Hartford, Apl. 23.
My Dear Boyesen:
I thank you & Mrs. Boyesen sincerely for those pleasant praises. I couldn’t & didn’t enjoy myself abroad, because I believed that I was writing a book which few would read & everybody execrate; & now, to my stupefying surprise, I hear good words about the book on all hands—& it has sold 35,000 copies & all the steam presses & binderies in Hartford are still hard at work on it, night & day. This is almost assurance that the first quarter’s sale is going to be as great as that of any previous book of mine.
O, yes, my state of feeling has changed. I was to “read” in Twichell’s chapel, one night, & had made my selections entirely from my old books; then along comes your letter & a praiseful letter from Howells, on the same day, & I went down to the chapel that night & did the whole reading from the new book—& it “went,” too—at least to my satisfaction. I am much obliged for your & Mrs. B.’s share of the impulse.
Well, it is a great pity to lose you out of the educational department of the country, but at the same time I can’t see how a man who can write can ever reconcile himself to busying himself with anything else. There is a fascination about writing, even for my waste-basket, which is bread & meat & almost whisky to me—& I know it is the same with all our craft. We shall find more joy in writing—be the pay what it may—than in serving the world in ways of its choosing for uncountable coupons. We are all well & send our loves to you & the Madonna & “Philip, my King.”
ViU. Stationery featuring this ship appears only once among Clemens’s known correspondence.
Ratner 1964, 9.
Provenance:Deposited at ViU by Clifton Waller Barrett on 17 December 1963.