!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd"> Streamline Training & Documentation: Mark Twain Festival XI

Friday, July 11, 2008

Mark Twain Festival XI

Grant's Tomb

"[Grant] was under sentence of death last spring [due to cancer]; he sat thinking, musing, several days — nobody knows what about; then he pulled himself together and set to work to finish [his memoirs], a colossal task for a dying man. Presently his hand gave out; fate seemed to have got him checkmated. Dictation was suggested. No, he never could do that; had never tried it; too old to learn, now. By and by — if he could only do Appomattox — well. So he sent for a stenographer, and dictated 9,000 words at a single sitting! — never pausing, never hesitating for a word, never repeating — and in the written-out copy he made hardly a correction. He dictated again, every two or three days — the intervals were intervals of exhaustion and slow recuperation — and at last he was able to tell me that he had written more matter than could be got into the book. I then enlarged the book — had to. Then he lost his voice. He was not quite done yet, however; — there was no end of little plums and spices to be stuck in, here and there; and this work he patiently continued, a few lines a day, with pad and pencil, till far into July, at Mt. McGregor. One day he put his pencil aside, and said he was done — there was nothing more to do. If I had been there I could have foretold the shock that struck the world three days later."