[Autograph Letter, Signed "Mark," to Richard Watson Gilder]
by Clemens, Samuel L
Condition: See description
Kaltenleutgeben, near Vienna., 1898. 3 1/3 pages, in ink, on rectos and versos of two octavo lettersheets. Modest tanning, old folds from mailing, slightly weak at one fold, one word slightly smudged below baseline, otherwise very good. To "Dear Gilder," in the recipient's role as editor of CENTURY MAGAZINE: "If I want more, 'say so.' A young person would walk into that trap, imagining it a promise, whereas it has only the gilded outside aspect of one ... But I am not a young person: I have had it & cannot catch it again. So I, who am the descendant of the horse-beck's daughter, say not a single word, but am amply content with the addition of that great compliment wherein you tell me it is the highest price you have ever paid to anybody for anything. I have had that compliment paid to me three or four times in my life, & in every case there was something upliftingly splendid about the feel of it. I think it must be the way a pirate or tiger feels when he has made a 'record' ... I still remember the first two instances ... One was 31 years ago, when a now forgotten London magazine went down into its treasury & paid me $12.50 per mag. page for a 4-page article; the other was 22 years ago when the Atlantic paid me $18 per mag page for a series of articles. To be conscientiously accurate, that wasn't the highest the Atlantic had ever paid for prose - it had paid the same rate to Holmes for the 'Autocrat.' Still, as you will easily understand, the 'feel' was there: because to be rated with Oliver Wendell was itself a 'record.' In those days the author hadn't his today's chance to scrape the fat off'n an editor, but in those days there wasn't any fat on him - he hadn't either circulation or advertisements ...." Signed "Yours sincerely Mark [flourish]."
George Psalmanazar played a grand prank in 1703, pretending to be a resident of the island of Formosa. His book took London by storm. Learn more...
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