<%@LANGUAGE="JAVASCRIPT" CODEPAGE="65001"%> Letter from Mark Twain to W. D. Howells - Apr. 25, 1876
Mark Twain Letters

Letter from Mark Twain to W. D. Howells

HARTFORD, Apr. 25, 1876.

Mark Twain W. D. Howells

MY DEAR HOWELLS,—Thanks for giving me the place of honor.

Bliss made a failure in the matter of getting Tom Sawyer ready on time—the engravers assisting, as usual. I went down to see how much of a delay there was going to be, and found that the man had not even put a canvasser on, or issued an advertisement yet—in fact, that the electrotypes would not all be done for a month! But of course the main fact was that no canvassing had been done—because a subscription harvest is before publication, (not after, when people have discovered how bad one's book is.)

Well, yesterday I put in the Courant an editorial paragraph stating that Tom Sawyer is "ready to issue, but publication is put off in order to secure English copyright by simultaneous publication there and here. The English edition is unavoidably delayed."

You see, part of that is true. Very well. When I observed that my "Sketches" had dropped from a sale of 6 or 7000 a month down to 1200 a month, I said "this ain't no time to be publishing books; therefore, let Tom lie still till Autumn, Mr. Bliss, and make a holiday book of him to beguile the young people withal."

I shall print items occasionally, still further delaying Tom, till I ease him down to Autumn without shock to the waiting world.

As to that "Literary Nightmare" proposition. I'm obliged to withhold consent, for what seems a good reason—to wit: A single page of horse-car poetry is all that the average reader can stand, without nausea; now, to stack together all of it that has been written, and then add it to my article would be to enrage and disgust each and every reader and win the deathless enmity of the lot.

Even if that reason were insufficient, there would still be a sufficient reason left, in the fact that Mr. Carlton seems to be the publisher of the magazine in which it is proposed to publish this horse-car matter. Carlton insulted me in Feb. 1867, and so when the day arrives that sees me doing him a civility I shall feel that I am ready for Paradise, since my list of possible and impossible forgivenesses will then be complete.

Mrs. Clemens says my version of the blindfold novelette "A Murder and A Marriage" is "good." Pretty strong language—for her.

The Fieldses are coming down to the play tomorrow, and they promise to get you and Mrs. Howells to come too, but I hope you'll do nothing of the kind if it will inconvenience you, for I'm not going to play either strikingly bad enough or well enough to make the journey pay you.

My wife and I think of going to Boston May 7th to see Anna Dickinson's debut on the 8th. If I find we can go, I'll try to get a stage box and then you and Mrs. Howells must come to Parker's and go with us to the crucifixion.

(Is that spelt right?—somehow it doesn't look right.)

With our very kindest regards to the whole family.

Yrs ever,
MARK.

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