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August 21 Saturday – Sam’s first signed sketch, “A Day at Niagara,” appeared in the Buffalo Express. Also an introductory piece he titled, “Salutatory”:

I shall always confine myself to the truth, except when it is attended with inconvenience.

I shall not write any poetry, unless I conceive a spite against the subscribers.

I shall not often meddle with politics, because we have a political editor who is already excellent, and only needs to serve a term in the penitentiary to be perfect [McCullough 5].

From the Buffalo Express “People and Things Columns” by Mark Twain:

·       What goes on with the worn-out bank notes, if there be such things, and what becomes of the dead mules, if any?

·       The Fat Men’s annual clam-bake came off at Gregory’s Point, Conn., yesterday. Nobody was allowed to participate who could not turn the scale of 200 pounds. Scant-weights were given a year to make up their deficiency.

·       Two travelers, stopping at a Des Moines hotel, came near losing their lives last week, by blowing out the gas on retiring to bed. One of them, when asked if he smelt anything wrong, said yes, but he thought it was the other fellow’s breath.

·       During the stay of Bailey’s Circus in Aurora, Ill., last week, Squire Van Nortwick united in bonds matrimonial one of the Albino boys, Amos Rockman, weight about one hundred and twenty pounds, and the “fat girl,” Julia Hutleston, whose weight is four hundred and ninety-five pounds. This is well. What the country has long needed is a monster pleasantly combining albino hideousness and imbecility with fatty vastness and skeleton deformity. We shall await the advent of the fruit of this marriage with frenzied impatience [Reigstad 237-40].

As a journalist, Sam had arrived—and with a financial interest; he was having a great time of it. Sam responded to a letter sent by Henry Abbey (1842-1911) of Kingston, New York, who he probably met on his lecture tour in 1868. Sam was unable to lecture; “business will compel me to stick to my post.” Sam named a wedding date of Jan. 10, which was later changed [MTL 3: 314-5].

Another letter apologizing for being unable to lecture went to Henry M. Crane of Rondout, New York.

Sam also wrote James Redpath, letter not extant but described in the letter to Livy below.

At 9 PM Sam wrote Livy.

Darling, it is 9 o’clock, now, & you are aware that there are no kisses for us to-night. I feel more than half sorry I did not go to you, for I have not succeeded in doing the mass of work I had laid out for myself, for sitting up so late last night has kept me stupefied all day. It is the last time I shall be out of bed at midnight. And this night I mean to catch up. I shall be in bed, Puss, before your dainty little figure is tucked between your sheets, this evening. Bless your precious heart, I wish I could see you. I am afraid this is going to be a pretty long week, without a glimpse of my darling. But then (D. V.,) I shall put my arms about you next Friday evening & stay till Monday morning. You see I ought to be at my post by 8 o’clock every morning, & fresh—so I would have to return on Saturday night—& that was partly why I put off my visit this week. But Larned says don’t bother about that—he will do the work of both of us from 3 P.M. Friday till Monday noon whenever I want to go to Elmira—which is equivalent to getting out two editions of the paper alone. He is not a very bad fellow.

      McWilliams & I went down to the Lake after supper & had a row. I needed the exercise.

      His wife sorts out my soiled linen, takes a list of it, delivers it to the washerwoman in my absence, returns it again & attends to the settlement of the bill—& Mac tells me she will cheerfully do me do any mending I may need. She is a very excellent young lady, & I like her very much. Thanks to my darling’s busy fingers, however, I haven’t any mending to do, at present.

      Among the books sent us to review was one called “Wedlock,” which I siezed & read, intending to mark it & take it to you, but it was nothing but a mass of threadbare old platitudes & maudlin advice shoveled together without rhyme or reason, & so I threw it away & told Larned to embody that opinion in his notice (he was reviewing the books.)

      I wrote Redpath to-day, asking him to let me off entirely from lecturing in New England this season, for if I would rather scribble, now, while I take a genuine interest in it, & it I am so tired of wandering, & want to be still & rest.

      That thief that wrote about the dead canary & sends me so much execrable music has found me out & is writing publishing extravagant puffs of me & mailing the papers to me, duly marked, as usual. I shall offer a bounty for his scalp, yet. He is one of the most persistent & exasperating acquaintances I was ever afflicted with.

      Larned & I sit upon opposite sides of the same table & it is exceedingly convenient—for if you will remember, you sometimes write till you reach the middle of a subject & then run hard aground—you know what you want to say, but for the life of you you can’t say—your ideas & your words get thick & sluggish & you are vanquished. So occasionally, after biting our nails & scratching our heads awhile, we just reach over & swap manuscript—& then we scribble away without the least trouble, he finishing my article & I his. Some of our patch-work editorials are of this kind are all the better for the new life they get by crossing the breed.

      Little dearie, little darling, in a few minutes, after I shall have read a Testament lesson & prayed for us both, as usual, I shall be in bed. And I shall dream, both before & after I go to sleep, of the little flower that has sprung up in the desert beside me & shed its fragrance over my life & made its ways attractive with its beauty and turned its weariness to contentment with its sweet spirit. And I shall bless you, my darling, out of the fulness of a heart that knows your worth beyond the ken of any, even those that have been with you always; & out of the depths of a gratitude that owes to you the knowledge of what light is, where darkness was, & peace where turbulence reigned, & the beauty & majesty of love where a loveless soul sat in its rags before & held out its unheeded hand for charity. Better than all others I understand you & appreciate you, for this it is the prerogative of love to attain to alone, & therefore better than all others I can love you, & do love you, & shall love you, always, my Livy.

      Good night darling—& peaceful slumbers refresh you & ministering angels attend you. / Sam [MTL 3: 316-20]. NoteJohn James McWilliams (1842–1912); see earlier note on for Buffalo period. The “execrable music” was “The Dead Canary” by George W. Elliott.

Day By Day Acknowledgment

Mark Twain Day By Day was originally a print reference, meticulously created by David Fears, who has generously made this work available, via the Center for Mark Twain Studies, as a digital edition.