MARK TWAIN'S PLAN OF SETTLEMENT
Samuel L. Clemens Proposed to Pay the Indebtedness of His Firm with Proceeds of Lectures.
VANCOUVER, B. C., Aug. l6. - Samuel L. Clemens, (Mark Twain,) who is about leaving for Australia, made a signed statement today concerning the purposes of his long trip and his business troubles, in part, as follows:
"It has been reported that I sacrificed, for the benefit of the creditors, the property of the publishing firm whose financial backer I was, and that I am now lecturing for my own benefit. This is an error. I intend the lectures, as well as the property, for the creditors. The law recognizes no mortgage on a man's brain, and a merchant who has given up all he has may take advantage of the rules of insolvency and start free again for himself; but I am not a business man; and honor is a harder master than the law. It cannot compromise for less than a hundred cents on the dollar, and its debts never outlaw.
"I had a two-thirds interest in the publishing firm, whose capital I furnished. If the firm had prospered, I should have expected to collect two-thirds of the profit. As it is, I expect to pay all the debts. My partner has no resources, and I do not look for assistance from him. By far the largest single creditor of this firm is my wife, whose contributions in cash, from her private means, have nearly equaled the claims of all the others combined. In satisfaction of this great and just claim, she has taken nothing, except to avail herself of the opportunity of retaining control of the copyrights of my books, which, for many easily understood reasons, of which financial ones are the least, we do not desire to see in the hands of strangers. On the contrary, she has helped and intends to help me to satisfy the obligations due to the rest.
"The present situation is that the wreckage of the firm, together with what money I can scrape together with my wife's aid, will enable me to pay the other creditors about 50 per cent of their claims. It is my intention to ask them to accept that as a legal discharge, and trust to my honor to pay the other 50 per cent. as fast as I can earn it. From my reception thus far on my lecturing tour, I am confident that, if I live I can pay off the last debt within four years, after which, at the age of sixty-four, I can make a fresh and unincumbered start in life.
"I do not enjoy the hard travel and broken rest inseparable from lecturing, and, if it had not been for the imperious moral necessity or paying these debts, which I never contracted but which were accumulated on the faith of my name by those who had a presumptive right to use it, I should never have taken to the road at my time of life. I could have supported myself comfortably by writing, but writing is too slow for the demands that I have to meet. Therefore I have begun to lecture my way around the world. I am going to Australia, India and South Africa, and next year hope to make a tour of the great cities of the United States. In my preliminary run through the smaller cities on the northern route, I have round a reception the cordiality of which has touched my heart and made me feel how small a thing money is in comparison with friendship.
"I meant, when I began, to give my creditors all the benefit of this, but I begin to feel that I am gaining something from it, too, and that my dividends, if not available for banking purposes, may be even more satisfactory than theirs."
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