Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Books, poems, drama…

Mark Twain, A Biography, 1907-1910 by Albert Bigelow Paine

Part 3 out of 6

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.6 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

period of exhaustion that almost approximated prostration. After a
long lecture tour last summer I went immediately into a hard
campaign; as soon as the election was over, and I had recovered my
disposition, I came here and went into those tariff hearings, which
began shortly after breakfast each day, and sometimes lasted until
midnight. Listening patiently and meekly, withal, to the lying of
tariff barons for many days and nights was followed by the work of
the long session; that was followed by a hot campaign to take Uncle
Joe's rules away from him; on the heels of that "Campaign that
Failed" came the tariff fight in the House. I am now getting time
to breathe regularly and I am writing to ask you if the copyright
law is acceptable to you. If it is not acceptable to you I want to
ask you to write and tell me how it should be changed and I will
give my best endeavors to the work. I believe that your ideas and
wishes in the matter constitute the best guide we have as to what
should be done in the case.
Your friend,

To this Clemens replied:


DEAR CHAMP CLARK,--Is the new copyright law acceptable to me?
Emphatically yes! Clark, it is the only sane & clearly defined &
just & righteous copyright law that has ever existed in the United
States. Whosoever will compare it with its predecessors will have
no trouble in arriving at that decision.

The bill which was before the committee two years ago when I was
down there was the most stupefying jumble of conflicting &
apparently irreconcilable interests that was ever seen; and we all
said "the case is hopeless, absolutely hopeless--out of this chaos
nothing can be built." But we were in error; out of that chaotic
mass this excellent bill has been constructed, the warring interests
have been reconciled, and the result is as comely and substantial a
legislative edifice as lifts its domes and towers and protective
lightning-rods out of the statute book I think. When I think of
that other bill, which even the Deity couldn't understand, and of
this one, which even I can understand, I take off my hat to the man
or men who devised this one. Was it R. U. Johnson? Was it the
Authors' League? Was it both together? I don't know, but I take
off my hat, anyway. Johnson has written a valuable article about
the new law--I inclose it.

At last--at last and for the first time in copyright history--we are
ahead of England! Ahead of her in two ways: by length of time and
by fairness to all interests concerned. Does this sound like
shouting? Then I must modify it: all we possessed of copyright
justice before the 4th of last March we owed to England's
Truly yours,

Clemens had prepared what was the final word an the subject of copyright
just before this bill was passed--a petition for a law which he believed
would regulate the whole matter. It was a generous, even if a somewhat
Utopian, plan, eminently characteristic of its author. The new fourteen-
year extension, with the prospect of more, made this or any other
compromise seem inadvisable.--[The reader may consider this last
copyright document by Mark Twain under Appendix N, at the end of this



Clemens had promised to go to Baltimore for the graduation of "Francesca"
of his London visit in 1907--and to make a short address to her class.

It was the eighth of June when we set out on this journey,--[The reader
may remember that it was the 8th of June, 1867, that Mark Twain sailed
for the Holy Land. It was the 8th of June, 1907, that he sailed for
England to take his Oxford degree. This 8th of June, 1909, was at least
slightly connected with both events, for he was keeping an engagement
made with Francesca in London, and my notes show that he discussed, on
the way to the station, some incidents of his Holy Land trip and his
attitude at that time toward Christian traditions. As he rarely
mentioned the Quaker City trip, the coincidence seems rather curious.
It is most unlikely that Clemens himself in any way associated the two
dates.]--but the day was rather bleak and there was a chilly rain.
Clemens had a number of errands to do in New York, and we drove from one
place to another, attending to them. Finally, in the afternoon, the rain
ceased, and while I was arranging some matters for him he concluded to
take a ride on the top of a Fifth Avenue stage. It was fine and pleasant
when he started, but the weather thickened again and when he returned he
complained that he had felt a little chilly. He seemed in fine
condition, however, next morning and was in good spirits all the way to
Baltimore. Chauncey Depew was on the train and they met in the dining-
car--the last time, I think, they ever saw each other. He was tired when
we reached the Belvedere Hotel in Baltimore and did not wish to see the
newspaper men. It happened that the reporters had a special purpose in
coming just at this time, for it had suddenly developed that in his
Shakespeare book, through an oversight, due to haste in publication, full
credit had not been given to Mr. Greenwood for the long extracts quoted
from his work. The sensational head-lines in a morning paper, "Is Mark
Twain a Plagiarist?" had naturally prompted the newspaper men to see what
he would have to say on the subject. It was a simple matter, easily
explained, and Clemens himself was less disturbed about it than anybody.
He felt no sense of guilt, he said; and the fact that he had been
stealing and caught at it would give Mr. Greenwood's book far more
advertising than if he had given him the full credit which he had
intended. He found a good deal of amusement in the situation, his only
worry being that Clara and Jean would see the paper and be troubled.

He had taken off his clothes and was lying down, reading. After a little
he got up and began walking up and down the room. Presently he stopped
and, facing me, placed his hand upon his breast. He said:

"I think I must have caught a little cold yesterday on that Fifth Avenue
stage. I have a curious pain in my breast."

I suggested that he lie down again and I would fill his hot-water bag.
The pain passed away presently, and he seemed to be dozing. I stepped
into the next room and busied myself with some writing. By and by I
heard him stirring again and went in where he was. He was walking up and
down and began talking of some recent ethnological discoveries--
something relating to prehistoric man.

"What a fine boy that prehistoric man must have been," he said--" the
very first one! Think of the gaudy style of him, how he must have lorded
it over those other creatures, walking on his hind legs, waving his arms,
practising and getting ready for the pulpit."

The fancy amused him, but presently he paused in his walk and again put
his hand on his breast, saying:

"That pain has come back. It's a curious, sickening, deadly kind of
pain. I never had anything just like it."

It seemed to me that his face had become rather gray. I said:

"Where is it, exactly, Mr. Clemens?"

He laid his hand in the center of his breast and said:

"It is here, and it is very peculiar indeed."

Remotely in my mind occurred the thought that he had located his heart,
and the "peculiar deadly pain" he had mentioned seemed ominous. I
suggested, however, that it was probably some rheumatic touch, and this
opinion seemed warranted when, a few moments later, the hot water had
again relieved it. This time the pain had apparently gone to stay, for
it did not return while we were in Baltimore. It was the first positive
manifestation of the angina which eventually would take him from us.

The weather was pleasant in Baltimore, and his visit to St. Timothy's
School and his address there were the kind of diversions that meant most
to him. The flock of girls, all in their pretty commencement dresses,
assembled and rejoicing at his playfully given advice: not to smoke--to
excess; not to drink--to excess; not to marry--to excess; he standing
there in a garb as white as their own--it made a rare picture--a sweet
memory--and it was the last time he ever gave advice from the platform to
any one.

Edward S. Martin also spoke to the school, and then there was a great
feasting in the big assembly-hall.

It was on the lawn that a reporter approached him with the news of the
death of Edward Everett Hale--another of the old group. Clemens said
thoughtfully, after a moment:

"I had the greatest respect and esteem for Edward Everett Hale, the
greatest admiration for his work. I am as grieved to hear of his death
as I can ever be to hear of the death of any friend, though my grief is
always tempered with the satisfaction of knowing that for the one that
goes, the hard, bitter struggle of life is ended."

We were leaving the Belvedere next morning, and when the subject of
breakfast came up for discussion he said:

"That was the most delicious Baltimore fried chicken we had yesterday
morning. I think we'll just repeat that order. It reminds me of John
Quarles's farm."

We had been having our meals served in the rooms, but we had breakfast
that morning down in the diningroom, and "Francesca" and her mother were

As he stood on the railway platform waiting for the train, he told me how
once, fifty-five years before, as a boy of eighteen, he had changed cars
there for Washington and had barely caught his train--the crowd yelling
at him as he ran.

We remained overnight in New York, and that evening, at the Grosvenor, he
read aloud a poem of his own which I had not seen before. He had brought
it along with some intention of reading it at St. Timothy's, he said,
but had not found the occasion suitable.

"I wrote it a long time ago in Paris. I'd been reading aloud to Mrs.
Clemens and Susy--in'93, I think--about Lord Clive and Warren Hastings,
from Macaulay--how great they were and how far they fell. Then I took an
imaginary case--that of some old demented man mumbling of his former
state. I described him, and repeated some of his mumblings. Susy and
Mrs. Clemens said, 'Write it'--so I did, by and by, and this is it. I
call it 'The Derelict.'"

He read in his effective manner that fine poem, the opening stanza of
which follows:

You sneer, you ships that pass me by,
Your snow-pure canvas towering proud!
You traders base!--why, once such fry
Paid reverence, when like a cloud
Storm-swept I drove along,
My Admiral at post, his pennon blue
Faint in the wilderness of sky, my long
Yards bristling with my gallant crew,
My ports flung wide, my guns displayed,
My tall spars hid in bellying sail!
--You struck your topsails then, and made
Obeisance--now your manners fail.

He had employed rhyme with more facility than was usual for him, and the
figure and phrasing were full of vigor.

"It is strong and fine," I said, when he had finished.

"Yes," he assented. "It seems so as I read it now. It is so long since
I have seen it that it is like reading another man's work. I should call
it good, I believe."

He put the manuscript in his bag and walked up and down the floor

"There is no figure for the human being like the ship," he said; "no such
figure for the storm-beaten human drift as the derelict--such men as
Clive and Hastings could only be imagined as derelicts adrift, helpless,
tossed by every wind and tide."

We returned to Redding next day. On the train going home he fell to
talking of books and authors, mainly of the things he had never been able
to read.

"When I take up one of Jane Austen's books," he said, "such as Pride and
Prejudice, I feel like a barkeeper entering the kingdom of heaven. I
know, what his sensation would be and his private comments. He would not
find the place to his taste, and he would probably say so."

He recalled again how Stepniak had come to Hartford, and how humiliated
Mrs. Clemens had been to confess that her husband was not familiar with
the writings of Thackeray and others.

"I don't know anything about anything," he said, mournfully, "and never
did. My brother used to try to get me to read Dickens, long ago. I
couldn't do it--I was ashamed; but I couldn't do it. Yes, I have read
The Tale of Two Cities, and could do it again. I have read it a good
many times; but I never could stand Meredith and most of the other

By and by he handed me the Saturday Times Review, saying:

"Here is a fine poem, a great poem, I think. I can stand that."

It was "The Palatine (in the 'Dark Ages')," by Willa Sibert Cather,
reprinted from McClure's. The reader will understand better than I can
express why these lofty opening stanzas appealed to Mark Twain:


"Have you been with the King to Rome,
Brother, big brother?"
"I've been there and I've come home,
Back to your play, little brother."

"Oh, how high is Caesar's house,
Brother, big brother?"
"Goats about the doorways browse;
Night-hawks nest in the burnt roof-tree,
Home of the wild bird and home of the bee.
A thousand chambers of marble lie
Wide to the sun and the wind and the sky.
Poppies we find amongst our wheat
Grow on Caesar's banquet seat.
Cattle crop and neatherds drowse
On the floors of Caesar's house."

"But what has become of Caesar's gold,
Brother, big brother?"
"The times are bad and the world is old--
Who knows the where of the Caesar's gold?
Night comes black on the Caesar's hill;
The wells are deep and the tales are ill.
Fireflies gleam in the damp and mold,
All that is left of the Caesar's gold.
Back to your play, little brother."

Farther along in our journey he handed me the paper again, pointing to
these lines of Kipling:

How is it not good for the Christian's health
To hurry the Aryan brown,
For the Christian riles and the Aryan smiles,
And he weareth the Christian down;
And the end of the fight is a tombstone white
And the name of the late deceased:
And the epitaph drear: "A fool lies here
Who tried to hustle the East."

"I could stand any amount of that," he said, and presently: "Life is too
long and too short. Too long for the weariness of it; too short for the
work to be done. At the very most, the average mind can only master a
few languages and a little history."

I said: "Still, we need not worry. If death ends all it does not matter;
and if life is eternal there will be time enough."

"Yes," he assented, rather grimly, "that optimism of yours is always
ready to turn hell's back yard into a playground."

I said that, old as I was, I had taken up the study of French, and
mentioned Bayard Taylor's having begun Greek at fifty, expecting to need
it in heaven.

Clemens said, reflectively: "Yes--but you see that was Greek."



I was at Stormfield pretty constantly during the rest of that year. At
first I went up only for the day; but later, when his health did not
improve, and when he expressed a wish for companionship evenings, I
remained most of the nights as well. Our rooms were separated only by a
bath-room; and as neither of us was much given to sleep, there was likely
to be talk or reading aloud at almost any hour when both were awake. In
the very early morning I would usually slip in, softly, sometimes to find
him propped up against his pillows sound asleep, his glasses on, the
reading-lamp blazing away as it usually did, day or night; but as often
as not he was awake, and would have some new plan or idea of which he was
eager to be delivered, and there was always interest, and nearly always
amusement in it, even if it happened to be three in the morning or

Sometimes, when he thought it time for me to be stirring, he would call
softly, but loudly enough for me to hear if awake; and I would go in, and
we would settle again problems of life and death and science, or, rather,
he would settle them while I dropped in a remark here and there, merely
to hold the matter a little longer in solution.

The pains in his breast came back, and with a good deal of frequency as
the summer advanced; also, they became more severe. Dr. Edward Quintard
came up from New York, and did not hesitate to say that the trouble
proceeded chiefly from the heart, and counseled diminished smoking, with
less active exercise, advising particularly against Clemens's lifetime
habit of lightly skipping up and down stairs.

There was no prohibition as to billiards, however, or leisurely walking,
and we played pretty steadily through those peaceful summer days, and
often took a walk down into the meadows or perhaps in the other
direction, when it was not too warm or windy. Once we went as far as the
river, and I showed him a part of his land he had not seen before--a
beautiful cedar hillside, remote and secluded, a place of enchantment.
On the way I pointed out a little corner of land which earlier he had
given me to straighten our division line. I told him I was going to
build a study on it, and call it "Markland." He thought it an admirable
building-site, and I think he was pleased with the name. Later he said:

"If you had a place for that extra billiard-table of mine [the Rogers
table, which had been left in New York] I would turn it over to you."

I replied that I could adapt the size of my proposed study to fit a
billiard-table, and he said:

"Now that will be very good. Then, when I want exercise, I can walk down
and play billiards with you, and when you want exercise you can walk up
and play billiards with me. You must build that study."

So it was we planned, and by and by Mr. Lounsbury had undertaken the

During the walks Clemens rested a good deal. There were the New England
hills to climb, and then he found that he tired easily, and that
weariness sometimes brought on the pain. As I remember now, I think how
bravely he bore it. It must have been a deadly, sickening, numbing pain,
for I have seen it crumple him, and his face become colorless while his
hand dug at his breast; but he never complained, he never bewailed, and
at billiards he would persist in going on and playing in his turn, even
while he was bowed with the anguish of the attack.

We had found that a glass of very hot water relieved it, and we kept
always a thermos bottle or two filled and ready. At the first hint from
him I would pour out a glass and another, and sometimes the relief came
quickly; but there were times, and alas! they came oftener, when that
deadly gripping did not soon release him. Yet there would come a week or
a fortnight when he was apparently perfectly well, and at such times we
dismissed the thought of any heart malady, and attributed the whole
trouble to acute indigestion, from which he had always suffered more or

We were alone together most of the time. He did not appear to care for
company that summer. Clara Clemens had a concert tour in prospect, and
her father, eager for her success, encouraged her to devote a large part
of her time to study. For Jean, who was in love with every form of
outdoor and animal life, he had established headquarters in a vacant
farm-house on one corner of the estate, where she had collected some
stock and poultry, and was over-flowingly happy. Ossip Gabrilowitsch was
a guest in the house a good portion of the summer, but had been invalided
through severe surgical operations, and for a long time rarely appeared,
even at meal-times. So it came about that there could hardly have been a
closer daily companionship than was ours during this the last year of
Mark Twain's life. For me, of course, nothing can ever be like it again
in this world. One is not likely to associate twice with a being from
another star.



In the notes I made of this period I caught a little drift of personality
and utterance, and I do not know better how to preserve these things than
to give them here as nearly as may be in the sequence and in the forth in
which they were set down.

One of the first of these entries occurs in June, when Clemens was
rereading with great interest and relish Andrew D. White's Science and
Theology, which he called a lovely book.--['A History of the Warfare of
Science with Theology in Christendom'.]
June 21. A peaceful afternoon, and we walked farther than usual,
resting at last in the shade of a tree in the lane that leads to
Jean's farm-house. I picked a dandelion-ball, with some remark
about its being one of the evidences of the intelligent principle in
nature--the seeds winged for a wider distribution.

"Yes," he said, "those are the great evidences; no one who reasons
can doubt them."

And presently he added:

"That is a most amusing book of White's. When you read it you see
how those old theologians never reasoned at all. White tells of an
old bishop who figured out that God created the world in an instant
on a certain day in October exactly so many years before Christ, and
proved it. And I knew a preacher myself once who declared that the
fossils in the rocks proved nothing as to the age of the world. He
said that God could create the rocks with those fossils in them for
ornaments if He wanted to. Why, it takes twenty years to build a
little island in the Mississippi River, and that man actually
believed that God created the whole world and all that's in it in
six days. White tells of another bishop who gave two new reasons
for thunder; one being that God wanted to show the world His power,
and another that He wished to frighten sinners to repent. Now
consider the proportions of that conception, even in the pettiest
way you can think of it. Consider the idea of God thinking of all
that. Consider the President of the United States wanting to
impress the flies and fleas and mosquitoes, getting up on the dome
of the Capitol and beating a bass-drum and setting off red fire."

He followed the theme a little further, then we made our way slowly back
up the long hill, he holding to my arm, and resting here and there, but
arriving at the house seemingly fresh and ready for billiards.

June 23. I came up this morning with a basket of strawberries. He
was walking up and down, looking like an ancient Roman. He said:

"Consider the case of Elsie Sigel--[Granddaughter of Gen. Franz
Sigel. She was mysteriously murdered while engaged in settlement
work among the Chinese.]--what a ghastly ending to any life!"

Then turning upon me fiercely, he continued:

"Anybody that knows anything knows that there was not a single life
that was ever lived that was worth living. Not a single child ever
begotten that the begetting of it was not a crime. Suppose a
community of people to be living on the slope of a volcano, directly
under the crater and in the path of lava-flow; that volcano has been
breaking out right along for ages and is certain to break out again.
They do not know when it will break out, but they know it will do
it--that much can be counted on. Suppose those people go to a
community in a far neighborhood and say, 'We'd like to change places
with you. Come take our homes and let us have yours.' Those people
would say, 'Never mind, we are not interested in your country. We
know what has happened there, and what will happen again.' We don't
care to live under the blow that is likely to fall at any moment;
and yet every time we bring a child into the world we are bringing
it to a country, to a community gathered under the crater of a
volcano, knowing that sooner or later death will come, and that
before death there will be catastrophes infinitely worse. Formerly
it was much worse than now, for before the ministers abolished hell
a man knew, when he was begetting a child, that he was begetting a
soul that had only one chance in a hundred of escaping the eternal
fires of damnation. He knew that in all probability that child
would be brought to damnation--one of the ninety-nine black sheep.
But since hell has been abolished death has become more welcome.
I wrote a fairy story once. It was published somewhere. I don't
remember just what it was now, but the substance of it was that a
fairy gave a man the customary wishes. I was interested in seeing
what he would take. First he chose wealth and went away with it,
but it did not bring him happiness. Then he came back for the
second selection, and chose fame, and that did not bring happiness
either. Finally he went to the fairy and chose death, and the fairy
said, in substance, 'If you hadn't been a fool you'd have chosen
that in the first place.'

"The papers called me a pessimist for writing that story.
Pessimist--the man who isn't a pessimist is a d---d fool."

But this was one of his savage humors, stirred by tragic circumstance.
Under date of July 5th I find this happier entry:

We have invented a new game, three-ball carom billiards, each player
continuing until he has made five, counting the number of his shots
as in golf, the one who finishes in the fewer shots wins. It is a
game we play with almost exactly equal skill, and he is highly
pleased with it. He said this afternoon:

"I have never enjoyed billiards as I do now. I look forward to it
every afternoon as my reward at the end of a good day's work."--[His
work at this time was an article on Marjorie Fleming, the "wonder
child," whose quaint writings and brief little life had been
published to the world by Dr. John Brown. Clemens always adored the
thought of Marjorie, and in this article one can see that she ranked
almost next to Joan of Arc in his affections.]

We went out in the loggia by and by and Clemens read aloud from a book
which Professor Zubelin left here a few days ago--'The Religion of a
Democrat'. Something in it must have suggested to Clemens his favorite
science, for presently he said:

"I have been reading an old astronomy; it speaks of the perfect line
of curvature of the earth in spite of mountains and abysses, and I
have imagined a man three hundred thousand miles high picking up a
ball like the earth and looking at it and holding it in his hand.
It would be about like a billiard-ball to him, and he would turn it
over in his hand and rub it with his thumb, and where he rubbed over
the mountain ranges he might say, 'There seems to be some slight
roughness here, but I can't detect it with my eye; it seems
perfectly smooth to look at.' The Himalayas to him, the highest
peak, would be one-sixty-thousandth of his height, or about the one-
thousandth part of an inch as compared with the average man."

I spoke of having somewhere read of some very tiny satellites, one as
small, perhaps, as six miles in diameter, yet a genuine world.

"Could a man live on a world so small as that?" I asked.

"Oh yes," he said. "The gravitation that holds it together would
hold him on, and he would always seem upright, the same as here.
His horizon would be smaller, but even if he were six feet tall he
would only have one foot for each mile of that world's diameter, so
you see he would be little enough, even for a world that he could
walk around in half a day."

He talked astronomy a great deal--marvel astronomy. He had no real
knowledge of the subject, and I had none of any kind, which made its
ungraspable facts all the more thrilling. He was always thrown into a
sort of ecstasy by the unthinkable distances of space--the supreme drama
of the universe. The fact that Alpha Centauri was twenty-five trillions
of miles away--two hundred and fifty thousand times the distance of our
own remote sun, and that our solar system was traveling, as a whole,
toward the bright star Vega, in the constellation of Lyra, at the rate of
forty-four miles a second, yet would be thousands upon thousands of years
reaching its destination, fairly enraptured him.

The astronomical light-year--that is to say, the distance which light
travels in a year--was one of the things which he loved to contemplate;
but he declared that no two authorities ever figured it alike, and that
he was going to figure it for himself. I came in one morning, to find
that he had covered several sheets of paper with almost interminable rows
of ciphers, and with a result, to him at least, entirely satisfactory.
I am quite certain that he was prouder of those figures and their
enormous aggregate than if he had just completed an immortal tale; and
when he added that the nearest fixed star--Alpha Centauri--was between
four and five light-years distant from the earth, and that there was no
possible way to think that distance in miles or even any calculable
fraction of it, his glasses shone and his hair was roached up as with the
stimulation of these stupendous facts.

By and by he said:

"I came in with Halley's comet in 1835. It is coming again next year,
and I expect to go out with it. It will be the greatest disappointment
of my life if I don't go out with Halley's comet. The Almighty has said,
no doubt: 'Now here are these two unaccountable freaks; they came in
together, they must go out together.' Oh! I am looking forward to
that." And a little later he added:

"I've got some kind of a heart disease, and Quintard won't tell me
whether it is the kind that carries a man off in an instant or keeps him
lingering along and suffering for twenty years or so. I was in hopes
that Quintard would tell me that I was likely to drop dead any minute;
but he didn't. He only told me that my blood-pressure was too strong.
He didn't give me any schedule; but I expect to go with Halley's comet."

I seem to have omitted making any entries for a few days; but among his
notes I find this entry, which seems to refer to some discussion of a
favorite philosophy, and has a special interest of its own:

July 14, 1909. Yesterday's dispute resumed, I still maintaining
that, whereas we can think, we generally don't do it. Don't do it,
& don't have to do it: we are automatic machines which act
unconsciously. From morning till sleeping-time, all day long. All
day long our machinery is doing things from habit & instinct, &
without requiring any help or attention from our poor little 7-by-9
thinking apparatus. This reminded me of something: thirty years
ago, in Hartford, the billiard-room was my study, & I wrote my
letters there the first thing every morning. My table lay two
points off the starboard bow of the billiard-table, & the door of
exit and entrance bore northeast&-by-east-half-east from that
position, consequently you could see the door across the length of
the billiard-table, but you couldn't see the floor by the said
table. I found I was always forgetting to ask intruders to carry my
letters down-stairs for the mail, so I concluded to lay them on the
floor by the door; then the intruder would have to walk over them, &
that would indicate to him what they were there for. Did it? No,
it didn't. He was a machine, & had habits. Habits take precedence
of thought.

Now consider this: a stamped & addressed letter lying on the floor--
lying aggressively & conspicuously on the floor--is an unusual
spectacle; so unusual a spectacle that you would think an intruder
couldn't see it there without immediately divining that it was not
there by accident, but had been deliberately placed there & for a
definite purpose. Very well--it may surprise you to learn that that
most simple & most natural & obvious thought would never occur to
any intruder on this planet, whether he be fool, half-fool, or the
most brilliant of thinkers. For he is always an automatic machine &
has habits, & his habits will act before his thinking apparatus can
get a chance to exert its powers. My scheme failed because every
human being has the habit of picking up any apparently misplaced
thing & placing it where it won't be stepped on.

My first intruder was George. He went and came without saying
anything. Presently I found the letters neatly piled up on the
billiard-table. I was astonished. I put them on the floor again.
The next intruder piled them on the billiard-table without a word.
I was profoundly moved, profoundly interested. So I set the trap
again. Also again, & again, & yet again--all day long. I caught
every member of the family, & every servant; also I caught the three
finest intellects in the town. In every instance old, time-worn
automatic habit got in its work so promptly that the thinking
apparatus never got a chance.

I do not remember this particular discussion, but I do distinctly recall
being one of those whose intelligence was not sufficient to prevent my
picking up the letter he had thrown on the floor in front of his bed, and
being properly classified for doing it.

Clemens no longer kept note-books, as in an earlier time, but set down
innumerable memoranda-comments, stray reminders, and the like--on small
pads, and bunches of these tiny sheets accumulated on his table and about
his room. I gathered up many of them then and afterward, and a few of
these characteristic bits may be offered here.


It is at our mother's knee that we acquire our noblest & truest & highest
ideals, but there is seldom any money in them.


He is all-good. He made man for hell or hell for man, one or the other--
take your choice. He made it hard to get into heaven and easy to get
into hell. He commended man to multiply & replenish-what? Hell.


& will be resumed when clothes are no more.
[The latter part of this aphorism is erased and underneath it he adds:]


when clothes were born.

when false modesty was born.


A historian who would convey the truth has got to lie. Often he must
enlarge the truth by diameters, otherwise his reader would not be able to
see it.


are not the important thing--nor enlightenment--nor civilization. A man
can do absolutely well without them, but he can't do without something to
eat. The supremest thing is the needs of the body, not of the mind &


There is conscious suggestion & there is unconscious suggestion--both
come from outside--whence all ideas come.

I think I could wipe out a dishonor by crippling the other man, but I
don't see how I could do it by letting him cripple me.

I have no feeling of animosity toward people who do not believe as I do;
I merely do not respect 'em. In some serious matters (relig.) I would
have them burnt.

I am old now and once was a sinner. I often think of it with a kind of
soft regret. I trust my days are numbered. I would not have that detail

She was always a girl, she was always young because her heart was young;
& I was young because she lived in my heart & preserved its youth from

He often busied himself working out more extensively some of the ideas
that came to him--moral ideas, he called them. One fancy which he
followed in several forms (some of them not within the privilege of
print) was that of an inquisitive little girl, Bessie, who pursues her
mother with difficult questionings.--[Under Appendix w, at the end of
this volume, the reader will find one of the "Bessie" dialogues.]--He
read these aloud as he finished them, and it is certain that they lacked
neither logic nor humor.

Sometimes he went to a big drawer in his dresser, where he kept his
finished manuscripts, and took them out and looked over them, and read
parts of them aloud, and talked of the plans he had had for them, and how
one idea after another had been followed for a time and had failed to
satisfy him in the end.

Two fiction schemes that had always possessed him he had been unable to
bring to any conclusion. Both of these have been mentioned in former
chapters; one being the notion of a long period of dream-existence during
a brief moment of sleep, and the other being the story of a mysterious
visitant from another realm. He had experimented with each of these
ideas in no less than three forms, and there was fine writing and
dramatic narrative in all; but his literary architecture had somehow
fallen short of his conception. "The Mysterious Stranger" in one of its
forms I thought might be satisfactorily concluded, and he admitted that
he could probably end it without much labor. He discussed something of
his plans, and later I found the notes for its conclusion. But I suppose
he was beyond the place where he could take up those old threads, though
he contemplated, fondly enough, the possibility, and recalled how he had
read at least one form of the dream tale to Howells, who had urged him to
complete it.



August 5, 1909. This morning I noticed on a chair a copy of Flaubert's
Salammbo which I recently lent him. I asked if he liked it.

"No," he said, "I didn't like any of it."

"But you read it?"

"Yes, I read every line of it."

"You admitted its literary art?"

"Well, it's like this: If I should go to the Chicago stockyards and they
should kill a beef and cut it up and the blood should splash all over
everything, and then they should take me to another pen and kill another
beef and the blood should splash over everything again, and so on to pen
after pen, I should care for it about as much as I do for that book."

"But those were bloody days, and you care very much for that period in

"Yes, that is so. But when I read Tacitus and know that I am reading
history I can accept it as such and supply the imaginary details and
enjoy it, but this thing is such a continuous procession of blood and
slaughter and stench it worries me. It has great art--I can see that.
That scene of the crucified lions and the death canon and the tent scene
are marvelous, but I wouldn't read that book again without a salary."

August 16. He is reading Suetonius, which he already knows by heart--so
full of the cruelties and licentiousness of imperial Rome.

This afternoon he began talking about Claudius.

"They called Claudius a lunatic," he said, "but just see what nice
fancies he had. He would go to the arena between times and have captives
and wild beasts brought out and turned in together for his special
enjoyment. Sometimes when there were no captives on hand he would say,
'Well, never mind; bring out a carpenter.' Carpentering around the arena
wasn't a popular job in those days. He went visiting once to a province
and thought it would be pleasant to see how they disposed of criminals
and captives in their crude, old-fashioned way, but there was no
executioner on hand. No matter; the Emperor of Rome was in no hurry--he
would wait. So he sat down and stayed there until an executioner came."

I said, "How do you account for the changed attitude toward these things?
We are filled with pity to-day at the thought of torture and suffering."

"Ah! but that is because we have drifted that way and exercised the
quality of compassion. Relax a muscle and it soon loses its vigor; relax
that quality and in two generations--in one generation--we should be
gloating over the spectacle of blood and torture just the same. Why, I
read somewhere a letter written just before the Lisbon catastrophe in
1755 about a scene on the public square of Lisbon: A lot of stakes with
the fagots piled for burning and heretics chained for burning. The
square was crowded with men and women and children, and when those fires
were lighted, and the heretics began to shriek and writhe, those men and
women and children laughed so they were fairly beside themselves with the
enjoyment of the scene. The Greeks don't seem to have done these things.
I suppose that indicates earlier advancement in compassion."

Colonel Harvey and Mr. Duneka came up to spend the night. Mr. Clemens
had one of his seizures during the evening. They come oftener and last
longer. One last night continued for an hour and a half. I slept there.

September 7. To-day news of the North Pole discovered by Peary. Five
days ago the same discovery was reported by Cook. Clemens's comment:
"It's the greatest joke of the ages." But a moment later he referred to
the stupendous fact of Arcturus being fifty thousand times as big as the

September 21. This morning he told me, with great glee, the dream he had
had just before wakening. He said:

"I was in an automobile going slowly, with 'a little girl beside me,
and some uniformed person walking along by us. I said, 'I'll get
out and walk, too'; but the officer replied, 'This is only one of
the smallest of our fleet.'

"Then I noticed that the automobile had no front, and there were two
cannons mounted where the front should be. I noticed, too, that we
were traveling very low, almost down on the ground. Presently we
got to the bottom of a hill and started up another, and I found
myself walking ahead of the 'mobile. I turned around to look for
the little girl, and instead of her I found a kitten capering beside
me, and when we reached the top of the hill we were looking out over
a most barren and desolate waste of sand-heaps without a speck of
vegetation anywhere, and the kitten said, 'This view beggars all
admiration.' Then all at once we were in a great group of people
and I undertook to repeat to them the kitten's remark, but when I
tried to do it the words were so touching that I broke down and
cried, and all the group cried, too, over the kitten's moving

The joy with which he told this absurd sleep fancy made it supremely
ridiculous and we laughed until tears really came.

One morning he said: "I was awake a good deal in the night, and I tried
to think of interesting things. I got to working out geological periods,
trying to think of some way to comprehend them, and then astronomical
periods. Of course it's impossible, but I thought of a plan that seemed
to mean something to me. I remembered that Neptune is two billion eight
hundred million miles away. That, of course, is incomprehensible, but
then there is the nearest fixed star with its twenty-five trillion miles-
-twenty-five trillion--or nearly a thousand times as far, and then I took
this book and counted the lines on a page and I found that there was an
average of thirty-two lines to the page and two hundred and forty pages,
and I figured out that, counting the distance to Neptune as one line,
there were still not enough lines in the book by nearly two thousand to
reach the nearest fixed star, and somehow that gave me a sort of dim idea
of the vastness of the distance and kind of a journey into space."

Later I figured out another method of comprehending a little of that
great distance by estimating the existence of the human race at thirty
thousand years (Lord Kelvin's figures) and the average generation to have
been thirty-three years with a world population of 1,500,000,000 souls.
I assumed the nearest fixed star to be the first station in Paradise and
the first soul to have started thirty thousand years ago. Traveling at
the rate of about thirty miles a second, it would just now be arriving in
Alpha Centauri with all the rest of that buried multitude stringing out
behind at an average distance of twenty miles apart.

Few things gave him more pleasure than the contemplation of such figures
as these. We made occasional business trips to New York, and during one
of them visited the Museum of Natural History to look at the brontosaur
and the meteorites and the astronomical model in the entrance hall. To
him these were the most fascinating things in the world. He contemplated
the meteorites and the brontosaur, and lost himself in strange and
marvelous imaginings concerning the far reaches of time and space whence
they had come down to us.

Mark Twain lived curiously apart from the actualities of life. Dwelling
mainly among his philosophies and speculations, he observed vaguely, or
minutely, what went on about him; but in either case the fact took a
place, not in the actual world, but in a world within his consciousness,
or subconsciousness, a place where facts were likely to assume new and
altogether different relations from those they had borne in the physical
occurrence. It not infrequently happened, therefore, when he recounted
some incident, even the most recent, that history took on fresh and
startling forms. More than once I have known him to relate an occurrence
of the day before with a reality of circumstance that carried absolute
conviction, when the details themselves were precisely reversed. If his
attention were called to the discrepancy, his face would take on a blank
look, as of one suddenly aroused from dreamland, to be followed by an
almost childish interest in your revelation and ready acknowledgment of
his mistake. I do not think such mistakes humiliated him; but they often
surprised and, I think, amused him.

Insubstantial and deceptive as was this inner world of his, to him it
must have been much more real than the world of flitting physical.
shapes about him. He would fix you keenly with his attention, but you
realized, at last, that he was placing you and seeing you not as a part
of the material landscape, but as an item of his own inner world--a world
in which philosophies and morals stood upright--a very good world indeed,
but certainly a topsy-turvy world when viewed with the eye of mere
literal scrutiny. And this was, mainly, of course, because the routine
of life did not appeal to him. Even members of his household did not
always stir his consciousness.

He knew they were there; he could call them by name; he relied upon them;
but his knowledge of them always suggested the knowledge that Mount
Everest might have of the forests and caves and boulders upon its slopes,
useful, perhaps, but hardly necessary to the giant's existence, and in no
important matter a part of its greater life.



In a letter which Clemens wrote to Miss Wallace at this time, he tells of
a concert given at Stormfield on September 21st for the benefit of the
new Redding Library. Gabrilowitsch had so far recovered that he was up
and about and able to play. David Bispham, the great barytone, always
genial and generous, agreed to take part, and Clara Clemens, already
accustomed to public singing, was to join in the program. The letter to
Miss Wallace supplies the rest of the history.
We had a grand time here yesterday. Concert in aid of the little


Gabrilowitsch, pianist.
David Bispham, vocalist.
Clara Clemens, ditto.
Mark Twain, introduces of team.

Detachments and squads and groups and singles came from everywhere-
Danbury, New Haven, Norwalk, Redding, Redding Ridge, Ridgefield, and
even from New York: some in 60-h.p. motor-cars, some in buggies and
carriages, and a swarm of farmer-young-folk on foot from miles
around--525 altogether.

If we hadn't stopped the sale of tickets a day and a half before the
performance we should have been swamped. We jammed 160 into the
library (not quite all had seats), we filled the loggia, the dining-
room, the hall, clear into the billiard-room, the stairs, and the
brick-paved square outside the dining-room door.

The artists were received with a great welcome, and it woke them up,
and I tell you they performed to the Queen's taste! The program was
an hour and three-quarters long and the encores added a half-hour to
it. The enthusiasm of the house was hair-lifting. They all stayed
an hour after the close to shake hands and congratulate.

We had no dollar seats except in the library, but we accumulated
$372 for the Building Fund. We had tea at half past six for a
dozen--the Hawthornes, Jeannette Gilder, and her niece, etc.; and
after 8-o'clock dinner we had a private concert and a ball in the
bare-stripped library until 10; nobody present but the team and Mr.
and Mrs. Paine and Jean and her dog. And me. Bispham did "Danny
Deever" and the "Erlkonig" in his majestic, great organ-tones and
artillery, and Gabrilowitsch played the accompaniments as they were
never played before, I do suppose.

There is not much to add to that account. Clemens, introducing the
performers, was the gay feature of the occasion. He spoke of the great
reputation of Bispham and Gabrilowitsch; then he said:

"My daughter is not as famous as these gentlemen, but she is ever so much

The music of the evening that followed, with Gabrilowitsch at the piano
and David Bispham to sing, was something not likely ever to be repeated.
Bispham sang the "Erlkonig" and "Killiecrankie" and the "Grenadiers" and
several other songs. He spoke of having sung Wagner's arrangement of the
"Grenadiers" at the composer's home following his death, and how none of
the family had heard it before.

There followed dancing, and Jean Clemens, fine and handsome, apparently
full of life and health, danced down that great living-room as care-free
as if there was no shadow upon her life. And the evening was
distinguished in another way, for before it ended Clara Clemens had
promised Ossip Gabrilowitsch to become his wife.



The wedding of Ossip Gabrilowitsch and Clara Clemens was not delayed.
Gabrilowitsch had signed for a concert tour in Europe, and unless the
marriage took place forthwith it must be postponed many months. It
followed, therefore, fifteen days after the engagement. They were busy
days. Clemens, enormously excited and pleased over the prospect of the
first wedding in his family, personally attended to the selection of
those who were to have announcement-cards, employing a stenographer to
make the list.

October 6th was a perfect wedding-day. It was one of those quiet, lovely
fall days when the whole world seems at peace. Claude, the butler, with
his usual skill in such matters, had decorated the great living-room with
gay autumn foliage and flowers, brought in mainly from the woods and
fields. They blended perfectly with the warm tones of the walls and
furnishings, and I do not remember ever having seen a more beautiful
room. Only relatives and a few of the nearest friends were invited to
the ceremony. The Twichells came over a day ahead, for Twichell, who had
assisted in the marriage rites between Samuel Clemens and Olivia Langdon,
was to perform that ceremony for their daughter now. A fellow-student of
the bride and groom when they had been pupils of Leschetizky, in Vienna--
Miss Ethel Newcomb--was at the piano and played softly the Wedding March
from" Taunhauser." Jean Clemens was the only bridesmaid, and she was
stately and classically beautiful, with a proud dignity in her office.
Jervis Langdon, the bride's cousin and childhood playmate, acted as best
man, and Clemens, of course, gave the bride away. By request he wore his
scarlet Oxford gown over his snowy flannels, and was splendid beyond
words. I do not write of the appearance of the bride and groom, for
brides and grooms are always handsome and always happy, and certainly
these were no exception. It was all so soon over, the feasting ended,
and the principals whirling away into the future. I have a picture in my
mind of them seated together in the automobile, with Richard Watson
Gilder standing on the step for a last good-by, and before them a wide
expanse of autumn foliage and distant hills. I remember Gilder's voice
saying, when the car was on the turn, and they were waving back to us:

"Over the hills and far away,
Beyond the utmost purple rim,
Beyond the night, beyond the day,
Through all the world she followed him."

The matter of the wedding had been kept from the newspapers until the eve
of the wedding, when the Associated Press had been notified. A
representative was there; but Clemens had characteristically interviewed
himself on the subject, and it was only necessary to hand the reporter a
typewritten copy. Replying to the question (put to himself), "Are you
pleased with the marriage?" he answered:

Yes, fully as much as any marriage could please me or any other
father. There are two or three solemn things in life and a happy
marriage is one of them, for the terrors of life are all to come.
I am glad of this marriage, and Mrs. Clemens would be glad, for she
always had a warm affection for Gabrilowitsch.

There was another wedding at Stormfield on the following afternoon--an
imitation wedding. Little Joy came up with me, and wished she could
stand in just the spot where she had seen the bride stand, and she
expressed a wish that she could get married like that. Clemens said:

"Frankness is a jewel; only the young can afford it."

Then he happened to remember a ridiculous boy-doll--a white-haired
creature with red coat and green trousers, a souvenir imitation of
himself from one of the Rogerses' Christmas trees. He knew where it was,
and he got it out. Then he said:

"Now, Joy, we will have another wedding. This is Mr. Colonel Williams,
and you are to become his wedded wife."

So Joy stood up very gravely and Clemens performed the ceremony, and I
gave the bride away, and Joy to him became Mrs. Colonel Williams
thereafter, and entered happily into her new estate.



A harvest of letters followed the wedding: a general congratulatory
expression, mingled with admiration, affection, and good-will. In his
interview Clemens had referred to the pain in his breast; and many begged
him to deny that there was anything serious the matter with him, urging
him to try this relief or that, pathetically eager for his continued life
and health. They cited the comfort he had brought to world-weary
humanity and his unfailing stand for human justice as reasons why he
should live. Such letters could not fail to cheer him.

A letter of this period, from John Bigelow, gave him a pleasure of its
own. Clemens had written Bigelow, apropos of some adverse expression on
the tariff:

Thank you for any hard word you can say about the tariff. I guess
the government that robs its own people earns the future it is
preparing for itself.

Bigelow was just then declining an invitation to the annual dinner of the
Chamber of Commerce. In sending his regrets he said:

The sentiment I would propose if I dared to be present would be the
words of Mark Twain, the statesman:

"The government that robs its own people earns the future it is
preparing for itself."

Now to Clemens himself he wrote:

Rochefoucault never said a cleverer thing, nor Dr. Franklin a wiser
one . . . . Be careful, or the Demos will be running you for
President when you are not on your guard.

Yours more than ever,

Among the tributes that came, was a sermon by the Rev. Fred Window Adams,
of Schenectady, New York, with Mark Twain as its subject. Mr. Adams
chose for his text, "Take Mark and bring him with thee; for he is
profitable for the ministry," and he placed the two Marks, St. Mark and
Mark Twain, side by side as ministers to humanity, and characterized him
as "a fearless knight of righteousness." A few weeks later Mr. Adams
himself came to Stormfield, and, like all open-minded ministers of the
Gospel, he found that he could get on very well indeed with Mark Twain.

In spite of the good-will and the good wishes Clemens's malady did not
improve. As the days grew chillier he found that he must remain closer
indoors. The cold air seemed to bring on the pains, and they were
gradually becoming more severe; then, too, he did not follow the doctor's
orders in the matter of smoking, nor altogether as to exercise.

To Miss Wallace he wrote:

I can't walk, I can't drive, I'm not down-stairs much, and I don't see
company, but I drink barrels of water to keep the pain quiet; I read, and
read, and read, and smoke, and smoke, and smoke all the time (as
formerly), and it's a contented and comfortable life.

But this was not altogether accurate as to details. He did come down-
stairs many times daily, and he persisted in billiards regardless of the
paroxysms. We found, too, that the seizures were induced by mental
agitation. One night he read aloud to Jean and myself the first chapter
of an article, "The Turning-Point in My Life," which he was preparing for
Harper's Bazar. He had begun it with one of his impossible burlesque
fancies, and he felt our attitude of disappointment even before any word
had been said. Suddenly he rose, and laying his hand on his breast said,
"I must lie down," and started toward the stair. I supported him to his
room and hurriedly poured out the hot water. He drank it and dropped
back on the bed.

"Don't speak to me," he said; "don't make me talk."

Jean came in, and we sat there several moments in silence. I think we
both wondered if this might not be the end; but presently he spoke of his
own accord, declaring he was better, and ready for billiards.

We played for at least an hour afterward, and he seemed no worse for the
attack. It is a curious malady--that angina; even the doctors are
acquainted with its manifestations, rather than its cause. Clemens's
general habits of body and mind were probably not such as to delay its
progress; furthermore, there had befallen him that year one of those
misfortunes which his confiding nature peculiarly invited--a betrayal of
trust by those in whom it had been boundlessly placed--and it seems
likely that the resulting humiliation aggravated his complaint. The
writing of a detailed history of this episode afforded him occupation and
a certain amusement, but probably did not contribute to his health. One
day he sent for his attorney, Mr. Charles T. Lark, and made some final
revisions in his will.--[Mark Twain's estate, later appraised at
something more than $600,000 was left in the hands of trustees for his
daughters. The trustees were Edward E. Loomis, Jervis Langdon, and
Zoheth S. Freeman. The direction of his literary affairs was left to his
daughter Clara and the writer of this history.]

To see him you would never have suspected that he was ill. He was in
good flesh, and his movement was as airy and his eye as bright and his
face as full of bloom as at any time during the period I had known him;
also, he was as light-hearted and full of ideas and plans, and he was
even gentler--having grown mellow with age and retirement, like good

And of course he would find amusement in his condition. He said:

"I have always pretended to be sick to escape visitors; now, for the
first time, I have got a genuine excuse. It makes me feel so honest."

And once, when Jean reported a caller in the livingroom, he said:

"Jean, I can't see her. Tell her I am likely to drop dead any minute and
it would be most embarrassing."

But he did see her, for it was a poet--Angela Morgan--and he read her
poem, "God's Man," aloud with great feeling, and later he sold it for her
to Collier's Weekly.

He still had violent rages now and then, remembering some of the most
notable of his mistakes; and once, after denouncing himself, rather
inclusively, as an idiot, he said:

"I wish to God the lightning would strike me; but I've wished that fifty
thousand times and never got anything out of it yet. I have missed
several good chances. Mrs. Clemens was afraid of lightning, and would
never let me bare my head to the storm."

The element of humor was never lacking, and the rages became less violent
and less frequent.

I was at Stormfield steadily now, and there was a regular routine of
afternoon sessions of billiards or reading, in which we were generally
alone; for Jean, occupied with her farming and her secretary labors,
seldom appeared except at meal-times. Occasionally she joined in the
billiard games; but it was difficult learning and her interest was not
great. She would have made a fine player, for she had a natural talent
for games, as she had for languages, and she could have mastered the
science of angles as she had mastered tennis and French and German and
Italian. She had naturally a fine intellect, with many of her father's
characteristics, and a tender heart that made every dumb creature her

Katie Leary, who had been Jean's nurse, once told how, as a little child,
Jean had not been particularly interested in a picture of the Lisbon
earthquake, where the people were being swallowed up; but on looking at
the next page, which showed a number of animals being overwhelmed, she
had said:

"Poor things!"

Katie said:

"Why, you didn't say that about the people!"

But Jean answered:

"Oh, they could speak."

One night at the dinner-table her father was saying how difficult it must
be for a man who had led a busy life to give up the habit of work.

"That is why the Rogerses kill themselves," he said. "They would rather
kill themselves in the old treadmill than stop and try to kill time.
They have forgotten how to rest. They know nothing but to keep on till
they drop."

I told of something I had read not long before. It was about an aged
lion that had broken loose from his cage at Coney Island. He had not
offered to hurt any one; but after wandering about a little, rather
aimlessly, he had come to a picket-fence, and a moment later began pacing
up and down in front of it, just the length of his cage. They had come
and led him back to his prison without trouble, and he had rushed eagerly
into it. I noticed that Jean was listening anxiously, and when I
finished she said:

"Is that a true story?"

She had forgotten altogether the point in illustration. She was
concerned only with the poor old beast that had found no joy in his

Among the letters that Clemens wrote just then was one to Miss Wallace,
in which he described the glory of the fall colors as seen from his

The autumn splendors passed you by? What a pity! I wish you had
been here. It was beyond words! It was heaven & hell & sunset &
rainbows & the aurora all fused into one divine harmony, & you
couldn't look at it and keep the tears back.

Such a singing together, & such a whispering together, & such a
snuggling together of cozy, soft colors, & such kissing & caressing,
& such pretty blushing when the sun breaks out & catches those
dainty weeds at it--you remember that weed-garden of mine?--& then--
then the far hills sleeping in a dim blue trance--oh, hearing about
it is nothing, you should be here to see it!

In the same letter he refers to some work that he was writing for his own
satisfaction--'Letters from the Earth'; said letters supposed to have
been written by an immortal visitant and addressed to other immortals in
some remote sphere.

I'll read passages to you. This book will never be published--
in fact it couldn't be, because it would be felony . . . Paine
enjoys it, but Paine is going to be damned one of these days, I

I very well remember his writing those 'Letters from the Earth'. He read
them to me from time to time as he wrote them, and they were fairly
overflowing with humor and philosophy and satire concerning the human
race. The immortal visitor pointed out, one after another, the
absurdities of mankind, his ridiculous conception of heaven, and his
special conceit in believing that he was the Creator's pet--the
particular form of life for which all the universe was created. Clemens
allowed his exuberant fancy free rein, being under no restrictions as to
the possibility of print or public offense. He enjoyed them himself,
too, as he read them aloud, and we laughed ourselves weak over his bold

One admissible extract will carry something of the flavor of these
chapters. It is where the celestial correspondent describes man's

His heaven is like himself: strange, interesting, astonishing,
grotesque. I give you my word it has not a single feature in it
that he actually values. It consists--utterly and entirely--of
diversions which he cares next to nothing about here in the earth,
yet he is quite sure he will like in heaven. Isn't it curious?
Isn't it interesting? You must not think I am exaggerating, for it
is not so. I will give you the details.

Most, men do not sing, most men cannot sing, most men will not stay
where others are singing if it be continued more than two hours.
Note that.

Only about two men in a hundred can play upon a musical instrument,
and not four in a hundred have any wish to learn how. Set that

Many men pray, not many of them like to do it. A few pray long, the
others make a short-cut.

More men go to church than want to.

To forty-nine men in fifty the Sabbath day is a dreary, dreary bore.

Further, all sane people detest noise.

All people, sane or insane, like to have variety in their lives.
Monotony quickly wearies them.

Now then, you have the facts. You know what men don't enjoy. Well,
they have invented a heaven, out of their own heads, all by
themselves; guess what it is like? In fifteen hundred years you
couldn't do it. They have left out the very things they care for
most their dearest pleasures--and replaced them with prayer!

In man's heaven everybody sings. There are no exceptions. The man
who did not sing on earth sings there; the man who could not sing on
earth sings there. Thus universal singing is not casual, not
occasional, not relieved by intervals of quiet; it goes on all day
long and every day during a stretch of twelve hours. And everybody
stays where on earth the place would be empty in two hours. The
singing is of hymns alone. Nay, it is one hymn alone. The words
are always the same in number--they are only about a dozen--there is
no rhyme--there is no poetry. "Hosanna, hosanna, hosanna unto the
highest!" and a few such phrases constitute the whole service.

Meantime, every person is playing on a harp! Consider the deafening
hurricane of sound. Consider, further, it is a praise service--a
service of compliment, flattery, adulation. Do you ask who it is
that is willing to endure this strange compliment, this insane
compliment, and who not only endures it but likes it, enjoys it,
requires it, commands it? Hold your breath: It is God! This race's
God I mean--their own pet invention.

Most of the ideas presented in this his last commentary on human
absurdities were new only as to phrasing. He had exhausted the topic
long ago, in one way or another; but it was one of the themes in which he
never lost interest. Many subjects became stale to him at last; but the
curious invention called man remained a novelty to him to the end.

From my note-book:

October 25. I am constantly amazed at his knowledge of history--all
history--religious, political, military. He seems to have read
everything in the world concerning Rome, France, and England

Last night we stopped playing billiards while he reviewed, in the
most vivid and picturesque phrasing, the reasons of Rome's decline.
Such a presentation would have enthralled any audience--I could not
help feeling a great pity that he had not devoted some of his public
effort to work of that sort. No one could have equaled him at it.
He concluded with some comments on the possibility of America
following Rome's example, though he thought the vote of the people
would always, or at least for a long period, prevent imperialism.

November 1. To-day he has been absorbed in his old interest in
shorthand. "It is the only rational alphabet," he declared. "All
this spelling reform is nonsense. What we need is alphabet reform,
and shorthand is the thing. Take the letter M, for instance; it is
made with one stroke in shorthand, while in longhand it requires at
least three. The word Mephistopheles can be written in shorthand
with one-sixth the number of strokes that is required in longhand.
I tell you shorthand should be adopted as the alphabet."

I said: "There is this objection: the characters are so slightly
different that each writer soon forms a system of his own and it is
seldom that two can read each other's notes."

"You are talking of stenographic reporting," he said, rather warmly.
"Nothing of the kind is true in the case of the regular alphabet.
It is perfectly clear and legible."

"Would you have it in the schools, then?"

"Yes, it should be taught in the schools, not for stenographic
purposes, but only for use in writing to save time."

He was very much in earnest, and said he had undertaken an article
on the subject.

November 3. He said he could not sleep last night, for thinking
what a fool he had been in his various investments.

"I have always been the victim of somebody," he said, "and always an
idiot myself, doing things that even a child would not do. Never
asking anybody's advice--never taking it when it was offered. I
can't see how anybody could do the things I have done and have kept
right on doing."
I could see that the thought agitated him, and I suggested that we
go to his room and read, which we did, and had a riotous time over
the most recent chapters of the 'Letters from the Earth', and some
notes he had made for future chapters on infant damnation and other
distinctive features of orthodox creeds. He told an anecdote of an
old minister who declared that Presbyterianism without infant
damnation would be like the dog on the train that couldn't be
identified because it had lost its tag.

Somewhat on the defensive I said, "But we must admit that the so-
called Christian nations are the most enlightened and progressive."

He answered, "Yes, but in spite of their religion, not because of
it. The Church has opposed every innovation and discovery from the
day of Galileo down to our own time, when the use of anesthetics in
child-birth was regarded as a sin because it avoided the biblical
curse pronounced against Eve. And every step in astronomy and
geology ever taken has been opposed by bigotry and superstition.
The Greeks surpassed us in artistic culture and in architecture five
hundred years before the Christian religion was born.

"I have been reading Gibbon's celebrated Fifteenth Chapter," he said
later, "and I don't see what Christians found against it. It is so
mild--so gentle in its sarcasm." He added that he had been reading
also a little book of brief biographies and had found in it the
saying of Darwin's father, "Unitarianism is a featherbed to catch
falling Christians."

"I was glad to find and identify that saying," he said; "it is so

He finished the evening by reading a chapter from Carlyle's French
Revolution--a fine pyrotechnic passage--the gathering at Versailles.
I said that Carlyle somehow reminded me of a fervid stump-speaker
who pounded his fists and went at his audience fiercely, determined
to convince them.

"Yes," he said, "but he is the best one that ever lived."

November 10. This morning early he heard me stirring and called. I
went in and found him propped up with a book, as usual. He said:

"I seldom read Christmas stories, but this is very beautiful. It
has made me cry. I want you to read it." (It was Booth
Tarkington's 'Beasley's Christmas Party'.) "Tarkington has the true
touch," he said; "his work always satisfies me." Another book he
has been reading with great enjoyment is James Branch Cabell's
Chivalry. He cannot say enough of the subtle poetic art with which
Cabell has flung the light of romance about dark and sordid chapters
of history.



Perhaps here one may speak of Mark Twain's reading in general. On the
table by him, and on his bed, and in the billiard-room shelves he kept
the books he read most. They were not many--not more than a dozen--but
they were manifestly of familiar and frequent usage. All, or nearly all,
had annotations--spontaneously uttered marginal notes, title prefatories,
or concluding comments. They were the books he had read again and again,
and it was seldom that he had not had something to say with each fresh

There were the three big volumes by Saint-Simon--'The Memoirs'--which he
once told me he had read no less than twenty times. On the fly-leaf of
the first volume he wrote

This, & Casanova & Pepys, set in parallel columns, could afford a good
coup d'oeil of French & English high life of that epoch.

All through those finely printed volumes are his commentaries, sometimes
no more than a word, sometimes a filled, closely written margin. He
found little to admire in the human nature of Saint-Simon's period--
little to approve in Saint-Simon himself beyond his unrestrained
frankness, which he admired without stint, and in one paragraph where the
details of that early period are set down with startling fidelity he
wrote: "Oh, incomparable Saint-Simon!"

Saint-Simon is always frank, and Mark Twain was equally so. Where the
former tells one of the unspeakable compulsions of Louis XIV., the latter
has commented:

We have to grant that God made this royal hog; we may also be permitted
to believe that it was a crime to do so.

And on another page:

In her memories of this period the Duchesse de St. Clair makes this
striking remark: "Sometimes one could tell a gentleman, but it was only
by his manner of using his fork."

His comments on the orthodox religion of Saint-Simon's period are not
marked by gentleness. Of the author's reference to the Edict of Nantes,
which he says depopulated half of the realm, ruined its commerce, and
"authorized torments and punishments by which so many innocent people of
both sexes were killed by thousands," Clemens writes:

So much blood has been shed by the Church because of an omission from the
Gospel: "Ye shall be indifferent as to what your neighbor's religion is."
Not merely tolerant of it, but indifferent to it. Divinity is claimed
for many religions; but no religion is great enough or divine enough to
add that new law to its code.

In the place where Saint-Simon describes the death of Monseigneur, son of
the king, and the court hypocrites are wailing their extravagantly
pretended sorrow, Clemens wrote:

It is all so true, all so human. God made these animals. He must have
noticed this scene; I wish I knew how it struck Him.

There were not many notes in the Suetonius, nor in the Carlyle
Revolution, though these were among the volumes he read oftenest.
Perhaps they expressed for him too completely and too richly their
subject-matter to require anything at his hand. Here and there are
marked passages and occasional cross-references to related history and

There was not much room for comment on the narrow margins of the old copy
of Pepys, which he had read steadily since the early seventies; but here
and there a few crisp words, and the underscoring and marked passages are
plentiful enough to convey his devotion to that quaint record which,
perhaps next to Suetonius, was the book he read and quoted most.

Francis Parkman's Canadian Histories he had read periodically, especially
the story of the Old Regime and of the Jesuits in North America. As late
as January, 1908, he wrote on the title-page of the Old Regime:

Very interesting. It tells how people religiously and otherwise insane
came over from France and colonized Canada.

He was not always complimentary to those who undertook to Christianize
the Indians; but he did not fail to write his admiration of their
courage--their very willingness to endure privation and even the fiendish
savage tortures for the sake of their faith. "What manner of men are
these?" he wrote, apropos of the account of Bressani, who had undergone
the most devilish inflictions which savage ingenuity could devise, and
yet returned maimed and disfigured the following spring to "dare again
the knives and fiery brand of the Iroquois." Clemens was likely to be on
the side of the Indians, but hardly in their barbarism. In one place he

That men should be willing to leave their happy homes and endure
what the missionaries endured in order to teach these Indians the
road to hell would be rational, understandable, but why they should
want to teach them a way to heaven is a thing which the mind somehow
cannot grasp.

Other histories, mainly English and French, showed how he had read them--
read and digested every word and line. There were two volumes of Lecky,
much worn; Andrew D. White's 'Science and Theology'--a chief interest for
at least one summer--and among the collection a well-worn copy of 'Modern
English Literature--Its Blemishes and Defects', by Henry H. Breen. On
the title-page of this book Clemens had written:

HARTFORD, 1876. Use with care, for it is a scarce book. England
had to be ransacked in order to get it--or the bookseller speaketh

He once wrote a paper for the Saturday Morning Club, using for his text
examples of slipshod English which Breen had noted.

Clemens had a passion for biography, and especially for autobiography,
diaries, letters, and such intimate human history. Greville's 'Journal
of the Reigns of George IV. and William IV.' he had read much and
annotated freely. Greville, while he admired Byron's talents, abhorred
the poet's personality, and in one place condemns him as a vicious person
and a debauchee. He adds:

Then he despises pretenders and charlatans of all sorts, while he is
himself a pretender, as all men are who assume a character which does not
belong to them and affect to be something which they are all the time
conscious they are not in reality.

Clemens wrote on the margin:

But, dear sir, you are forgetting that what a man sees in the human
race is merely himself in the deep and honest privacy of his own
heart. Byron despised the race because he despised himself. I feel
as Byron did, and for the same reason. Do you admire the race (&
consequently yourself)?

A little further along--where Greville laments that Byron can take no
profit to himself from the sinful characters he depicts so faithfully,
Clemens commented:

If Byron--if any man--draws 50 characters, they are all himself--50
shades, 50 moods, of his own character. And when the man draws them
well why do they stir my admiration? Because they are me--I
recognize myself.

A volume of Plutarch was among the biographies that showed usage, and the
Life of P. T. Barnum, Written by Himself. Two Years Before the Mast he
loved, and never tired of. The more recent Memoirs of Andrew D. White
and Moncure D. Conway both, I remember, gave him enjoyment, as did the
Letters of Lowell. A volume of the Letters of Madame de Sevigne had some
annotated margins which were not complimentary to the translator, or for
that matter to Sevigne herself, whom he once designates as a "nauseating"
person, many of whose letters had been uselessly translated, as well as
poorly arranged for reading. But he would read any volume of letters or
personal memoirs; none were too poor that had the throb of life in them,
however slight.

Of such sort were the books that Mark Twain had loved best, and such were
a few of his words concerning them. Some of them belong to his earlier
reading, and among these is Darwin's 'Descent of Man', a book whose
influence was always present, though I believe he did not read it any
more in later years. In the days I knew him he read steadily not much
besides Suetonius and Pepys and Carlyle. These and his simple
astronomies and geologies and the Morte Arthure and the poems of Kipling
were seldom far from his hand.



It was the middle of November, 1909, when Clemens decided to take another
Bermuda vacation, and it was the 19th that we sailed. I went to New York
a day ahead and arranged matters, and on the evening of the 18th received
the news that Richard Watson Gilder had suddenly died.

Next morning there was other news. Clemens's old friend, William M.
Laffan, of the Sun, had died while undergoing a surgical operation. I
met Clemens at the train. He had already heard about Gilder; but he had
not yet learned of Laffan's death. He said:

"That's just it. Gilder and Laffan get all the good things that come
along and I never get anything."

Then, suddenly remembering, he added:

"How curious it is! I have been thinking of Laffan coming down on the
train, and mentally writing a letter to him on this Stetson-Eddy affair."

I asked when he had begun thinking of Laffan.

He said: "Within the hour."

It was within the hour that I had received the news, and naturally in my
mind had carried it instantly to him. Perhaps there was something
telepathic in it.

He was not at all ill going down to Bermuda, which was a fortunate thing,
for the water was rough and I was quite disqualified. We did not even
discuss astronomy, though there was what seemed most important news--the
reported discovery of a new planet.

But there was plenty of talk on the subject as soon as we got settled in
the Hamilton Hotel. It was windy and rainy out-of-doors, and we looked
out on the drenched semi-tropical foliage with a great bamboo swaying and
bending in the foreground, while he speculated on the vast distance that
the new planet must lie from our sun, to which it was still a satellite.
The report had said that it was probably four hundred billions of miles
distant, and that on this far frontier of the solar system the sun could
not appear to it larger than the blaze of a tallow candle. To us it was
wholly incredible how, in that dim remoteness, it could still hold true
to the central force and follow at a snail-pace, yet with unvarying
exactitude, its stupendous orbit. Clemens said that heretofore Neptune,
the planetary outpost of our system, had been called the tortoise of the
skies, but that comparatively it was rapid in its motion, and had become
a near neighbor. He was a good deal excited at first, having somehow the
impression that this new planet traveled out beyond the nearest fixed
star; but then he remembered that the distance to that first solar
neighbor was estimated in trillions, not billions, and that our little
system, even with its new additions, was a child's handbreadth on the
plane of the sky. He had brought along a small book called The Pith of
Astronomy--a fascinating little volume--and he read from it about the
great tempest of fire in the sun, where the waves of flame roll up two
thousand miles high, though the sun itself is such a tiny star in the
deeps of the universe.

If I dwell unwarrantably on this phase of Mark Twain's character, it is
because it was always so fascinating to me, and the contemplation of the
drama of the skies always meant so much to him, and somehow always seemed
akin to him in its proportions. He had been born under a flaming star, a
wanderer of the skies. He was himself, to me, always a comet rushing
through space, from mystery to mystery, regardless of sun and systems. It
is not likely to rain long in Bermuda, and when the sun comes back it
brings summer, whatever the season. Within a day after our arrival we
were driving about those coral roads along the beaches, and by that
marvelously variegated water. We went often to the south shore,
especially to Devonshire Bay, where the reefs and the sea coloring seem
more beautiful than elsewhere. Usually, when we reached the bay, we got
out to walk along the indurated shore, stopping here and there to look
out over the jeweled water liquid turquoise, emerald lapis-lazuli, jade,
the imperial garment of the Lord.

At first we went alone with only the colored driver, Clifford Trott,
whose name Clemens could not recollect, though he was always attempting
resemblances with ludicrous results. A little later Helen Allen, an
early angel-fish member already mentioned, was with us and directed the
drives, for she had been born on the island and knew every attractive
locality, though, for that matter, it would be hard to find there a place
that was not attractive.

Clemens, in fact, remained not many days regularly at the hotel. He kept
a room and his wardrobe there; but he paid a visit to Bay House--the
lovely and quiet home of Helen's parents--and prolonged it from day to
day, and from week to week, because it was a quiet and peaceful place
with affectionate attention and limitless welcome. Clifford Trott had
orders to come with the carriage each afternoon, and we drove down to Bay
House for Mark Twain and his playmate, and then went wandering at will
among the labyrinth of blossom-bordered, perfectly kept roadways of a
dainty paradise, that never, I believe, becomes quite a reality even to
those who know it best.

Clemens had an occasional paroxysm during these weeks, but they were not
likely to be severe or protracted; and I have no doubt the peace of his
surroundings, the remoteness from disturbing events, as well as the balmy
temperature, all contributed to his improved condition.

He talked pretty continuously during these drives, and he by no means
restricted his subjects to juvenile matters. He discussed history and
his favorite sciences and philosophies, and I am sure that his drift was
rarely beyond the understanding of his young companion, for it was Mark
Twain's gift to phrase his thought so that it commanded not only the
respect of age, but the comprehension and the interest of youth.
I remember that once he talked, during an afternoon's drive, on the
French Revolution and the ridiculous episode of Anacharsis Cloots,
"orator and advocate of the human race," collecting the vast populace of
France to swear allegiance to a king even then doomed to the block. The
very name of Cloots suggested humor, and nothing could have been more
delightful and graphic than the whole episode as he related it.
Helen asked if he thought such a thing as that could ever happen in

"No," he said, "the American sense of humor would have laughed it out of
court in a week; and the Frenchman dreads ridicule, too, though he never
seems to realize how ridiculous he is--the most ridiculous creature in
the world."

On the morning of his seventy-fourth birthday he was looking wonderfully
well after a night of sound sleep, his face full of color and freshness,
his eyes bright and keen and full of good-humor. I presented him with a
pair of cuff-buttons silver-enameled with the Bermuda lily, and I thought
he seemed pleased with them.

It was rather gloomy outside, so we remained indoors by the fire and
played cards, game after game of hearts, at which he excelled, and he was
usually kept happy by winning. There were no visitors, and after dinner
Helen asked him to read some of her favorite episodes from Tom Sawyer, so
he read the whitewashing scene, Peter and the Pain-killer, and such
chapters until tea-time. Then there was a birthday cake, and afterward
cigars and talk and a quiet fireside evening.

Once, in the course of his talk, he forgot a word and denounced his poor

"I'll forget the Lord's middle name some time," he declared, "right in
the midst of a storm, when I need all the help I can get."

Later he said:

"Nobody dreamed, seventy-four years ago to-day, that I would be in
Bermuda now." And I thought he meant a good deal more than the words

It was during this Bermuda visit that Mark Twain added the finishing
paragraph to his article, "The Turning-Point in My Life," which, at
Howells's suggestion, he had been preparing for Harper's Bazar. It was a
characteristic touch, and, as the last summary of his philosophy of human
life, may be repeated here.

Necessarily the scene of the real turning-point of my life (and of
yours) was the Garden of Eden. It was there that the first link was
forged of the chain that was ultimately to lead to the emptying of
me into the literary guild. Adam's temperament was the first
command the Deity ever issued to a human being on this planet. And
it was the only command Adam would never be able to disobey. It
said, "Be weak, be water, be characterless, be cheaply persuadable."
The later command, to let the fruit alone, was certain to be
disobeyed. Not by Adam himself, but by his temperament--which he
did not create and had no authority over. For the temperament is
the man; the thing tricked out with clothes and named Man is merely
its Shadow, nothing more. The law of the tiger's temperament is,
Thou shaft kill; the law of the sheep's temperament is, Thou shalt
not kill. To issue later commands requiring the tiger to let the
fat stranger alone, and requiring the sheep to imbrue its hands in
the blood of the lion is not worth while, for those commands can't
be obeyed. They would invite to violations of the law of
temperament, which is supreme, and takes precedence of all other
authorities. I cannot help feeling disappointed in Adam and Eve.
That is, in their temperaments. Not in them, poor helpless young
creatures--afflicted with temperaments made out of butter, which
butter was commanded to get into contact with fire and be melted.
What I cannot help wishing is, that Adam and Eve had been postponed,
and Martin Luther and Joan of Arc put in their place--that splendid
pair equipped with temperaments not made of butter, but of asbestos.
By neither sugary persuasions nor by hell-fire could Satan have
beguiled them to eat the apple.

There would have been results! Indeed yes. The apple would be
intact to-day; there would be no human race; there would be no you;
there would be no me. And the old, old creation-dawn scheme of
ultimately launching me into the literary guild would have been



He decided to go home for the holidays, and how fortunate it seems now
that he did so! We sailed for America on the 18th of December, arriving
the 21st. Jean was at the wharf to meet us, blue and shivering with the
cold, for it was wretchedly bleak there, and I had the feeling that she
should not have come.

She went directly, I think, to Stormfield, he following a day or two
later. On the 23d I was lunching with Jean alone. She was full of
interest in her Christmas preparations. She had a handsome tree set up
in the loggia, and the packages were piled about it, with new ones
constantly arriving. With her farm management, her housekeeping, her
secretary work, and her Christmas preparations, it seemed to me that she
had her hands overfull. Such a mental pressure could not be good for
her. I suggested that for a time at least I might assume a part of her

I was to remain at my own home that night, and I think it was as I left
Stormfield that I passed jean on the stair. She said, cheerfully, that
she felt a little tired and was going up to lie down, so that she would
be fresh for the evening. I did not go back, and I never saw her alive

I was at breakfast next morning when word was brought in that one of the
men from Stormfield was outside and wished to see me immediately. When I
went out he said: "Miss Jean is dead. They have just found her in her
bath-room. Mr. Clemens sent me to bring you."

It was as incomprehensible as such things always are. I could not
realize at all that Jean, so full of plans and industries and action less
than a day before, had passed into that voiceless mystery which we call

Harry Iles drove me rapidly up the hill. As I entered Clemens's room he
looked at me helplessly and said:

"Well, I suppose you have heard of this final disaster."

He was not violent or broken down with grief. He had come to that place
where, whatever the shock or the ill-turn of fortune, he could accept it,
and even in that first moment of loss he realized that, for Jean at
least, the fortune was not ill. Her malady had never been cured, and it
had been one of his deepest dreads that he would leave her behind him.
It was believed, at first; that Jean had drowned, and Dr. Smith tried
methods of resuscitation; but then he found that it was simply a case of
heart cessation caused by the cold shock of her bath.

The Gabrilowitsches were by this time in Europe, and Clemens cabled them
not to come. Later in the day he asked me if we would be willing to
close our home for the winter and come to Stormfield. He said that he
should probably go back to Bermuda before long; but that he wished to
keep the house open so that it would be there for him to come to at any
time that he might need it.

We came, of course, for there was no thought among any of his friends but
for his comfort and peace of mind. Jervis Langdon was summoned from
Elmira, for Jean would lie there with the others.

In the loggia stood the half-trimmed Christmas tree, and all about lay
the packages of gifts, and in Jean's room, on the chairs and upon her
desk, were piled other packages. Nobody had been forgotten. For her
father she had bought a handsome globe; he had always wanted one. Once
when I went into his room he said:

"I have been looking in at Jean and envying her. I have never greatly
envied any one but the dead. I always envy the dead."

He told me how the night before they had dined together alone; how he had
urged her to turn over a part of her work to me; how she had clung to
every duty as if now, after all the years, she was determined to make up
for lost time.

While they were at dinner a telephone inquiry had come concerning his
health, for the papers had reported him as returning from Bermuda in a
critical condition. He had written this playful answer:

New York.

I hear the newspapers say I am dying. The charge is not true. I
would not do such a thing at my time of life. I am behaving as good
as I can.

Merry Christmas to everybody! MARK TWAIN.

Jean telephoned it for him to the press. It had been the last secretary
service she had ever rendered.

She had kissed his hand, he said, when they parted, for she had a severe
cold and would not wish to impart it to him; then happily she had said
good night, and he had not seen her again. The reciting of this was good
to him, for it brought the comfort of tears.

Later, when I went in again, he was writing:

"I am setting it down," he said--"everything. It is a relief to me to
write it. It furnishes me an excuse for thinking."

He continued writing most of the day, and at intervals during the next
day, and the next.

It was on Christmas Day that they went with Jean on her last journey.
Katie Leary, her baby nurse, had dressed her in the dainty gown which she
had worn for Clara's wedding, and they had pinned on it a pretty buckle
which her father had brought her from Bermuda, and which she had not
seen. No Greek statue was ever more classically beautiful than she was,
lying there in the great living-room, which in its brief history had seen
so much of the round of life.

They were to start with jean at about six o'clock, and a little before
that time Clemens (he was unable to make the journey) asked me what had
been her favorite music. I said that she seemed always to care most for
the Schubert Impromptu.--[Op. 142, No. 2.]--Then he said:

"Play it when they get ready to leave with her, and add the Intermezzo
for Susy and the Largo for Mrs. Clemens. When I hear the music I shall
know that they are starting. Tell them to set lanterns at the door, so I
can look down and see them go."

So I sat at the organ and began playing as they lifted and bore her away.
A soft, heavy snow was falling, and the gloom of those shortest days was
closing in. There was not the least wind or noise, the whole world was
muffled. The lanterns at the door threw their light out on the thickly
falling flakes. I remained at the organ; but the little group at the
door saw him come to the window above--the light on his white hair as he
stood mournfully gazing down, watching Jean going away from him for the
last time. I played steadily on as he had instructed, the Impromptu, the
Intermezzo from "Cavalleria," and Handel's Largo. When I had finished I
went up and found him.

"Poor little Jean," he said; "but for her it is so good to go."

In his own story of it he wrote:

From my windows I saw the hearse and the carriages wind along the
road and gradually grow vague and spectral in the falling snow, and
presently disappear. Jean was gone out of my life, and would not
come back any more. The cousin she had played with when they were
babies together--he and her beloved old Katie--Were conducting her
to her distant childhood home, where she will lie by her mother's
side once more, in the company of Susy and Langdon.

He did not come down to dinner, and when I went up afterward I found him
curiously agitated. He said:

"For one who does not believe in spirits I have had a most peculiar
experience. I went into the bath-room just now and closed the door.
You know how warm it always is in there, and there are no draughts. All
at once I felt a cold current of air about me. I thought the door must
be open; but it was closed. I said, 'Jean, is this you trying to let me
know you have found the others?' Then the cold air was gone."

I saw that the incident had made a very great impression upon him; but I
don't remember that he ever mentioned it afterward.

Next day the storm had turned into a fearful blizzard; the whole hilltop
was a raging, driving mass of white. He wrote most of the day, but
stopped now and then to read some of the telegrams or letters of
condolence which came flooding in. Sometimes he walked over to the
window to look out on the furious tempest. Once, during the afternoon,
he said:

"Jean always so loved to see a storm like this, and just now at Elmira
they are burying her."

Later he read aloud some lines by Alfred Austin, which Mrs. Crane had
sent him lines which he had remembered in the sorrow for Susy:

When last came sorrow, around barn and byre
Wind-careen snow, the year's white sepulchre, lay.
"Come in," I said, "and warm you by the fire";
And there she sits and never goes away.

It was that evening that he came into the room where Mrs. Paine and I sat
by the fire, bringing his manuscript.

"I have finished my story of Jean's death," he said. "It is the end of
my autobiography. I shall never write any more. I can't judge it myself
at all. One of you read it aloud to the other, and let me know what you
think of it. If it is worthy, perhaps some day it may be published."

It was, in fact, one of the most exquisite and tender pieces of writing

Book of the day: