One knows, without inquiring, that the twin of that embarrassing letter is forever and ever flying in this and that and the other direction across the continent in the mails, daily, nightly, hourly, unceasingly, unrestingly. It goes to every well-known merchant, and railway official, and manufacturer, and capitalist, and Mayor, and Congressman, and Governor, and editor, and publisher, and author, and broker, and bankerin a word, to every person who is supposed to have influence. It always follows the one pattern: You do not know me, but you once knew a relative of mine, etc., etc. We should all like to help the applicants, we should all be glad to do it, we should all like to return the sort of answer that is desired, butWell, there is not a thing we can do that would be a help, for not in any instance does that letter ever come from any one who can be helped. The struggler whom you could help does his own helping; it would not occur to him to apply to you, a stranger. He has talent and knows it, and he goes into his fight eagerly and with energy and determinationall alone, preferring to be alone. That pathetic letter which comes to you from the incapable, the unhelpablehow do you who are familiar with it answer it? What do you find to say? You do not want to inflict a wound; you hunt ways to avoid that. What do you find? How do you get out of your hard place with a contented conscience? Do you try to explain? The old reply of mine to such a letter shows that I tried that once. Was I satisfied with the result? Possibly; and possibly not; probably not; almost certainly not. I have long ago forgotten all about it. But, anyway, I append my effort:
I know Mr. H., and I will go to him, dear madam, if upon reflection you find you still desire it. There will be a conversation. I know the form it will take. It will be like this:
Mr. H. How do her books strike you?
Mr. Clemens. I am not acquainted with them.
H. Who has been her publisher?
C. I dont know.
H. She has one, I suppose?
C. II think not.
H. Ah. You think this is her first book?
C. YesI suppose so. I think so.
H. What is it about? What is the character of it?
C. I believe I do not know.
H. Have you seen it?
C. Wellno, I havent.
H. Ah-h. How long have you known her?
C. I dont know her.
H. Dont know her?
H. Ah-h. How did you come to be interested in her book, then?
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