For one thing, Clemens, supersensitive in the matter of putting himself forward in his own town, often objected to any special exploitation of his name. This always distressed the committee, who saw a large profit to their venture in the prestige of his fame. The following characteristic letter was written in self-defense when, on one such occasion, a committee had become sufficiently peevish to abandon a worthy enterprise.
To an Entertainment Committee, in Hartford:
Nov. 9. E. S. SYKES, Esq:
Dr. SIR,--Mr. Burton's note puts upon me all the blame of the destruction of an enterprise which had for its object the succor of the Hartford poor. That is to say, this enterprise has been dropped because of the "dissatisfaction with Mr. Clemens's stipulations." Therefore I must be allowed to say a word in my defense.
There were two "stipulations"--exactly two. I made one of them; if the other was made at all, it was a joint one, from the choir and me.
My individual stipulation was, that my name should be kept out of the newspapers. The joint one was that sufficient tickets to insure a good sum should be sold before the date of the performance should be set. (Understand, we wanted a good sum--I do not think any of us bothered about a good house; it was money we were after)
Now you perceive that my concern is simply with my individual stipulation. Did that break up the enterprise?
Eugene Burton said he would sell $300 worth of the tickets himself.--Mr. Smith said he would sell $200 or $300 worth himself. My plan for Asylum Hill Church would have ensured $150 from that quarter.--All this in the face of my "Stipulation." It was proposed to raise $1000; did my stipulation render the raising of $400 or $500 in a dozen churches impossible?
My stipulation is easily defensible. When a mere reader or lecturer has appeared 3 or 4 times in a town of Hartford's size, he is a good deal more than likely to get a very unpleasant snub if he shoves himself forward about once or twice more. Therefore I long ago made up my mind that whenever I again appeared here, it should be only in a minor capacity and not as a chief attraction.
Now, I placed that harmless and very justifiable stipulation before the committee the other day; they carried it to headquarters and it was accepted there. I am not informed that any objection was made to it, or that it was regarded as an offense. It seems late in the day, now, after a good deal of trouble has been taken and a good deal of thankless work done by the committees, to, suddenly tear up the contract and then turn and bowl me down from long range as being the destroyer of it.
If the enterprise has failed because of my individual stipulation, here you have my proper and reasonable reasons for making that stipulation.
If it has failed because of the joint stipulation, put the blame there, and let us share it collectively.
I think our plan was a good one. I do not doubt that Mr. Burton still approves of it, too. I believe the objections come from other quarters, and not from him. Mr. Twichell used the following words in last Sunday's sermon, (if I remember correctly):
"My hearers, the prophet Deuteronomy says this wise thing: 'Though ye plan a goodly house for the poor, and plan it with wisdom, and do take off your coats and set to to build it, with high courage, yet shall the croaker presently come, and lift up his voice, (having his coat on,) and say, Verily this plan is not well planned--and he will go his way; and the obstructionist will come, and lift up his voice, (having his coat on,) and say, Behold, this is but a sick plan--and he will go his way; and the man that knows it all will come, and lift up his voice, (having his coat on,) and say, Lo, call they this a plan? then will he go his way; and the places which knew him once shall know him no more forever, because he was not, for God took him. Now therefore I say unto you, Verily that house will not be budded.