Sam left New York and arrived in Cleveland, Ohio early to work on his first lecture with Mary Fairbanks. A great deal was riding on Sam’s success as a lecturer in the East—Jervis Langdon’s approval, for one. Sam had Pittsburgh and Elmira lined up for the lecture he called, “The American Vandal Abroad,” and wanted to have the kinks out before revisiting Livy’s hometown. DBD
Mark Twain to be Married.—We have received a letter from that wise and holy pilgrim, “Mark Twain,” dated Titusville, Pennsylvania, February 17, in which he says: “I have pretty thoroughly lectured New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa and Michigan, and am now doing this Pennsylvania oil region. Half a dozen more lectures, I hope, will finish this long, wearisome winter’s siege—a dozen anyhow—and then I shall have a holiday. Whoop! you old fool!” He then goes on to say that he could get appointments at $100 per night for four or five months next season in case he should feel inclined to accept, but that he don’t know whether or not he will again enter the field, as he is going to get married and so will want to settle down. We are not at liberty to give names, but may be allowed to say that the young lady who has captivated the gushing Mark resides in the town of Elmira, New York, is an only daughter, rich, handsome, and in every respect a suitable companion for an orphan like Mark. If Mark takes his father-in-law’s advice he will probably give up lecturing and go to work in one of the old man’s coal mines—in short, become a coal-heaver. In concluding his letter Mark says: “I shall lecture in San Francisco in April or May. Come down, boys. I can’t go to Virginia, having killed myself there twice already in the lecture business.” We should think he might stand a little more of the same kind of “killing,” and even tackle once more the terrible footpads of the Divide, though those now infesting that vicinity are of the genuine order—not make-believes, like those who “went through” him on the occasion of his first appearance in this city as a lecturer.
Against an uncertain future, Sam needed to bank as much money as possible. He launched a four-month, eight-state, forty-three-city tour on November 17 showcasing the third version of his Quaker City lecture, “The American Vandal Abroad.” He gleaned his text from the manuscript of The Innocents Abroad and, to forestall any criticism, he omitted all derisive comments about the pilgrims and, after promising his sister Pamela that “there would be no scoffing at sacred things in my books or lectures,” he deleted virtually all references to the Holy Land. He booked some of the dates on his own, while he depended upon the Associated Western Literary Societies in Dubuque, Iowa, and the American Literary Bureau in New York to schedule most of the engagements. He charged a standard hundred-dollar speaking fee per date and paid his own expenses. As a result, his lectures were not particularly remunerative. While he bragged publicly about his ‘salary of twenty-six hundred dollars a month,” he confessed to his sister that “I spend about half as much money as I make.” He likely cleared less than three thousand dollars during the season.!? Not yet a headliner like Henry Ward Beecher, Anna Dickinson, or Wendell Phillips, who routinely were paid upwards of four hundred dollars per appearance, Sam was mostly booked to speak in the Midwest and the East in small and midsize cities rather than in the metropolises of Albany, Boston, Buffalo, Hartford, New York, and Philadelphia.
He opened his season at Case Hall in Cleveland, with Solon and Emily Severance in the audience, where he predictably enough received a boost from Mary Fairbanks’s favorable notice in the Cleveland Herald. She applauded Sams “quaint utterances,” his recitation of “funny incidents,” and the gems of beautiful descriptions which sparkled all through his lecture. We expected to be amused, but we were taken by surprise when he carried us on the wings of his redundant fancy, away to the ruins, the cathedrals, and the monuments of the old world. There are some passages of gorgeous word painting which haunt us like a remembered picture. We congratulate Mr, Twain upon having taken the tide of public favor “at the flood” in the lecture field, and having conclusively proved that a man may be a humorist without being a clown.