Mark Twain’s Letters— Volume 2 (1867-1875)

Contents:
Author: Mark Twain

To Bret Harte, in San Francisco:

WESTMINSTER HOTEL, May 1, 1867. DEAR BRET,—I take my pen in hand to inform you that I am well and hope these few lines will find you enjoying the same God’s blessing.

The book is out, and is handsome. It is full of damnable errors of grammar and deadly inconsistencies of spelling in the Frog sketch because I was away and did not read the proofs; but be a friend and say nothing about these things. When my hurry is over, I will send you an autograph copy to pisen the children with.

I am to lecture in Cooper Institute next Monday night. Pray for me.

We sail for the Holy Land June 8. Try to write me (to this hotel,) and it will be forwarded to Paris, where we remain 10 or 15 days.

Regards and best wishes to Mrs. Bret and the family.
Truly Yr Friend
MARK.

To Mrs. Jane Clemens and family, in St. Louis:

WESTMINSTER HOTEL, May 1, 1867. DEAR FOLKS,—Don’t expect me to write for a while. My hands are full of business on account of my lecture for the 6th inst., and everything looks shady, at least, if not dark. I have got a good agent—but now after we have hired Cooper Institute and gone to an expense in one way or another of $500, it comes out that I have got to play against Speaker Colfax at Irving Hall, Ristori, and also the double troupe of Japanese jugglers, the latter opening at the great Academy of Music—and with all this against me I have taken the largest house in New York and cannot back water. Let her slide! If nobody else cares I don’t.

I’ll send the book soon. I am awfully hurried now, but not worried.
Yrs.
SAM.

The Cooper Union lecture proved a failure, and a success. When it became evident to Fuller that the venture was not going to pay, he sent out a flood of complimentaries to the school-teachers of New York City and the surrounding districts. No one seems to have declined them. Clemens lectured to a jammed house and acquired much reputation. Lecture proposals came from several directions, but he could not accept them now. He wrote home that he was eighteen Alta letters behind and had refused everything. Thos. Nast, the cartoonist, then in his first fame, propped a joint tour, Clemens to lecture while he, Nast, would illustrate with "lightning" sketches; but even this could not be considered now. In a little while he would sail, and the days were overfull. A letter written a week before he sailed is full of the hurry and strain of these last days.

To Mrs. Jane Clemens and family, in St. Louis:

WESTMINSTER HOTEL, NEW YORK, June 1, 1867. DEAR FOLKS,—I know I ought to write oftener (just got your last,) and more fully, but I cannot overcome my repugnance to telling what I am doing or what I expect to do or propose to do. Then, what have I left to write about? Manifestly nothing.

It isn’t any use for me to talk about the voyage, because I can have no faith in that voyage till the ship is under way. How do I know she will ever sail? My passage is paid, and if the ship sails, I sail in her—but I make no calculations, have bought no cigars, no sea-going clothing —have made no preparation whatever—shall not pack my trunk till the morning we sail. Yet my hands are full of what I am going to do the day before we sail—and what isn’t done that day will go undone.

All I do know or feel, is, that I am wild with impatience to move—move —move! Half a dozen times I have wished I had sailed long ago in some ship that wasn’t going to keep me chained here to chafe for lagging ages while she got ready to go. Curse the endless delays! They always kill me—they make me neglect every duty and then I have a conscience that tears me like a wild beast. I wish I never had to stop anywhere a month. I do more mean things, the moment I get a chance to fold my hands and sit down than ever I can get forgiveness for.

Yes, we are to meet at Mr. Beach’s next Thursday night, and I suppose we shall have to be gotten up regardless of expense, in swallow-tails, white kids and everything en regle.

I am resigned to Rev. Mr. Hutchinson’s or anybody else’s supervision. I don’t mind it. I am fixed. I have got a splendid, immoral, tobaccosmoking, wine-drinking, godless room-mate who is as good and true and right-minded a man as ever lived—a man whose blameless conduct and example will always be an eloquent sermon to all who shall come within their influence. But send on the professional preachers—there are none I like better to converse with. If they’re not narrow minded and bigoted they make good companions.

I asked them to send the N. Y. Weekly to you—no charge. I am not going to write for it. Like all other, papers that pay one splendidly it circulates among stupid people and the ’canaille.’ I have made no arrangement with any New York paper—I will see about that Monday or Tuesday.
Love to all
Good bye,
Yrs affy
SAM.

The "immoral" room-mate whose conduct was to be an "eloquent
example" was Dan Slote, immortalized in the Innocents as "Dan"
—a favorite on the ship, and later beloved by countless readers.

There is one more letter, written the night before the Quaker City
sailed-a letter which in a sense marks the close of the first great
period of his life—the period of aimless wandering—adventure
—youth.

Perhaps a paragraph of explanation should precede this letter.
Political changes had eliminated Orion in Nevada, and he was now
undertaking the practice of law. "Bill Stewart" was Senator
Stewart, of Nevada, of whom we shall hear again. The "Sandwich
Island book," as may be imagined, was made up of his letters to the
Sacramento Union. Nothing came of the venture, except some chapters
in ’Roughing It’, rewritten from the material. "Zeb and John
Leavenworth" were pilots whom he had known on the river.

To Mrs. Jane Clemens and family in St. Louis:

NEW YORK, June 7th, 1867. DEAR FOLKS, I suppose we shall be many a league at sea tomorrow night, and goodness knows I shall be unspeakably glad of it.

I haven’t got anything to write, else I would write it. I have just written myself clear out in letters to the Alta, and I think they are the stupidest letters that were ever written from New York. Corresponding has been a perfect drag ever since I got to the states. If it continues abroad, I don’t know what the Tribune and Alta folks will think. I have withdrawn the Sandwich Island book—it would be useless to publish it in these dull publishing times. As for the Frog book, I don’t believe that will ever pay anything worth a cent. I published it simply to advertise myself—not with the hope of making anything out of it.

Well, I haven’t anything to write, except that I am tired of staying in one place—that I am in a fever to get away. Read my Alta letters—they contain everything I could possibly write to you. Tell Zeb and John Leavenworth to write me. They can get plenty of gossip from the pilots.

An importing house sent two cases of exquisite champagne aboard the ship for me today—Veuve Clicquot and Lac d’Or. I and my room-mate have set apart every Saturday as a solemn fast day, wherein we will entertain no light matters of frivolous conversation, but only get drunk. (That is a joke.) His mother and sisters are the best and most homelike people I have yet found in a brown stone front. There is no style about them, except in house and furniture.

I wish Orion were going on this voyage, for I believe he could not help but be cheerful and jolly. I often wonder if his law business is going satisfactorily to him, but knowing that the dull season is setting in now (it looked like it had already set in before) I have felt as if I could almost answer the question myself—which is to say in plain words, I was afraid to ask. I wish I had gone to Washington in the winter instead of going West. I could have gouged an office out of Bill Stewart for him, and that would atone for the loss of my home visit. But I am so worthless that it seems to me I never do anything or accomplish anything that lingers in my mind as a pleasant memory. My mind is stored full of unworthy conduct toward Orion and towards you all, and an accusing conscience gives me peace only in excitement and restless moving from place to place. If I could say I had done one thing for any of you that entitled me to your good opinion, (I say nothing of your love, for I am sure of that, no matter how unworthy of it I may make myself, from Orion down you have always given me that, all the days of my life, when God Almighty knows I seldom deserve it,) I believe I could go home and stay there and I know I would care little for the world’s praise or blame. There is no satisfaction in the world’s praise anyhow, and it has no worth to me save in the way of business. I tried to gather up its compliments to send to you, but the work was distasteful and I dropped it.

You observe that under a cheerful exterior I have got a spirit that is angry with me and gives me freely its contempt. I can get away from that at sea, and be tranquil and satisfied-and so, with my parting love and benediction for Orion and all of you, I say goodbye and God bless you all—and welcome the wind that wafts a weary soul to the sunny lands of the Mediterranean!
Yrs. Forever,
SAM.

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Chicago: Mark Twain, "To Bret Harte, in San Francisco:," Mark Twain’s Letters— Volume 2 (1867-1875), ed. Paine, Albert Bigelow, 1861-1937 and trans. Townsend, R.S. in Mark Twain’s Letters—Volume 2 (1867-1875) (New York: A. L. Burt Company, 1916), Original Sources, accessed November 22, 2019, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=IIG9ZABZPANEDGL.

MLA: Twain, Mark. "To Bret Harte, in San Francisco:." Mark Twain’s Letters— Volume 2 (1867-1875), edited by Paine, Albert Bigelow, 1861-1937, and translated by Townsend, R.S., in Mark Twain’s Letters—Volume 2 (1867-1875), Vol. 22, New York, A. L. Burt Company, 1916, Original Sources. 22 Nov. 2019. www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=IIG9ZABZPANEDGL.

Harvard: Twain, M, 'To Bret Harte, in San Francisco:' in Mark Twain’s Letters— Volume 2 (1867-1875), ed. and trans. . cited in 1916, Mark Twain’s Letters—Volume 2 (1867-1875), A. L. Burt Company, New York. Original Sources, retrieved 22 November 2019, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=IIG9ZABZPANEDGL.