The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg and Other Stories HTML version

My Debut As A Literary Person
In those early days I had already published one little thing ('The Jumping Frog') in an
Eastern paper, but I did not consider that that counted. In my view, a person who
published things in a mere newspaper could not properly claim recognition as a Literary
Person: he must rise away above that; he must appear in a magazine. He would then be a
Literary Person; also, he would be famous--right away. These two ambitions were strong
upon me. This was in 1866. I prepared my contribution, and then looked around for the
best magazine to go up to glory in. I selected the most important one in New York. The
contribution was accepted. I signed it 'MARK TWAIN;' for that name had some currency
on the Pacific coast, and it was my idea to spread it all over the world, now, at this one
jump. The article appeared in the December number, and I sat up a month waiting for the
January number; for that one would contain the year's list of contributors, my name
would be in it, and I should be famous and could give the banquet I was meditating.
I did not give the banquet. I had not written the 'MARK TWAIN' distinctly; it was a fresh
name to Eastern printers, and they put it 'Mike Swain' or 'MacSwain,' I do not remember
which. At any rate, I was not celebrated and I did not give the banquet. I was a Literary
Person, but that was all--a buried one; buried alive.
My article was about the burning of the clipper-ship 'Hornet' on the line, May 3, 1866.
There were thirty-one men on board at the time, and I was in Honolulu when the fifteen
lean and ghostly survivors arrived there after a voyage of forty-three days in an open
boat, through the blazing tropics, on ten days' rations of food. A very remarkable trip; but
it was conducted by a captain who was a remarkable man, otherwise there would have
been no survivors. He was a New Englander of the best sea-going stock of the old
capable times--Captain Josiah Mitchell.
I was in the islands to write letters for the weekly edition of the Sacramento 'Union,' a
rich and influential daily journal which hadn't any use for them, but could afford to spend
twenty dollars a week for nothing. The proprietors were lovable and well-beloved men:
long ago dead, no doubt, but in me there is at least one person who still holds them in
grateful remembrance; for I dearly wanted to see the islands, and they listened to me and
gave me the opportunity when there was but slender likelihood that it could profit them in
any way.
I had been in the islands several months when the survivors arrived. I was laid up in my
room at the time, and unable to walk. Here was a great occasion to serve my journal, and
I not able to take advantage of it. Necessarily I was in deep trouble. But by good luck his
Excellency Anson Burlingame was there at the time, on his way to take up his post in
China, where he did such good work for the United States. He came and put me on a
stretcher and had me carried to the hospital where the shipwrecked men were, and I never
needed to ask a question. He attended to all of that himself, and I had nothing to do but
make the notes. It was like him to take that trouble. He was a great man and a great