two or three of them; but I cannot forecast which of the two or three it is going to be. It takes seven years to complete a book by this method, but still it is a good method: gives the public a rest. I have been accused of “rushing into print” prematurely, moved then to greediness for money; but in truth I have never done that. Do you care for trifles of information? Well, then, “Tom Sawyer” & “The Prince & the Pauper” were each on the stocks two or three years, & “Old times on the Mississippi” eight. One of my unfinished books has been on the stocks sixteen years; another, seventeen. This latter book could have been finished in a day, at any time during the past five years. But as in the first of these two narratives all the action takes place in Noah’s ark, & as in the other the action takes place in heaven, there seemed to be no hurry, & so I have not hurried. Tales of stirring adventure in those localities do not need to be rushed to publication lest they get stale by waiting. In twenty-one years, with all my time at my free disposal, I have written & completed only eleven books, whereas with half the labor that a journalist does I could have written sixty in that time. I do not greatly mind being accused of a proclivity for rushing into print, but at the same time I don’t believe that the charge is really well founded. Suppose I did write eleven books, have you nothing to be grateful for? Go to—remember the forty-nine which I didn’t write. / Truly Yours … [MTP].
September, 1887 – Sam wrote a sketch unpublished until 2009: “An Incident” [Who Is Mark Twain? xxiv].
The famous English Congregationalist minister, Rev. Dr. Joseph Parker, relates a September visit to
Mark Twain’s Hartford house in his 1896 book, Might Have been; Some Life Notes, p.296:
Of all the houses I have ever seen, Mark Twain’s is the most charming—not the grandest, not the most dollarfish, not the most showy, but the exact contrary. Elegance and simplicity culminated in Mark Twain’s house. The difficulty is that, having got you into it, you don’t want to come out of it again. Here, also, you have room opening out of room in apparently endless succession. Yonder a touch of colour, yonder a corner of a conservatory, yonder the outline of a library, the walls alive with art, the whole bathed in September sunlight. And here is Mark himself, and here is Mrs. Mark, both as genial as the morning, both most hospitable and welcoming.
The conversation was long and varied. If I added that it was lit up with stories of all sorts, I should be strictly within the line of fact. Mrs. Stowe is permitted to use Mark Twain’s garden as if it were her own. She goes in and out when she pleases, and cuts what flowers she likes. So we had heard.
“Is that a fact, Mr. Clemens?”
“Well,” said Mark drawlingly and smilingly, “it is. The only man who objects to it is John.” “John?” said I.
“Yes. Well, now, I tell you,” he continued; “John is a heaven-born undertaker in his manner. Not a retail undertaker, who smiles and fawns on you in the hope that one day he may have the burying of you; but a regular state-endowed undertaker whose position is assured, and who can therefore afford to snub you. John don’t like it [Note: John O’Neil, the family’s longtime gardener is likely the John mentioned here. Parker arrived in New York on Aug. 28, 1887 and spent some time in the Catskills before his lecture tour under James B. Pond began on Oct. 6 in New York City [NY Times, Aug. 29, 1887 p. 5, “Doctor Parker’s Parable.” This meeting, if the doctor’s ten-year reminiscence is correct, occurred in September of 1887. He lectured at Hartford’s Unity Hall Oct. 13, 1887. See entry. Added Oct. 26, 2010.
September 11, 1887 addition – “An Incident”
Sunday morning, September 11, 1887, in Elmira, N.Y., I got the largest and gratefulest compliment that was ever paid me. I walked down to State street at 9.30, with the idea of getting shaved. I was strolling along in the middle of Church street, musing, dreaming; I was in a silent Sabbath solitude. Just as I turned into State, I looked up and saw a mighty fire-boy ten or twelve steps in front of me, creeping warily in my direction, with intent eye, and fingering the lock of a gun which was concealed behind him, all but the end of the barrel, which stuck up into view back of his shoulder. My instant thought was, “he is a lunatic out gunning for men, and I cannot escape.” he stopped, bent his body a little, and brought his gun to the front, cocked. There was no time to consider impulses; I acted upon the first one that offered. I walked straight to him, with a beating heart, and asked him to let me look at his weapon. To my joy, he handed it to me without a word. I turned it