Yankee Inspires Praise and Invective – Legal Tangles and Slippers for Elsie Leslie
House Wins Lawsuit – Livy’s Eyes are Bad – Goodman Stumps for Typesetter
Summer in Onteora – Susy Enters Bryn Mawr – Jane Clemens Dies
Jean’s Mystery Illness – Olivia Lewis Langdon Dies – Frauds & Liars!
1890 – An appendix of translations of James Hammond Trumbull’s chapter-head quotations (in Chinese, Sanscrit, Sioux Indian, etc.) for GA was added to the book to extend the copyright [Britton, MT Encyc. 752]. Note: the translations may be found in the afterword materials of the 1996 Oxford facsimile edition of GA, p.1-12.
Sometime during the year Sam wrote a long letter to the prolific Scotsman, poet and critic, Andrew Lang (1844-1912). He decried the assumption of critics for “the cultivated — class standard,” and their conclusion that literature not meeting this standard “isn’t valuable.” If the “law” was valid then it would also be valid for “all the steps which lead up to culture & make culture possible,” but it “condemns the spelling book…all school books…all rounds of art which lie between the chromo & the Transfiguration…forbids all amateur music,” etc. Sam had plenty more to say about critics, much of it illuminating:
If a critic should start a religion it would not have any object but to convert angels; & they wouldn’t need it. …
Indeed I have been misjudged, from the very first. I have never tried in even one single little instance, to help cultivate the cultivated classes. I was not equipped for it, either by native gifts or training. And I never had any ambition in that direction, but always hunted for bigger game — the masses. I have seldom deliberately tried to instruct them but have done my best to entertain them. …
Sam solicited Lang’s help in convincing critics that a rule should be adopted to evaluate other than the cultivated standard, or what he called “the Belly & the members”; and to establish a standard by which those works might be judged.
Help me, Mr. Lang; no voice can reach further than yours in a case of this kind, or carry greater weight of authority [MTP]. Note: For Lang’s response, see MTB 895-7.
Sam also received a printed notice from James B. Pond, announcing the 1890-1 season of lectures for George Kennan and Henry M. Stanley. Sam wrote on the notice and returned it to Pond:
I am hampered with a business matter, but I shall be there if it will let me, sure [MTP].
James W. Paige telegraphed Sam sometime during the year: “The papers will be ready for signatures on your arrival here foreign matters make this course necessary” [MTP].
Sam also wrote an undated note to Franklin G. Whitmore to have him write James Means (1853-1920) who sent Sam an undated letter and his 30-page pamphlet, Oppressive Tariff Taxation (1888). Means requested that Sam write something “that our Reform League can circulate throughout the country. Let it appeal to the workingmen.” Means wrote because he “read between the lines in your ‘Yankee.’” Sam wanted to preserve the letter and enclosure, to see if “at a future day” he could “write anything worth printing” [Gribben 460; MTP].
In another undated 1890 note to Whitmore, Sam wrote:
I have not seen the Biography, but I would walk several miles for a chance to read it, for Dr. McDowell was so great a man, & so picturesque, eccentric & extraordinary a personality, that nobody, howsoever gifted with dulness, could make a book about him that would not be interesting [MTP].
Note: There has been some confusion over which McDowell owned the Hannibal cave. Wecter misindentified the owner as Dr. E.D. McDowell (who performed the first removal of a large ovarian tumor in 1809) in the paragraph below:
McDowell, who ran a medical school in St. Louis and was famed as “the originator of ovariotomy.” In the mid-1840’s the eccentric surgeon had stored cannon in the cave, as well as five hundred stand of small arms “for the invasion of Mexico.” He also kept there for several years the cadaver of a little girl — said to be his own fourteen-year-old daughter — in a copper cylinder filled with alcohol, as an experiment to see whether the limestone cavern would “petrify” the body” [160-1].
Note: Actually, the cave (first called Simms Cave, later Saltpeter Cave) was purchased during the 1840’s by E.D. McDowell’s nephew, Dr. Joseph Nash McDowell (1805-1868), founder of the Missouri Medical College, who joined and later tried to discredit his famous uncle. (Interestingly, Ridenbaugh’s bio of Ephraim McDowell, M.D. was among those published by Webster& Co. in 1890). Ober quotes from Goodwin’s 1905 A History of Medicine in Missouri:
“Dr. Joseph Nash McDowell was probably one of the best known physicians who ever practiced in Missouri…Dr. McDowell was a man of many eccentricities, but possessed great ability. He was a skillful surgeon, a polished orator, a brilliant teacher” (Goodwin 37-38). [Ober 4-14].
Literary Tales No. 1 was printed by Boston Home College of Boston. From a listing in the Sept. 1998 Firsts: The Book Collector’s Magazine:
Self-wrappers. This advertising leaflet for a correspondence school includes letters solicited from famous authors on ‘how to succeed in literature.’ The advice Twain provides is not recorded elsewhere. Others who responded with advice included Wilkie Collins, J.R. Lowell, George MacDonald, Lew Wallace and Bret Harte. The date is inferred from the fact that Wilkie Collins was described as recently deceased (d. 1889) and James Russell Lowell was still alive (d.1891) .
Book Buyer, VII p.150 contained anon. “Mark Twain,” a conventional description of the man and his works; facing, there is a portrait of Twain “Engraved for the Book Buyer” [Tenney, ALR supplement to the Reference Guide (Autumn, 1979) 182].
The Nationalist, II p.116 contained anon. “Mark Twain as a Nationalist,” including a brief headnote praising Twain’s “plea for the true equality of man,” and was preceded by the reprinting of a passage from CY on true loyalty as “loyalty to one’s country, not to its institutions or its office-holders” [Tenney, ALR supplement to the Reference Guide (Autumn, 1979) 182-3].
Books published by Charles L. Webster & Co. in 1890.
Filippini, Alexander, Supplement to the Table
Ridenbaugh, Mary Young, Biography of Ephraim McDowell, M.D., “The Father of Ovariotomy”
Sanford, Elias Benjamin, Concise Cyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, etc.
Sherman, William T., Memoirs of Gen. W. T. Sherman
Stoddard, William O., Inside the White House in War Times