Vol 3 Section 0077
Sam also inscribed a copy of JA to Richard Edgcumbe: “Richard Edgecumbe, Esq. With the kindest regards of his obliged friend the author. London, May 26, 1897” [Bonhams Sale 11946 Lot 478 Nov. 8, 2005].
May 27 Thursday – At 23 Tedworth Square in London, Sam marked a letter to Frank Fuller “PRIVATE” after getting wind of a scheme by friends back home to host a “special benefit” lecture “at big prices for tickets and an auction of a dozen first-choice seats at Jenny Lind prices” as a way of putting him over the top in his efforts to pay his debts. Fuller was the first man he thought of to pull this off, a man who could handle “the engineering of so delicate and so large an undertaking.”
…that a dozen men, each with influence over a millionaire go each privately to his millionaire and get him to put up $1000, and sign his name to an invitation to me to come and do a “benefit-lecture” in the lecture hall of the Waldorf hotel, and sell our seats privately at auction to the highest bidder, the highest bidder to agree beforehand as to the bid he would be willing to make—and that—the rest of the tickets be put at $5 or $10 or $100 (privately sold) and if the boom failed to sell them, resort to papering the house as we did in Cooper Institute [in 1867]. And that this private scheme be also worked by trusty men in Chicago and San Francisco—in which latter place it was believed that my old pal, Adolf Sutro would head the paper with $5,000. Now if that scheme could be worked—well, it appeals to my vanity. I would like to sail up like that, and go into history as the only lecturer that had ever made so immense a scoop on the platform in any country.
Insert: Centerspread from Life (27 May 1897) “Our Popular But Over-Advertised Authors: Do They/We Need a Rest?
Sam further envisioned lantern slides with all the distinguished that Fuller invited back in 1867 to the Cooper Institute lecture, his first in N.Y.C. and who sent regrets including a brief sketch about each:
—regrets from everybody except Boss Tweed and Keenan and a few Sing-Sing people….Or—a lecture on the Jameson Raid, making fun of it—with pictures.
Is the scheme practical?
Would it “go”? and pull me suddenly out of debt? If
it would the income from my wife’s inheritance would enable us to go home and live in a modest way in our
Formerly my plan was to lecture a few weeks in Great Britain, then a couple of years in America, and so pull myself clear; but even if poor Susy’s death had not annulled the plan I could not have carried it out. I am not strong enough for the work and am too only.
Think it over, and tell me your mind fairly [MTP].
According to the NY Times article of June 2 (see entry) Sam dined with “a few male friends,” including Henry Loomis Nelson, London correspondent and editor of Harper’s Weekly (1894-1898). Note: Nelson likely first met Sam at Brander Matthews’ home in N.Y. on Apr. 16, 1883 at a meeting of the American Copyright League.
May 28 Friday
May 29 Saturday
May 30 Sunday – Frank Marshall White, London correspondent of the NY Evening Journal had a “chat” with Sam to inform him of the report in New York that Mark Twain was dying of poverty in London [NY Journal article datelined June 1 and reported by the Hartford Courant, June 3, p. 12, “Mark Twain All Right”]. Note: see June 2.
SLC used mourning border for most letters from Susy’s death on, then from Livy’s death on.