We may believe, too, that he was "generally writing." He contributed fifty-three letters to the Alta during that five months and six to the Tribune. They would average about two columns nonpareil each, which is to say four thousand words, or something like two hundred and fifty thousand words in all. To turn out an average of fifteen hundred words a day, with continuous sight-seeing besides, one must be generally writing during any odd intervals; those who are wont to regard Mark Twain as lazy may consider these statistics. That he detested manual labor is true enough, but at the work for which he was fitted and intended it may be set down here upon authority (and despite his own frequent assertions to the contrary) that to his last year he was the most industrious of men.
THE INNOCENTS ABROAD
It was Dan, Jack, and the Doctor who with Mark Twain wandered down through Italy and left moral footprints that remain to this day. The Italian guides are wary about showing pieces of the True Cross, fragments of the Crown of Thorns, and the bones of saints since then. They show them, it is true, but with a smile; the name of Mark Twain is a touch- stone to test their statements. Not a guide in Italy but has heard the tale of that iconoclastic crew, and of the book which turned their marvels into myths, their relics into bywords.
It was Doctor Jackson, Colonel Denny, Doctor Birch, and Samuel Clemens who evaded the quarantine and made the perilous night trip to Athens and looked upon the Parthenon and the sleeping city by moonlight. It is all set down in the notes, and the account varies little from that given in the book; only he does not tell us that Captain Duncan and the quartermaster, Pratt, connived at the escapade, or how the latter watched the shore in anxious suspense until he heard the whistle which was their signal to be taken aboard. It would have meant six months' imprisonment if they had been captured, for there was no discretion in the Greek law.
It was T. D. Crocker, A. N. Sanford, Col. Peter Kinney, and William Gibson who were delegated to draft the address to the Emperor of Russia at Yalta, with Samuel L. Clemens as chairman of that committee. The chairman wrote the address, the opening sentence of which he grew so weary of hearing:
We are a handful of private citizens of America, traveling simply for recreation, and unostentatiously, as becomes our unofficial state.
The address is all set down in the notes, and there also exists the first rough draft, with the emendations in his own hand. He deplores the time it required:
That job is over. Writing addresses to emperors is not my strong suit. However, if it is not as good as it might be it doesn't signify--the other committeemen ought to have helped me write it; they had nothing to do, and I had my hands full. But for bothering with this I would have caught up entirely with my New York Tribune correspondence and nearly up with the San Francisco.
They wanted him also to read the address to the Emperor, but he pointed out that the American consul was the proper person for that office. He tells how the address was presented:
August 26th. The Imperial carriages were in waiting at eleven, and at twelve we were at the palace....
The Consul for Odessa read the address and the Czar said frequently, "Good--very good; indeed"--and at the close, "I am very, very grateful."
It was not improper for him to set down all this, and much more, in his own note-book--not then for publication. It was in fact a very proper record--for today.
One incident of the imperial audience Mark Twain omitted from his book, perhaps because the humor of it had not yet become sufficiently evident. "The humorous perception of a thing is a pretty slow growth sometimes," he once remarked. It was about seventeen years before he could laugh enjoyably at a slight mistake he made at the Emperor's reception. He set down a memorandum of it, then, for fear it might be lost:
There were a number of great dignitaries of the Empire there, and although, as a general thing, they were dressed in citizen's clothing, I observed that the most of them wore a very small piece of ribbon in the lapels of their coats.