mail along with my own, every day. He had left his new address at the postoffice, but that did little or no good. The letters came to me. I reinstructed the carriers now and then; then, for as much as a week afterward I would get my own mail only; after that, I would get the double mail again, as before.
But that was a pleasant village to live in. The spirit of accommodation was everywhere, just as it is in Germany, and just as it isn’t, in a good many parts of the earth. I went to my nearest postoffice one day to send a telegram. The office was in a little shop that had thirty dollars’ worth of miscellaneous merchandise in it, and a young woman was on duty. I was in a hurry. I wrote the telegram, and the young woman examined it and said she was afraid it would not reach its destination. A flaw in the address, perhaps—I do not remember what the trouble was. She wanted to call her husband and advise about the matter. I explained that I was following orders, and that if the man at the other end did not get the telegram he would have only himself to blame. But she was not satisfied with that. She reminded me that it would be a pure waste of money, and I the loser. She would rather call her husband and see about it. She had to have her way; I could not help myself; her kindly interest disarmed me, and I could not break out and say, “Oh, send it just as it is, and let me go.” She brought her husband, and the two reasoned the matter out at considerable length, and finally got it arranged to their satisfaction. But I was not to get away yet. There was a new difficulty. There were apparently more words than necessary, and if I could strike out a word or two the telegram would cost only sixpence. I came near saying I would rather pay four cents extra than lose another three shillings’ worth of time, but it would have been a shame to act like that when they were trying their best to do me a kindness, so I did not say it, but held in and let the ruinous expense of time run on. Amongst us, in the course of time, we managed to gut the telegram of a few of its most necessary words, and then I was free, and paid my sixpence and got back to my work; and I would be glad to repeat that pleasant experience, even at cost of half the time and twice the money. That was a London episode. I am trying to imagine such a thing happening in a New York telegraph office, but there seems to be something the matter with my imagination to-day.
DIAGRAM OF LONDON




The London ’bus driver does not seem like a city person, but like a blessed angel out of the country. He is often nattily dressed and nicely shaved, and often just the other way; but in either case the man is a choice man, and satisfactory. He hasn’t a hard city face, nor crusty and repellent city ways, nor indeed anything about him which can be called “citified”—that epithet which suggests the absence of all spirituality, and the presence of all kinds of paltry materialisms, and mean ideals, and mean vanities, and silly cynicisms. He is a pleasant and courteous and companionable person, he is kindly and conversational, he has a placid and dignified bearing which becomes him well, and he rides serene above the crush and turmoil of London as undisturbed by it and as unconcerned about it as if he were not aware that anything of the kind was going on. The choice part of the ’bus is its roof; and the choicest places on the roof are the two seats back of the driver’s elbows. The occupants of those seats talk to him all the time. That shows that he is a polite man, and interesting. And it shows that in his heart he is a villager, and has the simplicities and sincerities and spirit of comradeship which belong to a man whose city contacts have been of an undamaging infrequency. The ’bus driver not only likes to talk to his passengers, but likes to have a choice kind of passengers to talk to. I base this opinion upon some remarks made to a friend of mine by a driver toward the end of last February. My friend opened the conversation, along in the King’s Road somewhere:
“I suppose you are glad the winter is about over?”
“No, I don’t mind the cold weather, but I don’t like the road.”
“What is the matter with the road?”
“Well, I don’t like the society. Just villagers, you know, that’s about what they are. Good-hearted, and all that, but no style. No conversational powers. Chelsea—Walham Green—Battersea—that kind, you know. No intellectual horizon. Dull, honest, sincerely pious, and all that; but interested in the triflingest little commonplace things. I am degenerating, I know it. A man can’t live on that kind of mental diet and drive a ’bus.”
“Where were you before? Were you better off before?”
“Well, I should think! Hammersmith—Earl’s Court—Knightsbridge. There’s society! And brains. Yes, sir, and fashion. Top of the ’bus looks like a Queen’s Drawing-Room. And the talk—well, the talk is up high—away up towards the snow-line. Away up, where, as you may say, your intellectual water boils at a hundred and forty-five. That is the ticket. I’m tired boiling mine at two hundred and twelve.”
Part of the ’bus driver’s serenity in the midst of the London turmoil springs no doubt from his consciousness of the fact that he and his ’bus have nothing to fear from collisions, part from his confidence in the steadiness and biddability of his horses, and the rest from the fact that he knows how to steer. Drivers of cabs and carriages know that a collision with a ’bus is not a desirable thing, and they take pains to avoid it. The ’bus is English. When that is said, all is said. As a rule, any English thing is nineteen times as strong and twenty-three times as heavy as it needs to be. The ’bus fills these requirements. It is a lumbering big ark, it weighs no one knows how much and it minds collision with an ordinary vehicle no more than a planet would. It is a pity they did not keep the first English bicycle; it must have weighed upwards of three tons. And if it ever collided with an express train, the remains of the train must have been a spectacle.
It is an inspiring thing to see the ’bus driver steer his ark. He weaves in and out among a writhing swarm of vehicles, just barely missing them—missing them by the thickness of a shingle sometimes, sometimes by the thickness of a brick—and while you are doing the gasping and shrinking he is chatting over his shoulder, and his hands seem to be mainly idle and himself not interested in anything but his talk. It is wonderful steering, and yet it seems to do itself, it has such an effortless look.
Two horses draw the ark, only two; but they are capable. They are strong and sleek and handsome, well kept and well cared for, and on long routes they make but one trip a day. They are brought from America; they cost about two hundred and fifty dollars apiece; at the end of three years they are sold—often for more than they cost originally—and fresh importations take their place.
Here in Vienna the cab driver ranks as he ranks in all other cities of Europe—as the wittiest person in town, the ablest chaffer, the quickest and brightest at repartee. We always believe that, wherever we go; but we have to take it on trust, because the instances never chance to fall under our own personal notice. In London the cabman is noted for his smart sayings, but I did not have the luck to hear them. Many years ago, in Liverpool—however, that time it was not wit, it was humor. I was there with the late James R. Osgood, and we had several hours to spare, and much talking to do. It seemed a good idea to do the talking in a cab, and have the fresh air. The cabman asked where we wished to go. Mr. Osgood said—
“Oh, just drive around an hour or so—anywhere—we are not particular.”
The man sat still, and waited. Osgood presently asked what he was waiting for, and he said—
“I want to know where I am to go.”
“Why, I told you to go anywhere you pleased.”
The man looked troubled, puzzled, worried. But he sat still. Presently Osgood said—
“Why don’t you start?”
“Dear me, I want to start; I want to start as bad as anybody, but how can I, when you won’t tell me where you want to go? I’ve drove for fourteen years, and I never heard of such a thing.”
“Oh, do move along. I don’t care where you go. Go to Balmoral.”
We were very busy talking, all through these interruptions. We probably started, now. After a long time we woke up out of the talk, and Osgood looked at his watch and said it was getting toward train time. Liverpool was nowhere in sight. We were troubled, and Osgood said—
“Driver, what have you been doing? Where are you going?”
“Balmoral, sir.”
“Balmoral? What are you going to Balmoral for?”
“Because you told me, sir.”
“Because I told you! Did you suppose I was in earnest? How far is it?”
“Four hundred miles, sir.”
“Well, well, well. This is a joke—what there is of it. Get along back, as fast as you can.”
“Just as you say, sir.”
The man had a pleasant voice and pleasant ways and manners, and a good face; a very good face indeed, but a preternaturally grave one; not melancholy, but just grave; grave and patient. He had probably never smiled in his life. He was not dull; but he was not animated, not excitable; he had the look of one who was given to much thinking, and little speaking. By his accent he was Scotch.
On our way back Osgood amused himself a good deal over this matter. That we had lost our train did not disturb him; nothing ever disturbed that comfortable soul, that rare and beautiful spirit. He chuckled over this thing in his happy and contented and almost youthful way all the way back to Liverpool, and said we could add to it and trim it up and embroider it, and get the little Kinsmen Club together in London over a supper, and tell it, and have a good time over it. And while I mourned for the lost train he invented addition after addition for the story, and richer and ever richer embroideries, and got so much wholesome pleasure out of his work that it was a comfort to see him. At the hotel we climbed out of the cab and stretched our cramped legs, and Osgood put his hand in his pocket and asked the driver—
“How much?”
“Twelve pounds, sir.”
“Twelve pounds?”
“Yes, sir.”
“Why, man, you don’t mean pounds, you mean shillings.”
“No, sir, it is pounds.”
“By your face you are in earnest; but how do you make it out?”
“You see, sir, it wasn’t I that interrupted the job, it was you. I took the job, and I never made any objections, you will allow that yourself, sir. I could have done it in eight days; call it eighty hours. I am allowed three shillings an hour outside of the city. Eighty times three shillings is—”
“Oh—you propose to charge us from here to Balmoral; is that it?”
“You remember it was my orders, sir; and the law—”
“There, don’t say any more. I saw, myself, that this was a good joke on some one; I saw it early; but on account of not waiting till the details were all in, I made an error in locating it. We can’t afford to stay here and examine the case in a court, and so—come, we have had you five hours; let us see if we can’t arrange a compromise.”
The man was willing, and proposed five pounds. Osgood gave him six. Everybody was satisfied, and there was no ill blood at the parting. We did not gather the Kinsmen together in London. Osgood said that a story which you could not add anything to by your fancy and invention wasn’t worth while, and there did not seem to be any way to add anything to this one; it seemed to be born full grown.
If the cabman had been a German it could be believable that he did not know that the situation was a humorous one. But he was a Scotchman. There have been Scotchmen who have passed themselves off as being destitute of the sense of humor, but it was no credit to them that they succeeded. They could not have succeeded with intelligent people.
I believe that London is the pleasantest and most satisfying village in the world. The stranger soon grows fond of it, and the native lives and dies worshiping it. It is a most singular and interesting place, and the engaging simplicities of its fifty village populations are an unending marvel and delight to the wandering alien. For instance, he sees three or four brisk young men come along—idiots, apparently—with great loud-colored splotches painted on their faces, and wearing fantastic and bright-hued circus-costumes, and he will wonder how they can expose themselves like that and not perish with shame; and why they are not jeered at, and made fun of, and driven to concealment or suicide. But they are not thinking of being ashamed; they are gay and proud, and they hold their heads up, and smirk and grimace and gambol along, utterly complacent and happy; and they are not jeered at, but admired. They stop in the middle of the village street and begin to perform—for these sorry animals are comedians. The villagers come to the windows to see and enjoy; the maid-servants flock up the area-steps and their neat white caps with their flowing white streamers show above the level of the sidewalk; all kinds of humble folk gather and sit on the curbstones on both sides of the street and look glad and expectant. While one comedian brays a comic song, another shuffles off a pathetically rudimentary and ignorant dance to the rattle and thump of a tambourine, a third stands on his head, walks on his hands, throws summersaults and handsprings, and does other innocent little juvenile gymnastics, and the principal ass of the party—the grotesquely-dressed clown—awkwardly repeats these marvels after him, and pretends to get falls and to hurt himself, and then limps about, rubbing his stomach and ruefully shaking his head, and is so unspeakably and self-consciously, and premeditatively and ostentatiously funny that the villagers do nearly expire with laughter over it, instead of lassoing the man and lynching him.
Then the comedians play a play of unimaginable simplicity and incoherency and irrelevancy and juvenility—a play that lasts nearly ten minutes, sometimes—and the exhibition is over. All the spectators look pleased and happy, and greatly freshened-up. The whole performance has lasted twenty or thirty minutes, perhaps, and one comedian or another has passed the hat several times in the meantime. Not to the pit—the curbstone—for it is usually too poor to pay—but to the windows and the area. The solicitor holds up his cap and waltzes about with his beseeching eyes on the windows, and when a penny falls he jumps and catches it and returns a bow worth two thousand dollars. If there are as many as four comedians, and if their costumes are new and smart, the contributions are liberal; sometimes they foot up twenty-five or thirty cents for a single performance; but I have seen a troop consisting of two comedians, clothed in old and shabby finery, play seventeen minutes and collect only four cents.
Still, it was enough. It was profitable. It was more than twenty cents an hour; say two dollars for the day’s work. Those young fellows would probably have found it difficult to earn that much at any ordinary work.
Next, the stranger will see three or four “nigger minstrels” going along, with banjo, bones and tambourine. They are a sorrier lot than the comedians. They are “niggers” in nothing—not even in the black paint; for it is too black, or isn’t the right kind; at any rate it does not counterfeit any complexion known to our Southern States, and it is our negro that is ostensibly represented. The costumes are incredible. They counterfeit no clothes that were ever worn in this planet, or indeed anywhere in the solar system. These poor fellows furnish a “comic” performance which is so humble, and poor and pitiful, and childish, and asinine, and inadequate that it makes a person ashamed of the human race. Ah, their timorous dances—and their timorous antics—and their shamefaced attempts at funny grimacing—and their cockney-nigger songs and jokes—they touch you, they pain you, they fill you with pity, they make you cry. I suppose that in any village but London these poor minstrels and the comedians would be mercifully taken out and drowned; but in London, no; London loves them; London has a warm big heart, and there is room and a welcome in it for all the misappreciated refuse of creation.
In all the villages of prodigious London the villagers love music. They love it with a breadth and looseness of taste not known elsewhere but in heaven. If they were up there they would not shut their ears Sundays when the congregational singing was coming up from below. To them, anything that is a noise is music. And they enjoy it, not in an insipid way, but with a rapt and whole-hearted joy. Particularly if it is doleful. And there are no people anywhere who are so generous with their money if the music is doleful enough. In London poor old ragged men and women go up and down the middle of the empty streets, Sunday afternoons, singing the most heart-breakingly desolate hymns and sorrowful ditties in weak and raspy and wheezy voices—voices that are hardly strong enough to carry across the street—and the villagers listen and are grateful, and fling pennies out of the windows, and in the deep stillness of the Sabbath afternoon you can hear the money strike upon the stones a block away. The song drones along as monotonously and as tunelessly as a morning-service snore in a back-country church in the summer time, and I think that nothing could well be more dreary and saddening. But it brings pennies—pennies instead of bricks; and you note that circumstance with surprise and disappointment; or perhaps not exactly disappointment, but something between that and regret.
Still, your respect is compelled: partly for the catholic width of taste that can find room for music like that, and partly for the spirit of benevolence that is in the breast of him who throws the penny. The spirit of benevolence is there, there can be no question about that. There is nothing that is quite so marvelous to the stranger as the free way in which England pours out money upon charities. About half or two-thirds of the time, the objects are unworthy, apparently, but that is no matter, that is nothing to the point. It is the spirit that in many instances is back of the gifts that makes the act fine. Not in all the instances, possibly not even in the majority of them; but after you have put aside the reluctant and unvoluntary contributions, there are enough of the other sort left to make you wonder and admire and take off your hat.
The first flush of enthusiasm over the Queen’s approaching Jubilee sent every Englishman’s hand into his pocket after money to commemorate with, and he brought it out full, and gladly contributed it. The mass of those voluntary contributions was prodigious; it was monumental for vastness. But one is perhaps justified in believing that it was by no means as imposing as the mass of the unvoluntary contributions which followed it. I was living in London in those interesting months. The journals furnished appetising reading for the disconnected stranger. Every day, and the day after, and the day following that, and so-on and so-on and so-on, week in and week out the appeals for money filed through their columns in steady and compact procession, and gave one the feeling that all England was marching by and holding out its hat—its hat and an axe; the hat in one hand and an axe to grind in the other; a stretch of hats from horizon to horizon on one side along the mighty line of march, and of axes on the other. Everybody seemed to have an axe to grind, and to recognise that now was his chance; now that his prey could not escape; now that excuses which could save his prey ordinarily would injure him at this time, make him seem unpatriotic, and shame him before his neighbors. The opportunity was the supremest that had presented itself in history; and by all the signs it was being worked with remorseless and devastating industry. Obscure people who wanted to get into notice, invented commemorative projects, and set them forth in the papers, and passed the hat. These projects were uncountable for number, and indescribable for variety. They seemed to include every possible contrivance, wise and otherwise, which by any pretext or excuse could be made commemorative of the Record Reign—and advertise the promoter. Prominent and wise people, also, came forward with projects; projects which were good and worthy, and not tainted with sordidness and self-seeking. They included statues, drinking fountains, public parks, art galleries, libraries, asylums for the insane, the inebriate, the blind, the dumb, the crippled, the poor, the aged, the orphan, the outcast; free institutions for the dissemination of all kinds of elevating culture; institutions for instruction in professional nursing; and hospitals of every conceivable kind, and practically without number. On Jubilee Day the hospitals and hospital-annexes subscribed for had multiplied to such a degree that the list of their mere names covered several fine-print octavo pages! The money involved was a dizzy figure. And on top of all that, and independent of it, the Prince of Wales’s powerful name and popularity gathered in a Hospital Fund of vast dimensions to reinforce the endowments of the already existent hospitals of London.
It is believable that England furnished the money for these great things with little or no reluctance; possibly with even the same spontaneity with which she answered the famine-call from India, when she promptly handed out two and a half million dollars, although the call fell at a time when all the landscape visible to her from any point by naked eye or telescope consisted of a monotonous plain of hats held out for commemoration-assessments.
Judging by the clerical appeals in the papers, in those days, there were not more than a hundred churches in England that had not been in a damaged condition for a generation and needed commemoration repairs; and no church at all that did not need something or other which could be made to do commemorative duty. The diligence of the Church seemed to leave all other diligences far behind in the race for commemoration-money. The Church gave England a harrying such as she had never had before, and will not have again until next Record Reign. It assessed its public for all the serious and ostensibly serious things it could think of, and when that source was exhausted it turned to humor for assistance. A country clergyman ninety-two years old and proportionately obscure fell dead; whereupon there was a prompt proposition that a fund be raised for a monument—to commemorate him? No—to commemorate the Record Reign!
It is not to be disputed that in matters of charity the English are by a long way the most prodigal nation in the world. Speaking of this, we now and then, at long intervals, hear incidental mention of George Müller and his orphanages; then they pass out of our minds and memories, and we think that they have passed out of the earth. But it is not so. They go on. They have been going on for sixty years, and are as much alive to-day as ever they were. George Müller is more than ninety years old, now, but he is still at his work. He was poor when he projected his first orphanage for the sustenance of half a dozen waifs; since then he has collected and spent six or seven millions of dollars in his kindly work, and is as poor to-day as he was when he started. He has built five great orphanages; in them he clothes and teaches and feeds two thousand children at a cost of a hundred thousand dollars a year, and England furnishes the money—not through solicitation, nor advertising, nor any kind of prodding, but by distinctly voluntary contributions. When money runs short Müller prays—not publicly but privately—and his treasury is replenished. In sixty years his orphans have not gone to bed unfed a single day; and yet many a time they have come within fifteen minutes of it. The names of the contributors are not revealed; no lists are published; no glory is to be gained by contributing; yet every day in the year the day’s necessary requirement of three or four hundred dollars arrives in the till. These splendid facts strain belief; but they are true.
Mark Twain
FOUR SKETCHES ABOUT VIENNA
These four manuscripts, now in the Mark Twain Papers, were all written in Vienna in the first half of 1898, near the start of a period during which Clemens seems to have worked more intensively on the autobiography than at any time since 1885. All the manuscripts are specifically dated (February 3, May 6, June 4, and June 26), almost as if they were entries in a diary. They are untitled, and with one exception (“A Group of Servants”), the titles adopted here were first supplied by Paine.
• “Beauties of the German Language” is about something Clemens had decided not to read as part of a lecture he gave on 1 February “for a public charity” (Notebook 40, TS p. 8, CU-MARK). The text he declined to read was handed to him as a clipping as he began his lecture, and he pinned it to the last page of this manuscript as an example of his point about the German habit of compounding words. It is actually a traditional, or at least typical, German tongue twister of the kind Hank Morgan invoked in chapter 23 of A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (SLC 1889).
• “Comment on Tautology and Grammar” briefly airs one of Clemens’s acknowledged “foibles,” his preference for “the exact word, and clarity of statement.”
• “A Group of Servants,” which is probably unfinished, records Clemens’s secret enjoyment of his wife Olivia’s attempts to control the ebullience of one of the servants hired for the house in Kaltenleutgeben (just outside Vienna), where they stayed from late May to mid-October 1898. The servant is dubbed “Wuthering Heights (which is not her name)” and proves herself a legitimate member of Mark Twain’s literary family of incessant talkers, from Simon Wheeler onward.
• “A Viennese Procession,” which highlights Clemens’s genuine delight in public ceremony and showy costume, describes a parade in honor of the fiftieth year of the reign of Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria (1830–1916), which was also celebrated with an extensive exhibition of “industry, commerce, agriculture, and science” (Horowitz 1898).
Paine published three of these pieces, omitting “A Group of Servants,” which was first published in 2009 (MTA, 1:164–74; Who Is Mark Twain? [SLC 2009], 61–69). Neider included none in his edition.
[Beauties of the German Language]
February 3, Vienna. Lectured for the benefit of a charity last night, in the Bösendorfersaal. Just as I was going on the platform a messenger delivered to me an envelop with my name on it, and this written under it: “Please read one of these tonight.” Enclosed were a couple of newspaper clippings—two versions of an anecdote, one German, the other English. I was minded to try the German one on those people, just to see what would happen, but my courage weakened when I noticed the formidable look of the closing word, and I gave it up. A pity, too, for it ought to read well on the platform, and get an encore. That or a brickbat, there is never any telling what a new audience will do; their tastes are capricious. The point of this anecdote is a justifiable gibe at the German long word, and is not as much of an exaggeration as one might think. The German long word is not a legitimate construction, but an ignoble artificiality, a sham. It has no recognition by the dictionary, and is not found there. It is made by jumbling a lot of words into one, in a quite unnecessary way, it is a lazy device of the vulgar and a crime against the language. Nothing can be gained, no valuable amount of space saved, by jumbling the following words together on a visiting card: “Mrs. Smith, widow of the late Commander-in-Chief of the Police Department,” yet a German widow can persuade herself to do it, without much trouble: “Mrslatecommanderinchiefofthepolicedepartment’swidow Smith.” This is the English version of the anecdote:
A Dresden paper, the Weidmann, which thinks that there are kangaroos (Beutelratte) in South Africa, says the Hottentots (Hottentoten) put them in cages (kotter) provided with covers (lattengitter) to protect them from the rain. The cages are therefore called lattengitterwetterkotter, and the imprisoned kangaroo Lattengitterwetterkotterbeutelratte. One day an assassin (attentäter) was arrested who had killed a Hottentot woman (Hottentotenmutter), the mother of two stupid and stuttering children in Strättertrotel. This woman, in the German language is entitled Hottentotenstrottertrottelmutter, and her assassin takes the name Hottentotenstrottermutterattentäter. The murderer was confined in a kangaroo’s cage—Beutelrattenlattengitterwetterkotter—whence a few days later he escaped, but fortunately he was recaptured by a Hottentot, who presented himself at the mayor’s office with beaming face. “I have captured the Beutelratte,” said he. “Which one?” said the mayor; “we have several.” “The Attentäterlattengitterwetterkotterbeutelratte.” “Which attentäter are you talking about?” “About the Hottentotenstrottertrottelmutterattentäter.” “Then why don’t you say at once the Hottentotenstrottelmutterattentaterlattengitterwetterkotterbeutelratte?”
[Comment on Tautology and Grammar]
May 6. * * * I do not find that the repetition of an important word a few times—say three or four times—in a paragraph, troubles my ear if clearness of meaning is best secured thereby. But tautological repetition which has no justifying object, but merely exposes the fact that the writer’s balance at the vocabulary bank has run short and that he is too lazy to replenish it from the thesaurus—that is another matter. It makes me feel like calling the writer to account. It makes me want to remind him that he is not treating himself and his calling with right respect; and—incidentally—that he is not treating me with proper reverence. At breakfast, this morning, a member of the family read aloud an interesting review of a new book about Mr. Gladstone in which the reviewer used the strong adjective “delightful” thirteen times. Thirteen times in a short review, not a long one. In five of the cases the word was distinctly the right one, the exact one, the best one our language can furnish, therefore it made no discord; but in the remaining cases it was out of tune. It sharped or flatted, one or the other, every time, and was as unpleasantly noticeable as is a false note in music. I looked in the thesaurus, and under a single head I found four words which would replace with true notes the false ones uttered by four of the misused “delightfuls;” and of course if I had hunted under related heads for an hour and made an exhaustive search I should have found right words, to a shade, wherewith to replace the remaining delinquents.
I suppose we all have our foibles. I like the exact word, and clarity of statement, and here and there a touch of good grammar for picturesqueness; but that reviewer cares for only the last-mentioned of these things. His grammar is foolishly correct, offensively precise. It flaunts itself in the reader’s face all along, and struts and smirks and shows off, and is in a dozen ways irritating and disagreeable. To be serious, I write good grammar myself, but not in that spirit, I am thankful to say. That is to say, my grammar is of a high order, though not at the top. Nobody’s is. Perfect grammar—persistent, continuous, sustained—is the fourth dimension, so to speak: many have sought it, but none has found it. Even this reviewer, this purist, with all his godless airs, has made two or three slips. At least I think he has. I am almost sure, by witness of my ear, but cannot be positive, for I know grammar by ear only, not by note, not by the rules. A generation ago I knew the rules—knew them by heart, word for word, though not their meanings—and I still know one of them: the one which says—which says—but never mind, it will come back to me presently. This reviewer even seems to know (or seems even to know, or seems to know even) how to put the word “even” in the right place; and the word “only,” too. I do not like that kind of persons. I never knew one of them that came to any good. A person who is as self-righteous as that, will do other things. I know this, because I have noticed it many a time. I would never hesitate to injure that kind of a man if I could. When a man works up his grammar to that altitude, it is a sign. It shows what he will do, if he gets a chance; it shows the kind of disposition he has; I have noticed it often. I knew one once that did a lot of things. They stop at nothing.
But anyway, this grammatical coxcomb’s review is interesting, as I said before. And there is one sentence in it which tastes good in the mouth, so perfectly do the last five of its words report a something which we have all felt after sitting long over an absorbing book. The matter referred to is Mr. Gladstone’s boswellised conversations, and his felicitous handling of his subjects.
One facet of the brilliant talker’s mind flashes out on us after another till we tire with interest.
That is clearly stated. We recognise that feeling. In the morning paper I find a sentence of another breed.
There had been no death before the case of Cornelius Lean which had arisen and terminated in death since the special rules had been drawn up.
By the context I know what it means, but you are without that light and will be sure to get out of it a meaning which the writer of it was not intending to convey.
[A Group of Servants]
* * * June 4, Kaltenleutgeben. In this family we are four. When a family has been used to a group of servants whose several terms of service with it cover these periods, to wit: 10 years, 12 years, 13 years, 17 years, 19 years, and 22 years, it is not able to understand the new ways of a new group straight off. That would be the case at home; abroad it is the case emphasized. We have been housekeeping a fortnight, now—long enough to have learned how to pronounce the servants’ names, but not to spell them. We shan’t ever learn to spell them; they were invented in Hungary and Poland, and on paper they look like the alphabet out on a drunk. There are four: two maids, a cook, and a middle-aged woman who comes once or twice a day to help around generally. They are good-natured and friendly, and capable and willing. Their ways are not the ways which we have been so long used to with the home tribe in America but they are agreeable, and no fault is to be found with them except in one or two particulars. The cook is a love, but she talks at a gait and with a joyous interest and energy which make everything buzz. She is always excited; gets excited over big and little things alike, for she has no sense of proportion. Whether the project in hand is a barbecued bull or a hand-made cutlet it is no matter, she loses her mind; she unlimbers her tongue, and while her breath holds out you can’t tell her from a field day in the Austrian Parliament. But what of it, as long as she can cook? And she can do that. She has that mysterious art which is so rare in the world—the art of making everything taste good which comes under the enchantment of her hand. She is the kind of cook that establishes confidence with the first meal; establishes it so thoroughly that after that you do not care to know the materials of the dishes nor their names: that her hallmark is upon them is sufficient.
The youngest of the two maids, Charlotte, is about twenty; strong, handsome, capable, intelligent, self-contained, quiet—in fact, rather reserved. She has character, and dignity.
The other maid, Wuthering Heights (which is not her name), is about forty and looks considerably younger. She is quick, smart, active, energetic, breezy, good-natured, has a high-keyed voice and a loud one, talks thirteen to the dozen, talks all the time, talks in her sleep, will talk when she is dead; is here, there, and everywhere all at the same time, and is consumingly interested in every devilish thing that is going on. Particularly if it is not her affair. And she is not merely passively interested, but takes a hand; and not only takes a hand but the principal one; in fact will play the whole game, fight the whole battle herself, if you don’t find some way to turn her flank. But as she does it in the family’s interest, not her own, I find myself diffident about finding fault. Not so the family. It gravels the family. I like that. Not maliciously, but because it spices the monotony to see the family graveled. Sometimes they are driven to a point where they are sure they cannot endure her any longer, and they rise in revolt; but I stand between her and harm, for I adore Wuthering Heights. She is not a trouble to me, she freshens up my life, she keeps me interested all the time. She is not monotonous, she does not stale, she is fruitful of surprises, she is always breaking out in a new place. The family are always training her, always caulking her, but it does not make me uneasy any more, now, for I know that as fast as they stop one leak she will spring another. Her talk is my circus, my menagerie, my fireworks, my spiritual refreshment. When she is at it I would rather be there than at a fire. She talks but little to me, for I understand only about half that she says, and I have had the sagacity not to betray that I understand that half. But I open my door when she is talking to the Executive at the other end of the house, and then I hear everything, and the enjoyment is without alloy, for it is like being at a show on a free ticket. She makes the Executive’s head ache. I am sorry for that, of course; still it is a thing which cannot be helped. We must take things as we find them in this world.
The Executive’s efforts to reconstruct Wuthering Heights are marked by wisdom, patience and gentle and persuasive speech. They will succeed, yet, and it is a pity. This morning at half past eight I was lying in my bed counterfeiting sleep; the Executive was lying in hers, reasoning with Wuthering Heights, who had just brought the hot water and was buzzing around here and there and yonder preparing the baths and putting all manner of things to rights with her lightning touch, and accompanying herself with a torrent of talk, cramped down to a low-voiced flutter to keep from waking me up.
“You talk too much, Wuthering Heights, as I have told you so often before. It is your next worst fault, and you ought to try your best to break yourself of it. I—”
“Ah, indeed yes, gnädige Frau, it is the very truth you are speaking, none knows it better than I nor is sorrier. Jessus! but it is a verdammtes defect, as in your goodness you have said, yourself, these fifty times, and—”
“Don’t! I never use such language—and I don’t like to hear it. It is dreadful. I know that it means nothing with you, and that it is common custom and came to you with your mother’s milk; but it distresses me to hear it, and besides you are always putting it into my mouth, which—”
“Oh, bless your kind heart, gnädige Frau, you won’t mind it in the least, after a little; it’s only because it is strange and new to you now, that it isn’t pleasant; but that will wear off in a little while, and then—oh, it’s just one of those little trifling things that don’t amount to a straw, you know—why, we all swear, the priest and everybody, and it’s nothing, really nothing at all; but I will break myself of it, I will indeed, and this very moment will I begin, for I have lived here and there in my time, and seen things, and learned wisdom, and I know, better than a many another, that there is only one right time to begin a thing, and that is on the spot. Ah yes, by Gott, as your grace was saying only yesterday—”
“There—do be still! It is as much as aperson’s life is worth to make even the triflingest remark to you, it brings such a flood. And any moment your chatter may wake my husband, and he”—after a little pause, to gather courage for a deliberate mis-statement—“he can’t abide it.”
“I will be as the grave! I will, indeed, for sleep is to the tired, sleep is the medicine that heals the weary spirit. Heilige Mutter Gottes! before I—”
“Be still!”
“Zu befehl. If—”
“Still!”
After a little pause the Executive began a tactful and low-temperature lecture which had all the ear-marks of preparation about it. I know that easy, impromptu style, and how it is manufactured, for I have worked at that trade myself. I have forgotten to mention that Wuthering Heights has not always served in a subordinate position; she has been housekeeper in a rich family in Vienna for the past ten years; consequently the habit of bossing is still strong upon her, naturally enough.
“The cook and Charlotte complain that you interfere in their affairs. It is not right. It is not your place to do that.”
“Oh, Joseph and Mary, Deuteronomy and all the saints! Think of that! Why, of course when the mistress is not in the house it is necessary that somebody—”
“No, it is not necessary at all. The cook says that the reason the coffee was cold yesterday morning was, that you removed it from the stove, and that when she put it back you removed it again.”
“Ah, but what would one do, gnädige Frau? It was all boiling away.”
“No matter, it was not your affair. And yesterday morning you would not let Madame Blank into the house, and told her no one was at home. My husband was at home. It was too bad—and she had come all the way from Vienna. Why did you do that?”
“Let her in?—I ask you would I let her in? and he hard at his work and not wishing to be disturbed, sunk in his labors up to his eyes and grinding out God knows what, for it is beyond me, though it has my sympathy, and none feels for him more than I do when he is in his lyings-in, that way—now would I let her in to break up his work in that idle way and she with no rational thing in the world to pester him about? now could I?”
“How do you know what she wanted?”
The shot struck in an unprotected place, and made silence for several seconds, for W. H. was not prepared for it and could not think of an answer right away. Then she recovered herself and said—
“Well—well, it was like this. Well, she—of course she could have had something proper and rational on her mind, but then I knew that if that was the case she would write, not come all the way out here from Vienna to—”
“Did you know she came from Vienna?”
I knew by the silence that another unfortified place had been hit. Then—
“Well, I—that is—well, she had that kind of a look which you have noticed upon a person when—when—”
“When what?”
“She—well, she had that kind of a look, anyway; for—”
“How did you know my husband did not want to be disturbed?”
“Know it? Oh, indeed, and well I knew it; for he was that busy that the sweat was leaking through the floor, and I said to the cook, said I—”
“He didn’t do a stroke of work the whole day, but sat in the balcony smoking and reading.” [In a private tone, touched with shame: “reading his own books—he is always doing it.”] “You should have told him; he would have been very glad to see Madame Blank, and was disappointed when he found out what had happened. He said so, himself.”
“Oh, indeed, yes, dear gnädige Frau, he would say it, that he would, but give your heart peace, he is always saying things which—why, I was saying to the butcher’s wife no longer ago than day before yesterday—”
“Ruhig! and let me go on. You do twice as much of the talking as you allow me to do, and I can’t have it. If—”
“It’s Viennese, gnädige Frau. Custom, you see; that’s just it. We all do it; it’s Viennese.”
“But I’m not Viennese. And I can’t get reconciled to it. And your interruptions—why, it makes no difference: if I am planning with the cook, or commissioning a dienstman, or asking the postman about the trains, no matter, you break right in, uninvited, and take charge of the whole matter, and—”
“Ah, Jessus! it’s just as I was saying, and how true was the word! It’s Viennese—all over, Viennese. Custom, you see—all custom. Sorel Blgwrxczlzbzockowicz—she’s the Princess Tzwzfzhopowic’s maid—she says she always does so, and the Princess likes it, and—”
“But I am not the Princess, and I want things my way; can’t you understand a simple thing like that? And there’s another thing. Between the time that the three of us went to Vienna yesterday morning, and ten at night when we returned, you seem to have had your hands over-full. When the cook’s old grandfather came to see her, what did you meddle, for?”
[A Viennese Procession]
June 26, Sunday; Kaltenleutgeben. I went in the eight o’clock train to Vienna, to see the procession. It was a stroke of luck, for at the last moment I was feeling lazy and was minded not to go. But when I reached the station, five minutes late, the train was still there, a couple of friends were there also, and so I went. At Liesing, half an hour out, we changed to a very long train, and left for Vienna with every seat occupied. That was no sign that this was a great day, for these people are not critical about shows, they turn out for anything that comes along. Half an hour later we were driving into the city; no particular bustle anywhere—indeed less than is usual on an Austrian Sunday; bunting flying, and a decoration here and there—a quite frequent thing in this Jubilee year; but as we passed the American Embassy I saw a couple of our flags out and the Minister and his menservants arranging to have another one added. This woke me up—it seemed to indicate that something really beyond the common was to the fore.
As we neared the bridge which connects the First Bezirk with the Third, a pronounced and growing life and stir were noticeable; and when we entered the wide square where the Schwarzenberg palace is, there was something resembling a jam. As far as we could see down the broad avenue of the Park Ring both sides of it were packed with people in their holiday clothes. Our cab worked its way across the square, and then flew down empty streets, all the way, to Liebenberggasse No. 7—the dwelling we were aiming for. It stands on the corner of that street and the Park Ring, and its balconies command a mile-stretch of the latter avenue. By a trifle after nine we were in the shade of the awnings of the first-floor balcony, with a dozen other guests, and ready for the procession. Ready, but it would not start for an hour, yet, and would not reach us for half an hour afterward. As to numbers it would be a large matter; for by report it would march 25,000 strong. But it isn’t numbers that make the interest of a procession; I have seen a vast number of long processions which didn’t pay. It is clothes that make a procession; where you have those of the right pattern you can do without length. Two or three months ago I saw one with the Emperor and an Archbishop in it; and the Archbishop was being carried along under a canopied arrangement and had his skull-cap on, and the venerable Emperor was following him on foot and bareheaded. Even if that had been the entire procession, it would have paid. I am old, now, and may never be an Emperor at all; at least in this world. I have been disappointed so many times that I am growing more and more doubtful and resigned every year; but if it ever should happen, the procession will have a fresh interest for the Archbishop, for he will walk.
The wait on the balcony was not dull. There was the spacious avenue stretching into the distance, right and left, to look at, with its double wall of massed humanity, an eager and excited lot, broiling in the sun, and a comforting spectacle to contemplate from the shade. That is, on our side of the street they were in the sun, but not on the other side, where the Park is—there was dense shade there. They were good-natured people, but they gave the policemen plenty of trouble, for they were constantly surging into the roadway and being hustled back again. They were in fine spirits, yet it was said that the most of them had been waiting there in the jam three or four hours—and two-thirds of them were women and girls.
At last a mounted policeman came galloping down the road in solitary state—first sign that pretty soon the show would open. After five minutes he was followed by a man on a decorated bicycle. Next, a marshal’s assistant sped by on a polished and shiny black horse. Five minutes later—distant strains of music. Five more, and far up the street the head of the procession twinkles into view.
That was a procession! I wouldn’t have missed it for anything. According to my understanding, it was to be composed of shooting-match clubs from all over the Austrian Empire, with a club or two from France and Germany as guests. What I had in my imagination was 25,000 men in sober dress, drifting monotonously by, with rifles slung to their backs—a New York target-excursion on a large scale. In my fancy I could see the colored brothers toting the ice-pails and targets, and swabbing off perspiration.
But this was a different matter. One of the most engaging spectacles in the world is a Wagner opera-force marching onto the stage, with its music braying and its banners flying. This was that spectacle infinitely magnified, and with the glories of the sun upon it and a countless multitude of excited witnesses to wave the handkerchiefs and do the hurrahing. It was grand, and beautiful, and sumptuous; and no tinsel, no shams; no tin armor, no cotton velvet, no make-believe silk, no Birmingham oriental rugs; everything was what it professed to be. It is the clothes that make a procession; and for these costumes all the centuries were drawn upon, even from times which were already ancient when Kaiser Rudolph himself was alive.
There were bodies of spearmen with plain steel casques of a date a thousand years ago; other bodies in more ornamental casques of a century or two later, and with breastplates added; other bodies with chain-mail elaborations—some armed with crossbows, some with the earliest crop of matchlocks; still other bodies clothed in the stunningly picturesque plate-armor and plumed great helmets of the middle of the sixteenth century. And then there were bodies of men-at-arms in the darling velvets of the Middle Ages, and nobles on horseback in the same—doublets with huge puffed sleeves, wide brigand hats with great plumes; and the rich and effective colors—old gold, black, and scarlet; deep yellow, black, and scarlet; brown, black, and scarlet. A portly figure clothed like that, with a two-handed sword as long as a billiard cue, and mounted on a big draft-horse finely caparisoned, with the sun flooding the splendid colors—a figure like that, with fifty duplicates marching in his rear, is procession enough, all by itself.
Yet that was merely a detail. All the centuries were passing by; passing by in glories of color and multiplicities of strange and quaint and curious and beautiful costumes not to be seen in this world now outside the opera and the picture-books. And now and then, in the midst of this flowing tide of splendors appeared a sharply contrasting note—a mounted committee in evening dress—swallow-tails, white kids and shiny new plug hats; and right in their rear, perhaps, a hundred capering clowns in thunder-and-lightning dress, or a band of silken pages out of ancient times, plumed and capped and daggered, dainty as rainbows, and mincing along in flesh-colored tights; and as handy at it, too, as if they had been born and brought up to it.
At intervals there was a great platform car, bethroned and grandly canopied, upholstered in silks, carpeted with oriental rugs, and freighted with girls clothed in gala costumes. There were several military companies dressed in uniforms of various bygone periods—among others, one dating back a century and a half, and another of Andreas Hofer’s time and region; following this latter was a large company of men and women and girls dressed in the society fashions of a period stretching from the Directory down to about 1840—a thing worth seeing. Among the prettiest and liveliest and most picturesque costumes in the pageant were those worn by regiments and regiments of peasants, from the Tyrol, and Bohemia, and everywhere in the Empire. They are of ancient origin, but are still worn to-day.
I have seen no procession which evoked more enthusiasm than this one brought out. It would have made any country deliver its emotions, for it was a most stirring sight to see. At the end of this year I shall be sixty-three—if alive—and about the same if dead. I have been looking at processions for sixty years; and curiously enough, all my really wonderful ones have come in the last three years: one in India in ’96, the Queen’s Record procession in London last year, and now this one. As an appeal to the imagination—an object-lesson synopsizing the might and majesty and spread of the greatest empire the world has seen—the Queen’s procession stands first; as a picture for the eye, this one beats it; and in this regard it even falls no very great way short, perhaps, of that Jeypore pageant—and that was a dream of enchantment.
In August 1898, after several months of intensive work on his autobiography, Clemens decided to write up how he came to publish what he called his first magazine article, about the burning at sea of the clipper ship Hornet. At the end of August he told Henry Harper, “I want to write a magazine article of a reminiscent sort. The first magazine article I ever published appeared in Harper’s Monthly 31 years ago under the name of (by typographical error) MacSwain. Can you send it to me?” (30 Aug 1898, InU-Li). Harper must have sent him tear sheets of “Forty-Three Days in an Open Boat,” which had been published in the December 1866 issue of Harper’s several months before Clemens published his first book, The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, and Other Sketches. “Forty-Three Days” was not, of course, Mark Twain’s “first magazine article,” since he had already published dozens of articles in The Californian and in several East Coast journals. But it was the first nonfictional work he had published in so eminent a journal as Harper’s, and even though it was by no means humorous, it obviously followed upon his decision the previous year, in October 1865, to seriously pursue a literary career (19 and 20 Oct 1865 to OC and MEC, L1,322–25).
The lengthy manuscript that Clemens wrote in October 1898 is now in the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale. His Vienna typist, Marion von Kendler, made a typescript of it (now lost), which Clemens revised and eventually published in the November 1899 issue of the Century Magazine (SLC 1899). The Century publication made no mention of the autobiography, but the original manuscript shows that Clemens initially regarded the article as part of that work: “This is Chapter XIV of my unfinished Autobiography and the way it is getting along it promises to remain an unfinished one.” Before the manuscript was typed he revised “unfinished” to “unpublished” and deleted the words following “Autobiography.” In February 1899, when he submitted the revised typescript to Century editor Richard Watson Gilder, he claimed he had “abandoned my Autobiography, & am not going to finish it; but I took a reminiscent chapter out of it & had it type-written, thinking it would make a readable magazine article” (25 Feb 1899, CtY-BR). The article, which Clemens subsequently revised again at the request of one of the Hornet passengers, was collected in The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg and Other Stories and Essays (1900) and My Début as a Literary Person with Other Essays and Stories (1903). The text that follows here is a critical reconstruction, based on the manuscript and revised as Clemens published it in the Century, not as it was reprinted in 1900 and 1903.
In 1906 Clemens considered including the piece in his Autobiographical Dictation of 20 February, noting in pencil on the typescript, “Insert, here my account of the ‘Hornet’ disaster, published in the ‘Century’ about 1898 as being a chapter from my Autobiography.” For several reasons, that instruction cannot be carried out. But it shows that the piece was among those Clemens considered including in the final form of his autobiography, and it is therefore included in this section of preliminary drafts. Neither Paine nor Neider published this text.
My Debut as a Literary Person*
By Mark Twain (formerly “Mike Swain.”)
1866
October 1, 1898. In those early days I had already published one little thing (“The Jumping 1866 Frog,”) in an eastern paper, but I did not consider that that counted. In my view, a person who published things in a mere newspaper could not properly claim recognition as a Literary Person; he must rise away above that; he must appear in a Magazine. He would then be a Literary Person; also he would be famous—right away. These two ambitions were strong upon me. This was in 1866. I prepared my contribution, and then looked around for the best magazine to go up to glory in. I selected Harper’s Monthly. The contribution was accepted. I signed it “MARK TWAIN,” for that name had some currency on the Pacific Coast, and it was my idea to spread it all over the world, now, at this one jump. The article appeared in the December number, and I sat up a month waiting for the January number—for that one would contain the year’s list of contributors, my name would be in it, and I should be famous and could give the banquet I was meditating.
I did not give the banquet. I had not written the “Mark Twain” distinctly; it was a fresh name to Harper’s printers, and they put it Mike Swain or MacSwain, I do not remember which. At any rate I was not celebrated, and I did not give the banquet. I was a Literary Person, but that was all—a buried one; buried alive.
My article was about the burning of the clipper ship Hornet on the line, May 3d, 1866. There were thirty-one men on board at the time, and I was in Honolulu when the fifteen lean and ghostly survivors arrived there after a voyage of forty-three days in an open boat through the blazing tropics on ten days’ rations of food. A very remarkable trip; but it was conducted by a captain who was a remarkable man, otherwise there would have been no survivors. He was a New Englander of the best sea-going stock of the old capable times—Captain Josiah Mitchell.
I was in the Islands to write letters for the weekly edition of the Sacramento Union, a rich and influential daily journal which hadn’t any use for them, but could afford to spend twenty dollars a week for nothing. The proprietors were lovable and well-beloved men; long ago dead, no doubt, but in me there is at least one person who still holds them in grateful remembrance; for I dearly wanted to see the Islands, and they listened to me and gave me the opportunity when there was but slender likelihood that it could profit them in any way.
I had been in the Islands several months when the survivors arrived. I was laid up in my room at the time, and unable to walk. Here was a great occasion to serve my journal, and I not able to take advantage of it. Necessarily I was in deep trouble. But by good luck his Excellency Anson Burlingame was there at the time, on his way to take up his post in China where he did such good work for the United States. He came and put me on a stretcher and had me carried to the hospital where the shipwrecked men were, and I never needed to ask a question. He attended to all of that himself, and I had nothing to do but make the notes. It was like him to take that trouble. He was a great man, and a great American; and it was in his fine nature to come down from his high office and do a friendly turn whenever he could.
We got through with this work at six in the evening. I took no dinner, for there was no time to spare if I would beat the other correspondents. I spent four hours arranging the notes in their proper order, then wrote all night and beyond it; with this result: that I had a very long and detailed account of the Hornet episode ready at nine in the morning, while the correspondents of the San Francisco journals had nothing but a brief outline report—for they didn’t sit up. The now-and-then schooner was to sail for San Francisco about nine; when I reached the dock she was free forward and was just casting off her stern-line. My fat envelop was thrown by a strong hand, and fell on board all right, and my victory was a safe thing. All in due time the ship reached San Francisco, but it was my complete report which made the stir and was telegraphed to the New York papers. By Mr. Cash; he was in charge of the Pacific bureau of the New York Herald at the time.
When I returned to California by and by, I went up to Sacramento and presented a bill for general correspondence, at twenty dollars a week. It was paid. Then I presented a bill for “special” service on the Hornet matter for three columns of solid nonpareil at a hundred dollars a column. The cashier didn’t faint, but he came rather near it. He sent for the proprietors, and they came and never uttered a protest. They only laughed, in their jolly fashion, and said it was robbery, but no matter, it was a grand “scoop” (the bill or my Hornet report I didn’t know which); “pay it; it’s all right.” The best men that ever owned a newspaper.
The Hornet survivors reached the Sandwich Islands the 15th of June. They were mere skinny skeletons; their clothes hung limp about them and fitted them no better than a flag fits the flagstaff in a calm. But they were well nursed in the hospital; the people of Honolulu kept them supplied with all the dainties they could need; they gathered strength fast, and were presently nearly as good as new. Within a fortnight the most of them took ship for San Francisco. That is, if my dates have not gone astray in my memory. I went in the same ship, a sailing vessel. Captain Mitchell of the Hornet was along; also the only passengers the Hornet had carried. These were two young gentlemen from Stamford, Connecticut—brothers: Samuel Ferguson, aged twenty-eight, a graduate of Trinity College, Hartford, and Henry Ferguson, aged eighteen, a student of the same college, and now at this present writing a professor there, a post which he has held for many years. He is fifty years old, this year—1898. Samuel had been wasting away with consumption for some years, and the long voyage around the Horn had been advised as offering a last hope for him. The Hornet was a clipper of the first class and a fast sailer; the young men’s quarters were roomy and comfortable, and were well stocked with books, and also with canned meats and fruits to help out the ship fare with; and when the ship cleared from New York harbor in the first week of January there was promise that she would make quick and pleasant work of the fourteen or fifteen thousand miles in front of her. As soon as the cold latitudes were left behind and the vessel entered summer weather, the voyage became a holiday picnic. The ship flew southward under a cloud of sail which needed no attention, no modifying or change of any kind for days together; the young men read, strolled the ample deck, rested and drowsed in the shade of the canvas, took their meals with the captain; and when the day was done they played dummy whist with him till bedtime. After the snow and ice and tempests of the Horn the ship bowled northward into summer weather again and the trip was a picnic once more.
Until the early morning of the 3d of May. Computed position of the ship, 112° 10’ west longitude; latitude, two degrees above the equator; no wind, no sea—dead calm; temperature of the atmosphere, tropical, blistering, unimaginable by one who has not been roasted in it. There was a cry of fire. An unfaithful sailor had disobeyed the rules and gone into the booby-hatch with an open light, to draw some varnish from a cask. The proper result followed, and the vessel’s hours were numbered.
There was not much time to spare, but the captain made the most of it. The three boats were launched—long-boat and two quarter-boats. That the time was very short and the hurry and excitement considerable is indicated by the fact that in launching the boats a hole was stove in the side of one of them by some sort of a collision, and an oar driven through the side of another. The captain’s first care was to have four sick sailors brought up and placed on deck out of harm’s way—among them a “Portyghee.” This man had not done a day’s work on the voyage, but had lain in his hammock four months nursing an abscess. When we were taking notes in the Honolulu hospital and a sailor told this to Mr. Burlingame, the third mate, who was lying near, raised his head with an effort, and in a weak voice made this correction—with solemnity and feeling—
“Raising abscesses; he had a family of them. He done it to keep from standing his watch.”
Any provisions that lay handy were gathered up by the men and the two passengers and brought and dumped on the deck where the “Portyghee” lay, then they ran for more. The sailor who was telling this to Mr. Burlingame, added—
“We pulled together thirty-two days’ rations for the thirty-one men that way.”
The third mate lifted his head again and made another correction—with bitterness:
“The Portyghee et twenty-two of them while he was soldiering there and nobody noticing. A damned hound.”
The fire spread with great rapidity. The smoke and flame drove the men back, and they had to stop their incomplete work of fetching provisions, and take to the boats, with only ten days’ rations secured.
Each boat had a compass, a quadrant, a copy of Bowditch’s Navigator, and a Nautical Almanac, and the captain’s and chief mate’s boats had chronometers. There were thirty-one men, all told. The captain took an account of stock, with the following result: four hams, nearly thirty pounds of salt pork, half-box of raisins, one hundred pounds of bread, twelve two-pound cans of oysters, clams, and assorted meats, a keg containing four pounds of butter, twelve gallons of water in a forty-gallon “scuttle-butt,” four one-gallon demijohns full of water, three bottles of brandy (the property of passengers), some pipes, matches, and a hundred pounds of tobacco. No medicines. Of course the whole party had to go on short rations at once.
The captain and the two passengers kept diaries; on our voyage to San Francisco we ran into a calm in the middle of the Pacific and did not move a rod during fourteen days; this gave me a chance to copy the diaries. Samuel Ferguson’s is the fullest; I will draw upon it, now. When the following paragraph was written the ship was about one hundred and twenty days out from port, and all hands were putting in the lazy time about as usual, and no one was forecasting disaster:
May 2. Latitude 1° 28’ N.; longitude 111° 38’ W. Another hot and sluggish day; at one time, however, the clouds promised wind, and there came a slight breeze—just enough to keep us going. The only thing to chronicle to-day is the quantities of fish about: nine bonitas were caught this forenoon, and some large albicores seen. After dinner the first mate hooked a fellow which he could not hold, so he let the line go to the captain, who was on the bow. He, holding on, brought the fish to with a jerk, and snap went the line, hook and all. We also saw astern, swimming lazily after us, an enormous shark, which must have been nine or ten feet long. We tried him with all sorts of lines and a piece of pork, but he declined to take hold. I suppose he had appeased his appetite on the heads and other remains of the bonitas we had thrown overboard.
Next day’s entry records the disaster. The three boats got away, retired to a short distance, and stopped. The two injured ones were leaking badly; some of the men were kept busy bailing, others patched the holes as well as they could. The captain, the two passengers and eleven men were in the long-boat, with a share of the provisions and water, and with no room to spare, for the boat was only twenty-one feet long, six wide and three deep. The chief mate and eight men were in one of the smaller boats, the second mate and seven men in the other. The passengers had saved no clothing but what they had on, excepting their overcoats. The ship, clothed in flame and sending up a vast column of black smoke into the sky, made a grand picture in the solitudes of the sea, and hour after hour the outcasts sat and watched it. Meantime the captain ciphered on the immensity of the distance that stretched between him and the nearest available land, and then scaled the rations down to meet the emergency: half a biscuit for breakfast; one biscuit and some canned meat for dinner; half a biscuit for tea; a few swallows of water for each meal. And so hunger began to gnaw while the ship was still burning.
May 4. The ship burned all night very brightly; and hopes are that some ship has seen the light, and is bearing down upon us. None seen, however, this forenoon; so we have determined to go together north and a little west to some islands in 18° to 19° N. latitude, and 114° to 115° W. longitude, hoping in the meantime to be picked up by some ship. The ship sank suddenly at about 5 A.M. We find the sun very hot and scorching; but all try to keep out of it as much as we can.
They did a quite natural thing, now; waited several hours for that possible ship that might have seen the light to work her slow way to them through the nearly dead calm. Then they gave it up and set about their plans. If you will look at the map you will say that their course could be easily decided. Albemarle island (Galapagos group) lies straight eastward, nearly a thousand miles; the islands referred to in the diary indefinitely as “some islands” (Revillagigedo islands,) lie, as they think, in some widely uncertain region northward about one thousand miles and westward one hundred or one hundred and fifty miles; Acapulco on the Mexican coast lies about northeast something short of one thousand miles. You will say, random rocks in the ocean are not what is wanted; let them strike for Acapulco and the solid continent. That does look like the rational course, but one presently guesses from the diaries that the thing would have been wholly irrational—indeed, suicidal. If the boats struck for Albemarle, they would be in the “doldrums” all the way—and that means a watery perdition, with winds which are wholly crazy, and blow from all points of the compass at once and also perpendicularly. If the boats tried for Acapulco they would get out of the “doldrums” when half way there—in case they ever got halfway—and then they would be in lamentable case, for there they would meet the northeast trades coming down in their teeth; and these boats were so rigged that they could not sail within eight points of the wind. So they wisely started northward, with a slight slant to the west. They had but ten days’ short allowance of food; the long-boat was towing the others; they could not depend on making any sort of definite progress in the doldrums, and they had four or five hundred miles of doldrums in front of them, yet. They are the real equator, a tossing, roaring, rainy belt ten or twelve hundred miles broad which girdles the globe.
It rained hard the first night and all got drenched, but they filled up their water-butt. The brothers were in the stern with the captain, who steered. The quarters were cramped; no one got much sleep. “Kept on our course till squalls headed us off.”
Stormy and squally the next morning, with drenching rains. A heavy and dangerous “cobbling” sea. One marvels how such boats could live in it. It is called a feat of desperate daring when one man and a dog cross the Atlantic in a boat the size of a long-boat, and indeed it is; but this long-boat was overloaded with men and other plunder, and was only three feet deep. “We naturally thought often of all at home, and were glad to remember that it was Sacrament Sunday, and that prayers would go up from our friends for us, although they know not our peril.”
The captain got not even a cat-nap during the first three days and nights, but he got a few winks of sleep the fourth night. “The worst sea yet.” About ten at night the captain changed his course and headed east-northeast, hoping to make “Clipperton Rock.” If he failed, no matter, he would be in a better position to make those other islands. I will mention, here, that he did not find that Rock.
On the 8th of May no wind all day—sun blistering hot. They take to the oars. Plenty of dolphins, but they couldn’t catch any. “I think we are all beginning to realize more and more the awful situation we are in.” “It often takes a ship a week to get through the doldrums—how much longer, then, such a craft as ours.” “We are so crowded that we cannot stretch ourselves out for a good sleep, but have to take it any way we can get it.”
Of course this feature will grow more and more trying, but it will be human nature to cease to set it down; there will be five weeks of it, yet—we must try to remember that for the diarist, it will make our beds the softer.
The 9th of May the sun gives him a warning: “looking with both eyes, the horizon crossed thus X.” “Henry keeps well, but broods over our troubles more than I wish he did.” They caught two dolphins—they tasted well. “The captain believed the compass out of the way, but the long-invisible North Star came out—a welcome sight—and indorsed the compass.”
May 10, latitude 7° 0’ 3” N.; longitude 111° 32’ W. So they have made about three hundred miles of northing in the six days since they left the region of the lost ship. “Drifting in calms all day.” And baking hot, of course; I have been down there, and I remember that detail. “Even as the captain says, all romance has long since vanished, and I think the most of us are beginning to look the fact of our awful situation full in the face.” “We are making but little headway on our course.” Bad news from the rearmost boat; the men are improvident; “they have eaten up all of the canned meats brought from the ship, and are now growing discontented.” Not so with the chief mate’s people—they are evidently under the eye of a man.
Under date of May 11: “Standing still! or worse; we lost more last night than we made yesterday.” In fact, they have lost three miles of the three hundred of northing they had so laboriously made. “The cock that was rescued and pitched into the boat while the ship was on fire still lives, and crows with the breaking of dawn, cheering us a good deal.” What has he been living on for a week? Did the starving men feed him from their dire poverty? “The second mate’s boat out of water again, showing that they overdrink their allowance. The captain spoke pretty sharply to them.” It is true; I have the remark in my old note-book; I got it of the third mate, in the hospital at Honolulu. But there is not room for it here, and it is too combustible, anyway. Besides, the third mate admired it, and what he admired he was likely to enhance.
They were still watching hopefully for ships. The captain was a thoughtful man, and probably did not disclose to them that that was substantially a waste of time. “In this latitude the horizon is filled with little upright clouds that look very much like ships.” Mr. Ferguson saved three bottles of brandy from his private stores when he left the ship, and the liquor came good in these days. “The captain serves out two tablespoonsful of brandy and water—half and half—to our crew.” He means the watch that is on duty; they stood regular watches—four hours on and four off. The chief mate was an excellent officer,—a self-possessed, resolute, fine all-around man. The diarist makes the following note—there is character in it: “I offered one bottle of the brandy to the chief mate, but he declined, saying he could keep the after-boat quiet, and we had not enough for all.”
Henry Ferguson’s diary to date, given in full:—May 4, 5, 6. Doldrums. May 7, 8, 9. Doldrums. May 10, 11, 12. Doldrums:—Tells it all. Never saw, never felt, never heard, never experienced such heat, such darkness, such lightning and thunder, and wind and rain, in my life before.
That boy’s diary is of the economical sort that a person might properly be expected to keep in such circumstances—and be forgiven for the economy, too. His brother, perishing of consumption, hunger, thirst, blazing heat, drowning rains, loss of sleep, lack of exercise, was persistently faithful and circumstantial with his diary from the first day to the last—an instance of noteworthy fidelity and resolution. In spite of the tossing and plunging boat he wrote it close and fine in a hand as easy to read as print.
They can’t seem to get north of 7° N. They are still there the next day:
May 12. A good rain last night and we caught a good deal, though not enough to fill up our tank, pails, etc. Our object is to get out of these doldrums, but it seems as if we cannot do it. To-day we have had it very variable, and hope we are on the northern edge, though we are not much above 7°. This morning we all thought we had made out a sail; but it was one of those deceiving clouds. Rained a good deal to-day, making all hands wet and uncomfortable; we filled up pretty nearly all our water-pots, however. I hope we may have a fine night, for the captain certainly wants rest, and while there is any danger of squalls, or danger of any kind, he is always on hand. I never would have believed that open boats such as ours, with their loads, could live in some of the seas we have had.
During the night, 12–13th, “the cry of A ship! brought us to our feet.” It seemed to be the glimmer of a vessel’s signal lantern rising out of the curve of the sea. There was a season of breathless hope while they stood watching, with their hands shading their eyes, and their hearts in their throats—then the promise failed; the light was a rising star. It is a long time ago—thirty-two years—and it doesn’t matter now, yet one is sorry for their disappointment. “Thought often of those at home to-day, and of the disappointment they will feel next Sunday at not hearing from us by telegraph from San Francisco.” It will be many weeks, yet, before the telegram is received, and it will come as a thunder-clap of joy then, and with the seeming of a miracle, for it will raise from the grave men mourned as dead. “To-day our rations were reduced to a quarter of a biscuit a meal, with about half a pint of water.” This is on the 13th of May, with more than a month of voyaging in front of them yet! However, as they do not know that, “we are all feeling pretty cheerful.”
In the afternoon of the 14th there was a thunder-storm “which toward night seemed to close in around us on every side, making it very dark and squally.” “Our situation is becoming more and more desperate,” for they were making very little northing, “and every day diminishes our small stock of provisions.” They realize that the boats must soon separate, and each fight for its own life. Towing the quarter-boats is a hindering business.
That night and next day, light and baffling winds and but little progress. Hard to bear—that persistent standing still, and the food wasting away. “Everything in a perfect sop; and all so cramped, and no change of clothes.” Soon the sun comes out and roasts them. “Joe caught another dolphin to-day; in his maw we found a flying-fish and two skipjacks.” There is an event, now, which rouses an enthusiasm of hope: a land-bird arrives! It rests on the yard for a while, and they can look at it all they like, and envy it, and thank it for its message. As a subject for talk it is beyond price—a fresh new topic for tongues tired to death of talking upon a single theme: shall we ever see the land again; and when? Is the bird from Clipperton Rock? They hope so; and they take heart of grace to believe so. As it turned out, the bird had no message; it merely came to mock.
May 16th, “the cock still lives, and daily carols forth His praise.” It will be a rainy night, “but I do not care, if we can fill up our water-butts.”
On the 17th one of those majestic spectres of the deep, a water-spout, stalked by them, and they trembled for their lives. Young Henry set it down in his scanty journal, with the judicious comment that “it might have been a fine sight from a ship.”
From Captain Mitchell’s log for this day: “Only half a bushel of bread-crumbs left.” (And a month to wander the seas yet.)
It rained all night and all day; everybody uncomfortable. Now came a sword-fish chasing a bonita, and the poor thing, seeking help and friends, took refuge under the rudder. The big sword-fish kept hovering around, scaring everybody badly. The men’s mouths watered for him, for he would have made a whole banquet; but no one dared to touch him, of course, for he would sink a boat promptly if molested. Providence protected the poor bonita from the cruel sword-fish. This was just and right. Providence next befriended the shipwrecked sailors: they got the bonita. This was also just and right. But in the distribution of mercies the sword-fish himself got overlooked. He now went away; to muse over these subtleties, probably. “The men in all the boats seem pretty well; the feeblest of the sick ones (not able for a long time to stand his watch on board the ship) is wonderfully recovered.” This is the third mate’s detested “Portyghee” that raised the family of abscesses.
Passed a most awful night. Rained hard nearly all the time, and blew in squalls, accompanied by terrific thunder and lightning, from all points of the compass.—Henry’s Log.
Latitude, May 18, 11° 11’. So they have averaged but forty miles of northing a day during the fortnight. Further talk of separating. “Too bad, but it must be done for the safety of the whole.” “At first I never dreamed; but now hardly shut my eyes for a cat-nap without conjuring up something or other—to be accounted for by weakness, I suppose.” But for their disaster they think they would be arriving in San Francisco about this time. “I should have liked to send B—the telegram for her birthday.” This was a young sister.
On the 19th the captain called up the quarter-boats and said one would have to go off on its own hook. The long-boat could no longer tow both of them. The second mate refused to go, but the chief mate was ready; in fact he was always ready when there was a man’s work to the fore. He took the second mate’s boat; six of its crew elected to remain, and two of his own crew came with him, (nine in the boat, now, including himself.) He sailed away, and toward sunset passed out of sight. The diarist was sorry to see him go. It was natural; one could have better spared the Portyghee. After thirty-two years I find my prejudice against this Portyghee reviving. His very looks have long ago passed out of my memory; but no matter, I am coming to hate him as religiously as ever. “Water will now be a scarce article; for as we get out of the doldrums we shall get showers only now and then in the trades. This life is telling severely on my strength. Henry holds out first-rate.” Henry did not start well, but under hardships he improved straight along.
Latitude, Sunday, May 20, 12° 0’ 9”. They ought to be well out of the doldrums, now, but they are not. No breeze—the longed-for trades still missing. They are still anxiously watching for a sail, but they have only “visions of ships that come to naught—the shadow without the substance.” The second mate catches a booby this afternoon, a bird which consists mainly of feathers; but “as they have no other meat it will go well.”
May 21, they strike the trades at last! The second mate catches three more boobies, and gives the long-boat one. Dinner, “half a can of mince-meat divided up and served around, which strengthened us somewhat.” They have to keep a man bailing all the time; the hole knocked in the boat when she was launched from the burning ship was never efficiently mended. “Heading about northwest, now.” They hope they have easting enough to make some of those indefinite isles. Failing that, they think they will be in a better position to be picked up. It was an infinitely slender chance, but the captain probably refrained from mentioning that.
The next day is to be an eventful one.
May 22. Last night wind headed us off, so that part of the time we had to steer east-southeast, and then west-northwest, and so on. This morning we were all startled by a cry of “Sail ho!” Sure enough, we could see it! And for a time we cut adrift from the second mate’s boat, and steered so as to attract its attention. This was about half past 5 A.M. After sailing in a state of high excitement for almost twenty minutes we made it out to be the chief mate’s boat. Of course we were glad to see them and have them report all well; but still it was a bitter disappointment to us all. Now that we are in the trades it seems impossible to make northing enough to strike the isles. We have determined to do the best we can, and get in the route of vessels. Such being the determination it became necessary to cast off the other boat, which, after a good deal of unpleasantness, was done, we again dividing water and stores, and taking Cox into our boat. This makes our number fifteen. The second mate’s crew wanted to all get in with us and cast the other boat adrift. It was a very painful separation.
So those isles that they have struggled for so long and so hopefully, have to be given up. What with lying birds that come to mock, and isles that are but a dream, and “visions of ships that come to naught,” it is a pathetic time they are having, with much heartbreak in it. It was odd that the vanished boat, three days lost to sight in that vast solitude, should appear again. But it brought Cox—we can’t be certain why. But if it hadn’t, the diarist would never have seen the land again.
May 23. Our chances as we go west increase in regard to being picked up, but each day our scanty fare is so much reduced. Without the fish, turtle, and birds sent us, I do not know how we should have got along. The other day I offered to read prayers morning and evening for the captain, and last night commenced. The men, although of various nationalities and religions, are very attentive, and always uncovered. May God grant my weak endeavor its issue!
Latitude, May 24, 14° 18’ N. Five oysters apiece for dinner and three spoonsful of juice, a gill of water and a piece of biscuit the size of a silver dollar. “We are plainly getting weaker—God have mercy upon us all!” That night heavy seas break over the weather side and make everybody wet and uncomfortable, besides requiring constant bailing.
Next day, “nothing particular happened.” Perhaps some of us would have regarded it differently. “Passed a spar, but not near enough to see what it was.” They saw some whales blow; there were flying-fish skimming the seas, but none came aboard. Misty weather, with fine rain, very penetrating.
Latitude, May 26, 15° 50’. They caught a flying-fish and a booby, but had to eat them raw. “The men grow weaker, and, I think, despondent; they say very little, though.” And so, to all the other imaginable and unimaginable horrors, silence is added! The muteness and brooding of coming despair. “It seems our best chance to get in the track of ships, with the hope that some one will run near enough our speck to see it.” He hopes the other boats stood west and have been picked up. [They will never be heard of again in this world.]
Sunday, May 27. Latitude 16° 0’ 5”; longitude, by chronometer, 117° 22’. Our fourth Sunday! When we left the ship we reckoned on having about ten days’ supplies, and now we hope to be able, by rigid economy, to make them last another week if possible.* Last night the sea was comparatively quiet, but the wind headed us off to about west-northwest, which has been about our course all day to-day. Another flying-fish came aboard last night, and one more to-day—both small ones. No birds. A booby is a great catch, and a good large one makes a small dinner for the fifteen of us—that is of course, as dinners go in the Hornet’s long-boat. Tried this morning to read the full service to myself with the communion, but found it too much; am too weak, and get sleepy, and cannot give strict attention; so I put off half till this afternoon. I trust God will hear the prayers gone up for us at home to-day, and graciously answer them by sending us succor and help in this our season of deep distress.
The next day was “a good day for seeing a ship.” But none was seen. The diarist “still feels pretty well” though very weak; his brother Henry “bears up and keeps his strength the best of any on board.” “I do not feel despondent at all, for I fully trust that the Almighty will hear our and the home prayers, and He who suffers not a sparrow to fall sees and cares for us, His creatures.”
Considering the situation and the circumstances, the record for next day—May 29—is one which has a surprise in it for those dull people who think that nothing but medicines and doctors can cure the sick. A little starvation can really do more for the average sick man than can the best medicines and the best doctors. I do not mean a restricted diet, I mean total abstention from food for one or two days. I speak from experience; starvation has been my cold and fever doctor for fifteen years, and has accomplished a cure in all instances. The third mate told me in Honolulu that the “Portyghee” had lain in his hammock for months, raising his family of abscesses and feeding like a cannibal. We have seen that in spite of dreadful weather, deprivation of sleep, scorching, drenching, and all manner of miseries, thirteen days of starvation “wonderfully recovered” him. There were four sailors down sick when the ship was burned. Twenty-five days of pitiless starvation have followed, and now we have this curious record: “All the men are hearty and strong; even the ones that were down sick are well; except poor Peter.” When I wrote an article some months ago urging temporary abstention from food as a remedy for an inactive appetite, and for disease, I was accused of jesting, but I was in earnest. “We are all wonderfully well and strong, comparatively speaking.” On this day the starvation-regime drew its belt a couple of buckle-holes tighter: the bread-ration was reduced from the usual piece of cracker the size of a silver dollar to the half of that, and one meal was abolished from the daily three. This will weaken the men physically, but if there are any diseases of an ordinary sort left in them they will disappear.
Two quarts bread-crumbs left, one-third of a ham, three small cans of oysters, and twenty gallons of water.—Captain’s Log.
The hopeful tone of the diaries is persistent. It is remarkable. Look at the map and see where the boat is: latitude 16° 44′, longitude 119° 20′. It is more than two hundred miles west of the Revillagigedo islands—so they are quite out of the question against the trades, rigged as this boat is. The nearest land available for such a boat is the “American Group,” six hundred and fifty miles away, westward—still, there is no note of surrender, none even of discouragement! Yet—May 30—“we have now left: one can of oysters; three pounds of raisins; one can of soup; one-third of a ham; three pints of biscuit-crumbs.” And fifteen starved men to live on it while they creep and crawl six hundred and fifty miles. “Somehow I feel much encouraged by this change of course (west by north) which we have made to-day.” Six hundred and fifty miles on a hatful of provisions. Let us be thankful, even after thirty-two years, that they are mercifully ignorant of the fact that it isn’t six hundred and fifty that they must creep on the hatful, but twenty-two hundred!
Isn’t the situation romantic enough, just as it stands? No. Providence added a startling detail: pulling an oar in that boat, for common-seaman’s wages, was a banished duke—Danish. We hear no more of him; just that mention; that is all, with the simple remark added that “he is one of our best men”—a high enough compliment for a duke or any other man in those manhood-testing circumstances. With that little glimpse of him at his oar, and that fine word of praise, he vanishes out of our knowledge for all time. For all time, unless he should chance upon this note and reveal himself.
The last day of May is come. And now there is a disaster to report: think of it, reflect upon it, and try to understand how much it means, when you sit down with your family and pass your eye over your breakfast table. Yesterday there were three pints of bread-crumbs; this morning the little bag is found open and some of the crumbs missing.“We dislike to suspect any one of such a rascally act, but there is no question that this grave crime has been committed. Two days will certainly finish the remaining morsels. God grant us strength to reach the American Group!” The third mate told me in Honolulu that in these days the men remembered with bitterness that the “Portyghee” had devoured twenty-two days’ rations while he lay waiting to be transferred from the burning ship, and that now they cursed him and swore an oath that if it came to cannibalism he should be the first to suffer for the rest.
The captain has lost his glasses, and therefore he cannot read our pocket-prayerbooks as much as I think he would like, though he is not familiar with them.
Further of the captain: “He is a good man, and has been most kind to us—almost fatherly. He says that if he had been offered the command of the ship sooner he should have brought his two daughters with him.” It makes one shudder yet, to think how narrow an escape it was.
The two meals (rations) a day are as follows: fourteen raisins and a piece of cracker the size of a cent, for tea; a gill of water, and a piece of ham and a piece of bread, each the size of a cent, for breakfast.—Captains Log.
He means a cent in thickness as well as in circumference. Samuel Ferguson’s diary says the ham was shaved “about as thin as it could be cut.”
June 1. Last night and to-day sea very high and cobbling, breaking over and making us all wet and cold. Weather squally, and there is no doubt that only careful management—with God’s protecting care—preserved us through both the night and the day; and really it is most marvelous how every morsel that passes our lips is blessed to us. It makes me think daily of the miracle of the loaves and fishes. Henry keeps up wonderfully, which is a great consolation to me. I somehow have great confidence, and hope that our afflictions will soon be ended, though we are running rapidly across the track of both outward and inward bound vessels, and away from them; our chief hope is a whaler, man-of-war, or some Australian ship. The isles we are steering for are put down in Bowditch, but on my map are said to be doubtful. God grant they may be there!
Hardest day yet.—Captain’s Log.
Doubtful. It was worse than that. A week later they sailed straight over them.
June 2. Latitude 18° 9’. Squally, cloudy, a heavy sea. * * * I cannot help thinking of the cheerful and comfortable time we had aboard the Hornet.
Two days’ scanty supplies left—ten rations of water apiece and a little morsel of bread. But the sun shines, and God is merciful.—Captain’s Log.
Sunday, June 3. Latitude 17° 54′. Heavy sea all night, and from 4 A.M. very wet, the sea breaking over us in frequent sluices, and soaking everything aft, particularly. All day the sea has been very high, and it is a wonder that we are not swamped. Heaven grant that it may go down this evening! Our suspense and condition are getting terrible. I managed this morning to crawl, more than step, to the forward end of the boat, and was surprised to find I was so weak, especially in the legs and knees. The sun has been out again, and I have dried some things, and hope for a better night.
June 4. Latitude 17° 6′; longitude 131° 30’. Shipped hardly any seas last night, and to-day the sea has gone down somewhat, although it is still too high for comfort, as we have an occasional reminder that water is wet. The sun has been out all day, and so we have had a good drying. I have been trying for the past ten or twelve days to get a pair of drawers dry enough to put on, and to-day at last succeeded. I mention this to show the state in which we have lived. If our chronometer is anywhere near right, we ought to see the American Isles to-morrow or next day. If they are not there, we have only the chance, for a few days, of a stray ship, for we cannot eke out the provisions more than five or six days longer, and our strength is failing very fast. I was much surprised to-day to note how my legs have wasted away above my knees; they are hardly thicker than my upper arm used to be. Still I trust in God’s infinite mercy, and feel sure He will do what is best for us. To survive, as we have done, thirty-two days in an open boat, with only about ten days’ fair provisions for thirty-one men in the first place, and these twice divided subsequently, is more than mere unassisted human art and strength could have accomplished or endured.
Bread and raisins all gone.—Captain’s Log.
Men growing dreadfully discontented, and awful grumbling and unpleasant talk is arising. God save us from all strife of men; and if we must die now, take us himself and not embitter our bitter death still more.—Henry’s Log.
June 5. Quiet night and pretty comfortable day, though our sail and block show signs of failing, and need taking down—which latter is something of a job, as it requires the climbing of the mast. We also had bad news from forward, there being discontent and some threatening complaints of unfair allowances, etc., all as unreasonable as foolish; still these things bid us be on our guard. I am getting miserably weak, but try to keep up the best I can. If we cannot find those isles we can only try to make northwest and get in the track of Sandwich Island bound vessels, living as best we can in the meantime. To-day we changed to one meal, and that at about noon, with a small ration of water at 8 or 9 A.M., another at 12 M., and a third at 5 or 6 P.M.
Nothing left but a little piece of ham and a gill of water, all round.—Captain’s Log.
They are down to one meal a day, now—such as it is—and fifteen hundred miles to crawl yet! And now the horrors deepen. There is talk of murder. And not only that, but worse than that—cannibalism. Now we seem to see why that curious accident happened, so long ago: I mean, Cox’s return, after he had been far away and out of sight several days in the chief mate’s boat. If he had not come back the captain and the two young passengers would have been slain, now, by these sailors who have become maniacs through their sufferings.
Note secretly passed by Henry to his brother:
“Cox told me last night there is getting to be a good deal of ugly talk among the men against the captain and us aft. Harry, Jack, and Fred especially. They say that the captain is the cause of all—that he did not try to save the ship at all, nor to get provisions, and even would not let the men put in some they had, and that partiality is shown us in apportioning our rations aft. Jack asked Cox the other day if he would starve first or eat human flesh. Cox answered he would starve. Jack then told him it would be only killing himself. If we do not find these islands we would do well to prepare for anything. Harry is the loudest of all.”
Reply.—“We can depend on Charley, I think, and Thomas, and Cox, can we not?”
Second Note.—“I guess so, and very likely on Peter—but there is no telling. Charley and Cox are certain. There is nothing definite said or hinted as yet, as I understand Cox; but starving men are the same as maniacs. It would be well to keep a watch on your pistol, so as to have it and the cartridges safe from theft.”
Henry’s Log, June 5. “Dreadful forebodings. God spare us from all such horrors! Some of the men getting to talk a good deal. Nothing to write down. Heart very sad.”
Henry’s Log, June 6. “Passed some sea-weed, and something that looked like the trunk of an old tree, but no birds; beginning to be afraid islands not there. To-day it was said to the captain, in the hearing of all, that some of the men would not shrink, when a man was dead, from using the flesh, though they would not kill. Horrible! God give us all full use of our reason, and spare us from such things! ‘From plague, pestilence, and famine, from battle and murder—and from sudden death: Good Lord deliver us!’”
June 6. Latitude 16° 30′; longitude (chron.) 134°. Dry night, and wind steady enough to require no change in sail; but this A.M. an attempt to lower it proved abortive. First, the third mate tried and got up to the block, and fastened a temporary arrangement to reeve the halyards through, but had to come down, weak and almost fainting, before finishing; then Joe tried, and after twice ascending, fixed it and brought down the block; but it was very exhausting work, and afterward he was good for nothing all day. The clew-iron which we are trying to make serve for the broken block works, however, very indifferently, and will, I am afraid, soon cut the rope. It is very necessary to get everything connected with the sail in good, easy running order before we get too weak to do anything with it.
Only three meals left.—Captain’s Log.
June 7. Latitude 16° 35’ N.; longitude 136° 30’ W. Night wet and uncomfortable. To-day shows us pretty conclusively that the American Isles are not here, though we have had some signs that looked like them. At noon we decided to abandon looking any further for them, and to-night haul a little more northerly, so as to get in the way of Sandwich Island vessels, which, fortunately, come down pretty well this way—say to latitude 19° to 20° to get the benefit of the trade-winds. Of course all the westing we have made is gain, and I hope the chronometer is wrong in our favor, for I do not see how any such delicate instrument can keep good time with the constant jarring and thumping we get from the sea. With the strong trade we have, I hope that a week from Sunday will put us in sight of the Sandwich Islands, if we are not saved before that time by being picked up.
It is twelve hundred miles to the Sandwich Islands; the provisions are virtually exhausted, but not the perishing diarist’s pluck.
June 8. My cough troubled me a good deal last night, and therefore I got hardly any sleep at all. Still I make out pretty well, and should not complain. Yesterday the third mate mended the block, and this P.M. the sail, after some difficulty, was got down, and Harry got to the top of the mast and rove the halyards through after some hardship, so that it now works easy and well. This getting up the mast is no easy matter at any time with the sea we have, and is very exhausting in our present state. We could only reward Harry by an extra ration of water. We have made good time and course to-day. Heading her up, however, makes the boat ship seas, and keeps us all wet; however, it cannot be helped. Writing is a rather precarious thing these times. Our meal to-day for the fifteen consists of half a can of “soup-and-bouillé”—the other half is reserved for to-morrow. Henry still keeps up grandly, and is a great favorite. God grant he may be spared!
A better feeling prevails among the men.—Captain’s Log.
June 9. Latitude 17° 53’. Finished to-day, I may say, our whole stock of provisions.* We have only left a lower end of a ham-bone, with some of the outer rind and skin on. In regard to the water, however, I think we have got ten days’ supply at our present rate of allowance. This, with what nourishment we can get from boot-legs and such chewable matter, we hope will enable us to weather it out till we get to the Sandwich Islands, or, sailing in the meantime in the track of vessels thither bound, be picked up. My hope is in the latter—for in all human probability I cannot stand the other. Still we have been marvelously protected, and God, I hope, will preserve us all in His own good time and way. The men are getting weaker, but are still quiet and orderly.
Sunday, June 10. Latitude 18° 40’ longitude 142° 34’. A pretty good night last night, with some wettings, and again another beautiful Sunday. I cannot but think how we should all enjoy it at home, and what a contrast is here! How terrible their suspense must begin to be! God grant it may be relieved before very long, and He certainly seems to be with us in everything we do, and has preserved this boat miraculously; for since we left the ship we have sailed considerably over three thousand miles, which, taking into consideration our meagre stock of provisions, is almost unprecedented. As yet I do not feel the stint of food so much as I do that of water. Even Henry, who is naturally a great water-drinker, can save half of his allowance from time to time, when I cannot. My diseased throat may have something to do with that, however.
Nothing is now left which by any flattery can be called food. But they must manage somehow for five days more, for at noon they have still eight hundred miles to go. It is a race for life, now.
This is no time for comments, or other interruptions from me—every moment is valuable. I will take up the boy-brother’s diary, and clear the seas before it and let it fly.
HENRY FERGUSON’S LOG.
Sunday, June 10. Our ham-bone has given us a taste of food to-day, and we have got left a little meat and the remainder of the bone for to-morrow. Certainly never was there such a sweet knuckle-bone, or one which was so thoroughly appreciated. * * * I do not know that I feel any worse than I did last Sunday, notwithstanding the reduction of diet; and I trust that we may all have strength given us to sustain the sufferings and hardships of the coming week. We estimate that we are within seven hundred miles of the Sandwich Islands, and that our average, daily, is somewhat over a hundred miles, so that our hopes have some foundation in reason. Heaven send we may all live to see land!
June 11. Ate the meat and rind of our ham-bone, and have the bone and the greasy cloth from around the ham left to eat to-morrow. God send us birds or fish, and let us not perish of hunger, or be brought to the dreadful alternative of feeding on human flesh! As I feel now, I do not think anything could persuade me; but you cannot tell what you will do when you are reduced by hunger and your mind wandering. I hope and pray we can make out to reach the Islands before we get to this strait; but we have one or two desperate men aboard, though they are quiet enough now. It is my firm trust and belief that we are going to be saved.
All food gone.—Captain’s Log*.
June 12. Stiffbreeze, and we are fairly flying—dead ahead of it—and toward the Islands. Good hopes, but the prospects of hunger are awful. Ate ham-bone to-day. It is the captain’s birthday—he is fifty-four years old.
June 13. The ham-rags are not quite all gone yet, and the boot-legs, we find, are very palatable after we get the salt out of them. A little smoke, I think, does some little good; but I don’t know.
June 14. Hunger does not pain us much, but we are dreadfully weak. Our water is getting frightfully low. God grant we may see land soon! Nothing to eat—but feel better than I did yesterday. Toward evening saw a magnificent rainbow—the first we had seen. Captain said, “Cheer up, boys, it’s a prophecy!—it’s the bow of promise!”
June 15. God be forever praised for His infinite mercy! Land in sight! Rapidly neared it and soon were sure of it..... Two noble Kanakas swam out and took the boat ashore. We were joyfully received by two white men—Mr. Jones and his steward Charley—and a crowd of native men, women and children. They treated us splendidly—aided us, and carried us up the bank, and brought us water, poi, bananas and green cocoanuts; but the white men took care of us and prevented those who would have eaten too much from doing so. Everybody overjoyed to see us, and all sympathy expressed in faces, deeds and words. We were then helped up to the house; and help we needed. Mr. Jones and Charley are the only white men here. Treated us splendidly. Gave us first about a teaspoonful of spirits in water, and then to each a cup of warm tea with a little bread. Takes every care of us. Gave us later another cup of tea—and bread the same—and then let us go to rest. It is the happiest day of my life..... God in His mercy has heard our prayer..... Everybody is so kind. Words cannot tell—
June 16. Mr. Jones gave us a delightful bed, and we surely had a good night’s rest—but not sleep—we were too happy to sleep; would keep the reality and not let it turn to a delusion—dreaded that we might wake up and find ourselves in the boat again.....

It is an amazing adventure. There is nothing of its sort in history that surpasses it in impossibilities made possible. In one extraordinary detail—the survival of every person in the boat—it probably stands alone in the history of adventures of its kind. Usually merely a part of a boat’s company survive—officers, mainly, and other educated and tenderly reared men, unused to hardship and heavy labor—the untrained, roughly-reared hard workers succumb. But in this case even the rudest and roughest stood the privations and miseries of the voyage almost as well as did the college-bred young brothers and the captain. I mean, physically. The minds of most of the sailors broke down in the fourth week and went to temporary ruin, but physically the endurance exhibited was astonishing. Those men did not survive by any merit of their own, of course, but by merit of the character and intelligence of the captain—they lived by the mastery of his spirit. Without him they would have been children without a nurse; they would have exhausted their provisions in a week, and their pluck would not have lasted even as long as the provisions.
The boat came near to being wrecked, at the last. As it approached the shore the sail was let go, and came down with a run; then the captain saw that he was drifting swiftly toward an ugly reef, and an effort was made to hoist the sail again, but it could not be done, the men’s strength was wholly exhausted; they could not even pull an oar. They were helpless, and death imminent. It was then that they were discovered by the two Kanakas who achieved the rescue. They swam out and manned the boat and piloted her through a narrow and hardly noticeable break in the reef—the only break in it in a stretch of thirty-five miles! The spot where the landing was made was the only one in that stretch where footing could have been found on the shore—everywhere else precipices came sheer down into forty fathoms of water. Also, in all that stretch this was the only spot where anybody lived.
Within ten days after the landing all the men but one were up and creeping about. Properly, they ought to have killed themselves with the “food” of the last few days—some of them, at any rate—men who had freighted their stomachs with strips of leather from old boots and with chips from the butter-cask, a freightage which they did not get rid of by digestion, but by other means. The captain and the two passengers did not eat strips and chips as the sailors did, but scraped the boot-leather and the wood and made a pulp of the scrapings by moistening them with water. The third mate told me that the boots were old, and full of holes; then added, thoughtfully, “but the holes digested the best.” Speaking of digestion, here is a remarkable thing, and worth noting: during this strange voyage, and for a while afterward on shore, the bowels of some of the men virtually ceased from their functions; in some cases there was no action for twenty and thirty days, and in one case for forty-four! Sleeping, also, came to be rare. Yet the men did very well without it. During many days the captain did not sleep at all—twenty-one, I think, on one stretch.
When the landing was made, all the men were successfully protected from overeating except the “Portyghee;” he escaped the watch and ate an incredible number of bananas; a hundred and fifty-two, the third mate said, but this was undoubtedly an exaggeration; I think it was a hundred and fifty-one. He was already nearly full of leather—it was hanging out of his ears. (I do not state this on the third mate’s authority, for we have seen what sort of a person he was; I state it on my own.) The Portyghee ought to have died, of course, and even now it seems a pity that he didn’t; but he got well, and as early as any of them; and all full of leather, too, the way he was, and butter-timber and handkerchiefs and bananas. Some of the men did eat handkerchiefs, in those last days, also socks; and he was one of them.
It is to the credit of the men that they did not kill the rooster that crowed so gallantly, mornings. He lived eighteen days, and then stood up and stretched his neck and made a brave weak effort to do his duty once more, and died in the act. It is a picturesque detail; and so is that rainbow, too—the only one seen in the forty-three days—raising its triumphal arch in the skies for the sturdy fighters to sail under to victory and rescue.
With ten days’ provisions Captain Josiah Mitchell performed this memorable voyage of forty-three days and eight hours in an open boat, sailing four thousand miles in reality and thirty-three hundred and sixty by direct courses, and brought every man safe to land. A bright, simple-hearted, unassuming, plucky, and most companionable man. I walked the deck with him twenty-eight days—when I was not copying diaries—and I remember him with reverent honor. If he is alive he is eighty-six years old, now.
If I remember rightly, Samuel Ferguson died soon after we reached San Francisco. I do not think he lived to see his home again; his disease had doubtless doomed him when he left it.
For a time it was hoped that the two quarter-boats would presently be heard of, but this hope suffered disappointment. They went down with all on board, no doubt. Not even that knightly chief mate spared.
The authors of the diaries wanted to smooth them up a little before allowing me to copy them, but there was no occasion for that, and I persuaded them out of it. These diaries are finely modest and unaffected; and with unconscious and unintentional art they rise toward the climax with graduated and gathering force and swing and dramatic intensity, they sweep you along with a cumulative rush, and when the cry rings out at last, “Land in sight!” your heart is in your mouth and for a moment you think it is yourself that have been saved. The last two paragraphs are not improvable by anybody’s art; they are literary gold; and their very pauses and uncompleted sentences have in them an eloquence not reachable by any words.
The interest of this story is unquenchable; it is of the sort that time cannot decay. I have not looked at the diaries for thirty-two years, but I find that they have lost nothing in that time. Lost?—they have gained; for by some subtle law all tragic human experiences gain in pathos by the perspective of time. We realize this when in Naples we stand musing over the poor Pompeian mother, lost in the historic storm of volcanic ashes eighteen centuries ago, who lies with her child gripped close to her breast, trying to save it, and whose despair and grief have been preserved for us by the fiery envelop which took her life but eternalized her form and features. She moves us, she haunts us, she stays in our thoughts for many days, we do not know why, for she is nothing to us, she has been nothing to any one for eighteen centuries; whereas of the like case to-day we should say “poor thing, it is pitiful,” and forget it in an hour.
Vienna, October, 1898.
Mark Twain
The manuscripts for these next three pieces (“Horace Greeley,” “Lecture-Times,” and “Ralph Keeler”) are all in the Mark Twain Papers. Clemens wrote all three in Vienna at about the same time, either in late 1898 or (more likely) in early 1899. He had apparently abandoned (at least briefly) the autobiography as he had originally conceived it in favor of a “portrait gallery of contemporaries,” as he told one interviewer in May 1899: “A man cannot tell the whole truth about himself, even if convinced that what he wrote would never be seen by others.... For that reason I confine myself to drawing the portraits of others” (“Mark Twain’s Bequest,” datelined “Vienna, May 22,” London Times, 23 May 1899, 4, in Scharnhorst 2006, 333–34).
Although Clemens here placed the encounter with Greeley in 1871, it almost certainly occurred slightly earlier, sometime between 12 and 17 December 1870, while Clemens was on a week-long trip to New York (RI 1993, 825 n. 78). He told a nearly identical version of the story in 1905 (3 Oct 1905 to the Editor of Harper’s Weekly, RPB-JH, published in SLC 1905e). Paine did not include this anecdote in his edition of the autobiography, but a brief typescript of it prepared for him suggests that he very likely considered doing so. He had already quoted still another version of the story in his 1912 biography (MTB, 1:472). Neider likewise omitted it, but Bernard DeVoto published it in the “Miscellany” section of Mark Twain in Eruption, which he said was “composed of fragments lifted from contexts that did not seem to me interesting enough to be run in their entirety” (MTE, xii–xiii, 347–48).
Horace Greeley
I met Mr. Greeley only once and then by accident. It was in 1871, in the (old) Tribune office. I climbed one or two flights of stairs and went to the wrong room. I was seeking Colonel John Hay and I really knew my way and only lost it by my carelessness. I rapped lightly on the door, pushed it open and stepped in. There sat Mr. Greeley, busy writing, with his back to me. I think his coat was off. But I knew who it was, anyway. It was not a pleasant situation, for he had the reputation of being pretty plain with strangers who interrupted his train of thought. The interview was brief. Before I could pull myself together and back out, he whirled around and glared at me through his great spectacles and said—
“Well, what in hell do you want!”
“I was looking for a gentlem—”
“Don’t keep them in stock—clear out!”
I could have made a very neat retort but didn’t, for I was flurried and didn’t think of it till I was down stairs.
This manuscript, begun in Vienna in late 1898 or early 1899, was left incomplete, ending in mid-sentence at a moment of unresolved suspense. Like “Horace Greeley” and “Ralph Keeler,” it seems to have been intended as part of a series of biographical portraits of friends and acquaintances which Clemens had temporarily adopted as a substitute for the autobiography as first conceived. The names of Nasby, De Cordova, and Hayes printed in the margins are comparable to the marginal dates Clemens later used to guide the reader in his nonchronological Autobiographical Dictations.
Clemens had long had an interest in writing up his experiences on the lecture circuit. As early as July 1869, having completed his first lecture tour of the eastern states, he used his correspondence with the San Francisco Alta California to describe his friend and fellow lecturer David Ross Locke (Petroleum V. Nasby): “Well, Nasby is a good fellow, and companionable, and we sat up till daylight reading Bret Harte’s Condensed Novels and talking over Western lecturing experiences. But lecturing experiences, deliciously toothsome and interesting as they are, must be recounted only in secret session, with closed doors. Otherwise, what a telling magazine article one could make out of them” (SLC 1869b). Despite that caveat, his interest in writing about those experiences remained alive. In a letter to Olivia written in January 1872, he mentioned a manuscript (later published as “Sociable Jimmy”) which he had sent home as something he hoped to include in his “volume of ‘Lecturing Experiences’” (10 and 11 Jan 1872 to OLC, L5, 18, 20 n. 6; SLC 1874d). But “Lecture-Times” and the sketch following it here, “Ralph Keeler,” are as close as he ever came to fulfilling that plan.
Paine included part of “Lecture-Times” under his own title, “Old Lecture Days in Boston. Nasby, and others of Redpath’s Lecture Bureau,” omitting the last four unconcluded paragraphs devoted to Isaac I. Hayes (MTA, 1:147–53). Neider took his text directly from Paine—duplicating his errors—and he reversed sections of the text, which he then interlarded with material extracted from “Ralph Keeler” and the Autobiographical Dictations of 11 and 12 October 1906 (AMT, 161–69). The present text is therefore the first time this manuscript has been published in full, as written.
Lecture-Times
Nasby
I remember Petroleum Vesuvius Nasby (Locke) very well. When the Civil War began he was on the staff of the Toledo Blade, an old and prosperous and popular weekly newspaper. He let fly a Nasby letter and it made a fine strike. He was famous at once. He followed up his new lead, and gave the copperheads and the Democratic party a most admirable hammering every week, and his letters were copied everywhere, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and read and laughed over by everybody,—at least everybody except particularly dull and prejudiced Democrats and copperheads. For suddenness, Nasby’s fame was an explosion; for universality it was atmospheric. He was soon offered a company; he accepted, and was straightway ready to leave for the front; but the Governor of the State was a wiser man than were the political masters of Körner and Petöfi; for he refused to sign Nasby’s commission, and ordered him to stay at home. He said that in the field Nasby would be only one soldier, handling one sword, but at home with his pen he was an army—with artillery! Nasby obeyed, and went on writing his electric letters.
I saw him first when I was on a visit to Hartford; I think it was three or four years after the war. The Opera House was packed and jammed with people to hear him deliver his lecture on “Cussed be Canaan.” He had been on the platform with that same lecture—and no other—during two or three years, and it had passed his lips several hundred times, yet even now he could not deliver any sentence of it without his manuscript—except the opening one. His appearance on the stage was welcomed with a prodigious burst of applause, but he did not stop to bow or in any other way acknowledge the greeting, but strode straight to the reading-desk, spread his portfolio open upon it and immediately petrified himself into an attitude which he never changed during the hour and a half occupied by his performance except to turn his leaves: his body bent over the desk, rigidly supported by his left arm, as by a stake, the right arm lying across his back. About once in two minutes his right arm swung forward, turned a leaf, then swung to its resting-place on his back again—just the action of a machine, and suggestive of one; regular, recurrent, prompt, exact—you might imagine you heard it clash. He was a great burly figure, uncouthly and provincially clothed, and he looked like a simple old farmer.
I was all curiosity to hear him begin. He did not keep me waiting. The moment he had crutched himself upon his left arm, lodged his right upon his back and bent himself over his manuscript he raised his face slightly, flashed a glance upon the audience and bellowed this remark in a thundering bull-voice—
“We are all descended from grandfathers!”
Then he went roaring right on to the end, tearing his ruthless way through the continuous applause and laughter and taking no sort of account of it. His lecture was a volleying and sustained discharge of bull’s-eye hits, with the slave-power and its Northern apologists for target, and his success was due to his matter, not his manner; for his delivery was destitute of art, unless a tremendous and inspiring earnestness and energy may be called by that name. The moment he had finished his piece he turned his back and marched off the stage with the seeming of being not personally concerned with the applause that was booming behind him.
He had the constitution of an ox and the strength and endurance of a prize-fighter. Express trains were not very plenty in those days. He missed a connection, and in order to meet this Hartford engagement he had traveled two-thirds of a night and a whole day in a cattle-car—it was mid-winter—he went from the cattle-car to his reading-desk without dining; yet on the platform his voice was powerful and he showed no signs of drowsiness or fatigue. He sat up talking and supping with me until after midnight, and then it was I that had to give up, not he. He told me that in his first season he read his “Cussed be Canaan” twenty-five nights a month for nine successive months. No other lecturer ever matched that record, I imagine.
He said that as one result of repeating his lecture two hundred and twenty-five nights straight along, he was able to say its opening sentence without glancing at his manuscript; and sometimes even did it, when in a daring mood. And there was another result: he reached home the day after his long campaign, and was sitting by the fire in the evening, musing, when the clock broke into his reverie by striking eight. Habit is habit; and before he realized where he was he had thundered out, “We are all descended from grandfathers!”
I began as a lecturer in 1866, in California and Nevada; in 1867 lectured in New York once and in the Mississippi valley a few times; in 1868 made the whole western circuit; and in the two or three following seasons added the eastern circuit to my route. We had to bring out a new lecture every season, now, (Nasby with the rest,) and expose it in the “Star Course,” Boston, for a first verdict, before an audience of twenty-five hundred in the old Music Hall; for it was by that verdict that all the lyceums in the country determined the lecture’s commercial value. The campaign did not really begin in Boston, but in the towns around; we did not appear in Boston until we had rehearsed about a month in those towns and made all the necessary corrections and revisings.
This system gathered the whole tribe together in the city early in October, and we had a lazy and sociable time there for several weeks. We lived at Young’s hotel; we spent the days in Redpath’s bureau smoking and talking shop; and early in the evenings we scattered out amongst the towns and made them indicate the good and poor things in the new lectures. The country audience is the difficult audience; a passage which it will approve with a ripple will bring a crash in the city. A fair success in the country means a triumph in the city. And so, when we finally stepped onto the great stage at Music Hall we already had the verdict in our pocket.
De Cordova
But sometimes lecturers who were new to the business did not know the value of “trying it on a dog,” and these were apt to come to Music Hall with an untried product. There was one case of this kind which made some of us very anxious when we saw the advertisement. De Cordova—humorist—he was the man we were troubled about. I think he had another name, but I have forgotten what it was. He had been printing some dismally humorous things in the magazines; they had met with a deal of favor and given him a pretty wide name; and now he suddenly came poaching upon our preserve, and took us by surprise. Several of us felt pretty unwell; too unwell to lecture. We got outlying engagements postponed, and remained in town. We took front seats in one of the great galleries—Nasby, Billings and I—and waited. The house was full. When De Cordova came on, he was received with what we regarded as a quite overdone and almost indecent volume of welcome. I think we were not jealous, nor even envious, but it made us sick, anyway. When I found he was going to read a humorous story—from manuscript—I felt better, and hopeful, but still anxious. He had a Dickens arrangement of tall gallows-frame adorned with upholsteries, and he stood behind it under its overhead-row of hidden lights. The whole thing had a quite stylish look, and was rather impressive. The audience were so sure that he was going to be funny that they took a dozen of his first utterances on trust and laughed cordially; so cordially, indeed, that it was very hard for us to bear, and we felt very much disheartened. Still I tried to believe he would fail, for I saw that he didn’t know how to read. Presently the laughter began to relax; then it began to shrink in area; and next to lose spontaneity; and next to show gaps between; the gaps widened; they widened more; more yet; still more. It was getting to be almost all gaps and silences, with that untrained and unlively voice droning through them. Then the house sat dead and emotionless for a whole ten minutes. We drew a deep sigh; it ought to have been a sigh of pity for a defeated fellow craftsman, but it was not—for we were mean and selfish, like all the human race, and it was a sigh of satisfaction to see our unoffending brother fail.
He was laboring, now, and distressed; he constantly mopped his face with his handkerchief, and his voice and his manner became a humble appeal for compassion, for help, for charity, and it was a pathetic thing to see. But the house remained cold and still, and gazed at him curiously and wonderingly.
There was a great clock on the wall, high up; presently the general gaze forsook the reader and fixed itself upon the clock-face. We knew by dismal experience what that meant; we knew what was going to happen, but it was plain that the reader had not been warned, and was ignorant. It was approaching nine, now—half the house watching the clock, the reader laboring on. At five minutes to nine, twelve hundred people rose, with one impulse, and swept like a wave down the aisles toward the doors! The reader was like a person stricken with a paralysis; he stood choking and gasping for a few moments, gazing in a white horror at that retreat, then he turned drearily away and wandered from the stage with the groping and uncertain step of one who walks in his sleep.
The management were to blame. They should have told him that the last suburban cars left at nine, and that half the house would rise and go then, no matter who might be speaking from the platform. I think De Cordova did not appear again in public.
Dr. I.I Hayes
There was another case where a lecturer brought his piece to Music Hall without first “trying it on a dog.” Everybody was anxious to get a glimpse of Dr. Hayes when he was fresh from the Arctic regions and at the noon of his celebrity. He wrote out his lecture painstakingly, and it was his purpose to read all of it from the manuscript except the opening passage. This passage was of the flowery eloquent sort, and he got it by heart, with the idea of getting out of it the moving effect of an offhand burst. It was not an original idea; novices had been bitten by it before. Not twice, of course, but once.
The vast audience received him with inspiring enthusiasm as he came down the big stage, and he looked the pleasure he felt. He laid his manuscript on the desk, and stood bowing and smiling and smiling and bowing for a stretch of minutes. At last the noise died down, and a deep hush of expectancy followed. He stepped away from the desk and stood looking out over the sea of faces a while, then slowly stretched forth his hand and began in measured tones and most impressively, somewhat in this fashion:
“When one stands, a lost waif, in the midst of the mighty solitudes of the frozen seas stretching cold and white and forbidding, mile on mile, league on league, toward the remote and dim horizons, a solemn desert out of whose bosom rise here and there and yonder stupendous ice-forms quaintly mimicking the triumphs of man, the architect and builder—frowning fortresses, stately castles, majestic temples, their bases veiled in mysterious twilight, their pinnacles and towers glowing soft and rich in the rose-flush flung from the dying fires of the midnight sun—”
A figure sped across the stage, touched the lecturer on the shoulder, then bent forward toward the audience, made a trumpet of its hands and shouted—
This manuscript, like the previous two, belongs to the series of biographies Clemens was writing in 1898–99 instead of continuing to work in the more traditional format for an autobiography. It is obviously related in other ways to Clemens’s reminiscences in “Lecture-Times,” but it starts somewhat earlier, when he was a newspaper reporter in San Francisco, and extends to his 1871–72 lecture tour, during which he relied on Ralph Keeler for companionship in “lecture-flights” made out to the suburbs around Boston. Paine printed this text with his usual errors and omissions (MTA, 1:154–64). Neider reprinted only part of it, inserting excerpts from “Lecture-Times” and the Autobiographical Dictations of 11 and 12 October 1906 (AMT 161–66).
Ralph Keeler
He was a Californian. I probably knew him in San Francisco in the early days—about 1865—when I was a newspaper reporter and Bret Harte, Ambrose Bierce, Charles Warren Stoddard and Prentice Mulford were doing young literary work for Mr. Joe Lawrence’s weekly periodical The Golden Era. At any rate I knew him in Boston a few years later, where he comraded with Howells, Aldrich, Boyle O’Reilly, and James T. Fields, and was greatly liked by them. I say he comraded with them, and that is the proper term, though he would not have given the relationship so familiar a name himself, for he was the modestest young fellow that ever was, and looked humbly up to those distinguished men from his lowly obscurity and was boyishly grateful for the friendly notice they took of him, and frankly grateful for it; and when he got a smile and a nod from Mr. Emerson and Mr. Whittier and Holmes and Lowell and Longfellow, his happiness was the prettiest thing in the world to see. He was not more than twenty-four at this time; the native sweetness of his disposition had not been marred by cares and disappointments; he was buoyant and hopeful, simple-hearted, and full of the most engaging and unexacting little literary ambitions, and whomsoever he met became his friend and—by some natural and unexplained impulse—took him under protection.
He probably never had a home nor a boyhood. He had wandered to California as a little chap from somewhere or other, and had cheerfully achieved his bread in various humble callings, educating himself as he went along, and having a good and satisfactory time. Among his various industries was clog-dancing in a “nigger” show. When he was about twenty years old he scraped together $85—in greenbacks, worth about half that sum in gold—and on this capital he made the tour of Europe and published an account of his travels in the Atlantic Monthly. When he was about twenty-two he wrote a novel called “Gloverson and His Silent Partners;” and not only that, but found a publisher for it. But that was not really a surprising thing, in his case, for not even a publisher is hard-hearted enough to be able to say no to some people—and Ralph was one of those people. His gratitude for a favor granted him was so simple and sincere and so eloquent and touching that a publisher would recognize that if there was no money in the book there was still a profit to be had out of it beyond the value of money and above money’s reach. There was no money in that book; not a single penny; but Ralph Keeler always spoke of his publisher as other people speak of divinities. The publisher lost $200 or $300 on the book, of course, and knew he would lose it when he made the venture, but he got much more than the worth of it back in the author’s adoring admiration of him.
Ralph had little or nothing to do, and he often went out with me to the small lecture-towns in the neighborhood of Boston. These lay within an hour of town, and we usually started at six or thereabouts, and returned to the city in the morning. It took about a month to do these Boston annexes, and that was the easiest and pleasantest month of the four or five which constituted the “lecture season.” The “lyceum system” was in full flower in those days, and James Redpath’s Bureau in School street, Boston, had the management of it throughout the Northern States and Canada. Redpath farmed out the lecturers in groups of six or eight to the lyceums all over the country at an average of about $100 a night for each lecturer. His commission was ten per cent; each lecturer appeared about one hundred and ten nights in the season. There were a number of good drawing names in his list: Henry Ward Beecher; Anna Dickinson; John B. Gough; Horace Greeley; Wendell Phillips; Petroleum V. Nasby; Josh Billings; Hayes, the Arctic explorer; Vincent; the English astronomer; Parsons, Irish orator; Agassiz. He had in his list twenty or thirty men and women of light consequence and limited reputation who wrought for fees ranging from $25 to $50. Their names have perished long ago. Nothing but art could find them a chance on the platform. Redpath furnished that art. All the lyceums wanted the big guns, and wanted them yearningly, longingly, strenuously. Redpath granted their prayers—on this condition: for each house-filler allotted them they must hire several of his house-emptiers. This arrangement permitted the lyceums to get through alive for a few years, but in the end it killed them all and abolished the lecture business.
Beecher, Gough, Nasby and Anna Dickinson were the only lecturers who knew their own value and exacted it. In towns their fee was $200 and $250; in cities $400. The lyceum always got a profit out of these four (weather permitting), but generally lost it again on the house-emptiers.
There were two women who should have been house-emptiers—Olive Logan and Kate Field—but during a season or two they were not. They charged $100, and were recognized house-fillers for certainly two years. After that they were capable emptiers and were presently shelved. Kate Field had made a wide spasmodic notoriety in 1867 by some letters which she sent from Boston—by telegraph—to the Tribune about Dickens’s readings there in the beginning of his triumphant American tour. The letters were a frenzy of praise—praise which approached idolatry—and this was the right and welcome key to strike, for the country was itself in a frenzy of enthusiasm about Dickens. Then the idea of telegraphing a newspaper letter was new and astonishing, and the wonder of it was in everyone’s mouth. Kate Field became a celebrity at once. By and by she went on the platform; but two or three years had elapsed and her subject—Dickens—had now lost its freshness and its interest. For a while people went to see her, because of her name; but her lecture was poor and her delivery repellently artificial; consequently when the country’s desire to look at her had been appeased, the platform forsook her.
She was a good creature, and the acquisition of a perishable and fleeting notoriety was the disaster of her life. To her it was infinitely precious, and she tried hard, in various ways, during more than a quarter of a century, to keep a semblance of life in it, but her efforts were but moderately successful. She died in the Sandwich Islands, regretted by her friends and forgotten of the world.
Olive Logan’s notoriety grew out of—only the initiated knew what. Apparently it was a manufactured notoriety, not an earned one. She did write and publish little things in newspapers and obscure periodicals, but there was no talent in them, and nothing resembling it. In a century they would not have made her known. Her name was really built up out of newspaper paragraphs set afloat by her husband, who was a small-salaried minor journalist. During a year or two this kind of paragraphing was persistent; one could seldom pick up a newspaper without encountering it.
“It is said that Olive Logan has taken a cottage at Nahant, and will spend the summer there.”
“Olive Logan has set her face decidedly against the adoption of the short skirt for afternoon wear.”
“The report that Olive Logan will spend the coming winter in Paris is premature. She has not yet made up her mind.”
“Olive Logan was present at Wallack’s on Saturday evening, and was outspoken in her approval of the new piece.”
“Olive Logan has so far recovered from her alarming illness that if she continues to improve her physicians will cease from issuing bulletins tomorrow.”
The result of this daily advertising was very curious. Olive Logan’s name was as familiar to a simple public as was that of any celebrity of the time, and people talked with interest about her doings and movements, and gravely discussed her opinions. Now and then an ignorant person from the backwoods would proceed to inform himself, and then there were surprises in store for all concerned:
“Who is Olive Logan?”
The listeners were astonished to find that they couldn’t answer the question. It had never occurred to them to inquire into the matter.
“What has she done?”
The listeners were dumb again. They didn’t know. They hadn’t inquired.
“Well, then, how does she come to be celebrated?”
“Oh, it’s about something, I don’t know what. I never inquired, but I supposed everybody knew.”
For entertainment I often asked these questions myself, of people who were glibly talking about that celebrity and her doings and sayings. The questioned were surprised to find that they had been taking this fame wholly on trust, and had no idea who Olive Logan was or what she had done—if anything.
On the strength of this oddly created notoriety Olive Logan went on the platform, and for at least two seasons the United States flocked to the lecture halls to look at her. She was merely a name and some rich and costly clothes, and neither of these properties had any lasting quality, though for a while they were able to command a fee of $100 a night. She dropped out of the memories of men a quarter of a century ago.
Ralph Keeler was pleasant company on my lecture-flights out of Boston, and we had plenty of good talks and smokes in our rooms after the committee had escorted us to the inn and made their good-night. There was always a committee, and they wore a silk badge of office; they received us at the station and drove us to the lecture hall; they sat in a row of chairs behind me on the stage, minstrel-fashion, and in the earliest days their chief used to introduce me to the audience; but these introductions were so grossly flattering that they made me ashamed, and so I began my talk at a heavy disadvantage. It was a stupid custom; there was no occasion for the introduction; the introducer was almost always an ass, and his prepared speech a jumble of vulgar compliments and dreary efforts to be funny; therefore after the first season I always introduced myself—using, of course, a burlesque of the time-worn introduction. This change was not popular with committee-chairmen. To stand up grandly before a great audience of his townsmen and make his little devilish speech was the joy of his life, and to have that joy taken from him was almost more than he could bear.
My introduction of myself was a most efficient “starter” for a while, then it failed. It had to be carefully and painstakingly worded, and very earnestly spoken, in order that all strangers present might be deceived into the supposition that I was only the introducer and not the lecturer; also that the flow of overdone compliments might sicken those strangers; then, when the end was reached and the remark casually dropped that I was the lecturer and had been talking about myself, the effect was very satisfactory. But it was a good card for only a little while, as I have said; for the newspapers printed it, and after that I could not make it go, since the house knew what was coming and retained its emotions.
Next I tried an introduction taken from my Californian experiences. It was gravely made by a slouching and awkward big miner in the village of Red Dog. The house, very much against his will, forced him to ascend the platform and introduce me. He stood thinking a moment, then said:
“I don’t know anything about this man. At least I know only two things; one is, he hasn’t been in the penitentiary, and the other is (after a pause, and almost sadly), I don’t know why.”
That worked well for a while, then the newspapers printed it and took the juice out of it, and after that I gave up introductions altogether.
Now and then Keeler and I had a mild little adventure, but none which couldn’t be forgotten without much of a strain. Once we arrived late at a town and found no committee in waiting, and no sleighs on the stand. We struck up a street, in the gay moonlight, found a tide of people flowing along, judged it was on its way to the lecture hall—a correct guess—and joined it. At the hall I tried to press in but was stopped by the ticket-taker—
“Ticket, please.”
I bent over and whispered—
“It’s all right—I am the lecturer.”
He closed one eye impressively and said, loud enough for all the crowd to hear—
“No you don’t. Three of you have got in, up to now, but the next lecturer that goes in here to-night pays.”
Of course we paid; it was the least embarrassing way out of the trouble. The very next morning Keeler had an adventure. About eleven o’clock I was sitting in my room reading the paper when he burst into the place all a-tremble with excitement and said—
“Come with me—quick!”
“What is it? what’s happened?”
“Don’t wait to talk—come with me.”
We tramped briskly up the main street three or four blocks, neither of us speaking, both of us excited, I in a sort of panic of apprehension and horrid curiosity, then we plunged into a building and down through the middle of it to the further end. Keeler stopped, put out his hand, and said—
“Look.”
I looked, but saw nothing except a row of books.
“What is it, Keeler?”
He said, in a kind of joyous ecstasy—
“Keep on looking—to the right; further—further to the right. There—see it? ‘Gloverson and His Silent Partners!’”
And there it was, sure enough.
“This is a library! Understand? Public library. And they’ve got it!”
His eyes, his face, his attitude, his gestures, his whole being spoke his delight, his pride, his happiness. It never occurred to me to laugh; a supreme joy like that moves one the other way; I was stirred almost to the crying point to see so perfect a happiness.
He knew all about the book, for he had been cross-examining the librarian. It had been in the library two years, and the records showed that it had been taken out three times.
“And read, too!” said Keeler. “See—the leaves are all cut.”
Moreover, the book had been “bought, not given—it’s on the record.” I think “Gloverson” was published in San Francisco. Other copies had been sold, no doubt, but this present sale was the only one Keeler was certain of. It seems unbelievable that the sale of an edition of one book could give an author this immeasurable peace and contentment, but I was there and I saw it.
Afterward Keeler went out to Ohio and hunted out one of Ossawatomie Brown’s brothers on his farm and took down in long-hand his narrative of his adventures in escaping from Virginia after the tragedy of 1859—the most admirable piece of reporting, I make no doubt, that was ever done by a man destitute of a knowledge of short-hand writing. It was published in the Atlantic Monthly, and I made three attempts to read it but was frightened off each time before I could finish. The tale was so vivid and so real that I seemed to be living those adventures myself and sharing their intolerable perils, and the torture of it all was so sharp that I was never able to follow the story to the end.
By and by the Tribune commissioned Keeler to go to Cuba and report the facts of an outrage or an insult of some sort which the Spanish authorities had been perpetrating upon us according to their well-worn habit and custom. He sailed from New York in the steamer and was last seen alive the night before the vessel reached Havana. It was said that he had not made a secret of his mission, but had talked about it freely, in his frank and innocent way. There were some Spanish military men on board. It may be that he was not flung into the sea; still, the belief was general that that was what had happened.
Clemens wrote the manuscript of “Scraps from My Autobiography. From Chapter IX” (now in the Mark Twain Papers) in London in 1900. He later asked his daughter Jean to type it, probably in 1902, and then lightly revised her typescript. By early August 1906, when George Harvey was induced to read the autobiography in typescript and instantly suggested selections for publication in the North American Review, Clemens had already decided not to include this long reminiscence of childhood in his plan for the autobiography. Harvey read Jean’s typescript and chose the first part for the Review, and Josephine Hobby retyped it to make printer’s copy for the 21 September 1906 issue, which Clemens then revised once more (NAR 2). Clemens later decided to publish the second part in the Review as well, making further changes to the text before it appeared in the 3 May 1907 issue (NAR 17). Despite these several layers of revision and the inclusion of almost all of the manuscript in the serial publication, the text was never incorporated into the final form of the autobiography.
Paine misdated the manuscript 1898 and published it as “Playing ‘Bear’—Herrings—Jim Wolf and the Cats,” censoring it in his usual manner (MTA, 1:125–43). For instance, Clemens’s reference to his companion as the “little black slave boy” became just “little black boy,” and his exuberant “Dey eats ’em guts and all!”(twice) became “Dey eats ’em innards and all!”—both softenings that Clemens himself did not make for the Review. Although Neider had access to the original manuscript, he instead copied Paine’s text, inserting a section from the Autobiographical Dictation of 13 February 1906 (AMT, 37–43, 44–47).
Scraps from My Autobiography
From Chapter IX
This was in 1849.1 was fourteen years old, then. We were still living in Hannibal, Missouri, 1849 on the banks of the Mississippi, in the new “frame” house built by my father five years before. That is, some of us lived in the new part, the rest in the old part back of it—the “L.” In the autumn my sister gave a party, and invited all the marriageable young people of the village. I was too young for this society, and was too bashful to mingle with young ladies anyway, therefore I was not invited—at least not for the whole evening. Ten minutes of it was to be my whole share. I was to do the part of a bear in a small fairy-play. I was to be disguised all over in a close-fitting brown hairy stuff proper for a bear. About half past ten I was told to go to my room and put on this disguise, and be ready in half an hour. I started, but changed my mind; for I wanted to practice a little, and that room was very small. I crossed over to the large unoccupied house on the corner of Main and Hill streets,* unaware that a dozen of the young people were also going there to dress for their parts. I took the little black slave boy, Sandy, with me, and we selected a roomy and empty chamber on the second floor. We entered it talking, and this gave a couple of half-dressed young ladies an opportunity to take refuge behind a screen undiscovered. Their gowns and things were hanging on hooks behind the door, but I did not see them; it was Sandy that shut the door, but all his heart was in the theatricals, and he was as unlikely to notice them as I was myself.
That was a rickety screen, with many holes in it, but as I did not know there were girls behind it, I was not disturbed by that detail. If I had known, I could not have undressed in the flood of cruel moonlight that was pouring in at the curtainless windows; I should have died of shame. Untroubled by apprehensions, I stripped to the skin and began my practice. I was full of ambition; I was determined to make a hit, I was burning to establish a reputation as a bear and get further engagements; so I threw myself into my work with an abandon that promised great things. I capered back and forth from one end of the room to the other on all fours, Sandy applauding with enthusiasm; I walked upright and growled and snapped and snarled; I stood on my head, I flung handsprings, I danced a lubberly dance with my paws bent and my imaginary snout sniffing from side to side; I did everything a bear could do, and many things which no bear could ever do and no bear with any dignity would want to do, anyway; and of course I never suspected that I was making a spectacle of myself to any one but Sandy. At last, standing on my head, I paused in that attitude to take a minute’s rest. There was a moment’s silence, then Sandy spoke up with excited interest and said—
“Marse Sam, has you ever seen a dried herring?”
“No. What is that?”
“It’s a fish.”
“Well, what of it? Anything peculiar about it?”
“Yes, suh, you bet you dey is. Dey eats ’em guts and all!”
There was a smothered burst of feminine snickers from behind the screen! All the strength went out of me and I toppled forward like an undermined tower and brought the screen down with my weight, burying the young ladies under it. In their fright they discharged a couple of piercing screams—and possibly others, but I did not wait to count. I snatched my clothes and fled to the dark hall below, Sandy following. I was dressed in half a minute, and out the back way. I swore Sandy to eternal silence, then we went away and hid until the party was over. The ambition was all out of me. I could not have faced that giddy company after my adventure, for there would be two performers there who knew my secret, and would be privately laughing at me all the time. I was searched for but not found, and the bear had to be played by a young gentleman in his civilized clothes. The house was still and everybody asleep when I finally ventured home. I was very heavy-hearted, and full of a bitter sense of disgrace. Pinned to my pillow I found a slip of paper which bore a line which did not lighten my heart, but only made my face burn. It was written in a laboriously disguised hand, and these were its mocking terms:
“You probably couldn’t have played bear, but you played bare very well—oh, very very well!”
We think boys are rude unsensitive animals, but it is not so in all cases. Each boy has one or two sensitive spots, and if you can find out where they are located you have only to touch them and you can scorch him as with fire. I suffered miserably over that episode. I expected that the facts would be all over the village in the morning, but it was not so. The secret remained confined to the two girls and Sandy and me. That was some appeasement of my pain, but it was far from sufficient—the main trouble remained: I was under four mocking eyes, and it might as well have been a thousand, for I suspected all girls’ eyes of being the ones I so dreaded. During several weeks I could not look any young lady in the face; I dropped my eyes in confusion when any one of them smiled upon me and gave me greeting; and I said to myself, “That is one of them,” and got quickly away. Of course I was meeting the right girls everywhere, but if they ever let slip any betraying sign I was not bright enough to catch it. When I left Hannibal four years later, the secret was still a secret; I had never guessed those girls out, and was no longer expecting to do it. Nor wanting to, either.
One of the dearest and prettiest girls in the village at the time of my mishap was one whom I will call Mary Wilson, because that was not her name. She was twenty years old; she was dainty and sweet, peach-bloomy and exquisite, gracious and lovely in character, and I stood in awe of her, for she seemed to me to be made out of angel-clay and rightfully unapproachable by an unholy ordinary kind of boy like me. I probably never suspected her. But—
The scene changes. To Calcutta—forty-seven years later. It was in 1896. I arrived there on my lecturing trip. As I entered the hotel a divine vision passed out of it, clothed in the glory of the Indian sunshine—the Mary Wilson of my long-vanished boyhood! It was a startling thing. Before I could recover from the bewildering shock and speak to her she was gone. I thought maybe I had seen an apparition, but it was not so, she was flesh. She was the granddaughter of the other Mary, the original Mary. That Mary, now a widow, was up stairs, and presently sent for me. She was old and gray-haired, but she looked young and was very handsome. We sat down and talked. We steeped our thirsty souls in the reviving wine of the past, the pathetic past, the beautiful past, the dear and lamented past; we uttered the names that had been silent upon our lips for fifty years, and it was as if they were made of music; with reverent hands we unburied our dead, the mates of our youth, and caressed them with our speech; we searched the dusty chambers of our memories and dragged forth incident after incident, episode after episode, folly after folly, and laughed such good laughs over them, with the tears running down; and finally Mary said suddenly, and without any leading-up—
“Tell me! What is the special peculiarity of dried herrings?”
It seemed a strange question at such a hallowed time as this. And so inconsequential, too. I was a little shocked. And yet I was aware of a stir of some kind away back in the deeps of my memory somewhere. It set me to musing—thinking—searching. Dried herrings. Dried herrings. The peculiarity of dr . . . . I glanced up. Her face was grave, but there was a dim and shadowy twinkle in her eye which—All of a sudden I knew! and far away down in the hoary past I heard a remembered voice murmur, “Dey eats ’em guts and all!”
“At—last! I’ve found one of you, anyway! Who was the other girl?”
But she drew the line there. She wouldn’t tell me.
1849
But a boy’s life is not all comedy; much of the tragic enters into it. The drunken tramp—mentioned in “Tom Sawyer” or “Huck Finn”—who was burned up in the village jail, lay upon my conscience a hundred nights afterward and filled them with hideous dreams—dreams in which I saw his appealing face as I had seen it in the pathetic reality, pressed against the window-bars, with the red hell glowing behind him—a face which seemed to say to me, “If you had not given me the matches, this would not have happened; you are responsible for my death.” I was not responsible for it, for I had meant him no harm, but only good, when I let him have the matches; but no matter, mine was a trained Presbyterian conscience, and knew but the one duty—to hunt and harry its slave upon all pretexts and on all occasions; particularly when there was no sense nor reason in it. The tramp—who was to blame—suffered ten minutes; I, who was not to blame, suffered three months.
The shooting down of poor old Smarr in the main street* at noonday supplied me with some more dreams; and in them I always saw again the grotesque closing picture—the great family Bible spread open on the profane old man’s breast by some thoughtful idiot, and rising and sinking to the labored breathings, and adding the torture of its leaden weight to the dying struggles. We are curiously made. In all the throng of gaping and sympathetic onlookers there was not one with common sense enough to perceive that an anvil would have been in better taste there than the Bible, less open to sarcastic criticism, and swifter in its atrocious work. In my nightmares I gasped and struggled for breath under the crush of that vast book for many a night.
All within the space of a couple of years we had two or three other tragedies, and I had the ill luck to be too near-by on each occasion. There was the slave man who was struck down with a chunk of slag for some small offence; I saw him die. And the young Californian emigrant who was stabbed with a bowie knife by a drunken comrade: I saw the red life gush from his breast. And the case of the rowdy young Hyde brothers and their harmless old uncle: one of them held the old man down with his knees on his breast while the other one tried repeatedly to kill him with an Allen revolver which wouldn’t go off. I happened along just then, of course.
Then there was the case of the young Californian emigrant who got drunk and proposed to raid the “Welshman’s house” all alone one dark and threatening night.† This house stood half way up Holliday’s Hill (“Cardiff” Hill), and its sole occupants were a poor but quite respectable widow and her blameless daughter. The invading ruffian woke the whole village with his ribald yells and coarse challenges and obscenities. I went up there with a comrade—John Briggs, I think—to look and listen. The figure of the man was dimly visible; the women were on their porch, but not visible in the deep shadow of its roof, but we heard the elder woman’s voice. She had loaded an old musket with slugs, and she warned the man that if he stayed where he was while she counted ten it would cost him his life. She began to count, slowly; he began to laugh. He stopped laughing at “six;” then through the deep stillness, in a steady voice, followed the rest of the tale: “seven . . . . eight . . . . nine”—a long pause, we holding our breath—“ten!” A red spout of flame gushed out into the night, and the man dropped, with his breast riddled to rags. Then the rain and the thunder burst loose and the waiting town swarmed up the hill in the glare of the lightning like an invasion of ants. Those people saw the rest; I had had my share and was satisfied. I went home to dream, and was not disappointed.
My teaching and training enabled me to see deeper into these tragedies than an ignorant person could have done. I knew what they were for. I tried to disguise it from myself, but down in the secret deeps of my troubled heart I knew—and I knew I knew. They were inventions of Providence to beguile me to a better life. It sounds curiously innocent and conceited, now, but to me there was nothing strange about it; it was quite in accordance with the thoughtful and judicious ways of Providence as I understood them. It would not have surprised me, nor even over-flattered me if Providence had killed off that whole community in trying to save an asset like me. Educated as I had been, it would have seemed just the thing, and well worth the expense. Why Providence should take such an anxious interest in such a property—that idea never entered my head, and there was no one in that simple hamlet who would have dreamed of putting it there. For one thing, no one was equipped with it.
It is quite true: I took all the tragedies to myself; and tallied them off in turn as they happened, saying to myself in each case, with a sigh, “Another one gone—and on my account; this ought to bring me to repentance; His patience will not always endure.” And yet privately I believed it would. That is, I believed it in the daytime; but not in the night. With the going down of the sun my faith failed, and the clammy fears gathered about my heart. It was then that I repented. Those were awful nights, nights of despair, nights charged with the bitterness of death. After each tragedy I recognised the warning and repented; repented and begged; begged like a coward, begged like a dog; and not in the interest of those poor people who had been extinguished for my sake, but only in my own interest. It seems selfish, when I look back on it now.
My repentances were very real, very earnest; and after each tragedy they happened every night for a long time. But as a rule they could not stand the daylight. They faded out and shredded away and disappeared in the glad splendor of the sun. They were the creatures of fear and darkness, and they could not live out of their own place. The day gave me cheer and peace, and at night I repented again. In all my boyhood life I am not sure that I ever tried to lead a better life in the daytime—or wanted to. In my age I should never think of wishing to do such a thing. But in my age, as in my youth, night brings me many a deep remorse. I realise that from the cradle up I have been like the rest of the race—never quite sane in the night. When “Injun Joe” died* . . . . But never mind: in an earlier chapter I have already described what a raging hell of repentance I passed through then. I believe that for months I was as pure as the driven snow. After dark.
1849
It was back in those far-distant days—1848 or ’9—that Jim Wolf came to us. He was from Shelbyville, a hamlet thirty or forty miles back in the country, and he brought all his native sweetnesses and gentlenesses and simplicities with him. He was approaching seventeen, a grave and slender lad, trustful, honest, honorable, a creature to love and cling to. And he was incredibly bashful. He was with us a good while, but he could never conquer that peculiarity; he could not be at ease in the presence of any woman, not even in my good and gentle mother’s; and as to speaking to any girl, it was wholly impossible. He sat perfectly still, one day—there were ladies chatting in the room—while a wasp up his leg stabbed him cruelly a dozen times; and all the sign he gave was a slight wince for each stab, and the tear of torture in his eye. He was too bashful to move.
It is to this kind that untoward things happen. My sister gave a “candy-pull” on a winter’s night. I was too young to be of the company, and Jim was too diffident. I was sent up to bed early, and Jim followed of his own motion. His room was in the new part of the house, and his window looked out on the roof of the L annex. That roof was six inches deep in snow, and the snow had an ice-crust upon it which was as slick as glass. Out of the comb of the roof projected a short chimney, a common resort for sentimental cats on moonlight nights—and this was a moonlight night. Down at the eaves, below the chimney, a canopy of dead vines spread away to some posts, making a cosy shelter, and after an hour or two the rollicking crowd of young ladies and gentlemen grouped themselves in its shade, with their saucers of liquid and piping-hot candy disposed about them on the frozen ground to cool. There was joyous chaffing and joking and laughter—peal upon peal of it.
About this time a couple of old disreputable tom-cats got up on the chimney and started a heated argument about something; also about this time I gave up trying to get to sleep, and went visiting to Jim’s room. He was awake and fuming about the cats and their intolerable yowling. I asked him, mockingly, why he didn’t climb out and drive them away. He was nettled, and said over-boldly that for two cents he would.
It was a rash remark, and was probably repented of before it was fairly out of his mouth. But it was too late—he was committed. I knew him; and I knew he would rather break his neck than back down, if I egged him on judiciously.
“Oh, of course you would! Who’s doubting it?”
It galled him, and he burst out, with sharp irritation—
“Maybe you doubt it!”
“I? Oh, no, I shouldn’t think of such a thing. You are always doing wonderful things. With your mouth.”
He was in a passion, now. He snatched on his yarn socks and began to raise the window, saying in a voice unsteady with anger—
“You think I dasn’t—you do! Think what you blame please—I don’t care what you think. I’ll show you!”
The window made him rage; it wouldn’t stay up. I said—
“Never mind, I’ll hold it.”
Indeed, I would have done anything to help. I was only a boy, and was already in a radiant heaven of anticipation. He climbed carefully out, clung to the window-sill until his feet were safely placed, then began to pick his perilous way on all fours along the glassy comb, a foot and a hand on each side of it. I believe I enjoy it now as much as I did then; yet it is near fifty years ago. The frosty breeze flapped his short shirt about his lean legs; the crystal roof shone like polished marble in the intense glory of the moon; the unconscious cats sat erect upon the chimney, alertly watching each other, lashing their tails and pouring out their hollow grievances; and slowly and cautiously Jim crept on, flapping as he went, the gay and frolicsome young creatures under the vine-canopy unaware, and outraging these solemnities with their misplaced laughter. Every time Jim slipped I had a hope; but always on he crept and disappointed it. At last he was within reaching distance. He paused, raised himself carefully up, measured his distance deliberately, then made a frantic grab at the nearest cat—and missed. Of course he lost his balance. His heels flew up, he struck on his back, and like a rocket he darted down the roof feet first, crashed through the dead vines and landed in a sitting posture in fourteen saucers of red-hot candy, in the midst of all that party—and dressed as he was: this lad who could not look a girl in the face with his clothes on. There was a wild scramble and a storm of shrieks, and Jim fled up the stairs, dripping broken crockery all the way.
1867
The incident was ended. But I was not done with it yet, though I supposed I was. Eighteen or twenty years later I arrived in New York from California, and by that time I had failed in all my other undertakings and had stumbled into literature without intending it. This was early in 1867. I was offered a large sum to write something for the Sunday Mercury, and I answered with the tale of “Jim Wolf and the Cats.” I also collected the money for it—twenty-five dollars. It seemed over-pay, but I did not say anything about that, for I was not so scrupulous then as I am now.
A year or two later “Jim Wolf and the Cats” appeared in a Tennessee paper in a new dress—as to spelling; it was masquerading in a Southern dialect. The appropriator of the tale had a wide reputation in the West, and was exceedingly popular. Deservedly so, I think. He wrote some of the breeziest and funniest things I have ever read, and did his work with distinguished ease and fluency. His name has passed out of my memory.
A couple of years went by; then the original story—my own version—cropped up again and went floating around in the original spelling, and with my name to it. Soon first one paper and then another fell upon me vigorously for “stealing” Jim Wolf and the Cats from the Tennessee man. I got a merciless basting, but I did not mind it. It’s all in the game. Besides, I had learned, a good while before that, that it is not wise to keep the fire going under a slander unless you can get some large advantage out of keeping it alive. Few slanders can stand the wear of silence.
1873
1990
But I was not done with Jim and the Cats yet. In 1873 I was lecturing in London in the Queen’s Concert Rooms, Hanover Square, and living at the Langham hotel, Portland Place. I had no domestic household on that side of the water, and no official household except George Dolby, lecture-agent, and Charles Warren Stoddard, the Californian poet, now (1900) Professor of English literature in the Roman Catholic University, Washington. Ostensibly Stoddard was my private secretary; in reality he was merely my comrade—I hired him in order to have his company. As secretary there was nothing for him to do except to scrap-book the daily reports of the great trial of the Tichborne Claimant for perjury. But he made a sufficient job out of that, for the reports filled six columns a day and he usually postponed the scrap-booking until Sunday; then he had forty-two columns to cut out and paste in—a proper labor for Hercules. He did his work well, but if he had been older and feebler it would have killed him once a week. Without doubt he does his literary lectures well, but also without doubt he prepares them fifteen minutes before he is due on his platform and thus gets into them a freshness and sparkle which they might lack if they underwent the staling process of over-study.
He was good company when he was awake. He was refined, sensitive, charming, gentle, generous, honest himself and unsuspicious of other people’s honesty, and I think he was the purest male I have known, in mind and speech. George Dolby was something of a contrast to him, but the two were very friendly and sociable together, nevertheless. Dolby was large and ruddy, full of life and strength and spirits, a tireless and energetic talker, and always overflowing with good-nature and bursting with jollity. It was a choice and satisfactory menagerie, this pensive poet and this gladsome gorilla. An indelicate story was a sharp distress to Stoddard; Dolby told him twenty-five a day. Dolby always came home with us after the lecture, and entertained Stoddard till midnight. Me too. After he left, I walked the floor and talked, and Stoddard went to sleep on the sofa. I hired him for company.
Dolby had been agent for concerts, and theatres, and Charles Dickens and all sorts of shows and “attractions” for many years; he had known the human being in many aspects, and he didn’t much believe in him. But the poet did. The waifs and estrays found a friend in Stoddard; Dolby tried to persuade him that he was dispensing his charities unworthily, but he was never able to succeed. One night a young American got access to Stoddard at the Concert Rooms and told him a moving tale. He said he was living on the Surrey side, and for some strange reason his remittances had failed to arrive from home; he had no money, he was out of employment, and friendless; his girl-wife and his new baby were actually suffering for food; for the love of heaven could he lend him a sovereign until his remittances should resume? Stoddard was deeply touched, and gave him a sovereign on my account. Dolby scoffed, but Stoddard stood his ground. Each told me his story later in the evening, and I backed Stoddard’s judgment. Dolby said we were women in disguise, and not a sane kind of women, either.
The next week the young man came again. His wife was ill with the pleurisy, the baby had the botts, or something, I am not sure of the name of the disease; the doctor and the drugs had eaten up the money, the poor little family were starving. If Stoddard, “in the kindness of his heart could only spare him another sovereign,” etc., etc. Stoddard was much moved, and spared him a sovereign for me. Dolby was outraged. He spoke up and said to the customer—
“Now young man, you are going to the hotel with us and state your case to the other member of the family. If you don’t make him believe in you I shan’t honor this poet’s drafts in your interest any longer, for I don’t believe in you myself.”
The young man was quite willing. I found no fault in him. On the contrary I believed in him at once, and was solicitous to heal the wounds inflicted by Dolby’s too frank incredulity; therefore I did everything I could think of to cheer him up and entertain him and make him feel at home and comfortable. I spun many yarns; among others the tale of Jim Wolf and the Cats. Learning that he had done something in a small way in literature, I offered to try to find a market for him in that line. His face lighted joyfully at that, and he said that if I could only sell a small manuscript to Tom Hood’s Annual for him it would be the happiest event of his sad life and he would hold me in grateful remembrance always. That was a most pleasant night for three of us, but Dolby was disgusted and sarcastic.
Next week the baby died. Meantime I had spoken to Tom Hood and gained his sympathy. The young man had sent his manuscript to him, and the very day the child died the money for the manuscript came—three guineas. The young man came with a poor little strip of crape around his arm and thanked me, and said that nothing could have been more timely than that money, and that his poor little wife was grateful beyond words for the service I had rendered. He wept, and in fact Stoddard and I wept with him, which was but natural. Also Dolby wept. At least he wiped his eyes and wrung out his handkerchief, and sobbed stertorously and made other exaggerated shows of grief. Stoddard and I were ashamed of Dolby, and tried to make the young man understand that he meant no harm, it was only his way. The young man said sadly that he was not minding it, his grief was too deep for other hurts; that he was only thinking of the funeral, and the heavy expenses which—
We cut that short and told him not to trouble about it, leave it all to us; send the bills to Mr. Dolby and—
“Yes,” said Dolby, with a mock tremor in his voice, “send them to me, and I will pay them. What, are you going? You must not go alone in your worn and broken condition; Mr. Stoddard and I will go with you. Come, Stoddard. We will comfort the bereaved mamma and get a lock of the baby’s hair.”
It was shocking. We were ashamed of him again, and said so. But he was not disturbed. He said—
“Oh, I know this kind, the woods are full of them. I’ll make this offer: if he will show me his family I will give him twenty pounds. Come!”
The young man said he would not remain to be insulted; and he said good-night and took his hat. But Dolby said he would go with him, and stay by him until he found the family. Stoddard went along to soothe the young man and modify Dolby. They drove across the river and all over Southwark, but did not find the family. At last the young man confessed that there wasn’t any.
The thing he sold to Tom Hood’s Annual for three guineas was “Jim Wolf and the Cats.” And he did not put my name to it.
So that small tale was sold three times. I am selling it again, now. It is one of the best properties I have come across.
“Scraps from My Autobiography. Private History of a Manuscript That Came to Grief” consists of a manuscript of thirty-six leaves, along with a typewritten section, extensively annotated by Clemens, of some forty pages. It survives in the Mark Twain Papers and previously has been published only in part. In it Clemens vented his very considerable irritation in a sarcastic letter (never sent) to one T. Douglas Murray, an acquaintance who had invited him in October 1899 to write an introduction to an English translation of the trial records for Joan of Arc. When Clemens sent him his introduction, Murray had the temerity to “edit” it, far exceeding the sort of tinkering Clemens would tolerate from any editor. Paine included only the first and last sections (MTA, 1:175–89). He omitted the middle section, which was Clemens’s recreation of the “ ‘Edited’ Introduction,” a typed copy of the typescript he received back from Murray onto which he copied, in great detail, Murray’s proposed revisions. That section is published here for the first time.
Scraps from My Autobiography
Private History of a Manuscript That Came to Grief
It happened in London; not recently, and yet not very many years ago. An acquaintance had proposed to himself a certain labor of love, and when he told me about it I was interested. His idea was, to have a fine translation made of the evidence given in the Joan of Arc Trials and Rehabilitation, and placed before the English-speaking world. A translation had been made and published a great many years before, but had achieved no currency, and in fact was not entitled to any, for it was a piece of mere shoemaker-work. But we should have the proper thing, now; for this acquaintance of mine was manifestly a Joan-enthusiast, and as he had plenty of money and nothing to do but spend it, I took at par his remark that he had employed the most competent person in Great Britain to open this long-neglected mine and confer its riches upon the public. When he asked me to write an Introduction for the book, my pleasure was complete, my vanity satisfied.
At this moment, by good fortune, there chanced to fall into my hands a biographical sketch of me of so just and laudatory a character—particularly as concerned one detail—that it gave my spirit great contentment; and also set my head to swelling—I will not deny it. For it contained praises of the very thing which I most loved to hear praised—the good quality of my English; moreover, they were uttered by four English and American literary experts of high authority.
I am as fond of compliments as another, and as hard to satisfy as the average; but these satisfied me. I was as pleased as you would have been if they had been paid to you.
It was under the inspiration of that great several-voiced verdict that I set about that Introduction for Mr. X’s book; and I said to myself that I would put a quality of English into it which would establish the righteousness of that judgment. I said I would treat the subject with the reverence and dignity due it; and would use plain, simple English words, and a phrasing undefiled by meretricious artificialities and affectations.
I did the work on those lines; and when it was finished I said to myself very privately, . . . . . .
But never mind. I delivered the manuscript to Mr. X, and went home to wait for the praises. On the way, I met a friend. Being in a happy glow over this pleasant matter, I could not keep my secret: I wanted to tell somebody, and I told him. For a moment he stood curiously measuring me up and down with his eye, without saying anything; then he burst into a rude, coarse laugh, which hurt me very much. He followed this up by saying—
“He is going to edit the Translation of the Trials when it is finished? He?”
“He said he would.”
“Why, what does he know about editing?”
“I don’t know; but that is what he said. Do you think he isn’t competent?”
“Competent? He is innocent, vain, ignorant, good-hearted, red-headed, and all that—there isn’t a better-meaning man; but he doesn’t know anything about literature and has had no literary training or experience: he can’t edit anything.”
“Well, all I know is, he is going to try.”
“Indeed he will. He is quite unconscious of his incapacities; he would undertake to edit Shakspeare, if invited—and improve him, too. The world cannot furnish his match for guileless self-complacency; yet I give you my word he doesn’t know enough to come in when it rains.”
This gentleman’s ability to judge was not to be questioned. Therefore, by the time I reached home I had concluded to ask Mr. X not to edit the Translation, but to turn that work over to some expert whose name on the title page would be valuable.
Three days later Mr. X brought my Introduction to me, neatly type-copied. He was in a state of considerable enthusiasm, and said:
“Really I find it quite good—quite, I assure you.”
There was an airy and patronizing complacency about this damp compliment which affected my head, and healthfully checked the swelling which was going on there.
I said, with cold dignity, that I was glad the work had earned his approval.
“Oh it has, I assure you,” he answered with large cheerfulness, “I assure you it quite has. I have gone over it very thoroughly, yesterday and last night and today, and I find it quite creditable—quite. I have made a few corrections—that is, suggestions, and—”
“Do you mean to say that you have been ed—”
“Oh, nothing of consequence, nothing of consequence, I assure you,” he said, patting me on the shoulder and genially smiling; “only a few little things that needed just a mere polishing touch—nothing of consequence, I assure you. Let me have it back as soon as you can, so that I can pass it on to the printers and let them get to work on it while I am editing the Translation.”
I sat idle and alone, a time, thinking grieved thoughts, with the edited Introduction unopened in my hand. I could not look at it yet awhile—I had no heart for it, for my pride was deeply wounded. It was the only time I had been edited in thirty-two years; except by Mr. Howells, and he did not intrude his help but furnished it at my request. “And now here is a half-stranger, obscure, destitute of literary training, destitute of literary experience, destitute of—”
But I checked myself there; for that way lay madness. I must seek calm; for my self-respect’s sake I must not descend to unrefined personalities. I must keep in mind that this person was innocent of injurious intent, and was honorably trying to do me a service. To feel harshly toward him, speak harshly of him—this was not the right Christian spirit. These just thoughts tranquilised me and restored to me my better self, and I opened the Introduction at the middle.
I will not deny it, my feelings rose to 104 in the shade:
“The idea! That this long-eared animal—this literary kangaroo—this bastard of the Muses—this illiterate hostler, with his skull full of axle-grease—this . . . .”
But I stopped there, for this was not the right Christian spirit.
I subjected myself to an hour of calming meditation, then carried the raped Introduction to that friend whom I have mentioned above, and showed it to him. He fluttered the leaves over, then broke into another of those ill-bred laughs which are such a mar to him.
“I knew he would!” he said—as if gratified. “Didn’t I tell you he would edit Shakspeare?”
“Yes, I know; but I did not suppose he would edit me.”
“Oh, you didn’t. Well now you see that he is even equal to that. I tell you there are simply no bounds to that man’s irreverence.”
“I realize it, now,” I said.
“Well, what are you going to do? Let him put it in his book—either edited or unedited?”
“Of course not.”
“That is well. You are becoming rational again. But what are your plans? You are not going to stop where you are, are you? You will write him a letter, and give him Hark from the Tomb?”
“No. I shall write him a letter, but not in that spirit, I trust.”
“Why shan’t you?”
“Because he has meant me a kindness, and I hope I am not the man to reward him for it in that way.”
The friend looked me over, a while, pensively, then said—
“Mark, I am ashamed of you. This is mere school-girl sentimentality. You ought to baste him—you know it yourself.”
I said I had no such feeling in my heart, and should put nothing of the kind in my letter.
“I shall point out his errors to him in gentleness, and in the unwounding language of persuasion. Many a literary beginner has been disheartened and defeated by the uncharitable word, wantonly uttered: this one shall get none such from me. It is more Christian-like to do a good turn than an ill one; and you ought to encourage me in my attitude, not scoff at it. This man shall not be my enemy; I will make him my lasting and grateful friend.”
I felt that I was in the right; and I went home and began the letter, and found pleasure and contentment in the labor, for I had the encouragement and support of an approving conscience.
The letter will be found in its proper place in this chapter of my Autobiography.
The “Edited” Introduction
JOAN OF ^Jeanne d’^ ARC.
I.
1. The evidence furnished at the ^in her^ Trial and Rehabilitation has given us Joan of ^Jeanne d’^ Arc’s history in clear and minute detail. Among^st^all the multitude of biographies that freight the shelves of the world’s libraries, this is the only one whose ^the^ validity ^of which^ is confirmed to us by oath. It gives us a vivid picture of a career and ^of^ a personality of so extraordinary a character that we are helped to accept them ^both^ as actualities by the very fact that both ^they^ are ^quite^ beyond the inventive reach of fiction. The public part of the ^Her public^ career occupied only a mere breath of time—it covered but ^only^ two years; but what a career it was! The personality which made it possible is one to be reverently studied, loved, and marvelled at, but not to be wholly understood and accounted for by even the most searching analysis.
2. In Joan of ^Jeanne d’ ^Arc at the age of sixteen there was ^gave^ no promise of a romance. She lived in a dull little village on the frontiers of civilization; she had been nowhere and had seen nothing; she knew none but simple shepherd folk; she had never seen a person of note; she hardly knew what a soldier looked like; she had never ridden a horse, nor had a warlike weapon in her hand; she could neither read nor write;she could spin and sew, she knew her catechismand her prayers and the ^some^ fabulous histories of the Saints, and this was all her learning. That was Joan at sixteen. What did she know of law? of evidence? of courts? of the Attorney’s trade? of legal procedure? Nothing. Less than nothing. Thus exhaustively equipped with ignorance she went before the court at Toul to contest a false charge of breach of promise of marriage; she conducted her cause herself, without any one’s help or advice or ^without^ any one’s friendly sympathy, and won it. She called no witnesses of her own, but vanquished the prosecution by using with deadly effectiveness its own testimony. The astonished judge threw the case out of court, and spoke of her as “this marvellous child.”
She went now to the veteran Commandant of Vaucouleurs and demanded an escort of soldiers, saying she must march to the help of the King of France, since she was commissioned of God to win back his lost Kingdom for him and ^to^ set the crown upon his head. The Commandant said “What, you?—you are only a child.” And he ^He^ advised that she ^should^ be taken back to her village and have her ears boxed. But she said she must obey God, ^she said,^ and would come again and again and yet again, and finally she would get the soldiers. She said truly. In time he yielded, after months of delay and refusal, and gave her the soldiers; and ^an escort; he^ took off his ^own^ sword and gave ^it to^ her that, and said “Go—and let come what may.” She made her long journey, and spoke with the King and convinced him. Then she was ^then^ summoned before the University of Poitiers to prove that she was commissioned of God and not Satan, and daily during three weeks she sat before that learned congress unafraid, and capably answered ^answering^ their deep questions out of her ignorant but able ^clear^ headand her simple and honest heart, and again she won ^gained^ her case, and ^together^ with it the wondering admiration of all that august company.
3. And now, aged seventeen, she was made Commander-in-Chief, with a royal prince and the veteran generals of France for ^as^ subordinates;and at the head of the first army she had ever seen, she marched to ^against^ Orleans, carried the commanding fortresses of the enemy by storm in three desperate assaults, and in ten days raised a siege which had defied the might of France for seven months.
Rather unkind to French feelings—referring to Moscow.
4. After a tedious and insane delay caused by the King’s instability of character and the treacherous counsels of his ministers, she got permission to take the field again. She took Jargeau by storm; then Meung; she forced Beaugency to surrender; then—in the open field—she won the memorable victory of Patay against Talbot the English lion, and broke ^so breaking^ the back of the Hundred Years’ War. It was a campaign which ^that^ cost but seven weeks of time ^effort^; yet the political results would have been cheap if the time expended had been fifty years. Patay, that unsung and long-forgotten battle, was the Moscow ^led directly to the downfall^ of the English power in France; from the blow struck that day it was destined never to recover. It was the beginning of the end of an alien dominion ^domination^ which had ridden France intermittently for three hundred years.
5. Then followed the great campaign of the Loire, the capture of Troyes by assault, ^the surrendering of towns and fortresses^ and the triumphal marchpastsurrendering towns and fortresses, to Rheims, whereJoan ^in the Cathedral, Jeanne, put the crown upon her King’s head in the Cathedral, ^the head of her King^ amid wild public rejoicings, and with her old peasant father ^and brother^ there to see these things and believe his ^their^ eyes if he ^they^ could. She had restored the crown and the lost sovereignty: the King was grateful for once in his shabby poor life, and asked her to name her ^own^ reward and have ^take^ it. She asked for nothing for herself, but begged that the taxes of her native village might be remitted foreverThe prayer was granted, and the promise kept for three hundred and sixty years. Then it ^It^ was ^then^ broken, and ^it^ remains broken to-day. France was very poor then ^at that time^, she is very rich now; but she has been collecting those taxes for more than a hundred years.
6. Joan ^Jeanne^ asked one other favour: that now that ^Now^ her mission was ^being^ fulfilled she might ^begged to^ be allowed to go back ^return^ to her village and take up her humble life again with her mother and the friends of her childhood; for she had no pleasure in the cruelties of war, and ^whereas^ the sight of blood and suffering wrung her heart. Sometimes in battle she did not draw her sword, lest in the splendid madness of the onset she might forget herself and take an enemy’s lifewith it. In the Rouen Trials, one of her quaintest speeches coming from the gentle and girlish source it did was her naive remark that she had “never killed any one.” Her prayer for leave to go back ^return^ to the rest and peace of her village home was^, however,^ not granted.
7. Then she wanted ^wished^ to march at once upon Paris, ^to^ take it, and ^to^ drive the English out of France. She was hampered in all the ^every^ way that treachery and the King’s vacillation could devise, but she forced her way to Paris at last, and ^there^ fell badly wounded in a successful assault upon one of the gates. Of course her men lost heart at once—she was the only heart they had. They fell back. She begged to be allowed ^permission^ to remain at the front, saying victory was sure: “I will take Paris now or die!” she said ^cried^. But she was removed from the field by force, the King ordered a retreat, and actually disbanded his army. In accordance with a beautiful old military custom Joan ^Jeanne^ devoted her silver armour and hung it up in the Cathedral of St. Denis. Its ^Her^ great days were over.
8. Then, by command, she followed the King and his frivolous Courtand endured ^enduring^ a gilded captivity for a time, as well as her free spirit could; and whenever inaction became unbearable she gathered some men together and rode away and ^to^ assaulted ^and capture^ a strongholdand captured it. At last in a sortie against the enemy, from Compiègne on the 24th of May, (when she was turned ^now^ eighteen), she was herself, ^herself was^ captured after a gallant fight. ^struggle.^ It was her last battle ^fight^. She was to follow the drums no more.
9. Thus ended the briefest epoch-making military career ^known^ in history. It lasted only a year and a month, but it found ^restored to^ France an English province, and furnishes the reason that France is France to-day and not an English ^no longer a^ province yet. ^of her rival.^ Thirteen months! It was indeed a short career; but in the ^ensuing^ centuries that have since elapsed five hundred millions of Frenchmen have lived and died blest by ^under^ the benefactions it conferred; and so ^So^ long as France shall endure, the mighty debt must grow. And France is grateful; we often hear her say it. Also ^not ungrateful. She, however, is^ thrifty: she ^still continues to^ collect the Domremy taxes.
II.
IN CAPTIVITY.
1. Joan ^Jeanne^ was fated to spend the rest ^remainder^ of her life behind bolts and bars. She was a prisoner of war, not a criminal, therefore hers was recognized as an honourable captivity. By the rules of war she must be ^should have been^ held to ransom, and a fair price could not be refused, if ^have been refused, had it been^ offered. John ^Jean^ of Luxemburg paid her the just compliment of requiring ^demanding^ a prince’s ransom for her. In that ^those^ day that phrase represented a definite sum—61,125 francs. It was of course supposable that either the King or grateful France or both would fly with the money and ^to^ set their fair young benefactor ^benefactress^ free. But this did not happen. In ^During^ five and a half months ^and more^ neither King nor country stirred a hand nor offered a penny ^sou^. Twice Joan ^Jeanne^ tried to escape. Once by a trick she succeeded for a moment, and locked her jailor in behind her; but she was discovered and caught; in ^In^ the other case she let herself down from a tower sixty feet high but her rope was too short and she got ^sustained^ a fall that ^wholly^ disabled her and she could not get away. ^so prevented her escape.^
2. Finally Cauchon, Bishop of Beauvais, paid the ^blood-^money and bought Joan ostensibly for the Church to be tried for wearing male attire and for other impieties, but really ^in reality^ for the English, the enemy into whose hands the poor girl was so piteously anxious not ^never^ to fall. She was now shut up in the dungeons of the Castle of Rouen and kept in an iron cage, with her handsand feet and neck ^both^ chained to a ^wooden block and^ pillar; and from that time forth during all the months of her imprisonment till ^until^ the end, several rough English soldiers stood guard over her night and day—and not outside her room but in it. It was a dreary and hideous captivity, but it did not conquer her: nothing could break that invincible spirit. From first to last she was a prisoner ^for the whole^ year; and she spent the last three months of it ^which she passed^ on trial for her life before a formidable array of ecclesiastical judges, and disputing the ground with them foot by foot and inch by inch with brilliant generalship ^fence^ and dauntless pluck. The spectacle of that solitary girl, forlorn ^stands alone in its pathos and ^in^ its sublimity. Forlorn^ and friendless, without advocate or adviser, and without ^even^ the help and guidance of any  copy of the charges brought against her or rescript of the complex and voluminous daily proceedings of the court to modify ^by which to relieve^ the crushing strain upon her astonishing ^astounding^ memory, fighting that  long battle serene and undismayed against these colossal odds,stands alone in its pathos and its sublimity; it ^It^ has nowhere its mate, ^match,^either in the annals of fact or in the creations of fable. ^realms of fiction.^
3. And how ^How^ fine and great were the things she daily said, how fresh and crisp—and she so worn in body, ^words she spoke day by day, her ready answers, her bright demeanour, and crisp criticisms, and she so worn in body,^ so starved, and ^so^ tired, and ^so^ harriedThey ^Her utterances^ run through the whole gamut of feeling and expression from scorn and defiance, uttered ^spoken^ with soldierly fire and frankness, all down the scale to wounded dignity clothed in words of noble pathos;as, when her patience was exhausted by the pestering attempts of her persecutors to find out ^discover^ what kind of devil’s-witchcraft she had employed to rouse the war-spirit in her soldiers she burst ^cried^ outwith “What I said was, ‘Ride these English down’—and I did it myself!” and as, w hen insultingly asked why it was that her standard had place at the crowning of the King in the Cathedral of Rheims rather than the standards ^those^ of the other captains, she uttered that touching speech, “It had borne the burden, it had earned the honour”  a phrase which fell from her lips without preparation, but whose ^premeditation, the^ moving beauty and simple grace it ^of which^ would bankrupt the art of language to surpass.
4. Although she was on trial for her life, she was the only witness called on either side; the only witness summoned to testify before a packed jury commissioned with a definite task—to find her guilty, whether she was ^were^ guilty or not. She must be convicted out of her own mouth, there being no other way to accomplish it. Every advantage that learning has over ignorance, age over youth, experience over inexperience, chicane over artlessness every trick and trap and gin devisable by malice and the cunning of sharp intellects practised in ^the^ setting ^of^ snares for the unwary all these were employed against her without shame; and when these arts were one by one defeated by the marvellous intuitions of her alert and penetrating mind, Bishop Cauchon stooped to a final baseness which it degrades human speech to describe:apriest who pretended to come from the region of her own home and to be a pitying friendand anxious to help her in her sore need, was smuggled into her cell; he misused his sacred office to steal her confidence; and ^so that^ she confided to him the things ^facts^ sealed from revealment by her Voices which her prosecutors had tried so long in vain to trick her into betraying. A concealed confederate set it all down and delivered it to Cauchon, who used Joan’s ^Jeanne’s^ secrets, thus obtained, for her ruin.
Throughout the Trial, whatever the ^the testimony of the^ foredoomed witness said was twisted from its true meaning, when possible, and made to tell against her; and whenever an answer of hers was beyond the reach of twisting ^garbling,^ it was not allowed to go upon the record. It was upon ^On^ one of these latter occasions that she uttered that pathetic reproach  to Cauchon: “Ah, ^“you set down everything that is against me, but you will not set down what is for me.” ^nothing that is in my favour.”^
(easier translation)
5. That this ^her^ untrained young creature’s genius for war was wonderful ^marvelous^, and that her generalship suggested an old and educated ^was that of a tried and trained^ military experience, we have the sworn testimony of two of her veteran subordinates one the Duc d’Alençon, ^brother to the King of France;^ the other the greatest of the French generals of the time, Dunois, Bastard of Orleans;that her genius was as great—possibly even greater—^power was equally great if not greater^ in the subtle warfare ^strife^ of the forum, we have for witness the records of the Rouen Trial, that protracted exhibition of intellectual fence maintained with credit against the masterminds of France; that her moral greatness was peer to her intellect we call the Rouen Trial again to witness, with their ^its^ testimony to a fortitude which patiently and steadfastly endured during twelve weeks the wasting forces of captivity, chains, loneliness, sickness, darkness, hunger, thirst, cold, shame, insult, abuse, broken sleep, treachery, ingratitude, exhausting sieges of cross-examination, ^and^ the threat of torture with the rack before ^facing^ her and the executioner standing ready: yet never surrendering, never asking quarter, the frail wreck of her as unconquerable the last day as was her invincible spirit the first.
6. Great as she was in so many ways, she was perhaps even greatest of all in the lofty things just named her patient endurance, her steadfastness, her granite fortitude. We may not ^never^ hope to easily ^to^ find her mate and twin ^equal^ in these majestic qualities; where we lift our eyes highest we find only a strange and curious contrast—there in the captive eagle beating his broken wings on ^upon^ the Rock of St. Helena.
7. The Trial ended with her condemnation. But as ^As^ she had conceded nothing, confessed nothing, this was victory for her, defeat for Cauchon. But his evil resources were not yet exhausted. She was persuaded to agree to sign a paper of slight import, then by treachery a paper ^another^ was substituted which contained a recantation and ^together with^ a detailed confession of everything which ^that^ had been charged against her during the Trial and denied and repudiated by her persistently during the three months; and this ^throughout. This^ false paper she ignorantly signed. This ^it^ was victory for Cauchon. He followed it eagerly and pitilessly up by at once setting a trap for her which ^that^ she could not escape. When she realised this she gave up the long ^fruitless^ struggle, denounced the treason which ^that^ had been practised against her, repudiated the false confession, reasserted the truth of the testimony which she had given in ^at^ the Trial, and went to her martyrdom with the peace of God in her tired heart, and on her lips endearing words and loving prayers for the cur she had crowned and the nation of ingrates she had saved.
8. When the fires rose about her and ^flames leapt up and enveloped her frail form^ and she begged for a cross for her dying ^parched^ lips to kiss, it was not a friend but an enemy, not a Frenchman but an alien, not a comrade in arms but an English soldier that answered that ^her^ pathetic prayer. He broke a stick across his knee, bound the pieces together in the form of the symbol she so loved, and gave it ^to^ her; and his ^This^ gentle deed is not forgotten, nor ^ever^ will be.
III.
THE REHABILITATION.
Twenty-five years afterwards ^later^ the Process of Rehabilitation was instituted, there being ^in consequence of^ a growing doubt as to the validity of a sovereignty that had been rescued and set upon its feet by a person ^one^ who had been proven ^declared^ by the Church to be a witch and a familiar of evil spirits. Joan’s ^Jeanne’s^ old generals her secretary several aged relations and other villagers of Domremy surviving judges and secretaries of the Rouen and Poitiers Processes—a cloud of witnesses, some of whom had been her enemies and persecutorscame and made oath and testified; and what they said was written down.^ Their statements were taken down as evidence.^ In that sworn testimony the moving and beautiful history of Joan of ^Jeanne d’^Arc is laid bare from her childhood to her martyrdom. From the verdict she rises stainlessly pure, in mind and heart, in speechand deed and spirit and will so endure to the end of time.
IV.
THE RIDDLE OF ALL TIME. ^An Eternal Enigma.^
“Riddle”—Anglice?
1. She is the Wonder of the Ages. And when we consider her origin, her early circumstances, ^environment,^ her sex, and that she did all the things upon which her renown rests while she was still a young girl, we recognize thatwhile ^so long as^ our race continues she will be also the Riddle of the Ages. When wc set about ^endures, the circumstances of her career will remain an insoluble problem. When we try to^ accounting for a Napoleonor a Shakspeare or a Raphaelor a Wagner or an Edison or ^for^ other extraordinary person, we understand that the measure of his ^individual^ talent will not explain the whole result, nor even the largest ^greater^ part of it; no, it is ^The explanation must be sought in^ the atmosphere in ^amid^ which the talent was cradledthat explains; it is ^When we know, the training which it received while it grew, ^young,^ the nurture it got ^derived^ from reading, study^and^ example, the encouragement it gathered from self-recognition and recognition from the outside ^approval from its environment^ at each stage of its development: when we know all these details, then we know why the man was ready when his opportunity came. ^details, we can understand how the genius was ^created and^ evolved and thus was ready to seize his by steady and congenial growth.^ We should expect Edison’s surroundings ^environment^ and atmosphere to have the largest share in discovering him to himself and to the world; and we should expect him to live and die undiscovered in a land where an inventor could find no comradeship, no sympathy, no ambition-rousing atmosphere of recognition and ^or^ applause—Dahomey, for instance. Dahomey^, for instance,^ could not find ^produce^ an Edisonout; in Dahomey an Edison could not find himself out. Broadly speaking, genius is not born with ^out^ sightbut blind; and it is not itself that opens its eyes, but the subtle ^Its eyes are opened by the subtle^ influences of a myriad of stimulating exterior circumstances.
2. We all know this to be not a guess, but a mere commonplace fact, a truism. Lorraine was Joan of ^Jeanne d’^Arc’s Dahomey. And there ^Here^ the Riddle ^problem^ confronts us. We can understand how she could ^that she might^ be born with ^intuitive^ military genius with leonine courage with incomparable fortitude with a mind which ^that^ was in several particulars a prodigy a mind which included among its specialities ^manifestations^ the lawyer’s gift of detecting traps laid by the adversary in cunning and treacherous arrangements of seemingly innocent words the orator’s gift of eloquence the advocate’s gift of presenting a case in clear and compact ^concise^ form the judge’s gift of sorting and weighing evidence andfinally, something recognisable as more than a mere trace of the statesman’s gift of undcrstanding ^grasping^ a political situation and how to make profitable use of such opportunities as it offers;we can comprehend how she could be born with ^that^ these great qualitiesbut we cannot comprehend ^might exist in Jeanne d’Arc at her birth, but^ how they became immediately usable ^instantly available^ and effective without the developing forces of a sympathetic atmosphere ^environment^ and the training which comes of teaching, study, practice—years of practice—and ^no less than by^ the crowning help of a thousand mistakes ^is beyond our understanding.^ We can understand how ^know^ the possibilities of the future perfect peach are ^to be^ all lying hid ^dormant^ in the humble bitter-almond,but we cannot conceive of the peach springing directly from the almond without the intervening long seasons of patient cultivation and development. Out of a cattle-pasturing peasant village lost in the remotenesses of an unvisited wilderness and atrophied with ages of stupefaction and ignorance we cannot ^failto^ see a Joan of ^Jeanne d’^Arc issue ^issuing^ equipped to the last detail for her amazing careerand hope to be able ^nor can we hope^ to explain the riddle of it, labour at it as we may.
2 “comprehends.”
3. It is beyond us. All the ^our^ rules fail in this girl’s case. In the world’s history she stands alone—quite ^absolutely^ alone. Others have been great ^shone^ in their first ^great^ public exhibitions of generalship, valour, legal talent, diplomacy, fortitude, but always their previous years and associations had ^invariably^ been in a larger or smaller ^greater or less^ degree a preparation for these ^such^ things. There have been no exceptions to the rule.But Joan ^Yet Jeanne^ was competent in a law case at sixteen without ever having seen a law book or a court house before; she had had no training in soldiership and no associations with it, yet she was a competent general in ^on^ her first campaign; she was brave in her first battle, yet her courage had had ^received^ no education—not even the education which a boy’s courage gets from ^obtains through^ never-ceasing reminders that it is not permissible in a boy to be a cowardbut only in agirl; friendless, alone, ignorant ^unaided^, in the blossom ^bloom^ of her youth she sat week after week, a prisoner in chains, before her ^an^ assemblage of judgesenemies hunting her to her death, the ablest minds in Franceand answered ^answering^ them out of an untaught wisdom which ^that^ overmatched their learning, baffled their tricks and treacheries with a native sagacity which ^that^ compelled their wonder, and scored every ^each^ day a victory against these incredible oddsand camped unchallenged on the field. In the history of the human intellect, untrained, inexperienced, and using only its birthright equipment of untried capacities, there is nothing which approaches this. Joan of ^Jeanne d’^Arc stands alone, and must continue to stand alone, by reason of the unfellowcd ^unique^ fact that in the things wherein she was great she was so without shade or suggestion of help from preparatory teaching, practice, environment, or experience. There is no one ^with whom^ to compare herwith, none ^by whom^ to measure herby; for all others among the illustrious grew toward their high place in an atmosphere and surroundings which ^that^ discovered their gift to themand ^that^ nourished it and promoted it, intentionally or unconsciously. There have been other young ^born^ generals, but they were not girls; young generals, but they had been soldiers before they were generals ^earned the baton^: she ^Jeanne^began as a general; she commanded the first army she ever saw, she led it from victory to victory, and never lost a battle, with it; there have been young commanders-in-chief, but none so young as she: she is the only soldier in history who has held the supreme command of a nation’s armies at the age of seventeen.
V.
AS PROPHET.
Her history has still another feature which sets her apart and leaves her without fellow or competitor: there have been many uninspired prophets, but she was the only one who ever ventured the daring detail of naming, along ^in connection^ with a foretold event, the event’s precise nature^of that event,^ the special time-limit ^and place^ within which it would occur, and the place—and scored ^and in every case realized the complete^fulfilment. At Vaucouleurs she said she must go to ^see^ the King and be made his general, and ^of his forces in order to^ break the English power, and crown her sovereign—“at Rheims.” It all happened. It was all to happen “next year”—and it did. She foretold her first woundand its character and date a month in advance, and the ^beforehand; this^ prophecy was recorded in a public record-book three weeks in advance. She repeated it the morning of the named date^named,^ and it was fulfilled before night. At Tours she foretold the limit of her military career saying it would end in one year from the time of this ^her^ utterance and she was right. She foretold her martyrdom using that word and naming a time three months away ^distant^—and again she was right. At a time ^period^ when France seemed hopelessly and permanently in the hands of the English she twice asserted in her prison before her judges that within seven years^’ time^ the English would meet with a mightier disaster than had been the fall of Orleans: it happened within five—the fall of Paris. ^when Paris fell.^ Other prophecies of hers came true, both as to the event named and the time-limit prescribed.
VI.
HER CHARACTER.
She was deeply religious, and believed that she had daily speech with angels; that she saw them face to face, and that they counselled her, advised ^comforted^ her, and brought commands to her direct from God. She had a childlike faith in the heavenly origin of her apparitions and her Voices, and not any threat of any form of death was able to ^in any form could^ frighten it out of her loyal heart. She was ^had^ a beautifuland simple and lovable character. In the records of the Trial this comes out in clear and shining detail. She was gentleand winning and affectionate; she loved her home, her friends and her village life; she was miserable in the presence of pain and suffering; she was full of compassion: on the field of her most splendid victory she forgot her triumphs to hold in her lap the head of a dying enemy and ^to^ comfort his passing spirit with pitying words; in an age when it was common to slaughter prisoners, she stood dauntless between hers and harm, and saved them alive; she was forgiving, generous, unselfish, magnanimous, she was pure from all spot or stain of baseness. And always she was a girl, and dear and worshipful, as is meet for ^in^ that estate:when she fell wounded, the first time, she was frightened and cried when she saw her ^the^ blood gushing from her breast; but shewas Joan of ^Jeanne d’^Arc, and when presently she found that her generals were sounding the retreat, she staggered to her feet and led the assault again and took that place by storm. There is ^was^ no blemish in that ^the^ rounded and beautiful character^of Jeanne, the Maid.^There was no self conceit in it, no vanity. Only once in her life did she forget whom she was, and use the language of brag and boast. In those exhausting Trials she sat in her chains five and six dreary hours every day in her dungeon, answering her judges; and many times the questions were wearisomely silly and she lost interest, and no doubt her mind went dreaming back to the free days in the field and the fierce joys of battle. One day, at such a time, a tormentor broke the monotony with a fresh new theme, asking, “Did you learn any trade at home?” Then her head went up and her eyes kindled; and the stormer of bastiles, tamer of Talbot the English lion, thunder-breathing deliverer of a cowed nation and a hunted king, answered “Yes! to sew and to spin; and when it comes to that, I am not afraid to be matched against any woman in Rouen!” It was the only time she ever bragged: let us be charitable and forget it.
VII.
HER FACE AND FORM.
How strange it is!—that almost invariably the artist remembers only one detail—one minor and meaningless detail of the personality of Joan of ^Jeanne d’^Arc that she was a peasant girland forgets all the rest; and so he paints her as a strapping middle-aged fish^wife,^crwoman, with costume and face to match. He is  slave to his one ^prevailing^ idea, and forgets ^omits^ to observe that the supremely great souls are never lodged in big ^gross^ bodies. No brawn, ^tissue,^ no muscle, could endure the work that their bodies must do ^strain of their physical efforts^; they do ^perform^ their miracles by ^through^ the spirit, which has fifty times the strength and staying-power of brawn and muscle. The Napoleons are little, not big; and they work twenty hours in ^out of ^ the twenty-four, and come up fresh while ^the^ big soldiers with little hearts faint around them with fatigue. We know what Joan of Arc ^Jeanne^ was like, without asking— ^inquiring,^ merely by what she did. The artist should paint her spirit—then he could not fail to paint her body right. She would rise before us, then, ^in such wise,^ a vision to win us, not ^to^ repel: a lithe^, slender^ young slender figure, instinct with “the unbought grace of youth,” dear and bonny and ^wholly^ lovable, the face beautiful, and transfigured with the light of that lustrous ^her luminous^ intellect and the fires of that ^her^ unquenchable spirit.^ “It was a miraculous thing,” said Guy de Laval, writing from Selles, “to see her and hear her.”^
Insert this remark.
2. Taking into account, as I have suggested before, all the circumstancesher origin, youth, sex, illiteracy, early environment, and ^together with^ the obstructing conditions under which she exploited ^demonstrated^ her high gifts and made her conquests in the field and ^no less than^ before the courts that tried her for her life,she is by far the most extraordinary person the human race has ever ^yet^ produced^, nor does there exist in any language so remarkable a history as the official record of Jeanne d’Arc’s trial and rehabilitation.
3. I have studied the career of Jeanne d’Arc for years past; I have, moreover, written and published a story of her life: but I am ever ready, as now, to break another lance in honour of the Maid.^
The Letter.
Dear Mr. X:
I find on my desk the first two pages of Miss Z’s Translation, with your emendations marked in them. Thank you for sending them.
I have examined the first page of my amended Introduction, and will begin, now, and jot down some notes upon your corrections. If I find any changes which shall not seem to me to be improvements, I will point out my reasons for thinking so. In this way I may chance to be helpful to you, and thus profit you, perhaps, as much as you have desired to profit me.
NOTES.
SECTION I. First Paragraph.
“Jeanne d’Arc.” This is rather cheaply pedantic, and is not in very good taste. Joan is not known by that name among plain people of our race and tongue. I notice that the name of the Deity occurs several times in the brief instalment of the Trials which you have favored me with; to be consistent, it will be necessary that you strike out “God” and put in “Dieu.” Do not neglect this.
First line. What is the trouble with “at the”? And why “Trial”? Has some uninstructed person deceived you into the notion that there was but one, instead of half a dozen?
Amongst. Wasn’t “among” good enough?
Next half-dozen Corrections. Have you failed to perceive that by taking the word “both” out of its proper place you have made foolishness of the sentence? And don’t you see that your smug “of which” has turned that sentence into reporter’s English? “Quite.” Why do you intrude that shop-worn favorite of yours where there is nothing useful for it to do? Can’t you rest easy in your literary grave without it?
Next Sentence. You have made no improvement in it; did you change it merely to be changing something?
Second Paragraph. Now you have begun on my punctuation. Don’t you realize that you ought not to intrude your help in a delicate art like that, with your limitations? And do you think you have added just the right smear of polish to the closing clause of the sentence?
Second Paragraph. How do you know it was his “own” sword? It could have been a borrowed one. I am cautious in matters of history, and you should not put statements in my mouth for which you cannot produce vouchers. Your other corrections are rubbish.
Third Paragraph Ditto.
Fourth Paragraph. Your word “directly” is misleading; it could be construed to mean “at once.” Plain clarity is better than ornate obscurity. I note your sensitive marginal remark: “Rather unkind to French feelings—referring to Moscow.” Indeed I have not been concerning myself about French feelings, but only about stating the facts. I have said several uncourteous things about the French—calling them a “nation of ingrates,” in one place,—but you have been so busy editing commas and semicolons that you overlooked them and failed to get scared at them. The next paragraph ends with a slur at the French, but I have reasons for thinking you mistook it for a compliment. It is discouraging to try to penetrate a mind like yours. You ought to get it out and dance on it. That would take some of the rigidity out of it. And you ought to use it sometimes; that would help. If you had done this every now and then along through life, it would not have petrified.
Fifth Paragraph. Thus far, I regard this as your masterpiece! You are really perfect in the great art of reducing simple and dignified speech to clumsy and vapid commonplace.
Sixth Paragraph. You have a singularly fine and aristocratic disrespect for homely and unpretending English. Every time I use “go back” you get out your polisher and slick it up to “return.” “Return” is suited only to the drawing-room—it is ducal, and says itself with a simper and a smirk.
Seventh Paragraph. “Permission” is ducal. Ducal and affected. “Her” great days were not “over;” they were only half over. Didn’t you know that? Haven’t you read anything at all about Joan of Arc? The truth is, you do not pay any attention; I told you on my very first page that the public part of her career lasted two years, and you have forgotten it already. You really must get your mind out and have it repaired; you see, yourself, that it is all caked together.
Eighth Paragraph. She “rode away to assault and capture a stronghold.” Very well; but you do not tell us whether she succeeded or not. You should not worry the reader with uncertainties like that. I will remind you once more that clarity is a good thing in literature. An apprentice cannot do better than keep this useful rule in mind. Closing Sentences. Corrections which are not corrections.
Ninth Paragraph. “Known” history. That word is a polish which is too delicate for me; there doesn’t seem to be any sense in it. This would have surprised me, last week.
Second Sentence. It cost me an hour’s study before I found out what it meant. I see, now, that it is intended to mean what it meant before. It really does accomplish its intent, I think, though in a most intricate and slovenly fashion. What was your idea in re-framing it? Merely in order that you might add this to your other editorial contributions and be able to say to people that the most of the Introduction was your work? I am afraid that that was really your sly and unparliamentary scheme. Certainly we do seem to live in a very wicked world.
Closing Sentence. There is your empty “however” again. I cannot think what makes you so flatulent.
II. IN CAPTIVITY. “Remainder.” It is curious and interesting to notice what an attraction a fussy, mincing, nickel-plated artificial word has for you. This is not well.
Third Sentence. But she was held to ransom; it wasn’t a case of “should have been.” And it wasn’t a case of ’if it had been offered;” it was offered, and also accepted, as the second paragraph shows. You ought never to edit except when awake.
Fourth Sentence. Why do you wish to change that? It was more than “demanded,” it was required. Have you no sense of shades of meaning, in words?
Fifth Sentence. Changing it to “benefactress” takes the dignity out of it. If I had called her a braggart, I suppose you would have polished her into a braggartess, with your curious and random notions about the English tongue.
Closing Sentence. “Sustained” is sufficiently nickel-plated to meet the requirements of your disease, I trust. “Wholly” adds nothing; the sentence means just what it meant before. In the rest of the sentence you sacrifice simplicity to airy fussiness.
Second Paragraph. It was not blood-money, O unteachable ass, any more than is the money that buys a house or a horse; it was an ordinary business-transaction of the time, and was not dishonorable. “With her hands, feet and neck both chained,” etc. The restricted word “both” cannot be applied to three things, but only to two. “Fence:” You “lifted” that word from further along—and with what valuable result? The next sentence—after your doctoring of it—has no meaning. The one succeeding it—after your doctoring of it—refers to nothing, wanders around in space, has no meaning and no reason for existing, and is by a shade or two more demented and twaddlesome than anything hitherto ground out of your strange and interesting editorial-mill.
Closing Sentence. “Neither” for “either.” Have you now debauched the grammar to your taste?
Third Paragraph. It was sound English before you decayed it. Sell it to the museum.
Fourth Paragraph. I note the compliment you pay yourself, margined opposite the closing sentence: “Easier translation.” But it has two defects. In the first place it is a mistranslation, and in the second place it translates half of the grace out of Joan’s remark.
Fifth Paragraph. Why are you so prejudiced against fact, and so indecently fond of fiction? Her generalship was not “that of a tried and trained military experience,” for she hadn’t had any, and no one swore that she had had any. I had stated the facts, you should have reserved your fictions. Note: To be intelligible, that whole paragraph must consist of a single sentence; in breaking it up into several, you have knocked the sense all out of it.
Eighth Paragraph. “When the flames leapt up and enveloped her frail form” is handsome, very handsome, even elegant, but it isn’t yours; you hooked it out of “The Costermonger’s Bride; or The Fire-Fiend’s Foe,” price 3 farthings; boards 2d. To take other people’s things is not right, and God will punish you. “Parched” lips? How do you know they were? Why do you make statements which you cannot verify, when you have no motive for it but to work in a word which you think is nobby?
III. THE REHABILITATION. “Their statements were taken down as evidence.” Wonderful! If you had failed to mention that particular, many persons might have thought they were taken down as entertainment.
IV. THE RIDDLE OF ALL TIME. I note your marginal remark: “Riddle—Anglice?” Look in your spelling-book. “We can understand how the genius was created,” etc., “by steady and congenial growth.” We can’t understand anything of the kind; genius is not “created” by any farming process—it is born. You are thinking of potatoes. Note: Whenever I say “circumstances” you change it to “environment;” and you persistently change my thats into whiches and my whiches into thats. This is merely silly, you know.
Second Paragraph. I note your marginal remark, “2 comprehends.” I suppose some one has told you that repetition is tautology, and then has left you to believe that repetition is always tautology. But let it go; with your limitations one would not be able to teach you how to distinguish between the repetition which isn’t tautology and the repetition which is.
Closing Sentence. Your tipsy emendation, when straightened up on its legs and examined, is found to say this: We fail to see her issue thus equipped, and we cannot understand why. That is to say, she did not issue so equipped, and you cannot make out why she didn’t. That is the riddle that defeats you, labor at it as you may? Why, if that had happened, it wouldn’t be a riddle at all—except to you—but a thing likely to happen to nearly anybody, and not matter for astonishment to any intelligent person standing by at the time—or later. There is a riddle, but you have mistaken the nature of it. I cannot tell how, labor at it as I may; and I will try to point it out to you so that you can see some of it. We do not fail to see her issue so equipped, we do see her. That is the whole marvel, mystery, riddle. That she, an ignorant country girl, sprang upon the world equipped with amazing natural gifts is not the riddle—it could have happened to you if you had been some one else; but the fact that those talents were instantly and effectively usable without previous training is the mystery which we cannot master, the riddle which we cannot solve. Do you get it?
Third Paragraph. Drunk.
V. AS PROPHET. “And in every case realized the complete fulfilment.” How do you know she did that? There is no testimony to back up that wild assertion. I was particular not to claim that all her prophecies came true; for that would have been to claim that we have her whole list, whereas it is likely that she made some that failed and did not get upon the record. People do not record prophecies that failed. Such is not the custom.
VI. HER CHARACTER. “Comforted” is a good change, and quite sane. But you are not playing fair; you are getting some sane person to help you. Note: When I wrote “counseled her, advised her,” that was tautology; the “2 comprehends” was a case of repetition which was not tautological. But I am sure you will never be able to learn the difference. Note: “But she, Jeanne d’Arc, when presently she found,” etc. That is the funniest yet, and the commonplacest. But it isn’t original, you got it out of “How to Write Literary Without Any Apprenticeship,” sixpence to the trade; retail, sevenpence farthing. Erased Passage: I note with admiration your marginal remark explaining your objection to it: “Is it warrantable to assert that she bragged? Is it in good taste? It was assuredly foreign to her character.” I will admit that my small effort at playfulness was not much of a pearl; but such as it was, I realize that I threw it into the wrong trough.
VII. HER FACE AND FORM. You have misunderstood me again. I did not mean that the artist had several ideas and one prevailing one, I meant that he had only one idea. In that same sentence, “omits” and “forgets” have just the same meaning; have you any clear idea, then, why you made the change? Is it your notion that “gross” is an improvement on “big,” “perform” an improvement on “do,” “inquiring” an improvement on “asking,” and “in such wise” an improvement on “then,” or have you merely been seduced by the fine large sound of those words? Are you incurably hostile to simplicity of speech? And finally, do you not see that you have edited all the dignity out of the paragraph and substituted simpering commonplace for it, and that your addition at the end is a deliciously flat and funny anti-climax? Still, I note your command in the margin, “Insert this remark,” and I dutifully obey.
Second Paragraph. “Exploited” was worth a shilling, there; you have traded it for a word not worth tuppence-ha’penny, and got cheated, and serves you right. Read “rightly,” if it shocks you. Close of Paragraph: You have exploited another anti-climax—and in the form, too, of an impudent advertisement of your book. It seems to me that for a person of your elegance of language you are curiously lacking in certain other delicacies.
Third Paragraph. I must reserve my thanks. “Moreover” is a parenthesis, when interjected in that fashion; a parenthesis is evidence that the man who uses it does not know how to write English or is too indolent to take the trouble to do it; a parenthesis usually throws the emphasis upon the wrong word, and has done it in this instance; a man who will wantonly use a parenthesis will steal. For these reasons I am unfriendly to the parenthesis. When a man puts one into my mouth his life is no longer safe. “Breaking a lance” is a knightly and sumptuous phrase, and I honor it for its hoary age and for the faithful service it has done in the prize-composition of the school-girl, but I have ceased from employing it since I got my puberty, and must solemnly object to fathering it here. And besides, it makes me hint that I have broken one of those things before, in honor of the Maid, an intimation not justified by the facts. I did not break any lances or other furniture, I only wrote a book about her.
Truly Yours
Mark Twain

It cost me something to restrain myself and say these smooth and half-flattering things to this immeasurable idiot, but I did it, and have never regretted it. For it is higher and nobler to be kind to even a shad like him than just. If we should deal out justice only, in this world, who would escape? No, it is better to be generous; and in the end more profitable, for it gains gratitude for us, and love, and it is far better to have the love of a literary strumpet like this than the reproaches of his wounded spirit. Therefore I am glad I said no harsh things to him, but spared him, the same as I would a tape-worm. It is reward enough for me to know that my children will be proud of their father for this, when I am gone. I could have said hundreds of unpleasant things about this tadpole, but I did not even feel them.
This untitled manuscript of twenty-two leaves in the Mark Twain Papers, here assigned the title “Reflections on a Letter and Book,” was probably written in late April or early May 1903. Clemens designated it “Auto.” on the first page, which transcribes a letter to him from one Hilary Trent (pseudonym of R.M. Manley), author of Mr. Claghorn’s Daughter. Manley asked Clemens to read his book, obviously hoping that he would comment on it. Clemens used the occasion to ridicule the selfishness of the entire human race, himself included: “We do no benevolences whose first benefit is not for ourselves.” On 26 April 1903 he wrote Manley that he had read the book “with a strong interest, because I am in sympathy with its sermon” and because he approved of “the grace & vigor of your style & because of the attractions of the story as a story” (transcript in CU-MARK; Clemens allowed a condensed version of this “puff” to be used in advertisements for the book). Manley’s “sermon” was in fact an attack on Presbyterian doctrine in general and the Westminster Confession of Faith in particular. Near the end of his manuscript Clemens inserted clippings of three articles about recent events that he thought were relevant to his argument, but he made no attempt to actually integrate them into his text. In the four concluding pages, however, he did devote one paragraph to the Westminster Catechism, which the first article had reported as being under revision.
All of the physical evidence (ink, paper, pagination) establishes that these pages make up a single work, but the connection between the first seventeen and the last four seemed so tentative to Paine that he actually turned them (by virtue of penciled titles) into separate works. He published the first section in “Unpublished Chapters from the Autobiography of Mark Twain” in the August 1922 issue of Harper’s Monthly (SLC 1922c, 312–15), supplying the title “A Young Author Sends Mark Twain a Book,” but he did not reprint it in his edition of the autobiography. He did not publish the second section, on which he penciled what seemed to him an appropriate title, “Moral and Intellectual Man.” Neider declined to include even the first part, and the present text is therefore the first time the manuscript has been published in full.
[Reflections on a Letter and a Book]
Another of those peculiarly depressing letters—a letter cast in artificially humorous form, whilst no art could make the subject humorous: to me.
Dear Sir:—I have written a book—naturally, which fact, however, since I am not your enemy need give you no occasion to rejoice. Nor need you grieve, though I am sending you a copy. If I knew of any way of compelling you to read it I would do so, but unless the first few pages have that effect, I can do nothing. Try the first few pages. I have done a great deal more than that with your books, so perhaps you owe me something—say ten pages. If after that attempt you put it aside, I shall be sorry—for you!
I am afraid that the above looks flippant—but think of the twitterings of the soul of him who brings in his hand an unbidden book, written by himself. To such a one much is due in the way of indulgence. Will you remember that? Have you forgotten early twitterings of your own?
The coat-of-arms of the human race ought to consist of a man with an axe on his shoulder proceeding toward a grindstone. Or, it ought to represent the several members of the human race holding out the hat to each other. For we are all beggars. Each in his own way. One beggar is too proud to beg for pennies, but will beg a loan of dollars, knowing he can’t repay; another will not beg a loan, but will beg for a postmastership; another will not do that but will beg for an introduction to “society;” one, being rich, will not beg a hod of coal of the railway company, but will beg a pass; his neighbor will not beg coal, nor pass, but in social converse with a lawyer will place before him a supposititious case in the hope of getting an opinion out of him for nothing; one who would disdain to beg for any of these things will beg frankly for the Presidency. None of the lot is ashamed of himself, but he despises the rest of the mendicants. Each admires his own dignity, and carefully guards it, but in his opinion the others haven’t any.
Mendicancy is a matter of taste and temperament, no doubt, but certainly no human being is without a form of it. I know my own form, you know yours; let us curtain it from view and abuse the others. To every man cometh, at intervals, a man with an axe to grind. To you, reader, among the rest. By and by that axe’s aspect becomes familiar to you—when you are the proprietor of the grindstone—and the moment you catch sight of it you perceive that it is the same old axe; then you withdraw within yourself, and stick out your spines. If you are the Governor, you know that this stranger wants a position. The first six times the axe came, you were deceived—after that, humiliated. The bearer of it poured out such noble praises of you and of your political record that your lips trembled, the moisture dimmed your eyes, there was a lump in your throat, and you were thankful that you had lived to have this happiness; then the stranger disclosed his axe and his real motive in coming and in applauding, and you were ashamed of yourself and of your race, recognizing that you had been coarsely affronted by this person whom you had treated hospitably. Six repetitions are sure to cure you. After that, (if you are not a candidate for re-election), you interrupt the compliments and say—
“Yes-yes, that is all right, never mind about that; come down to business—what is it you want?”
No matter how big or how little your place in life may be, you have a grindstone, and people will bring axes to you. None escapes.
Also, you are in the business yourself. You privately rage at the man who brings his axe to you, but every now and then you carry yours to somebody and ask a whet. I don’t carry mine to strangers, I draw the line there; perhaps that is your way. This is bound to set us up on a high and holy pinnacle and make us look down in cold rebuke upon persons who carry their axes to strangers.
Now, then, since we all carry axes, and must, and cannot break ourselves of it, why has not a best way to do it been invented by some wise and thoughtful person? There can be no reason but one: from the beginning of time each member of the human race, while recognizing with shame and angry disapproval that everybody else is an axe-bearer and beggar, has all the while deceived himself with the superstition that he is free of the taint. And so it would never occur to him to plan out for the help and benefit of the race a scheme which could not advantage himself. For that is human nature.
But—let us recognize it and confess it—we are all concerned to plan out a best way to approach a person’s grindstone, for we are all beggars; a best way, a way which shall as nearly as possible avoid offensiveness, a way which shall best promise to secure a grinding for the axe. How would this plan answer, for instance:
Never convey the axe yourself; send it by another stranger; or by your friend; or by the grindstone-man’s friend; or by a person who is friend to both of you.
Of course this last is best-best, but the others are good. You see, when you dispatch the axe yourself, (along with your new book, for instance,) you are making one thing absolutely certain: the grindstone-man will be all ready with a prejudice against it and an aversion, before he has even looked at it. Because—why, merely because you have tied his hands, you have not left him independent, he feels himself cornered, and he frets at this, he chafes, he resents as an impertinence your taking this unfair advantage of him—and he is right. He knows you meant to take a mean advantage of him—with all your clumsy arts you have not deceived him. He knows you framed your letter with deliberation, to a distinct end: to compel an answer. You have paid him homage: by all the laws of courtesy, he has got to pay for it. And he cannot choose the way: he has to pay for it in thanks and return-compliments. Your ingenuities resemble those of the European professional beggar: to head you off from pretending you did not receive his letter, he registers it—and he’s got you!
I respect my own forms of passing the hat, but not other people’s. I realize that this is natural. Among my forms is not that of sending my books to strangers. To do that is to beg for a puff—it has that object, whether the object is confessed in words or not. Since that is not my form of soliciting alms, I look down upon it with a polar disdain. It seems to me that this also is natural. The first time a stranger ever sent me his book, I was as pleased as a child, and I took all the compliments at par; I supposed the letter was written just to get in those compliments. I didn’t read between the lines, I didn’t know there was anything between the lines. However, as the years dragged along and brought experience I became an expert on invisibles, and could find more meat between the lines than anywhere else. After that, those letters gave me no pleasure; they inarticulately, but strenuously, demanded pay for the compliments, and they made me ashamed of the offerer; and also of myself, for being a person who, by the offerer’s estimate, was on a low enough grade to value compliments on those terms.
Although I am finding so much fault with this matter I am not ignorant of the fact that compliments are not often given away. A return is expected. And one gets it, too—though not always when the compliments are sent by letter. When an audience applauds, it isn’t aware that it is requiring pay for that compliment. But it is; and if the applause is not in some way thankfully acknowledged by the recipient of it,—by bow and smile, for instance—the audience will discover that it was expecting an equivalent. Also, it will withdraw its trade, there and then; it is not going to give something for nothing, not if it knows itself. When a beautiful girl catches a compliment in our eye, she pays spot cash for it with a dear little blush. We did not know we were expecting pay, but if she should flash offended dignity at us, instead of that little blush, we should then know better. She would get no more of our trade on those terms. But in truth, compliments are sometimes actually given away, and no bill presented. I know it can occur as much as once in a century, for it has happened once to me, and I am not a century old, yet. It was twenty-nine years ago. I was lecturing in London at the time. I received a most lovely letter, sparkling and glowing with cordial and felicitous praises—and there was no name signed, and no address!
It was all mine—all free—all gratis—no bill enclosed, nothing to pay, no possible way to pay—an absolutely free gift! It is the only gratis compliment I have ever received, it is the only gratis compliment I have ever even heard of. Whenever a stranger tags his compliment with his name and address, it stands for C.O.D. He may not consciously and deliberately intend it so, but that is because he has not the habit of searching his motives to the bottom. People avoid that. And that is wise in its way, for the most of one’s motives are best concealed from oneself. I know this by long experience and close examination of my own.
It is not right for a stranger to send me his book himself. It is an embarrassment for him, it is an embarrassment for me. I have not earned this treatment, I have not done him any harm. Why not send it through B, and instruct B to say to me, “Take no notice of this unless you are really moved to do it, for A is modest and sensitive, and he would be offended if he knew what I am doing.”
The absence of the club over me would make me feel so grateful that I should find merits in that book that had no existence there nor anywhere else. But no, the author always sends it himself. He knows he is doing an unfair thing; he is ashamed of it, and playfully tries to pretend he isn’t, but his letter always gives him away. He is aware that he is begging. And not for a candid opinion of his book, but for a puff. He is aware that you will want to say that to him, but he is also aware that your self-love will not let you do it. One of two things he always puts in: 1, he admires you; 2, you probably asked and received help and encouragement yourself when you were a struggling beginner. It is a curious absence of tact. He wants a gratuity of you, and prepares the way by putting the thing at you as an obligation—it’s your duty to grant it. It may be true, but we resent it, just the same; we don’t want strangers to dictate our duties to us. Sometimes the stranger does this ungracious thing facetiously, sometimes he does it in very plain English; but he is in serious earnest in both cases, and you do not like it any better in the one case than in the other.
I am built just as other people are built, so far as I can discover, and therefore I do prize a good hearty compliment above rubies; and am grateful for it, and as glad as you are yourself when I can in sincerity return the mate to it. But when a man goes beyond compliment, it does not give me pleasure, it makes me ashamed. It makes me ashamed; I am not thinking about him, I am thinking about myself; he may humiliate himself if he likes, it is his privilege, but I do not want to be humiliated. Adulation. Adulation—spoken or hinted. And never earned; never due, to any human being. What a king must suffer! For he knows, deep down in his heart, that he is a poor, cheap, wormy thing like the rest of us, a sarcasm, the Creator’s prime miscarriage in inventions, the moral inferior of all the animals, the inferior of each one of them in one superb physical specialty or another, the superior of them all in one gift only, and that one not up to his estimation of it—intellect.
I do not know how to answer that stranger’s letter. I wish he had spared me. Never mind about him—I am thinking about myself; I wish he had spared me. The book has not arrived, yet; but no matter, I am prejudiced against it.
I suppose the reader—if he is an old and experienced person—already knows what it was that I did. I followed custom. I did what one always does after searching for new spirit-quieting methods and finding none: I fell back upon the old, old, over-worked and over-fatigued dodge, trick, subterfuge, polite lie, and wrote him thanking him for his book and promising myself—“at an early date”—the pleasure of reading it.
That set me free: I was not obliged to read the book, now, unless I chose. Being free, my prejudice was gone. My prejudice being gone, a very natural curiosity took its place. Since I could examine the book without putting myself under an obligation of any sort, I opened it and began, as soon as it came. It was a costly adventure for me. I had work to do and no time to spare, but I was not able to put the book down until I had finished it. It embarrassed me a little to write the author and confess this fact, right on the heels of that courteously-discourteous letter which had preceded it, but I did it. I did it because I could get more peace for my spirit out of doing it than out of leaving it undone. Were you thinking I did it to give that author pleasure? I did—at second hand. We do no benevolences whose first benefit is not for ourselves.
PRESBYTERIAN DOCTRINE.
Two-thirds of the Presbyteries in Favor of Revising Confession of Faith.
PHILADELPHIA, April 27.—The Rev. Dr. W. H. Roberts, Stated Clerk of the Presbyterian General Assembly, announced to-day that two-thirds of the presbyteries had voted in favor of revising the Confession of Faith and of the declaratory statement elucidating chapters 3 and 10 of the Confession. The subject will be finally disposed of by the General Assembly, which will meet in Los Angeles, Cal., next month. It is expected that the overtures from the presbyteries will be enacted by the General Assembly.

RUSSIAN MASSACRE OF JEWS.
Dispatch to a Local Jewish Paper Telling of the Slaughter at Kishinev—120 Reported Killed.
The Jewish Daily News will print this afternoon the following cable dispatch in reference to the anti-Jewish riot in Kishinev, Russia:
“St. Petersburg, April 25th.—(Taken across the border line for transmission in order to escape the Censor.)—The anti-Jewish riots in Kishinev, Bessarabia, are worse than the Censor will permit to publish. There was a well laid plan for the general massacre of Jews on the day following the Russian Easter. The mob was led by priests and the general cry: “Kill the Jews!” was taken up all over the city. The Jews were taken totally unaware, and were slaughtered like sheep. The dead number 120, and the injured about 500.
“The scenes of horror attending this massacre are beyond description. Babes were literally torn to pieces by the frenzied and blood-thirsty mob. The local police made no attempt to check the reign of terror. At sunset the streets were piled with corpses and wounded. Those who could make their escape fled in terror and the city is now practically deserted of Jews.
“Just as in the riots of 1880–1881, there is a popular belief among the Russian peasants that the Czar decreed the slaughtering of Jews. The immediate cause of the riot, however, is the ritual murder accusation against the Jews in Dubosary, government of Kherson. Immediate relief is wanted.”

After waiting a year to make up his mind as to whether the story of Adam and Eve was a myth, Gilbert A. Lovell, of Plainfield, N. J., a young churchman who was denied by the Presbytery of Elizabeth a license to preach the Gospel because he expressed his disbelief in that part of the book of Genesis, was to-day licensed by the Presbytery at its spring session held in Perth Amboy.
Lovell and Harrison K. Wright, of Plainfield, applied last spring to the Presbytery for license, but as both held the same opinion as to Adam and Eve being mythical, they were each rejected by a large majority. Afterward a special session of the Presbytery was held to give them an opportunity to recant. Mr. Wright appeared before it and declared his views had changed on the disputed subject, and he was willing to acknowledge his mistake. His explanation and other answers proved satisfactory. He got his license, and later was ordained by the Presbytery.
Lovell, however, sent word he would wait a year before making another try for a license. Meanwhile he evidently experienced a change of heart, as his examination to-day on all theological points gave entire satisfaction to the Presbytery, which will set a date for his ordination.
We have no respectworthy evidence that the human being has morals. He is himself the only witness. Persons who do not know him value his testimony. They think he is not shallow and vain because he so despises the peacock for possessing these qualities. They are deceived into not regarding him as a beast and a brute, because he uses these terms to disapprovingly describe qualities which he possesses, yet which are not possessed by any creature but himself. On his verbal testimony they take him for every creditable thing which he particularly isn’t, and (intentionally?) refrain from examining the testimony of his acts. It is the safest way, but man did not invent it, it was the polecat. From the beginning of time the polecats have quite honestly and naively regarded themselves as representing in the animal kingdom what the rose represents in the vegetable kingdom. This is because they do not examine.
Man thinks he is not a fiend. It is because he has not examined the Westminster Catechism which he invented. He and the polecat—But it is not fair to class them together, the polecat has not invented a Westminster Catechism.
However, moralless man, bloody and atrocious man, is high above the other animals in his one great and shining gift—intellectuality. It took him ages and ages to demonstrate the full magnitude and majesty of his gift, but he has accomplished it at last. For ages it was a mean animal indeed that was not vastly his superior in certain splendid faculties. In the beginning he had nothing but the puny strength of his unweaponed hands to protect his life with, and he was as helpless as a rabbit when the lion, the tiger, the elephant, the mastodon and the other mighty beasts came against him; in endurance he was far inferior to the other creatures; in fleetness on the land there was hardly an animal in the whole list that couldn’t shame him; in fleetness in the water every fish could excel him; his eyesight was a sarcasm: for seeing minute things it was blindness as compared to the eyesight of the insects, and the condor could see a sheep further than he could see a hotel. But by the ingenuities of his intellect he has equipped himself with all these gifts artificially and has made them unapproachably effective. His locomotive can outstrip all birds and beasts in speed and beat them all in endurance; there are no eyes in the animal world that can compete with his microscope and his telescope; the strength of the tiger and the elephant is weakness, compared with the force which he carries in his mile-range terrible gun. In the beginning he was given “dominion” over the animal creation—a very handsome present, but it was mere words and represented a non-existent sovereignty. But he has turned it into an existent sovereignty, himself, and is master, of late. In physical talents he was a pauper when he started; by grace of his intellect he is incomparably the richest of all the animals now. But he is still a pauper in morals—incomparably the poorest of the creatures in that respect. The gods value morals alone; they have paid no compliments to intellect, nor offered it a single reward. If intellect is welcome anywhere in the other world, it is in hell, not heaven.
This 1903 text survives in an untitled, previously unpublished manuscript now in the Mark Twain Papers. Clemens identified it as “Autobiog.” in the upper left corner of the first page, adding (and later canceling) “Hannibal, 1842,” the place and year of the first anecdote about his experience with castor oil. Clemens was always skeptical of doctors and had long since concluded that they were of little or no assistance to their patients. “I am not afraid of doctors in ordinary or trifling ailments, but in a serious case I should not allow any one to persuade me to call one,” he wrote Henry H. Rogers on 8 January 1900 (Salm, in HHR, 425). In the present rather desultory essay, however, he remained more or less focused on what he considered the unfairness of the way contemporary doctors charged for their services. For an indispensable overview of Clemens’s attitude toward doctors and medical practice in general, see Mark Twain and Medicine: “Any Mummery Will Cure” (Ober 2003).
Paine planned to publish this manuscript in his edition of the autobiography, using the title adopted here and placing it after “Scraps from My Autobiography. Private History of a Manuscript That Came to Grief” (MTA, 1:175–89). He suppressed the names of several physicians when he prepared his typescript for the printer. For reasons unknown, however, he decided not to include it, even after it had been set in type.
[Something about Doctors]
I was seven years old when I came so near going to Heaven that time. I do not know why I did not go; I was prepared. This was habit. I had been sick a considerable part of those seven years, and had naturally formed the custom of being prepared. Religion was made up almost exclusively of fire and brimstone in those days, and this furnished a motive for preparation which none but the very thoughtless neglected. To be honest, I will acknowledge that I sometimes neglected it myself; but it was only when I was well. I do not remember what malady it was that came so near to removing me from this life, that time, but I remember what it was that defeated it. It was half a teacupful of castor oil—straight. That is, without molasses, or other ameliorations. Many took molasses with their oil, but I was not of that class. Perhaps I knew that nothing could make oil palatable, for I had had a large experience; I had drunk barrels of castor oil in my time. No, not barrels, kegs; let us postpone exaggerations to a properer time and subject.
The castor oil saved me. I had begun to die, the family were grouped for the function; they were familiar with it, so was I. I had performed the star part so many times that I knew just what to do at each stage without a rehearsal, although so young; and they—they had played the minor rôles so often that they could do it asleep. They often went to sleep when I was dying. At first it used to hurt me, but later I did not mind it, but got some one to joggle them, then went on with my rendition. I can see us at it, to this day.
Dr. Meredith was our family physician in those days; he probably removed from the hamlet of Florida to the village of Hannibal about the same time that we did, in order to keep my custom. No, that could not have been the reason; I have already said that in that early geological period the doctor was paid by the year and furnished the drugs himself; therefore he would not really value my custom, if sane. He often tried to kill me, I suppose; it would be but natural, for he had a family to support, and was a man of good judgment and right intentions, but he never succeeded in a single instance. It was the irony of fate that his own son Charles should pull me out of Bear creek at last when another half minute would have ended my life. He never smiled again.
Consider the wisdom and righteousness of that old-time custom—the paying of the physician by the year. Consider what a safeguard it was, for both the physician’s livelihood and self-respect, and the family’s health. The physician had a regular and assured income, and that was an advantage to him; the family were safe from his invasions when nothing was the matter, and goodness knows that was an advantage to the family.
Look at the difference in our day. What is the common, the universal, custom of the physician with a limited practice? It is this: to keep on coming and coming, long after the patient has ceased to need him—and charging for every visit. Almost as a rule—I might fairly leave that “almost” out—you are driven to the unpleasant compulsion of discharging him, in order to get rid of him. As a consequence you dread to call him again; and you put it off just as long as you can without peril.
I make this charge deliberately. I draw it from four sources: from my own experience, from the experience of friends, from the statements (hotly worded) of distinguished New York and London physicians, and from editorial statements in the medical journals. Your physician knows you are afraid to discharge him, lest it turn out that you did it too early; he takes a discreditable advantage of this fear.
The hard-driven physician comes no oftener than he is obliged to. As soon as it is safe to say it, he says, “I shall not come again unless you send for me.”
In Hartford our old family physician, Dr. Taft, made us familiar with that remark, but we never got it out of his neglected successor. Eight years ago (in 1895) I arrived from Europe and went straight to Elmira, N.Y. In the bath-tub, that evening, (May 26), I found a round, flat pink spot on the outside of my port thigh, the size of a dime. The next morning we moved up on the East Hill, and called up a doctor (Theron Wales), from below and he said it was an incipient carbuncle. He began to treat it. And also began to talk. To let him tell it, the carbuncle had always been the master of the human race until by God’s mercy he became a member of it. Then he sang the long list of his victories, carbuncle by carbuncle, naming the proprietor in each case and the place on him where the carbuncle roosted, and the illustrious methods whereby he had conducted those carbuncles to a happy and spectacular finish. This was a very dull man, by nature and acquirement, but he was an old friend of the kinship, and I had to endure him, though I give you my word that as between his society and the carbuncle’s, I would have selected the carbuncle’s every time. He had the special characteristic of every limited-practice physician whom I have ever known: he was tedious, witless, commonplace, a stayer, loved to hear himself talk, and was a spirit-rotting bore.
With all his boasted experience he knew nothing about carbuncles that was not known by our old ex-slave cook, Aunty Cord, and he did nothing with mine which she could not have done as well or better. He applied that ancient persuader, a slice of raw salt pork, and came daily while it was doing its work. Came to watch it, I suppose; the cat could have done it as effectively, and certainly the cook could—and gratis. Then he lanced it, and came daily for thirty days more; sometimes to dress the wound—which the cook could have done as well as he—but most of the time for no conceivable reason, unless to exhaust me with his two-hour visits and his colorless conversation. So many of these visits were professionally objectless that I took them for social visits, or I would have retired him.
He not only charged me for every one of those odious visitations, but charged me a third more than he would have charged a resident. I did not find out this latter detail—this robbery,—until six months ago.
That burglar still keeps up that custom—of paying what people take for social calls, after his professional services are no longer needed, and then charging for them after the family, growing suspicious, have given him a large hint and gotten rid of him.
He did not cure my carbuncle. He watched over it forty-five days like a tender and ignorant carbuncle-angel, then I started across the country with my family. I lectured every night for twenty-three nights, the nightly dressing of the cavern left by the carbuncle going on every night, and at last the place was healed and I walked aboard the ship at Vancouver unassisted.
Carbuncles have families, when they are treated by bunglers. Mine’s first son was born at sea and was lanced in Sydney. The second son was born in Melbourne, but there was a real doctor there—Fitz Gerald—a doctor with an immense practice, and he said he would cure it in twenty-four hours. He kept his word; also, he taught us his art, and we squelched the rest of the family, one by one, as they arrived. Only one of them lasted two days. The carbuncle-expert of Elmira charged me $135 for half-curing one carbuncle. If I had not been obliged to leave on the lecture-tour he would be propagating that one’s posterity to this day.
That Elmira leech knew that I had fallen heir to a heavy debt, and was starting on a year’s journey around the globe to lecture it off and set myself free, but that did not move him to spare me when he had a chance to afflict me with social calls and charge pirate-rates for them. I resolved that I would never again sit in the Sunday school that he superintended, and I have kept my word to this day. However, I was never in it anyway.
It is a bad business to get the habit of getting sick. You will find it hard to break. From my seventh year to my fifty-sixth I had had the habit of being well—I had hardly known what sickness was, in all that time. Then the change came. We were living in Berlin. On a very cold winter’s night I lectured for the benefit of an English or American church-charity in a hall that was as hot as the Hereafter. On my way home, I froze. I spent thirty-four days in bed, with congestion of the wind’ard lung. That was the beginning. That lung has remained in a damaged condition ever since. Whenever I catch a cold in the head it descends at once to the bronchial tubes, and I have to send for the medical plumber. That is, I used to do that, but when I found out at last that to relieve it, modify it, shorten its stay or cure it were all beyond his art, I ceased from calling him and allowed the cough to bark itself out at its leisure and perish of fatigue. Its term is six weeks, under these conditions. Before giving up, I experimented with ten physicians in different parts of the world.
In the beginning of ’96 I caught a cold in Ceylon, and by the time we reached Bombay, a few days later, my tubes were in bad shape and I sent for the plumber. He bore the great name of Sidney Smith. I took his dreadful medicine seven days, with no improvement, then I discharged him. He charged me double price per visitation because I was not a resident. It was the custom, I was told. I thought it would have been as rational to charge me double because I was a Presbyterian. I paid half the bill.
I barked at audiences all about India for six weeks, then the cough expired by statute of limitation. I had attacks in London, later. The first doctor (Parsons), soon confessed that he was making no progress with the case, and retired from the struggle with honor; the other one (Ogilvie), probably concluded before long, that the case was beyond his science, for he stopped bothering with it, but came every day and told ancient anecdotes for an hour and enjoyed them—I could see it. I was deceived again; I took these wearisome afflictions for social calls, and forebore to protect myself. But at last I saw that in my weak state the burden of his society was a positive danger, so I pulled the remains of my resolution together and discharged him. He charged full rates for all those visits, whereas he knew quite well that to collect on a full half of them was plain dishonesty.
This text survives in an untitled 1906 typescript made by Josephine Hobby, now in the Mark Twain Papers. Hobby copied an earlier typescript, now lost, created by Jean Clemens from Isabel Lyon’s notes of Clemens’s original dictation in April 1904, and Clemens briefly revised and corrected Hobby’s copy. It is the only one of the six known Florentine dictations that Clemens did not include in his final text for the autobiography (see the Introduction, note 55).
Clemens’s friendship with multimillionaire Henry Huttleston Rogers (1840–1909), vice-president of Standard Oil, began in the fall of 1893, when Clemens’s publishing firm, Charles L. Webster and Company, was close to financial collapse. Rogers became Clemens’s financial adviser and provided the funds needed to keep the company afloat, at least temporarily. The firm nevertheless declared bankruptcy in April 1894, but not before Rogers arranged for the transfer of all Clemens’s assets, including the copyright on his books, to Olivia Clemens, on the grounds that she was owed more than $60,000 by the bankrupt firm.
Clemens created the dictation at a time when Olivia was quite ill and Rogers had just recently been very publicly sued for several million dollars by the Bay State Gas Company. After Rogers’s death Clemens wrote, “I am grateful to his memory for many a kindness and many a good service he did me, but gratefulest of all for the saving of my copyrights; a service which saved me and my family from want, and assured us permanent comfort and prosperity” (SLC 1909b; see also AD, 26 May 1906; HHR, 10–26, 42–43; “Mark Twain’s Company in Trouble,” New York Times, 19 Apr 1894, 9).
Paine published the dictation under the title he gave it, “Henry H. Rogers,” but without the article from the Boston Sunday Post that Clemens instructed be reproduced at the end, and he also joined it with the later manuscript about Rogers (SLC 1909b; MTA, 1:250–56). Neider declined to include any part of this text.
[Henry H. Rogers]
1893–1904
Florence. Spring of 1904. (April.)
Mr. Rogers has been visiting the witness stand periodically in Boston for more than a year now. For eleven years he has been my closest and most valuable friend. His wisdom and steadfastness saved my copyrights from being swallowed up in the wreck and ruin of Charles L. Webster and Co., and his commercial wisdom has protected my pocket ever since in those lucid intervals wherein I have been willing to listen to his counsels and abide by his advice—a thing which I do half the time and half the time I don’t.
He is four years my junior; he is young in spirit, and in looks, complexion and bearing, easy and graceful in his movements, kind-hearted, attractive, winning, a natural gentleman, the best bred gentleman I have met on either side of the ocean in any rank of life from the Kaiser of Germany down to the boot-black. He is affectionate, endowed with a fine quality of humor, and with his intimates he is a charming comrade. I am his principal intimate and that is my idea of him. His mind is a bewildering spectacle to me when I see it dealing with vast business complexities like the affairs of the prodigious Standard Oil Trust, the United States Steel and the rest of the huge financial combinations of our time—for he and his millions are in them all, and his brain is a very large part of the machinery which keeps them alive and going. Many a time in the past eleven years my small and troublesome affairs have forced me to spend days and weeks of waiting-time down in the city of New York, and my waiting-refuge has been his private office in the Standard Oil Building, stretched out on a sofa behind his chair, observing his processes, smoking, reading, listening to his reasonings with the captains of industry and intruding advice where it was not invited, not desired and in no instance adopted so far as I remember. A patient man, I can say that for him.
This private office was a spacious high-ceiled chamber on the eleventh floor of the Standard Oil Building, with large windows which looked out upon the moving life of the river with the Colossus of Liberty enlightening the world holding up her torch in the distance. When I was not there it was a solitude, since in those intervals no one occupied the place except Mr. Rogers and his brilliant private secretary, Miss Katharine I. Harrison, who he once called in on an emergency thirteen or fourteen years ago from among the seven hundred and fifty clerks laboring for the Standard Oil in the building. She was nineteen or twenty years old then and did stenographic work and typewriting at the wage of that day which was fifteen or twenty dollars a week. He has a sharp eye for capacity and after trying Miss Harrison for a week he promoted her to the post of chief of his private secretaries and raised her wages. She has held the post ever since; she has seen the building double its size and increase its clerical servants to fifteen hundred and her own salary climb to ten thousand dollars a year. She is the only private secretary who sits in the sanctum, the others are in the next room and come at the bell call. Miss Harrison is alert, refined, well read in the good literature of the day, is fond of paintings and buys them, she is a cyclopedia in whose head is written down the multitudinous details of Mr. Rogers’s business, order and system are a native gift with her, Mr. Rogers refers to her as he would to a book and she responds with the desired information with a book’s confidence and accuracy. Several times I have heard Mr. Rogers say that she is quite able to conduct his affairs, substantially, without his help.
Necessarily Mr. Rogers’s pecuniary aid was sought by his full share of men and women without capital who had ideas for sale—ideas worth millions if their exploitation could be put in charge of the right man. Mr. Rogers’s share of these opportunities was so large that if he had received and conversed with all his applicants of that order he might have made many millions per hour it is true but he would not have had half an hour left in the day for his own business. He could not see all of these people, therefore he saw none of them, for he was a fair and just man. For his protection, his office was a kind of fortress with outworks, these outworks being several communicating rooms into which no one could get access without first passing through an outwork where several young colored men stood guard and carried in the cards and requests and brought back the regrets. Three of the communicating rooms were for consultations, and they were seldom unoccupied. Men sat in them waiting—men who were there by appointment—appointments not loosely specified but specified by the minute hand of the clock. These rooms had ground glass doors, and their privacy was in other ways protected and secured. Mr. Rogers consulted with a good many men in those rooms in the course of his day’s work of six hours; and whether the matter in hand was small and simple or great and complicated it was discussed and despatched with marvelous celerity. Every day these consultations supplied a plenty of vexations and exasperations for Mr. Rogers—I know this quite well—but if ever they found revealment in his face or manner it could have been for only a moment or two for the signs were gone when he re-entered his private office and he was always his brisk and cheerful self again and ready to be chaffed and joked, and reply in kind. His spirit was often heavily burdened, necessarily, but it cast no shadow, and those about him sat always in the sunshine.
Sometimes the value of his securities went down by the million day after day, sometimes they went up as fast, but no matter which it was the face and bearing exhibited by him were only proper to a rising market. Several times every day Miss Harrison had to act in a diplomatic capacity. Men called whose position in the world was such that they could not be dismissed with the formula “engaged” along with Mr. Rogers’s regrets, and to these Miss Harrison went out and explained, pleasantly and tactfully, and sent them away comfortable. Mr. Rogers transacted a vast amount of business during his six hours daily, but there always seemed time enough in the six hours for it.
That Boston Gas lawsuit came on at a bad time for Mr. Rogers, for his health was poor and remained so during several months. Every now and then he had to stay in his country house at Fairhaven, Mass., a week or two at a time, leaving his business in Miss Harrison’s hands and conferring with her once or twice daily by long distance telephone. To prepare himself for the witness stand was not an easy thing, but the materials for it were to be had, for Mr. Rogers never destroyed a piece of paper that had writing on it and as he was a methodical man he had ways of tracing out any paper he needed no matter how old it might be. The papers needed in the gas suit, wherein Mr. Rogers was sued for several millions of dollars, went back in date a good many years and were numberable by the hundreds; but Miss Harrison ferreted them all out from the stacks and bales of documents in the Standard Oil vaults and caused them to be listed and annotated by the other secretaries. This work cost weeks of constant labor, but it left Mr. Rogers in shape to establish for himself an unsurpassable reputation as a witness.
I wish to make a momentary digression here and call up an illustration of what I have been saying about Mr. Rogers’s habits in the matter of order and system. When he was a young man of twenty-four out in the oil regions of Pennsylvania and straitened in means he had some business relations with another young man; time went on, they separated and lost sight of each other. After a lapse of twenty years this man’s card came in one day, and Mr. Rogers had him brought into the private office. The man showed age, his clothes showed that he was not prosperous, and his speech and manner indicated that hard luck had soured him toward the world and the Fates. He brought a bill against Mr. Rogers, oral in form, for fifteen hundred dollars—a bill thirty years old. Mr. Rogers drew the check and gave it to him, saying he could not allow him to lose it though he almost deserved to lose it for risking the claim thirty years without presenting it. When he was gone Mr. Rogers said,
“My memory is better than his; I paid the money at the time; knowing this, I know I took a receipt although I do not remember that detail. To satisfy myself that I have not been careless, I will have that receipt searched out.”
It took a day or two, but it was found, and I saw it, then it was sent back to its place again amongst the archives.
Here follows that Boston sketch.
PEN PICTURES OF THE BIG STANDARD OIL
MILLIONAIRE, H. H. ROGERS, AS HE APPEARED
DURING THE PRESENT GAS HEARING

Boston has had the unique experience of having on the witness stand in court one of the wealthiest and brainiest men in this country, a man in the charmed inner circle of the very inner circle of the little ring of financial giants that make up the most powerful aggregation of wealth in this country. It has seen him for four days probed with an incessant volley of questions by one of the ablest lawyers in the Commonwealth and it saw him step off the witness stand at the end as calm and serene and unruffled, and fresh and vigorous, as though he were two score of years younger than he is, and as though he had just finished a pleasure trip on his yacht, instead of having passed through what to most men would be an extremely trying ordeal.
And for verbal fencing, Henry H. Rogers showed that he, by replies that were as quick as a flash and as impenetrable as adamant, is entitled to wear a crown of superiority over any witness examined in Massachusetts for many a day.
When he had finished the court had gleaned precious little about the case beyond what it had already learned from Mr. Winsor, except for Mr. Rogers’ version of the famous telephone conversation with Mr. Lawson, and that certainly is interesting, in view of the fact that Mr. Lawson’s understanding seems to have been quite different from Mr. Rogers’, this difference apparently throwing a sidelight upon the present relations between the two men that is interesting, to say the least.
It is reported that Mr. Whipple, keen as he is, unrelenting in his pursuit of a fact, acknowledges that Mr. Rogers was the best fencer he ever met in his legal career. That he was enough for Mr. Whipple, sometimes a little too much, was the general opinion of those who saw the two cross swords.
Mr. Rogers was ill soon after he came to Boston. Our east wind, or the smell of escaping gas with the lid partially off, or something else, was too much for him, and he took to his humble bed in Boston’s Waldorf-Astoria, or the nearest thing to it that the Hub possesses. There were some people who thought that meant that he was going to dodge, that he would be too ill to testify and leave Boston in the lurch, just as a famous operatic star or an actress sometimes does. But the people who knew him said: “No, Mr. Rogers is no dodger; he is a fighter in the heavyweight championship class, and he will see it through.” And he did.
One afternoon Mr. Winsor, after some 10 trying days on the witness stand, answered his last question, smiled his last smile to the court and spectators and stepped down.
The next morning a few “supes” and players of minor parts came on and did their little turn. Then a tall, distinguished-looking gentleman, one bearing the mark of a leader among men, took the centre of the stage, the witness box. For the first time the crowd in the court room got a good look at the man of many millions as Mr. Rogers faced the questioning counsel.
The court gave permission to the witness to sit while he gave his evidence, in consideration of his recent illness.
Mr. Rogers is all that his pictures represent him to be, and much, very much, more. The first thing that almost anyone would notice is his head, a literal “dome of thought,” large, finely shaped, extraordinarily high above the line of the eyes, rounded and fully developed in the back, the head of a man with tremendous capacity for thought, a strong, forceful head, that of a man capable of planning and of executing his plans, distinctly the head of a man of affairs, of tremendous affairs.
The head might attract more attention than the face, although the latter is clearly that of a man of high standing among men, clear cut, almost ascetic in some of its lines, aggressive as to the chin, firm as to the mouth, keen as to the eyes.
The gray, well-trimmed mustache, the alert, vigorous, trim, well kept, well groomed, well set up figure, impart a military air that fits perfectly upon this man of power.
Mr. Whipple is ready to begin his bombardment of questions. Mr. Rogers sits at ease, his legs crossed, his arms upon the rails at the side of the witness box, his head thrown up and back, his eyes inscrutable, his whole demeanor that of waiting on the defence. He doesn’t pose at all, apparently. Many men do in similar positions. Their whole attitude is one of consciousness of being looked at and of trying to look as impressive as possible. But Mr. Rogers isn’t one of that sort. His attitudes fit him as well as the clothes he wears, and that is to perfection.
Mr. Whipple asks the customary questions as to name, residence, etc. Then as to occupation and as to this Mr. Rogers gives some inkling as to his baffling course as a witness. He admitted that he had been in the petroleum business for 40 years, and said: “I am trying to think if I have been in the gas business.” Everybody laughs. Evidently Mr. Rogers is going to be a very amusing witness, at times. Even Mr. Whipple, who can take a joke, even if it is on himself, smiles.
And this smile of Mr. Rogers is worth seeing. It isn’t any little, skimpy, cold, selfish, calculating smile, but the real, genuine, simon-pure article. It makes one think that Mr. Rogers, to those who have the privilege of knowing him well, might be a very pleasant, even a jolly, companion. Shakspere says one may smile and smile and be a villain, but it’s hard to believe it if he smiles just as Mr. Rogers does. It isn’t any smile that won’t come off, however, for the next instant it has vanished and the keen, alert, waiting look has taken its place.
During the first day Mr. Rogers smiled quite often as he deftly parried his opponent’s thrusts, but towards the end of that day, Mr. Whipple, who smiles the hardest when he is about to do his worst, got in a pretty good blow and Mr. Rogers put on a serious and a rather annoyed look. Mr. Whipple wanted Mr. Rogers to produce a certain private correspondence book, and Mr. Rogers objected to doing this. Just as matters began to wax rather warm the judge poured oil on the troubled waters by adjourning court.
The next morning Mr. Rogers, urbane and pleasant, produced the book. That was Friday, and court adjourned to Monday to give Mr. Whipple time to look over the book so as to use its contents to the best advantage.
Monday morning the siege of Mr. Rogers’ citadel of knowledge of gas affairs was renewed by Mr. Whipple and a full day was put in at questions and answers. Whether the court was enlightened much by the day’s developments is not to be stated, but it is pretty certain that the public wasn’t. The way Mr. Rogers parried questions that he didn’t want to answer was well worth listening to. Here is a sample of it.
Q. Were your relations with Mr. Addicks unfriendly in 1901? A. I cannot answer as to that.
Q. Well, as to 1902? A. Oh, we had our differences.
Tuesday was an unusually fruitful day as to interesting topics, at least.
Time and again when Mr. Whipple asked questions as to points on which Mr. Rogers’ recollection was a bit hazy, the witness would refer counsel to his books and papers and memoranda, saying that if anything could be found in them bearing upon the matter at hand, he would be willing and even glad to have it produced.
There were several smiles by the witness, the audience and even the court, during this day. At one time Mr. Rogers smiled at some inward recollection aroused by the reading of a personal note to him from Mr. Winsor, following a trip the latter had had as Mr. Rogers’ guest on the millionaire’s yacht. This seemed to annoy Mr. Whipple. He walked up close to the witness and fired the question at short range, with briar points in his tone: “Why do you smile, Mr. Rogers?” “I smile because it is natural for me to smile,” said Mr. Rogers, in his very pleasantest, most affable way. Talk about a soft answer turning away wrath! Mr. Rogers is a past master of that little trick all right.
Tuesday was the day Mr. Rogers told of the telephone conversation with Mr. Lawson, and, in view of Mr. Lawson’s version Friday last of the same conversation, Mr. Rogers’ statement is well worth repeating:
“I called up Mr. Lawson on the telephone and asked him how he felt about this reorganization of the New England Gas and Coke Company. He said he felt very unpleasantly. I asked him how, and he recited some private grievances.”
Mr. Whipple—State what they were.
Mr. Rogers—He said, “You know how I feel towards Mr. Whitney and those other people down there, who interfered with me in reference to the New York Yacht Club matter. If I were able I’d rather lose $1,000,000 than make any compromise with them.” I told him if he felt in that frame of mind and preferred it to business it was one thing. He asked me my judgment, and I told him that I thought it would be a wise thing for him to participate in the reorganization.
He said: “Well, that’s the way I feel about it, but I am willing to be influenced by you, and take your advice in the matter.” I said, “It is not for me to advise, it is for you to determine.”
He made some few remarks which I cannot recall, and finally said, “Well, what can I get?” I said: “I don’t know. What do you want?” He said: “I think I ought to have 15 or 20 per cent out of the profits of the reorganization.” I said: “That’s pretty steep, considering that you are not to do much.”
He said: “Well, do the best you can. I am willing to leave it to you.”
I went back and reported to Mr. Winsor that I thought Mr. Lawson would be glad to have an interest in the reorganization.
Mr. Winsor asked: “What interest does he want?” I said I thought he would like to have 15 or 20 per cent. Mr. Winsor said: “I think that is pretty steep for not doing very much.” “Well,” I said, “maybe it is a little too much,” and it was finally settled that Mr. Lawson was to have 10 per cent for the reorganization and any profits that came from his own securities. Mr. Winsor said it was all right, and we took a piece of paper out of my desk and he wrote the memorandum and I initialed it, giving the substance of the conversation with Mr. Lawson.
Next morning I told Mr. Lawson over the telephone of the arrangement, and he said it was all right.
Another time that Mr. Rogers smiled, and caused everybody within hearing to smile, too, was when he was telling on Thursday, his last day on the stand, and near the close of his evidence, of his “scolding” Mr. Addicks.
“Perhaps my words were somewhat emphatic,” Mr. Rogers confessed to Mr. Whipple in a burst of confidence.
Q. Let us see what you do say when you get emphatic with J. Edward Addicks and take him to task? A. Well, in the interest of courtesy, and having a little modesty yet, I do not think I want to go into it further.
Q. Did you use words to Mr. Addicks that you do not care to repeat here? A. I must confess that at the time I was very positive. (Laughter.) In substance I said that his letters or that of his man (Senator Allee) were outrageous, and I wanted to know what he meant by having “his man” send them to me. He said he knew nothing about them, and I think that is all there was about the case.
Q. Did you threaten Mr. Addicks? A. Oh, no; I never threaten anybody. (Laughter.)
Q. But you scolded him? A. We just had a little talk. It seems that sometimes I am not half as furious as I think I am. (Laughter.)
Then Mr. Rogers smiled, not a grim smile, either, but a sort of a happy, reminiscent smile, like that of a 10-year-old boy who remembers an extra piece of mince pie.
Soon after that Mr. Rogers stepped off the stand for good, bowed pleasantly to the newspaper men to whom he hardly ever failed to speak as he passed them, and left the courtroom.
He certainly made one of the most entertaining witnesses Boston has heard in a long time. We shall be pleased to see you in a similar capacity again, Mr. Rogers.
HEATH.
The following text is preserved in an untitled manuscript in the Mark Twain Papers. Clemens labeled it “Autobiog.” at the top of the first page, but he did not integrate it with the final text of the autobiography. Paine penciled a title on the first page of the manuscript: “Anecdote of Jean. Her love of Animals.” The disaster portrayed in Jean’s picture book occurred on 1 November 1755, when a powerful series of earthquakes, followed by fires and a tsunami, destroyed much of Lisbon and killed an estimated 60,000 people and an unknown number of animals. The event became a focal point for debates on the nature of divine providence, and was frequently depicted in works of art.
Paine omitted this text from the autobiography, but in his biography of Clemens he retold the story, partly by paraphrasing this manuscript (MTB, 3:1530). The full text is printed here for the first time.
[Anecdote of Jean]
Feb. 20 ’05.
Jean’s deep love and tenderness for animals continues; and of course will always continue, since it is a part of her temperament. Temperaments are born, not made, and they cannot be changed, by time, nor training, nor by any other force. Katy has been recalling a beautiful incident, apropos of this. When Jean was a little child, Katy was one day amusing her with a picture-book. One picture represented the Lisbon earthquake: the earth was gaping open and the people were tumbling into the chasm. Jean was not interested. Katy turned to the next picture: the same earthquake, but this time it was the animals that were being swallowed up. Jean’s eyes filled at once and she said “poor things!” Katy said—
“Why, you didn’t care for the people.”
Jean said—
“Oh, they could speak.”
*Aug. ’85. They deny this now, but I go bail I got that statement from Gilder himself. SLC
* If you call a policeman to settle the dispute you can depend on one thing—he will decide it against you every time. And so will the New York policeman. In London, if you carry your case into court, the man that is entitled to win it will win it. In New York—but no one carries a cab case into court there. It is my impression that it is now more than thirty years since any one has carried a cab case into court there. The foreigner is charged the wildest of prices, but the hotel keeper advises him to pay and keep quiet, and assures him that the court will of a certainty side with the hackman.
*This is Chapter XIV of my unpublished Autobiography.
*There are nineteen days of voyaging ahead yet.—M. T.
* Six days to sail yet, nevertheless.—M. T.
* It was at this time discovered that the crazed sailors had gotten the delusion that the captain had a million dollars in gold concealed aft, and they were conspiring to kill him and the two passengers and seize it.—M. T.
*That house still stands.
*See “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.”
†Used in—“Huck Finn,” I think.
*Used in “Tom Sawyer.”
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF
MARK
TWAIN


An Early Attempt
The chapters which immediately follow constitute a fragment of one of my many attempts (after I was in my forties) to put my life on paper.
It starts out with good confidence, but suffers the fate of its brethren—is presently abandoned for some other and newer interest. This is not to be wondered at, for its plan is the old, old, old unflexible and difficult one—the plan that starts you at the cradle and drives you straight for the grave, with no side-excursions permitted on the way. Whereas the side-excursions are the life of our life-voyage, and should be, also, of its history.
My Autobiography [Random Extracts from It]
* * * * So much for the earlier days, and the New England branch of the Clemenses. The other brother settled in the South, and is remotely responsible for me. He has collected his reward generations ago, whatever it was. He went South with his particular friend Fairfax, and settled in Maryland with him, but afterward went further and made his home in Virginia. This is the Fairfax whose descendants were to enjoy a curious distinction—that of being American-born English earls. The founder of the house was Lord General Fairfax of the Parliamentary army, in Cromwell’s time. The earldom, which is of recent date, came to the American Fairfaxes through the failure of male heirs in England. Old residents of San Francisco will remember “Charley,” the American earl of the mid-’60s—tenth Lord Fairfax according to Burke’s Peerage, and holder of a modest public office of some sort or other in the new mining town of Virginia City, Nevada. He was never out of America. I knew him, but not intimately. He had a golden character, and that was all his fortune. He laid his title aside, and gave it a holiday until his circumstances should improve to a degree consonant with its dignity; but that time never came, I think. He was a manly man, and had fine generosities in his make-up. A prominent and pestilent creature named Ferguson, who was always picking quarrels with better men than himself, picked one with him, one day, and Fairfax knocked him down. Ferguson gathered himself up and went off mumbling threats. Fairfax carried no arms, and refused to carry any now, though his friends warned him that Ferguson was of a treacherous disposition and would be sure to take revenge by base means sooner or later. Nothing happened for several days; then Ferguson took the earl by surprise and snapped a revolver at his breast. Fairfax wrenched the pistol from him and was going to shoot him, but the man fell on his knees and begged, and said “Don’t kill me—I have a wife and children.” Fairfax was in a towering passion, but the appeal reached his heart, and he said, “They have done me no harm,” and he let the rascal go.
Back of the Virginian Clemenses is a dim procession of ancestors stretching back to Noah’s time. According to tradition, some of them were pirates and slavers in Elizabeth’s time. But this is no discredit to them, for so were Drake and Hawkins and the others. It was a respectable trade, then, and monarchs were partners in it. In my time I have had desires to be a pirate myself. The reader—if he will look deep down in his secret heart, will find—but never mind what he will find there: I am not writing his Autobiography, but mine. Later, according to tradition, one of the procession was Ambassador to Spain in the time of James I, or of Charles I, and married there and sent down a strain of Spanish blood to warm us up. Also, according to tradition, this one or another—Geoffrey Clement, by name—helped to sentence Charles to death. I have not examined into these traditions myself, partly because I was indolent, and partly because I was so busy polishing up this end of the line and trying to make it showy; but the other Clemenses claim that they have made the examination and that it stood the test. Therefore I have always taken for granted that I did help Charles out of his troubles, by ancestral proxy. My instincts have persuaded me, too. Whenever we have a strong and persistent and ineradicable instinct, we may be sure that it is not original with us, but inherited—inherited from away back, and hardened and perfected by the petrifying influence of time. Now I have been always and unchangingly bitter against Charles, and I am quite certain that this feeling trickled down to me through the veins of my forebears from the heart of that judge; for it is not my disposition to be bitter against people on my own personal account. I am not bitter against Jeffreys. I ought to be, but I am not. It indicates that my ancestors of James II’s time were indifferent to him; I do not know why; I never could make it out; but that is what it indicates. And I have always felt friendly toward Satan. Of course that is ancestral; it must be in the blood, for I could not have originated it.
... And so, by the testimony of instinct, backed by the assertions of Clemenses who said they had examined the records, I have always been obliged to believe that Geoffrey Clement the martyr-maker was an ancestor of mine, and to regard him with favor, and in fact pride. This has not had a good effect upon me, for it has made me vain, and that is a fault. It has made me set myself above people who were less fortunate in their ancestry than I, and has moved me to take them down a peg, upon occasion, and say things to them which hurt them before company.
A case of the kind happened in Berlin several years ago. William Walter Phelps was our Minister at the Emperor’s Court, then, and one evening he had me to dinner to meet Count S., a cabinet minister. This nobleman was of long and illustrious descent. Of course I wanted to let out the fact that I had some ancestors, too; but I did not want to pull them out of their graves by the ears, and I never could seem to get a chance to work them in in a way that would look sufficiently casual. I suppose Phelps was in the same difficulty. In fact he looked distraught, now and then—just as a person looks who wants to uncover an ancestor purely by accident, and cannot think of a way that will seem accidental enough. But at last, after dinner, he made a try. He took us about his drawing-room, showing us the pictures, and finally stopped before a rude and ancient engraving. It was a picture of the court that tried Charles I. There was a pyramid of judges in Puritan slouch hats, and below them three bare-headed secretaries seated at a table. Mr. Phelps put his finger upon one of the three, and said with exulting indifference—
“An ancestor of mine.”
I put my finger on a judge, and retorted with scathing languidness—
“Ancestor of mine. But it is a small matter. I have others.”
It was not noble in me to do it. I have always regretted it since. But it landed him. I wonder how he felt? However, it made no difference in our friendship; which shows that he was fine and high, notwithstanding the humbleness of his origin. And it was also creditable in me, too, that I could overlook it. I made no change in my bearing toward him, but always treated him as an equal.




Jane Lampton Clemens, Keokuk, Iowa, Photograph by George Hassall.



Pamela Clemens Moffett, early 1860s. Courtesy of Mrs. Kate Gilmore and the Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum, Hannibal.




Orion Clemens, early 1860s. Nevada Historical Society.



Henry Clemens, ca. 1858. Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum, Hannibal.



Samuel L. Clemens and Olivia L. Langdon. The porcelaintypes in purple velvet cases they exchanged during their engagement in 1869. His photograph was taken by Edwin P. Kellogg, Hartford.



Clara Spaulding with Susy Clemens in her lap, Olivia and Samuel Clemens, and John Brown, Edinburgh, August 1873. Photograph by John Moffat. Mark Twain House and Museum, Hartford.



Karl Gerhardt’s bust of Grant, 1885. Mark Twain House and Museum, Hartford.



Karl Gerhardt, 1880s. Courtesy of Kevin Mac Donnell.



The Paige typesetter. Photograph by Albert Bigelow Paine.



Clara, Jean, and Susy Clemens with their dog Hash, Hartford, 1884. Photograph by Horace L. Bundy.



Margaret (Daisy) Warner as the Pauper and Susy Clemens as the Prince in their costumes for the Prince and the Pauper play, Hartford, March 1886. Mark Twain House and Museum, Hartford.



Cast of A Love-Chase: Clara Clemens as Art, Daisy Warner as Literature, Jean Clemens as Cupid, Susy Clemens as Music, and Fanny Freese as a shepherd boy, Hartford, 1889. Mark Twain House and Museum, Hartford.



Olivia, Samuel, and Clara Clemens with James B. Pond (Clemens’s lecture agent) and his wife, Martha, aboard the SS Warrimoo, 23 August 1895, before the Clemenses departed from Victoria, B.C., on the world tour of 1895–96. Courtesy of Kevin Mac Donnell.



Clemens in front of his boyhood home in Hannibal, Missouri, while preparations were made for his formal photograph, 31 May 1902. Photograph by Anna Schnizlein. Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum, Hannibal.




The formal photograph, Hannibal, 31 May 1902, by Herbert Tomlinson.



Recipients of honorary degrees at the University of Missouri, 4 June 1902: Clemens with Ethan Allen Hitchcock, Secretary of the Interior; Robert S. Brookings, millionaire founder of the Brookings Institute; James Wilson, Secretary of Agriculture; and botanist Beverly T. Galloway. Used by permission of The State Historical Society of Missouri.



Two views (above right and below) of Clemens in his study at Quarry Farm, Elmira, New York, 1903. Mark Twain House and Museum, Hartford.





Villa di Quarto, Florence, Italy, 1903–4.



Clemens in the garden of the Villa di Quarto, 1904. Photograph by Isabel Lyon.



Staff at the Villa di Quarto, 1904: Carlo Cosi, the chef; Adelasia Curradi, the upstairs maid; Gigia Brunori, the kitchen maid; Katy Leary; Celestino Bruschi, the footman; Theresa Bini; Ugo Piemontini, the buder (possibly the Countess Massiglia’s “handsome chief manservant”); and Emilio Talorici (?), the coachman. Photograph by Jean Clemens.



Clara Clemens in the garden of the Villa di Quarto, 1904. Photograph by Jean Clemens.




Olivia Clemens on her deathbed, Villa di Quarto, June 1904. Photograph by Jean Clemens.



Jean Clemens on her horse outside the Villa di Quarto, 1904. Photograph by Isabel Lyon.




Clara and Samuel Clemens with cats on shipboard after Olivia’s death, “July 1904, on the way home from Naples, bringing Mrs. Clemens.” Photograph and note by Isabel Lyon.



Samuel and Jean Clemens at the Copley Greene house (“Lone Tree Hill”), Dublin, New Hampshire, 1905. Photograph by Isabel Lyon.



Patrick McAleer holding a rabbit, Dublin, New Hampshire, 1905. Photograph by Isabel Lyon.



Isabel Lyon on Mount Monadnock, Dublin, New Hampshire, 1906. Photograph by Albert Bigelow Paine.



Upton House, Dublin, New Hampshire, 1906. Photograph by Isabel Lyon.




Albert Bigelow Paine, Dublin, New Hampshire, summer of 1906.



Albert Bigelow Paine with his wife, Dora, and their youngest daughter, Joy, Dublin, New Hampshire, summer of 1906.



Clemens in Henry H. Rogers’s car with Ernest Keeler, Rogers’s driver, 1906. Photograph by Albert Bigelow Paine.



Clemens at his seventieth birthday dinner at Delmonico’s, 5 December 1905, with Kate Douglas Riggs, Joseph H. Twichell, Bliss Carman, Ruth McEnery Stuart, Mary E. Wilkins Freeman, Henry Mills Alden, and Henry H. Rogers. Photograph by Joseph Byron, New York.



Booker T. Washington speaking on behalf of the Tuskegee Institute at its “silver jubilee” celebration, with Clemens sitting behind him on stage at Carnegie Hall, 22 January 1906. Photograph by Underwood and Underwood.



Helen Keller and Clemens, 1895. The inscription is in Clemens’s hand.



Clemens and Henry H. Rogers outside the Princess Hotel, Bermuda, 1908. Photograph by Isabel Lyon.



Joseph H. Twichell and Clemens, February 1905. Photograph by Jean Clemens.



William Dean Howells and Clemens, Lakewood, New Jersey, 28 December 1907.



Dorothy and George Harvey with Clemens, ca. 1903. The identifications are in Clemens’s hand.



Richard Watson Gilder, October 1904. Photograph by Jean Clemens.





Three views of Clemens in his bed at 21 Fifth Avenue, New York, from a series of photographs taken by Albert Bigelow Paine in late February or early March 1906. In the top photograph, Clemens is reading the 24 February 1906 issue of Collier’s Weekly with the morning newspapers piled on the pillow next to him.



Samuel Clemens, Boston, Massachusetts, 1869. Photograph by James Wallace Black. Courtesy of Kevin Mac Donnell.
But it was a hard night for me in one way. Mr. Phelps thought I was the guest of honor, and so did Count S.; but I didn’t, for there was nothing in my invitation to indicate it. It was just a friendly off-hand note, on a card. By the time dinner was announced Phelps was himself in a state of doubt. Something had to be done; and it was not a handy time for explanations. He tried to get me to go out with him, but I held back; then he tried S., and he also declined. There was another guest, but there was no trouble about him. We finally went out in a pile. There was a decorous plunge for seats, and I got the one at Mr. Phelps’s left, the Count captured the one facing Phelps, and the other guest had to take the place of honor, since he could not help himself. We returned to the drawing-room in the original disorder. I had new shoes on, and they were tight. At eleven I was privately crying; I couldn’t help it; the pain was so cruel. Conversation had been dead for an hour. S. had been due at the bedside of a dying official ever since half past nine. At last we all rose by one blessed impulse and went down to the street door without explanations—in a pile, and no precedence; and so, parted.
The evening had its defects; still, I got my ancestor in, and was satisfied.
Among the Virginian Clemenses were Jere. (already mentioned), and Sherrard. Jere. Clemens had a wide reputation as a good pistol-shot, and once it enabled him to get on the friendly side of some drummers when they would not have paid any attention to mere smooth words and arguments. He was out stumping the State at the time. The drummers were grouped in front of the stand, and had been hired by the opposition to drum while he made his speech. When he was ready to begin, he got out his revolver and laid it before him, and said in his soft, silky way—
“I do not wish to hurt anybody, and shall try not to; but I have got just a bullet apiece for those six drums, and if you should want to play on them, don’t stand behind them.”
Sherrard Clemens was a Republican Congressman from West Virginia in the war days, and then went out to St. Louis, where the James Clemens branch lived, and still lives, and there he became a warm rebel. This was after the war. At the time that he was a Republican I was a rebel; but by the time he had become a rebel I was become (temporarily) a Republican. The Clemenses have always done the best they could to keep the political balances level, no matter how much it might inconvenience them. I did not know what had become of Sherrard Clemens; but once I introduced Senator Hawley to a Republican mass meeting in New England, and then I got a bitter letter from Sherrard from St. Louis. He said that the Republicans of the North—no, the “mudsills of the North”—had swept away the old aristocracy of the South with fire and sword, and it ill became me, an aristocrat by blood, to train with that kind of swine. Did I forget that I was a Lambton?
That was a reference to my mother’s side of the house. As I have already said, she was a Lambton—Lambton with a p, for some of the American Lamptons could not spell very well in early times, and so the name suffered at their hands. She was a native of Kentucky, and married my father in Lexington in 1823, when she was twenty years old and he twenty-four. Neither of them had an overplus of property. She brought him two or three negroes, but nothing else, I think. They removed to the remote and secluded village of Jamestown, in the mountain solitudes of east Tennessee. There their first crop of children was born, but as I was of a later vintage I do not remember anything about it. I was postponed—postponed to Missouri. Missouri was an unknown new State and needed attractions.
I think that my eldest brother, Orion, my sisters Pamela and Margaret, and my brother Benjamin were born in Jamestown. There may have been others, but as to that I am not sure. It was a great lift for that little village to have my parents come there. It was hoped that they would stay, so that it would become a city. It was supposed that they would stay. And so there was a boom; but by and by they went away, and prices went down, and it was many years before Jamestown got another start. I have written about Jamestown in the “Gilded Age,” a book of mine, but it was from hearsay, not from personal knowledge. My father left a fine estate behind him in the region round about Jamestown—75,000 acres.* When he died in 1847 he had owned it about twenty years. The taxes were almost nothing (five dollars a year for the whole), and he had always paid them regularly and kept his title perfect. He had always said that the land would not become valuable in his time, but that it would be a commodious provision for his children some day. It contained coal, copper, iron and timber, and he said that in the course of time railways would pierce to that region, and then the property would be property in fact as well as in name. It also produced a wild grape of a promising sort. He had sent some samples to Nicholas Longworth, of Cincinnati, to get his judgment upon them, and Mr. Longworth had said that they would make as good wine as his Catawbas. The land contained all these riches; and also oil, but my father did not know that, and of course in those early days he would have cared nothing about it if he had known it. The oil was not discovered until about 1895. I wish I owned a couple of acres of the land now. In which case I would not be writing Autobiographies for a living. My father’s dying charge was, “Cling to the land and wait; let nothing beguile it away from you.” My mother’s favorite cousin, James Lampton, who figures in the “Gilded Age” as “Colonel Sellers,” always said of that land—and said it with blazing enthusiasm, too,—“There’s millions in it—millions!” It is true that he always said that about everything—and was always mistaken, too; but this time he was right; which shows that a man who goes around with a prophecy-gun ought never to get discouraged: if he will keep up his heart and fire at everything he sees, he is bound to hit something by and by.
Many persons regarded “Colonel Sellers” as a fiction, an invention, an extravagant impossibility, and did me the honor to call him a “creation;” but they were mistaken. I merely put him on paper as he was; he was not a person who could be exaggerated. The incidents which looked most extravagant, both in the book and on the stage, were not inventions of mine but were facts of his life; and I was present when they were developed. John T. Raymond’s audiences used to come near to dying with laughter over the turnip-eating scene; but, extravagant as the scene was, it was faithful to the facts, in all its absurd details. The thing happened in Lampton’s own house, and I was present. In fact I was myself the guest who ate the turnips. In the hands of a great actor that piteous scene would have dimmed any manly spectator’s eyes with tears, and racked his ribs apart with laughter at the same time. But Raymond was great in humorous portrayal only. In that he was superb, he was wonderful—in a word, great; in all things else he was a pigmy of the pigmies. The real Colonel Sellers, as I knew him in James Lampton, was a pathetic and beautiful spirit, a manly man, a straight and honorable man, a man with a big, foolish, unselfish heart in his bosom, a man born to be loved; and he was loved by all his friends, and by his family worshiped. It is the right word. To them he was but little less than a god. The real Colonel Sellers was never on the stage. Only half of him was there. Raymond could not play the other half of him; it was above his level. That half was made up of qualities of which Raymond was wholly destitute. For Raymond was not a manly man, he was not an honorable man nor an honest one, he was empty and selfish and vulgar and ignorant and silly, and there was a vacancy in him where his heart should have been. There was only one man who could have played the whole of Colonel Sellers, and that was Frank Mayo.*
It is a world of surprises. They fall, too, where one is least expecting them. When I introduced Sellers into the book, Charles Dudley Warner, who was writing the story with me, proposed a change of Sellers’s Christian name. Ten years before, in a remote corner of the West, he had come across a man named Eschol Sellers, and he thought that Eschol was just the right and fitting name for our Sellers, since it was odd, and quaint, and all that. I liked the idea, but I said that that man might turn up and object. But Warner said it couldn’t happen; that he was doubtless dead by this time, a man with a name like that couldn’t live long; and be he dead or alive we must have the name, it was exactly the right one and we couldn’t do without it. So the change was made. Warner’s man was a farmer in a cheap and humble way. When the book had been out a week, a college-bred gentleman of courtly manners and ducal upholstery arrived in Hartford in a sultry state of mind and with a libel suit in his eye, and his name was Eschol Sellers! He had never heard of the other one, and had never been within a thousand miles of him. This damaged aristocrat’s program was quite definite and business-like: the American Publishing Company must suppress the edition as far as printed, and change the name in the plates, or stand a suit for $10,000. He carried away the Company’s promise and many apologies, and we changed the name back to Colonel Mulberry Sellers, in the plates. Apparently there is nothing that cannot happen. Even the existence of two unrelated men wearing the impossible name of Eschol Sellers is a possible thing.
James Lampton floated, all his days, in a tinted mist of magnificent dreams, and died at last without seeing one of them realized. I saw him last in 1884, when it had been twenty-six years since I ate the basin of raw turnips and washed them down with a bucket of water in his house. He was become old and white-headed, but he entered to me in the same old breezy way of his earlier life, and he was all there, yet—not a detail wanting: the happy light in his eye, the abounding hope in his heart, the persuasive tongue, the miracle-breeding imagination—they were all there; and before I could turn around he was polishing up his Aladdin’s lamp and flashing the secret riches of the world before me. I said to myself, “I did not overdraw him by a shade, I set him down as he was; and he is the same man to-day: Cable will recognize him.” I asked him to excuse me a moment, and ran into the next room, which was Cable’s; Cable and I were stumping the Union on a reading-tour. I said—
“I am going to leave your door open, so that you can listen. There is a man in there who is interesting.”
I went back and asked Lampton what he was doing, now. He began to tell me of a “small venture” he had begun in New Mexico through his son; “only a little thing—a mere trifle—partly to amuse my leisure, partly to keep my capital from lying idle, but mainly to develop the boy—develop the boy; fortune’s wheel is ever revolving, he may have to work for his living some day—as strange things have happened in this world. But it’s only a little thing—a mere trifle, as I said.”
And so it was—as he began it. But under his deft hands it grew, and blossomed, and spread—oh, beyond imagination. At the end of half an hour he finished; finished with this remark, uttered in an adorably languid manner:
“Yes, it is but a trifle, as things go nowadays—a bagatelle—but amusing. It passes the time. The boy thinks great things of it, but he is young, you know, and imaginative; lacks the experience which comes of handling large affairs, and which tempers the fancy and perfects the judgment. I suppose there’s a couple of millions in it, possibly three, but not more, I think; still, for a boy, you know, just starting in life, it is not bad. I should not want him to make a fortune—let that come later. It could turn his head, at his time of life, and in many ways be a damage to him.”
Then he said something about his having left his pocket-book lying on the table in the main drawing-room at home, and about its being after banking hours, now, and—
I stopped him, there, and begged him to honor Cable and me by being our guest at the lecture—with as many friends as might be willing to do us the like honor. He accepted. And he thanked me as a prince might who had granted us a grace. The reason I stopped his speech about the tickets was because I saw that he was going to ask me to furnish them to him and let him pay next day; and I knew that if he made the debt he would pay it if he had to pawn his clothes. After a little further chat he shook hands heartily and affectionately, and took his leave. Cable put his head in at the door, and said—
“That was Colonel Sellers.”
Chapter
1847
As I have said, that vast plot of Tennessee land * was held by my father twenty years—intact. When he died in 1847, we began to manage it ourselves. Forty years afterward, we had managed it all away except 10,000 acres, and gotten nothing to remember the sales by. About 1887—possibly it was earlier—the 10,000 went. My brother found a chance to trade it for a house and lot in the town of Corry, in the oil regions of Pennsylvania. About 1894 he sold this property for $250. That ended the Tennessee Land.
If any penny of cash ever came out of my father’s wise investment but that, I have no recollection of it. No, I am overlooking a detail. It furnished me a field for Sellers and a book. Out of my half of the book I got $15,000 or $20,000; out of the play I got $75,000 or $80,000—just about a dollar an acre. It is curious: I was not alive when my father made the investment, therefore he was not intending any partiality; yet I was the only member of the family that ever profited by it. I shall have occasion to mention this land again, now and then, as I go along, for it influenced our life in one way or another during more than a generation. Whenever things grew dark it rose and put out its hopeful Sellers hand and cheered us up, and said “Do not be afraid—trust in me—wait.” It kept us hoping and hoping, during forty years, and forsook us at last. It put our energies to sleep and made visionaries of us—dreamers, and indolent. We were always going to be rich next year—no occasion to work. It is good to begin life poor; it is good to begin life rich—these are wholesome; but to begin it prospectively rich! The man who has not experienced it cannot imagine the curse of it.
My parents removed to Missouri in the early thirties; I do not remember just when, for I was not born then, and cared nothing for such things. It was a long journey in those days, and must have been a rough and tiresome one. The home was made in the wee village of Florida, in Monroe County, and I was born there in 1835. The village contained a hundred people and I increased the population by 1 per cent. It is more than the best man in history ever did for any other town. It may not be modest in me to refer to this, but it is true. There is no record of a person doing as much—not even Shakspeare. But I did it for Florida, and it shows that I could have done it for any place—even London, I suppose.
Recently some one in Missouri has sent me a picture of the house I was born in. Heretofore I have always stated that it was a palace, but I shall be more guarded, now.
I remember only one circumstance connected with my life in it. I remember it very well, though I was but two and a half years old at the time. The family packed up everything and started in wagons for Hannibal, on the Mississippi, thirty miles away. Toward night, when they camped and counted up the children, one was missing. I was the one. I had been left behind. Parents ought always to count the children before they start. I was having a good enough time playing by myself until I found that the doors were fastened and that there was a grisly deep silence brooding over the place. I knew, then, that the family were gone, and that they had forgotten me. I was well frightened, and I made all the noise I could, but no one was near and it did no good. I spent the afternoon in captivity and was not rescued till the gloaming had fallen and the place was alive with ghosts.
My brother Henry was six months old at that time. I used to remember his walking into a fire outdoors when he was a week old. It was remarkable in me to remember a thing like that, which occurred when I was so young. And it was still more remarkable that I should cling to the delusion, for thirty years, that I did remember it—for of course it never happened; he would not have been able to walk at that age. If I had stopped to reflect, I should not have burdened my memory with that impossible rubbish so long. It is believed by many people that an impression deposited in a child’s memory within the first two years of its life cannot remain there five years, but that is an error. The incident of Benvenuto Cellini and the salamander must be accepted as authentic and trustworthy; and then that remarkable and indisputable instance in the experience of Helen Keller—however, I will speak of that at another time. For many years I believed that I remembered helping my grandfather drink his whisky toddy when I was six weeks old, but I do not tell about that any more, now; I am grown old, and my memory is not as active as it used to be. When I was younger I could remember anything, whether it had happened or not; but my faculties are decaying, now, and soon I shall be so I cannot remember any but the latter. It is sad to go to pieces like this, but we all have to do it.
My uncle, John A. Quarles, was a farmer, and his place was in the country four miles from Florida. He had eight children, and fifteen or twenty negroes, and was also fortunate in other ways. Particularly in his character. I have not come across a better man than he was. I was his guest for two or three months every year, from the fourth year after we removed to Hannibal till I was eleven or twelve years old. I have never consciously used him or his wife in a book, but his farm has come very handy to me in literature, once or twice. In “Huck Finn” and in “Tom Sawyer Detective” I moved it down to Arkansas. It was all of six hundred miles, but it was no trouble, it was not a very large farm; five hundred acres, perhaps, but I could have done it if it had been twice as large. And as for the morality of it, I cared nothing for that; I would move a State if the exigencies of literature required it.
It was a heavenly place for a boy, that farm of my uncle John’s. The house was a double log one, with a spacious floor (roofed in) connecting it with the kitchen. In the summer the table was set in the middle of that shady and breezy floor, and the sumptuous meals—well, it makes me cry to think of them. Fried chicken; roast pig; wild and tame turkeys, ducks, and geese; venison just killed; squirrels, rabbits, pheasants, partridges, prairie chickens; home-made bacon and ham; hot biscuits, hot batter-cakes, hot buckwheat cakes, hot “wheatbread,” hot rolls, hot corn pone; fresh corn boiled on the ear, succotash, butter-beans, string beans, tomatoes, peas, Irish potatoes, sweet potatoes; buttermilk, sweet milk, “clabber;” watermelons, musk melons, canteloups—all fresh from the garden—apple pie, peach pie, pumpkin pie, apple dumplings, peach cobbler—I can’t remember the rest. The way that the things were cooked was perhaps the main splendor—particularly a certain few of the dishes. For instance, the corn bread, the hot biscuits and wheatbread, and the fried chicken. These things have never been properly cooked in the North—in fact, no one there is able to learn the art, so far as my experience goes. The North thinks it knows how to make corn bread, but this is gross superstition. Perhaps no bread in the world is quite as good as Southern corn bread, and perhaps no bread in the world is quite so bad as the Northern imitation of it. The North seldom tries to fry chicken, and this is well; the art cannot be learned north of the line of Mason and Dixon, nor anywhere in Europe. This is not hearsay; it is experience that is speaking. In Europe it is imagined that the custom of serving various kinds of bread blazing hot is “American,” but that is too broad a spread: it is custom in the South, but is much less than that in the North. In the North and in Europe hot bread is considered unhealthy. This is probably another fussy superstition, like the European superstition that ice-water is unhealthy. Europe does not need ice-water, and does not drink it; and yet, notwithstanding this, its word for it is better than ours, because it describes it, whereas ours doesn’t. Europe calls it “iced” water. Our word describes water made from melted ice—a drink which has a characterless taste, and which we have but little acquaintance with.
It seems a pity that the world should throw away so many good things merely because they are unwholesome. I doubt if God has given us any refreshment which, taken in moderation, is unwholesome, except microbes. Yet there are people who strictly deprive themselves of each and every eatable, drinkable and smokable which has in any way acquired a shady reputation. They pay this price for health. And health is all they get for it. How strange it is; it is like paying out your whole fortune for a cow that has gone dry.
The farm-house stood in the middle of a very large yard, and the yard was fenced on three sides with rails and on the rear side with high palings; against these stood the smoke-house; beyond the palings was the orchard, beyond the orchard were the negro quarter and the tobacco fields. The front yard was entered over a stile, made of sawed-off logs of graduated heights; I do not remember any gate. In a corner of the front yard were a dozen lofty hickory trees and a dozen black walnuts, and in the nutting season riches were to be gathered there.
Down a piece, abreast the house, stood a little log cabin against the rail fence; and there the woody hill fell sharply away, past the barns, the corn-crib, the stables and the tobacco-curing house, to a limpid brook which sang along over its gravelly bed and curved and frisked in and out and here and there and yonder in the deep shade of overhanging foliage and vines—a divine place for wading, and it had swimming-pools, too, which were forbidden to us and therefore much frequented by us. For we were little Christian children, and had early been taught the value of forbidden fruit.
In the little log cabin lived a bedridden white-headed slave woman whom we visited daily, and looked upon with awe, for we believed she was upwards of a thousand years old and had talked with Moses. The younger negroes credited these statistics, and had furnished them to us in good faith. We accommodated all the details which came to us about her; and so we believed that she had lost her health in the long desert-trip coming out of Egypt, and had never been able to get it back again. She had a round bald place on the crown of her head, and we used to creep around and gaze at it in reverent silence, and reflect that it was caused by fright through seeing Pharaoh drowned. We called her “Aunt” Hannah, Southern fashion. She was superstitious like the other negroes; also, like them, she was deeply religious. Like them, she had great faith in prayer, and employed it in all ordinary exigencies, but not in cases where a dead certainty of result was urgent. Whenever witches were around she tied up the remnant of her wool in little tufts, with white thread, and this promptly made the witches impotent.
All the negroes were friends of ours, and with those of our own age we were in effect comrades. I say in effect, using the phrase as a modification. We were comrades, and yet not comrades; color and condition interposed a subtle line which both parties were conscious of, and which rendered complete fusion impossible. We had a faithful and affectionate good friend, ally and adviser in “Uncle Dan’l,” a middle-aged slave whose head was the best one in the negro-quarter, whose sympathies were wide and warm, and whose heart was honest and simple and knew no guile. He has served me well, these many, many years. I have not seen him for more than half a century, and yet spiritually I have had his welcome company a good part of that time, and have staged him in books under his own name and as “Jim,” and carted him all around—to Hannibal, down the Mississippi on a raft, and even across the Desert of Sahara in a balloon—and he has endured it all with the patience and friendliness and loyalty which were his birthright. It was on the farm that I got my strong liking for his race and my appreciation of certain of its fine qualities. This feeling and this estimate have stood the test of sixty years and more and have suffered no impairment. The black face is as welcome to me now as it was then.
In my schoolboy days I had no aversion to slavery. I was not aware that there was anything wrong about it. No one arraigned it in my hearing; the local papers said nothing against it; the local pulpit taught us that God approved it, that it was a holy thing, and that the doubter need only look in the Bible if he wished to settle his mind—and then the texts were read aloud to us to make the matter sure; if the slaves themselves had an aversion to slavery they were wise and said nothing. In Hannibal we seldom saw a slave misused; on the farm, never.
There was, however, one small incident of my boyhood days which touched this matter, and it must have meant a good deal to me or it would not have stayed in my memory, clear and sharp, vivid and shadowless, all these slow-drifting years. We had a little slave boy whom we had hired from some one, there in Hannibal. He was from the Eastern Shore of Maryland, and had been brought away from his family and his friends, half way across the American continent, and sold. He was a cheery spirit, innocent and gentle, and the noisiest creature that ever was, perhaps. All day long he was singing, whistling, yelling, whooping, laughing—it was maddening, devastating, unendurable. At last, one day, I lost all my temper, and went raging to my mother, and said Sandy had been singing for an hour without a single break, and I couldn’t stand it, and wouldn’t she please shut him up. The tears came into her eyes, and her lip trembled, and she said something like this—
“Poor thing, when he sings, it shows that he is not remembering, and that comforts me; but when he is still, I am afraid he is thinking, and I cannot bear it. He will never see his mother again; if he can sing, I must not hinder it, but be thankful for it. If you were older, you would understand me; then that friendless child’s noise would make you glad.”
It was a simple speech, and made up of small words, but it went home, and Sandy’s noise was not a trouble to me any more. She never used large words, but she had a natural gift for making small ones do effective work. She lived to reach the neighborhood of ninety years, and was capable with her tongue to the last—especially when a meanness or an injustice roused her spirit. She has come handy to me several times in my books, where she figures as Tom Sawyer’s “Aunt Polly.” I fitted her out with a dialect, and tried to think up other improvements for her, but did not find any. I used Sandy once, also; it was in “Tom Sawyer;” I tried to get him to whitewash the fence, but it did not work. I do not remember what name I called him by in the book.
I can see the farm yet, with perfect clearness. I can see all its belongings, all its details: the family room of the house, with a “trundle” bed in one corner and a spinning-wheel in another—a wheel whose rising and falling wail, heard from a distance, was the mournfulest of all sounds to me, and made me homesick and low-spirited, and filled my atmosphere with the wandering spirits of the dead; the vast fireplace, piled high, on winter nights, with flaming hickory logs from whose ends a sugary sap bubbled out but did not go to waste, for we scraped it off and ate it; the lazy cat spread out on the rough hearthstones, the drowsy dogs braced against the jambs and blinking; my aunt in one chimney corner knitting, my uncle in the other smoking his corn-cob pipe; the slick and carpetless oak floor faintly mirroring the dancing flame-tongues and freckled with black indentations where fire-coals had popped out and died a leisurely death; half a dozen children romping in the background twilight; “split”-bottomed chairs here and there, some with rockers; a cradle—out of service, but waiting, with confidence; in the early cold mornings a snuggle of children, in shirts and chemises, occupying the hearthstone and procrastinating—they could not bear to leave that comfortable place and go out on the wind-swept floor-space between house and kitchen where the general tin basin stood, and wash.
Along outside of the front fence ran the country road; dusty in the summertime, and a good place for snakes—they liked to lie in it and sun themselves; when they were rattlesnakes or puff adders, we killed them; when they were black snakes, or racers, or belonged to the fabled “hoop” breed, we fled, without shame; when they were “house-snakes” or “garters” we carried them home and put them in Aunt Patsy’s work-basket for a surprise; for she was prejudiced against snakes, and always when she took the basket in her lap and they began to climb out of it it disordered her mind. She never could seem to get used to them; her opportunities went for nothing. And she was always cold toward bats, too, and could not bear them; and yet I think a bat is as friendly a bird as there is. My mother was Aunt Patsy’s sister, and had the same wild superstitions. A bat is beautifully soft and silky; I do not know any creature that is pleasanter to the touch, or is more grateful for caressings, if offered in the right spirit. I know all about these coleoptera, because our great cave, three miles below Hannibal, was multitudinously stocked with them, and often I brought them home to amuse my mother with. It was easy to manage if it was a school day, because then I had ostensibly been to school and hadn’t any bats. She was not a suspicious person, but full of trust and confidence; and when I said “There’s something in my coat-pocket for you,” she would put her hand in. But she always took it out again, herself; I didn’t have to tell her. It was remarkable, the way she couldn’t learn to like private bats. The more experience she had, the more she could not change her views.
I think she was never in the cave in her life; but everybody else went there. Many excursion-parties came from considerable distances up and down the river to visit the cave. It was miles in extent, and was a tangled wilderness of narrow and lofty clefts and passages. It was an easy place to get lost in; anybody could do it—including the bats. I got lost in it myself, along with a lady, and our last candle burned down to almost nothing before we glimpsed the search-party’s lights winding about in the distance.
“Injun Joe” the half-breed got lost in there once, and would have starved to death if the bats had run short. But there was no chance of that; there were myriads of them. He told me all his story. In the book called “Tom Sawyer” I starved him entirely to death in the cave, but that was in the interest of art; it never happened. “General” Gaines, who was our first town-drunkard before Jimmy Finn got the place, was lost in there for the space of a week, and finally pushed his handkerchief out of a hole in a hilltop near Saverton, several miles down the river from the cave’s mouth, and somebody saw it and dug him out. There is nothing the matter with his statistics except the handkerchief. I knew him for years, and he hadn’t any. But it could have been his nose. That would attract attention.
The cave was an uncanny place, for it contained a corpse—the corpse of a young girl of fourteen. It was in a glass cylinder enclosed in a copper one which was suspended from a rail which bridged a narrow passage. The body was preserved in alcohol, and it was said that loafers and rowdies used to drag it up by the hair and look at the dead face. The girl was the daughter of a St. Louis surgeon of extraordinary ability and wide celebrity. He was an eccentric man, and did many strange things. He put the poor thing in that forlorn place himself.
He was a physician as well as a surgeon; and sometimes in cases where medicines failed to save, he developed other resources. He fell out, once, with a family whose physician he was, and after that they ceased to employ him. But a time came when he was once more called. The lady of the house was very ill, and had been given up by her doctors. He came into the room and stopped, and stood still, and looked around upon the scene; he had his great slouch hat on, and a quarter of an acre of gingerbread under his arm, and while he looked meditatively about, he broke hunks from his cake, munched them, and let the crumbs dribble down his breast to the floor. The lady lay pale and still, with her eyes closed; about the bed, in the solemn hush, were grouped the family softly sobbing, some standing, some kneeling. Presently the doctor began to take up the medicine bottles and sniff at them contemptuously and throw them out of the open window. When they were all gone he ranged up to the bed, laid his slab of gingerbread on the dying woman’s breast, and said roughly—
“What are you idiots sniveling about?—there’s nothing the matter with this humbug. Put out your tongue!”
The sobbings stopped and the angry mourners changed their attitudes and began to upbraid the doctor for his cruel behavior in this chamber of death; but he interrupted them with an explosion of profane abuse, and said—
“A pack of snuffling fat-wits, do you think you can teach me my business? I tell you there is nothing the matter with the woman—nothing the matter but laziness. What she wants is a beefsteak and a washtub. With her damned society training, she—”
Then the dying woman rose up in bed, and the light of battle was in her eye. She poured out upon the doctor her whole insulted mind—just a volcanic irruption, accompanied by thunder and lightning, whirlwinds and earthquakes, pumice stone and ashes. It brought the reaction which he was after, and she got well. This was the lamented Dr. McDowell, whose name was so great and so honored in the Mississippi Valley a decade before the Civil War.
Chapter
Beyond the road where the snakes sunned themselves was a dense young thicket, and through it a dim-lighted path led a quarter of a mile; then out of the dimness one emerged abruptly upon a level great prairie which was covered with wild strawberry plants, vividly starred with prairie pinks, and walled in on all sides by forests. The strawberries were fragrant and fine, and in the season we were generally there in the crisp freshness of the early morning, while the dew-beads still sparkled upon the grass and the woods were ringing with the first songs of the birds.
Down the forest-slopes to the left were the swings. They were made of bark stripped from hickory saplings. When they became dry they were dangerous. They usually broke when a child was forty feet in the air, and this was why so many bones had to be mended every year. I had no ill luck myself, but none of my cousins escaped. There were eight of them, and at one time and another they broke fourteen arms among them. But it cost next to nothing, for the doctor worked by the year—$25 for the whole family. I remember two of the Florida doctors, Chowning and Meredith. They not only tended an entire family for $25 a year, but furnished the medicines themselves. Good measure, too. Only the largest persons could hold a whole dose. Castor oil was the principal beverage. The dose was half a dipperful, with half a dipperful of New Orleans molasses added to help it down and make it taste good, which it never did. The next stand-by was calomel; the next, rhubarb; and the next, jalap. Then they bled the patient, and put mustard plasters on him. It was a dreadful system, and yet the death-rate was not heavy. The calomel was nearly sure to salivate the patient and cost him some of his teeth. There were no dentists. When teeth became touched with decay or were otherwise ailing, the doctor knew of but one thing to do: he fetched his tongs and dragged them out. If the jaw remained, it was not his fault.
Doctors were not called, in cases of ordinary illness; the family’s grandmother attended to those. Every old woman was a doctor, and gathered her own medicines in the woods, and knew how to compound doses that would stir the vitals of a cast-iron dog. And then there was the “Indian doctor;” a grave savage, remnant of his tribe, deeply read in the mysteries of nature and the secret properties of herbs; and most backwoodsmen had high faith in his powers and could tell of wonderful cures achieved by him. In Mauritius, away off yonder in the solitudes of the Indian ocean, there is a person who answers to our Indian doctor of the old times. He is a negro, and has had no teaching as a doctor, yet there is one disease which he is master of and can cure, and the doctors can’t. They send for him when they have a case. It is a child’s disease of a strange and deadly sort, and the negro cures it with a herb-medicine which he makes, himself, from a prescription which has come down to him from his father and grandfather. He will not let any one see it. He keeps the secret of its components to himself, and it is feared that he will die without divulging it; then there will be consternation in Mauritius. I was told these things by the people there, in 1896.
We had the “faith-doctor,” too, in those early days—a woman. Her specialty was tooth-ache. She was a farmer’s old wife, and lived five miles from Hannibal. She would lay her hand on the patient’s jaw and say “Believe!” and the cure was prompt. Mrs. Utterback. I remember her very well. Twice I rode out there behind my mother, horseback, and saw the cure performed. My mother was the patient.
Dr. Meredith removed to Hannibal, by and by, and was our family physician there, and saved my life several times. Still, he was a good man and meant well. Let it go.
I was always told that I was a sickly and precarious and tiresome and uncertain child, and lived mainly on allopathic medicines during the first seven years of my life. I asked my mother about this, in her old age—she was in her eighty-eighth year—and said:
“I suppose that during all that time you were uneasy about me?”
“Yes, the whole time.”
“Afraid I wouldn’t live?”
After a reflective pause—ostensibly to think out the facts—
“No—afraid you would.”
It sounds like a plagiarism, but it probably wasn’t.
The country schoolhouse was three miles from my uncle’s farm. It stood in a clearing in the woods, and would hold about twenty-five boys and girls. We attended the school with more or less regularity once or twice a week, in summer, walking to it in the cool of the morning by the forest paths, and back in the gloaming at the end of the day. All the pupils brought their dinners in baskets—corn dodger, buttermilk and other good things—and sat in the shade of the trees at noon and ate them. It is the part of my education which I look back upon with the most satisfaction. My first visit to the school was when I was seven. A strapping girl of fifteen, in the customary sunbonnet and calico dress, asked me if I “used tobacco”—meaning did I chew it. I said, no. It roused her scorn. She reported me to all the crowd, and said—
“Here is a boy seven years old who can’t chaw tobacco.”
By the looks and comments which this produced, I realized that I was a degraded object; I was cruelly ashamed of myself. I determined to reform. But I only made myself sick; I was not able to learn to chew tobacco. I learned to smoke fairly well, but that did not conciliate anybody, and I remained a poor thing, and characterless. I longed to be respected, but I never was able to rise. Children have but little charity for each other’s defects.
As I have said, I spent some part of every year at the farm until I was twelve or thirteen years old. The life which I led there with my cousins was full of charm, and so is the memory of it yet. I can call back the solemn twilight and mystery of the deep woods, the earthy smells, the faint odors of the wild flowers, the sheen of rain-washed foliage, the rattling clatter of drops when the wind shook the trees, the far-off hammering of wood-peckers and the muffled drumming of wood-pheasants in the remotenesses of the forest, the snap-shot glimpses of disturbed wild creatures skurrying through the grass,—I can call it all back and make it as real as it ever was, and as blessed. I can call back the prairie, and its loneliness and peace, and a vast hawk hanging motionless in the sky, with his wings spread wide and the blue of the vault showing through the fringe of their end-feathers. I can see the woods in their autumn dress, the oaks purple, the hickories washed with gold, the maples and the sumachs luminous with crimson fires, and I can hear the rustle made by the fallen leaves as we plowed through them. I can see the blue clusters of wild grapes hanging amongst the foliage of the saplings, and I remember the taste of them and the smell. I know how the wild blackberries looked, and how they tasted; and the same with the pawpaws, the hazelnuts and the persimmons; and I can feel the thumping rain, upon my head, of hickory nuts and walnuts when we were out in the frosty dawns to scramble for them with the pigs, and the gusts of wind loosed them and sent them down. I know the stain of blackberries, and how pretty it is; and I know the stain of walnut hulls, and how little it minds soap and water; also what grudged experience it had of either of them. I know the taste of maple sap, and when to gather it, and how to arrange the troughs and the delivery-tubes, and how to boil down the juice, and how to hook the sugar after it is made; also how much better hooked sugar tastes than any that is honestly come by, let bigots say what they will. I know how a prize watermelon looks when it is sunning its fat rotundity among pumpkin vines and “simblins;” I know how to tell when it is ripe without “plugging” it; I know how inviting it looks when it is cooling itself in a tub of water under the bed, waiting; I know how it looks when it lies on the table in the sheltered great floor-space between house and kitchen, and the children gathered for the sacrifice and their mouths watering; I know the crackling sound it makes when the carving knife enters its end, and I can see the split fly along in front of the blade as the knife cleaves its way to the other end; I can see its halves fall apart and display the rich red meat and the black seeds, and the heart standing up, a luxury fit for the elect; I know how a boy looks, behind a yard-long slice of that melon, and I know how he feels; for I have been there. I know the taste of the watermelon which has been honestly come by, and I know the taste of the watermelon which has been acquired by art. Both taste good, but the experienced know which tastes best. I know the look of green apples and peaches and pears on the trees, and I know how entertaining they are when they are inside of a person. I know how ripe ones look when they are piled in pyramids under the trees, and how pretty they are and how vivid their colors. I know how a frozen apple looks, in a barrel down cellar in the winter time, and how hard it is to bite, and how the frost makes the teeth ache, and yet how good it is, notwithstanding. I know the disposition of elderly people to select the specked apples for the children, and I once knew ways to beat the game. I know the look of an apple that is roasting and sizzling on a hearth on a winter’s evening, and I know the comfort that comes of eating it hot, along with some sugar and a drench of cream. I know the delicate art and mystery of so cracking hickory nuts and walnuts on a flatiron with a hammer that the kernels will be delivered whole, and I know how the nuts, taken in conjunction with winter apples, cider and doughnuts, make old people’s old tales and old jokes sound fresh and crisp and enchanting, and juggle an evening away before you know what went with the time. I know the look of Uncle Dan’l’s kitchen as it was on privileged nights when I was a child, and I can see the white and black children grouped on the hearth, with the firelight playing on their faces and the shadows flickering upon the walls, clear back toward the cavernous gloom of the rear, and I can hear Uncle Dan’l telling the immortal tales which Uncle Remus Harris was to gather into his book and charm the world with, by and by; and I can feel again the creepy joy which quivered through me when the time for the ghost story of the “Golden Arm” was reached—and the sense of regret, too, which came over me, for it was always the last story of the evening, and there was nothing between it and the unwelcome bed.
I can remember the bare wooden stairway in my uncle’s house, and the turn to the left above the landing, and the rafters and the slanting roof over my bed, and the squares of moonlight on the floor, and the white cold world of snow outside, seen through the curtainless window. I can remember the howling of the wind and the quaking of the house on stormy nights, and how snug and cosy one felt, under the blankets, listening; and how the powdery snow used to sift in, around the sashes, and lie in little ridges on the floor, and make the place look chilly in the morning, and curb the wild desire to get up—in case there was any. I can remember how very dark that room was, in the dark of the moon, and how packed it was with ghostly stillness when one woke up by accident away in the night, and forgotten sins came flocking out of the secret chambers of the memory and wanted a hearing; and how ill chosen the time seemed for this kind of business; and how dismal was the hoo-hooing of the owl and the wailing of the wolf, sent mourning by on the night wind.
I remember the raging of the rain on that roof, summer nights, and how pleasant it was to lie and listen to it, and enjoy the white splendor of the lightning and the majestic booming and crashing of the thunder. It was a very satisfactory room; and there was a lightning rod which was reachable from the window, an adorable and skittish thing to climb up and down, summer nights, when there were duties on hand of a sort to make privacy desirable.
I remember the ‘coon and’ possum-hunts, nights, with the negroes, and the long marches through the black gloom of the woods, and the excitement which fired everybody when the distant bay of an experienced dog announced that the game was treed; then the wild scramblings and stumblings through briars and bushes and over roots to get to the spot; then the lighting of a fire and the felling of the tree, the joyful frenzy of the dogs and the negroes, and the weird picture it all made in the red glare—I remember it all well, and the delight that every one got out of it, except the ’coon.
I remember the pigeon seasons, when the birds would come in millions, and cover the trees, and by their weight break down the branches. They were clubbed to death with sticks; guns were not necessary, and were not used. I remember the squirrel-hunts, and prairie-chicken hunts, and wild turkey hunts, and all that; and how we turned out, mornings, while it was still dark, to go on these expeditions, and how chilly and dismal it was, and how often I regretted that I was well enough to go. A toot on a tin horn brought twice as many dogs as were needed, and in their happiness they raced and scampered about, and knocked small people down, and made no end of unnecessary noise. At the word, they vanished away toward the woods, and we drifted silently after them in the melancholy gloom. But presently the gray dawn stole over the world, the birds piped up, then the sun rose and poured light and comfort all around, everything was fresh and dewy and fragrant, and life was a boon again. After three hours of tramping we arrived back wholesomely tired, overladen with game, very hungry, and just in time for breakfast.
Chapter
My uncle and his big boys hunted with the rifle, the youngest boy and I with a shot-gun—a small single-barrelled shot-gun which was properly suited to our size and strength; it was not much heavier than a broom. We carried it turn-about, half an hour at a time. I was not able to hit anything with it, but I liked to try. Fred and I hunted feathered small game, the others hunted deer, squirrels, wild turkeys, and such things. Jim and his father were the best shots. They killed hawks and wild geese and such-like on the wing; and they didn’t wound or kill squirrels, they stunned them. When the dogs treed a squirrel, the squirrel would scamper aloft and run out on a limb and flatten himself along it hoping to make himself invisible in that way—and not quite succeeding. You could see his wee little ears sticking up. You couldn’t see his nose, but you knew where it was. Then the hunter, despising a “rest” for his rifle, stood up and took off-hand aim at the limb and sent a bullet into it immediately under the squirrel’s nose, and down tumbled the animal, unwounded but unconscious; the dogs gave him a shake and he was dead. Sometimes when the distance was great and the wind not accurately allowed for, the bullet would hit the squirrel’s head; the dogs could do as they pleased with that one—the hunter’s pride was hurt, and he wouldn’t allow it to go into the game-bag.
In the first faint gray of the dawn the stately wild turkeys would be stalking around in great flocks, and ready to be sociable and answer invitations to come and converse with other excursionists of their kind. The hunter concealed himself and imitated the turkey-call by sucking the air through the leg-bone of a turkey which had previously answered a call like that and lived only just long enough to regret it. There is nothing that furnishes a perfect turkey-call except that bone. Another of Nature’s treacheries, you see; she is full of them; half the time she doesn’t know which she likes best—to betray her child or protect it. In the case of the turkey she is badly mixed: she gives it a bone to be used in getting it into trouble, and she also furnishes it with a trick for getting itself out of the trouble again. When a mamma-turkey answers an invitation and finds she has made a mistake in accepting it, she does as the mamma-partridge does—remembers a previous engagement and goes limping and scrambling away, pretending to be very lame; and at the same time she is saying to her not-visible children, “Lie low, keep still, don’t expose yourselves; I shall be back as soon as I have beguiled this shabby swindler out of the county.”
When a person is ignorant and confiding, this immoral device can have tiresome results. I followed an ostensibly lame turkey over a considerable part of the United States one morning, because I believed in her and could not think she would deceive a mere boy, and one who was trusting her and considering her honest. I had the single-barrelled shot-gun, but my idea was to catch her alive. I often got within rushing distance of her, and then made my rush; but always, just as I made my final plunge and put my hand down where her back had been, it wasn’t there; it was only two or three inches from there and I brushed the tail feathers as I landed on my stomach—a very close call, but still not quite close enough; that is, not close enough for success, but just close enough to convince me that I could do it next time. She always waited for me, a little piece away, and let on to be resting and greatly fatigued; which was a lie, but I believed it, for I still thought her honest long after I ought to have begun to doubt her, long after I ought to have been suspecting that this was no way for a high-minded bird to be acting. I followed, and followed and followed, making my periodical rushes, and getting up and brushing the dust off, and resuming the voyage with patient confidence; indeed with a confidence which grew, for I could see by the change of climate and vegetation that we were getting up into the high latitudes, and as she always looked a little tireder and a little more discouraged after each rush, I judged that I was safe to win, in the end, the competition being purely a matter of staying power and the advantage lying with me from the start because she was lame.
Along in the afternoon I began to feel fatigued myself. Neither of us had had any rest since we first started on the excursion, which was upwards of ten hours before, though latterly we had paused a while after rushes, I letting on to be thinking about something, and she letting on to be thinking about something else; but neither of us sincere, and both of us waiting for the other to call game but in no real hurry about it, for indeed those little evanescent snatches of rest were very grateful to the feelings of us both, it would naturally be so, skirmishing along like that ever since dawn and not a bite in the meantime; at least for me, though sometimes as she lay on her side fanning herself with a wing and praying for strength to get out of this difficulty a grasshopper happened along whose time had come, and that was well for her, and fortunate, but I had nothing—nothing the whole day.
More than once, after I was very tired, I gave up taking her alive, and was going to shoot her, but I never did it, although it was my right, for I did not believe I could hit her; and besides, she always stopped and posed, when I raised the gun, and this made me suspicious that she knew about me and my marksmanship, and so I did not care to expose myself to remarks.
I did not get her, at all. When she got tired of the game at last, she rose from almost under my hand and flew aloft with the rush and whir of a shell and lit on the highest limb of a great tree and sat down and crossed her legs and smiled down at me, and seemed gratified to see me so astonished.
I was ashamed, and also lost; and it was while wandering the woods hunting for myself that I found a deserted log cabin and had one of the best meals there that in my life-days I have eaten. The weed-grown garden was full of ripe tomatoes, and I ate them ravenously though I had never liked them before. Not more than two or three times since have I tasted anything that was so delicious as those tomatoes. I surfeited myself with them, and did not taste another one until I was in middle life. I can eat them now, but I do not like the look of them. I suppose we have all experienced a surfeit at one time or another. Once, in stress of circumstances, I ate part of a barrel of sardines, there being nothing else at hand, but since then I have always been able to get along without sardines.
The Latest Attempt
Finally, in Florence in 1904, I hit upon the right way to do an Autobiography: start it at no particular time of your life; wander at your free will all over your life; talk only about the thing which interests you for the moment; drop it the moment its interest threatens to pale, and turn your talk upon the new and more interesting thing that has intruded itself into your mind meantime.
Also, make the narrative a combined Diary and Autobiography. In this way you have the vivid things of the present to make a contrast with memories of like things in the past, and these contrasts have a charm which is all their own. No talent is required to make a combined Diary and Autobiography interesting.
And so, I have found the right plan. It makes my labor amusement—mere amusement, play, pastime, and wholly effortless. It is the first time in history that the right plan has been hit upon.
The Final (and Right) Plan
I will construct a text—to precede the Autobiography; also a Preface, to follow said Text.
What a wee little part of a person’s life are his acts and his words! His real life is led in his head, and is known to none but himself. All day long, and every day, the mill of his brain is grinding, and his thoughts, (which are but the mute articulation of his feelings,) not those other things, are his history. His acts and his words are merely the visible thin crust of his world, with its scattered snow summits and its vacant wastes of water—and they are so trifling a part of his bulk! a mere skin enveloping it. The mass of him is hidden—it and its volcanic fires that toss and boil, and never rest, night nor day. These are his life, and they are not written, and cannot be written. Every day would make a whole book of eighty thousand words—three hundred and sixty-five books a year. Biographies are but the clothes and buttons of the man—the biography of the man himself cannot be written.
Preface. As from the Grave
I.
In this Autobiography I shall keep in mind the fact that I am speaking from the grave. I am literally speaking from the grave, because I shall be dead when the book issues from the press. At any rate—to be precise—nineteen-twentieths of the book will not see print until after my death.
I speak from the grave rather than with my living tongue, for a good reason: I can speak thence freely. When a man is writing a book dealing with the privacies of his life—a book which is to be read while he is still alive—he shrinks from speaking his whole frank mind; all his attempts to do it fail, he recognizes that he is trying to do a thing which is wholly impossible to a human being. The frankest and freest and privatest product of the human mind and heart is a love letter; the writer gets his limitless freedom of statement and expression from his sense that no stranger is going to see what he is writing. Sometimes there is a breach of promise case by and by; and when he sees his letter in print it makes him cruelly uncomfortable, and he perceives that he never would have unbosomed himself to that large and honest degree if he had known that he was writing for the public. He cannot find anything in the letter that was not true, honest, and respect-worthy; but no matter, he would have been very much more reserved if he had known he was writing for print.
It has seemed to me that I could be as frank and free and unembarrassed as a love letter if I knew that what I was writing would be exposed to no eye until I was dead, and unaware, and indifferent.
II.
My editors, heirs and assigns are hereby instructed to leave out of the first edition all characterizations of friends and enemies that might wound the feelings of either the persons characterized or their families and kinship. This book is not a revenge-record. When I build a fire under a person in it, I do not do it merely because of the enjoyment I get out of seeing him fry, but because he is worth the trouble. It is then a compliment, a distinction; let him give thanks and keep quiet. I do not fry the small, the commonplace, the unworthy.
From the first, second, third and fourth editions all sound and sane expressions of opinion must be left out. There may be a market for that kind of wares a century from now. There is no hurry. Wait and see.
III.
The editions should be issued twenty-five years apart. Many things that must be left out of the first will be proper for the second; many things that must be left out of both will be proper for the third; into the fourth—or at least the fifth—the whole Autobiography can go, unexpurgated.
Mark Twain
Here begin the Florentine Dictations.
[John Hay]
Florence, Italy. 31st January 1904.
A quarter of a century ago I was visiting John Hay, now Secretary of State, at Whitelaw Reid’s house in New York, which Hay was occupying for a few months while Reid was absent on a holiday in Europe. Temporarily also, Hay was editing Reid’s paper, the New York Tribune. I remember two incidents of that Sunday visit particularly well, and I think I shall use them presently to illustrate something which I intend to say. One of the incidents is immaterial, and I hardly know why it is that it has stayed with me so many years. I must introduce it with a word or two. I had known John Hay a good many years, I had known him when he was an obscure young editorial writer on the Tribune in Horace Greeley’s time, earning three or four times the salary he got, considering the high character of the work which came from his pen. In those earlier days he was a picture to look at, for beauty of feature, perfection of form and grace of carriage and movement. He had a charm about him of a sort quite unusual to my western ignorance and inexperience—a charm of manner, intonation, apparently native and unstudied elocution, and all that—the groundwork of it native, the ease of it, the polish of it, the winning naturalness of it, acquired in Europe where he had been Chargé d’Affaires some time at the Court of Vienna. He was joyous and cordial, a most pleasant comrade.
Now I am coming to it. John Hay was not afraid of Horace Greeley.
I will leave that remark in a paragraph by itself; it cannot be made too conspicuous. John Hay was the only man who ever served Horace Greeley on the Tribune of whom that can be said. In the past few years, since Hay has been occupying the post of Secretary of State with a succession of foreign difficulties on his hands such as have not fallen to the share of any previous occupant of that chair, perhaps, when we consider the magnitude of the matters involved, we have seen that that courage of his youth is his possession still, and that he is not any more scarable by kings and emperors and their fleets and armies than he was by Horace Greeley.
I arrive at the application now. That Sunday morning, twenty-five years ago, Hay and I had been chatting and laughing and carrying-on almost like our earlier selves of ’67, when the door opened and Mrs. Hay, gravely clad, gloved, bonneted, and just from church, and fragrant with the odors of Presbyterian sanctity, stood in it. We rose to our feet at once, of course,—rose through a swiftly falling temperature—a temperature which at the beginning was soft and summerlike, but which was turning our breath and all other damp things to frost crystals by the time we were erect—but we got no opportunity to say the pretty and polite thing and offer the homage due: the comely young matron forestalled us. She came forward smileless, with disapproval written all over her face, said most coldly, “Good morning Mr. Clemens,” and passed on and out.
There was an embarrassed pause—I may say a very embarrassed pause. If Hay was waiting for me to speak, it was a mistake; I couldn’t think of a word. It was soon plain to me that the bottom had fallen out of his vocabulary, too. When I was able to walk I started toward the door, and Hay, grown gray in a single night, so to speak, limped feebly at my side, making no moan, saying no word. At the door his ancient courtesy rose and bravely flickered for a moment, then went out. That is to say, he tried to ask me to call again, but at that point his ancient sincerity rose against the fiction and squelched it. Then he tried another remark, and that one he got through with. He said pathetically, and apologetically,
“She is very strict about Sunday.”
More than once in these past few years I have heard admiring and grateful people say, and have said it myself—
“He is not afraid of this whole nation of eighty millions when his duty requires him to do an unpopular thing.”
Twenty-five years have gone by since then, and through manifold experiences I have learned that no one’s courage is absolutely perfect; that there is always some one who is able to modify his pluck.
The other incident of that visit was this: in trading remarks concerning our ages I confessed to forty-two and Hay to forty. Then he asked if I had begun to write my autobiography, and I said I hadn’t. He said that I ought to begin at once, and that I had already lost two years. Then he said in substance this:
“At forty a man reaches the top of the hill of life and starts down on the sunset side. The ordinary man, the average man, not to particularize too closely and say the commonplace man, has at that age succeeded or failed; in either case he has lived all of his life that is likely to be worth recording; also in either case the life lived is worth setting down, and cannot fail to be interesting if he comes as near to telling the truth about himself as he can. And he will tell the truth in spite of himself, for his facts and his fictions will work loyally together for the protection of the reader; each fact and each fiction will be a dab of paint, each will fall in its right place, and together they will paint his portrait; not the portrait he thinks they are painting, but his real portrait, the inside of him, the soul of him, his character. Without intending to lie he will lie all the time; not bluntly, consciously, not dully unconsciously, but half-consciously—consciousness in twilight; a soft and gentle and merciful twilight which makes his general form comely, with his virtuous prominences and projections discernible and his ungracious ones in shadow. His truths will be recognizable as truths, his modifications of facts which would tell against him will go for nothing, the reader will see the fact through the film and know his man. There is a subtle devilish something or other about autobiographical composition that defeats all the writer’s attempts to paint his portrait his way.”
Hay meant that he and I were ordinary average commonplace people, and I did not resent my share of the verdict, but nursed my wound in silence. His idea that we had finished our work in life, passed the summit and were westward bound down hill, with me two years ahead of him and neither of us with anything further to do as benefactors to mankind, was all a mistake. I had written four books then, possibly five. I have been drowning the world in literary wisdom ever since, volume after volume; since that day’s sun went down he has been the historian of Mr. Lincoln, and his book will never perish; he has been Ambassador, brilliant orator, competent and admirable Secretary of State, and would be President next year if we were a properly honest and grateful nation instead of an ungrateful one, a nation which has usually not been willing to have a chief magistrate of gold when it could get one of tin.
I had lost two years, but I resolved to make up that loss. I resolved to begin my autobiography at once. I did begin it, but the resolve melted away and disappeared in a week and I threw my beginning away. Since then, about every three or four years I have made other beginnings and thrown them away. Once I tried the experiment of a diary, intending to inflate that into an autobiography when its accumulation should furnish enough material, but that experiment lasted only a week; it took me half of every night to set down the history of the day, and at the week’s end I did not like the result.
Within the last eight or ten years I have made several attempts to do the autobiography in one way or another with a pen, but the result was not satisfactory, it was too literary. With the pen in one’s hand, narrative is a difficult art; narrative should flow as flows the brook down through the hills and the leafy woodlands, its course changed by every boulder it comes across and by every grass-clad gravelly spur that projects into its path; its surface broken but its course not stayed by rocks and gravel on the bottom in the shoal places; a brook that never goes straight for a minute, but goes, and goes briskly, sometimes ungrammatically, and sometimes fetching a horseshoe three-quarters of a mile around and at the end of the circuit flowing within a yard of the path it traversed an hour before; but always going, and always following at least one law, always loyal to that law, the law of narrative, which has no law. Nothing to do but make the trip; the how of it is not important so that the trip is made.
With a pen in the hand the narrative stream is a canal; it moves slowly, smoothly, decorously, sleepily, it has no blemish except that it is all blemish. It is too literary, too prim, too nice; the gait and style and movement are not suited to narrative. That canal stream is always reflecting; it is its nature, it can’t help it. Its slick shiny surface is interested in everything it passes along the banks, cows, foliage, flowers, everything. And so it wastes a lot of time in reflections.
Notes on “Innocents Abroad”
Dictated in Florence, Italy, April, 1904.
1868
I will begin with a note upon the dedication. I wrote the book in the months of March and April 1868, in San Francisco. It was published in August 1869. Three years afterward Mr. 1868 Goodman, of Virginia City, Nevada, on whose newspaper I had served ten years before, came East, and we were walking down Broadway one day when he said—
“How did you come to steal Oliver Wendell Holmes’s dedication and put it in your book?”
I made a careless and inconsequential answer, for I supposed he was joking. But he assured me that he was in earnest. He said—
“I’m not discussing the question of whether you stole it or didn’t—for that is a question that can be settled in the first bookstore we come to—I am only asking you how you came to steal it, for that is where my curiosity is focalized.”
I couldn’t accommodate him with this information, as I hadn’t it in stock. I could have made oath that I had not stolen anything, therefore my vanity was not hurt nor my spirit troubled. At bottom I supposed that he had mistaken another book for mine, and was now getting himself into an untenable place and preparing sorrow for himself and triumph for me. We entered a bookstore and he asked for “The Innocents Abroad” and for the dainty little blue and gold edition of Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes’s poems. He opened the books, exposed their dedications and said—
“Read them. It is plain that the author of the second one stole the first one, isn’t it?”
I was very much ashamed, and unspeakably astonished. We continued our walk, but I was not able to throw any gleam of light upon that original question of his. I could not remember ever having seen Dr. Holmes’s dedication. I knew the poems, but the dedication was new to me.
I did not get hold of the key to that secret until months afterward, then it came in a curious way, and yet it was a natural way; for the natural way provided by nature and the construction of the human mind for the discovery of a forgotten event is to employ another forgotten event for its resurrection.
1866
I received a letter from the Rev. Dr. Rising, who had been rector of the Episcopal church in Virginia City in my time, in which letter Dr. Rising made reference to certain things which had happened to us in the Sandwich Islands six years before; among other things he made casual mention of the Honolulu Hotel’s poverty in the matter of literature. At first I did not see the bearing of the remark, it called nothing to my mind. But presently it did—with a flash! There was but one book in Mr. Kirchhof’s hotel, and that was the first volume of Dr. Holmes’s blue and gold series. I had had a fortnight’s chance to get well acquainted with its contents, for I had ridden around the big island (Hawaii) on horseback and had brought back so many saddle boils that if there had been a duty on them it would have bankrupted me to pay it. They kept me in my room, unclothed, and in persistent pain for two weeks, with no company but cigars and the little volume of poems. Of course I read them almost constantly; I read them from beginning to end, then read them backwards, then began in the middle and read them both ways, then read them wrong end first and upside down. In a word, I read the book to rags, and was infinitely grateful to the hand that wrote it.
Here we have an exhibition of what repetition can do, when persisted in daily and hourly over a considerable stretch of time, where one is merely reading for entertainment, without thought or intention of preserving in the memory that which is read. It is a process which in the course of years dries all the juice out of a familiar verse of Scripture, leaving nothing but a sapless husk behind. In that case you at least know the origin of the husk, but in the case in point I apparently preserved the husk but presently forgot whence it came. It lay lost in some dim corner of my memory a year or two, then came forward when I needed a dedication, and was promptly mistaken by me as a child of my own happy fancy.
I was new, I was ignorant, the mysteries of the human mind were a sealed book to me as yet, and I stupidly looked upon myself as a tough and unforgivable criminal. I wrote to Dr. Holmes and told him the whole disgraceful affair, implored him in impassioned language to believe that I had never intended to commit this crime, and was unaware that I had committed it until I was confronted with the awful evidence. I have lost his answer; I could better have afforded to lose an uncle. Of these I had a surplus, many of them of no real value to me, but that letter was beyond price, beyond uncledom, and unsparable. In it Dr. Holmes laughed the kindest and healingest laugh over the whole matter, and at considerable length and in happy phrase assured me that there was no crime in unconscious plagiarism; that I committed it every day, that he committed it every day, that every man alive on the earth who writes or speaks commits it every day and not merely once or twice but every time he opens his mouth; that all our phrasings are spiritualized shadows cast multitudinously from our readings; that no happy phrase of ours is ever quite original with us, there is nothing of our own in it except some slight change born of our temperament, character, environment, teachings and associations; that this slight change differentiates it from another man’s manner of saying it, stamps it with our special style, and makes it our own for the time being; all the rest of it being old, mouldy, antique, and smelling of the breath of a thousand generations of them that have passed it over their teeth before!
In the thirty-odd years which have come and gone since then, I have satisfied myself that what Dr. Holmes said was true.
I wish to make a note upon the preface of the “Innocents.” In the last paragraph of that brief preface, I speak of the proprietors of the Daily Alta California having “waived their rights” in certain letters which I wrote for that journal while absent on the Quaker City trip. I was young then, I am white-headed now, but the insult of that word rankles yet, now that I am reading that paragraph for the first time in many years, reading it for the first time since it was written, perhaps. There were rights, it is true—such rights as the strong are able to acquire over the weak and the absent. Early in ’66 George Barnes invited me to resign my reportership on his paper, the San Francisco Morning Call, and for some months thereafter I was without money or work; then I had a pleasant turn of fortune. The proprietors of the Sacramento Union, a great and influential daily journal, sent me to the Sandwich Islands to write four letters a month at twenty dollars apiece. I was there four or five months, and returned to find myself about the best known honest man on the Pacific coast. Thomas Maguire, proprietor of several theatres, said that now was the time to make my fortune—strike while the iron was hot!—break into the lecture field! I did it. I announced a lecture on the Sandwich Islands, closing the advertisement with the remark “Admission one dollar; doors open at half past 7, the trouble begins at 8.” A true prophecy. The trouble certainly did begin at 8, when I found myself in front of the only audience I had ever faced, for the fright which pervaded me from head to foot was paralysing. It lasted two minutes and was as bitter as death, the memory of it is indestructible, but it had its compensations, for it made me immune from timidity before audiences for all time to come. I lectured in all the principal Californian towns and in Nevada, then lectured once or twice more in San Francisco, then retired from the field rich—for me—and laid out a plan to sail westward from San Francisco and go around the world. The proprietors of the Alta engaged me to write an account of the trip for that paper—fifty letters of a column and a half each, which would be about two thousand words per letter, and the pay to be twenty dollars per letter.
I went East to St. Louis to say good-bye to my mother, and then I was bitten by the prospectus of Captain Duncan of the Quaker City Excursion, and I ended by joining it. During the trip I wrote and sent the fifty letters; six of them miscarried, and I wrote six new ones to complete my contract. Then I put together a lecture on the trip and delivered it in San Francisco at great and satisfactory pecuniary profit, then I branched out into the country and was aghast at the result: I had been entirely forgotten, I never had people enough in my houses to sit as a jury of inquest on my lost reputation! I inquired into this curious condition of things and found that the thrifty owners of that prodigiously rich Alta newspaper had copyrighted all those poor little twenty-dollar letters, and had threatened with prosecution any journal which should venture to copy a paragraph from them!
And there I was! I had contracted to furnish a large book, concerning the excursion, to the American Publishing Company of Hartford, and I supposed I should need all those letters to fill it out with. I was in an uncomfortable situation—that is, if the proprietors of this stealthily acquired copyright should refuse to let me use the letters. That is just what they did; Mr. Mac—something—I have forgotten the rest of his name*—said his firm were going to make a book out of the letters in order to get back the thousand dollars which they had paid for them. I said that if they had acted fairly and honorably, and had allowed the country press to use the letters or portions of them, my lecture-skirmish on the coast would have paid me ten thousand dollars, whereas the Alta had lost me that amount. Then he offered a compromise: he would publish the book and allow me 10 per cent royalty on it. The compromise did not appeal to me, and I said so. I was now quite unknown outside of San Francisco, the book’s sale would be confined to that city, and my royalty would not pay me enough to board me three months; whereas my eastern contract, if carried out, could be profitable to me, for I had a sort of reputation on the Atlantic seaboard acquired through the publication of six excursion-letters in the New York Tribune and one or two in the Herald.
In the end Mr. MacCrellish agreed to suppress his book, on certain conditions: in my preface I must thank the Alta for waiving its “rights” and granting me permission. I objected to the thanks. I could not with any large degree of sincerity thank the Alta for bankrupting my lecture-raid. After considerable debate my point was conceded and the thanks left out.
1902
1897
1904
Noah Brooks was editor of the Alta at the time, a man of sterling character and equipped with a right heart, also a good historian where facts were not essential. In biographical sketches of me written many years afterward (1902), he was quite eloquent in praises of the generosity of the Alta people in giving to me without compensation a book which, as history had afterward shown, was worth a fortune. After all the fuss, I did not levy heavily upon the Alta letters. I found that they were newspaper matter, not book matter. They had been written here and there and yonder, as opportunity had given me a chance working-moment or two during our feverish flight around about Europe or in the furnace-heat of my stateroom on board the Quaker City, therefore they were loosely constructed, and needed to have some of the wind and water squeezed out of them. I used several of them—ten or twelve, perhaps. I wrote the rest of “The Innocents Abroad” in sixty days, and I could have added a fortnight’s labor with the pen and gotten along without the letters altogether. I was very young in those days, exceedingly young, marvelously young, younger than I am now, younger than I shall ever be again, by hundreds of years. I worked every night from eleven or twelve until broad day in the morning, and as I did two hundred thousand words in the sixty days, the average was more than three thousand words a day—nothing for Sir Walter Scott, nothing for Louis Stevenson, nothing for plenty of other people, but quite handsome for me. In 1897, when we were living in Tedworth Square, London, and I was writing the book called “Following the Equator” my average was eighteen hundred words a day; here in Florence, (1904), my average seems to be fourteen hundred words per sitting of four or five hours.*
I was deducing from the above that I have been slowing down steadily in these thirty-six years, but I perceive that my statistics have a defect: three thousand words in the spring of 1868 when I was working seven or eight or nine hours at a sitting has little or no advantage over the sitting of to-day, covering half the time and producing half the output. Figures often beguile me, particularly when I have the arranging of them myself; in which case the remark attributed to Disraeli would often apply with justice and force:
“There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”
[Robert Louis Stevenson and Thomas Bailey Aldrich]
But it was on a bench in Washington Square that I saw the most of Louis Stevenson. It was an outing that lasted an hour or more and was very pleasant and sociable. I had come with him from his house, where I had been paying my respects to his family. His business in the Square was to absorb the sunshine. He was most scantily furnished with flesh, his clothes seemed to fall into hollows as if there might be nothing inside but the frame for a sculptor’s statue. His long face and lank hair and dark complexion and musing and melancholy expression seemed to fit these details justly and harmoniously, and the altogether of it seemed especially planned to gather the rays of your observation and focalize them upon Stevenson’s special distinction and commanding feature, his splendid eyes. They burned with a smouldering rich fire under the pent-house of his brows, and they made him beautiful.

I said I thought he was right about the others, but mistaken as to Bret Harte; in substance I said that Harte was good company and a thin but pleasant talker; that he was always bright, but never brilliant; that in this matter he must not be classed with Thomas Bailey Aldrich, nor must any other man, ancient or modern; that Aldrich was always witty, always brilliant, if there was anybody present capable of striking his flint at the right angle; that Aldrich was as sure and prompt and unfailing as the red hot iron on the blacksmith’s anvil—you had only to hit it competently to make it deliver an explosion of sparks. I added—
“Aldrich has never had his peer for prompt and pithy and witty and humorous sayings. None has equaled him, certainly none has surpassed him, in the felicity of phrasing with which he clothed these children of his fancy. Aldrich was always brilliant, he couldn’t help it, he is a fire-opal set round with rose diamonds; when he is not speaking, you know that his dainty fancies are twinkling and glimmering around in him; when he speaks the diamonds flash. Yes, he was always brilliant, he will always be brilliant; he will be brilliant in hell—you will see.”
Stevenson, smiling a chuckly smile, “I hope not.”
“Well, you will, and he will dim even those ruddy fires and look like a transfigured Adonis backed against a pink sunset.”

There on that bench we struck out a new phrase—one or the other of us, I don’t remember which—“submerged renown.” Variations were discussed: “submerged fame,” “submerged reputation,” and so on, and a choice was made; “submerged renown” was elected, I believe. This important matter rose out of an incident which had been happening to Stevenson in Albany. While in a book shop or book stall there he had noticed a long rank of small books cheaply but neatly gotten up, and bearing such titles as “Davis’s Selected Speeches,” “Davis’s Selected Poetry,” Davis’s this and Davis’s that and Davis’s the other thing; compilations, every one of them, each with a brief, compact, intelligent and useful introductory chapter by this same Davis, whose first name I have forgotten. Stevenson had begun the matter with this question:
“Can you name the American author whose fame and acceptance stretch widest in the States?”
I thought I could, but it did not seem to me that it would be modest to speak out, in the circumstances. So I diffidently said nothing. Stevenson noticed, and said—
“Save your delicacy for another time—you are not the one. For a shilling you can’t name the American author of widest note and popularity in the States. But I can.”
Then he went on and told about that Albany incident. He had inquired of the shopman—
“Who is this Davis?”
The answer was—
“An author whose books have to have freight trains to carry them, not baskets. Apparently you have not heard of him?”
Stevenson said no, this was the first time. The man said—
“Nobody has heard of Davis; you may ask all around and you will see. You never see his name mentioned in print, not even in advertisements; these things are of no use to Davis, not any more than they are to the wind and the sea. You never see one of Davis’s books floating on top of the United States, but put on your diving armor and get yourself lowered away down and down and down till you strike the dense region, the sunless region of eternal drudgery and starvation wages—there you’ll find them by the million. The man that gets that market, his fortune is made, his bread and butter are safe, for those people will never go back on him. An author may have a reputation which is confined to the surface, and lose it and become pitied, then despised, then forgotten, entirely forgotten—the frequent steps in a surface reputation. A surface reputation, however great, is always mortal, and always killable if you go at it right—with pins and needles, and quiet slow poison, not with the club and the tomahawk. But it is a different matter with the submerged reputation—down in the deep water; once a favorite there, always a favorite; once beloved, always beloved; once respected, always respected, honored, and believed in. For, what the reviewer says never finds its way down into those placid deeps; nor the newspaper sneers, nor any breath of the winds of slander blowing above. Down there they never hear of these things. Their idol may be painted clay, up there at the surface, and fade and waste and crumble and blow away, there being much weather there; but down below he is gold and adamant and indestructible.”
[Villa di Quarto]
January. 1904.
This villa is situated three or four miles from Florence, and has several names. Some call it the Villa Reale di Quarto, some call it the Villa Principessa, some call it the Villa Granduchessa; this multiplicity of names was an inconvenience to me for the first two or three weeks, for as I had heard the place called by only one name, when letters came for the servants directed to the care of one or the other of the other names, I supposed a mistake had been made and remailed them. It has been explained to me that there is reason for these several names. Its name Quarto it gets from the district which it is in, it being in the four-mile radius from the centre of Florence. It is called Reale because the King of Würtemberg occupied it at one time; Principessa and Granduchessa because a Russian daughter of the imperial house occupied it at another. There is a history of the house somewhere, and some time or other I shall get it and see if there are any details in it which could be of use in this chapter. I should like to see that book, for as an evolutionist I should like to know the beginning of this dwelling and the several stages of its evolution. Baedeker says it was built by Cosimo I, by [ ], architect. I have learned this within the past three minutes, and it wrecks my development scheme. I was surmising that the house began in a small and humble way, and was the production of a poor farmer whose idea of home and comfort it was; that following him a generation or two later came a successor of better rank and larger means who built an addition; that successor after successor added more bricks and more bulk as time dragged on, each in his turn leaving a detail behind him of paint or wall-paper to distinguish his reign from the others; that finally in the last century came the three that precede me, and added their specialties. The King of Würtemberg broke out room enough in the centre of the building—about a hundred feet from each end of it,—to put in the great staircase, a cheap and showy affair, almost the only wooden thing in the whole edifice, and as comfortable and sane and satisfactory as it is out of character with the rest of the asylum. The Russian Princess, who came with native superstitions about cold weather, added the hot-air furnaces in the cellar and the vast green majolica stove in the great hall where the King’s staircase is—a stove which I thought might possibly be a church—a nursery church for children, so imposing is it for size and so richly adorned with basso relievos of an ultra pious sort. It is loaded and fired from a secret place behind the partition against which it is backed. Last of all came Satan also, the Countess Massiglia, present owner of the house, an American product, and male in everything but sex. She added a cheap and stingy arrangement of electric bells, inadequate acetylene-gas plant, obsolete water closets, perhaps a dozen pieces of machine-made boarding-house furniture, and some fire-auction carpets which blaspheme the standards of color and art all day long, and never quiet down until the darkness comes and pacifies them.
However, if the house was built for Cosimo four hundred years ago and with an architect on deck, I suppose I must dismiss those notions about the gradual growth of the house in bulk. Cosimo would want a large house, he would want to build it himself so that he could have it just the way he wanted it. I think he had his will. In the architecture of this barrack there has been no development. There was no architecture in the first place and none has been added, except the King’s meretricious staircase, the Princess’s ecclesiastical stove, and the Countess’s obsolete water closets. I am speaking of art-architecture; there is none.
There is no more architecture of that breed discoverable in this long stretch of ugly and ornamentless three-storied house-front than there is about a rope walk or a bowling alley. The shape and proportions of the house suggest those things, it being two hundred feet long by sixty wide. There is no art-architecture inside the house, there is none outside.
We arrive now at practical architecture—the useful, the indispensable, which plans the inside of a house and by wisely placing and distributing the rooms, or by stupidly and ineffectually distributing them, makes the house a convenient and comfortable and satisfactory abiding place or the reverse. The inside of the house is evidence that Cosimo’s architect was not in his right mind. And it seems to me that it is not fair and not kind in Baedeker to keep on exposing his name and his crime down to this late date. I am nobler than Baedeker, and more humane, and I suppress it. I don’t remember what it was, anyway.
I shall go into the details of this house, not because I imagine it differs much from any other old-time palace or new-time palace on the continent of Europe, but because every one of its crazy details interests me, and therefore may be expected to interest others of the human race, particularly women. When they read novels they usually skip the weather, but I have noticed that they read with avidity all that a writer says about the furnishings, decorations, conveniences, and general style of a home.
The interior of this barrack is so chopped up and systemless that one cannot deal in exact numbers when trying to put its choppings-up into statistics.
In the basement or cellar there are as follows:
Stalls and boxes for many horses—right under the principal bed-chamber. The horses noisily dance to the solicitations of the multitudinous flies all night.
Feed-stores.
Carriage-house.
Acetylene-gas plant.
A vast kitchen. Put out of use years ago.
Another kitchen.
Coal-rooms.
Coke-rooms.
Peat-rooms.
Wood-rooms.
Three furnaces.
Wine-rooms.
Various store-rooms for all sorts of domestic supplies.
Lot of vacant and unclassified rooms.
Labyrinth of corridors and passages, affording the stranger an absolute certainty of getting lost.
A vast cesspool! It is cleaned out every thirty years.
Couple of dark stairways leading up to the ground floor.
About twenty divisions as I count them.
This cellar seems to be of the full dimension of the house’s foundations—say two hundred feet by sixty.
The ground floor, where I am dictating—is cut up into twenty-three rooms, halls, corridors, and so forth. The next floor above contains eighteen divisions of the like sort, one of which is the billiard room and another the great drawing-room.
The top story consists of twenty bedrooms and a furnace. Large rooms they necessarily are, for they are arranged ten on a side, and they occupy that whole space of two hundred feet long by sixty wide, except that there is a liberal passage or hallway between them. There are good fireplaces up there, and they would make charming bed-chambers if handsomely and comfortably furnished and decorated. But there would need to be a lift—not a European lift, with its mere stand-up space, and its imperceptible movement, but a roomy and swift American one.
These rooms are reached now by the same process by which they were reached in Cosimo’s time—by leg power. Their brick floors are bare and unpainted, their walls are bare, and painted the favorite European color, which is now and always has been an odious stomach-turning yellow. It is said that these rooms were intended for servants only and that they were meant to accommodate two or three servants apiece. It seems certain that they have not been occupied by any but servants in the last fifty or a hundred years, otherwise they would exhibit some remains of decoration.
If then they have always been for the use of servants only, where did Cosimo and his family sleep? Where did the King of Würtemberg bestow his dear ones? For below that floor there are not any more than three good bed-chambers and five devilish ones. With eighty cut-ups in the house and with but four persons in my family, this large fact is provable: that we can’t invite a friend to come and stay a few days with us, because there is not a bedroom unoccupied by ourselves that we could offer him without apologies. In fact we have no friend whom we love so little and respect so moderately as to be willing to stuff him into one of those vacant cells.
Yes—where did the vanished aristocracy sleep? I mean the real aristocracy, not the American Countess, for she required no room to speak of. When we arrived her husband was far away in the Orient serving his country in a diplomatic capacity, the Countess’s mother had gone home to America and the Countess was keeping solitary and unvisited state in this big mansion with her head servant, the steward of the estate, as society and protector. To go on with my details: this little room where I am dictating these informations on this 8th day of January 1904, is on the east side of the house. It is level with the ground and one may step from its nine- or ten-foot-high vast door into the terrace garden, which is a great square level space surrounded by an ornamental iron railing with vases of flowers distributed here and there along its top. It is a pretty terrace with abundant green grass, with handsome trees, with a great fountain in the middle, and with roses of various tints nodding in the balmy air, and flashing back the rays of the January sun. Beyond the railing to the eastward stretches the private park, and through its trees curves the road to the far-off iron gate on the public road, where there is neither porter nor porter’s lodge nor any way to communicate with the mansion. Yet from time immemorial the Italian villa has been a fortress hermetically sealed up in high walls of masonry and with entrance guarded by locked iron gates. The gates of Italy have always been locked at nightfall and kept locked the night through. No Italian trusted his contadini neighbors in the old times, and his successor does not trust them now. There are bells and porters for the convenience of outsiders desiring to get in at other villas, but it is not the case with this one, and apparently never has been. Surely it must have happened now and then that these Kings and nobilities got caught out after the gates were locked. Then how did they get in? We shall never know. The question cannot be answered. It must take its place with the other unsolved mystery of where the aristocracy slept during those centuries when they occupied this fortress.
To return to that glass door. Outside it are exceedingly heavy and coarse Venetian shutters, a fairly good defence against a catapult.
These, like the leaves of the glass door, swing open in the French fashion, and I will remark in passing that to my mind the French window is as rational and convenient as the English-American window is the reverse of this. Inside the glass door (three or four inches inside of it) are solid doors made of boards, good and strong and ugly. The shutters, the glass door and these wooden-door defences against intrusion of light and thieves are all armed with strong and heavy bolts which are shot up and down by the turning of a handle. The house-walls being very thick, these doors and shutters and things do not crowd each other, there is plenty of space between them, and there is room for more in case we should get to feeling afraid. This shuttered glass door, this convenient exit to the terrace and garden, is not the only one on this side of the house from which one can as handily step upon the terrace. There is a procession of them stretching along, door after door, along the east or rear front of the house, from its southern end to its northern end—eleven in the procession. Beginning at the south end they afford exit from a parlor; a large bedroom, (mine); this little twelve by twenty reception room where I am now at work; and a ten by twelve ditto, which is in effect the beginning of a corridor forty feet long by twelve wide with three sets of triple glass doors for exit to the terrace. The corridor empties into a dining room, and the dining room into two large rooms beyond, all with glass-door exits to the terrace. When the doors which connect these seven rooms and the corridor are thrown open the two-hundred-foot stretch of variegated carpeting with its warring and shouting and blaspheming tumult of color makes a fine and almost contenting receding and diminishing perspective, and one realizes that if some sane person could have the privilege and the opportunity of burning the existing carpets and instituting harmonies of color in their place the reformed perspective would be very beautiful. Above each of the eleven glass doors is a duplicate on the next floor. Ten feet by six, of glass. And above each of these on the topmost floor is a smaller window—thirty-three good openings for light on this eastern front, the same on the western front, and nine of ampler size on each end of the house. Fifty-six of these eighty-four windows contain double enough glass to equip the average window of an American dwelling, yet the house is by no means correspondingly light. I do not know why, perhaps it is because of the dismal upholstering of the walls.
Villa di Quarto is a palace; Cosimo built it for that, his architect intended it for that, it has always been regarded as a palace, and an old resident of Florence told me the other day that it was a good average sample of the Italian palace of the great nobility, and that its grotesqueness and barbarities, incongruities and destitution of conveniences are to be found in the rest. I am able to believe this because I have seen some of the others.
I think there is not a room in this huge confusion of rooms and halls and corridors and cells and waste spaces which does not contain some memento of each of its illustrious occupants, or at least two or three of them.
We will examine the parlor at the head of that long perspective which I have been describing. The arched ceiling is beautiful both in shape and decoration. It is finely and elaborately frescoed. The ceiling is a memento of Cosimo. The doors are draped with heavy pale blue silk, faintly figured, that is the King of Würtemberg’s relic. The gleaming white brass-banded porcelain pagoda which contains an open fireplace for wood is a relic of the Russian Princess and a remembrancer of her native experiences of cold weather. The light gray wall-paper figured with gold flowers is anybody’s—we care not to guess its pedigree. The rest of the room is manifestly a result of the Countess Massiglia’s occupation. Its shouting inharmonies and disorders manifestly had their origin in her chaotic mind. The floor is covered with a felt-like filling of strenuous red, one can almost see Pharaoh’s host floundering in it. There are four rugs scattered about like islands, violent rugs whose colors swear at each other and at the Red Sea. There is a sofa upholstered in a coarse material, a frenzy of green and blue and blood, a cheap and undeceptive imitation of Florentine embroidery. There is a sofa and two chairs upholstered in pale green silk, figured, the wood is of three different breeds of American walnut, flimsy, cheap, machine-made. There is a French-walnut sofa upholstered in figured silk of a fiendish crushed-strawberry tint of a faded aspect, and there is an arm-chair which is a mate to it. There is a plain and naked black walnut table without a cover to modify its nudity; under it is a large round ottoman covered with the palest of pale green silk, a sort of glorified mushroom which curses with all its might at the Red Sea and the furious rugs and the crushed-strawberry relics. Against the wall stands a tall glass-fronted bookcase, machine-made—the material, American butternut. It stands near enough to the King of Würtemberg’s heavy silken door-drapery to powerfully accent its cheapness and ugliness by contrast. Upon the walls hang three good water-colors, six or eight very bad ones, a pious-looking portrait of the Countess in bridal veil and low neck, and a number of photographs of members of her tribe. One of them is a picture of the Count, who has a manly and intelligent face and looks like a gentleman. What possessed him to become proprietor of the Countess he probably could not explain at this late day himself.
The whole literature of this vast house is contained in that fire-auction American bookcase. There are four shelves. The top one is made up of indiscriminate literature of good quality; the next shelf is made up of cloth-covered books devoted to Christian Science and spiritualism—forty thin books; the two remaining shelves contain fifty-four bound volumes of Blackwood, in date running backward from about 1870. This bookcase and its contents were probably imported from America by the Countess’s mother, who tore herself away some months ago and returned to Philadelphia. One cannot attribute the Blackwoods to the Countess, they contain nothing that could interest her. It is most unlikely that the religious shelf could enlist her sympathies, her moral constitution being made up of envy, hate, malice and treachery. She is easily the most fiendish character I have ever encountered in any walk of life.
The room just described must be dignified with that imposing title, library, on account of the presence in it of that butternut bookcase and its indigent contents. It does duty, now, as a private parlor for Mrs. Clemens during those brief and widely separated occasions when she is permitted to leave for an hour the bed to which she has been so long condemned. We are in the extreme south end of the house, if there is any such thing as a south end to a house, where orientation cannot be determined by me, because I am incompetent in all cases where an object does not point directly north or south. This one slants across between, and is therefore a confusion to me. This little private parlor is in one of the two corners of what I call the south end of the house. The sun rises in such a way that all the morning it is pouring its light in through the thirty-three glass doors or windows which pierce the side of the house which looks upon the terrace and garden, as already described; the rest of the day the light floods this south end of the house, as I call it; at noon the sun is directly above Florence yonder in the distance in the plain—directly above those architectural features which have been so familiar to the world in pictures for some centuries: the Duomo, the Campanile, the Tomb of the Medici and the beautiful tower of the Palazzo Vecchio; above Florence, but not very high above it, for it never climbs quite half way to the zenith in these winter days; in this position it begins to reveal the secrets of the delicious blue mountains that circle around into the west, for its light discovers, uncovers, and exposes a white snow-storm of villas and cities that you cannot train yourself to have confidence in, they appear and disappear so mysteriously and so as if they might be not villas and cities at all but the ghosts of perished ones of the remote and dim Etruscan times; and late in the afternoon the sun sinks down behind those mountains somewhere, at no particular time and at no particular place, so far as I can see.
This “library,” or boudoir, or private parlor opens into Mrs. Clemens’s bedroom, and it and the bedroom together stretch all the way across the south end of the house. The bedroom gets the sun before noon, and is prodigally drenched and deluged with it the rest of the day. One of its windows is particularly well calculated to let in a liberal supply of sunshine, for it contains twelve great panes, each of them more than two feet square. The bedroom is thirty-one feet long by twenty-four wide, and there has been a time when it and the “library” had no partition between, but occupied the whole breadth of the south end of the house in an unbroken stretch. It must have been a ball-room or banqueting room at that time. I suggest this merely because perhaps not even Cosimo would need so much bedroom, whereas it would do very well indeed as a banqueting room because of its proximity to the cooking arrangements, which were not more than two or three hundred yards away, down cellar, a very eligible condition of things indeed in the old times. Monarchs cannot have the conveniences which we plebeians are privileged to luxuriate in—they can’t, even to-day. If I were invited to spend a week in Windsor Castle it would gladden me and make me feel proud; but if there was any hint about regular boarders I should let on that I didn’t hear. As a palace Windsor Castle is great; great for show, spaciousness, display, grandeur, and all that; but the bedrooms are small, uninviting and inconvenient, and the arrangements for delivering food from the kitchen to the table are so clumsy, and waste so much time that a meal there probably suggests recent cold storage. This is only conjecture; I did not eat there. In Windsor Castle the courses are brought up by dumb waiter from the profound depth where the vast kitchen is, they are then transferred by rail on a narrow little tramway to the territory where the dinner is to have place. This trolley was still being worked by hand when I was there four years ago; still it was without doubt a great advance upon Windsor Castle transportation of any age before Queen Victoria’s. It is startling to reflect that what we call conveniences in a dwelling-house, and which we regard as necessities, were born so recently that hardly one of them existed in the world when Queen Victoria was born. The valuable part—to my thinking the valuable part—of what we call civilization had no existence when she emerged upon the planet. She sat in her chair in that venerable fortress and saw it grow from its mustard seed to the stupendous tree which it had become before she died. She saw the whole of the new creation, she saw everything that was made, and without her witness was not anything made that was made. A very creditable creation indeed, taking all things into account; since man, quite unassisted, did it all out of his own head. I jump to this conclusion because I think that if Providence had been minded to help him, it would have occurred to Providence to do this some hundred thousand centuries earlier. We are accustomed to seeing the hand of Providence in everything. Accustomed because if we missed it, or thought we missed it, we had discretion enough not to let on. We are a tactful race. We have been prompt to give Providence the credit of this fine and showy new civilization and we have been quite intemperate in our praises of this great benefaction; we have not been able to keep still over this splendid five-minute attention, we can only keep still about the ages of neglect which preceded it and which it makes so conspicuous. When Providence washes one of his worms into the sea in a tempest, then starves him and freezes him on a plank for thirty-four days, and finally wrecks him again on an uninhabited island, where he lives on shrimps and grasshoppers and other shell-fish for three months, and is at last rescued by some old whisky-soaked profane and blasphemous infidel of a tramp captain, and carried home gratis to his friends, the worm forgets that it was Providence that washed him overboard, and only remembers that Providence rescued him. He finds no fault, he has no sarcasms for Providence’s crude and slow and labored ingenuities of invention in the matter of life-saving, he sees nothing in these delays and ineffectivenesses but food for admiration, to him they seem a marvel, a miracle; and the longer they take and the more ineffective they are, the greater the miracle; meantime he never allows himself to break out in any good hearty unhandicapped thanks for the tough old shipmaster who really saved him, he damns him with faint praise as “the instrument,” his rescuer “under Providence.”
To get to that corner room with its bookcase freighted with twenty dollars’ worth of ancient Blackwood and modern spiritualistic literature, I have passed through—undescribed—a room that is my bedroom. Its size is good, its shape is good—thirty feet by twenty-two. Originally it was fifty feet long, stretching from one side of the house to the other, in the true Italian fashion which makes everybody’s bedroom a passageway into the next room—Kings, nobles, serfs and all; but this American Countess, the present owner, cut off twenty feet of the room and reattached ten feet of it to the room as a bath-room, and devoted the rest to a hallway. This bedroom is lighted by one of those tall glass doors, already described, which gives upon the terrace. It is divided across the middle by some polished white pillars as big as my body, with Doric capitals, supporting a small arch at each end and a long one in the middle; this is indeed grandeur, and is quite imposing. The fireplace is of a good size, is of white marble, and the carvings upon it are of the dainty and graceful sort proper to its age, which is probably four hundred years. The fireplace and the stately columns are aristocratic, they recognize their kinship, and they smile at each other. That is, when they are not swearing at the rest of the room’s belongings. The front half of the room is aglare with a paper loud of pattern, atrocious in color, and cheap beyond the dreams of avarice. The rear half is painted from floor to ceiling a dull, dead and repulsive yellow. It seems strange that yellow should be the favorite in Europe whereby to undecorate a wall; I have never seen the yellow wall which did not depress me and make me unhappy. The floor of the room is covered with a superannuated nightmare of a carpet whose figures are vast and riotous, and whose indignant reds and blacks and yellows quarrel day and night and refuse to be reconciled. There is a door opening into the bath-room, and at that same end of the room is a door opening into a small box of a hall which leads to another convenience. Those two doors strictly follow the law of European dwellings, whether built for the prince or for the pauper. That is to say they are rude, thin, cheap planks, flimsy; the sort of door which in the South the negro attaches to his chicken coop. These doors, like all such doors on the Continent, have a gimlet handle in place of a door-knob. It wrenches from the socket a bolt which has no springs and which will not return to that socket except upon compulsion. You can’t slam a door like that, it would simply rebound. That gimlet handle catches on any garment that tries to get by; if tearable it tears it; if not tearable it stops the wearer with a suddenness and a violence and an unexpectedness which breaks down all his religious reserves, no matter who he may be.
The bedroom has a door on each side of the front end, so that anybody may tramp through that wants to at any time of the day or night, this being the only way to get to the room beyond, where the precious library is bookcased. Furniture: a salmon-colored silk sofa, a salmon-colored silk chair, a pair of ordinary wooden chairs, and a stuffed chair whose upholstery is of a species unknown to me but devilish; in the corner, an ordinary thin-legged kitchen table; against one wall a wardrobe and a dressing bureau; on the opposite side a rickety chest of drawers made of white pine painted black, and ornamented with imitation brass handles; brass double bedstead. One will concede that this room is not over-embarrassed with furniture. The two clapboard doors already spoken of are mercifully concealed by parti-colored hangings of unknown country and origin; the three other doors already mentioned are hooded with long curtains that descend to the floor and are caught apart in the middle to permit the passage of people and light. These curtains have a proud and ostentatious look which deceives no one, it being based upon a hybrid silk with cotton for its chief ingredient. The color is a solid yellow, and deeper than the yellow of the rearward half of the walls; and now here is a curious thing: one may look from one of these colors to the other fifty times and each time he will think that the one he is looking at is the ugliest. It is a most curious and interesting effect. I think that if one could get himself toned down to where he could look upon these curtains without passion he would then perceive that it takes both of them together to be the ugliest color known to art.
We have considered these two yellows, but they do not exhaust the matter, there is still another one in the room. This is a lofty and sumptuous canopy over the brass bedstead, and is made of brilliant and shiny and shouting lemon-colored satin—genuine satin, almost the only genuine thing in the whole room. It is of the nobility, it is of the aristocracy, it belongs with the majestic white pillars and the dainty old marble fireplace; all the rest of the room’s belongings are profoundly plebeian, they are exiles, they are sorrowful outcasts from their rightful home, which is the poor house.
On the wall of the front end, in large frames, hang photographs of the pair who are responsible for the Countess’s presence in this world. It would be in better taste if they looked less gratified about it. On the end wall of the yellow half of the room hang a couple of framed engravings, female angels engaged in their customary traffic of transporting departed persons to heaven over a distant prospect of city and plain and mountain.
The discords of this room, in colors, in humble poverty and showy and self-complacent pretentiousness, are repeated everywhere one goes in the huge house.
I am weary of particulars. One may travel two hundred feet down either side of the house, through an aimless jumble of useless little reception rooms and showy corridors, finding nothing sane or homelike till he reaches the dining room at the end.
On the next floor, over the Blackwood library, there is a good bedroom well furnished, and with a fine stone balcony and the majestic view, just mentioned, enlarged and improved. Thence northward two hundred feet cut up in much the same disarray as is that ground floor. But in the midst is a great drawing-room about forty feet square and perhaps as many high, handsomely and tastefully hung with brocaded silk, and with a very beautifully frescoed ceiling. But the place has a most angry look; for, scattered all about it are divans and sofas and chairs and lofty window-hangings of that same fierce lemon-colored satin heretofore noted as forming the canopy of the brass bedstead down stairs. When one steps suddenly into that great place on a splendid Florentine day it is like entering hell on a Sunday morning when the brightest and yellowest brimstone fires are going.
I think I have said that the top floor has twenty rooms. They are not furnished, they are spacious, and from all of them one has a wide and charming view. Properly furnished they would be pleasant, homelike, and in every way satisfactory.
End of March. Now that we have lived in this house four and one-half months my prejudices have fallen away one by one, and the place has become very homelike to me. Under certain conditions I should like to go on living in it indefinitely. Indeed I could reduce the conditions to two and be quite satisfied. I should want that stable over which the Countess lives, since it is not pleasant to have the horses stabled under Mrs. Clemens’s bed-chamber. Also I should wish the Countess to move out of Italy; out of Europe; out of the planet. I should want her bonded to retire to her place in the next world and inform me which of the two it was, so that I could arrange for my own hereafter.
The friends who secured this house for me while I was still in America were as well acquainted with the Countess’s pestiferous character as was gossipy Florence, but they allowed her to beguile them into the belief that she was going to Paris to live as soon as her expensive house was off her hands. It was a mistake. She never meant to go. She could not endure life without the daily and hourly society of her handsome chief manservant, and she was not rich enough to take him along.
There being nothing in the lease requiring the Countess to go to Paris or to some other heaven suited to her style, I soon realized that there was no way of abolishing her; and so after two and a half months of her odorous presence in the neighborhood, her stable dwelling being within the grounds of the estate, I gave it up and have been house hunting ever since. House hunting in any country is difficult and depressing, in the regions skirting Florence it leads to despair, and if persisted in will end in suicide. Professor Willard Fiske, the scholar, who bought the Walter Savage Landor villa fourteen or fifteen years ago, tells me that he examined three hundred villas before he found one that would suit him; yet he was a widower without child or dependent, and merely needed a villa for his lone self. I was in it twelve years ago and it seemed to me that he had not bought a villa but only a privilege—the privilege of building it over again and making it humanly habitable. During the first three weeks of February I climbed around, over and prowled through an average of six large villas a week but found none that would answer, in the circumstances. One of the circumstances and the most important of all being that we are in Italy by the command of physicians in the hope that in this mild climate Mrs. Clemens will get her health back. She suddenly lost it nineteen months ago, being smitten helpless by nervous prostration complicated with an affection of the heart of several years’ standing, and the times since this collapse that she has been able to stand on her feet five minutes at a time have been exceedingly rare. I have examined two villas that were about as large as this one, but the interior architecture was so ill contrived that there was not comfortable room in them for my family of four persons. As a rule the bed-chambers served as common hallways, which means that for centuries Tom, Dick and Harry of both sexes and all ages have moved in procession to and fro through those ostensibly private rooms.
Every villa I examined had a number of the details which I was ordered to find, four possessed almost every one of them. In the case of the four the altitudes were not satisfactory to the doctors; two of them were too high, the other pair too low. These fifteen or twenty villas were all furnished. The reader of these notes will find that word in the dictionary, and it will be defined there; but that definition can have no value to a person who is desiring to know what the word means over here when it is attached to an advertisement proposing to let a dwelling-house. Here it means a meagre and scattering array of cheap and rickety chairs, tables, sofas etc., upholstered in worn and damaged fragments of sombre and melancholy hue that suggest the grave and compel the desire to retire to it. The average villa is properly a hospital for ailing and superannuated furniture. In its best days this furniture was never good nor comely nor attractive nor comfortable. When that best day was, was too long ago for any one to be able to date it now.
Each time that I have returned from one of these quests I have been obliged to concede that the insurrection of color in this Villa di Quarto is a rest to the eye after what I had been sighing and sorrowing over in those others, and that this is the only villa in the market so far as I know that has furniture enough in it for the needs of the occupants.
Also I will concede that I was wrong in thinking this villa poverty-stricken in the matter of conveniences; for by contrast with those others this house is rich in conveniences.
Some time ago a lady told me that she had just returned from a visit to the country palace of a Princess, a huge building standing in the midst of a great and beautiful and carefully kept flower garden, the garden in its turn being situated in a great and beautiful private park. She was received by a splendid apparition of the footman species who ushered her into a lofty and spacious hall richly garnished with statuary, pictures and other ornaments, fine and costly, and thence down an immensely long corridor which shone with a similar garniture, superb and showy to the last degree; and at the end of this enchanting journey she was delivered into the Princess’s bed-chamber and received by the Princess, who was ailing slightly, and in bed. The room was very small, it was without bric-à-brac or prettinesses for the comfort of the eye and spirit, the bedstead was iron, there were two wooden chairs and a small table, and in the corner stood an iron tripod which supported a common white wash-bowl. The costly glories of the house were all for show, no money had been wasted on its mistress’s comfort. I had my doubts about this story when I first acquired it, I am more credulous now.
A word or two more concerning the furnishings of the Villa di Quarto. The rooms contain an average of four pictures each, say two photographs or engravings and two oil or water-color paintings of chromo degree. A number of these paintings are from the Countess’s hand, and several of them exhibit talent of a moderate sort. One of her works is a portrait, apparently from a photograph, of the Philadelphia man whose intimacies with her enabled her first husband to relieve himself of her society by divorce. This divorced lady was flourishing under her maiden name of Paxton when she was married to the Count in Philadelphia. In America she is a married woman, in Italy she is not.
She has studied art. Twenty-five or thirty drawings upholster the walls of a north room of this house—which must have been her studio. These nude men and women are of the detailed and uncompromising nakedness which is the special product of class instruction in the art schools. If I read the Countess aright, it cost her a pang not to hang them in the drawing-room.
High up on the walls of the great entrance hall hang several of those little shiny white cherubs which one associates with the name of Della Robbia. The walls of this hall are further decorated, or at least relieved, by the usual great frameless oval oil portraits of long-departed aristocrats which one customarily finds thus displayed in all Florentine villas. In the present case the portraits were painted by artists of chromo rank, with the exception of one. As I have had no teaching in art I cannot decide what is a good picture and what isn’t, according to the established standards; I am obliged to depend on my own crude standards. According to these the picture which I am now considering sets forth a most noble, grave, and beautiful face, faultless in all details, and with beautiful and faultless hands; and if it belonged to me I would never take a lesson in art lest the picture lose for me its finished, complete, and satisfying perfection.
The Countess is two or three years past forty, and by the generous supply of portraits and photographs of her distributed over the house one perceives that she has once been comely and at intervals pretty. She now paints her face and dyes her hair, and in other ways tries to preserve the tradition of those lost days; but she carries that within her which defeats the dearest efforts of art and spoils their attempts to keep her exterior aspects in satisfactory shape. That interior something is her spirit, her disposition. She is excitable, malicious, malignant, vengeful, unforgiving, selfish, stingy, avaricious, coarse, vulgar, profane, obscene, a furious blusterer on the outside and at heart a coward. Her lips are as familiar with lies, deceptions, swindles and treacheries as are her nostrils with breath. She has not a single friend in Florence, she is not received in any house. I think she is the best hated person I have ever known, and the most liberally despised. She is an oppressor by nature, and a taker of mean advantages. She is hated by every peasant and every person on the estate and in the neighborhood of it, with the single exception of her paramour, the steward. She told me that when she bought the estate the first thing she did was to drive from it every peasant family but one. She did not make this as a confession, the whole tone of it was that of a boast, and nowhere in it was there any accent of pity. She knew that those people and their fathers had held those small homes for generations, and had by authority of the kindly customs of the country regarded them as being secure to them so long as their conduct should remain good. She knew that to turn them out upon the world was to them a terrible calamity; that it was almost the equivalent to sweeping Islanders into the sea. She knew that these people were bound to their homes by their heart-strings. One of the peasants whom she evicted lived six weeks and died with nothing the matter with him. That is, nothing the matter with him that a physician’s drugs could reach, nothing that is named in the medical man’s books, nothing for which his science has provided either diagnosis or remedy. The man’s friends had no doubts as to the nature of his malady. They said his heart was where anybody’s heart would be—in his home; and that when that was taken from him his heart went with it, and thereby his life was spoiled, and no longer livable with profit. The Countess boasted to me that nothing American is still left in her, and that she is wholly Italian now. She plainly regarded this as a humiliation for America, and she as plainly believed she was gracing Italy with a compliment of a high and precious order. America still stands. Italy may survive the benefaction of the Countess’s approval, we cannot tell.
There is something pathetically comical about this forlorn exile’s dream and its failure. She imagined that a title was all that was needed to frank her into the heaven of the privileged orders of Europe, whereas she finds she is not even able to penetrate the outer fringe of it. She overlooked an all important detail—money. If she had had that her destitution of character would not have counted. Lacking that, her soiled name, her execrable nature, and her residence in a stable with her manservant and the other cattle, all count against her. She brought no money, and had none to bring. If she had a credit of ten millions at the bank not many doors would be closed against her; being lean of purse, none is open to her. She has assailed, she has furiously assailed ladies in the street for not returning her visits and for pretending to be out when she called. This is regarded as not good form. Hers is a curious situation. It is good to be a real noble, it is good to be a real American, it is a calamity to be neither the one thing nor the other, a politico-social bastard on both counts.
The trivial maliciousness that this soured outcast can invent! My agent here, a solicitor, paid twenty-five hundred francs—the rent of the first quarter—before we sailed from America, and this secured possession for the first day of November. On that date he tried to put our servants in the house, and the Countess drove him and them away, and he stood it like a little man! She said no one would be allowed to enter until the inventory had been made out and signed. She put that detail off a week, and this gave her an opportunity to rob the house. She removed from it all the furniture she could stow and use in her apartment of twelve rooms over the stable and cattle stalls. We arrived on the 7th, stayed in town two days, to rest my invalid wife from the racking railway journey from Genoa; the Countess’s head servant and the solicitor reported the house in good order, and we made the long drive on the 9th and entered into occupation, to find that no fires had been lighted in the furnaces or elsewhere and that the place was in condition for no office but the preservation of products requiring cold storage.
Jean and our old Katy had preceded us by half an hour to make sure that everything was in right shape. They found the Countess on hand and lording it over the house which had been taken and paid for; no bed had been prepared for the invalid, the Countess refused to give up the keys to the bedding closets, and said she would not allow a bed to be made for any one until the inventory should have been gone over and signed. She wouldn’t tell where in the vast building our trunks were concealed; otherwise bedding could have been taken from these. When we arrived we soon found out where our trunks were and we set the servants to work to prepare a bed. We selected for Mrs. Clemens the sacred room with the silken tapestry; the Countess forbade the presence in that room of any sick person and appealed to the lease and to my lawyer, who was present, in support of this prohibition. She was correct in her position. The lease showed that this reptile with the filthy soul had protected her house and her body against physical contamination by inserting in the lease a clause prohibiting the lessee from introducing into that particular bedroom any person suffering from an illness of any kind whether contagious or otherwise, and whether the illness might be “large or small” to use the words of the translation of the lease; and to these rigors she had added a clause breaking the lease in case I should bring a contagious disease into the house. All these sillinesses my salaried ass had conceded.
During the fifteen months that Mrs. Clemens had been a helpless invalid she had constantly received the gentle courtesies and kindly attentions which human beings of whatsoever rank or nationality always and everywhere accord to helplessness. This American Countess was the first of the race to deny these graces and to inflict physical pain and damage instead.
Considering the known character of the woman the lease was not a curiosity, for it left many loopholes for the gratification of her whims and caprices and malices, but left no holes for our escape or defence. Her rights were set forth in detail in writing, in every instance, whereas some of our most important ones had no protection other than her oral promises. These promises were ignored and repudiated from the start, and quite frankly. By oral promise we could occupy as much of the stable as we pleased, but the written lease confined us to the stable under Mrs. Clemens’s room. By oral agreement she was to leave the estate as soon as we moved in—a most important detail, and by all means should have been in writing, for no one acquainted with the Countess would endure the stench of her presence within a mile of his dwelling if it could be helped. By oral promise we were to have command of the reservoir which furnished water to the house—which was another exceedingly important detail; but as it was not in writing she was able to keep that command herself and she continues to keep it, and now and then to use it against our convenience and our health. The lease gave us not a single privilege outside the building except exit and entrance through the grounds; we were not consulted as to what hours the great gates should be open, it pleased her to close them for the night at six o’clock wherefore we were not only prisoners from that time until the next morning, but we were disastrously unaware of it because she gave us no notice. I say disastrously for the reason that upon one occasion our expensive Florentine specialist, Professor Grocco, with his assistant physician arrived at the outer gate four hundred yards from the villa at six o’clock in the evening and found the gate locked. There being no bell there was no way to give us notice. The assistant, Dr. Nesti, went scouting and found a gate open which led into the podere; through this they drove unimpeded to the villa. The pretext for closing the great gates out at the main road and those contiguous to our house was to protect the podere from thieves, whereas that podere gate was often left open all night.
The Countess invented various other ways to inconvenience us, and I supposed that the motive was merely and solely malice, but it turns out that that was not the whole of it. She was trying to force us to throw pecuniary advantages in the way of her temporary husband, her chief manservant. She had expected that we would buy all supplies through him and thus extend to him the same opportunities to rob us which he was enjoying in robbing her. She was curiously communicative in this matter. She told me I had made a mistake in not buying the winter’s fuel through that man; and in not buying the winter supply of wine and oil through him; and in not furnishing a cart and horse to our cook wherewith to drive into Florence daily for the perishable foods for the table; and in not getting him to have our washing done for us; and in not making it worth his while to be friendly with us as regards the water; since he could shut it off whenever he pleased, and could also waste it and make it necessary for us to buy water outside and have it hauled to us—a thing which he did once for a week or two.
The lease forbade me to add an improvement or a convenience anywhere about the house without first getting her consent in writing. Our physicians were three or four miles away in Florence; several times Mrs. Clemens had desperate need of them, and each time it cost us more than an hour and a half of precious time to send in and get them. A telephone was necessary, and I asked the Countess to allow me to put one in. She said I might, but that she must be sent for when the telephone people should arrive to put in the instrument, so that she might determine for herself whereabouts in the house she would allow it to be located. It did not occur to me to ask her to put the permission in writing, for I was not yet able to realize that I was not dealing with a human being but with a reptile. Through Mr. Cecchi, the manager of the bank, the contract was at once made with the Telephone Company; there were twenty-seven orders ahead of me, but by courtesy of the Company and in consideration of the desperate need I had of the telephone, I was placed at the head of the list; my instrument was promptly put in, and in the last days of January it began its work in perfect order. It maintained this perfect order an hour and then died. During a whole month thereafter Mr. Cecchi did his best to find out what the trouble was. The Company furnished all sorts of excuses except rational ones, and still the telephone remained dumb. Close upon the end of January I heard from a trustworthy source that the Countess had said to a friend of hers, the only one she has in Italy apparently, that if I had put the telephone matter into the hands of her paramour there would never have been any trouble about it. I went to town and Mr. Cecchi telephoned the Company and asked them to state once for all when they proposed to blow the breath of life into my telephone. They answered that the Countess was threatening them with a suit for eighteen francs damage which they had caused by erecting a telephone pole in her podere, the actual damage being, if anything, not above five francs. Also that they had just received an order from the Countess, accompanied by a threat from her lawyer, requiring them to take my telephone out on or before the fourth day of February at noon. I asked Mr. Cecchi to say to the Company that if I found myself unable to communicate with my house by telephone before sunset I should bring suit for twenty-five thousand francs damages for failure to fulfill their contract with me. Communication with my house was perfected within the hour, and has never since been interrupted. The Countess’s excuse for forbidding a telephone whose special and particular office was to speedily call physicians to save a neighbor’s threatened life, was that I had no permission from her in writing and had not notified her to come and say where the instrument might be placed. I was losing my belief in hell until I got acquainted with the Countess Massiglia.
We have lived in a Florentine villa before. This was twelve years ago. This was the Villa Viviani, and was pleasantly and commandingly situated on a hill in the suburb of Settignano, overlooking Florence and the great valley. It was secured for us and put in comfortable order by a good friend, Mrs. Ross, whose stately castle was a twelve minutes’ walk away. She still lives there, and has been a help to us more than once since we got into the fangs of the titled animal who owns the Villa di Quarto. The year spent in the Villa Viviani was something of a contrast to the five months which we have now spent in this ducal barrack. Among my old manuscripts and random and spasmodic diaries I find some account of that pleasantly remembered year, and will make some extracts from the same and introduce them here.
When we were passing through Florence in the spring of ’92 on our way to Germany, the diseased world’s bath-house, we began negotiations for a villa, and friends of ours completed them after we were gone. When we got back three or four months later, everything was ready, even to the servants and the dinner. It takes but a sentence to state that, but it makes an indolent person tired to think of the planning and work and trouble that lie concealed in it. For it is less trouble and more satisfaction to bury two families than to select and equip a home for one.
The situation of the villa was perfect. It was three miles from Florence, on the side of a hill. The flowery terrace on which it stood looked down upon sloping olive groves and vineyards; to the right, beyond some hill-spurs, was Fiesole, perched upon its steep terraces; in the immediate foreground was the imposing mass of the Ross castle, its walls and turrets rich with the mellow weather-stains of forgotten centuries; in the distant plain lay Florence, pink and gray and brown, with the rusty huge dome of the cathedral dominating its centre like a captive balloon, and flanked on the right by the smaller bulb of the Medici chapel and on the left by the airy tower of the Palazzo Vecchio; all around the horizon was a billowy rim of lofty blue hills, snowed white with innumerable villas. After nine months of familiarity with this panorama, I still think, as I thought in the beginning, that this is the fairest picture on our planet, the most enchanting to look upon, the most satisfying to the eye and the spirit. To see the sun sink down, drowned in his pink and purple and golden floods, and overwhelm Florence with tides of color that make all the sharp lines dim and faint and turn the solid city to a city of dreams, is a sight to stir the coldest nature and make a sympathetic one drunk with ecstasy.
Sept. 26. ’92. Arrived in Florence. Got my head shaved. This was a mistake. Moved to the villa in the afternoon. Some of the trunks brought up in the evening by the contadino—if that is his title. He is the man who lives on the farm and takes care of it for the owner, the Marquis. The contadino is middle-aged and like the rest of the peasants—that is to say, brown, handsome, good-natured, courteous, and entirely independent without making any offensive show of it. He charged too much for the trunks, I was told. My informant explained that this was customary.
Sept. 27. The rest of the trunks brought up this morning. He charged too much again, but I was told that this also was customary. It is all right, then. I do not wish to violate the customs. Hired landau, horses and coachman. Terms, four hundred and eighty francs a month and a pourboire to the coachman, I to furnish lodging for the man and the horses, but nothing else. The landau has seen better days and weighs thirty tons. The horses are feeble, and object to the landau; they stop and turn around every now and then and examine it with surprise and suspicion. This causes delay. But it entertains the people along the road. They came out and stood around with their hands in their pockets and discussed the matter with each other. I was told they said that a forty-ton landau was not the thing for horses like those—what they needed was a wheelbarrow.
I will insert in this place some notes made in October concerning the villa:
This is a two-story house. It is not an old house—from an Italian standpoint, I mean. No doubt there has always been a nice dwelling on this eligible spot since a thousand years B.C.; but this present one is said to be only two hundred years old. Outside, it is a plain square building like a box, and is painted a light yellow and has green window-shutters. It stands in a commanding position on an artificial terrace of liberal dimensions which is walled around with strong masonry. From the walls the vineyards and olive orchards of the estate slant away toward the valley; the garden about the house is stocked with flowers and a convention of lemon bushes in great crockery tubs; there are several tall trees—stately stone pines—also fig trees and trees of breeds not familiar to me; roses overflow the retaining-walls and the battered and mossy stone urns on the gate-posts in pink and yellow cataracts, exactly as they do on the drop-curtains of theatres; there are gravel walks shut in by tall laurel hedges. A back corner of the terrace is occupied by a dense grove of old ilex trees. There is a stone table in there, with stone benches around it. No shaft of sunlight can penetrate that grove. It is always deep twilight in there, even when all outside is flooded with the intense sun-glare common to this region. The carriage road leads from the inner gate eight hundred feet to the public road, through the vineyard, and there one may take the horse-car for the city, and will find it a swifter and handier convenience than a sixty-ton landau. On the east (or maybe it is the south) front of the house is the Viviani coat of arms in plaster, and near it a sun dial which keeps very good time.
The house is a very fortress for strength. The main walls—of brick covered with plaster—are about three feet thick; the partitions of the rooms, also of brick, are nearly the same thickness. The ceilings of the rooms on the ground floor are more than twenty feet high, those of the upper floors are also higher than necessary. I have several times tried to count the rooms in the house, but the irregularities baffle me. There seem to be twenty-eight.
The ceilings are frescoed, the walls are papered. All the floors are of red brick covered with a coating of polished and shining cement which is as hard as stone and looks like it; for the surfaces have been painted in patterns, first in solid colors and then snowed over with varicolored freckles of paint to imitate granite and other stones. Sometimes the body of the floor is an imitation of gray granite with a huge star or other ornamental pattern of imitation fancy marbles in the centre; with a two-foot band of imitation red granite all around the room whose outer edge is bordered with a six-inch stripe of imitation lapis-lazuli; sometimes the body of the floor is red granite, then the gray is used as a bordering stripe. There are plenty of windows, and worlds of sun and light; these floors are slick and shiny and full of reflections, for each is a mirror in its way, softly imaging all objects after the subdued fashion of forest lakes.
There is a tiny family chapel on the main floor, with benches for ten or twelve persons, and over the little altar is an ancient oil painting which seems to me to be as beautiful and as rich in tone as any of those Old-Master performances down yonder in the galleries of the Pitti and the Uffizi. Botticelli, for instance; I wish I had time to make a few remarks about Botticelli—whose real name was probably Smith.
The curious feature of the house is the salon. This is a spacious and lofty vacuum which occupies the centre of the house; all the rest of the house is built around it; it extends up through both stories and its roof projects some feet above the rest of the building. That vacuum is very impressive. The sense of its vastness strikes you the moment you step into it and cast your eyes around it and aloft. I tried many names for it: the Skating Rink, the Mammoth Cave, the Great Sahara, and so on, but none exactly answered. There are five divans distributed along its walls; they make little or no show, though their aggregate length is fifty-seven feet. A piano in it is a lost object. We have tried to reduce the sense of desert space and emptiness with tables and things, but they have a defeated look and do not do any good. Whatever stands or moves under that soaring painted vault is belittled.
Over the six doors are huge plaster medallions which are supported by great naked and handsome plaster boys, and in these medallions are plaster portraits in high relief of some grave and beautiful men in stately official costumes of a long past day—Florentine senators and judges, ancient dwellers here and owners of this estate. The date of one of them is 1305—middle-aged, then, and a judge—he could have known, as a youth, the very creators of Italian art, and he could have walked and talked with Dante, and probably did. The date of another is 1343—he could have known Boccaccio and spent his afternoons yonder in Fiesole gazing down on plague-reeking Florence and listening to that man’s improper tales, and he probably did. The date of another is 1463—he could have met Columbus, and he knew the Magnificent Lorenzo, of course. These are all Cerretanis—or Cerretani-Twains, as I may say, for I have adopted myself into their family on account of its antiquity, my origin having been heretofore too recent to suit me.
But I am forgetting to state what it is about that Rink that is so curious—which is, that it is not really vast, but only seems so. It is an odd deception, and unaccountable; but a deception it is. Measured by the eye it is sixty feet square and sixty high; but I have been applying the tape-line, and find it to be but forty feet square and forty high. These are the correct figures; and what is interestingly strange is, that the place continues to look as big now as it did before I measured it.
This is a good house, but it cost very little, and is simplicity itself, and pretty primitive in most of its features. The water is pumped to the ground floor from a well by hand labor, and then carried up stairs by hand. There is no drainage; the cesspools are right under the windows. This is the case with everybody’s villa.
The doors in this house are like the doors of the majority of the houses and hotels of Italy—plain, thin, unpaneled boards painted white. This makes the flimsiest and most unattractive door known to history. The knob is not a knob, but a thing like the handle of a gimlet—you can get hold of it only with your thumb and forefinger. Still, even that is less foolish than our American door-knob, which is always getting loose and turning futilely round and round in your hand, accomplishing nothing.
The windows are all of the rational continental breed; they open apart, like doors; and when they are bolted for the night they don’t rattle, and a person can go to sleep.
There are cunning little fireplaces in the bedrooms and sitting-rooms, and lately a big aggressive looking German stove has been set up on the south frontier of the Great Sahara.
The stairs are made of granite blocks, the hallways of the second floor are of red brick. It is a safe house. Earthquakes cannot shake it down, fire cannot burn it. There is absolutely nothing burnable but the furniture, the curtains and the doors. There is not much furniture, it is merely summer furniture—or summer bareness, if you like. When a candle set fire to the curtains in a room over my head the other night where samples of the family slept, I was wakened out of my sleep by shouts and screams, and was greatly terrified until an answer from the window told me what the matter was: that the window curtains and hangings were on fire. In America I should have been more frightened than ever, then, but this was not the case here. I advised the samples to let the fire alone, and go to bed; which they did, and by the time they got to sleep there was nothing of the attacked fabrics left. We boast a good deal in America of our fire departments, the most efficient and wonderful in the world, but they have something better than that to boast of in Europe—a rational system of building which makes human life safe from fire and renders fire departments needless. We boast of a thing which we ought to be ashamed to require.
This villa has a roomy look, a spacious look; and when the sunshine is pouring in and lighting up the bright colors of the shiny floors and walls and ceilings there is a large and friendly suggestion of welcome about the aspects, but I do not know that I have ever seen a continental dwelling which quite met the American standard of a home in all the details. There is a trick about an American house that is like the deep-lying untranslatable idioms of a foreign language—a trick uncatchable by the stranger, a trick incommunicable and undescribable; and that elusive trick, that intangible something, whatever it is, is just the something that gives the home look and the home feeling to an American house and makes it the most satisfying refuge yet invented by men—and women, mainly women. The American house is opulent in soft and varied colors that please and rest the eye, and in surfaces that are smooth and pleasant to the touch, in forms that are shapely and graceful, in objects without number which compel interest and cover nakedness; and the night has even a higher charm than the day, there, for the artificial lights do really give light instead of merely trying and failing; and under their veiled and tinted glow all the snug cosiness and comfort and charm of the place is at its best and loveliest. But when night shuts down on the continental home there is no gas or electricity to fight it, but only dreary lamps of exaggerated ugliness and of incomparable poverty in the matter of effectiveness.
Sept. 29. ’92. I seem able to forget everything except that I have had my head shaved. No matter how closely I shut myself away from drafts it seems to be always breezy up there. But the main difficulty is the flies. They like it up there better than anywhere else; on account of the view, I suppose. It seems to me that I have never seen any flies before that were shod like these. These appear to have talons. Wherever they put their foot down they grab. They walk over my head all the time, and cause me infinite torture. It is their park, their club, their summer resort. They have garden parties there, and conventions, and all sorts of dissipation. And they fear nothing. All flies are daring, but these are more daring than those of other nationalities. These cannot be scared away by any device. They are more diligent, too, than the other kinds: they come before daylight and stay till after dark. But there are compensations. The mosquitoes are not a trouble. There are very few of them, they are not noisy, and not much interested in their calling. A single unkind word will send them away, if said in English, which impresses them because they do not understand it, then they come no more that night. We often see them weep when they are spoken to harshly. I have got some of the eggs to take home. If this breed can be raised in our climate they will be a great advantage. There seem to be no fleas here. This is the first time we have struck this kind of an interregnum in fifteen months. Everywhere else the supply exceeds the demand.
Oct. 1. Finding that the coachman was taking his meals in the kitchen, I reorganized the contract to include his board, at thirty francs a month. That is what it would cost him up above us in the village, and I think I can feed him for two hundred and save thirty out of it. Saving thirty is better than not saving anything.
That passage from the diary reminds me that I did an injudicious thing along about that time which bore fruit later. As I was to give the coachman, Vittorio, a monthly pourboire, of course I wanted to know the amount. So I asked the coachman’s padrone (master), instead of asking somebody else—anybody else. He said thirty francs a month would be about right. I was afterwards informed that this was an overcharge, but that it was customary, there being no customary charges except overcharges. However, at the end of that month the coachman demanded an extra pourboire of fifteen francs. When I asked why, he said his padrone had taken his other pourboire away from him. The padrone denied this in Vittorio’s presence, and Vittorio seemed to retract. The padrone said he did, and he certainly had that aspect, but I had to take the padrone’s word for it as interpreter of the coachman’s Italian. When the padrone was gone the coachman resumed the charge, and as we liked him—and also believed him—we made his aggregate pourboire forty-five francs a month after that, and never doubted that the padrone took two-thirds of it. We were told by citizens that it was customary for the padrone to seize a considerable share of his dependents’ pourboire, and also the custom for the padrone to deny it. That padrone is an accommodating man, and a most capable and agreeable talker, speaking English like an archangel, and making it next to impossible for a body to be dissatisfied with him; yet his seventy-ton landau has kept us supplied with lame horses for nine months, whereas we were entitled to a light carriage suited to hill-climbing, and fastidious people would have made him furnish it.
The Cerretani family, of old and high distinction in the great days of the Republic, lived on this place during many centuries. Along in October we began to notice a pungent and suspicious odor which we were not acquainted with and which gave us some little apprehension, but I laid it on the dog, and explained to the family that that kind of a dog always smelt that way when he was up to windward of the subject, but privately I knew it was not the dog at all. I believed it was our adopted ancestors, the Cerretanis. I believed they were preserved under the house somewhere, and that it would be a good scheme to get them out and air them. But I was mistaken. I made a secret search and had to acquit the ancestors. It turned out that the odor was a harmless one. It came from the wine-crop, which was stored in a part of the cellars to which we had no access. This discovery gave our imaginations a rest; and it turned a disagreeable smell into a pleasant one. But not until we had so long and so lavishly flooded the house with odious disinfectants that the dog left and the family had to camp in the yard most of the time. It took two months to disinfect the disinfectants and persuade our wealth of atrocious stenches to emigrate. When they were finally all gone and the wine-fragrance resumed business at the old stand, we welcomed it with effusion and have had no fault to find with it since.
Oct. 6. I find myself at a disadvantage here. Four persons in the house speak Italian and nothing else, one person speaks German and nothing else, the rest of the talk is in the French, English and profane languages. I am equipped with but the merest smattering in these tongues, if I except one or two. Angelo speaks French—a French which he could get a patent on, because he invented it himself; a French which no one can understand, a French which resembles no other confusion of sounds heard since Babel, a French which curdles the milk. He prefers it to his native Italian. He loves to talk it; loves to listen to himself; to him it is music; he will not let it alone. The family would like to get their little Italian savings into circulation, but he will not give change. It makes no difference what language he is addressed in, his reply is in French—his peculiar French, his grating uncanny French, which sounds like shoveling anthracite down a coal-chute. I know a few Italian words and several phrases, and along at first I used to keep them bright and fresh by whetting them on Angelo; but he partly couldn’t understand them and partly didn’t want to, so I have been obliged to withdraw them from the market for the present. But this is only temporary. I am practising, I am preparing. Some day I shall be ready for him, and not in ineffectual French, but in his native tongue. I will seethe this kid in its mother’s milk.
Oct. 27. The first month is finished. We are wonted, now. It is agreed that life at a Florentine villa is an ideal existence. The weather is divine, the outside aspects lovely, the days and the nights tranquil and reposeful, the seclusion from the world and its worries as satisfactory as a dream. There is no housekeeping to do, no plans to make, no marketing to superintend—all these things do themselves, apparently. One is vaguely aware that somebody is attending to them, just as one is aware that the world is being turned over and the constellations worked and the sun shoved around according to the schedule, but that is all; one does not feel personally concerned, or in any way responsible. Yet there is no head, no chief executive; each servant minds his or her own department, requiring no supervision and having none. They hand in elaborately itemized bills once a week, then the machinery goes silently on again, just as before. There is no noise, or fussing, or quarreling or confusion—up stairs. I don’t know what goes on below. Late in the afternoons friends come out from the city and drink tea in the open air, and tell what is happening in the world; and when the great sun sinks down upon Florence and the daily miracle begins, they hold their breath and look. It is not a time for talk.

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