Mark Twain Festival XI
"[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."