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Add to My Citations To Orion Clemens
5 November 1870 • Buffalo, N.Y.
(MS: NPV and CU-MARK, UCCL 00524)
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Buf. 5th.

My Dear Bro:

Pamela said the other day that if you only had easy work at $100 a month, no night work, [ plent ] liberty after supper to rest & work at your machine, it was about what was required.1 I could give you an editor’s berth on the paper, but it would be night work—so I wrote my publisher to look around & see if he had any work indoors that you could do for $100 a month.—for I knew he had no high-priced employments—one girl is all he needs in the office.2

But he is going to issue a monthly gratuitous paper, say about 100,000 copies, to advertise his books in, & will get all his authors to contribute occasional articles. He believes he can eventually put a price on it & make it a lucrative literary sheet. Well, you see he offers you the editorship of it at $100 a month till he can do better by you. It gives you a chance to make him do better by you—I mean by proving yourself[ indispensable— ]& that is the only way terms on which an ambitious man a man ought to want preferment. You will probably have precious little work to do on a monthly sheet, but it the work can be done all the better for that.—& besides, it gives the machine a chance. I desire that you throw up that cursed night work & take this editorship & conduct it so well that editorships will assail you at the end of a year. It is an easy thing to do. Bliss offered me in effect $4,000 a year to edit take this berth he offers you—& so he has confidence in his little undertaking.3 He [ sh ] is shrewdly counting on two things, now—one is, by creating a position for you, he will keep me from “whoring after strange gods,”4 which is Scripture for deserting to other publishers; &, 2d, get an occasional article out of me for the paper, a thing which would be exceedingly occasional otherwise. He is wise. He is one of the smartest business men in America, & I am only a dullard when I try to pierce conceive all the advantages he expects to derive from having you in the employ of the Am. Pub. Co. But all right—I am willing. Only I know this—that if you take this place, with an air of perfect confidence in yourself, never once letting anything show in your bearing but a quiet, modest, entire & perfect confidence in your ability to do pretty much anything in the world, Bliss will think you are the very man he needs—but don’t show any shadow of timidity or unsoldierly diffidence, for that sort of thing is fatal to advancement. I warn you [ this thus ] because you are naturally given to knocking your pot over in this way when a little judicious conduct would make it boil. And I am writing all this about a matter situation of apparently precious little consequence fidence because I am looking at the possibilities of the place, not the place itself & its meagre salary.

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Whenever you are ready to come, write me & I will send $100 to pay your passages to Fredonia—for we probably cannot receive anybody for a month or two—I am trying to keep Livy’s mother away, & have telegraphed her brother not to come—(he meant to stay over Sunday.) Livy narrowly escaped miscarriage a fortnight ago. I have moved her—bed & all—down stairs into the library, & there I mean she shall stay till her confinement in December.5 Annie will be here tomorrow to stay a day or two, for her mother has been here so long I could not [ dem deny ] her—& besides Annie & Livy know each other well & so it won’t excite or fatigue Livy to see her.

I should think that if Pamela remains here you might leave Mollie at Fredonia till you go to Hartford & get things ready & then write for her to follow.

I have told Bliss positively that you are an able editor & I don’t want you by word or gesture to show any lack of confidence or any diffidence about assuming responsibility. This will seal his confidence, sure.

Yr Bro.



Htf. Nov. 2. 70

Dear Twain

Yours recd Yes I got your article. “It is accepted” (a. la. N.Y. Ledger) 6 Thanks for same—

Paper will be out last of the month— 7

How would your Bro. do for an editor of it?

Would he be satisfied with $100. per month for present, until we could do better by him?

You see we have no real place just now for him, but would like for your sake to create a position for him, if possible—would this do? perhaps if here by & by we could see some opening which would pay good— {I guess he has an “it is safe to trust him to find “openings” if enoug if you & he get along well together.}

Say! Is he anything like his younger brother?

When does he want to leave St Louis.?

Tell me what you want, &, what you think about it &c &c—



P. S. Maybe Bliss isn’t ready for you immediately—shall hear from him again in 2 or 3 days.


Bliss is the very livest kind of a Yankee business [man. Don’t ] reveal anything to him about your main, big machine, but at the proper time if there is any money or any success in it you can just rely on him every time to get it out of it. —a thing which you inventors never are worth a cent at attempting.


You don’t want a European patent—it isn’t worth [fifteen ] cents.

Explanatory Notes | Textual Commentary

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1 Probably Orion’s drilling machine, but possibly one of his other inventions (see 12 June 70 to PAM, n. 6).

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2 “Miss Nellie” (22 Jan 70 to Bliss, n. 7).

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3 The offer cannot be confirmed, even “in effect,” in any of Bliss’s few surviving 1870 letters to Clemens. Later, however, Bliss offered Clemens substantially more for contributions to this new “monthly gratuitous paper,” the American Publisher (27 Jan 71 to Bliss, n. 1).

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4 A paraphrase of a recurrent biblical locution, for example: Exodus 34:15 and 16, Deuteronomy 31:16, Judges 2:17, and 1 Chronicles 5:25.

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5 According to Clemens’s 12 November letter to the Twichells, it was Olivia’s “hurried drive to the depot one day” that nearly caused her to give birth prematurely. In 1906 he recalled that:

We had a visitor in the house and when she was leaving she wanted Mrs. Clemens to go to the station with her. I objected. But this was a visitor whose desire Mrs. Clemens regarded as law. The visitor wasted so much precious time in taking her leave that Patrick had to drive in a gallop to get to the station in time. In those days the streets of Buffalo were not the model streets which they afterward became. They were paved with large cobblestones, and had not been repaired since Columbus’s time. Therefore the journey to the station was like the Channel passage in a storm. The result to Mrs. Clemens was a premature confinement, followed by a dangerous illness. (AD, 15 Feb 1906, CU-MARK, in MTE, 249–50)

The departing guest almost certainly was Mary Mason Fairbanks. Clemens’s letters to her of 13 October and 5 November indicate that she visited Buffalo sometime between those dates. Moreover, the “gallop” to the depot—with Langdon Clemens’s arrival nearly coming, as Clemens told the Twichells, “that night”—must have occurred no later than 19 October, since the baby was “staved off” and “missed the earthquake” that struck the following morning.

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6 This Saturday paper, founded in 1844, serialized popular fiction and had a large circulation—making it a model for Bliss’s planned paper (Mott 1950, 299–300, 319; Rowell, 702; Hudson, 646–55).

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7 In fact the first number of the American Publisher was for April 1871 and issued in March. The article Bliss acknowledged here doubtless was the unidentified piece that Clemens had sent from Fredonia at the beginning of October. It may have been among the sketches that he soon asked to have returned (31 Oct 70 to Bliss; 22 Feb 71 to OC). For the sketch by him that appeared in the first American Publisher, see 4 Mar 71 to OC, n. 3.

glyphglyphCopy-text:glyphMS, Jean Webster McKinney Family Papers, Vassar College Library (NPV), is copy-text for ‘Buf. . . . And’ (219.11–220.29); and MS, Mark Twain Papers, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley (CU-MARK), is copy-text for ‘I am . . . Sam.’ and for the enclosed letter of 2 Nov 70 from Bliss to Clemens, with Clemens’s added notes to Orion (220.30–221.13 and 221.14–222.5).

glyphglyphPrevious publication:glyph L4, 219–22; NPV text: MTB, 1:425, brief excerpt; MTBus, 115–16; Chester L. Davis 1978, 2, brief excerpt; enclosure; MTLP, 42 n. 1, excerpt.

glyphglyphProvenance:glyphSee McKinney Family Papers and Moffett Collection in Description of Provenance.

glyphglyphEmendations and textual notes:glyph

plent[‘t’ partly formed]


sh[‘h’ partly formed]

this thus • thisus [‘i’ partly formed]

dem deny • demny

man. Don’t • man.—|Don’t

fifteen • fifteeen