The Chicago Tribune wants letters, but I hope and pray I have charged them so much that they will not close the contract. I am gradually getting out of debt, but these trips to New York do cost like sin. I hope you have cut out and forwarded my printed letters to Washington --please continue to do so as they arrive.
I have had a tip-top time, here, for a few days (guest of Mr. Jno. Hooker's family--Beecher's relatives-in a general way of Mr. Bliss, also, who is head of the publishing firm.) Puritans are mighty straight-laced and they won't let me smoke in the parlor, but the Almighty don't make any better people.
Love to all-good-bye. I shall be in New York 3 days--then go on to the Capital. Yrs affly, especially Ma., Yr SAM.
I have to make a speech at the annual Herald dinner on the 6th of May.
No formal contract for the book had been made when this letter was written. A verbal agreement between Bliss and Clemens had been reached, to be ratified by an exchange of letters in the near future. Bliss had made two propositions, viz., ten thousand dollars, cash in hand, or a 5-per-cent. royalty on the selling price of the book. The cash sum offered looked very large to Mark Twain, and he was sorely tempted to accept it. He had faith, however, in the book, and in Bliss's ability to sell it. He agreed, therefore, to the royalty proposition; "The best business judgment I ever displayed" he often declared in after years. Five per cent. royalty sounds rather small in these days of more liberal contracts. But the American Publishing Company sold its books only by subscription, and the agents' commissions and delivery expenses ate heavily into the profits. Clemens was probably correct in saying that his percentage was larger than had been paid to any previous author except Horace Greeley. The John Hooker mentioned was the husband of Henry Ward Beecher's sister, Isabel. It was easy to understand the Beecher family's robust appreciation of Mark Twain.
From the office of Dan Slote, his room-mate of the Quaker City-- "Dan" of the Innocents--Clemens wrote his letter that closed the agreement with Bliss.
To Elisha Bliss, Jr., in Hartford:
Office of SLOTE & WOODMAN, Blank Book Manufacturers, Nos. 119-121 William St. NEW YORK, January 27, 1868. Mr. E. Bliss, Jr. Sec'y American Publishing Co. Hartford Conn.