The two months have passed, I heard day before yesterday that a new and almost unknown candidate had suddenly turned up on the inside track, and was to be appointed at once. I didn't like that, and went after his case in a fine passion. I hunted up all our Senators and representatives and found that his name was actually to come from the President early in the morning.
Then Judge Field said if I wanted the place he could pledge me the President's appointment--and Senator Conness said he would guarantee me the Senate's confirmation. It was a great temptation, but it would render it impossible to fill my book contract, and I had to drop the idea.
I have to spend August and September in Hartford which isn't San Francisco. Mr. Conness offers me any choice out of five influential California offices. Now, some day or other I shall want an office and then, just my luck, I can't get it, I suppose.
They want to send me abroad, as a Consul or a Minister. I said I didn't want any of the pie. God knows I am mean enough and lazy enough, now, without being a foreign consul.
Sometime in the course of the present century I think they will create a Commissioner of Patents, and then I hope to get a berth for Orion.
I published 6 or 7 letters in the Tribune while I was gone, now I cannot get them. I suppose I must have them copied. Love to all SAM.
Orion Clemens was once more a candidate for office: Nevada had become a State; with regularly elected officials, and Orion had somehow missed being chosen. His day of authority had passed, and the law having failed to support him, he was again back at his old occupation, setting type in St. Louis. He was, as ever, full of dreams and inventions that would some day lead to fortune. With the gift of the Sellers imagination, inherited by all the family, he lacked the driving power which means achievement. More and more as the years went by he would lean upon his brother for moral and physical support. The chances for him in Washington do not appear to have been bright. The political situation under Andrew Johnson was not a happy one.
To Orion Clemens, in St. Louis:
224 F. STREET, WASH., Feb. 21. (1868) MY DEAR BRO.,--I am glad you do not want the clerkship, for that Patent Office is in such a muddle that there would be no security for the permanency of a place in it. The same remark will apply to all offices here, now, and no doubt will, till the close of the present administration.
Any man who holds a place here, now, stands prepared at all times to vacate it. You are doing, now, exactly what I wanted you to do a year ago.
We chase phantoms half the days of our lives.
It is well if we learn wisdom even then, and save the other half.
I am in for it. I must go on chasing them until I marry--then I am done with literature and all other bosh,--that is, literature wherewith to please the general public.
I shall write to please myself, then. I hope you will set type till you complete that invention, for surely government pap must be nauseating food for a man--a man whom God has enabled to saw wood and be independent. It really seemed to me a falling from grace, the idea of going back to San Francisco nothing better than a mere postmaster, albeit the public would have thought I came with gilded honors, and in great glory.
I only retain correspondence enough, now, to make a living for myself, and have discarded all else, so that I may have time to spare for the book. Drat the thing, I wish it were done, or that I had no other writing to do.
This is the place to get a poor opinion of everybody in. There isn't one man in Washington, in civil office, who has the brains of Anson Burlingame--and I suppose if China had not seized and saved his great talents to the world, this government would have discarded him when his time was up.
There are more pitiful intellects in this Congress! Oh, geeminy! There are few of them that I find pleasant enough company to visit.