I have had several talks lately with our young friend, Mr. Paul Kester. Mr Kester’s play of “Tom Sawyer” seems to me pretty good, and I believe we can get it produced. Now, nothwithstanding the sad fate of “Huckleberry Finn” I fancy “Tom Sawyer” can be made to win out. Messrs. Klaw and Erlanger are quite willing to withdraw in favor of Mr. Kester, and I write to know whether you would be willing to let him have a chance to handle his play [MTP]. Note: Sam answered about Jan.11.
Frank Bliss wrote to Sam, enclosing a draft for $7,000, and proposed that he would go ahead and publish the book, unspecified [MTP].
The New York Times ran a rather strange article, with an unnamed “press agent” the source.
MARK TWAIN’S SKULL.
They say Mr. Samuel R. Clemens either has bequeathed or will bequeath his skull to Cornell University, which, presumably, wants it. The announcement is made noisily, if somewhat vaguely, by a hired man, a “press agent,” in fact, who tries to imitate Mark Twain’s humor; but the incident is not humorous.
To be sure, Mark Twain used to be very amusing on the subject of dead men’s skulls. Was it not he who discovered in Italy one carefully preserved skull of the full-grown Columbus and another which was worn by the same benefactor of mankind in his youth? But in his gay Italian days, when he was an innocent abroad, Mark Twain was not thinking of his own skull as an asset or a benefaction.
Now the report of his bequest seems pathetic; one does not even quite know whether or not to take it seriously. Perhaps, like some of his recent seemingly serious magazine contributions and his vociferous public avowals of queer beliefs, this may only be a subtle joke. If it is not, it is a great pity any such announcement was made.
If Cornell University or any department thereof wants Mr. Clemens’s skull after he has finished using it, doubtless that educational institution, not being a dime museum or a circus, would prefer to take it quietly. Doubtless, too, one is impelled to reflect, a man seriously thinking of parting with his own head would not make light of the matter.
Sam’s notebook entry has more errands and some completed:
Get coupons of Int. Nav. Co.
Take Livy’s paper to Safe Dep. (mine)
Ask Grosvenor rooms for 1 st October. Did cable
to MacAlister Did [NB 46 TS 5]. Note:
no cable for this or the past few days to MacAlister is extant.
January 11 Sunday – In Riverdale, N.Y. Sam responded to Elisabeth Marbury’s Jan. 10 by writing in the bottom left corner of her letter: “quite willing but must / first know in writing if / Mr. Dillingham is willing. / Communicate with Mr D. & ask him” [MTP].
January 12, before – In Riverdale, N.Y. Sam wrote to David A. Munro for the North American Review.
Private. If McCrackan appears in the March Number, the above blank should be filled with “April.” I think he is commanded from Goddlemightyburg, up there at Concord, to keep out entirely. Have you heard from him, as to his intentions? [MTP].
January 12 Monday – In Riverdale, N.Y. Sam wrote a list of concerns to Katharine I. Harrison.
I keep forgetting. Do remind me the next time I come, to mention to Mr. Rogers two or three very important details that should go into the Harper contract.
1, that the original price of the book cannot be reduced without my consent in writing;
SLC used mourning border for most letters from Susy’s death on, then from Livy’s death on.