Home | Quotations | Newspaper Articles | Special Features | Links | Search

The New York Times, March 26, 1911

And the Replies of the Authors Form Part of an Unusual Collection.

A notable collection of association copies and first editions formed by the Rev. L. M. Powers of Haverhill, Mass., will be sold at Marwin-Clayton's on April 4. In the case of the Mark Twain and John Burroughs books, the queries put to the authors and their autograph replies are of biographical, as well as bibliographical, interest.

On the fly leaf of a first edition of "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County" is Mr. Powers's written query: "Did John Paul [pseudonym of Charles Henry Webb] discover you, or did you know you were a good thing yourself?" Mark Twain's reply is: "John Paul never discovered anything or anybody. He was not even a very good liar. S. L. C. Mark Twain."

In a copy of "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer," Mr. Powers asks: "Did you remember or imagine this perfect picture of a natural boy?" The inscribed answer is: "Partially I was It. S. L. C." The following query is on the fly leaf of the "History of the Big Bonanza," by Dan de Quille, (William Wright:) "Is there any truth in the newspaper story that you planned this book for the author before you knew he had written it?" The answer is: "Yes; it is true. Mark Twain." The question, asked on the back of the frontispiece of "A True Story and the Recent Carnival of Crime," viz.: "This the hardest of all your books to get. Why's that?" is answered with "Weiss nicht. Mark Twain."

The following inscription by the author is in a copy of "The Prince and the Pauper" : "Only he who has seen better days and lives to see better days again knows their full value. Truly yours, Mark Twain, Feb. 19, 1902." Inscribed on the fly leaf of the "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" is the following: "One should not pay a person a compliment and straightway follow it with a criticism. It is better to kiss him now and kick him next week. Truly yours. Mark Twain." Inscribed in a copy of "After Dinner Speeches at the Lotos Club" is the following letter from Mark Twain, Nov. 9, 1905:

"Dear Mr. Powers: I should accept your hospitable offer at once but for the fact that I couldn't do it and remain honest. That is to say, if I allowed you to send me what you believe to be good cigars it would distinctly mean that I meant to smoke them, whereas I should do nothing of the kind.

"I know a good cigar better than you do, for I have had sixty years' experience. No, that is not what I mean; I mean I know a bad cigar better than anybody else. I judge by the price only; if it costs above 5 cents, I know it to be either foreign or half foreign and unsmokable.

"By me I have many boxes of Havana cigars, of all prices, from 20 cents apiece up to $1.66 apiece; I bought none of them; they were all presents; they are an accumulation of several years. I have never smoked one of them, and never shall. I work them off on the visitor. You shall have a chance when you come.

"Pessimists are born, not made; optimists are born; not made; but no man is born either pessimist wholly or optimist wholly; he is pessimistic along certain lines and optimistic along certain others. This is my case. Sincerely yours,



Return to The New York Times index

Quotations | Newspaper Articles | Special Features | Links | Search