Mark Twain, a Biography — Volume II, Part 2: 1886-1900 eBook

Albert Bigelow Paine
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 310 pages of information about Mark Twain, a Biography — Volume II, Part 2.
they would have nothing to do with the machine.  Whitney and Cameron, he said, were large stockholders in the Mergenthaler.  Jones put it more kindly and more politely than that, and closed by saying that there could be no doubt as to the machine’s future an ambiguous statement.  A letter from young Hall came about the same time, urging a heavy increase of capital in the business.  The Library of American Literature, its leading feature, was handled on the instalment plan.  The collections from this source were deferred driblets, while the bills for manufacture and promotion must be paid down in cash.  Clemens realized that for the present at least the dream was ended.  The family securities were exhausted.  The book trade was dull; his book royalties were insufficient even to the demands of the household.  He signed further notes to keep business going, left the matter of the machine in abeyance, and turned once more to the trade of authorship.  He had spent in the neighborhood of one hundred and ninety thousand dollars on the typesetter—­money that would better have been thrown into the Connecticut River, for then the agony had been more quickly over.  As it was, it had shadowed many precious years.


The claimant”—­Leaving Hartford

For the first time in twenty years Mark Twain was altogether dependent on literature.  He did not feel mentally unequal to the new problem; in fact, with his added store of experience, he may have felt himself more fully equipped for authorship than ever before.  It had been his habit to write within his knowledge and observation.  To a correspondent of this time he reviewed his stock in trade—­

. . .  I confine myself to life with which I am familiar when pretending to portray life.  But I confined myself to the boy-life out on the Mississippi because that had a peculiar charm for me, and not because I was not familiar with other phases of life.  I was a soldier two weeks once in the beginning of the war, and was hunted like a rat the whole time.  Familiar?  My splendid Kipling himself hasn’t a more burnt-in, hard-baked, and unforgetable familiarity with that death-on-the-pale-horse-with-hell-following-after, which is a raw soldier’s first fortnight in the field—­and which, without any doubt, is the most tremendous fortnight and the vividest he is ever going to see.
Yes, and I have shoveled silver tailings in a quartz-mill a couple of weeks, and acquired the last possibilities of culture in that direction.  And I’ve done “pocket-mining” during three months in the one little patch of ground in the whole globe where Nature conceals gold in pockets—­or did before we robbed all of those pockets and exhausted, obliterated, annihilated the most curious freak Nature ever indulged in.  There are not thirty men left alive who, being told there was a pocket hidden on the broad slope of a mountain,
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Mark Twain, a Biography — Volume II, Part 2: 1886-1900 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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