He would find it directly, and it was invariably the word needed. Most writers employ, now and again, phrases that do not sharply present the idea--that blur the picture like a poor opera-glass. Mark Twain's English always focused exactly.
"WHAT IS MAN?" AND THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Clemens decided to publish anonymously, or, rather, to print privately, the Gospel, which he had written in Vienna some eight years before and added to from time to time. He arranged with Frank Doubleday to take charge of the matter, and the De Vinne Press was engaged to do the work. The book was copyrighted in the name of J. W. Bothwell, the superintendent of the De Vinne company, and two hundred and fifty numbered copies were printed on hand-made paper, to be gradually distributed to intimate friends.--[In an introductory word (dated February, 1905) the author states that the studies for these papers had been made twenty-five or twenty-seven years before. He probably referred to the Monday Evening Club essay, "What Is Happiness?" (February, 1883). See chap. cxli.]--A number of the books were sent to newspaper reviewers, and so effectually had he concealed the personality of his work that no critic seems to have suspected the book's authorship. It was not over-favorably received. It was generally characterized as a clever, and even brilliant, expose of philosophies which were no longer startlingly new. The supremacy of self-interest and "man the irresponsible machine" are the main features of 'What Is Man' and both of these and all the rest are comprehended in his wider and more absolute doctrine of that inevitable life-sequence which began with the first created spark. There can be no training of the ideals, "upward and still upward," no selfishness and unselfishness, no atom of voluntary effort within the boundaries of that conclusion. Once admitting the postulate, that existence is merely a sequence of cause and effect beginning with the primal atom, and we have a theory that must stand or fall as a whole. We cannot say that man is a creature of circumstance and then leave him free to select his circumstance, even in the minutest fractional degree. It was selected for him with his disposition; in that first instant of created life. Clemens himself repeatedly emphasized this doctrine, and once, when it was suggested to him that it seemed to "surround every thing, like the sky," he answered:
"Yes, like the sky; you can't break through anywhere."
Colonel Harvey came to Dublin that summer and persuaded Clemens to let him print some selections from the dictations in the new volume of the North American Review, which he proposed to issue fortnightly. The matter was discussed a good deal, and it was believed that one hundred thousand words could be selected which would be usable forthwith, as well as in that long-deferred period for which it was planned. Colonel Harvey agreed to take a copy of the dictated matter and make the selections himself, and this plan was carried out. It may be said that most of the chapters were delightful enough; though, had it been possible to edit them with the more positive documents as a guide, certain complications might have been avoided. It does not matter now, and it was not a matter of very wide import then.
The payment of these chapters netted Clemens thirty thousand dollars--a comfortable sum, which he promptly proposed to spend in building on the property at Redding. He engaged John Mead Howells to prepare some preliminary plans.
Clara Clemens, at Norfolk, was written to of the matter.
A little later I joined her in Redding, and she was the first of the family to see that beautiful hilltop. She was well pleased with the situation, and that day selected the spot where the house should stand. Clemens wrote Howells that he proposed to call it "Autobiography House," as it was to be built out of the Review money, and he said:
"If you will build on my farm and live there it will set Mrs. Howells's health up for sure.