The Innocents Abroad

The Innocents Abroad by Mark Twain

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Submitted by scott on

I've been reading Michael Kiskis' compilation of "Mark Twain's Own Autobiography" (1990) along side the edition recently published by The Mark Twain Project. I wasn't looking for this but I found it and thought it an important note to add to my pages of The Innocents Abroad. Rather than try to paraphrase or re-type for that matter I've copped this from the on-line edition provided by the Mark Twain Project (I do own a hard bound copy and intend to get the subsequent volumes when available). According to the Kiskis book this first appeared in the North American Review, vol 186, no 618 July 5, 1907 465-474. Apparently Twain was not particularly happy with the role the Daily Alta California played in the publication of his letters and his subsequent lecture tour, although, I dare say they had some claim on the project having paid his passage as well as remittance for each letter. At this point in my reading of McKeithan, 1958, I would probably agree with Twain that the letters contributed only a small percentage of material found in the book.

"Notes on “Innocents Abroad”," in Twain, Mark. 2010. Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 1. Edited by Harriet Elinor Smith with Benjamin Griffin, Victor Fischer, Michael B. Frank, Sharon K. Goetz, and Leslie Diane Myrick. Mark Twain Project Online. Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press. http://www.marktwainproject.org/xtf/view?docId=works/MTDP10362.xml;style...

I wish to make a note upon the preface of the “Innocents.” In the last paragraph of that brief  preface, I speak of   the proprietors of the  Daily Alta California  having “waived their rights” in certain letters  which I wrote for that journal while absent on the  Quaker City  trip. I was young then, I am white-headed now, but the insult of that word rankles yet, now that I am reading that paragraph for the first time in many years, reading  it  for the first time since it was  written , perhaps. There were rights, it is true—such rights as the strong are able to acquire over the weak and the absent.  Early in ’66 George Barnes invited me to resign my reportership on his  paper,  the San Francisco  Morning Call ,  and for some months thereafter I was without money or  work;  then I had a pleasant turn of fortune. The proprietors of the Sacramento Union,  a great and influential daily journal, sent me to the Sandwich Islands to write four letters a month at twenty dollars apiece. I was there four or five months, and returned to find myself about the best known honest man  on the Pacific  coast .  Thomas  Maguire , proprietor of several theatres, said that now was the time to make my fortune—strike while the iron was  hot!—   page 227  break into the lecture field! I did it. I announced a lecture on the Sandwich Islands , closing the advertisement with the  remark “Admission one dollar; doors open at  half past  7, the trouble begins at 8.”  A true prophecy. The trouble certainly did begin at 8, when I found myself in front of the only audience I had ever faced, for the fright which pervaded me from head to foot was  paralysing . It lasted two minutes and was as bitter as death, the memory of it is indestructible, but it had its compensations, for it made me immune from timidity before audiences for all time to come.  I lectured in all the principal Californian towns and in Nevada, then lectured once or twice more in San Francisco, then retired from the field rich—for me—and laid out a plan to sail  westward  from  San Francisco  and go around the world .  The proprietors of the  Alta  engaged me to write an account of the trip for that paper—fifty letters of a column and a half each, which would be about two thousand words per letter, and the pay to be twenty dollars per letter .
I went East to St. Louis to say good-bye to my mother, and then I was bitten by the  prospectus of Captain Duncan of the  Quaker City   Excursion , and I ended by joining it. During the trip  I wrote and sent the fifty letters; six of them  miscarried,  and I wrote six new ones to complete my contract . Then I put together a lecture on the trip and delivered it in San Francisco at great and satisfactory pecuniary profit, then I branched out into the country and was aghast at the result: I had been entirely forgotten, I never had people enough in my houses to sit as a jury of inquest on my lost reputation! I inquired into this curious condition of things and found that the thrifty owners of that prodigiously rich  Alta  newspaper had copyrighted all those poor little twenty-dollar letters, and had threatened with prosecution any journal which should venture to copy a paragraph from  them!
And there I was! I had contracted to furnish a large book, concerning the excursion, to the American Publishing  Company  of Hartford, and I supposed I should need all those letters to fill it out with. I was in an uncomfortable situation—that  is,  if the proprietors of this stealthily acquired copyright should refuse to let me use the letters. That is  just what  they did; Mr. Mac—​something—I have forgotten the rest of his  name◊ — said his firm were going to make a book out of the letters in order to get back the thousand dollars which they had paid for them. I said that if they had acted fairly and honorably, and had allowed the country press to use the letters or portions of them, my lecture-skirmish on the coast would have paid me ten thousand dollars, whereas the  Alta  had lost me that amount. Then he offered a compromise: he would publish the book and allow me  10 per cent  royalty on it. The compromise did not appeal to me, and I said so. I was now quite unknown outside of San Francisco, the  book’s  sale would be confined to that city, and my royalty would not pay me enough to board me three months; whereas my  eastern  contract, if carried out, could be profitable to me, for I had a sort of reputation on the Atlantic seaboard acquired through the publication of six excursion-letters in the New York  Tribune  and one or two in the Herald.
In the end Mr.  MacCrellish  agreed to suppress his book, on certain conditions: in my preface I must thank the  Alta  for waiving its “rights” and granting me permission. I objected  page 228  to the thanks. I could not with any large degree of sincerity thank the  Alta  for bankrupting my lecture-raid. After considerable debate my point was conceded and the thanks left out.
Noah Brooks was  editor  of the  Alta  at the time, a man of sterling character and equipped with a right heart, also a good historian where facts were not essential. In biographical sketches of me  1902 written many years afterward  (1902),  he was quite eloquent in praises of the generosity of the  Alta  people  in giving to me without compensation a book which, as history had afterward shown, was worth a fortune. After all the fuss, I did not levy heavily upon the  Alta  letters. I found that they were newspaper matter, not book matter. They had been written here and there and yonder, as opportunity had given me a chance  working-moment  or two during our feverish flight around about Europe or in the furnace-heat of my stateroom on board the  Quaker City,  therefore they were loosely constructed, and needed to have some of the wind and water squeezed out of them. I used several of them—ten or twelve, perhaps. I wrote the rest of “The Innocents Abroad” in sixty days, and I could have added a fortnight’s labor with the pen and gotten along without the letters altogether. I was very young in those days, exceedingly young,  marvelously  young, younger than I am now, younger than I shall ever be again, by hundreds of years. I worked every night from eleven or twelve until broad day in the morning, and as I did two hundred thousand words in the sixty  days,  the average was more than three thousand words a day—nothing for Sir Walter Scott, nothing for Louis Stevenson, nothing for plenty of other people, but quite handsome for me.  1897 In 1897, when we were living in Tedworth Square, London, and I was writing the book called “Following the Equator” my average was eighteen hundred words a day;  1904 here in  Florence,  (1904), my average seems to be fourteen hundred words per sitting of four or five  hours.

Submitted by scott on

This information is from Ian Strathcarron's Innocence and War. On February 3, 1867, the editor of the New York Sun took Twain to church. The preacher was Henry Ward Beecher, who was organizing a tour of the Holy Land. It was already heavily subscribed by members of The Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims of Brooklyn Heights. Twain asked for a berth on the journey and Beecher said he would check with Captain Duncan. Rather than wait for confirmation, Twain arranged financing with the Daily Alta California, which was equally greedy for a scoop.

Twain did not impress the good captain. He had shown up for an interview in an inebriated state claiming to be a Baptist minister from the Sandwich Islands. But then the excursion was beginning to unravel. Beecher, along with thirty (30) other passengers withdrew. General Sherman withdrew two weeks later. “By the eventual date of departure, 9 June 1867, Mark Twain had become the main celebrity, at least the only person whose name one of two of them might have heard of. More importantly it also enabled him to claim the stateroom, which soon became RefusenikHQ.”

Strathcarron remarks that “a clear division among the passengers soon opened up”. The group he called “the Sinners” were mostly female and mostly journalists but also included the ship's doctor and purser “in fact anyone who hadn't paid or volunteered to make the Quaker City excursion”. The other group Twain label the “New Pilgrims”.

When Beecher and the 30 others “pulled out he opened the doors to dilution of the planned wothiness, and their places were taken by lesser-spotted versions of the same breed. These newly determined middle-class passengers, mostly from professions, were all uniformly grey in spirit if not color, sanctimonious and pious to the point of taxidermy, and desperate for social respectability and spiritual – or more precisely religious – salvation.”

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