Jump to Content

Add to My Citations To Orion Clemens
11 November 1870 • Buffalo, N.Y.
(MS: CU-MARK, UCCL 00531)
Click to add citation to My Citations.

Buffalo, Nov. 11.

My Dear Bro:

You have got the same curious ideas that all novices have—you must stipulate [ beforehand] [ whic what] shall be done in case you prove a literary treasure. Hang it, man, ten thousand such stipulations would be worthless. It is simply absurd for one man to try to bargain such a thing out with another—your work must not only show you to be worth more money, but must [ is itself] compel its [price. If] you would rather be slave all night in St Louis for $8 more a month than do easy & gentlemanly work in Hartford in daylight, I applaud your wisdom & say nothing against it. I will only remark that Bliss offers you, as [ I as ] exactly three times as much as the work is worth. I would take the job myself at less money if I were living in Hartford & my name did not appear as editor.

I have never intended to intimate that this work was worth $100 a month, but meant to intimate that it could be made a stepping stone & opportunity to make you known & valuable. caretMy name to it is what Bliss was willing to [pay] $4,000 for.caret

But I will remark that when I discovered, before Pamela went away, that your present pay was $108 a month instead of $100, I wrote [ b ] Bliss that if you went there he could pay you $108 a month & charge the 8 $8 to me. But I would rather live on $100 a month & live like a human being, than have 8 $8 more & live like an owl.1

I do resent that idea of stipulating for advance of wages in case a man is [worth. ] it. I haven’t had anything incense me so in six months. Might as well stipulate that one should have two h golden harps hereafter before know under certain conditions, before finding out whether he is going to be able to play acceptably on one first.

I have thought that the proper way w to get you east will be for the “Democrat” people to get caretfreecaret passes for both of you [over] the roads clear to Hartford.2 They can do it easily & [ th ought ] to do it. I say all this because I find my expenses in one way or another are stretching up in the neighborhood of a thousand dollars a month, & I have foolishly cripp[l]ed myself by paying one man $5,000 who was not in a hurry & by lending another man $4,000 who pays me nothing more than legal interest.3 But caretAndcaret I am looking for a heavy bills to come in during the next few weeks—a four or five hundred-dollar doctor’s bill, a sixty-dollar nurse bill, a hundred & seventy-dollars sleigh-bill, a two-hundred dollar life-insurance bill,4 a three-hundred dollar [carpenter’s] bill, & a dozen or two of twenty-five dollar debts, & we owe the servants seven hundred dollars which they can call for at any time—& I am sitting still with idle hands—for Livy is very sick & I do not believe the baby will live five days.5

Under which circumstances get those caretfreecaret passes if you can, but if you can’t, then let me know & I will provide the money. I didn’t expect quite such an avalanche of bills at a time when my household expenses are so greatly augmented. I will not allow [ me myself] to be caught in such a close place again. Of course I can borrow all the money I want, but I will saw wood before I will borrow.

Do just as you please about the Tenn. land—always.

I am glad you have sent such full Nevada notes6—though as they have just come & I am stealing a few minutes from the sick room to answer a pile of business letters, I haven’t read a sentence of them yet

Yr Bro

caretin hastecaret em spaceem spaceSam

P. S. Wait till I hear again from Bliss.

Explanatory Notes | Textual Commentary

Add to My Citations

Click to add citation to My Citations.
1 See 5 Nov 70 to OC and 5 Nov 70 to Bliss.

Add to My Citations

Click to add citation to My Citations.
2 The St. Louis Missouri Democrat employed Orion as night editor.

Add to My Citations

Click to add citation to My Citations.
3 In April 1870 Clemens had made a loan, of only $3,000, however, to Josephus N. Larned. He had probably paid $5,000 to Jervis Langdon before Langdon’s death on 6 August. By the end of 1871 Clemens had repaid the entire $12,500 Langdon had advanced in 1869 for his Buffalo Express purchase (16 and 17 Apr 70 to the Langdons; 28 Dec 71 to OLC, n. 4).

Add to My Citations

Click to add citation to My Citations.
4 In fact Clemens paid the annual premium of $187.60 on his $10,000 life insurance policy on 7 November. In 1871 he allowed the policy to lapse (L3, 387, 389–90 n. 6).

Add to My Citations

Click to add citation to My Citations.
5 Langdon Clemens’s condition had become critical on 9 November, but evidently improved very shortly after Clemens wrote this letter (11 Nov 70 to Brooks; 12 Nov 70 to Redpath).

Add to My Citations

Click to add citation to My Citations.
6 Complements to the memorandum book Orion had sent in July. Clemens misplaced the notes, perhaps before he had a chance to use them in writing Roughing It (15 July 70 to OC; 27 July 70 to JLC and family; 2 Sept 70 to OC; 4 Apr 71 to OC; RI 1993, 822).



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

glyphglyphPrevious publication:glyph L4, 229–231.

glyphglyphProvenance:glyphsee Moffett Collection in Description of Provenance.

glyphglyphEmendations and textual notes:glyph


beforehand • before-ǀhand

whic what • whicat

is itself • istself

price. If • price.—ǀIf

I asI as- ǀ

b[partly formed; possibly t]

worth.[deletion implied]

over • ovrer

th ought[underscore added after ‘th’ canceled]

carpenter’s • carpendter’s

me myself • meyself