1896 entries. As with Grant and Sherman, and the West Point Academy, Sam admired acclaimed military men. The letters after Roberts’ name represent a smorgasbord of awards.
April 23 Friday – On the day observed and noted by Clemens as William Shakespeare’s birthday (the actual date is unknown), also celebrated as St. George’s day, at 23 Tedworth Square in London, Sam wrote to Miss Ethel Newman, thanking her for “those pleasant words.” If she liked such sentiments he sent along a Pudd’nhead Wilson maxim he’d just written for his new book (FE) that day:
There is no such thing as the “Queen’s English.” The property has passed into the hands of a joint stock Company, & we own the bulk of the shares [MTP]. Note: Newman is likely a fan sending compliments; no other letter to or from her is extant.
Sam also replied to a non-extant letter from Miss Harriet Beecher Stowe, daughter of the late great writer of Uncle Tom’s Cabin. He thanked her for “pleasant words which you have said about our absence,” and added, “We often think of our old neighbors & wish we were back—& that the breaks in the circle could be mended.”
He mentioned paper she had sent him and explained he didn’t use it to answer because his fountain pen “emptied a quart of ink upon” it [MTP].
Richard Whiteing (1840-1928), English journalist and novelist, inscribed a copy of William Swan Sonnenschein’s 1891 book, The Best Books: A Reader’s Guide, etc. to: “S. L. Clemens Esq. From R. Whiteing, London, April 23, ’97, with admiration for the writer, respect for the man” [Gribben 653].
April 24 Saturday – At 23 Tedworth Square in London, Sam wrote a short note to Chatto & Windus, advising that Bram Stoker would see them on Monday, Apr. 26 between 11 and 12 [MTP].
April 25 Sunday
April 26 Monday – At 23 Tedworth Square in London, Sam began a long letter to H.H. Rogers that he finished on Apr. 28. In his May 3 to Frank Bliss, Sam disclosed he’d received “Mr. Rogers’s letter a week ago,” which would have been this day, so it’s likely this long missive to Rogers is a same-day reply.
Sam wrote that in the 52 days since he’d signed the contracts, he had not heard from Frank Bliss, who had not taken the bait of a possible two -volume issue of the new book (FE). With no word from Bliss Sam had dropped the idea and finished it as one volume. Rogers argued for including the whole trip in the new book, including S. Africa. Sam resisted here, feeling that a S. African section would only contain politics (Jameson raid, etc.) and that those issues were “dead, and its interest will never be revived again.” Further, he was glad he’d received no cable from Bliss, because in a two-volume work he would have had to include S. Africa. In what has become a mantra for many writers since, that is, what to cut out and whom to write for principally (one’s self), Sam observed:
A successful book is not made of what is in it, but of what is left out of it. I have left out South Africa—& saved the book’s life.
The public are “expecting”—the public will be “disappointed,” etc. The public are in a position to expect only one thing, & one only, that is binding upon me; & that is, that I will make the best book I can; & if they know me they know that I will use my own judgment as to how to do that, & will consider it sounder than their own.
He had little good to say about Frank Bliss and his half-brother Walter Bliss. Rogers had negotiated with both men in arriving at the Dec. 31, 1896 contracts.
SLC used mourning border for most letters from Susy’s death on, then from Livy’s death on.