Petoskey Encounter with an Interviewer
21 July 1895
A Possibility that Mr. Hall's Kindergarten Newspaper May Figure in a Future Book.
Samuel L. Clemens is as popular with those who know him as Mark Twain is with the world at large. His home life is charming, although he has traveled so much that he can scarcely claim any particular place as his residence. His wife is a quiet little lady whose face, dress and manner show good sense and cultivation. Their daughter, who accompanies them on this tour around the world, is a very pretty, modest appearing young lady who is said to have talents worthy of her distinguished father. Mr. Clemens is said to rely implicitly upon his wife's opinions, and to yield cheerful obedience to the "sweet tyranny" of her wishes. And well he may, for it was her tender care and watchful nursing which brought him through his recent dangerous ailment, and enabled him to make this auspicious beginning of his circumterrestial trip. Clemens is in the best sense "one of the boys." He delights in the society of congenial friends, and is never happier than when he has found someone to smoke his strong cigars and swap jokes and stories with.
One of the pleasant features of his visit to Petoskey was his meeting with Kennan and B[illegible], the two bright stars in the Bay View galaxy. The three gentlemen are warm friends and mutual admirers, and they all greatly enjoyed the brief visit.
There is an old yarn to the effect that Mr. Clemens got his nom de plume "Mark Twain" while working as a deck hand on a Mississippi river steamer. He may have taken such a job some time, but unless appearances are very deceiving we don't believe he held it. It affords too many opportunities for hard work. His own story is that one of the old river pilots used to write letters for the New Orleans papers over that signature, derived from the two marks on the lead line signifying two fathoms of water, Mr. Clemens said.
"When the news first reached me that the old pilot was dead I was out in Carson City reporting the proceedings of the legislature. I had taken a fancy to that name, and as the original owner seemed to have no further use for it, why I just took it. Yes, it was sort of robbing a corpse, but I had nerve enough for anything those days."
It has been said, and it is undoubtedly true, that Mark Twain is the author of the "Reminiscences of Joan of Arc," now running in a leading magazine. When the RESORTER asked him about this he smiled, and answered in his drawling way, "Well, now, a Cleveland reporter made that same inquiry of me the other day, and I told him that I never deny the authorship of anything good. I am always willing to adopt any literary orphan that is knocking about looking for a father, but I want to wait until I'm sure that nobody else is going to claim it. I'm willing to admit now that I wrote 'Beautiful Snow,' but the returns are not all in yet on 'Joan of Arc.'"
Mr. Twain was in early life a practical newspaper man, and he was much amused at Mr. Hall's grandiloquent announcement of his summer daily for the Bay View assembly. The scheme to get people to do reportorial work under the fond delusion that they are "learning journalism" struck him as going one better than the scheme by which one of his juvenile heroes got the other boys to whitewash his fence, by making them think they were enjoying a privilege. He read with evident amusement Mr. Hall's description which would convey the impression that the "members of the class" would receive practical instruction in all the work of a metropolitan office, with a hundred thousand dollar plant, and learned about the paper as it is actually run, the type for two pages being set up a Bay View and carted up town to be printed at a Petoskey office. When he read Mr. Hall's note following the announcement referred to that "the editor regards the above as an announcement extraordinary," he gave one of his peculiar looks and remarked that he agreed with the editor that it was, indeed, a most extraordinary announcement. But what seemed to amuse him the most was the idea of a paper announcing itself a morning paper, but adding that it would delay its Monday issue until afternoon, so that all the work could be done on Monday.
It is generally understood that while making this tour around the world Mr. Clemens is collecting material for a new book, and it would not be strange if Mr. Hall's unique journalistic kindergarten should be dressed up and appear in Mark Twain's inevitable style in the book which will be the masterpiece of Mr. Clemens' life.
Mr. Clemens and his manager, Major Pond, were at the Arlington last night, and will leave on the early train this morning for Duluth.