Sam’s notebook: “
Elmira / Put on the
9.56 train again—it always gets passengers” [NB 45 TS 34].
Richard Burton for Lothrop Publishing, Boston wrote to Sam, to give “a clear explanation of the matter of the Stoddard-Harriott book.” Burton wrote that he preferred to deal directly with authors, but that Harriott had lied about Stoddard being in Europe and unable to handle such affairs. Burton had paid Harriott $400 advance for Stoddard’s MS. He pledged to help Stoddard recover the money. Burton had also heard through the Welch family of Hartford that Livy had improved [MTP].
Sandy McPherson wrote to Sam, sending another “obituary” for the Nov. 15 issue of Harper’s Weekly contest; she’d read that he was offering a prize: “Here lies all that can die / Mark Twain” [MTP].
November 25 Tuesday – In Riverdale, N.Y. Sam wrote a draft of a letter to Frederick C. Harriott in response to Howells’ urging of Nov. 24.
We have received a letter from an old and valued friend of ours, Charles Warren Stoddard, in which he charges you with robbing him of four hundred dollars, and asks our advice as to how he would best proceed in order to recover this money. He has furnished us all the details of the transaction as observed from his standpoint; speaking for the Lathrops and for himself. Richard Burton has confirmed in writing the truth of Stoddard’s statement. Upon receipt of your own version we shall have the whole case before us, and shall be in a position to advise Mr. Stoddard. Will you please put it in writing, and send it to one of us as promptly as you can? [MTP]. Note: Howells did not think Sam’s language was quite right and suggested his own approach, which is not extant. See also Nov. 16, 19, 20, 26 from Howells.
Sam’s notebook : “Julie’s Wedding” [NB 45 TS 34]. Note: Julia Olivia Langdon married Edward Eugene Loomis on Nov. 29 in Elmira, so this was likely a reminder.
R.B. Blandell wrote from Reading, Penn. to Sam, offering an “obituary” for his contest. Imagining Twain was dead, she was “shedding tears as large as apple dumplings made of horse apples” [MTP].
Z. Pfenneg wrote from Jamestown, NY to Sam, offering an “obituary” contest, solicited in the Nov. 15 issue of Harper’s Weekly [MTP].
November 26 Wednesday – In Riverdale, N.Y. Sam wrote to Carl Thalbitzer, a Danish writer, who, after reading “The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg,” wrote to Sam on Nov. 13 asking if Sam put his personal views into such stories.
You have read me between the lines. What I have tried to do and what I still try to do, is to allow only a little to leak out between the lines. This has been a strain upon me for thirty years. I have put this restraint upon myself and kept it there all these years to keep from breaking my wife’s heart, whose contentment I value above the salvation of the human race. This is a confession that in building a wall across my Nile and damming my feelings and opinions behind it, and trying to caulk the leaks, I am not actuated by principle, but by something much stronger—sentiment.
I shall continue to leak, but shall not write the book unless I survive my wife—which I hope will not happen.
I believe that many a person has examined man with a microscope in every age of the world; has found that he did not even resemble the creature he was pretending to be; has perceived that a civilization not proper matter for derision has always been and must always remain impossible to him—and has put away his microscope and kept his mouth shut. Perhaps because the microscopist (besides having an influential wife) was built like the rest of the human race—99 parts of him being moral cowardice. I am such a person myself. I used my microscope during fifteen years, and then put the result on paper five years ago. When ever I wish to account for any new outbreak of hypocrisy, stupidity or crime on the part of the race I get out that
SLC used mourning border for most letters from Susy’s death on, then from Livy’s death on.