It makes me lazy, the way that Steel stock is rising. If I were lazier—like [Clarence] Rice—nothing could keep me from retiring. But I work right along, like a poor person. I shall figure up the rise, as the figures come in, & push up my literary prices accordingly, till I get any literature up to where nobody can afford it but the family. (N.B. Look here, are you charging storage? I am not going to stand that, you know.) Meantime I note these encouraging illogical words of yours about my not worrying because I am to be rich when I am 68; why didn’t you have Cheiro make it 90, so that I could have plenty of room?
Sam thought it would be “jolly good” if someone could make a successful play out of “Is He Dead?” He asked for a copy of Frank Mayo’s play, Pudd’nhead Wilson, as a “capable young Austrian” wanted to translate it and investigate staging it in Vienna. Some London dramatists were interested in bargaining for the dramatization rights to his “£1,000,000 Bank Note.” He mentioned one Borkis was willing. Also, he speculated it was James B. Pond “who emptied that sewage down the back of the Chambermaid’s House Journal,” and noted that it was in Pond’s taste and that “Some of it has dribbled into these Vienna papers.”
He closed by noting that “Young Dr. Freeland” would visit in December and thought he could find the Clemenses a reasonably-priced flat in the Washington Square region of N.Y.C. for when they went home next October. He doubted it could be done because he read that New York was “growing more & more expensive every day.” He closed by asking about the $1,000 that Bliss should have sent for the McClure’s excerpt of FE [MTHHR 377].
Notes: Pond’s “sewage” was his reaction to an anonymous article in the Ladies’ Home Journal for Oct. 1898: “The Anecdotal Side of Mark Twain, etc.,” stories contributed by friends about Mark Twain’s lecture circuit days [Tenney 27 cites The Twainian, II (November, 1940) p.4]. Cheiro (Louis Hamon) palm-reader, had prophesied in 1895 and 1897 that Sam would become wealthy at age 68. See Vol. 2 entries.
Sam also wrote to Nikola Tesla, after reading of a possible invention that might “introduce into the earth permanent peace & disarmament in a practical & mandatory way”—a “destructive terror” which anticipated the “mutually destructive” weapon, the nuclear bomb. Did Tesla have Austrian and English patents on the device? Since Sam knew cabinet ministers of several European countries and would be in Europe a year more, he was in a position to sell the patents to them. “won’t you set a price upon them [patents] & commission me to sell them?” [MTP].
Note: Tesla was perhaps the best known scientist of his time; the inventor of the radio and other devices; brilliant but the epitome of the mad scientist, often given to wild and exaggerated claims about possible inventions, Tesla had disclosed he was working on a death ray, against which no defense was possible. Sam had known Tesla for some years, perhaps meeting him for the first time on Feb. 6 1894. See entry.
November 18 Friday – Estimated to be this day or just before, Andrew Chatto answered Sam’s Nov. 13 “scheme” about a special, limited, expensive edition of “Omar’s Old Age,” which was to be referred to in correspondence as “ABC”:
As a scathing satire on the crazy literary taste of today I consider the ABC a work of great genius—But in all my experience I have never known a case in which the writer of works of like inspiration did not at some time in after life regret the printing of them.
It would be an easy matter of course for us at a moderate expense to have such a brochure set up in Edition de Luxe for private circulation amongst a select few limited to say 30 copies which number I think could be distributed amongst collectors at perhaps £10, to £20 each, but I fancy that $1000 or £200 would only be paid by those friends who wish to raise a subscription to the author. The worst of the matter is that all the press men would expect free copies! [Welland 196].
SLC used mourning border for most letters from Susy’s death on, then from Livy’s death on.