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Add to My Citations To John Henry Riley
9 October 1871 • Hartford, Conn.
(MS: NN-B, UCCL 02458)
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Hartford, Oct. 9.

Friend Riley—

It isn’t me that is delaying the book, but sickness in my family. My present book can’t get out before January I guess, I was so delayed, & as I lecture till middle of April, I can’t shoulder the pen again till May.1

My lecture being already written, I can’t talk diamonds this season, but will take the field with you on that topic next season, if you say so.2

Don’t lose your pictures—we want the book full of illustrations.

Let the diamond fever swell & sweat—we’ll [ tir try] to catch it at the right moment.



Do you want to take your patent out to the fields next fall?3

Explanatory Notes | Textual Commentary

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1 Riley had expected to return from Africa in June 1871 and then spend July through October in Buffalo to inspire Clemens’s writing of the diamond mine book. But he did not return to London from Africa until August and probably did not reach the United States until September or early October. Clemens, busy with the move to Hartford and preparing to lecture (and with weeks of proof-reading to do on Roughing It), was not free to begin the collaboration. His present justification for postponement was not entirely candid, however. Langdon Clemens’s illness had interrupted his work on Roughing It in late August and early September, but so had the garment strap invention. Moreover, he had long known that his lecture tour would end in early February. His selection of May 1872 as a likely starting date apparently was influenced by a consideration he refrained from mentioning: his wife was now about three months pregnant, and he expected to be occupied with a new baby by early spring 1872. Finding Clemens unavailable, Riley went to California, returning in late November. Plans for him to come to Hartford were discussed early in 1872, then abandoned because of his deteriorating health (2 Dec 70 to Riley; 8 Sept 71 to OLC; 6 Oct 71 to Leggett; 4 Jan 72 to Riley, NN-B; 27 Mar 72 to Riley, ViU; Riley to SLC: 3 Dec 71, 27 June 72, 22 July 72, all in CU-MARK, and 16 May 72, CtY-BR).

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2 See 2 Dec 70 to Riley.

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3 Riley had conceived of a “Diamond sifting and washing machine,” but by early December had “done nothing yet towards getting it patented” (Riley to SLC, 3 Dec 71, CU-MARK). He did not receive a patent before dying of cancer in September 1872 (“Death of J. H. Riley,” San Francisco Alta California, 18 Sept 72, 1).

glyphglyphCopy-text:glyphMS, Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection, The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations (NN-B).

glyphglyphPrevious publication:glyph L4, 467–468.

glyphglyphProvenance:glyphUntil his death in 1939 the MS was owned by W. T. H. Howe; in 1940, the Howe Collection was purchased by Dr. Albert A. Berg and donated to NN (Cannon, 185–86).

glyphglyphEmendations and textual notes:glyph

tir try • tirry [‘i’ partly formed]