Mining and Tall Tales, Angels Camp – Jumping Frog
Literary Celebrity – Pistol to the Head
January and February – Sam’s fourth known notebook, and the first that might be called a “writer’s notebook,” was written during these months. The notebook contained a great amount of literary material that would be immediately useful in the Jumping Frog story, but also material that would later appear in Roughing It, and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and others [MTNJ 1: 66-7].
January 1 Sunday – In Vallecito, Sam and Jim Gillis inspected a 480-foot tunnel. That night they saw a lunar rainbow. Sam jotted it in his notebook. He also noted that he dreamed that night about James W.E. Townsend (1838-1900), a California and Nevada journalist and editor known as “Lying Jim” because of his imagination and total disregard for the truth in what he wrote or spoke [Sanborn 258]. Telling tall tales by the campfire was a popular activity. One of Jim’s stories about a cat named Tom Quartz that was only interested in mining, found a place in Roughing It, five years later. Another of Jim Gillis’ tales about a blue jay was put into “Baker’s Bluejay Yarn,” part of A Tramp Abroad. One of the pastimes was a skit performed by Gillis and Jacob Richard (Dick) Stoker (1820-1898), the “grayer than a rat” miner who lived out his life in the region. The skit was adapted for the king and duke production in Huckleberry Finn. “I had to modify it considerably to make it fit for print and this was a great damage” [Sanborn 258-260]. From Sam’s notebook:
“New Years 1865, at Vallecito, Calaveras Co. Tunnel under Vallecito Flat is 400 feet long—80 feet yet to run…..magnificent lunar rainbow, first appearing at 8PM—moon at first quarter—very light drizzling rain….—dream of Jim Townsend.”
Note: James W.E. Townsend affectionately known as “Lying Jim,” was a journalist on the Enterprise and the Golden Era [MTNJ 1: 69]. Townsend is reputed to be the source for several of Sam and Bret Harte’s stories.
January 3 Tuesday – From Sam’s notebook:
“…returned with Jim Gillis, by way of Angel’s & Robinson’s Ferry, to Jackass Hill” [MTNJ 1: 70].
January 7 or January 14 Saturday – By eliminating other possible Saturdays, either of these may have been the day William R. Gillis (Billy) referred to in Gold Rush Days with Mark Twain, p.175-6. In the story, Sam supposedly said, “I am going to Sonora and will go to church to-morrow with brother Masons.” The pair left that night:
So as soon as we got ready we went over the Hill to Sonora. After looking at the procession we had dinner with the Masonic Fraternity at the Victoria Hotel and I went along as Sam’s guest. After dinner we went shopping in nearly all the stores in Sonora and bought necessary articles that Sam wanted. Along towards evening we concluded we would go home and were on our way to the City Hotel to get ready. While we were walking down the street the Reverend Mr. Croche joined us and took an arm of each. He said to us, “I’m glad to meet you gentlemen to-day because I want you as a witness to a wedding. [Note: Sam was a Mason, but it should be remembered that this was a 1929 recollection of Gillis; some of the dates in his book, and there are but few, are incorrect.]
January 22 Sunday – Sam had stayed with Dick Stoker, Jim and Billy Gillis in the one-room Stoker cabin, which Stoker built in 1850; little else of the camp remained from the gold rush days. On this date Sam and Jim Gillis went to nearby Angels Camp in Calaveras County. Jim had a mining claim at Angels Camp [MTL 1: 321; Rasmussen 250]. From Sam’s notebook:
“Angels’,. Ben Lewis’ , Altaville, Studhorse, Cherokee, Horsetown. Excelsior man bought privilege of ‘raising hell’ in Stockton—party burlesqued him….Squirrel hunt at Ben Lewis” [MTNJ 1: 71].
January 23 Monday – “Angels—Rainy, stormy—Beans & dishwater for breakfast at the Frenchman’s [Hotel]; dishwater & beans for dinner, and both articles warmed over for supper” [MTNJ 1: 76; Lennon 100].
January 24 Tuesday – “—Rained all day—meals as before” [MTNJ 1: 76].
January 25 Wednesday – “—Same as above” [MTNJ 1: 76].
From Sam’s notebook, a brush with death:
Narrow Escape.—Dark rainy night—walked to extreme edge of a cut in solid rock 30 feet deep—& while standing upon the extreme verge for half a dozen seconds, meditating whether to proceed or not, heard a stream of water falling into the cut, & then, my eyes becoming more accustomed to the darkness, saw that if the last step taken had been a hand breath longer, must have plunged in to the abyss & lost my life. One of my feet projected over the edge as I stood [MTNJ 1:74].
January 26 Thursday – From Sam’s notebook:
“Rain, beans & dishwater—tapidaro [leather covering on a saddle]. beefsteak for a change—no use, could not bite it” [MTNJ 1: 76].
January 27 Friday – From Sam’s notebook:
“Same old diet—same old weather—went out to pocket claim—had to rush back” [MTNJ 1: 76].
January 28 Saturday –
“Rain & wind all day & all night—Chili beans & dishwater three times to-day, as usual, & some kind of ‘slum’ which the Frenchman called ‘hash.’ Hash be d—d” [MTNJ 1: 76].
January 29 Sunday – From Sam’s notebook:
“The old, old thing [Jim says]. We shall have to stand the weather, but as J says, we won’t stand this dishwater & beans any longer, by G—” [MTNJ 1: 76].
January 30 Monday – Dick Stoker joined Sam and Jim Gillis at Angels Camp, where heavy rains had shut in the pair since their arrival [MTL 1: 321]. From Sam’s notebook:
“Moved to new hotel, just opened—good fare, & coffee that a Christian may drink without jeopardizing his eternal soul…Dick Stoker came over to-day, from Tuttletown, Tuolumne Co” [MTNJ 1: 76-7].
The hotel was Lake’s Hotel, proprietor Ross “Ben” Coon, a well-known chess player and bartender. Coon was the man who told Sam the jumping frog tale [Sanborn 263]. Rasmussen gives Tryon’s Hotel as the place of Coon’s bartending . Sam first used “Bilgewater” as a character name.
January, end – Sam’s notebook carried news of others getting rich, including one whose offer he’d refused:
“Herman Camp has sold some Washoe Stock in New York for $270,000” [MTNJ 1: 73]. Note: “Camp was an early locator and aggressive speculator in Washoe mining stocks. He had been friendly with Clemens in Virginia City and then in San Francisco while Clemens was staying there in mid-1863” [MTL 1: 327n1].
February 1 Wednesday – Sam wrote of a dream about saying goodbye to Laura Wright, when Sam was on the Pennsylvania. Though the two never met again, Sam indirectly communicated with Laura in Dallas, Texas in 1880 through one of her students, sent her money in 1906 responding to her letter for assistance for herself, a widow, and a disabled son [MTNJ 1: 89-90].
February 3 Friday – From Sam’s notebook:
Dined at the Frenchman’s, in order to let Dick see how he does things. Had Hellfire soup & the old regular beans & dishwater. The Frenchman has 4 kinds of soup which he furnishes to customers only on great occasions. They are popularly known among the Boarders as Hellfire, General Debility, Insanity & Sudden Death, but it is not possible to describe them….J & me [Jim Gillis]. talking like people 80 years old & toothless [MTNJ 1: 78].
February 6 Monday – The men did some mining, but rains returned and they passed time telling tall tales and jokes. Benson writes:
“Most of the days at Angel’s Camp were spent by Mark and Jim and Stoker in the barroom of the dilapidated tavern. Here they found themselves in the company of a frequenter of the tavern, Ben Coon” .
Paine writes of Ben Coon:
…a former Illinois River pilot…a solemn, fat-witted person, who dozed by the stove, or told slow, endless stories, without point or application. Listeners were a boon to him, for few came and not many would stay…One dreary afternoon, in his slow, monotonous fashion, he told them about a frog—a frog that had belonged to a man named Coleman, who trained it to jump, but that failed to win a wager because the owner of a rival frog had surreptitiously loaded the trained jumper with shot [MTB 271].
In other words, Sam was a boon to Ben Coon, a slam for Sam. Lorch writes that Sam had probably heard versions of the story previously, but was captivated by Coon’s “exquisite absurdity …[in] manner of telling the story without betraying a single hint that he regarded it as humorous” . Sam later wrote this story and it made him famous: “Jim Smiley and His Jumping Frog.” (Later, the “Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County,” and also the “Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.”)
From Sam’s notebook:
“Blazing hot days & cool nights. No more rain. “Odd or Even”—cast away at Honey Lake Smith’s. Billy Clagett moved fifteen steps from camp fire by the lice crawling on his body” [MTNJ 1: 78].
February 8 Wednesday – Sam served as junior deacon at a meeting of Bear Mountain Masonic Lodge No. 76 [MTNJ 1: 66].
February 20 Monday – Jim Gillis, Dick Stoker and Sam returned to Jackass Hill through a snowstorm, the first that Sam had seen in California [MTNJ 1: 81]. Billy Gillis remembered that Sam immediately wrote out some of the Angels Camp stories:
“When Sam came back he went to work on the Jumping Frog story, staying in the cabin while we went out to work at our claims and writing with a pencil. He used to say: ‘If I can write that story the way Ben Coon told it, that frog will jump around the world.’”
Sam discovered upon arrival at Jackass Hill that he’d left his knife, his meerschaum, and his toothbrush at Angels Camp [MTL 1: 321 citing West; Sanborn 264].
February 21 Tuesday – From Sam’s notebook:
On Jackass Hill again. The exciting topic of conversation in this sparse community just at present …is Mrs. Carrington’s baby, which was born a week ago, on the 14th. There was nothing remarkable about the baby, but if Mrs C had given birth to an ornamental cast-iron dog big enough for an embellishment for the State-House steps I don’t believe the event would have created more intense interest in the community….Had to remain at Jackass all day 21st, on account of heavy snow storm—inch deep, but all gone, sun out & grass green again before night [MTNJ 1: 81].
February 23 Thursday – Sam left Jackass Hill on horseback for San Francisco, by way of Copperopolis and Stockton. Copperopolis was a berg of 1,000 about twelve miles from Jackass Hill. Upon arriving, Sam learned that the stage would not be leaving until the next morning. Sam spent time hunting in Copperopolis for a new pipe, and toured the great Union Copper Mine, largest producer in California [Sanborn 265]. From Sam’s notebook:
“Could have walked to Sonora over Table Mountain in an hour, & left immediately in the stage for Stockton, but was told it was quickest to take a horse & go by Copperopolis, 12 miles distant. Came down, accordingly—arrived here in Copper at dusk” [MTNJ 1: 81].
February 24 Friday – From Sam’s notebook:
D—n Copperopolis—the big ball last night was postponed a week; instead of leaving this morning, the stage will not leave until to-morrow morning. Have lost my pipe, & can’t get another in this hellfired town. Left my knife, meerschaum & toothbrush at Angels—made Dick give me his big navy knife.
This is a pretty town & has about 1000 inhabitants. D—d poor hotel, but if this bad luck will let up on me I will be in Stockton at noon to-morrow & in San Francisco before midnight [MTNJ 1: 82].
February 25 Saturday – Sam left Copperopolis, Ca. by stagecoach for Stockton. “Arrived in Stockton at 5 P.M.” [MTNJ 1: 82]. From Stockton he took a riverboat.
February 26 Sunday – Sam arrived back in San Francisco. Sam did a few pieces for the Californian and as the San Francisco correspondent for the Territorial Enterprise. In Roughing It, Sam claimed he arrived back in town without a cent. Sam earned $100 a month with daily correspondence to Enterprise [MTL 1: 321]. From Sam’s notebook:
“—Home again—home again at the Occidental Hotel, San Francisco—find letters from ‘Artemus Ward’ asking me to write a sketch for his new book of Nevada Territory travels which is soon to come out. Too late—ought to have got the letters 3 months ago. They are dated early in November” [MTNJ 1: 82].
THE EDITOR of THE CALIFORNIAN ordered me to go to the rooms of the California Art Union and write an elaborate criticism upon the pictures upon exhibition there, and I beg leave to report that the result is hereunto appended, together with bill for same.
I do not know anything about Art and very little about music or anatomy, but nevertheless I enjoy looking at pictures and listening to operas, and gazing at handsome young girls, about the same as people do who are better qualified by education to judge of merit in these matters [ET&S 2: 137].
May 6 Saturday – Sam’s article, “Important Correspondence,” ran in the Californian [ET&S 2: 144].
May 13 Saturday – Sam’s article, “Further of Mr. Mark Twain’s Important Correspondence,” was printed in the Californian [ET&S 2: 157]. More Sam hi-jinx – pretense to obtain a preacher for Grace Cathedral and fictitious letters from a swarm of candidates.
May 24 Wednesday – An article appeared in the Carson Daily Appeal under “San Francisco Correspondence,” by William Brief, which noted that Sam had been seen arm-in-arm with Peter Anderson, Negro journalist for the Elevator, who was shunned by white journalists [Branch, C of Call 303n47]. Note: such things made news then.
May 27 Saturday – Sam’s article, “How I Went to the Great Race Between Lodi and Norfolk,” was printed in the Californian, an account of the trouble Sam met trying to find transportation to an ocean race course for the great race. Also printed was his, “A Voice for Setchell,” a review of a stage comedian who Sam greatly admired. Sam thought of Daniel E. Setchell (1831-1866) in the same exalted appreciation as Artemus Ward, and closely studied each man’s stage technique [ET&S 2: 163,169].
“… every time Mr. Setchell plays, crowds flock to hear him, and no matter what he plays those crowds invariably laugh and applaud extravagantly. That kind of criticism can always be relied upon as sound, and not only sound but honest” .
June 3 Saturday – The Californian announced that all letters to its new department, “Answers to Correspondents,” should be sent to Mr. Mark Twain. “Courting Etiquette, Distressed Lovers, of either sex, and Struggling Young Authors, as yet ‘unbeknown’ to Fame, will receive especial attention” [ET&S 1: 174]. The first of six weekly columns by Sam followed offering a burlesque of advice to readers on various topics. Subtitles: Discarded Lover; Arabella; Persecuted Unfortunate; and Arthur Augustus [ET&S 2: 174].
Sam’s article, “Advice for Good Little Boys,” first appeared this date in the California Youth’s Companion [Budd, “Collected” 1004]. Note: Budd states “This version was discovered subsequent to the publication of the” ET&S, which lists it as “probably on July 1 1865” .
June 10 Saturday – The second of Sam’s columns for the California, “Answers to Correspondents,” ran with subtitles: Amateur Serenader; St. Clair Higgins, Los Angeles; Arithmeticus, Virginia, Nevada; Ambitious Learner, Oakland; Julia Maria; Nom de Plume; Melton Mowbray, Dutch Flat; Laura Matilda; Professional Beggar [ET&S 2: 181].
June 17 Saturday – The third of Sam’s columns for the Californian, “Answers to Correspondents,” ran with subtitles: Moral Statistician; Simon Wheeler, Sonora; Inquirer; Anna Maria; Charming Simplicity; Literary Connoisseur; Etiquetticus, and Monitor Silver Mines [ET&S 2: 187].
June 20 Tuesday – Edgar Branch gives this as the date Sam began corresponding with Joseph T. Goodman’s Enterprise [“My Voice” 591].
June 23 Friday – Sam’s brief article, “Enthusiastic Eloquence,” appeared in the San Francisco Dramatic Chronicle [ET&S 2: 233].
June 24 Saturday – The fourth of Sam’s columns for the Californian, “Answers to Correspondents,” ran with subtitles: True Son of the Union; Socrates Murphy; Arithmeticus; Virginia, Nevada; Young Mother; Blue-Stocking; San Francisco; and Agnes St. Clair Smith [ET&S 2: 197].
June 27–30 Friday – Sam’s article, “Just ‘One More Unfortunate’,” was printed during this period in the Enterprise, copies of which are lost. The Downieville, California Mountain Messenger, copied it July 1.
JUST “ONE MORE UNFORTUNATE”
Immorality is not decreasing in San Francisco. I saw a girl in the city prison last night who looked as much out of place there as I did myself — possibly more so. She was petite and diffident, and only sixteen years and one month old. To judge by her looks, one would say she was as sinless as a child. But such was not the case. She had been living with a strapping young nigger for six months! She told her story as artlessly as a school-girl, and it did not occur to her for a moment that she had been doing anything unbecoming; and I never listened to a narrative which seemed more simple and straight forward, or more free from ostentation and vain-glory. She told her name, and her age, to a day; she said she was born in Holborn, City of London; father living, but gone back to England; was not married to the negro, but she was left with out any one to take care of her, and he had taken charge of that department and had conducted it since she was fifteen and a half years old very satisfactorily. All listeners pitied her, and said feelingly: “Poor heifer! poor devil!” and said she was an ignorant, erring child, and had not done wrong wilfully and knowingly, and they hoped she would pass her examination for the Industrial School and be removed from the temptation and the opportunity to sin. Tears — and it was a credit to their manliness and their good feeling — tears stood in the eyes of some of those stern policemen.
O, woman, thy name is humbug! Afterwards, while I sat taking some notes, and not in sight from the women’s cell, some of the old blisters fell to gossiping, and lo! young Simplicity chipped in and clattered away as lively as the vilest of them! It came out in the conversation that she was hail fellow well met with all the old female rapscallions in the city, and had had business relations with their several establishments for a long time past. She spoke affectionately of some of them, and the reverse of others; and dwelt with a toothsome relish upon numberless reminiscences of her social and commercial intercourse with them. She knew all manner of men, too — men with quaint and suggestive names, for the most part — and liked “Oyster-eyed Bill,” and “Bloody Mike,” and “The Screamer,” but cherished a spirit of animosity toward “Foxy McDonald” for cutting her with a bowie-knife at a strumpet ball one night. She a poor innocent kitten! Oh! She was a scallawag whom it would be base flattery to call a prostitute! She a candidate for the Industrial School! Bless you, she has graduated long ago. She is competent to take charge of a University of Vice. In the ordinary branches she is equal to the best; and in the higher ones, such as ornamental swearing, and fancy embroidered filagree slang, she is a shade superior to any artist I ever listened to [ET&S 2: 238-9].
Summer, mid – Sam claimed to be out of debt by the end of five months [RI, Ch 62]. He also published articles in the Golden Era, brief items in the San Francisco Dramatic Chronicle and the San Francisco Youths’ Companion.
July 1 Saturday – The fifth of Sam’s columns for the Californian, “Answers to Correspondents,” ran with subtitles: Young Actor; Mary, Rincon School; Anxiety, S. F.; Mark Twain; Gold Hill News [ET&S 2: 208].
July 2 Sunday – A series of eight articles published in the Golden Era under the name “S. Browne Jones” are attributed to Sam [Fatout, MT Speaks 19]. The first article was published this day and is typical “Washoe humor,” entitled “A New Contributor.” The other seven articles were published in the Era through Aug. 27 [Fatout, MT Speaks 19].
July 7–19 Wednesday – Sam’s article describing blacks in a 4th of July parade appeared within these dates in the Enterprise, and was reprinted in the Golden Era for July 23.
MARK TWAIN ON THE COLORED MAN
And at the fag-end of the procession was a long double file of the proudest, happiest scoundrels I saw yesterday — niggers. Or perhaps I should say “them damned niggers,” which is the other name they go by now. They did all it was in their power to do, poor devils, to modify the prominence of the contrast between black and white faces which seems so hateful to their white fellow-creatures, by putting their lightest colored darkies in the front rank, then glooming down by some unaggravating and nicely graduated shades of darkness to the fell and dismal blackness of undefiled and unalloyed niggerdom in the remote extremity of the procession. It was a fine stroke of strategy — the day was dusty and no man could tell where the white folks left off and the niggers began. The “damned naygurs” — this is another descriptive title which has been conferred upon them by a class of our fellow-citizens who persist, in the most short-sighted manner, in being on bad terms with them in the face of the fact that they have got to sing with them in heaven or scorch with them in hell some day in the most familiar and sociable way, and on a footing of most perfect equality — the “damned naygurs,” I say, smiled one broad, extravagant, powerful smile of grateful thankfulness and profound and perfect happiness from the beginning of the march to the end; and through this vast, black, drifting cloud of smiles their white teeth glimmered fitfully like heat-lightning on a summer’s night. If a white man honored them with a smile in return, they were utterly overcome, and fell to bowing like Oriental devotees, and attempting the most extravagant and impossible smiles, reckless of lock-jaw. They might as well have left their hats at home, for they never put them on. I was rather irritated at the idea of letting these fellows march in the procession myself, at first, but I would have scorned to harbor so small a thought if I had known the privilege was going to do them so much good. There seemed to be a religious-benevolent society among them with a banner — the only one in the colored ranks, I believe — and all hands seemed to take boundless pride in it. The banner had a picture on it, but I could not exactly get the hang of its significance. It presented a very black and uncommonly sick looking nigger, in bed, attended by two other niggers — one reading the Bible to him and the other one handing him a plate of oysters; but what the very mischief this blending of contraband dissolution, raw oysters and Christian consolation, could possibly be symbolical of, was more than I could make out [ET&S 1: 248-9].
July 9 Sunday – S. Browne Jones’ second article in the Era was titled, “An Astounding Fraud Practiced Upon Us,” is attributed to Sam [Fatout, MT Speaks 19].
July 14 Friday – Sam wrote a letter of introduction from San Francisco to Dan De Quille for Dan Setchell, comedian and actor who, along with Artemus Ward, Sam credited with perfecting the technique of telling a story “gravely.” Setchell was lost and presumed dead on a trip to New Zealand [MTL 5: 679&n1].
July 16 Sunday – S. Browne Jones’ third article in the Era, titled, “FULL REPORT OF THE PROCEEDINGS UPON THE EXAMINATION OF MARK TWAIN ON THE CHARGE OF FRAUD, IN THE POLICE COURT. THE DEFENDANT FOUND GUILTY AND SENTENCED TO FORTY-EIGHT HOURS IN THE CITY PRISON,” continued the fun in the Golden Era [Fatout, MT Speaks 19].
July 23 Sunday – S. Browne Jones’ fourth article appeared in the Era [Fatout, MT Speaks 19].
July 30 Sunday – S. Browne Jones’ fifth article appeared in the Era [Fatout, MT Speaks 19].
August 4 Friday – Pamela Moffett’s husband, Sam’s brother-in-law, William Anderson Moffett, died. Widowed just short of 38 years of age, Pamela never remarried. Daughter Annie was thirteen, son Sammy, not quite five [MTL 1: 382].
August 6 Sunday – S. Browne Jones’ sixth article appeared in the Era [Fatout, MT Speaks 19].
August 13 Sunday – S. Browne Jones’ seventh article appeared in the Era [Fatout, MT Speaks 19].
August 26 Saturday – Sam’s article “The Facts” ran in the Californian. By now Sam was writing daily letters to the Virginia City Territorial Enterprise, and had not contributed to the weekly literary Californian for seven weeks [ET&S 2: 250].
August 27 Sunday – S. Browne Jones’ eighth article appeared in the Era [Fatout, MT Speaks 19]. Note: Fatout claims eight letters by Jones to the Era between July 2 and this date. Other sources list only the first three.
September 8 Friday – San Francisco Dramatic Chronicle ran this squib:
It appears that a “Hasheesh” mania has broken out among our Bohemians. Yesterday, Mark Twain and the “Mouse-Trap” man were seen walking up Clay street under the influence of the drug, followed by a “star,” who was evidently laboring under a misapprehension as to what was the matter with them. The “experiences” of the twain may be looked for in the next number of the Californian” (“Hasheesh Eaters”).
[Note: “Mouse-Trap” man was Tremenheere Lanyon Johns, columnist for the Californian. “Star” was slang for policeman. Fitz Hugh Ludlow was author of the popular book, Hasheesh Eater (1857). See also Sam’s of Jan. 2, 1864 to his mother. Did Twain partake of hasheesh? We will never know for certain.
September 9Saturday – Sam’s Californian articles won praise in the New York Round Table.
He is, we believe, quite a young man, and has not written a great deal. Perhaps, if he will husband his resources and not kill with overwork the mental goods that has given us these golden eggs, he may one day take rank among the brightest of our wits.
By the end of the year, Sam was a literary celebrity.
October – “Cats!” an anecdote about “renowned fiddling humbug” is known to have existed and been printed in the Virginia City Enterprise [Schmidt].
October 8 Sunday – Around noon on a peaceful Sabbath day, a severe earthquake hit San Francisco. Sam’s later account:
I was walking along Third Street, and facing north, when the first shock came; I was walking fast, and it “broke up my gait” pretty completely—checked me—just as a strong wind will do when you turn a corner and face it suddenly….The noise accompanying the shocks was a tremendous rasping sound, like the violent shaking and grinding together of a block of brick houses. It was about the most disagreeable sound you can imagine [ET&S 2: 304]. See Jump’s cartoon insert.
October 10–11 Wednesday – Sam’s article, “The Cruel Earthquake,” appeared in the Virginia City Territorial Enterprise about this time, and was reprinted in the Gold Hill News on Oct. 13 [ET&S 2: 289].
October 15–31 Tuesday – One of Sam’s letters to the Enterprise was printed in this period, “Popper Defieth Ye Earthquake,” about Popper’s Building, heavily damaged [ET&S 2: 296].
October 16 Monday – Edgar Branch gives this as the date Sam began a two-month stint for the San Francisco Dramatic Chronicle as a staff writer [“My Voice” 591].
October 16-23 Monday – Edgar Branch gives this as the week in which Sam composed “Jim Smiley and His Jumping Frog” [“My Voice” 600].
Orion & Mollie Clemens wrote to Sam, letter not extant but referred to in Twain’s 19 and 20 Oct. reply, referring to the sermons sent. [MTP].
October 18 Wednesday – Sam had sent his Jumping Frog story to George W. Carleton (1832-1901), for a book that Artemus Ward was editing. It was too late for inclusion in the book so Carleton sent the story on to Henry Clapp, Jr. (1814-1875) at the Saturday Press, who published it [Rasmussen 265-6]. See also AMT 2: 484-5 for more on Carleton and Clapp.
October 19 and 20 Friday – Sam wrote from San Francisco to Orion and Mollie. This is a much quoted letter of Sam’s:
…I have had a ‘call’ to literature, of a low order—i.e., humorous. It is nothing to be proud of, but it is my strongest suit…But as I was saying, it is human nature to yearn to be what we were never intended for. It is singular, but it is so. I wanted to be a pilot or a preacher, & I was about as well calculated for either as is poor Emperor Norton for Chief Justice of the United States [MTL 1: 322-3 emphasis Sam’s].
Sam began to see the possibilities of authorship, and probably enjoyed the writing of the frog tale and the finished work. The instant success a month later of the Jumping Frog story would cement his realizations. See Branch’s 1967 article “My Voice is Still for Setchell,” listed in Works Cited.
October 21–24 Tuesday – Sam’s sketch, “Bob Roach’s Plan for Circumventing a Democrat,” was printed between these dates in the Territorial Enterprise, copies of which are lost. It was reprinted Nov. 30 in the San Francisco Examiner. Sam dated the letter Oct. 19 [ET&S 2: 311].
October 22–24 Tuesday – Sam’s San Francisco Letter about the Rawhide Ranch Mine was printed in the Enterprise and reprinted in the Sonora (Calif.) Union Democrat [Schmidt].
October 26–28 Saturday – Sam’s San Francisco Letter to the Enterprise included: “A Love of a Bonnet Described,” “Re-opening of the Plaza,” and:
MORE FASHIONS – EXIT “WATERFALL.”
I am told that the Empress Eugenie is growing bald on the top of her head, and that to hide this defect she now combs her “back hair” forward in such a way as to make her look all right. I am also told that this mode of dressing the hair is already fashionable in all the great civilized cities of the world, and that it will shortly be adopted here. Therefore let your ladies “stand-by” and prepare to drum their ringlets to the front when I give the word. I shall keep a weather eye out for this fashion, for I am an uncompromising enemy of the popular “waterfall,” and I yearn to see it in disgrace. Just think of the disgusting shape and appearance of the thing. The hair is drawn to a slender neck at the back, and then commences a great fat, oblong ball, like a kidney covered with a net; and sometimes this net is so thickly bespangled with white beads that the ball looks soft, and fuzzy, and filmy and gray at a little distance — so that it vividly reminds you of those nauseating garden spiders in the States that go about dragging a pulpy, grayish bag-full of young spiders slung to them behind; and when I look at these suggestive waterfalls and remember how sea-sick it used to make me to mash one of those spider-bags, I feel sea-sick again, as a general thing. Its shape alone is enough to turn one’s stomach. Let’s have the back-hair brought forward as soon as convenient. N. B. — I shall feel much obliged to you if you can aid me in getting up this panic. I have no wife of my own and therefore as long as I have to make the most of other people’s it is a matter of vital importance to me that they should dress with some degree of taste [ET&S 2: 317-20].
October 26 Thursday – Sam’s article “Attention, Fitz Smythe!” ran in the San Francisco Dramatic Chronicle [ET&S 2: 482].
October 28 Saturday – Sam’s article, “Real Estate versus Imaginary Possessions, Poetically Considered – ‘My Ranch’,” was printed in the Californian [Schmidt]. Between Oct. 26 and this date, Sam’s San Francisco Letter was printed in the Enterprise. Subtitles: A LOVE OF A BONNET DESCRIBED, RE-OPENING OF THE PLAZA, MORE FASHIONS—EXIT “WATERFALL”
Well, you ought to see the new style of bonnets, and then die. You see, everybody has discarded ringlets and bunches of curls, and taken to the clod of compact hair on the “after-guard,” which they call a “waterfall,” though why they name it so I cannot make out, for it looks no more like one’s general notion of a waterfall than a cabbage looks like a cataract….And a woman looks as distressed in it [bonnet] as a cat with her head fast in a tea-cup [ET&S 2: 315].
October 30 Monday – Sam’s article, “Lisle Lester on Her Travels” ran in the San Francisco Dramatic Chronicle:
Lisle Lester, who is probably the worst writer in the world, though a good-hearted woman and a woman who means well, notwithstanding the distressing productions of her pen, has been visiting the Insane Asylum and favors the Marysville Appeal with some of her experiences [ET&S 2: 483].
October 31–November 2 Thursday – Sam’s short insert, “Steamer Departures” ran in the Enterprise sometime between these dates, and is another humorous example of Sam making interest out of boring news—a departure list in this case for the Pacific Mail Steamship’s Colorado, which left for Panama on Oct. 30, 1865 carrying 600 passengers.
November 1 Wednesday – Sam’s article “More California Notables Gone” ran in the San Francisco Dramatic Chronicle [ET&S 2: 485].
November 3 Friday – Sam’s article “‘Chrystal’ on Theology” ran in the San Francisco Dramatic Chronicle [ET&S 2: 486-7].
November 4 Saturday – Sam’s article “‘Mark Twain’ On the Ballad Infliction” ran in the Californian [reprinted from the Territorial Enterprise]:
It is bound to come! There is no help for it. I smell it afar off—I see the signs in the air! Every day and every hour of every day I grow more and more nervous, for with every minute of waning time the dreadful infliction comes nearer and nearer in its inexorable march! In another week, maybe, all San Francisco will be singing “Wearing of the Green!” I know it. I have suffered before, and I know the symptoms. This holds off long, but it is partly that the calamity may gather irresistible worrying-power, and partly be cause it is harder to learn than Chinese. But that is all the worse; for when the people do learn it they will learn it bad—and terrible will be the distress it will bring upon the community. A year ago “Johnny came marching home!” That song was sung by everybody, in every key, in every locality, at all hours of the day and night, and always out of tune. It sent many unoffending persons to the Stockton asylum. There was no stopping the epidemic, and so it had to be permitted to run its course and wear itself out. Short was our respite, and then a still more malignant distemper broke out in the midst of this harried and suffering community. It was “You’ll not forget me, mother, mother, mother, mother !” with an ever-accumulating aggravation of expression upon each successive “mother.” The fire-boys sat up all night to sing it; and bands of sentimental stevedores and militia soldiers patroled the streets and howled its lugubrious strains. A passion for serenading attacked the youth of the city, and they sang it under verandahs in the back streets until the dogs and cats destroyed their voices in unavailing efforts to lay the devilish spirit that was driving happiness from their hearts. Finally there came a season of repose, and the community slowly recovered from the effects of the musical calamity. The respite was not long. In an unexpected moment they were attacked, front and rear, by a new enemy—“When we were marching through Georgia!” Tongue cannot tell what we suffered while this frightful disaster was upon us. Young misses sang it to the guitar and the piano; young men sang it to the banjo and the fiddle; the un-blood stained soldier yelled it with enthusiasm as he marched through the imaginary swamps and cotton plantations of the drill-room; the firemen sang it as they trundled their engines home from conflagrations; and the hated serenader tortured it with his damned accordeon. Some of us survived, and some have gone the old road to a haven of rest at Stockton, where the wicked cease from troubling and the popular songs are not allowed. For the space of four weeks the survivors have been happy [Taper 128-29].
November 6 Monday – Sam’s unsigned article, “Oh, You Robinson!” about a man charged with bigamy, ran in the gossip column of the San Francisco Dramatic Chronicle, p2.
The “Robertsonian method of teaching French” is very good, but the Robinsonian method of getting divorces is rather too brash [ET&S 2: 488; Gribben 583].
Theodore Robertson (1803-1871), author: The Whole French Language: The Robertsonian System (1855).
November 7 Tuesday – Sam was among other reporters aboard the new tugboat Rescue, loaded with champagne and calliope playing to celebrate its maiden voyage. He wrote “Pleasure Excursion” about this trip with “high-toned newspaper reporters, numerous military officers, and gentlemen of note” [ET&S 2: 326]. Also, Sam’s article “A word from Lisle Lester” ran in the San Francisco Dramatic Chronicle, along with squib, “Explanation” [ET&S 2: 489-90].
November 8 Wednesday – Sam’s obituary of the San Franciscan dog celebre, Bummer, appeared in the Enterprise and was reprinted Nov 11 in the Californian.
The old vagrant ‘Bummer’ is really dead at last; and although he was always more respected than his obsequious vassal, the dog “Lazarus,” his exit has not made half as much stir in the newspaper world as signalised the departure of the latter. I think it is because he died a natural death: died with friends around him to smooth his pillow and wipe the death-damps from his brow, and receive his last words of love and resignation; because he died full of years, and honor, and disease, and fleas. He was permitted to die a natural death, as I have said, but poor Lazarus “died with his boots on” — which is to say, he lost his life by violence; he gave up the ghost mysteriously, at dead of night, with none to cheer his last moments or soothe his dying pains. So the murdered dog was canonized in the newspapers, his shortcomings excused and his virtues heralded to the world; but his superior, parting with his life in the fullness of time, and in the due course of nature, sinks as quietly as might the mangiest cur among us. Well, let him go. In earlier days he was courted and caressed; but latterly he has lost his comeliness — his dignity had given place to a want of self-respect, which allowed him to practice mean deceptions to regain for a moment that sympathy and notice which had become necessary to his very existence, and it was evident to all that the dog had had his day; his great popularity was gone forever. In fact, Bummer should have died sooner: there was a time when his death would have left a lasting legacy of fame to his name. Now, however, he will be forgotten in a few days. Bummer’s skin is to be stuffed and placed with that of Lazarus [ET&S 2: 323].
Also, the San Francisco Examiner excerpted several passages from Sam’s latest letter to the Enterprise [Scharnhorst, “Also, Some Gin” 22-3]. Sam’s squib “Surplusage” ran in the San Francisco Dramatic Chronicle [ET&S 2: 491].
November 9 Thursday – Sam’s article “Stand Back!” ran in the San Francisco Dramatic Chronicle [ET&S 2: 492].
November 9–12 Sunday – Sam’s article “Pleasure Excursion” was printed during this period in the Enterprise, reprinted Nov. 19 in the Golden Era; and the San Francisco Examiner on Dec. 2 [ET&S 2: 326].
November 11 Saturday – The Napa County Reporter published one of Sam’s letters [MTL 1: 325]. Sam’s article, “Exit Bummer,” was printed in the Californian [reprinted from the Enterprise] [Schmidt]. Sam wrote three letters for the Reporter, the other two on Nov. 25 and Dec. 2 [ET&S 2: 371]. Also, Sam’s article “Cheerful Magnificence” ran in the San Francisco Dramatic Chronicle .
November 13 Monday – Sam’s short article, “In Ecstasies” ran in the San Francisco Dramatic Chronicle [ET&S 2: 495].
November 15–18 Saturday – Sam’s editorial, “Editorial ‘Puffing’ ” was printed between these dates in the Enterprise and reprinted in the San Francisco Examiner on November 20. Sam’s target was Albert S. Evans, editor of the Alta California, whom Sam often called “Fitz Smythe” [ET&S 2: 329].
November 16 Thursday – Sam’s article, “Ye Ancient Mystery,” another jab at Fitz Smythe (Albert Evans) ran in the San Francisco Dramatic Chronicle [ET&S 2: 496-7].
November 17 Friday – Sam’s articles, “Improving” and “No Verdict” ran in the San Francisco Dramatic Chronicle [ET&S 2: 499-501].
November 18 Saturday – The Saturday Press first published the Jumping Frog story. The story was an immediate sensation and was reprinted by newspapers and magazines around the county [Rasmussen 266; ET&S 2: 262]. It was a sensation in New York.
Sam’s article “The Old Thing” ran in the Enterprise [ET&S 2: 332].
Another article, “Bad Precedent” ran in the San Francisco Dramatic Chronicle [ET&S 2: 502].
In the Californian, Sam’s article ran: “Mark Twain” on the Launch of the Steamer “Capital.” Note: Budd points out that this was reprinted in several collections, sometimes under the title “The Entertaining History of the Scriptural Panoramist” or “A Traveling Show” [“Collected” 1005].
I GET MR. MUFF NICKERSON TO GO WITH ME AND ASSIST IN REPORTING THE GREAT STEAMBOAT LAUNCH. HE RELATES THE INTERESTING HISTORY OF THE TRAVELLING PANORAMIST.
I was just starting off to see the launch of the great steamboat Capital, on Saturday week, when I came across Mulph, Mulff, Muff, Mumph, Murph, Mumf, Murf, Mumford, Mulford, Murphy Nickerson — (he is well known to the public by all these names, and I cannot say which is the right one) — bound on the same errand, He said that if there was one thing he took more delight in than another, it was a steamboat launch; he would walk miles to see one, any day; he had seen a hundred thousand steamboat launches in his time, and hoped he might live to see a hundred thousand more; he knew all about them; knew everything — everything connected with them — said he “had it all down to a scratch;” he could explain the whole process in minute detail; to the uncultivated eye a steamboat-launch presented nothing grand, nothing startling, nothing beautiful, nothing romantic, or awe- inspiring or sublime — but to an optic like his (which saw not the dull outer coating, but the radiant gem it hid from other eyes,) it presented all these — and behold, he had power to lift the veil and display the vision even unto the uninspired. He could do this by word of mouth — by explanation and illustration. Let a man stand by his side, and to him that launch should seem arrayed in the beauty and the glory of enchantment! [Schmidt].
November 19 or 21 Tuesday – Sam’s article, “The Pioneer’s Ball” was printed, probably on one of these dates, in the Territorial Enterprise and reprinted by the Californian on Nov. 25 and the Golden Era on Nov. 26. This sketch was also in Sketches, New and Old, 1875 as “After Jenkins” [ET&S 2: 367].
November 20 Monday – Sam’s squib, “The Goblin Again!” another poke at Albert Evans, ran in the San Francisco Dramatic Chronicle [ET&S 2: 503].
November 24 Friday – Sam poked at the ineptness of the local press in “The Whangdoodle Mourneth” which ran in the San Francisco Dramatic Chronicle [ET&S 2: 504].
November 25 Saturday – The Napa County Reporter published another of Sam’s letters [MTL 1: 325]. Sam’s article, “The Great Earthquake in San Francisco” was published this day in the New York Weekly Review [ET&S 2: 300].
Sam’s article, “‘Mark Twain’ on the Launch of the Steamer ‘Capital’,” ran in the Californian. Subtitle: “The Entertaining History of the Scriptural Panoramist.”
“The Old Thing” which ran in the Enterprise on Nov. 18was reprinted in the Californian [ET&S 2: 332].
Sam’s articles, “The Guard on a Bender,” and “Benkert Cometh!” appeared in the Napa County Reporter [ET&S 2: 371].
November 28–30 Thursday – Sam’s article, “Uncle Lige,” was printed in the Enterprise and reprinted in the Californian on Dec. 2 [ET&S 2: 376].
November 30 Thursday – Sam’s 30th birthday. His four short articles, “Too Terse,” “Shame!” “Bribery! Corruption!” and “Drunk?” ran in the San Francisco Dramatic Chronicle. The target? Fitz Smythe again (Evans) [ET&S 2: 505-8].
December 1865–January 1866 – Sometime this month, or at least before Jan. 20, 1866, Sam recalled years later:
“I put the pistol to my head but wasn’t man enough to pull the trigger. Many times I have been sorry I did not succeed, but I was never ashamed of having tried” [MTL 1: 325].
Fanning claims this act was a “direct result, evidently, of something his elder brother [Orion] had done [p. xv]. There is nothing “evident” however, about Orion’s influence creating suicidal thoughts in Sam, rather those of the murderous variety.
Portion of San Francisco Letter:
“Mark Twain” in his Virginia correspondence, abuses McDonald’s “scoofy oysters.” “Mark” says they are “poisonous,” and that “they produce diarrhea and vomiting.” McDonald’s explanation of this is, that “Mark,” with six Washoe friends, made a descent upon his (McDonald’s) saloon, the other day, and after eating fourteen dozen of the “scoofy oysters,” disputed the bill. McDonald insisted on payment at the regular rates. “Mark” stated that he and his sage brush friends were members of the press. Mac refused to make an deduction, and “Mark” paid the bill, swearing that he would get even. Hence the fearful letter to the Enterprise about the “poisoned oysters.”
A reference to this letter appeared in the San Francisco Dramatic Chronicle, January 29, 1866; Reprinted, Mark Twain Journal, Spring, 1988, p. 23.
December 1 Friday – Sam’s article “How is That?” another poke at Albert Evans, ran in the San Francisco Dramatic Chronicle [ET&S 2: 509].
December 2 Saturday – The Napa County Reporter published another of Sam’s letters, which included “Webb’s Benefit” [MTL 1: 325; ET&S 2: 380]. Sam’s article, “Mark Twain Overpowered” was printed in the Californian [reprinting of “Uncle Lige” from the Territorial Enterprise]. [Schmidt].
December 5 Tuesday – Sam’s article “Delightful Romance” ran in the San Francisco Dramatic Chronicle, a summary of an Albert Evans article which appeared the day before in the Alta California [ET&S 2: 510].
December 7 Thursday – The Semi-Weekly Telegraph (Salt Lake City), ran this squib quoting Mark Twain:
WESTERN.—MARK TWAIN, noticing a case of infamous outrage on an infant in San Francisco, makes the following candid confession—“We are thoroughly prospecting not only the main lead of crime here, but all its dips, spurs and angles.”
December 8–10 Sunday – Sam’s verse about the theatre manager Thomas MaGuire (1820-1896) appeared in the Enterprise sometime between these dates [ET&S 2: 385].
A RICH EPIGRAM
Torn with ire,
Lighted on Macdougall,
Grabbed his throat,
Tore his coat,
And split him in the bugle.
Shame! Oh, fie!
Will you thus skyugle?
Why bang and claw,
And gouge and chaw
The unprepared Macdougall?
See how you’ve left,
Vestvali, gentle Jew gal —
And now you’ve slashed,
And almost hashed,
The form of poor Macdougall.
Note: Felicita Vestvali (1824-1880), opera singer and actress. See insert.
December 10–31 Sunday – Sam’s item, “A Graceful Compliment,” in which Sam is introduced to the income tax, was probably part of Sam’s regular San Francisco letter. The item ran during this period in the Enterprise [ET&S 2: 388].
December 12 Tuesday – Sam took on the police for a “Shameful Attack on a Chinaman” in the article “Our Active Police” which ran in the San Francisco Dramatic Chronicle [ET&S 2: 511].
December 13 Wednesday – Sam wrote from San Francisco to Orion and Mollie. Another hope and plan to sell the Tennessee Land came to naught. This time Sam had entertained an offer to sell the land for $200,000 to Herman Camp, an early locator on the Comstock Lode, who wanted to turn it into a vineyard and make wine. Orion’s “temperance virtue was suddenly on him in strong force.” The deal fell through and caused great friction between the Clemens brothers [MTL 1: 326].
December 13–15 Friday – Sam’s article, “Christian Spectator,” taken from Sam’s San Francisco Letter, dated Dec. 11, was printed in the Enterprise. Sam commented indirectly on the “incendiary religious matter about hell-fire, and brimstone, and wicked young men knocked endways by a streak of lightening while in the act of going fishing on Sunday,” as espoused by Rev. Fitzgerald of the Minna Street Methodist Church in a publication by the same name as the article. Other segments from Sam’s S.F. letter, “More Romance,” “Telegraphic,” and “The Police Judge Trouble,” were printed in the Enterprise [ET&S 2: 393-6].
December 16 Saturday – “Jim Smiley and the Jumping Frog,” was reprinted by Bret Harte in the Californian. Uncertain about the fate of the story he’d sent George W. Carleton, Sam showed Bret Harte (editor of the Californian) a version that renamed the central character Greeley instead of Smiley and also used Angels camp, the real name, instead of Noomerang. Harte liked the story. Along with the changes, the story got a new title: “The Celebrated Jumping Frog Of Calaveras County” [Schmidt].
Mary Parks Chapman wrote from “Helena, Last Chance, Montana Territory” to Sam: “We have a theatre and company of Denverites, and are doing well. It is so cold that the quicksilver all froze, or I would tell you how many degrees below zero….This is a lively town; adjoining camps-deserted….I play the part of Richard III to-night. Next week I appear as Mazeppa” [MTP].
December 16–17 Sunday – Sam’s San Francisco Letter dated Dec. 13 ran in the Enterprise: “Managerial” (about Edwin Forrest,) and “Not a Suicide” [ET&S 2: 209].
December 19–21 Thursday – Sam’s sketch, “Grand Fete-Day at the Cliff House,” was printed in the Enterprise and reprinted on Dec. 23 in the San Francisco Examiner [ET&S 2: 399].
The following celebrated artistes have been engaged at a ruinous expense, and will perform the following truly marvelous feats:
PETE HOPKINS, the renowned Spectre of the Mountains, will walk a tight rope — the artist himself being tighter than the rope at the time — from the Cliff House to Seal Rock, and will ride back on the Seal known as Ben Butler, or the Seal will ride back on him, as circumstances shall determine.
JIM EOFF will exhibit the horse Patchen, and explain why he did not win the last race.
HARRIS COVEY will exhibit Lodi and Jim Barton, and BILLY WILLIAMSON will favor the audience with their pedigree and sketches of their history. N.B. — This will be very entertaining.
JEROME LELAND will exhibit the famous cow, in a circus ring prepared for the occasion, and perform several feats of perilous cowmanship on her back [ET&S 2: 400-1]. Note: Jerome Leland (b.1840?) brother of Lewis Leland.
December 19 Tuesday – Sam’s San Francisco Letter with this date ran sometime later in the month in the Enterprise. Sections: “Thief Catching,” “Caustic,” “I Knew It,” “Macdougall vs. Maguire,” “Louis Aldrich,” and “Gould and Curry” [Schmidt: The last four items are known to have existed but no text is available].
One may easily find room to abuse as many as several members of Chief Burke’s civilian army for laziness and uselessness, but the detective department is supplied with men who are sharp, shrewd, always on the alert and always industrious. It is only natural that this should be so. An ordinary policeman is chosen with especial reference to large stature and powerful muscle, and he only gets $125 a month, but the detective is chosen with especial regard to brains, and the position pays better than a lucky faro-bank. A shoemaker can tell by a single glance at a boot whose shop it comes from, by some peculiarity of workmanship; but to a bar-keeper all boots are alike; a printer will take a number of newspaper scraps, that show no dissimilarity to each other, and name the papers they were cut from; to a man who is accustomed to being on the water, the river’s surface is a printed book which never fails to divulge the hiding place of the sunken rock, or betray the presence of the treacherous shoal. In ordinary men, this quality of detecting almost imperceptible differences and peculiarities is acquired by long practice, and goes not beyond the limits of their own occupation—but in the detective it is an instinct, and discovers to him the secret signs of all trades, and the faint shades of difference between things which look alike to the careless eye.
Detective Rose can pick up a chicken’s tail feather in Montgomery street and tell in a moment what roost it came from at the Mission; and if the theft is recent, he can go out there and take a smell of the premises and tell which block in Sacramento street the Chinaman lives in who committed it, by some exquisite difference in the stink left, and which he knows to be peculiar to one particular block of buildings.
Mr. McCormick, who should be on the detective force regularly, but as yet is there only by brevet, can tell an obscene photograph by the back, as a sport tells an ace from a jack.
Detective Blitz can hunt down a transgressing hack-driver by some peculiarity in the style of his blasphemy [Taper 157-8].
Also, Sam’s article “How Dare You?” ran in the San Francisco Dramatic Chronicle [ET&S 2: 512].
December 22–23 Saturday –Sam’s San Francisco Letter, included “Macdougall vs. Maguire” was datelined the 20 and printed in the Enterprise [ET&S 2: 402]. Also included: “The New Swimming Bath,” “Buckingham,” “The ‘Eccentrics’,” – and the following texts not available: “Mining Operations,” “Major Farren,” and “Sam Brannan” [Schmidt].
December 23 Saturday – Sam’s original sketches, “The Christmas Fireside. For Good Little Boys and Girls. By Grandfather Twain,” and “The Story of the Bad Little Boy That Bore a Charmed Life” and “Enigma” were printed in the Californian [Budd, “Collected” 1006]. These stories were the germ for The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.
Once there was a bad little boy, whose name was Jim—though, if you will notice, you will find that bad little boys are nearly always called James in your Sunday-school books. It was very strange, but still it was true, that this one was called Jim.
He didn’t have any sick mother, either—a sick mother who was pious and had the consumption, and would be glad to lie down in the grave and be at rest, but for the strong love she bore her boy, and the anxiety she felt that the world would be harsh and cold towards him when she was gone. Most bad boys in the Sunday books are named James, and have sick mothers, who teach them to say, “Now I lay me down,” etc., and sing them to sleep with sweet plaintive voices, and then kiss them goodnight, and kneel down by the bedside and weep. But it was different with this fellow. He was named Jim, and there wasn’t any thing the matter with his mother—no consumption, or any thing of that kind. She was rather stout than otherwise, and she was not pious; moreover, she was not anxious on Jim’s account. She said if he were to break his neck, it wouldn’t be much loss. She always spanked Jim to sleep, and she never kissed him goodnight; on the contrary, she boxed his ears when she was ready to leave him [ET&S 2: 405].
This was the first of two original Mark Twain sketches published by Harte. None other than William Dean Howells (1837-1920) of the Atlantic, who felt it might offend nearly every denominational reader of his magazine, had rejected it [Wilson 251].
December 24 or 26 Tuesday – (the Enterprise did not publish on Mondays) – Sam’s San Francisco Letter, dated Dec. 20, included, EDITORIAL POEM, FACETIOUS, MAYO AND ALDRICH, FINANCIAL, PERSONAL, MOCK DUEL—ALMOST, AND “MORE WISDOM!.” The letter contained more scattered attacks on Albert Evans [ET&S 2: 336].
December 25 Monday – Christmas – The following articles supposed to be by Twain, ran in the San Francisco Dramatic Chronicle:
OUR NEW JUDGE
Alfred Rix, the newly elected Judge of the Police Court, is a very respectable lawyer, and a man sufficiently human in his feelings, kindly in his nature, and shrewd in his judgments of character to make an excellent magistrate. We are inclined to believe that Mr. Rix is “the right man in the right place,” and that the Board of Supervisors will have no reason to repent of their action in placing him upon the Bench. The reporters seemed to imagine the other day that Hale Rix was the judge elect. Hale Rix is quite another sort of man and we think it quite as well — perhaps a trifle better — that “Alfred” is chosen to hold the scales and wield the sword of the Goddess of Justice in the Police Court.
Our cultural love of justice compels us to give the d___l his due. It is a fact to which we cannot close our eyes, that the Flag is really making an honest effort to become a respectable paper. Ever since it “got the dispatches” it has been comparatively rational. Heaven grant that the phenomenon may not prove transient. But we have our misgivings.
ON THE SIDE OF THE LORD
We are delighted to see that the Country Paper has come out on the Lord’s side in the crusade commenced against the Christian religion by the Theologian of the Era. It an article entitled the “Epoch of Reason,” the bucolic institution actually talks much sound sense, and gives the Theologian a very neat thrust by reminding him that all his shallow rationalistic notions, which he propounds with the air of a man who has lit upon something original, were half a century ago promulgated by Tom Paine, with infinitely greater ability, and cogency than the Era’s amateur evinces.
FEELING FOR IT
Grandmother Alta shoves up her spectacles and twaddles urbanely about “Feeling for Mexico in the East.” It is to be supposed that the precious old nincompoop imagines that Mexico is an Eastern province — lying between Egypt and Arabia, possible — and that feeling for it in that direction is destined to result in its being found, and restored to its original “internal scrimmage” position. Really now, Granny, you ought to be put through a course of geographical sprouts.
December 26–27 Wednesday – Taken from Sam’s San Francisco Letter, dated Dec. 23, were “Gardner Indicted,” “Extraordinary Delicacy,” “Shooting,” “Another Enterprise,” and “Spirit of the Local Press,” printed in the Territorial Enterprise [ET&S 2: 413].
THE BLACK HOLE OF SAN FRANCISCO
If I were Police Judge here, I would hold my court in the city prison and sentence my convicts to imprisonment in the present Police Court room. …
You cannot imagine what a horrible hole that Police Court is. The cholera itself couldn’t stand it there. The room is about 24 x 40 feet in size, I suppose, and is blocked in on all sides by massive brick walls; it has three or four doors, but they are never opened—and if they were they only open into airless courts and closets any how; it has but one window, and now that is blocked up, as I was telling you; there is not a solitary air-hole as big as your nostril about the whole place. Very well; down two sides of the room, drunken filthy loafers, thieves, prostitutes, China chicken-stealers, witnesses, and slimy guttersnipes who come to see, and belch and issue deadly smells, are banked and packed, four ranks deep—a solid mass of rotting, steaming corruption. In the centre of the room are Dan Murphy, Zabriskie, the Citizen Sam Platt, Prosecuting Attorney Louderback, and other lawyers, either of whom would do for a censer to swing before the high altar of hell. Then, near the Judge are a crowd of reporters—a kind of cattle that did never smell good in any land. The house is full—so full that you have to actually squirm and shoulder your way from one part of it to another—and not a single crack or crevice in the walls to let in one poor breath of God’s pure air! The dead, exhausted, poisoned atmosphere looks absolutely blue and filmy, sometimes—did when they had a little daylight. Now they have only gas-light and the added heat it brings. Another Judge will die shortly if this thing goes on [Taper171-3].
Some one (I do not know who,) left me a card photograph, yesterday, which I do not know just what to do with. It has the names of Dan De Quille, W. M. Gillespie, Alf. Doten, Robert Lowery and Charles A. Parker on it, and appears to be a pictured group of notorious convicts, or something of that kind. I only judge by the countenances, for I am not acquainted with these people, and do not usually associate with such characters. This is the worst lot of human faces I have ever seen. That of the murderer Doten, (murderer, isn’t he?) is sufficient to chill the strongest heart. The cool self-possession of the burglar Parker marks the man capable of performing deeds of daring confiscation at dead of night, unmoved by surrounding perils. The face of the Thug, De Quille, with its expression of pitiless malignity, is a study. Those of the light fingered gentry, Lowery and Gillespie, show that ineffable repose and self-complacency so deftly assumed by such characters after having nipped an overcoat or a pair of brass candlesticks and are aware that officers have suspected and are watching them. I am very glad to have this picture to keep in my room, as a hermit keeps a skull, to remind me what I may some day become myself. I have permitted the Chief of Police to take a copy of it, for obvious reasons [ET&S 2: 421].