Submitted by scott on Wed, 10/13/2021 - 00:20
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October 11 - December 10 - Lecture Tour in California and Nevada. "Sandwich Islands" 17 engagements. Partially managed by Denis McCarthy.

I launched out as a lecturer, now, with great boldness. I had the field all to myself, for public lectures were almost an unknown commodity in the Pacific market. They are not so rare, now, I suppose. I took an old personal friend along to play agent for me, and for two or three weeks we roamed through Nevada and California and had a very cheerful time of it. 

It would appear from the accounts of Mark Twain's biographers and from Mark Twain's own account in Roughing It and elsewhere that the San Francisco lecture of October 2, 1866, was planned as an isolated event, and the the interval between the decision to lecture and the lecture itself was a matter of only a few days.  It would also appear from these accounts that the lecture was planned without reference to any tour following it, and that it was only after the impressive success of that lecture the Mark Twain  decided  to go on tour.  By thus focusing the spotlight upon his first appearance as a public lecturer, a truly momentous turning point in his career, the importance of the event can be dramatically highlighted.  The probability is, however, that the decision to lecture in various California and Nevada towns was made in advance of October 2, and that by this date at least some of the arrangements had already been made or were in progress.  (Lorch, p 35)

Page 346- 9:   The Life of Mark Twain: The Early Years, 1835-1871

When Sam returned from Honolulu, George Barnes remembered, “he was no better off than when he left, except in prestige, and quite in the dark as to his future course.” Or as Sam recalled in Roughing It, “I was home again in San Francisco, without means and without employment.” He accepted occasional reporting assignments for the Sacramento Union, such as covering the California State Fair and reviewing a production of Giuseppe Verdi’s opera Il Trovatore at Maguire's Opera House in San Francisco....

“I tortured my brain for a saving scheme of some kind, and at last a public lecture occurred to me! I sat down and wrote one, in a fever of hopeful anticipation.” As he reflected in 1896, “It seemed an easier way of making a living than by journalism; it paid better, and there was less work connected with it.” By the close of the Civil War, in fact, lecturing was an increasingly popular vocation. Virtually every city and town in the country had a local organization, usually a lyceum or literary society, that sponsored a series of six to eight lectures during late fall and winter, As Ralph Waldo Emerson once noted, “a lecture is a new literature, which leaves aside all tradition, time, place, circumstance, & addresses an assembly as mere human beings, no more.” The lyceum circuit during the postwar years gradually (d)evolved from an educational or didactic medium into a form of performance or entertainment. ...

But he was motivated by his empty pockets. “A sensible man lectures only when butter & bread are scarce,” he admitted. He always excoriated those “devils incarnate” who, in the guise of newspaper critics, picked the pockets of public speakers by printing “infernal synopses” of their lectures, thus discouraging people from paying to hear them. But in San Francisco in the fall of 1866, when he launched out as a lecturer with “great boldness,” he was not yet calloused to the risks: “I had the field all to myself, for public lectures were almost an unknown commodity in the Pacific market.” ...

...his friend John McComb of the Alta California encouraged him to push ahead and rent the largest theater in town and “charge a dollar a ticket.” Sam later recalled, “The audacity of the proposition was charming; it seemed fraught with practical worldly wisdom.” Tom Maguire offered his Academy of Music on Pine Street, with a seating capacity of several hundred, for $50 and half the profits of one night and Sam in “sheer desperation” agreed. He soon spent $150 on promoting his appearance “and was the most distressed and frightened creature on the Pacific coast” lest he waste his investment.

From October 2 to November 12th,  Sam and Denis McCarthy toured the mining towns of California and Nevada then returned to San Francisco.  Sam gave several lectures in the Bay area then on December 15th departed for New York City, arriving there January 12th 1867.  It was during this period that Sam became aware of the Quaker City Excursion and convinced the Alta California newspaper to finance his trip.  Meanwhile he decided to visit St. Louis and departed New York March 3rd.  Sam was back in New York April 16th,  gave three lectures in the area and prepared for his voyage to Europe and The  Holy Land.

I was home again, in San Francisco, without means and without employment. I tortured my brain for a saving scheme of some kind, and at last a public lecture occurred to me! I sat down and wrote one, in a fever of hopeful anticipation. I showed it to several friends, but they all shook their heads. They said nobody would come to hear me, and I would make a humiliating failure of it.

They said that as I had never spoken in public, I would break down in the delivery, anyhow. I was disconsolate now. But at last an editor slapped me on the back and told me to “go ahead.” He said, “Take the largest house in town, and charge a dollar a ticket.” The audacity of the proposition was charming; it seemed fraught with practical worldly wisdom, however. The proprietor of the several theatres endorsed the advice, and said I might have his handsome new opera-house at half price—fifty dollars. In sheer desperation I took it—on credit, for sufficient reasons.

... in Meadow Lake (Nevada County) on 26 October and remained overnight, traveling south early the next morning to Cisco (formerly Heaton Station, Placer County). From there they took the Pioneer stage to Virginia City, arriving that same evening.   Mark Twain Project

November 16 - Platt's Hall, San Francisco, California

November 21 - Armory Hall, San Jose, California (location source is from San Francisco Bulletin, November 20, 1866, p. 5.)

November 26 - Petaluma, California

November 27 - College Hall, Twelfth Street, Oakland, California (location source is from San Francisco Bulletin, November 26, 1866, p. 5.)

When I returned to San Francisco I projected a pleasure journey to Japan and thence westward around the world; but a desire to see home again changed my mind, and I took a berth in the steamship, bade good-bye to the friendliest land and livest, heartiest community on our continent, and came by the way of the Isthmus to New York—a trip that was not much of a pic-nic excursion, for the cholera broke out among us on the passage and we buried two or three bodies at sea every day.

March 25 - April 9 - Midwest Lecture Tour: 5 engagements - "Sandwich Island

From San Francisco Alta California, May 26, 1867


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