could do it and be certain of a universal audience. He took as his text some Christmas Eve clippings from the New York Tribune and Sun which he had been saving for this purpose. …
Another clipping from the same paper [Sun] reported the “Rev. Mr. Ament, of the American Board of Foreign Missions,” as having collected indemnities for Boxer damages in China at the rate of three hundred taels for each murder, “full payment for all destroyed property belonging to Christians, and national fines amounting to thirteen times the indemnity.” It quoted Mr. Ament as saying that the money so obtained was used for the propagation of the Gospel, and that the amount so collected was moderate when compared with the amount secured by the Catholics, who had demanded, in addition to money, life for life, that is to say, “head for head”—in one district six hundred and eighty heads having been so collected.
The dispatch made Mr. Ament say a great deal more than this, but the gist here is enough. Mark Twain, of course, was fiercely stirred. The missionary idea had seldom appealed to him, and coupled with this business of bloodshed, it was less attractive than usual. He printed the clippings in full, one following the other; then he said:
“By happy luck we get all these glad tidings on Christmas Eve—just the time to enable us to celebrate the day with proper gaiety and enthusiasm. Our spirits soar and we find we can even make jokes; taels I win, heads you lose.”
He went on to score Ament, to compare the missionary policy in China to that of the Pawnee Indians, and to propose for him a monument—subscriptions to be sent to the American Board. He denounced the policies in Africa, China, and the Philippines…[MTB 1127-8]. Note: many of the letters to and from Sam close after this article was published deal with the “cyclone” that it precipitated. Paine claims Sam “reveled” in the controversy, and points out that nearly every newspaper in America and England commented upon the matter. In the April issue of the N.A.R. Sam would make a formal and lengthy reply to critics and to the cable error that took “1/3” for “13” for the indemnities.
In the same issue of the NAR, William Dean Howells’ article “Mark Twain: An Inquiry” ran on p. 306-21.
Tenney: “A general discussion of his career and works, noting their seriousness and importance but also the delight and entertainment they bring readers. Discusses MT’s deliberate avoidance of purely logical structure in his writing: ‘He would take whatever offered itself to his hand out of that mystical chaos, that divine ragbag, which we call the mind’” .
During the month a form letter was made up for Sam to use in declining invitations to lecture [MTP]. Sometime between Feb. and Nov. 1901, Sam wrote one line to Frances A. Ramsay: “Please come
tomorrow, Tuesday, usual time” [MTP]. Note: Mrs. Frances A. Ramsay is listed in the 1898 What Women Can Earn:
Occupations of Women and Their Compensation, as head of a stenographer firm at 19 Union Square, NYC. Interestingly,
Major James B. Pond is listed on the title page as a contributor.
Critic, p. 107 published a photo of Mark Twain “a few days after his return to New York,” and commented on William Nicholson’s portrait of Twain in the Harper’s Weekly, which they said looked “more like a fresh mustard-plaster than the portrait of a human being” [Tenney: “A Reference Guide Third Annual Supplement,” American Literary Realism, Autumn 1979 p. 187]. Note: see portrait Oct. 22 entry, and imagine it done in yellow highlights.
Albert Lane’s article “Plain Tales from the Hills, with Something of Criticism,” ran in The Erudite, p.151-4 on Twain. Tenney: “Argues that MT’s recent attacks on the missionaries in China are effective, not for logic, but for MT’s entertaining style: ‘The man who possesses the satirical genius of a Swift, a Thackeray, or a Twain has a gift straight from the gods’” [Tenney: “A Reference Guide Fourth Annual Supplement,” American Literary Realism, Autumn 1980 p. 174]. Note: the title of the article takes the title of Rudyard Kipling’s first book.
SLC used mourning border for most letters from Susy’s death on, then from Livy’s death on.