CLEMENS, SAMUEL LANGHORNE ("Mark Twain"). Autograph letter to Livy Clemens in Paris, [New York] 15 December 1893. 4 pages, 8vo, minor fold break, with stamped envelope addressed by Clemens (postmarked Dec. 13).
"I STAND ON THE LAND-END OF A SPRING-BOARD, WITH THE FAMILY CLUSTERED ON THE OTHER END"
A slightly feverish letter during a period of extreme financial crisis. With the assistance of the notoriously ruthless businessman Henry Huttleston Rogers, Clemens had drawn up a new contract for James W. Paige, the inventor of the typesetting machine for which Clemens had formed a company. Paige was hedging. "Oh, dear heart, for all your sakes I am so glad Clara has arrived at last & brought a breeze of life & cheer to you exiles. (Oh, right here! I hope you never by word or pen mention Mr. Rogers? If Paige finds out, he will get so extravagant in his demands that it will be impossible to deal with him. I forgot to tell you to keep silent.)...I am puzzled, puzzled. puzzled! You see, you mustn't come home! Not a step, not a budge, until Paige is heard from. That will be within 10 days, if those people know how to work him. If he refuses to sign, I must stay & invent some way to make him sign. It won't take long. Yet there is no way to cable you these things...If Paige signs I shall of course cable you that immensely important fact on the instant--for it ends all our troubles. It is an unspeakable pity--that you should be without any one to go about with the girls, & it troubles me, & grieves me, & makes me curse & swear; but you see, dearheart, I've got to stick right where I am till I find out whether we are rich or whether the poorest person we are acquainted with in anybody's kitchen is better off than we are. I stand on the land-end of a spring-board, with the family clustered on the other end; if I take away my foot---- I am only in hell when I think for a moment of Paige's not signing--but that is a thing I seldom think of. Do you see? If you should come home & he should not sign! And don't you see?--when he signs you are independent from that moment & may do whatever you please...." A week later Clemens and Rogers were in Chicago, in a final, unsuccessful effort to convince Paige to sign. These new terms were not the panacea Twain had hoped for: Paige's machine was eclipsed by several rivals, among them the Linotype, and the company barely survived another year.
An autograph endorsement, 11 lines on the blank 4th page of a 3-page letter from Dr. Lobedanz, Schwerin, Mecklenburg, Germany, 2 Nov. 93, requesting permission to publish an abridged extract of The Prince and the Pauper in a collection of modern English, American and French authors intended for schoolboys. Permission granted: "Now, then, my ambition is satisfied. To get into a nation's schoolbooks is about as high as a person can go...." (2)