How 'Innocents Abroad' was Written.
A correspondent of the Philadelphia Press, describing his associates in a Washington boarding-house in 1868-69 says: "And there was Mark Twain in a little back room, with a sheet-iron stove, a dirty, musty carpet of the cheapest description, a bed, and two or three common chairs. The little drum stove was full of ashes, running over on the zinc sheet' and the bed seemed to be unmade for a week, the slops had not been carried out for a fortnight, the room was foul with tobacco smoke, the floor, dirty enough to begin with, was littered with newspapers, from which Twain had cut his letters. Then there were hundreds of pieces of torn manuscripts which had been written and then rejected by the author. A dozen pipes were about the apartment--on the wash-stand, on the mantel, on the writing table, on the chairs--everywhere that room could be found. And there was tobacco, and tobacco everywhere. One thing, there were no flies. The smoke killed them, and I am now surprised the smoke did not kill me too. He would strip down his suspenders (his coat and vest, of course, being off) and walk back and forward in slippers in his little room and swear and smoke the whole day long. Of course, at times he would work, and when he did work it was like a steam engine at full head. I do believe that if Clemens had not been under contract to write for the Hartford firm his 'Innocents Abroad,' he never would have done it.
"Of course, at that time, we never thought that Twain's
book would amount to anything, and probably he did not think it would either,
but he was writing for the money his naked MS. Would bring from his Hartford
publishers. He needed that money, and so he wrote. He is glad that he did
write now, for that 'Innocents Abroad,' written in that little back room in
Indiana Avenue, in Washington, has been the making of the fame and fortune
of Mark Twain. Whether he smokes the same stinking old pipes; whether he wears
the same soiled undershirts' whether he heats his room with the old uncleaned
stoves; whether he swears at his own or other people's servants; whether he
mopes and snarls and whines--well, I don't care. He is rich and aristocratic.
He has edited a paper in Buffalo and another in Hartford. He failed in both.
Editing is not his forte. Mining is not his forte. Humor is his forte, but
will you excuse me if I say that coarse humor should be nobody's forte?"
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