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GRANT'S WAR REMINISCENCES.
Mark Twain Contracts to Publish Them - Sentiments Which the Humorist Calls Errors.
Everyone will be interested to know that General Grant's war reminiscences are to be published, and Hartford people in particular will be interested to learn that Mark Twain is to be the publisher of the work -- or rather that the firm of which he is the principal is to issue the Grant autobiography. General Grant is exerting himself to get the MS written out before death stops his pen. He had more ease during the past week than was anticipated and was able to work several hours every day. In order to hasten the composition an amanuensis was employed, a woman who could use a typewriter as rapidly as he would be likely to dictate; but his constitutional lack of fluency was aggravated by the unusual process, and it was soon found also that the use of his voice, even in a whisper brought on inflammation and swelling in his diseased throat. Therefore he returned to pen and ink. He writes slowly, his average rate being only about 500 words an hour, and that is lowered by frequent medication. The first volume of the work is ready for the publisher. The second volume is about two-thirds done but Grant has made copious notes for the remainder, so that is could be written out after his death if necessary.
Within two or three days there have been numerous and conflicting statements about the publication of the reminiscences, and a story of a rupture between General Grant and the publishers of the Century Magazine as become current. The following, appearing in a Boston paper yesterday as a dispatch from New York, is reprinted as a specimen of the accounts: --
There has been a falling out between Grant and Roswell Smith, the manager of the Century company. It was all but concluded that the autobiography should be published by that concern. The general was paid $1,000 for his war article in the February Century and it was decided that further passages from his forthcoming book should be first published in the magazine.
Arrangements for the making of the pictures and printing of the volumes were made, and terms were nearly settled on the basis of a royalty. The negotiations did not result in a contract, however, and for the failure Mark Twain is understood to be responsible. Mark has not been so reckless a humorist as to share the profits of his fun with anybody. He has mastered the subscription book business. He is his own publisher and wholesaler, being the principal, though unmentioned partner in the firm of Charles L. Webster & Company, the Webster being a relative who marshals and directs the soliciting agents with which the whole country is made to swarm. Grant received an offer from Mark through Webster, to take his son Jesse into the enterprise of publishing and circulating the reminiscences. The fact was shown to him and the mechanical cost of producing each two-dollar volume would not exceed 30 cents, provided large editions were sold, and that a clear profit treble the royalty offered by Smith could be realized. As this scheme promised to yield a considerable fortune to his family and make a business for a son. Grant went into it.
"There was no complete bargain to break, as between us and the general," said an employee of the company, "but we supposed it to be settled that our imprint would be on the title page of the book. He came to our office almost daily to consult about the matter, and our advice as to the material and making up of the work was generally caught and followed. Understand though, that we have no grievance. He had the right to go elsewhere, and his object was principally to created a place for one of his sons, a thing which we were hardly prepared to do."
There is a great deal more bitterness than Smith intimates, and it is certain that no more papers by Grant will appear in the Century. Some say that Mark Twain has incidentally closed the pages of the magazine to any further transcripts from his forthcoming books, which will be a loss to advertising. The terms of the partnership between them and the Grants is that Mark advances the considerable capital required to put the books on the market.
When asked by a COURANT representative last evening about the truthfulness of the above account, Mr. Clemens said: "No statement of the matter has yet appeared in the New York or Boston papers which is not made up in the proportion of four parts error to one of fact. The contract for the book is signed and I have it in my possession. It was not procured in any unfair or dishonorable or clandestine way. It was purely a business transaction, and every incident connected with it will bear the minutest scrutiny. I do not believe the Century company have any hard feelings toward General Grant, and as I spent a social hour in their office a day or two after the contract was in my possession and was not able to notice any suggestion of coolness toward me, I think I am justified in considering that no coolness exists. I was merely one of a dozen publishers who applied for the book; we were all aware that the door was open to proposals; we made our propositions openly and aboveboard, and mine was accepted. I made no secret proposal. I left General Grant at full liberty to see it in negotiations with other publishers if he chose."
Mr. Clemens says the statement that there was a "deal" in the arrangements
by which one of the Grants was to be furnished business is ridiculous and false,
and that the story that no more of General Grant's articles are to be published
in the Century must be untrue as he knows of two or three Mss. from the
honored general's pen that are now in the Century company's safe, accepted
and paid for.