[This statement was prepared by MT and his nephew, Samuel E. Moffett. After appearing in the Examiner, it was widely printed in other American papers.]
Mark Twain to Pay All
On His Way Around the World Now to Raise the Money
Sam L. Clemens (Mark Twain), who is about leaving for Australia, in an interview concerning the purpose of his long trip said:
"I am idle until lecture-time. Write, and I will dictate and sign. My run across the continent, covering the first 4,000 miles of this lecturing tour around the world, has revealed to me so many friends of whose existence I was unconscious before, and so much kindly and generous sympathy with me in my financial mishaps, that I feel that it will not be obtrusive self-assertion, but an act of simple justice to that loyal friendship, as well as to my own reputation, to make a public statement of the purpose which I have held from the beginning, and which is now in the process of execution.
"It has been reported that I sacrificed for the benefit of creditors the property of the publishing firm whose financial backer I was, and that I am now lecturing for my own benefit. This is an error. I intend the lectures as well as the property for the creditors.
"The law recognizes no mortgage on a man's brain, and the merchant who has given up all he has may take advantage of the rules of insolvency and start again for himself. But I am not a business man, and honor is a harder master than the law. It cannot compromise for less than one hundred cents on the dollar, and its debts never outlaw.
"I had a two-thirds interest in the publishing firm, whose capital I furnished, and if the firm had prospered I should have expected to collect two-thirds of the profits. As it is I expect to pay all the debts. My partner has no resources, and I don't look for assistance from him. By far the largest single creditor of this firm is my wife, whose contributions in cash from her private means have nearly equaled the claims of all others combined. In satisfaction of this great claim she has taken nothing, except to avail herself of the opportunity of retaining control of the copyrights of my books, which, for many easily understood reasons of which financial ones are the least we do not desire to see in the hands of strangers.
"On the contrary, she has helped and intends to help me to satisfy the obligations due to the rest.
"The present situation is that the wreckage of the firm, together with what money I can scrape together, with my wife's aid, will enable me to pay the other creditors about 50 per cent of their claims. It is my intention to ask them to accept that as a legal discharge and trust to my honor to pay the other 50 per cent as fast as I can earn it. From my reception thus far on my lecturing tour I am confident that if I live I can pay off the last debt within four years, after which, at the age of sixty-four, I can make a fresh and unencumbered start in life.
"I do not enjoy the hard travel and broken rest inseparable from lecturing, and if it had not been for the imperious moral necessity of paying these debts, which I never contracted but which were accumulated on the faith of my name by those who had a presumptive right to use it, I should never have taken to the road at my time of life. I could have supported myself comfortably by writing, but writing is too slow for the demands that I have to meet; therefore I have begun to lecture my way around the world. I am going to Australia, India and South Africa, and next year I hope to make a tour of the great cities of the United States.
"In my preliminary run through the smaller cities on the northern route I have found a reception the cordiality of which has touched my heart and made me feel how small a thing money is in comparison with friendship.
"I meant, when I began, to give my creditors all the benefit of this, but I begin to feel that I am gaining something from it too, and that my dividends, if not available for banking purposes, may be even more satisfactory than theirs.