I had to come right out in the papers at once, with my details, so as to try to raise the government's sympathy sufficiently to have better succor sent them than the cutter Colfax, which went a little way in search of them the other day and then struck a fog and gave it up.
If the President were in Washington I would telegraph him.
When I hear that the "Jonas Smith" has been found again, I mean to send for one of those darkies, to come to Hartford and give me his adventures for an Atlantic article.
Likely you will see my today's article in the newspapers. Yrs ever, MARK.
The revenue cutter Colfax went after the Jonas Smith, thinking there was mutiny or other crime on board. It occurs to me now that, since there is only mere suffering and misery and nobody to punish, it ceases to be a matter which (a republican form of) government will feel authorized to interfere in further. Dam a republican form of government.
Clemens thought he had given up lecturing for good; he was prosperous and he had no love for the platform. But one day an idea popped into his head: Thomas Nast, the "father of the American cartoon," had delivered a successful series of illustrated lectures- talks for which he made the drawings as he went along. Mark Twain's idea was to make a combination with Nast. His letter gives us the plan in full.
To Thomas Nast, Morristown, N. J.:
HARTFORD, CONN. 1877. MY DEAR NAST,--I did not think I should ever stand on a platform again until the time was come for me to say "I die innocent." But the same old offers keep arriving. I have declined them all, just as usual, though sorely tempted, as usual.
Now, I do not decline because I mind talking to an audience, but because (1) traveling alone is so heartbreakingly dreary, and (2) shouldering the whole show is such a cheer-killing responsibility.
Therefore, I now propose to you what you proposed to me in 1867, ten years ago (when I was unknown) viz., that you stand on the platform and make pictures, and I stand by you and blackguard the audience. I should enormously enjoy meandering around (to big towns--don't want to go to the little ones) with you for company.
My idea is not to fatten the lecture agents and lyceums on the spoils, but put all the ducats religiously into two equal piles, and say to the artist and lecturer, "Absorb these."
For instance--[Here follows a plan and a possible list of cities to be visited. The letter continues]
Call the gross receipts $100,000 for four months and a half, and the profit from $60,000 to $75,000 (I try to make the figures large enough, and leave it to the public to reduce them.)
I did not put in Philadelphia because Pugh owns that town, and last winter when I made a little reading-trip he only paid me $300 and pretended his concert (I read fifteen minutes in the midst of a concert) cost him a vast sum, and so he couldn't afford any more. I could get up a better concert with a barrel of cats.
I have imagined two or three pictures and concocted the accompanying remarks to see how the thing would go. I was charmed.
Well, you think it over, Nast, and drop me a line. We should have some fun. Yours truly, SAMUEL L. CLEMENS.
The plan came to nothing. Nast, like Clemens, had no special taste for platforming, and while undoubtedly there would have been large profits in the combination, the promise of the venture did not compel his acceptance.
In spite of his distaste for the platform Mark Twain was always giving readings and lectures, without charge, for some worthy Hartford cause. He was ready to do what he could to help an entertainment along, if he could do it in his own way--an original way, sometimes, and not always gratifying to the committee, whose plans were likely to be prearranged.