Vol 3 Section 0779

1902                                                                            721

In York Harbor, Maine Sam replied to Omaha World Herald. His letter was published in the New York Times, Sept. 6, 1902, p.BR5 along with the story:

Mark Twain on “Huck Finn.”

It will be recalled that not long ago the Omaha public library barred out Mark Twain’s “Huckleberry Finn” on the ground that its influence upon the youthful mind was pernicious. The Omaha World-Herald sent him a telegram, which called forth the following characteristic letter:

York Beach, Me., Aug. 23.—Dear Sir: Your telegram has arrived, but as I have already said all I want to say concerning Huck Finn’s new adventures, there is no need to say it over again. I am making this remark by mail instead of telegram in order to secure speed: your courtesy requires this promptness of me. Lately it has taken a telegraphic dispatch four hours and a quarter to reach me here from Boston, a distance of forty or fifty miles; therefore, if I should answer you by that vehicle I estimate that it would be upward of eight days on the wire, whereas I can get it to you by mail in two.

I am tearfully afraid this noise is doing much harm. It has started a number of hitherto spotless people to reading Huck Finn out of a natural human curiosity to learn what this is all about—people who had not heard of him before: people whose morals will go to wreck and ruin now.

The publishers are glad but it makes me want to borrow a handkerchief and cry. I should be sorry to think it was the publishers themselves that got up this entire little flutter to enable them to unload a book that was taking up too much room in their cellars, but you never can tell what a publisher will do. I have one

myself.                                                                                      MARK TWAIN.

Sam’s notebook entry contains a humorous anecdote:

The grape-nuts. Little boy: “Grape nuts—grapes don’t have nuts; you might as well talk about a dog having nuts. (Mama, mama! Mary says &c”)

G. “How do you know ‘e hain’t?”

B. Mama, Mary says a dog’s got nuts—a dog hasn’t, has he?

G. I never said a dog had, I said he could have, & so he could—& so could uncle John—couldn’t you, uncle John?” [NB 45 TS 23].

August 24 Sunday

August 25 MondayIn York Harbor, Maine: Sam’s notebook: “Livy’s illness hangs on, & on, from day to day, & there is never any great improvement; never anything to rouse us & make us jubilant” [NB 45 TS 24].

August 26 TuesdayIn York Harbor, Maine Sam wrote to nephew Samuel E. Moffett.

No, I don’t think I shall ever give up the “Stale News” till I’m obliged to. I’ve had to drop it indefinitely, because I got at the finishment of a long tale here, & was so interested that I couldn’t get away from it. It is far from done, yet.

If you can arrange for a satisfactory place with Walker—& collect from him in full every week—why not do it? When we are ready for “Stale News,” it could happen that Walker would be the publisher.—who knows?

And you could always resign any way, if you found you couldn’t run both of the things—which I believe you could.

Livy is getting along so well that the others are nursing her the past three days—during which time, as chance offered, I have scribbled 7,500 words & earned $1500—a little tale for the Xmas Harper. I can finish it in two more days, I think.

Livy will not be herself again for a year, we think [MTP]. Note: “Was it Heaven? Or Hell?” ran in the Dec. issue of Harper’s Monthly. John Brisben Walker, owner of Cosmopolitan.

SLC used mourning border for most letters from Susy’s death on, then from Livy’s death on.