February 1 ca. – In Riverdale, N.Y. Sam wrote to Clara L. Spaulding about his suppression of the “25 distinguished authors” scheme. In part:
They advertised that they had invited 25 distinguished authors to contribute a story each to a proposed volume of short stories, these stories to be published anonymously; that “12 of the 25 accepted, & each told one story.”
They advertised that these following were the invited authors—which is policy-shop veracity, & subject to the usual trade-discount. Several of the authors named were not invited.
[He listed authors.]
This scheme was merely a lottery—that is all it was; no verbal embroideries can get around that prosaic fact. Lotteries are unlawful; this scheme was a breach of the law. This lottery used the mails for the dissemination of its advertisements. That was another breach of the law.
Very well, when a firm has made up its mind to break two laws, why not go on & break another one, if there’s money in it? That is what this one did. They made off with some unwatched property (the names of the authors not represented in the volume of stories), and used it to assist in advertising the volume & increasing its sales.
Without my knowledge, & without any consent, they used my name for that purpose—& without doubt would have taken my clothes & used them in the same way if I had not had new locks & new bolts put upon the house at about that time, for I remember now that the dwellings of my neighbors in Riverdale were entered & stripped at just that period. Also, without permission they took nine other names that are in the above list of 25, & used them as helps in advertising their illegal lottery and increasing its catch of cash.
I wrote & asked 16 of the 25 authors named in the original list a couple of questions: Were they invited to write a story? Did they write a story? The mere fact that those publishers said they had 12 authors threw doubt upon the statement, & I wanted trustworthy evidence. I got it. There were 12, the assertion of the publishers to that effect notwithstanding. Also, in some of the answers—from the 12—there were traces of resentment against the publishers for having brought them under suspicion of aiding & abetting—by silence or by consent—their lottery scheme & their misuse of the names of the 13 non-contributors to help advertise & promote it; & in one case this resentment rose to plain-spoken indignation. It is a natural feeling. It is most unlikely that the twelve would have consented to contribute to the book if they had clearly understood the nature of the game which the publishers were about to play upon the non-contributors & upon the public
February 2 Sunday – In Riverdale, N.Y. Sam wrote to ask Franklin G. Whitmore if his Players Club dues had been paid while he was in Europe [MTP].
The New York Times, p. 11, “Notes of the Stage” announced that the Children’s Theatre was preparing to open at Carnegie Lyceum on Feb. 8 with a matinee of Mark Twain’s story in the Christmas Harper’s, of the little girl and the Lord General.
February 3 Monday – In. N.Y.C. William Dean Howells wrote to Sam.
I have Mr. Skrine’s book; but I am switched off from my North American Reviewing to paragraphing and article letting for the Weekly, and I don’t know what to do for your friend. I can’t write any more than I’m doing now; but I will tackle the book, and see if I can’t get something out of it for the “Easy Chair.” But I mustn’t promise. Skrine seems all kinds of a good fellow.
I wish I saw you now and then. I’m getting old even if you’re not [MTHL 2: 741]. Note: The Life of Sir William
Wilson Hunter, by Francis H. Skrine (1901)
February 4 Tuesday – In Riverdale, N.Y. Sam wrote to Frank Bliss.
“There is a chance for you to buy Newbegin’s contract & sell it to another man at what seems to be a tall figure. When you come here to talk with me about it give me notice by telegraph or telephone (150
SLC used mourning border for most letters from Susy’s death on, then from Livy’s death on.