“Mark Twain’s Washington Career” _ Daily Evening Bulletin (San Francisco) 21 Nov 1885, front

Daily Evening Bulletin (San Francisco) 21 Nov 1885, front _ Mark Twain's Washington Career _ Courtesy Library of Congress

Daily Evening Bulletin (San Francisco) 21 Nov 1885, front _ Mark Twain’s Washington Career _ Courtesy Library of Congress

I knew Mark Twain when he was a fellow Washington correspondent many years ago, before his “Innocents Abroad” brought him fame and fortune. I had opportunities to see his working habits then, and I hear that he has not materially changed them since. Mark was then writing letters for a California paper, while at the same time planning several gigantic works, as is the wont of beginners in the field of letters. His room was a perfect chaos, his table a curiosity in its way. One it could be seen anything – from soiled manuscript to old boots. He never laid his paper on he table when writing, partly because there was no available space, and partly because the position so necessitated was too much for his lazy bones. With both feet plunged in MSS., chair titled back and note-book and pencil in hand, he did all the writing I ever saw him do. An ordinary atmosphere would not suffice to set in motion the stream of Mark’s ideas. It must first be thoroughly saturated with the vilest tobacco smoke, which he puffed from a villainous pipe – said pipe having never received a cleaning – as many newspaper friends of those days can testify. He regarded this pipe as his salvation from boors, taking a ghastly light in puffing away like a locomotive when an undesirable visitor dropped in, and eagerly watching the paleness which gradually crept over the face of the enemy as the poisonous stuff got in its work. – Washington Letter.

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