I am most infernally tired of Wash. and its "attractions." To be busy is a man's only happiness--and I am--otherwise I should die Yrs. aff SAM.
The secretarial position with Senator Stewart was short-lived. One cannot imagine Mark Twain as anybody's secretary, and doubtless there was little to be gained on either side by the arrangement. They parted without friction, though in later years, when Stewart had become old and irascible, he used to recount a list of grievances and declare that he had been obliged to threaten violence in order to bring Mark to terms; but this was because the author of Roughing It had in that book taken liberties with the Senator, to the extent of an anecdote and portrait which, though certainly harmless enough, had for some reason given deep offense.
Mark Twain really had no time for secretary work. For one thing he was associated with John Swinton in supplying a Washington letter to a list of newspapers, and then he was busy collecting his Quaker City letters, and preparing the copy for his book. Matters were going well enough, when trouble developed from an unexpected quarter. The Alta-California had copyrighted the letters and proposed to issue them in book form. There had been no contract which would prevent this, and the correspondence which Clemens undertook with the Alta management led to nothing. He knew that he had powerful friends among the owners, if he could reach them personally, and he presently concluded to return to San Francisco, make what arrangement he could, and finish his book there. It was his fashion to be prompt; in his next letter we find him already on the way.
To Mrs. Jane Clemens and family, in St. Louis:
AT SEA, Sunday, March 15, Lat. 25. (1868) DEAR FOLKS,--I have nothing to write, except that I am well--that the weather is fearfully hot-that the Henry Chauncey is a magnificent ship-- that we have twelve hundred, passengers on board-that I have two staterooms, and so am not crowded--that I have many pleasant friends here, and the people are not so stupid as on the Quaker City--that we had Divine Service in the main saloon at 10.30 this morning--that we expect to meet the upward bound vessel in Latitude 23, and this is why I am writing now.
We shall reach Aspinwall Thursday morning at 6 o'clock, and San Francisco less than two weeks later. I worry a great deal about being obliged to go without seeing you all, but it could not be helped.
Dan Slote, my splendid room-mate in the Quaker City and the noblest man on earth, will call to see you within a month. Make him dine with you and spend the evening. His house is my home always in. New York. Yrs affy, SAM.
The San Francisco trip proved successful. Once on the ground Clemens had little difficulty in convincing the Alta publishers that they had received full value in the newspaper use of the letters, and that the book rights remained with the author. A letter to Bliss conveys the situation.
To Elisha Bliss, Jr., in Hartford:
SAN FRANCISCO, May 5, '68.
E. BLISS, Jr. Esq.
Dr. SIR,--The Alta people, after some hesitation, have given me permission to use my printed letters, and have ceased to think of publishing them themselves in book form. I am steadily at work, and shall start East with the completed Manuscript, about the middle of June.
I lectured here, on the trip, the other night-over sixteen hundred dollars in gold in the house--every seat taken and paid for before night. Yrs truly, MARK TWAIN.
But he did not sail in June.