F.E. Bliss, president of the American Publishing Co. sails on the Campania to-day for London. He expects to return soon with the manuscript of Mark Twain’s new book, which is now finished.
Note: the passage was about eight days, so Bliss arrived in London about May 30. The NY Times, July 10, 1897 “Mark Twain’s New Book” p.RBA1, reported Bliss spent ten days with Twain, and returned to Hartford “a week ago.”
May 23 Sunday – Sam’s notebook: “May 23, 1897. Wrote first chapter of above story to-day”
Paine writes of the beginning of “Which Was The Dream?” which was not published in Sam’s lifetime:
The “above story” is a synopsis of a tale which he tried then and later in various forms—a tale based on a scientific idea that one may dream an episode covering a period of years in minute detail in what, by our reckoning, may be no more than a few brief seconds. In this particular form of the story a man sits down to write some memories and falls into a doze. The smell of his cigarette smoke causes him to dream of the burning of his home, the destruction of his family, and of a long period of years following. Awakening a few seconds later, and confronted by his wife and children, he refuses to believe in their reality, maintaining that this condition, and not the other, is the dream. Clemens tried the psychological literary experiment in as many as three different ways during the next two or three years, and each at considerable length; but he developed none of them to his satisfaction, or at least he brought none of them to conclusion [MTB 1041-2]. Note: Sam’s notebook 41 TS 25-6 outlines this story and characters.
May 23/97. Wrote first Chapter of above story today.
Fortune spent on a flying-machine. Then it busted & spilt out the aeronaut. He had kept his secret & our money was lost.
It is by the goodness of God that in our country we have those 3 unspeakably precious things: free speech, freedom of conscience, & the prudence never to practice either of them [NB 41 TS 26-7].
May 24 Monday – The ledger books of Chatto & Windus show that 750 additional copies of Tom Sawyer, Detective were printed (totaling 5,750 to date) [Welland 238]. ,
Queen’s Birth-day. That Times reporter, next door, favors me with another letter this morning protesting Clara’s piano-practice. It is an “intolerable nuisance” & he wants it stopped. His newspaper work keeps him up all night, & he would like our house kept quiet all day so that he can sleep off his journalistic debauch in peace. I wonder why he doesn’t reform, & earn his bread in some rational way.
Same date. Richard Edgcumbe called & we walked to Sloane & rode up in ‘bus to Charing X, I to meet him at Athenaeum Club at 4 or later. He read the letter. Thought I ought to off[er] to compromise & not let the piano play till 11. I was not willing to correspond with an uncourteous man—man who began a correspondence with strangers with a rude letter.
Went to Chatto & Windus. Spalding read the letter aloud. He thought no notice shd be taken of it. That was my own idea. Don’t think Chatto offered an opinion [NB 41 TS 27]. Note: The complaining neighbor was J. Woulfe Flanagan, Times reporter. See Jan. 18 for his first complaint.
May 25 Tuesday
May 26 Wednesday – At 23 Tedworth Square in London, Sam wrote to advise Katharine I. Harrison that after June 15 letters should be posted in care of Chatto & Windus [MTP: CF Libbie & Co. catalogs, Mar. 3, 1915, Item 367].
Sam wrote to John Y. MacAlister: “I have finished the book at last—and finished it for good this time. Now I am ready for dissipation with a good conscience. What night will you come down & smoke?” [MTP; MTB 1041].
SLC used mourning border for most letters from Susy’s death on, then from Livy’s death on.