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Add to My Citations To Elisha Bliss, Jr.
19 October 1871 • Wilkes-Barre, Pa.
(MS: Daley, UCCL 00665)
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wyoming valley hotelem spacej. b. stark, prop’r.1

wilkes-barre, pa., Oct. 19 187 1

Friend Bliss—

I brought the desert chapter away with me, to write it up—but it is no use; I am driven to death, with travel, lecturing & entertaining committees. It will be two weeks before I can get a chance to write up this chapter. I remember the heavy work it was to write it before, & I wish that man had the MS stuffed into his bowels that wrote lost it. If time presses, just leave the whole chapter out. It is all we can do.2

In haste




[letter docketed:] check mark [and] S L Clemens | Wilkes Barre | Pa | Oct 19/71

Explanatory Notes

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1 The Wyoming Valley Hotel, “one of the best in the State, with ample accommodation for 250 guests,” was owned by Jasper Billings Stark (1823–82) and was located in a scenic valley known for its Revolutionary War associations (Appletons’ Hand-Book, 167; Kulp, 2:567). Over the next few weeks, Clemens used the hotel’s stationery at least three more times for letters from other places (31 Oct 71, 1 Nov 71, 9 Nov 71, all to OLC). But he was probably still in Wilkes-Barre when he hurriedly wrote the present letter before catching the train for Washington, about two hundred and seventy miles south.

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2 Chapter 18 of Roughing It describes the crossing of an “alkali” desert about one hundred miles west of Salt Lake City. “It is apparent that the illustrators or the typesetters had lost part of the manuscript for this chapter, and that Bliss had asked Clemens to rewrite it, relying on what had survived. (Clemens’s suggestion that Bliss leave out the ‘whole chapter’ if the attempt to rewrite it failed shows that not all of it had been lost.) Despite his temptation to give up, Clemens soon did rewrite the text” (RI 1993, 122–25, 870).

glyphglyphCopy-text:glyphMS, collection of Robert Daley until 1993.

glyphglyphPrevious publication:glyph L4, 477; Hill, 54, brief excerpt; MTLP, 68; Sotheby 1993, lot 214, excerpt.

glyphglyphProvenance:glyphThe MS evidently remained among the American Publishing Company’s files until it was sold (and may have been at that time copied by Dana Ayer; see Brownell Collection in Description of Provenance). An Ayer handwritten transcription and a typed transcription are at WU. Robert Daley acquired the MS by 1974; Sotheby’s sold it in 1993 to an unidentified purchaser.