Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Twain annoyed by "individual liabilities"

* * * those two words, "individual liabilities," are the very meanest words in the English language to write, and I suppose I have written them some ten thousand times during the past week. Now when a man is in a hurry, he can make but slow progress if he separates his words—he must string them all together without lifting his pen from the paper, if he would accomplish the least degree of speed. You can't "dot" an i, you know, without taking your pen up, and that inevitably "breaks your gait." If you want to ruin your disposition, write an essay on individual liabilities the next time you are in a special hurry. You will discover that it is easier to write sixteen or eighteen hundred words an hour on any other subject than it is to write thirteen hundred on that. * * * They named the State "Nevada." It is a good enough name, and has no i's in it.
Mark Twain, letter to Morning Call (San Francisco) from Carson City, Nov. 14, 1863, published Nov. 19, 1863. Quoted in William C. Miller et al. eds., Reports of the 1863 Constitutional Convention of the Territory of Nevada: As Written for The Territorial Enterprise by Andrew J. Marsh & Samuel L. Clemens and for The Virginia Daily Union by Amos Bowman (Carson City, Nev.: Legislative Counsel Bureau, 1972), p. v.

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