THE PRINCE AND THE PAUPER.
MR. HOUSE PRESENTS HIS SIDE OF THE CONTROVERSY.
(Interview Printed in the World.)
The visitor asked Mr. Clemens when the courts would decide the vexed question involved in the dramatization of "The Prince and the Pauper." His face grew slightly melancholy. "I expect they will decide as between Mr. House and Mrs. Abby Sage Richardson here in New York probably in October. House never thought of making a play out of my book, in my opinion, until he heard that Mrs. Richardson had done it. He has acted in a sort of a dog-in-the-manger way about it. You ask if I have any doubt about the ultimate decision of the controversy. I can say this: I have no sort of doubt about what the facts are and what the decision ought to be. But I have a good deal of doubt about what the decision of the court will be, for I believe firmly in the uncertainties of the law.
"By the way, that was an extraordinary opinion which the Judge gave
when he decided to grant a temporary injunction. It is one of those curiosities
of judicial decision, as you suggest, of which we have been reading from
time immemorial. The learned Court declared that as Mr. House was a sick
man and had been confined to his bed and had time to think and to revolve
the facts in his mind and freshen up his memory, his recollection of the
facts was probably better than mine, because I was such a busy man and was
engaged in so many different things! According to that it would seem that
sickness is an admirable way to win a lawsuit."
To the Editor of the New York Times:
Mark Twain does not bear with equanimity the discomfiture of a legal overthrow. In the above recently published interview he finds it amusing and becoming to scoff at Justice Daly, who pronounced the decree against him in "The Prince and Pauper" suit, and to liken my action in the controversy to that of a "dog in the manger."
The distinguished humorist is happier in the manufacture of modern fictions than in the application of ancient fables. It happens that the manger, in this instance, was my property, and had been so adjudged by the New York Court of Common Pleas. The unfortunate canine illustration betrays a singular inability to recognize the true delinquent. A certain predatory poodle, to whose pack Master Mark was formerly, forced his way into my manger, and, with instincts akin to those of Aesop's animal, did his best to turn me, the rightful occupant, into the kennel. He failed, and I might then have ejected him in disgrace.
In the hour of defeat, however, he was a very sick dog indeed: and as he lifted his pleading paws and curled is submissive tail between his legs I compassionately permitted him to retain a corner in the manger he had attempted to usurp entirely. But because I will not vacate my own premises and leave him in solitary possession I have been yelped at by the intruder and his trained spaniels for the past six weeks with a fury bordering on rabies. Now Mark Twain adds his bark to the chorus.
Who, let me ask, is the offending cur in this performance? There was really no occasion for Mark to expose his forgetfulness or ignorance of Aesop. It is his habit to snarl contemptuously at all literature except his own precisely as he snaps his teeth in scorn at courts of law which do not decide cases in his favor, but he need not have twisted out of all aptitude one of the most familiar stories of a humorist who died many centuries ago, and of who, consequently, he has no occasion to be jealous.
Again I beg to inquire, who is the dog?
E. H. HOUSE
Related articles concerning the Prince and Pauper:
Articles from The New York Times
21, 1890 - ELSIE LESLIE [review of opening of "The Prince and
A YANKEE IN
THE CRUSADING JOURNALIST
EDWARD H. HOUSE
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