Once, after lecturing an entire season--two hundred and twenty-five nights--he went home to rest. That evening he sat, musingly drowsing by the fire, when the clock struck eight. Without a moment's thought Nasby sprang to his feet and thundered out, "We are all descended from grandfathers!"]
Nasby did not go, and Clemens's enthusiasm cooled at the prospect of setting out alone on that long tour. Furthermore, Jervis Langdon promptly insisted on advancing the money required to complete the purchase of the Express, and the trade was closed.--[Mr. Langdon is just as good for $25,000 for me, and has already advanced half of it in cash. I wrote and asked whether I had better send him my note, or a due bill, or how he would prefer to have the indebtedness made of record, and he answered every other topic in the letter pleasantly, but never replied to that at all. Still, I shall give my note into a hands of his business agent here, and pay him the interest as it falls due.--S. L. C. to his mother.]
The Buffalo Express was at this time in the hands of three men--Col. George F. Selkirk, J. L. Lamed, and Thomas A. Kennett. Colonel Selkirk was business manager, Lamed was political editor. With the purchase of Kennett's share Clemens became a sort of general and contributing editor, with a more or less "roving commission"--his hours and duties not very clearly defined. It was believed by his associates, and by Clemens himself, that his known connection with the paper would give it prestige and circulation, as Nasby's connection had popularized the Toledo Blade. The new editor entered upon his duties August 14 (1869). The members of the Buffalo press gave him a dinner that evening, and after the manner of newspaper men the world over, were handsomely cordial to the "new enemy in their midst."
There is an anecdote which relates that next morning, when Mark Twain arrived in the Express office (it was then at 14 Swan Street), there happened to be no one present who knew him. A young man rose very bruskly and asked if there was any one he would like to see. It is reported that he replied, with gentle deliberation:
"Well, yes, I should like to see some young man offer the new editor a chair."
It is so like Mark Twain that we are inclined to accept it, though it seems of doubtful circumstance. In any case it deserves to be true. His "Salutatory" (August 18th) is sufficiently genuine:
Being a stranger, it would be immodest for me to suddenly and violently assume the associate editorship of the Buffalo Express without a single word of comfort or encouragement to the unoffending patrons of the paper, who are about to be exposed to constant attacks of my wisdom and learning. But the word shall be as brief as possible. I only want to assure parties having a friendly interest in the prosperity of the journal that I am not going to hurt the paper deliberately and intentionally at any time. I am not going to introduce any startling reforms, nor in any way attempt to make trouble.... I shall not make use of slang and vulgarity upon any occasion or under any circumstances, and shall never use profanity except when discussing house rent and taxes. Indeed, upon a second thought, I shall not use it even then, for it is unchristian, inelegant, and degrading; though, to speak truly, I do not see how house rent and taxes are going to be discussed worth a cent without it. I shall not often meddle with politics, because we have a political Editor who is already excellent and only needs to serve a term or two in the penitentiary to be perfect. I shall not write any poetry unless I conceive a spite against the subscribers.
Such is my platform. I do not see any use in it, but custom is law and must be obeyed.
John Harrison Mills, who was connected with the Express in those days, has written:
I cannot remember that there was any delay in getting down to his work.