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Add to My CitationsTo James Redpath
17 March 1876 • Hartford, Conn.
(MS, in pencil: CU-MARK, UCCL 01314)
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Hartford Mch 17.

My Dear Redpath—

I want to deliver “Roughing It” in New York within the next 3 weeks. I have to deliver it in New Haven next Wednesday, & so may as well talk it in N. Y. while it is fresh in my mind.1 I want Chickering Hall—& will wait till I can get it if you think it the best place—as doubtless it is. I want to talk in the afternoon & also that same night—& then fold my tent & skip home. (The money is for a friend of mine who is no in need, but I don’t wish to mention that. Nothing else would get me into the field though.[)] 2

Now to business—will you run this thing for me? for 10 per cent of gross proceeds? I want the tickets to be $1 each. The house seats $500, they say. I to take all risks & foot all bills, of course. Or would you prefer to charge me a lump sum for your trouble? If so, please state it. I am not going to back down this time. I mean business. I give you my word of honor.3

Yrs Ever


Explanatory Notes

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1 On Wednesday, 22 March, Clemens “brilliantly inaugurated” the 1876 season of Kent Club lectures at Yale University with “Roughing it in the Silver Regions.” Tickets were “entirely by invitation” and “the Law School lecture room” was “filled to its utmost capacity by a delighted audience” (“Entertainments,” New Haven Morning Journal and Courier, 22 Mar 76, 23 Mar 76, 2).

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2 Clemens delivered his “Roughing It” lecture on the afternoons of 28, 29, and 31 March at Chickering Hall, and on the afternoon of 30 March at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. The friend in need was John Brown, the Scottish author and physician, whom the Clemenses had known since 1873 (see L5, 428–29 n. 2). On 28 February 1876, George Barclay, another Edinburgh acquaintance, had written, informing Clemens that Brown’s

health for about two years past has been very precarious—it gave way so as to unfit him for work for several month[s], in the end of ’74 & beginning of last year; and I am sure you will be grieved to hear that it has now again so completely given way under the strain of professional practice, as to make in the opinion of his friends more than doubtful whether Dr Brown will ever be able safely to attempt regular practice as a physician again. The great chance, humanly speaking, of his still doing good work of any kind, would we are persuaded lie in his being relieved of the necessity of work altogether. But in the meantime he is all but entirely dependent on his current medical practice—(his writings having yielded him a large store of love and admiration, but only a little store of pocket money beside) and you may easily conceive what a depressing element this must add to health already broken.

It seems therefore to Dr Brown’s friends here that the time has come when they, with others far & near, might fairly venture to offer him that ease which is so essential to his comfort & recovery, by such a substantial token of their affection, as would render him independent of money cares for the future[.] I cannot think we will find it difficult to get all we need for this purpose from those who will deem it a pleasure to contribute, even though we shall inevitably exclude many a willing giver, by two important limitations on which nevertheless the grace & acceptability of the offering will mainly depend—1st that the thing be done quickly, and 2nd that it be done without publicity— Now while we have all had many, and many really touching proofs of the widespread affection with which Dr Brown’s name is regarded by friends known & unknown to him in the States, it is quite clear that comparatively few of these can be made aware of our purpose, without the publicity which it must be one of our main objects to avoid. We must trust to one or two known friends there being willing to take the trouble of doing what they can privately, and I hope you will agree to be one of these— In our consultation on the subject I ventured to say I thought you would—and that I would write to you accordingly—while the only other friend addressed in the meantime will be Mr Fields of Boston to whom Mr David Douglas writes by same post. If you agree to act we shall be glad to hear from you, with your ideas generally in the matter, as soon as possible—while if you know Mr Fields, or think it advisable, you might perhaps put yourself in communication with him at once. Our scheme caret(of which I scarcely say Dr Brown & his family know nothing)caret is not yet a week old, and is of course still rude and somewhat uncertain as to its details. But our object is within two or three months at most, to collect a fund of £5000 at least; and among those who have more or less independently suggested it, I think I may say £1000 are already secure. (CU-MARK)

David Douglas was one of Brown’s Edinburgh publishers. Brown’s family consisted of his unmarried sister, Isabella, his son, John (Jock), and a married daughter, Helen Brown Law. Clemens’s reply to Barclay is not known to survive, and no correspondence about Brown between Clemens and James T. Fields has been found. But Fields stayed with the Clemenses on 22 March, while in Hartford to lecture (see 18? Mar 76 to Fields), and they must then have discussed the campaign to assist Brown. Later Clemens reported to Fields about the New York lectures, for on 6 April 1876 Fields’s wife, Annie, noted in her diary that the returns from them were disappointing: “He had never lectured there before without making a great deal of money. This time he barely covered his expenses” (Howe 1922, 244). Nevertheless, Clemens contributed toward Brown’s pension: in a letter of 5 May Barclay registered receipt of £40, thanked him for his “very kind note, and contribution to ‘the fund,’ ” and reported that almost £7,000 had been raised and that Brown had announced his retirement from “ordinary medical practice” (CU-MARK; L5, 429 n. 3, 441 n. 4; L6, 57 n. 5, 204 n. 3; Brown 1907, 363, 366; New York Times: “Amusements,” 26 Mar 76, 7; 28 Mar 76, 7; “Amusements This Evening,” 30 Mar 76, 4).

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3 Clemens evidently recalled his January 1874 withdrawal from some planned lectures for Redpath (see L6, 21).

glyphglyphCopy-text:glyphMS, in pencil, CU-MARK.

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glyphglyphProvenance:glyphDonated to CU-MARK in 1973; see Appert Collection in Description of Provenance.