Business Takes Over – An Author Without a Publisher – Riches for Mrs. Grant
Susy is Fourteen, God I’m Old! – More Paige Quicksand
Steaming across the Great Lakes – Sweltering Keokuk – Wanamaker Woes
Governor’s Island Sneak-Peek – Stanley Visits, Lectures – More Books by Dead Soldiers
1886 – This year marked a low point in Sam’s literary career. Except for sporadic work on Connecticut Yankee, a few papers for the Monday Evening Club, and a trivial sketch or two, commercial activities sapped Sam’s creative energies. Here are some undated events during the year:
In Hartford Sam inscribed LM to Herbert E. Hill: I shall be very glad to read the story of the heroes of Cedar Hill…[MTP].
Also in Hartford Sam wrote a dinner invitation to Joe Twichell and sent a copy of Grant’s Memoirs.
Livy sent me to see if Harmony would lend you to us for dinner Wednesday evening. I was to explain to Harmony that this shabby invitation of only one-half of the firm is not dictated by desire, but necessity, there being a vacant male seat but no vacancy in the female line…[MTP].
Also in Hartford, Sam wrote a letter titled “Unmailed Answer” to an unidentified person who had sought his influence in obtaining a consulship. Never one to easily loosen a grudge, Sam was evidently upset about this person writing an uncomplimentary article in the Jamestown, N.Y. Journal on his lecture in that city. Sam called Bishop, the owner of that paper, a “pious half-human polecat” and a “sanctimonious buzzard.” Then he really got going to the requester:
And you want a consulship. What do you want with a consulship? What you want is a rope. I will send you one. I have never approached a public servant in my life to ask for a place for myself or for anybody else, as far back as I can remember; & do you suppose I will break my record for you? The thing for you is a burial permit. You have only to speak; I will see that you get it. Attend the funeral, too, boss it all, if desired; & bury you at the crossroads with a stake through your back. You want a consulship, you blatherskite! You make me tired [MTP].
A sixteen-page biography of Mark Twain, in pamphlet form, 1 ½ by 2 ½ inches, author unknown, was published this year. One copy went with each package of Duke’s Mixture Smoking Tobacco [The Twainian Mar. 1944 p.6].
In 1886 John East started a cave guide service in Hannibal and opened McDowell’s Cave of Sam’s boyhood to public tours. This made the cave the first “show cave” of Missouri, and it has been open to the public continuously. The tours were made with lanterns until the cave got electric light in 1939. http://www.showcaves.com/isteri/usa/showcaves/MarkTwain.html
American Literature, 1607-1885 by Charles F. Richardson was printed in two volumes. Mark Twain got a brief mention:
“The reigning favorites of the day are Frank R. Stockton, Joel Chandler Harris, the various newspaper jokers, and ‘Mark Twain’” [Tenney 16].
Records of an Active Life, by Heman Dyer (1886) describes Sam’s May 1867 visit to the New York Bible House, and Sam’s testament to Rev. Franklin Rising’s influence among Nevada miners (p.315) [Tenney, ALR supplement to the Reference Guide (Autumn, 1978) 165]. See May 1867.
Sam’s article, “Taming the Bicycle,” based on his and Twichell’s 1884 adventures with the conveyance was written “around 1886” according to Budd [Collected 1021], and published posthumously in What is Man? And Other Essays, Paine, ed., p.285-96.
Sam P. Davis, published “The Typographical Howitzer” in Short Stories. This is a hilarious sketch about Mark Twain and Dan De Quille fighting off hostile Indians with a cannon loaded with typefaces. It is reprinted in the esteemed Lawrence I. Berkove’s The Sagebrush Anthology (2006). Davis also wrote a history of Nevada.
Marshall P. Wilder’s The People I’ve Smiled With: Recollections of a Merry Little Life includes notes of Mark Twain. On p.137 Wilder says he told Twain that no good stories were mere chestnuts, “and Mark drawled out, ‘I agree with you, my boy; and if you’re not right about it, why do people go to minstrel shows? They do go, you know; nothing can keep them away; I go myself, and roar hardest at the jokes I was brought up on as a boy.’” On p. 190 mentions in passing a conversation between Twain and the actor James Lewis, and on p. 194-9 publishes text of Twain’s speech at Daly’s Theatre, at the 100th night dinner of The Taming of the Shrew [Tenney, ALR supplement to the Reference Guide (Autumn, 1981) 162].