not content with mere signatures, he wanted a whole autograph LETTER.
I furnished it–in type-written capitals, SIGNATURE AND ALL.
It was long; it was a sermon; it contained advice; also reproaches.
I said writing was my TRADE, my bread-and-butter; I said it was
not fair to ask a man to give away samples of his trade; would he
ask the blacksmith for a horseshoe? would he ask the doctor for
Now I come to an important matter–as I regard it. In the year
’74 the young woman copied a considerable part of a book of mine
ON THE MACHINE. In a previous chapter of this Autobiography I
have claimed that I was the first person in the world that ever had
a telephone in the house for practical purposes; I will now claim–
until dispossess–that I was the first person in the world to APPLY
THE TYPE-MACHINE TO LITERATURE. That book must have been THE
ADVENTURES OF TOM SAWYER. I wrote the first half of it in ’72,
the rest of it in ’74. My machinist type-copied a book for me
in ’74, so I concluded it was that one.
That early machine was full of caprices, full of defects–devilish ones.
It had as many immoralities as the machine of today has virtues.
After a year or two I found that it was degrading my character,
so I thought I would give it to Howells. He was reluctant, for he
was suspicious of novelties and unfriendly toward them, and he remains
so to this day. But I persuaded him. He had great confidence in me,
and I got him to believe things about the machine that I did not
believe myself. He took it home to Boston, and my morals began
to improve, but his have never recovered.
He kept it six months, and then returned it to me. I gave it away
twice after that, but it wouldn’t stay; it came back. Then I
gave it to our coachman, Patrick McAleer, who was very grateful,
because he did not know the animal, and thought I was trying to
make him wiser and better. As soon as he got wiser and better he
traded it to a heretic for a side-saddle which he could not use,
and there my knowledge of its history ends.
ITALIAN WITHOUT A MASTER
It is almost a fortnight now that I am domiciled in a medieval
villa in the country, a mile or two from Florence. I cannot speak
the language; I am too old not to learn how, also too busy when I
am busy, and too indolent when I am not; wherefore some will
imagine that I am having a dull time of it. But it is not so.
The “help” are all natives; they talk Italian to me, I answer
in English; I do not understand them, they do not understand me,
consequently no harm is done, and everybody is satisfied. In order
to be just and fair, I throw in an Italian word when I have one,
and this has a good influence. I get the word out of the morning paper.
I have to use it while it is fresh, for I find that Italian words
do not keep in this climate. They fade toward night, and next
morning they are gone. But it is no matter; I get a new one out
of the paper before breakfast, and thrill the domestics with it
while it lasts. I have no dictionary, and I do not want one;
I can select words by the sound, or by orthographic aspect.
Many of them have French or German or English look, and these are
the ones I enslave for the day’s service. That is, as a rule.
Not always. If I find a learnable phrase that has an imposing look
and warbles musically along I do not care to know the meaning of it;
I pay it out to the first applicant, knowing that if I pronounce it
carefully HE will understand it, and that’s enough.
Yesterday’s word was AVANTI. It sounds Shakespearian, and probably
means Avaunt and quit my sight. Today I have a whole phrase:
SONO DISPIACENTISSIMO. I do not know what it means, but it seems
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