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Add to My Citations To Orion Clemens
1 August 1870 • Elmira, N.Y.
(MS: CU-MARK, UCCL 00493)
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Elmira, Aug. 1.

My Dr Bro.—

Pamela has at last sent your various letters to me. You must have known that would be the final result, for you knew she could not spare the $200 from her living.

I have tried for 24 hours to write, but I am too infernally angry & out of patience to write civilly.

You can draw on me for two or three hundred dollars, but only on one condition, viz: that you consider yourself under oath to either sell or at some price or other, or give away, one full half of the Tennessee land within 4 months from date—but it must be honestly parted with, & forever.

The family [ has have ] been bled for 40 years to keep that cursed land on their hands & perpetuate our father’s well intended folly in buying it. I washed my hands of it 5 years ago, & I never will have anything more to do with its care or its sale.1 I have always contended that the family were too poor to keep a luxury like that worthless land, but I never expected to convince them of it. If any stupid fool will give 2,000 for it, do let him have it—shift the curse to his shoulders.

I want you to consider yourself under oath to offer Mellon2 as follows:

25 per cent. if he sells

half or all the land in 60 days.

20 per cent. if in 90em space ″

15  ″em space ″em space″  ″ 120em space

10  ″em space ″

And Mr. Mellon to be hampered by no set price, but get what he can., & to sell the land out-&-out, without mineral reservations.

On these terms a man can be hired to sell the land, & on no other.

My idea is to to that all the land be sold (& that you bind yourself so,) within 4 months if possible—every effort to be made to do it—& in any case one-half of it to be sold or given away in that time.

Mr Swope is acting just as he ought [to. I ] see no reason to find fault with him.3

If, in order to sell this land in four months, it be absolutely necessary, you can increase the draft upon me (at sight) [ f ] to $500.

I prefer that you telegraph the amount of money you want, so that you need not write me never mention that land again to me by [letter. I] will never read another letter, from anybody, that mentions it. You cannot form even a faint idea of how I malignantly I hate that vile subject.

Now if you draw any portion of this money from me, it is with the understanding that you are under oath to the whole programme laid down in this letter, in all its details. Otherwise the trade is “off.” If you are not prepared to subscribe to these requirements, I would much rather put the money in the fire than in Tenn. land. I particularly call your attention to the programme of commissions (& the fact that no mineral reservations are to be [ insisted ] made.) to be paid to Mellon (or other agent, tho’ I think Mellon ought to have [it),. ] No man can afford to sell this [wildcat ] at lower commissions. [in bottom margin: ([over].)]

I am sorry, if these conditions seem hard, for this is the last time I will ever have anything to do with the care, protection, or sale of [ the that ] doubly & trebly hated & accursed land.

Yrs affly


Explanatory Notes | Textual Commentary

Add to My Citations

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1 Clemens had been helping his family pay the taxes on their Tennessee property, despite washing his hands of it in 1866 and renouncing his share of it in 1869 (L1, 326, 341, 343; L3, 272, 387, 425).

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2 See 21 Apr 70 to OC, n. 3.

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3 Possibly Isaac, Joel, or Meyer Swope, St. Louis boot and shoe dealers until 1869, when Isaac left the firm for the paper collar manufacturing business (Edwards: 1868, 707; 1869, 755; 1870, 852; 1871, 640). What action Swope took remains undetermined.

glyphglyphCopy-text:glyphMS, Mark Twain Papers, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley (CU-MARK).

glyphglyphPrevious publication:glyph L4, 177–178.

glyphglyphProvenance:glyphsee Moffett Collection in Description of Provenance.

glyphglyphEmendations and textual notes:glyph

has have • hasve

to. I • to.—|I

f[partly formed]

letter. I • letter.—|I

insisted[‘d’ partly formed]

it),[deletion implied]

wildcat • wild-|cat

over[small capitals simulated, not underscored]

the that • theat