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Early Tales & Sketches, Vol. 1

Early Tales & Sketches, Vol. 1: 1851-1864

With the Assistance of HARRIET ELINOR SMITH
Copyright Date: 1979
Edition: 1
Pages: 812
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Early Tales & Sketches, Vol. 1
    Book Description:

    These 365 short works are products of Twain's literary apprenticeship which lasted from 1851 to 1871.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-90575-7
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-xiv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. xv-xviii)
    (pp. xix-xxii)
    (pp. 1-58)

    This collection brings together for the first time more than 360 of Mark Twain’s short works written between 1851, the year of his first extant sketch, and 1871, when he renounced his ties with the BuffaloExpressand theGalaxy,resolving to “write but little for periodicals hereafter.”¹ In October 1871 Clemens and his family moved to Hartford, where they would live until 1891. No longer a journalist, he was about to complete his second full-length book,Roughing It.The literary apprenticeship that he had begun twenty years before in the print shops of Hannibal, and pursued in the newspaper...


    • 1. A Gallant Fireman 16 January 1851
      (pp. 61-62)

      At the fire, on Thursday morning, we were apprehensive of our own safety, (being only one door from the building on fire) and commenced arranging our material in order to remove them in case of necessity. Our gallantdevil,seeing us somewhat excited, concluded he would perform a noble deed, and immediately gathered the broom, an old mallet, the wash-pan and a dirty towel, and in a fit of patriotic excitement, rushed out of the office and deposited his precious burden some ten squares off, out of danger. Being of asnailishdisposition, even in his quickest moments, the fire...

    • 2. The Dandy Frightening the Squatter 1 May 1852
      (pp. 63-65)

      About thirteen years ago, when the now flourishing young city of Hannibal, on the Mississippi River, was but a “wood-yard,” surrounded by a few huts, belonging to some hardy“squatters,”and such a thing as a steamboat was considered quite a sight, the following incident occurred:

      A tall, brawny woodsman stood leaning against a tree which stood upon the bank of the river, gazing at some approaching object, which our readers would easily have discovered to be a steamboat.

      About half an hour elapsed, and the boat was moored, and the hands busily engaged in taking on wood.

      Now among...

    • 3. Hannibal, Missouri 8 May 1852
      (pp. 66-68)

      The first house was built in this city about sixteen years ago. Then the wild war-whoop of the Indian resounded where now rise our stately buildings, and their bark canoes were moored where now land our noble steamers; here they traded their skins for guns, powder, &c. But where now are the children of the forest? Hushed is the war-cry—no more does the light canoe cut the crystal waters of the proud Mississippi; but the remnant of those once powerful tribes are torn asunder and scattered abroad, and they now wander far, far from the homes of their childhood...

    • 4. A Family Muss 9 September 1852
      (pp. 69-71)

      On the side of “Holliday’s Hill” there is a small house, occupied by an indefinite number of very large families, chiefly composed of Dutch, Irish, Scotch, Americans, English, &.c. The paternal head of one of these families took it into his head on Tuesday, to take holyday, and with this laudable intention, he left his work at an early hour in the day, and depositing a large “brick” carefully in his hat, he cleared for his “highland home.” After arriving without damage at his journey’s end, the idea struck him that he was very much in want of exercise; and...

      (pp. 72-77)

      These two sketches were installments in the first of Clemens’ journalistic “feuds” and were made possible by Orion’s absence in Tennessee. They appeared in two successive issues of the September 1852 HannibalJournal(a weekly): “‘Local’ Resolves to Commit Suicide” on September 16, and “‘Pictur” Department” one week later.

      Writing as “A Dog-bedeviled citizen” Orion had apparently complained about the noise of stray barking dogs sometime in mid-August 1852. His complaint had been answered by J. T. Hinton, the “local” for the HannibalTri-Weekly Messengerand a town newcomer, on August 24:

      A fierce hater of the canine race pours...

    • 7. Historical Exhibition—A No. 1 Ruse 16 September 1852
      (pp. 78-82)

      A young friend gives me the following yarn as fact, and if it should turn out to be a double joke, (that is, that he imagined the story to fool me with,) on his own head be the blame:

      It seems that the news had been pretty extensively circulated, that Mr. Curts, of the enterprising firm of Curts & Lockwood, was exhibiting at their store, for the benefit of the natives, a show of some kind, bearing the attractive title of “Bonaparte crossing the Rhine,” upon which he was to deliver a lecture, explaining its points, and giving the history...

    • 8. [Blab’s Tour] 23 September 1852
      (pp. 83-84)

      I believe it is customary, nowadays, for a man, as soon as he gets his name up, to take a “furrin” tour, for the benefit of his health; or, if his health is good, he goes without any excuse at all. Now, I think my health was sufficiently injured by last week’s efforts, to justify me in starting on my tour; and, ere your hebdomadal is published, I shall be on my way to another country—yes, Mr. Editor, I have retired from public life to the shades of Glasscock’s Island! —and I shall gratify such of your readers as...

    • 9. “Connubial Bliss” 4 November 1852
      (pp. 85-87)

      What a world of trouble those who never marry escape! There are many happy matches, it is true, and sometimes “my dear,” and “my love” come from the heart; but what sensible bachelor, rejoicing in his freedom and years of discretion, will run the tremendous risk?

      Preachers of temperance do not look for warning examples among moderate drinkers; but they point to the bloated, reeling drunkard; he who sleeps in the gutter at night, and cannot tell to-day, where his crust of bread is to come from to-morrow; who is a reproach to his relations; a terror to his family;...

    • 10. The Heart’s Lament 5 May 1853
      (pp. 88-90)
      (pp. 91-99)

      Clemens himself recounted the story of “The ‘Katie of H—L’ Controversy” in April 1871 in “My First Literary Venture” (no. 357). This piece conflated his experiences in 1852 and 1853 on Orion’s HannibalJournal,but the portion of his remarks that applies to these six items—published in theDaily Journalon 6, 7, 9, 10, 12, and 13 May 1853—deserves to be quoted here:

      Next I gently touched up the newest stranger—the lion of the day, the gorgeous journeyman tailor from Quincy. He was a simpering coxcomb of the first water and the “loudest” dressed and...

    • 17. Separation 11 May 1853
      (pp. 100-101)
    • 18. “Oh, She Has a Red Head!” 13 May 1853
      (pp. 102-105)

      Turn up your nose at red heads! What ignorance! I pity your lack of taste.

      Why, man, red is the natural color of beauty! What is there that is really beautiful or grand in Nature or Art, that is not tinted with this primordial color?

      What gives to the bright flowers of the field—those painted by Nature’s own hand—the power to charm the eye and purify the mind of man, and raise his thoughts to heaven, but the softening touches of the all-admired red!

      Unless the delicate blushes of the rose mingle upon the cheek of youth—though...

    • 19. The Burial of Sir Abner Gilstrap, Editor of the Bloomington Republican” 23 May 1853
      (pp. 106-109)

      We have pondered long and well over the Bloomington Republican’s mysterious rhymes in that paper of the 11th, but can’t discover what the editor was driving at, or what he intended to mean, and don’t suppose he knows himself. We could guess better at the meaning of Egyptian hieroglyphics than his verses. However, we’ll reply with a random shot of the same sort:...

    • 20. “Jul’us Caesar” 1855–1856
      (pp. 110-117)

      Don’t imagine, now, that you are to have a learned dissertation upon the life of the Caesar of history. No: our Caesar trod the hum bier paths of life; our Caesar wielded a hammer instead of a hattle-axe; war had no charms for him; but, on the contrary, his soul delighted in peace, penny cigars and lager-bier.

      Our Caesar stood about five feet eight inches in his stockings (or somebody else’s, for, according to his regular weekly complaint, his washerwomannever didbring back the same clothes she took away with her,); very thick heavy build; long, fiery red hair,...

    • 21. To Mollie 20 April 1856
      (pp. 118-119)
    • 22. “Lines Suggested by a Reminiscence, and Which You Will Perhaps Understand” Early May 1856
      (pp. 120-123)
    • 23. To Jennie 7 May 1856
      (pp. 124-125)
    • 24. [River Intelligence] 17 May 1859
      (pp. 126-133)

      Our friend Sergeant Fathom, one of the oldest cub pilots on the river, and now on the Railroad Line steamer Trombone, sends us a rather bad account concerning the state of the river. Sergeant Fathom is a “cub” of much experience, and although we are loth to coincide in his view of the matter, we give his note a place in our columns, only hoping that his prophesy will not be verified in this instance. While introducing the Sergeant, “we consider it but simple justice (we quote from a friend of his) to remark that he is distinguished for being,...

    • 25. [The Mysterious Murders in Risse] 1 August 1859
      (pp. 134-141)

      The phlegmatic depths of this usually quiet old town have just been stirred to the very bottom; its slumbers have been rudely disturbed, and at this moment it is rubbing its sleepy eyes in amazement—in a word, the staid and dignified city of Reutlingen hath been betrayed into an excitement. In the streets, on theSpaziergang,at the hotel, around the fireside, nothing is thought of; nothing is talked about, but the Mysterious Murders in Risse. The knees of the community, to the very last man, are shaky with terror, and their haggard countenances are capable of but one...

    • 26. [Pilot’s Memoranda] 30 August 1860
      (pp. 142-145)

      Pilot’s Memoranda—Steamer Arago left New Orleans on Wednesday, August 22, at 3 P. M. In port and loading for St Louis, steamers Sovereign and Great Western. 23d—Met Minne-ha ha at Port Hudson, Wm. M. Morrison at Palmetto Point; passed the Tommy-whack at Dead Mare, and the Yahoo at the Cotton Gin. 24th—Met John Walsh at Rodney, Sky Lark at Vicksburg; passed the Skylight and the Twilight and the Daylight at Mud Bar. These boats are said to befast,and so they may be, underordinarycircumstances. 25th—Met Dan’l G. Taylor at Lake Providence, Planet at...

    • 27. [Ghost Life on the Mississippi] January–June 1861
      (pp. 146-152)

      The recent death of an old Saint Louis and New Orleans pilot has brought the following strange story to light. I shall not attempt, by any word of my own, to secure the reader’s belief in it, but I will merely relate the simple facts in the case, as they fell from the lips of a dying man, and leave him to form his own opinion. Fictitious names, however, will be used throughout the narrative, in accordance with the wishes of certain actors in the mysterious drama who are still living.

      Joseph Millard, the pilot referred to, was a master...

  6. SECTION 2: NEVADA TERRITORY (1862–1864)

    • 28. Petrified Man 4 October 1862
      (pp. 155-159)

      A petrified man was found some time ago in the mountains south of Gravelly Ford. Every limb and feature of the stony mummy was perfect, not even excepting the left leg, which has evidently been a wooden one during the lifetime of the owner—which lifetime, by the way, came to a close about a century ago, in the opinion of a savan who has examined the defunct. The body was in a sitting posture, and leaning against a huge mass of croppings; the attitude was pensive, the right thumb resting against the side of the nose; the left thumb...

      (pp. 160-168)

      This comprises one hundred feet of the great Comstock lead, and is situated in the midst of the Ophir claims. We visited it yesterday, in company with Mr. Kingman, Assistant Superintendent, and our impression is that stout-legged people with an affinity to darkness, may spend an hour or so there very comfortably. A confused sense of being buried alive, and a vague consciousness of stony dampness, and huge timbers, and tortuous caverns, and bottomless holes with endless ropes hanging down into them, and narrow ladders climbing in a short twilight through the colossal lattice work and suddenly perishing in midnight,...

    • 31. The Pah-Utes 13–19 December 1862
      (pp. 169-170)

      Ah, well—it is touching to see these knotty and rugged old pioneers—who have beheld Nevada in her infancy, and toiled through her virgin sands unmolested by toll-keepers; and prospected her unsmiling hills, and knocked at the doors of her sealed treasure vaults; and camped with her horned-toads, and tarantulas and lizards, under her inhospitable sage brush; and smoked the same pipe; and imbibed lightning out of the same bottle; and eaten their regular bacon and beans from the same pot; and lain down to their rest under the same blanket—happy, and lousy and contented—yea, happier and...

    • 32. The Illustrious Departed 28 December 1862
      (pp. 171-174)

      Old Dan is gone, that good old soul, we ne’er shall see him morefor some time. He left for Carson yesterday, to be duly stamped and shipped to America, by way of the United States Overland Mail. As the stage was on the point of weighing anchor, the senior editor dashed wildly into Wasserman’s and captured a national flag, which he cast about Dan’s person to the tune of three rousing cheers from the bystanders. So, with the gorgeous drapery floating behind him, our kind and genial hero passed from our sight; and if fervent prayers from us, who seldom...

    • 33. Our Stock Remarks 30–31 December 1862
      (pp. 175-176)

      Owing to the fact that our stock reporter attended a wedding last evening, our report of transactions in that branch of robbery and speculation is not quite as complete and satisfactory as usual this morning. About eleven o’clock last night the aforesaid remarker pulled himself up stairs by the banisters, and stumbling over the stove, deposited the following notes on our table, with the remark: “S(hic)am, just ’laberate this, w(hic)ill, yer?” We said we would, but we couldn't. If any of our readers think they can, we shall be pleased to see the translation. Here are the notes: “Stocks brisk,...

    • 34. More Ghosts 1 January 1863
      (pp. 177-178)

      Are we to be scared to death every time we venture into the street? May we be allowed to go quietly about our business, or are we to be assailed at every corner by fearful apparitions? As we were plodding home at the ghostly hour last night, thinking about the haunted house humbug, we were suddenly riveted to the pavement in a paroxysm of terror by that blue and yellow phantom who watches over the destinies of the shooting gallery, this side of the International. Seen in daylight, placidly reclining against his board in the doorway, with his blue coat,...

    • 35. New Year’s Day 1 January 1863
      (pp. 179-180)

      Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual. Yesterday, everybody smoked his last cigar, took his last drink, and swore his last oath. To-day, we are a pious and exemplary community. Thirty days from now, we shall have cast our reformation to the winds and gone to cutting our ancient shortcomings considerably shorter than ever. We shall also reflect pleasantly upon how we did the same old thing last year about this time. However, go in, community. New Year’s is a harmless annual institution, of...

    • 36. Unfortunate Thief 8 January 1863
      (pp. 181-182)

      We have been suffering from the seven years’ itch for many months. It is probably the most aggravating disease in the world. It is contagious. That man has commenced a career of suffering which is frightful to contemplate; there is no cure for the distemper—it must run its course; there is no respite for its victim, and but little alleviation of its torments to be hoped for; the unfortunate’s only resource is to bathe in sulphur and molasses and let his finger nails grow. Further advice is unnecessary—instinct will prompt him to scratch....

    • 37. The Sanitary Ball 10 January 1863
      (pp. 183-187)

      The Sanitary Ball at La Plata Hall on Thursday night was a very marked success, and proved heyond the shadow of a doubt, the correctness of our theory, that ladies never fail in undertakings of this kind. If there had been about two dozen more people there, the house would have been crowded—as it was, there was room enough on the floor for the dancers, without trespassing on their neighbors’ corns. Several of those long, trailing dresses, even, were under fire in the thickest of the fight for six hours, and came out as free from rips and rents...

    • 38. Due Notice 10 January 1863
      (pp. 188-189)

      Moralists and philosophers have adjudged those who throw temptation in the way of the erring, equally guilty with those who are thereby led into evil; and we therefore hold the man who suffers that turkey to run at large just back of our office as culpable as ourself, if some day that fowl is no longer perceptible to human vision. The Czar of Russia never cast his eye on the minarets of Byzantium half as longingly as we gaze on that old gobbler. Turkey stuffed with oysters is our weakness—our mouth waters at the recollection of sundry repasts of...

    • 39. Territorial Sweets 22–28 January 1863
      (pp. 190-191)

      The following, which will do to sweeten some bachelor's coffee with, was picked up in front of the International:

      “Darling: I have not had time to write you to-day—I have worked hard entertaining company.Docome and see your little pet. I yearn for the silvery cadence of your voice—I thirst for the bubbling stream of your affection.

      “We feel for that girl. The water privilege which she pines for so lovingly has probably dried up and departed, else her sweet note would not have been floating around the streets without a claimant. We feel for her deeply...

    • 40. Letter from Carson City 3 February 1863
      (pp. 192-198)

      Eds. Enterprise: I feel very much as if I had just awakened out of a long sleep. I attribute it to the fact that I have slept the greater part of the time for the last two days and nights. On Wednesday, I sat up all night, in Virginia, in order to be up early enough to take the five o’clock stage on Thursday morning. I was on time. It was a great success. I had a cheerful trip down to Carson, in company with that incessant talker, Joseph T. Goodman. I never saw him flooded with such a flow...

    • 41. Letter from Carson 5 February 1863
      (pp. 199-204)

      Eds. Enterprise:—I received the following atrocious document the morning I arrived here. It is from that abandoned profligate, the Unreliable, and I think it speaks for itself:

      To the Unreliable—Sir:—Observing the driver of the Virginia stage hunting after you this morning, in order to collect his fare, I infer you are in town.

      In the paper which you represent, I noticed an article which I took to be an effusion of your muddled brain, stating that I had “cabbaged” a number of valuable articles from you the night I took you out of the streets in Washoe...

    • 42. Letter from Carson 8 February 1863
      (pp. 205-209)

      Eds. Enterprise:—The community were taken by surprise last night, by the marriage of Dr. J. H. Wayman and Mrs. M. A. Ormsby. Strategy did it. form K. Trumbo lured the people to a party at his house, and corraled them, and in the meantime Acting Governor Clemens proceeded to the bride’s dwelling and consolidated the happy couple under the name and style of Mr. and Mrs. Wayman, with a life charter, perpetual succession, unlimited marital privileges, principal place of business at ho—blast those gold and silver mining incorporations! I have compiled a long list of them from the...

    • 43. Silver Bars—How Assayed 17–22 February 1863
      (pp. 210-214)

      We propose to speak of some silver bars which we have been looking at, and to talk science a little, also, in this article, if we find that what we learned in the latter line yesterday has not escaped our memory. The bars we allude to were at the banking house of Paxton & Thornburgh, and were five in number; they were the concentrated result of portions of two eight-day runs of the Hoosier State Mill, on Potosi rock. The first of the bricks bore the following inscription, which is poetry stripped of flowers and flummery, and reduced to plain...

    • 44. Ye Sentimental Law Student 19 February 1863
      (pp. 215-219)

      Eds. Enterprise—I found the following letter, or Valentine, or whatever it is, lying on the summit, where it had been dropped unintentionally, I think. It was written on a sheet of legal cap, and each line was duly commenced within the red mark which traversed the sheet from top to bottom. Solon appeared to have had some trouble getting his effusion started to suit him. He had begun it, “Know all men by these presents,” and scratched it out again; he had substituted, “Now at this day comes the plaintiff, by his attorney,” and scratched that out also; he...

    • 45. A Sunday in Carson 24 February–31 March 1863
      (pp. 220-222)

      I arrived in this noisy and bustling town of Carson at noon to-day, per Langton’s express. We made pretty good time from Virginia, and might have made much better, but for Horace Smith, Esq., who rode on the box seat and kept the stage so much by the head she wouldn’t steer. I went to church, of course,—I always go to church when I—when I go to church—as it were. I got there just in time to hear the closing hymn, and also to hear the Rev. Mr. White give out a longmetre doxology, which the choir...

    • 46. The Unreliable 25 February 1863
      (pp. 223-225)

      This poor miserable outcast crowded himself into the Firemen’s Ball, night before last, and glared upon the happy scene with his evil eye for a few minutes. He had his coat buttoned up to his chin, which is the way he always does when he has no shirt on. As soon as the managers found out he was there, they put him out, of course. They had better have allowed him to stay, though, for he walked straight across the street, with all his vicious soul aroused, and climbed in at the back window of the supper room and gobbled...

    • 47. Reportorial 26 February 1863
      (pp. 226-228)

      He became a newspaper reporter, and crushed Truth to earth and kept her there; he bought and sold his own notes, and never paid his board; he pretended great friendship for Gillespie, in order to get to sleep with him; then he took advantage of his bed fellow and robbed him of his glass eye and his false teeth; of course he sold the articles, and Gillespie was obliged to issue more county scrip than the law allowed, in order to get them back again; the Unreliable broke into my trunk at Washoe City, and took jewelry and fine clothes...

    • 48. Examination of Teachers March–April 1863
      (pp. 229-232)

      A grand examination of candidates for positions as teachers in our public schools was had yesterday in one of the rooms of the Public School in this city. Some twenty-eight candidates were present—twenty-three of whom were ladies and five gentlemen. We do the candidates but simple justice when we say that we have never seen more intelligent faces in a crowd of the size. The following gentlemen constituted the Board of Examiners: Dr. Geiger, Mr. J. W. Whicher and John A. Collins. We observed that Messrs. Feusier, Adkison and Robinson of the Board of Trustees were also present yesterday....

    • 49. City Marshal Perry 4 March 1863
      (pp. 233-238)

      John Van Buren Perry, recently re-elected City Marshal of Virginia City, was born a long time ago, in County Kerry, Ireland, of poor but honest parents, who were descendants, beyond question, of a house of high antiquity. The founder of it was distinguished for his eloquence; he was the property of one Baalam, and received honorable mention in the Bible.

      John Van Buren Perry removed to the United States in 1792—after having achieved a high gastronomical reputation by creating the first famine in his native land—and established himself at Kinderhook, New Jersey, as a teacher of vocal and...

    • 50. [Champagne with the Board of Brokers] 7 March 1863
      (pp. 239-240)

      By a sort of instinct we happened in at Almack’s just at the moment that the corks were about to pop, and discovering that we had intruded we were retreating when Daggett, the soulless, insisted upon our getting—–with the Board of Brokers, and we very naturally did so. The President had already been toasted, the Vice-President had likewise been complimented in the same manner. Mr. Mitchell had delivered an address through his unsolicited mouth-piece, Mr. Daggett, whom he likened unto Baalam’s ass—and very aptly too—and the press had been toasted, and he had attempted to respond...

    • 51. Advice to the Unreliable on Church-Going 12 April 1863
      (pp. 241-243)

      In the first place, I must impress upon you that when you are dressing for church, as a general thing, you mix your perfumes too much; your fragrance is sometimes oppressive; you saturate yourself with cologne and bergamot, until you make a sort of Hamlet’s Ghost of yourself, and no man can decide, with the first whiff, whether you bring with you air from Heaven or from hell. Now, rectify this matter as soon as possible; last Sunday you smelled like a secretary to a consolidated drug store and barber shop. And you came and sat in the same pew...

    • 52. Horrible Affair 16–18 April 1863
      (pp. 244-247)

      For a day or two a rumor has been floating around, that five Indians had been smothered to death in a tunnel back of Gold Hill, but no one seemed to regard it in any other light than as a sensation hoax gotten up for the edification of strangers sojourning within our gates. However, we asked a Gold Hill man about it yesterday, and he said there was no shadow of a jest in it—that it was a dark and terrible reality. He gave us the following story as being the version generally accepted in Gold Hill:—That town...

    • 53. Letter from Mark Twain 19–21 May 1863
      (pp. 248-253)

      Eds. Enterprise:—The Unreliable, since he has been here, has conducted himself in such a reckless and unprincipled manner that he has brought the whole Territory into disrepute and made its name a reproach, and its visiting citizens objects of suspicion. He has been a perfect nightmare to the officers of the Occidental Hotel. They give him an excellent room, but if, in prowling about the house, he finds another that suits him better, he “locates” it (that is his slang way of expressing it). Judging by his appearance what manner of man he was, the hotel clerk at first...

    • 54. “Mark Twain’s” Letter 9 July 1863
      (pp. 254-258)

      Editors Call:—After an absence of two months, I stand in the midst of my native sage-brush once more; and in the midst of bustle and activity, and turmoil and confusion, to which lunch-time in the Tower of Babel was foolishness. B and C streets swarm with men, and horses, and wagons, and pack-trains, and dry-goods, and quartz, and bricks, and stone, and lumber, to such a degree that it is almost impossible to navigate them. And then the infernal racket—O, for the solitude of Montgomery street again! Everybody is building, apparently. The boundaries of the city of Virginia...

    • 55. “Mark Twain’s” Letter 30 July 1863
      (pp. 259-261)

      The war between Judges Jones and Mott, about the Judgeship of this District, has come to an end, it grieves me to say, without bloodshed. Not that I cared a straw, either way, but then the people expected blood, and the sovereign people should never be baulked in their desires. Yes, Judge Mott returned from the East, and marched up and reinstalled D. M. Hanson in the District Clerk’s office, without a show of resistance from anybody. This manner of ending a war which promised so much destruction and desolation, is what the late William Shakspeare would have called a...

    • 56. A Duel Prevented 2 August 1863
      (pp. 262-266)

      Whereas, Thomas Fitch, editor of theUnion,having taken umbrage at an article headed “The Virginia Union—not the Federal,” written by Joseph T. Goodman, our chief editor, and published in these columns; and whereas said Fitch having challenged said Goodman to mortal combat, naming John Church as his “friend;” and whereas the said Goodman having accepted said challenge, and chosen Thos. Peasley to appoint the means of death

      Therefore, on Friday afternoon it was agreed between the two seconds that the battle should transpire at nine o’clock yesterday morning (which would have been late in the day for a...

    • 57. [An Apology Repudiated] 4 August 1863
      (pp. 267-269)

      We are to blame for giving “the Unreliable” an opportunity to misrepresent us, and therefore refrain from repining to any great extent at the result. We simply claim the right todeny the truthof every statement made by him in yesterday’s paper, to annul all apologies he coined as coming from us, and to hold him up to public commiseration as a reptile endowed with no more intellect, no more cultivation, no more Christian principle than animates and adorns the sportive jackass rabbit of the Sierras. We have done....

    • 58. Letter from Mark Twain 25 August 1863
      (pp. 270-276)

      Eds. Enterprise: I have overstepped my furlough a full week—but then this is a pleasant place to pass one's time. These springs are ten miles from Virginia, six or seven from Washoe City and twenty from Carson. They are natural—the devil boils the water, and the white steam puffs up out of crevices in the earth, along the summits of a series of low mounds extending in an irregular semi-circle for more than a mile. The water is impregnated with a dozen different minerals, each one of which smells viler than its fellow, and the sides of the...

    • 59. “Mark Twain’s” Letter 30 August 1863
      (pp. 277-283)

      Editors Morning Call:—Some things are inevitable. If you tell a girl she is pretty, she will “let on” that she is offended; if seventeen men travel by stage-coach, they will grumble because they cannot all have outside seats; if you leave your room vacant all the forenoon to give the chambermaid a chance to put it in order, you will find that urbane but inflexible officer ready to begin her labors there at the exact moment of your return. These are patent—but I am able to add another to the list of inevitable things: if you get a...

    • 60. Unfortunate Blunder 3 September 1863
      (pp. 284-287)

      We shipped ten thousand dollars in silver bars to the Sanitary Fund yesterday. But I cannot write to-day; I have no more animation than a sick puppy. However, I suppose I ought to inform the public about a circumstance which happened in the Court House this morning, and which was a most

      The Union League holds its meetings in the District Court Room on certain nights during the week; on Sundays the services of the First Presbyterian Church are held in the same apartment. This morning an Irish member of the League, who had been drinking a good deal, came...

    • 61. Bigler vs. Tahoe 4–5 September 1863
      (pp. 288-290)

      Hope some early bird will catch this Grub the next time he calls Lake Bigler by so disgustingly sick and silly a name as “Lake Tahoe.” I have removed the offensive word from his letter and substituted the old one, which at least has a Christian English twang about it whether it is pretty or not. Of course Indian names are more fitting than any others for our beautiful lakes and rivers, which knew their race ages ago, perhaps, in the morning of creation, but let us have none so repulsive to the ear as “Tahoe” for the beautiful relic...

    • 62. Letter from Mark Twain 17 September 1863
      (pp. 291-295)

      Editors Enterprise:—The trip from Virginia to Carson by Messrs. Carpenter &. Hoog’s stage is a pleasant one, and from thence over the mountains by the Pioneer would be another, if there were less of it. But you naturally want an outside seat in the day time, and you feel a good deal like riding inside when the cold night winds begin to blow; yet if you commence your journey on the outside, you will find that you will be allowed to enjoy the desire I speak of unmolested from twilight to sunrise. An outside seat is preferable, though, day...

    • 63. How to Cure a Cold 20 September 1863
      (pp. 296-303)

      It is a good thing, perhaps, to write for the amusement of the public, but it is a far higher and nobler thing to write for their instruction—their profit—their actual and tangible benefit.

      The latter is the sole object of this article.

      If it prove the means of restoring to health one solitary sufferer among my race—of lighting up once more the fire of hope and joy in his faded eyes—of bringing back to his dead heart again the quick, generous impulses of other days—I shall be amply rewarded for my labor; my soul will...

    • 64. Mark Twain—More of Him 27 September 1863
      (pp. 304-312)

      “A Lady at the Lick House” writes:

      “Edrs. Golden Era—We are all delighted with the ‘Letter,’ describing the brilliant Ball at Mr. Barren’s. I am a Washoe widow, was among the favored few, and went. Sarah Smith skipped me in the toilettes. I suppose I wasn’t very stunning, although Brigham & Co. said I looked ‘swell,’ and that ‘Robergh’ couldn’t get up anything better. Some months ago, when my spouse, now at Reese River, first brought me down from Virginia City to stop in San Francisco, I arrived in the nick of time to attend one of those charming...

    • 65. The Lick House Ball 27 September 1863
      (pp. 313-319)

      Eds. Era: I have received a letter from the land of eternal summer—Washoe, you understand—requesting a short synopsis of the San Francisco fashions for reference. There are ten note paper pages of it. I read it all. For two hours I worked along through it—spelling a word laboriously here and there—figuring out sentences by main strength— getting three or four of them corraled, all ragged and disjointed, and then skirmishing around after the connection—two hours of unflagging labor, determination and blasphemy, unrewarded by one solitary shadow of a suspicion of what the writer was trying...

    • 66. A Bloody Massacre near Carson 28 October 1863
      (pp. 320-326)

      From Abram Curry, who arrived here yesterday afternoon from Carson, we have learned the following particulars concerning a bloody massacre which was committed in Ormsby county night before last. It seems that during the past six months a man named P. Hopkins, or Philip Hopkins, has been residing with his family in the old log house just at the edge of the great pine forest which lies between Empire City and Dutch Nick’s. The family consisted of nine children—five girls and four boys—the oldest of the group, Mary, being nineteen years old, and the youngest, Tommy, about a...

    • 67. Letter from Mark Twain 17 November 1863
      (pp. 327-330)

      Editors Enterprise:—“Compiled by our own Reporter!” Thus the Virginia Union of this morning gobbles up the labors of another man. That “Homographic Record of the Constitutional Convention” was compiled by Mr. Gillespie, Secretary of the Convention, at odd moments snatched from the incessant duties of his position, and unassisted by “our own reporter” or anybody else. Now this isn’t fair, you know. Give the devil his due—by which metaphor I refer to Gillespie, but in an entirely inoffensive manner, I trust; and do not go and give the credit of this work to one who is not entitled...

    • 68. A Tide of Eloquence 1–3 December 1863
      (pp. 331-332)

      Afterwards, Mr. Mark Twain being enthusiastically called upon, arose, and without previous preparation, burst forth in a tide of eloquence so grand, so luminous, so beautiful and so resplendent with the gorgeous fires of genius, that the audience were spell-bound by the magic of his words, and gazed in silent wonder in each other’s faces as men who felt that they were listening to one gifted with inspiration [Applause.] The proceedings did not end here, but at this point we deemed it best to stop reporting and go to dissipating, as the dread solitude of our position as a sober,...

    • 69. Letter from Mark Twain 19–20 January 1864
      (pp. 333-338)

      By authority of an invitation from Hon. Wm. M. Gillespie, member of the House Committee on Colleges and Common Schools, I accompanied that statesman on an unofficial visit to the excellent school of Miss Clapp and Mrs. Cutler, this afternoon. The air was soft and balmy—the sky was cloudless and serene—the odor of flowers floated upon the idle breeze—the glory of the sun descended like a benediction upon mountain and meadow and plain—the wind blew like the very devil, and the day was generally disagreeable.

      The school—however, I will mention, first that a charter for...

    • 70. Winters’ New House 12 February 1864
      (pp. 339-342)

      Theodore Winters’ handsome dwelling in Washoe Valley, is an eloquent witness in behalf of Mr. Steele’s architectural skill. The basement story is built of brick, and the spacious court which surrounds it, and whose columns support the verandah above, is paved with large, old-fashioned tiles. On this floor is the kitchen, diningroom, bath-room, bed chambers for servants, and a commodious store-room, with shelves laden with all manner of substantials and luxuries for the table. All these apartments are arranged in the most convenient manner, and are fitted and furnished handsomely and plainly, but expensively. Water pipes are numerous in this...

    • 71. An Excellent School February 1864
      (pp. 343-346)

      I expect Mr. Lawlor keeps the best private school in the Territory—or the best school of any kind, for that matter. I attended one of his monthly examinations a week ago, or such a matter, with Mr. Clagett, and we arrived at the conclusion that one might acquire a good college education there within the space of six months. Mr. Lawlor’s is a little crib of a school-house, papered from floor to ceiling with black-boards adorned with impossible mathematical propositions done in white chalk. The effect is bewildering, to the stranger, but otherwise he will find the place comfortable...

    • 72. Those Blasted Children 21 February 1864
      (pp. 347-356)

      Editors T.T.:—No. 165 is a pleasant room. It is situated at the head of a long hall, down which, on either side, are similar rooms occupied by sociable bachelors, and here and there one tenanted by an unsociable nurse or so. Charley Creed sleeps in No. 157. He is my time-piece—or, at least, his boots are. If I look down the hall and see Charley’s boots still before his door, I know it is early yet, and I may hie me sweetly to bed again. But if those unerring boots are gone, I know it is after eleven...

    • 73. Frightful Accident to Dan De Quille 20 April 1864
      (pp. 357-361)

      Our time-honored confrere, Dan, met with a disastrous accident, yesterday, while returning from American City on a vicious Spanish horse, the result of which accident is that at the present writing he is confined to his bed and suffering great bodily pain. He was coming down the road at the rate of a hundred miles an hour (as stated in his will, which he made shortly after the accident,) and on turning a sharp corner, he suddenly hove in sight of a horse standing square across the channel; he signaled for the starboard, and put his helm down instantly, but...

    • 74. [Dan Reassembled] 28–30 April 1864
      (pp. 362-364)

      The idea of a plebeian like Dan supposing he could ever ride a horse! He! why, even the cats and the chickens laughed when they saw him go by. Of course, he would be thrown off. Of course, any well-bred horse wouldn’t let a common, underbred person like Dan stay on his back! When they gathered him up he was just a bag of scraps, but they put him together, and you’ll find him at his old place in theEnterpriseoffice next week, still laboring under the delusion that he’s a newspaper man....

    • 75. Washoe—“Information Wanted” 1–15 May 1864
      (pp. 365-372)

      “Dear Sir:—My object in writing to yon is to have you give me a full history of Nevada: What is the character of its climate? What are the productions of the earth? Is it healthy? What diseases do they die of mostly? Do you think it would be advisable for a man who can make a living in Missouri to emigrate to that part of the country? There are several of us who would emigrate there in the spring if we could ascertain to a certainty that it is a much better country than this. I suppose you know...


    • APPENDIX A Attributed Items: Hannibal and the River (1851–1861)
      (pp. 375-386)
    • APPENDIX B Attributed Items: Nevada Territory (1862–1864)
      (pp. 387-426)
    • APPENDIX C Advertisements, Prefaces, and Contracts
      (pp. 427-440)
    (pp. 441-498)

      (pp. 501-669)

      From the beginning of his career as a professional journalist Mark took steps to gather and preserve clippings of his work, intending to republish them. “Put all of Josh’s letters in my scrap book,” he Orion Clemens when his first contributions to the Virginia CityTerritorial Enterprisebegan to appear in 1862, “I may have use for some day.” The request was typical, and, indeed, the files were maintained so carefully that four years later, in June 1866, Mark said he was able to lend Anson Burlingame “pretty much everything I ever wrote.”¹

      Mark Twain’s early impulse to preserve and...

    • Description of Texts
      (pp. 670-676)

      The following list identifies and briefly characterizes textually significant editions, impressions, and issues of Mark Twain’s early tales and sketches used in the preparation of the present collection. These include editions for which Mark Twain prepared the printer’s copy, as well as editions that he did not so prepare but that form part of the chain of transmission. Individual journal printings and manuscripts, and several minor editions that affect only a few sketches, are not included in this list but are of course defined in the textual commentaries. Also excluded, but listed at the end, are a group of editions...

    • Textual Commentaries, Notes, and Tables
      (pp. 677-757)

      The first printing appeared in the HannibalWestern Unionfor 16 January 1851 (p. 3). The original newspaper is not available, so a PH of it in MoHist is copy-text. Clemens may have typeset and proofread the sketch, since he was on the paper’s staff.

      62.3 material . .. them] The technical term “material” meant “the Types, Rules, Leads, Quotations, Furniture, and other material belonging to the composing-room” (Thomas Lynch,The Printer’s Manual: A Practical Guide for Compositors and Pressmen[Cincinnati: The Cincinnati Type-Foundry, 1859], p. 45). Clemens followed contemporary usage — and his own normal practice at this time — in...

    • Word Division in This Volume
      (pp. 758-758)
  10. INDEX
    (pp. 761-790)
  11. Back Matter
    (pp. 791-791)