But you know how that is--you must have felt that way. This very day I saw the signs in the air of the coming dullness, and I said to myself, "How glad I am that I have already chartered a steamship!" There was absolutely nothing in the morning papers. You can see for yourself what the telegraphic headings were:
A Father Killed by His Son
A Bloody Fight in Kentucky
A Court House Fired, and Negroes Therein Shot while Escaping
A Louisiana Massacre
An Eight-year-old murderer Two to Three Hundred Men Roasted Alive!
A Town in a State of General Riot
A Lively Skirmish in Indiana (and thirty other similar headings.)
The items under those headings all bear date yesterday, Apl. 16 (refer to your own paper)--and I give you my word of honor that that string of commonplace stuff was everything there was in the telegraphic columns that a body could call news. Well, said I to myself this is getting pretty dull; this is getting pretty dry; there don't appear to be anything going on anywhere; has this progressive nation gone to sleep? Have I got to stand another month of this torpidity before I can begin to browse among the lively capitals of Europe?
But never mind-things may revive while I am away. During the last two months my next-door neighbor, Chas. Dudley Warner, has dropped his "Back- Log Studies," and he and I have written a bulky novel in partnership. He has worked up the fiction and I have hurled in the facts. I consider it one of the most astonishing novels that ever was written. Night after night I sit up reading it over and over again and crying. It will be published early in the Fall, with plenty of pictures. Do you consider this an advertisement?--and if so, do you charge for such things when a man is your friend? Yours truly, SAML. L. CLEMENS, "MARK TWAIN,"
An amusing, even if annoying, incident happened about the time of Mark Twain's departure. A man named Chew related to Twichell a most entertaining occurrence. Twichell saw great possibilities in it, and suggested that Mark Twain be allowed to make a story of it, sharing the profits with Chew. Chew agreed, and promised to send the facts, carefully set down. Twichell, in the mean time, told the story to Clemens, who was delighted with it and strongly tempted to write it at once, while he was in the spirit, without waiting on Chew. Fortunately, he did not do so, for when Chew's material came it was in the form of a clipping, the story having been already printed in some newspaper. Chew's knowledge of literary ethics would seem to have been slight. He thought himself entitled to something under the agreement with Twichell. Mark Twain, by this time in London, naturally had a different opinion.
To Rev. J. H. Twichell, in Hartford:
LONDON, June 9, '73. DEAR OLD JOE,--I consider myself wholly at liberty to decline to pay Chew anything, and at the same time strongly tempted to sue him into the bargain for coming so near ruining me. If he hadn't happened to send me that thing in print, I would have used the story (like an innocent fool) and would straightway have been hounded to death as a plagiarist. It would have absolutely destroyed me. I cannot conceive of a man being such a hopeless ass (after serving as a legislative reporter, too) as to imagine that I or any other literary man in his senses would consent to chew over old stuff that had already been in print. If that man wern't an infant in swaddling clothes, his only reply to our petition would have been, "It has been in print." It makes me as mad as the very Old Harry every time I think of Mr. Chew and the frightfully narrow escape I have had at his hands. Confound Mr. Chew, with all my heart! I'm willing that he should have ten dollars for his trouble o