IN WASHINGTON—A PUBLISHING PROPOSITION
Clemens remained but one day in New York. Senator Stewart had written, about the time of the departure of the Quaker City, offering him the position of private secretary—a position which was to give him leisure for literary work, with a supporting salary as well. Stewart no doubt thought it would be considerably to his advantage to have the brilliant writer and lecturer attached to his political establishment, and Clemens likewise saw possibilities in the arrangement. From Naples, in August, he had written accepting Stewart’s offer; he lost no time now in discussing the matter in person.—[In a letter home, August 9th, he referred to the arrangement: “I wrote to Bill Stewart to-day accepting his private secretaryship in Washington, next winter.”]
There seems to have been little difficulty in concluding the arrangement. When Clemens had been in Washington a week we find him writing:
Dear folks, Tired and sleepy—been in Congress all day and making newspaper acquaintances. Stewart is to look up a clerkship in the Patent Office for Orion. Things necessarily move slowly where there is so much business and such armies of office-seekers to be attended to. I guess it will be all right. I intend it shall be all right.
I have 18 invitations to lecture,
at $100 each, in various parts
of the Union—have declined them all. I am for business now.
Belong on the Tribune Staff, and
shall write occasionally. Am
offered the same berth to-day on the Herald by letter. Shall write
Mr. Bennett and accept, as soon as I hear from Tribune that it will
not interfere. Am pretty well known now—intend to be better known.
Am hobnobbing with these old Generals and Senators and other humbugs
for no good purpose. Don’t have any more trouble making friends
than I did in California. All serene. Good-by. Shall continue on
P.S.—I room with Bill Stewart and board at Willard’s Hotel.
But the secretary arrangement was a brief matter. It is impossible to conceive of Mark Twain as anybody’s secretary, especially as the secretary of Senator Stewart.
—[In Senator Stewart’s memoirs he refers unpleasantly to Mark Twain, and after relating several incidents that bear only strained relations to the truth, states that when the writer returned from the Holy Land he (Stewart) offered him a secretaryship as a sort of charity. He adds that Mark Twain’s behavior on his premises was such that a threat of a thrashing was necessary. The reason for such statements becomes apparent, however, when he adds that in ‘Roughing It’ the author accuses him of cheating, prints a picture of him with a hatch over his eye, and claims to have given him a sound thrashing, none of which statements, save only the one concerning the picture (an apparently unforgivable offense to his dignity), is true, as the reader may easily ascertain for himself.]