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May 13, 1865

Further Of Mr. Mark Twain's Important Correspondence

I promised, last week, that I would publish in the present number of THE CALIFORNIAN the correspondence held between myself and Rev. Phillips Brooks of Philadelphia, and Rev. Dr. Cummins of Chicago, but I must now beg you to release me from that promise. I have just received telegrams from these distinguished clergymen suggesting the impolicy of printing their letters; the suggestion is accompanied by arguments, so able, so pointed and so conclusive that, although I saw no impropriety in it before, I am forced now to concede that it would be very impolitic to publish their letters. It could do but little good, perhaps, and might really do harm, in awakening a diseased curiosity in the public mind concerning the private matters of ministers of the gospel. The telegrams and accompanying arguments are as follows:


PHILADELPHIA, Friday, May 12.

Mr. Mick Twine*: Am told you have published Bishop Hawks' letter. You'll ruin the clergy! Don't - don't publish mine. Listen to reason - come, now, don't make an ass of yourself. Draw on me for five hundred dollars.

[Although I feel it my duty to suppress his letter, it is proper to state for the information of the public, that Phil. gets a higher salary where he is, and consequently he cannot come out here and take charge of Grace Cathedral. Mem. - He is in petroleum to some extent, also. - M. T.]


CHICAGO, Thursday, May 11.

Mr. MacSwain*: Have you really been stupid enough to publish Bishop Hawks' letter? Ge-whillikins! don't publish mine. Don't be a fool, Mike.* Draw on me for five or six hundred.

[I am conscious that it would be improper to print the Doctor's letter, but it may be as well to observe that he also gets a higher salary where he is, and consequently he cannot come out here and take charge of Grace Cathedral. Mem. - He is speculating a little in grain. - M. T.]

I am afraid I was rather hasty in publishing Bishop Hawks' letter. I am sorry I did it. I suppose there is no chance now to get an Argument out of him, this late in the day.



I am a suffering victim of my infernal disposition to be always trying to oblige somebody without being asked to do it. Nobody asked me to help the vestry of Grace Cathedral to hire a minister; I dashed into it on my own hook, in a spirit of absurd enthusiasm, and a nice mess I have made of it. I have not succeeded in securing either of the three clergymen I wanted, but that is not the worst of it - I have brought such a swarm of low-priced back-country preachers about my ears that I begin to be a little appalled at the work of my own hands. I am afraid I have evoked a spirit that I cannot lay. A single specimen of the forty-eight letters addressed to me from the interior will suffice to show the interest my late publication has excited:


BRO. TWAIN: I feel that the opportunity has arrived at last for me to make a return somewhat in kind for the countless blessings which have been poured - poured, as it were - upon my unworthy head. If you get the vacancy in Grace Cathedral for me, I will accept it at once, and at any price, notwithstanding I should sacrifice so much here in a worldly point of view, and entail so much unhappiness upon my loving flock by so doing - for I feel that I am "called," and it is not for me, an humble instrument, to disobey. [The splotch you observe here is a tear.] It stirs the deepest emotions in my breast to think that I shall soon leave my beloved flock: bear with this seeming childishness, my friend, for I have reared this dear flock, and tended it for years, and I fed it with spiritual food, and sheared it - ah, me, and sheared it - I cannot go on - the subject is too harrowing. But I'll take that berth for less than any man on the continent, if you'll get it for me. I send you specimen sermons - some original and some selected and worked over. * * *

Your humble and obedient servant,


They all want the berth at Grace Cathedral. They would all be perfectly satisfied with $7,000 a year. They are all willing to sacrifice their dearest worldly interests and break the tenderest ties that bind them to their rural homes, to come and fight the good fight in our stately church. They all feel that they could do more good and serve their master better in a wider sphere of action. They all feel stirring within them souls too vast for confinement in narrow flats and gulches. And they all want to come here and spread. And worse than all, they all devil me with their bosh, and send me their sermons to read, and come and dump their baggage in my hall, and take possession of my bed-rooms by assault, and carry my dinner-table by storm, instead of inflicting these miseries upon the vestry of Grace Cathedral, who are the proper victims, by virtue of their office. Why in thunder do they come harrassing me? What have I got to do with the matter? Why, I do not even belong to the church, and have got no more to do with hiring pastors for it than the Dey of Algiers has. I wish they would ease up a little on me; I mixed into this business a little too brashly - so to speak - and without due reflection; but if I get out of it once all right, I'll not mix in any more; now that's honest - I never will.

I have numerous servants, but they are all worked down. My housekeeper is on the verge of open rebellion. Yesterday she said: "I lay I'll take and hyste some of them preachers out of this mighty soon, now." And she'll do it. I shall regret it. I could entertain no sentiment but that of regret to see a clergyman "hysted" out of my establishment, but what am I to do? I cannot help it. If I were to interfere I should get "hysted" myself.

My clerical guests are healthy. Their appetites are good. They are not particular as to food. They worry along very well on spring chickens. I don't feel safe with them, though, because if it is considered that a steamboat on the Mississippi is inviting disaster when she ventures to carry more than two ministers at a time, isn't it likely that the dozen I have got in my house will eventually produce an earthquake? The tradition goes that three clergymen on a steamboat will ground her, four will sink her, and five and a gray mare added will blow her up. If I had a gray mare in my stable, I would leave this city before night.

[Footnote *: Excuse the unhappy telegraph - it never spells names right. - M. T.]

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