I worked a month at my play, and launched it in New York last Wednesday. I believe it will go. The newspapers have been complimentary. It is simply a setting for the one character, Col. Sellers--as a play I guess it will not bear a critical assault in force.

The Warners are as charming as ever. They go shortly to the devil for a year--(which is but a poetical way of saying they are going to afflict themselves with the unsurpassable--(bad word) of travel for a spell.) I believe they mean to go and see you, first-so they mean to start from heaven to the other place; not from earth. How is that?

I think that is no slouch of a compliment--kind of a dim religious light about it. I enjoy that sort of thing. Yrs ever MARK.

Raymond, in a letter to the Sun, stated that not "one line" of the California dramatization had been used by Mark Twain, "except that which was taken bodily from The Gilded Age." Clemens himself, in a statement that he wrote for the Hartford Post, but suppressed, probably at the request of his wife, gave a full history of the play's origin, a matter of slight interest to-day.

Sellers on the stage proved a great success. The play had no special merit as a literary composition, but the character of Sellers delighted the public, and both author and actor were richly repaid for their entertainment.



"Couldn't you send me some such story as that colored one for our January number--that is, within a month?" wrote Howells, at the end of September, and during the week following Mark Twain struggled hard to comply, but without result. When the month was nearly up he wrote:

To W. D. Howells, in Boston:

HARTFORD, Oct. 23, 1874. MY DEAR HOWELLS,--I have delayed thus long, hoping I might do something for the January number and Mrs. Clemens has diligently persecuted me day by day with urgings to go to work and do that something, but it's no use --I find I can't. We are in such a state of weary and endless confusion that my head won't go. So I give it up..... Yrs ever, MARK.

But two hours later, when he had returned from one of the long walks which he and Twichell so frequently took together, he told a different story.

Later, P.M. HOME, 24th '74.

MY DEAR HOWELLS,--I take back the remark that I can't write for the Jan. number. For Twichell and I have had a long walk in the woods and I got to telling him about old Mississippi days of steam-boating glory and grandeur as I saw them (during 5 years) from the pilothouse. He said "What a virgin subject to hurl into a magazine!" I hadn't thought of that before. Would you like a series of papers to run through 3 months or 6 or 9?--or about 4 months, say? Yrs ever, MARK.

Howells himself had come from a family of pilots, and rejoiced in the idea. A few days later Mark Twain forwarded the first instalment of the new series--those wonderful chapters that begin, now, with chapter four in the Mississippi book. Apparently he was not without doubt concerning the manuscript, and accompanied it with a brief line.

To W. D. Howells, in Boston:

DEAR HOWELLS,--Cut it, scarify it, reject it handle it with entire freedom. Yrs ever, MARK.

But Howells had no doubts as to the quality of the new find. He declared that the "piece" about the Mississippi was capital, that it almost made the water in their ice-pitcher turn muddy as he read it. "The sketch of the low-lived little town was so good that I could have wished that there was more of it.

Mark Twain
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