I only retain correspondence enough, now, to make a living for myself, and have discarded all else, so that I may have time to spare for the book. Drat the thing, I wish it were done, or that I had no other writing to do.
This is the place to get a poor opinion of everybody in. There isn't one man in Washington, in civil office, who has the brains of Anson Burlingame--and I suppose if China had not seized and saved his great talents to the world, this government would have discarded him when his time was up.
There are more pitiful intellects in this Congress! Oh, geeminy! There are few of them that I find pleasant enough company to visit.
I am most infernally tired of Wash. and its "attractions." To be busy is a man's only happiness--and I am--otherwise I should die Yrs. aff SAM.
The secretarial position with Senator Stewart was short-lived. One cannot imagine Mark Twain as anybody's secretary, and doubtless there was little to be gained on either side by the arrangement. They parted without friction, though in later years, when Stewart had become old and irascible, he used to recount a list of grievances and declare that he had been obliged to threaten violence in order to bring Mark to terms; but this was because the author of Roughing It had in that book taken liberties with the Senator, to the extent of an anecdote and portrait which, though certainly harmless enough, had for some reason given deep offense.
Mark Twain really had no time for secretary work. For one thing he was associated with John Swinton in supplying a Washington letter to a list of newspapers, and then he was busy collecting his Quaker City letters, and preparing the copy for his book. Matters were going well enough, when trouble developed from an unexpected quarter. The Alta-California had copyrighted the letters and proposed to issue them in book form. There had been no contract which would prevent this, and the correspondence which Clemens undertook with the Alta management led to nothing. He knew that he had powerful friends among the owners, if he could reach them personally, and he presently concluded to return to San Francisco, make what arrangement he could, and finish his book there. It was his fashion to be prompt; in his next letter we find him already on the way.
To Mrs. Jane Clemens and family, in St. Louis:
AT SEA, Sunday, March 15, Lat. 25. (1868) DEAR FOLKS,--I have nothing to write, except that I am well--that the weather is fearfully hot-that the Henry Chauncey is a magnificent ship-- that we have twelve hundred, passengers on board-that I have two staterooms, and so am not crowded--that I have many pleasant friends here, and the people are not so stupid as on the Quaker City--that we had Divine Service in the main saloon at 10.30 this morning--that we expect to meet the upward bound vessel in Latitude 23, and this is why I am writing now.