Martin Eden HTML version

Chapter 29
It was a hard summer for Martin. Manuscript readers and editors were away on
vacation, and publications that ordinarily returned a decision in three weeks now
retained his manuscript for three months or more. The consolation he drew from
it was that a saving in postage was effected by the deadlock. Only the robber-
publications seemed to remain actively in business, and to them Martin disposed
of all his early efforts, such as "Pearl-diving," "The Sea as a Career," "Turtle-
catching," and "The Northeast Trades." For these manuscripts he never received
a penny. It is true, after six months' correspondence, he effected a compromise,
whereby he received a safety razor for "Turtle-catching," and that THE
ACROPOLIS, having agreed to give him five dollars cash and five yearly
subscriptions: for "The Northeast Trades," fulfilled the second part of the
For a sonnet on Stevenson he managed to wring two dollars out of a Boston
editor who was running a magazine with a Matthew Arnold taste and a penny-
dreadful purse. "The Peri and the Pearl," a clever skit of a poem of two hundred
lines, just finished, white hot from his brain, won the heart of the editor of a San
Francisco magazine published in the interest of a great railroad. When the editor
wrote, offering him payment in transportation, Martin wrote back to inquire if the
transportation was transferable. It was not, and so, being prevented from
peddling it, he asked for the return of the poem. Back it came, with the editor's
regrets, and Martin sent it to San Francisco again, this time to THE HORNET, a
pretentious monthly that had been fanned into a constellation of the first
magnitude by the brilliant journalist who founded it. But THE HORNET'S light had
begun to dim long before Martin was born. The editor promised Martin fifteen
dollars for the poem, but, when it was published, seemed to forget about it.
Several of his letters being ignored, Martin indicted an angry one which drew a
reply. It was written by a new editor, who coolly informed Martin that he declined
to be held responsible for the old editor's mistakes, and that he did not think
much of "The Peri and the Pearl" anyway.
But THE GLOBE, a Chicago magazine, gave Martin the most cruel treatment of
all. He had refrained from offering his "Sea Lyrics" for publication, until driven to it
by starvation. After having been rejected by a dozen magazines, they had come
to rest in THE GLOBE office. There were thirty poems in the collection, and he
was to receive a dollar apiece for them. The first month four were published, and
he promptly received a cheek for four dollars; but when he looked over the
magazine, he was appalled at the slaughter. In some cases the titles had been
altered: "Finis," for instance, being changed to "The Finish," and "The Song of
the Outer Reef" to "The Song of the Coral Reef." In one case, an absolutely
different title, a misappropriate title, was substituted. In place of his own,
"Medusa Lights," the editor had printed, "The Backward Track." But the slaughter