The country is precisely as it was when Don Quixote and Sancho Panza were possible characters.
But I see now what the glory of Spain must have been when it was under Moorish domination. No, I will not say that, but then when one is carried away, infatuated, entranced, with the wonders of the Alhambra and the supernatural beauty of the Alcazar, he is apt to overflow with admiration for the splendid intellects that created them.
I cannot write now. I am only dropping a line to let you know I am well. The ship will call for us here tomorrow. We may stop at Lisbon, and shall at the Bermudas, and will arrive in New York ten days after this letter gets there. SAM.
This is the last personal letter written during that famous first sea-gipsying, and reading it our regret grows that he did not put something of his Spanish excursion into his book. He never returned to Spain, and he never wrote of it. Only the barest mention of "seven beautiful days" is found in The Innocents Abroad.
LETTERS 1867-68. WASHINGTON AND SAN FRANCISCO. THE PROPOSED BOOK OF TRAVEL. A NEW LECTURE
From Mark Twain's home letters we get several important side-lights on this first famous book. We learn, for in stance, that it was he who drafted the ship address to the Emperor--the opening lines of which became so wearisome when repeated by the sailors. Furthermore, we learn something of the scope and extent of his newspaper correspondence, which must have kept him furiously busy, done as it was in the midst of super-heated and continuous sight- seeing. He wrote fifty three letters to the Alta-California, six to the New York Tribune, and at least two to the New York Herald more than sixty, all told, of an average, length of three to four thousand words each. Mark Twain always claimed to be a lazy man, and certainly he was likely to avoid an undertaking not suited to his gifts, but he had energy in abundance for work in his chosen field. To have piled up a correspondence of that size in the time, and under the circumstances already noted, quality considered, may be counted a record in the history of travel letters.
They made him famous. Arriving in New York, November 19, 1867, Mark Twain found himself no longer unknown to the metropolis, or to any portion of America. Papers East and West had copied his Alta and Tribune letters and carried his name into every corner of the States and Territories. He had preached a new gospel in travel literature, the gospel of frankness and sincerity that Americans could understand. Also his literary powers had awakened at last. His work was no longer trivial, crude, and showy; it was full of dignity, beauty, and power; his humor was finer, worthier. The difference in quality between the Quaker City letters and those written from the Sandwich Islands only a year before can scarcely be measured.
He did not remain in New York, but went down to Washington, where he had arranged for a private secretaryship with Senator William M. Stewart,--[The "Bill" Stewart mentioned in the preceding chapter.] whom he had known in Nevada. Such a position he believed would make but little demand upon his time, and would afford him an insight into Washington life, which he could make valuable in the shape of newspaper correspondence.
But fate had other plans for him. He presently received the following letter:
From Elisha Bliss, Jr., in Hartford OFFICE OF THE AMERICAN PUBLISHING COMPANY.
HARTFORD, CONN, Nov 21, 1867. SAMUEL L. CLEMENS Esq. Tribune Office, New York.
DR. SIR,--We take the liberty to address you this, in place of a letter which we had recently written and was about to forward to you, not knowing your arrival home was expected so soon.