1891 – At the beginning of the year Sam’s capital investment in Webster & Co. was $78,087.35. Even though he wished to collect royalties ($9,071.17) and interest ($377.05) and his 2/3 profits for the prior year ($11,162.19), these were left in the company to continue operation [MTNJ 3: 624n190].
Sometime during the year, Sam wrote a letter of instruction to Will Whitmore, one of Franklin’s sons who was an apprentice on the Paige typesetter (Fred the other son). Sam wanted double-hyphens for a dash; chastised him for sometimes ignoring his italics, and instructed him in that timeless error which eternally dulls the minds of composition teachers:
IT’s is IT IS abbreviated. Whenever it is not that, it wants no apostrophe. [MTP].
An undated, unfinished MS of 32 pages, “Letters from a Dog to Another Dog Explaining & Accounting for Man,” was written early in 1891:
“All things considered,” the canine author muses, “a Man is as good as a Dog….Give the Man freedom of conscience, freedom of speech, freedom of action, & he is a Dog; take them from a Dog & he is a Man” [MTNJ 3: 600n94].
Mark Twain found himself used as an example in a high school textbook, probably for the first time, when Julian Hawthorne and Leonard Lemon published American Literature: An Elementary Text-Book for Use in High Schools and Academies. “He has keen eyes and describes both scene and character vividly. ‘Whether in jest or in earnest, is always and instinctively an artist; it is a necessity of his nature to perfect his work.’” [Tenney 19].
Landon D. Melville’s Eli Perkins: Thirty Years of Wit and Reminiscences of Witty, Wise and Eloquent Men was published. The book quoted Sam as liking HF best of all his books “because it has the truest dialect” (p.760); Landon proclaims Mark Twain as “both a humorist and a wit” (p.81) [Tenney 19].
Henry A. Beers’ Initial Studies in American Letters was published. The book’s material on Mark Twain was essentially the same as the 1887 edition; Beers still grouped Twain with Artemus Ward and other popular humorists of the age (p.188-9), though conceding that “his humor has a more satirical side than Ward’s, sometimes passing into downright denunciation. He delights particularly in ridiculing sentimental humbug and moralizing cant” [Tenney 19].
On Sept. 15, 1893 Sam would write daughter Clara,
The best new acquaintance I’ve ever seen has helped us over Monday’s bridge. I got acquainted with him on a yacht two years ago [MTP].
Note: Sam’s reference was to H.H. Rogers, which raises an interesting point — when and where in 1891 did the men first meet on a yacht? There are two possibilities, as Sam was in Hartford or Europe for most of the year, making only two trips to Washington, D.C. where such a meeting might have taken place: Jan. 13 to 15, or, Jan. 25 to 28, 1891. That is, if Sam’s sometimes faulty memory was correct in 1893 that it was in fact two years before.
John C. Pelton of San Francisco wrote sometime in 1891 or 1892 asking for Sam’s autographs and a “few lines” in what he himself called “a begging letter” [MTP]. See Oct. 25, 1892 for a letter from Mrs. P.
Also during 1891, the American Academy of Political and Social Science sent Sam their circular report for 1890. A card must have also been enclosed, for Sam wrote on the envelope, “Card filled out, within” [MTP].
George Henderson, secretary for the American Society for the Extension of University Teaching send notice that Sam had been elected a member [MTP].