To Elisha Bliss, Jr., in Hartford:
Dr. SIR,--The Alta people, after some hesitation, have given me permission to use my printed letters, and have ceased to think of publishing them themselves in book form. I am steadily at work, and shall start East with the completed Manuscript, about the middle of June.
I lectured here, on the trip, the other night-over sixteen hundred dollars in gold in the house--every seat taken and paid for before night. Yrs truly, MARK TWAIN.
But he did not sail in June. His friends persuaded him to cover his lecture circuit of two years before, telling the story of his travels. This he did with considerable profit, being everywhere received with great honors. He ended this tour with a second lecture in San Francisco, announced in a droll and characteristic fashion which delighted his Pacific admirers, and insured him a crowded house.--[See Mark Twain: A Biography, chap xlvi, and Appendix H.]
His agreement had been to deliver his MS. about August 1st. Returning by the Chauncey, July 28th, he was two days later in Hartford, and had placid the copy for the new book in Bliss's hands. It was by no means a compilation of his newspaper letters. His literary vision was steadily broadening. All of the letters had been radically edited, some had been rewritten, some entirely eliminated. He probably thought very well of the book, an opinion shared by Bliss, but it is unlikely that either of them realized that it was to become a permanent classic, and the best selling book of travel for at least fifty years.
LETTERS 1868-70. COURTSHIP, AND "THE INNOCENTS ABROAD"
The story of Mark Twain's courtship has been fully told in the completer story of his life; it need only be briefly sketched here as a setting for the letters of this period. In his letter of January 8th we note that he expects to go to Elmira for a few days as soon as he has time.
But he did not have time, or perhaps did not receive a pressing invitation until he had returned with his MS. from California. Then, through young Charles Langdon, his Quaker City shipmate, he was invited to Elmira. The invitation was given for a week, but through a subterfuge--unpremeditated, and certainly fair enough in a matter of love-he was enabled to considerably prolong his visit. By the end of his stay he had become really "like one of the family," though certainly not yet accepted as such. The fragmentary letter that follows reflects something of his pleasant situation. The Mrs. Fairbanks mentioned in this letter had been something more than a "shipmother" to Mark Twain. She was a woman of fine literary taste, and Quaker City correspondent for her husband's paper, the Cleveland Herald. She had given Mark Twain sound advice as to his letters, which he had usually read to her, and had in no small degree modified his early natural tendency to exaggeration and outlandish humor. He owed her much, and never failed to pay her tribute.