My idea is to afford a realizing sense of the exceeding severity of the laws of that day by inflicting some of their penalties upon the king himself, and allowing him a chance to see the rest of them applied to others; all of which is to account for certain mildnesses which distinguished Edward VI.’s reign from those that precede it and follow it.
Imagine this fact: I have even fascinated Mrs. Clemens with this yarn for youth. My stuff generally gets considerable damning with faint praise out of her, but this time it is all the other way. She is become the horse-leech’s daughter, and my mill doesn’t grind fast enough to suit her. This is no mean triumph, my dear sir.
He forgot, perhaps, to mention his smaller auditors, but we may believe they were no less eager in their demands for the tale’s continuance.
“A tramp abroad”
‘A Tramp Abroad’ came from the presses on the 13th of March, 1880. It had been widely heralded, and there was an advance sale of twenty-five thousand copies. It was of the same general size and outward character as the Innocents, numerously illustrated, and was regarded by its publishers as a satisfactory book.
It bore no very striking resemblance to the Innocents on close examination. Its pictures-drawn, for the most part, by a young art student named Brown, whom Clemens had met in Paris—were extraordinarily bad, while the crude engraving process by which they had been reproduced; tended to bring them still further into disrepute. A few drawings by True Williams were better, and those drawn by Clemens himself had a value of their own. The book would have profited had there been more of what the author calls his “works of art.”
Mark Twain himself had dubious anticipations as to the book’s reception.
But Howells wrote:
Well, you are a blessing.
You ought to believe in God’s goodness,
since he has bestowed upon the world such a delightful genius as
yours to lighten its troubles.
Your praises have been the greatest uplift I ever had. When a body is not even remotely expecting such things, how the surprise takes the breath away! We had been interpreting your stillness to melancholy and depression, caused by that book. This is honest. Why, everything looks brighter now. A check for untold cash could not have made our hearts sing as your letter has done.
A letter from Tauchnitz, proposing to issue an illustrated edition in Germany, besides putting it into his regular series, was an added satisfaction. To be in a Tauchnitz series was of itself a recognition of the book’s merit.
To Twichell, Clemens presented a special copy of the Tramp with a personal inscription, which must not be omitted here: