McClure is here & has made me a proposition [see Jan.11]. As I wanted to ask your advice, I have postponed my answer to the 1st of March.
He is going to start a new magazine next fall, whose complexion is to be peculiarly American; its writers to be nearly all of that nationality; & one of its projects is to help hatch out & develop the rising young American literature.
He wants me to be its editor, with my name on the cover. After the matter for a number of the mag. has been selected by a staff of sub-editors, I am to go over it & veto any of it that I do not approve. This would occupy me one or two days per month. I am not required to do any other work.
Sam then described the rest of Samuel McClure’s offer and gave his reaction:
I am very much in love with the idea. The American writers of highest repute are to be secured for me as contributors. Now then, Uncle Henry, give me your very best judgment on this matter, for I greatly value it, & am depending on you [MTHHR 426-7].
Note: “McClure later modified some of his expectations, particularly about the amount of editorial labor to be expected of Clemens” [n1]. After McClure’s change of heart, Sam lost interest.
Samuel S. McClure wrote to Sam, clarifying his offer for Sam to edit a new magazine. His typed letter with details of Sam’s increasing ownership in such a magazine bears an added PS in handwriting: “Of course I will guarantee profits of $5000 a year for five years.” McClure was ready to build a new printing plant at the cost of fifty or sixty thousand dollars [MTP].
January 14 Sunday – In New York, William Dean Howells wrote to Sam of the horrors of the platform after his 50 performances on the road.
I wanted to write you while I was in that misery of lecturing, but I had not the nerve. It was worse, far worse, than you ever said in your least credible moments. The mere “stunt,” the platform act itself, was suffering for me. I had a five or ten minutes’ heart quake in the ante-room before I went on, and then I sat as long and languished under the praises of my introducer, and then I got up, and abased my soul before my audience, entreating them to be interested and amused for an hour and a quarter more. Then I waited and shook hands with such as cared to speak with me, and then I went to my hotel and to bed, and lay awake till I got up and drugged myself with trional, or soaked myself with whiskey. After that came a few hours of blessed stupor…. After I got home, I slept 15 hours a night. Two hours after breakfast, I took a long nap, and
in the afternoon, I had two long naps. This went on for a fortnight. My head felt sprained, and I stored up a disorder of the Pneumo-gastric nerve, that made my heart jump a beat every now and then…. I don’t blame
Pond; he is probably what the deity meant him to be; but he suffers no such disability as George Washington. …
I got a capital letter from you while I was in Indianapolis, and since I came home, I have been reading you a great deal. Not merely the sketches, but going back in that splendid new edition, and reading Roughing It.
All mighty good, but you are now in your decrepitude, with probably more cricks in your back than vertebrae, doing work ten times as good. So if you are writing a story, I guess it is fine, and I can’t see it too soon. By the way, aren’t they going to put all your shorter pieces into that Bliss edition?
Howells continued that he knew little of the Harper collapse and as of yet had lost nothing by it, and thought he wouldn’t lose anything. He referred (not by name) to George Harvey as “a very active man at the head of affairs,” and felt prospects were good; they were making contracts with Howells “several years in advance.” He referred to the Boer war and what he saw as America’s similar war of conquest, the annexation of the Philippines—Howell opposed both conflicts [MTHL 2: 712-4].
January 15 Monday
SLC used mourning border for most letters from Susy’s death on, then from Livy’s death on.