Part 15 out of 16
for it would hurt him and I wouldn't brush a flake of powder from his
wing for anything. I only say it in envy of his indestructible youth,
anyway. Howells will be 88 in October.) With thanks again,
S. L. C.
Clemens found that the air of the New Hampshire hills agreed with
him and stimulated him to work. He began an entirely new version of
The Mysterious Stranger, of which he already had a bulky and nearly
finished manuscript, written in Vienna. He wrote several hundred
pages of an extravaganza entitled, Three Thousand Years Among the
Microbes, and then, having got his superabundant vitality reduced
(it was likely to expend itself in these weird mental exploits),
he settled down one day and wrote that really tender and beautiful
idyl, Eve's Diary, which he had begun, or at least planned, the
previous summer at Tyringham. In a letter to Mr. Frederick A.
Duneka, general manager of Harper & Brothers, he tells something of
the manner of the story; also his revised opinion of Adam's Diary,
written in '93, and originally published as a souvenir of Niagara
To Frederick A. Duneka, in New York:
DUBLIN, July 16, '05.
DEAR MR. DUNEKA,--I wrote Eve's Diary, she using Adam's Diary as her
(unwitting and unconscious) text, of course, since to use any other text
would have been an imbecility--then I took Adam's Diary and read it. It
turned my stomach. It was not literature; yet it had been literature
once--before I sold it to be degraded to an advertisement of the Buffalo
Fair. I was going to write and ask you to melt the plates and put it out
But this morning I examined it without temper, and saw that if I
abolished the advertisement it would be literature again.
So I have done it. I have struck out 700 words and inserted 5 MS pages
of new matter (650 words), and now Adam's Diary is dam good--sixty times
as good as it ever was before.
I believe it is as good as Eve's Diary now--no, it's not quite that good,
I guess, but it is good enough to go in the same cover with Eve's. I'm
sure of that.
I hate to have the old Adam go out any more--don't put it on the presses
again, let's put the new one in place of it; and next Xmas, let us bind
Adam and Eve in one cover. They score points against each other--so, if
not bound together, some of the points would not be perceived.....
P. S. Please send another Adam's Diary, so that I can make 2 revised
copies. Eve's Diary is Eve's love-Story, but we will not name it that.
The peace-making at Portsmouth between Japan and Russia was not
satisfactory to Mark Twain, who had fondly hoped there would be no
peace until, as he said, "Russian liberty was safe. One more battle
would have abolished the waiting chains of millions upon millions of
unborn Russians and I wish it could have been fought." He set down
an expression of his feelings for the Associated Press, and it
invited many letters. Charles Francis Adams wrote, "It attracted my
attention because it so exactly expresses the views I have myself
all along entertained."
Clemens was invited by Colonel George Harvey to dine with the
Russian emissaries, Baron Rosen and Sergius Witte. He declined, but
his telegram so pleased Witte that he asked permission to publish
it, and announced that he would show it to the Czar.
Telegram. To Col. George Harvey, in New York:
TO COLONEL HARVEY,--I am still a cripple, otherwise I should be more than
glad of this opportunity to meet the illustrious magicians who came here
equipped with nothing but a pen, and with it have divided the honors of
the war with the sword. It is fair to presume that in thirty centuries
history will not get done admiring these men who attempted what the world
regarded as impossible and achieved it.
Witte would not have cared to show the Czar the telegram in its
original form, which follows.
Telegram (unsent). To Col. George Harvey, in New York:
TO COLONEL HARVEY,--I am still a cripple, otherwise I should be more than
glad of this opportunity to meet those illustrious magicians who with the
pen have annulled, obliterated, and abolished every high achievement of
the Japanese sword and turned the tragedy of a tremendous war into a gay
and blithesome comedy. If I may, let me in all respect and honor salute
them as my fellow-humorists, I taking third place, as becomes one who was
not born to modesty, but by diligence and hard work is acquiring it.
Nor still another unsent form, perhaps more characteristic than
either of the foregoing.
Telegram (unsent). To Col. George Harvey, in New York:
DEAR COLONEL,--No, this is a love-feast; when you call a lodge of sorrow
send for me.
To Mrs. Crane, Quarry Farm:
DUBLIN, Sept. 24, '05.
Susy dear, I have had a lovely dream. Livy, dressed in black, was
sitting up in my bed (here) at my right and looking as young and sweet as
she used to do when she was in health. She said: "what is the name of
your sweet sister?" I said, "Pamela." "Oh, yes, that is it, I thought
it was--" (naming a name which has escaped me) "Won't you write it down for
me?" I reached eagerly for a pen and pad--laid my hands upon both--then
said to myself, "It is only a dream," and turned back sorrowfully and
there she was, still. The conviction flamed through me that our lamented
disaster was a dream, and this a reality. I said, "How blessed it is,
how blessed it is, it was all a dream, only a dream!" She only smiled
and did not ask what dream I meant, which surprised me. She leaned her
head against mine and I kept saying, "I was perfectly sure it was a
dream, I never would have believed it wasn't."
I think she said several things, but if so they are gone from my memory.
I woke and did not know I had been dreaming. She was gone. I wondered
how she could go without my knowing it, but I did not spend any thought
upon that, I was too busy thinking of how vivid and real was the dream
that we had lost her and how unspeakably blessed it was to find that it
was not true and that she was still ours and with us.
S. L. C.
One day that summer Mark Twain received a letter from the actress,
Minnie Maddern Fiske, asking him to write something that would aid
her in her crusade against bull-fighting. The idea appealed to him;
he replied at once.
To Mrs. Fiske:
DEAR MRS. FISKE,--I shall certainly write the story. But I may not get
it to suit me, in which case it will go in the fire. Later I will try
again--and yet again--and again. I am used to this. It has taken me
twelve years to write a short story--the shortest one I ever wrote, I
think.--[Probably "The Death Disk."]--So do not be discouraged; I will
stick to this one in the same way. Sincerely yours,
S. L. CLEMENS.
He did not delay in his beginning, and a few weeks later was sending
word to his publisher about it.
To Frederick A. Duneka, in New York:
Oct. 2, '05.
DEAR MR. DUNEKA,--I have just finished a short story which I "greatly
admire," and so will you--"A Horse's Tale"--about 15,000 words, at a
rough guess. It has good fun in it, and several characters, and is
lively. I shall finish revising it in a few days or more, then Jean will
Don't you think you can get it into the Jan. and Feb. numbers and issue
it as a dollar booklet just after the middle of Jan. when you issue the
It ought to be ably illustrated.
Why not sell simultaneous rights, for this once, to the Ladies' Home
Journal or Collier's, or both, and recoup yourself?--for I would like to
get it to classes that can't afford Harper's. Although it doesn't
preach, there's a sermon concealed in it.
Five days later he added some rather interesting facts concerning
the new story.
To F. A. Duneka, in New York:
Oct. 7, 1906. ['05]
DEAR MR. DUNEKA,--..... I've made a poor guess as to number of words.
I think there must be 20,000. My usual page of MS. contains about 130
words; but when I am deeply interested in my work and dead to everything
else, my hand-writing shrinks and shrinks until there's a great deal more
than 130 on a page--oh, yes, a deal more. Well, I discover, this
morning, that this tale is written in that small hand.
This strong interest is natural, for the heroine is my daughter, Susy,
whom we lost. It was not intentional--it was a good while before I found
So I am sending you her picture to use--and to reproduce with
photographic exactness the unsurpassable expression and all. May you
find an artist who has lost an idol!
Take as good care of the picture as you can and restore it to me when I
I hope you will illustrate this tale considerably. Not humorous
pictures. No. When they are good (or bad) one's humor gets no chance to
play surprises on the reader. A humorous subject illustrated seriously
is all right, but a humorous artist is no fit person for such work. You
see, the humorous writer pretends to absolute seriousness (when he knows
his trade) then for an artist--to step in and give his calculated gravity
all away with a funny picture--oh, my land! It gives me the dry gripes
just to think of it. It would be just about up to the average comic
artist's intellectual level to make a funny picture of the horse kicking
the lungs out of a trader. Hang it, the remark is funny--because the
horse is not aware of it but the fact is not humorous, it is tragic and
it is no subject for a humorous picture.
Could I be allowed to sit in judgment upon the pictures before they are
accepted--at least those in which Cathy may figure?
This is not essential. It is but a suggestion, and it is hereby
withdrawn, if it would be troublesome or cause delay.
I hope you will reproduce the cat-pile, full page. And save the photo
for me in as good condition as possible. When Susy and Clara were little
tots those cats had their profoundest worship, and there is no duplicate
of this picture. These cats all had thundering names, or inappropriate
ones--furnished by the children with my help. One was named Buffalo
Are you interested in coincidences?
After discovering, about the middle of the book, that Cathy was Susy
Clemens, I put her picture with my MS., to be reproduced. After the book
was finished it was discovered that Susy had a dim model of Soldier Boy
in her arms; I had forgotten all about that toy.
Then I examined the cat-picture and laid it with the MS. for
introduction; but it was not until yesterday that I remembered that one
of the cats was named Buffalo Bill.
The reference in this letter to shrinkage of his hand-writing with
the increasing intensity of his interest, and the consequent
addition of the number of words to the page, recalls another fact,
noted by Mr. Duneka, viz.: that because of his terse Anglo-Saxon
diction, Mark Twain could put more words on a magazine page than any
other writer. It is hardly necessary to add that he got more force
into what he put on the page for the same reason.
There was always a run of reporters at Mark Twain's New York home.
His opinion was sought for on every matter of public interest, and
whatever happened to him in particular was considered good for at
least half a column of copy, with his name as a catch-line at the
top. When it was learned that he was to spend the summer in New
Hampshire, the reporters had all wanted to find out about it. Now
that the summer was ending, they began to want to know how he had
liked it, what work he had done and what were his plans for another
year. As they frequently applied to his publishers for these
details it was finally suggested to him that he write a letter
furnishing the required information. His reply, handed to Mr.
Duneka, who was visiting him at the moment, is full of interest.
Mem. for Mr. Duneka:
DUBLIN, Oct. 9, 1905.
.....As to the other matters, here are the details.
Yes, I have tried a number of summer homes, here and in Europe together.
Each of these homes had charms of its own; charms and delights of its
own, and some of them--even in Europe had comforts. Several of them had
conveniences, too. They all had a "view."
It is my conviction that there should always be some water in a view--
a lake or a river, but not the ocean, if you are down on its level. I
think that when you are down on its level it seldom inflames you with an
ecstasy which you could not get out of a sand-flat. It is like being on
board ship, over again; indeed it is worse than that, for there's three
months of it. On board ship one tires of the aspects in a couple of
days, and quits looking. The same vast circle of heaving humps is spread
around you all the time, with you in the centre of it and never gaining
an inch on the horizon, so far as you can see; for variety, a flight of
flying-fish, mornings; a flock of porpoises throwing summersaults
afternoons; a remote whale spouting, Sundays; occasional phosphorescent
effects, nights; every other day a streak of black smoke trailing along
under the horizon; on the one single red letter day, the illustrious
iceberg. I have seen that iceberg thirty-four times in thirty-seven
voyages; it is always the same shape, it is always the same size, it
always throws up the same old flash when the sun strikes it; you may set
it on any New York door-step of a June morning and light it up with a
mirror-flash; and I will engage to recognize it. It is artificial, and
it is provided and anchored out by the steamer companies. I used to like
the sea, but I was young then, and could easily get excited over any kind
of monotony, and keep it up till the monotonies ran out, if it was a
Last January, when we were beginning to inquire about a home for this
summer, I remembered that Abbott Thayer had said, three years before,
that the New Hampshire highlands was a good place. He was right--it was
a good place. Any place that is good for an artist in paint is good for
an artist in morals and ink. Brush is here, too; so is Col. T. W.
Higginson; so is Raphael Pumpelly; so is Mr. Secretary Hitchcock; so is
Henderson; so is Learned; so is Summer; so is Franklin MacVeigh; so is
Joseph L. Smith; so is Henry Copley Greene, when I am not occupying his
house, which I am doing this season. Paint, literature, science,
statesmanship, history, professorship, law, morals,--these are all
represented here, yet crime is substantially unknown.
The summer homes of these refugees are sprinkled, a mile apart, among the
forest-clad hills, with access to each other by firm smooth country roads
which are so embowered in dense foliage that it is always twilight in
there, and comfortable. The forests are spider-webbed with these good
roads, they go everywhere; but for the help of the guide-boards, the
stranger would not arrive anywhere.
The village--Dublin--is bunched together in its own place, but a good
telephone service makes its markets handy to all those outliars. I have
spelt it that way to be witty. The village executes orders on, the
Boston plan--promptness and courtesy.
The summer homes are high-perched, as a rule, and have contenting
outlooks. The house we occupy has one. Monadnock, a soaring double
hump, rises into the sky at its left elbow--that is to say, it is close
at hand. From the base of the long slant of the mountain the valley
spreads away to the circling frame of the hills, and beyond the frame the
billowy sweep of remote great ranges rises to view and flows, fold upon
fold, wave upon wave, soft and blue and unwordly, to the horizon fifty
miles away. In these October days Monadnock and the valley and its
framing hills make an inspiring picture to look at, for they are
sumptuously splashed and mottled and be-torched from sky-line to sky-line
with the richest dyes the autumn can furnish; and when they lie flaming
in the full drench of the mid-afternoon sun, the sight affects the
spectator physically, it stirs his blood like military music.
These summer homes are commodious, well built, and well furnished--facts
which sufficiently indicate that the owners built them to live in
themselves. They have furnaces and wood fireplaces, and the rest of the
comforts and conveniences of a city home, and can be comfortably occupied
all the year round.
We cannot have this house next season, but I have secured Mrs. Upton's
house which is over in the law and science quarter, two or three miles
from here, and about the same distance from the art, literary, and
scholastic groups. The science and law quarter has needed improving,
this good while.
The nearest railway-station is distant something like an hour's drive; it
is three hours from there to Boston, over a branch line. You can go to
New York in six hours per branch lines if you change cars every time you
think of it, but it is better to go to Boston and stop over and take the
trunk line next day, then you do not get lost.
It is claimed that the atmosphere of the New Hampshire highlands is
exceptionally bracing and stimulating, and a fine aid to hard and
continuous work. It is a just claim, I think. I came in May, and
wrought 35 successive days without a break. It is possible that I could
not have done it elsewhere. I do not know; I have not had any
disposition to try it, before. I think I got the disposition out of the
atmosphere, this time. I feel quite sure, in fact, that that is where it
I am ashamed to confess what an intolerable pile of manuscript I ground
out in the 35 days, therefore I will keep the number of words to myself.
I wrote the first half of a long tale--"The Adventures of a Microbe" and
put it away for a finish next summer, and started another long tale--"The
Mysterious Stranger;" I wrote the first half of it and put it with the
other for a finish next summer. I stopped, then. I was not tired, but I
had no books on hand that needed finishing this year except one that was
seven years old. After a little I took that one up and finished it. Not
for publication, but to have it ready for revision next summer.
Since I stopped work I have had a two months' holiday. The summer has
been my working time for 35 years; to have a holiday in it (in America)
is new for me. I have not broken it, except to write "Eve's Diary" and
"A Horse's Tale"--short things occupying the mill 12 days.
This year our summer is 6 months long and ends with November and the
flight home to New York, but next year we hope and expect to stretch it
another month and end it the first of December.
The fact that he was a persistent smoker was widely known, and many
friends and admirers of Mark Twain sent him cigars, most of which he
could not use, because they were too good. He did not care for
Havana cigars, but smoked the fragrant, inexpensive domestic tobacco
with plenty of "pep" in it, as we say today. Now and then he had an
opportunity to head off some liberal friend, who wrote asking
permission to contribute to his cigar collection, as instance the
To Rev. L. M. Powers, in Haverhill, Mass.:
Nov. 9, 1905.
DEAR MR. POWERS,--I should accept your hospitable offer at once but for
the fact I couldn't do it and remain honest. That is to say if I allowed
you to send me what you believe to be good cigars it would distinctly
mean that I meant to smoke them, whereas I should do nothing of the kind.
I know a good cigar better than you do, for I have had 60 years
No, that is not what I mean; I mean I know a bad cigar better than
anybody else; I judge by the price only; if it costs above 5 cents I know
it to be either foreign or half-foreign, and unsmokeable. By me. I have
many boxes of Havana cigars, of all prices from 20 cts apiece up to 1.66
apiece; I bought none of them, they were all presents, they are an
accumulation of several years. I have never smoked one of them and never
shall, I work them off on the visitor. You shall have a chance when you
Pessimists are born not made; optimists are born not made; but no man is
born either pessimist wholly or optimist wholly, perhaps; he is
pessimistic along certain lines and optimistic along certain others.
That is my case.
S. L. CLEMENS.
In spite of all the fine photographs that were made of him, there
recurred constantly among those sent him to be autographed a print
of one which, years before, Sarony had made and placed on public
sale. It was a good photograph, mechanically and even artistically,
but it did not please Mark Twain. Whenever he saw it he recalled
Sarony with bitterness and severity. Once he received an inquiry
concerning it, and thus feelingly expressed himself.
To Mr. Row (no address):
21 FIFTH AVENUE, NEW YORK,
November 14, 1905.
DEAR MR. ROW,--That alleged portrait has a private history. Sarony was
as much of an enthusiast about wild animals as he was about photography;
and when Du Chaillu brought the first Gorilla to this country in 1819 he
came to me in a fever of excitement and asked me if my father was of
record and authentic. I said he was; then Sarony, without any abatement
of his excitement asked if my grandfather also was of record and
authentic. I said he was. Then Sarony, with still rising excitement and
with joy added to it, said he had found my great grandfather in the
person of the gorilla, and had recognized him at once by his resemblance
to me. I was deeply hurt but did not reveal this, because I knew Saxony
meant no offense for the gorilla had not done him any harm, and he was
not a man who would say an unkind thing about a gorilla wantonly. I went
with him to inspect the ancestor, and examined him from several points of
view, without being able to detect anything more than a passing
resemblance. "Wait," said Sarony with confidence, "let me show you."
He borrowed my overcoat--and put it on the gorilla. The result was
surprising. I saw that the gorilla while not looking distinctly like me
was exactly what my great grand father would have looked like if I had
had one. Sarong photographed the creature in that overcoat, and spread
the picture about the world. It has remained spread about the world ever
since. It turns up every week in some newspaper somewhere or other. It
is not my favorite, but to my exasperation it is everybody else's.
Do you think you could get it suppressed for me? I will pay the limit.
S. L. CLEMENS.
The year 1905 closed triumphantly for Mark Twain. The great
"Seventieth Birthday" dinner planned by Colonel George Harvey is
remembered to-day as the most notable festival occasion in New York
literary history. Other dinners and ovations followed. At seventy
he had returned to the world, more beloved, more honored than ever
LETTERS, 1906, TO VARIOUS PERSONS. THE FAREWELL LECTURE. A SECOND
SUMMER IN DUBLIN. BILLIARDS AND COPYRIGHT
MARK TWAIN at "Pier Seventy," as he called it, paused to look
backward and to record some memoirs of his long, eventful past. The
Autobiography dictations begun in Florence were resumed, and daily
he traveled back, recalling long-ago scenes and all-but-forgotten
places. He was not without reminders. Now and again there came
some message that brought back the old days--the Tom Sawyer and Huck
Finn days--or the romance of the river that he never recalled other
than with tenderness and a tone of regret that it was gone. An
invitation to the golden wedding of two ancient friends moved and
saddened him, and his answer to it conveys about all the story of
To Mr. and Mrs. Gordon:
21 FIFTH AVENUE,
Jan. 24, '06.
DEAR GORDONS,--I have just received your golden-wedding "At Home" and am
trying to adjust my focus to it and realize how much it means. It is
inconceivable! With a simple sweep it carries me back over a stretch of
time measurable only in astronomical terms and geological periods.
It brings before me Mrs. Gordon, young, round-limbed, handsome; and with
her the Youngbloods and their two babies, and Laura Wright, that
unspoiled little maid, that fresh flower of the woods and the prairies.
Forty-eight years ago!
Life was a fairy-tale, then, it is a tragedy now. When I was 43 and John
Hay 41 he said life was a tragedy after 40, and I disputed it. Three
years ago he asked me to testify again: I counted my graves, and there
was nothing for me to say.
I am old; I recognize it but I don't realize it. I wonder if a person
ever really ceases to feel young--I mean, for a whole day at a time. My
love to you both, and to all of us that are left.
Though he used very little liquor of any kind, it was Mark Twain's
custom to keep a bottle of Scotch whiskey with his collection of
pipes and cigars and tobacco on a little table by his bed-side.
During restless nights he found a small quantity of it conducive to
sleep. Andrew Carnegie, learning of this custom, made it his
business to supply Scotch of his own special importation. The first
case came, direct from Scotland. When it arrived Clemens sent this
To Andrew Carnegie, in Scotland:
21 FIFTH AVE. Feb. 10, '06.
DEAR ST. ANDREW,--The whisky arrived in due course from over the water;
last week one bottle of it was extracted from the wood and inserted into
me, on the instalment plan, with this result: that I believe it to be the
best, smoothest whisky now on the planet. Thanks, oh, thanks: I have
Hoping that you three are well and happy and will be coming back before
the winter sets in.
It must have been a small bottle to be consumed by him in a week, or
perhaps he had able assistance. The next brief line refers to the
manuscript of his article, "Saint Joan of Arc," presented to the
museum at Rouen.
To Edward E. Clarke:
21 FIFTH AVE., Feb., 1906.
DEAR SIR,--I have found the original manuscript and with great pleasure I
transmit it herewith, also a printed copy.
It is a matter of great pride to me to have any word of mine concerning
the world's supremest heroine honored by a place in that Museum.
S. L. CLEMENS.
The series of letters which follows was prepared by Mark Twain and
General Fred Grant, mainly with a view of advertising the lecture
that Clemens had agreed to deliver for the benefit of the Robert
Fulton Monument Association. It was, in fact, to be Mark Twain's
"farewell lecture," and the association had really proposed to pay
him a thousand dollars for it. The exchange of these letters,
however, was never made outside of Mark Twain's bed-room. Propped
against the pillows, pen in hand, with General Grant beside him,
they arranged the series with the idea of publication. Later the
plan was discarded, so that this pleasant foolery appears here for
the first, time.
PRIVATE AND CONFIDENTIAL
Army Headquarters (date)
MARK TWAIN, New York,--Would you consider a proposal to talk at Carnegie
Hall for the benefit of the Robert Fulton Monument Association, of which
you are a Vice President, for a fee of a thousand dollars?
F. D. GRANT,
Fulton Monument Association.
MAJOR-GENERAL F. D. GRANT, Army Headquarters,--I shall be glad to do it,
but I must stipulate that you keep the thousand dollars and add it to the
Monument fund as my contribution.
DEAR MR. CLEMENS,--You have the thanks of the Association, and the terms
shall be as you say. But why give all of it? Why not reserve a portion
--why should you do this work wholly without compensation?
FRED. D. GRANT.
MAJOR GENERAL GRANT, Army Headquarters.
DEAR GENERAL,--Because I stopped talking for pay a good many years ago,
and I could not resume the habit now without a great deal of personal
discomfort. I love to hear myself talk, because I get so much
instruction and moral upheaval out of it, but I lose the bulk of this joy
when I charge for it. Let the terms stand.
General, if I have your approval, I wish to use this good occasion to
retire permanently from the platform.
S. L. CLEMENS.
DEAR MR. CLEMENS,--Certainly. But as an old friend, permit me to say,
Don't do that. Why should you?--you are not old yet.
FRED D. GRANT.
DEAR GENERAL,--I mean the pay-platform; I shan't retire from the gratis-
platform until after I am dead and courtesy requires me to keep still and
not disturb the others.
What shall I talk about? My idea is this: to instruct the audience about
Robert Fulton, and..... Tell me-was that his real name, or was it his
nom de plume? However, never mind, it is not important--I can skip it,
and the house will think I knew all about it, but forgot. Could you find
out for me if he was one of the Signers of the Declaration, and which
one? But if it is any trouble, let it alone, I can skip it. Was he out
with Paul Jones? Will you ask Horace Porter? And ask him if he brought
both of them home. These will be very interesting facts, if they can be
established. But never mind, don't trouble Porter, I can establish them
anyway. The way I look at it, they are historical gems--gems of the very
Well, that is my idea, as I have said: first, excite the audience with a
spoonful of information about Fulton, then quiet down with a barrel of
illustration drawn by memory from my books--and if you don't say anything
the house will think they never heard of it before, because people don't
really read your books, they only say they do, to keep you from feeling
bad. Next, excite the house with another spoonful of Fultonian fact,
then tranquilize them again with another barrel of illustration. And so
on and so on, all through the evening; and if you are discreet and don't
tell them the illustrations don't illustrate anything, they won't notice
it and I will send them home as well-informed about Robert Fulton as I am
myself. Don't be afraid; I know all about audiences, they believe
everything you say, except when you are telling the truth.
S. L. CLEMENS.
P.S. Mark all the advertisements "Private and Confidential," otherwise
the people will not read them.
DEAR MR. CLEMENS,--How long shall you talk? I ask in order that we may
be able to say when carriages may be called.
Very Truly yours,
HUGH GORDON MILLER,
DEAR MR. MILLER,--I cannot say for sure. It is my custom to keep on
talking till I get the audience cowed. Sometimes it takes an hour and
fifteen minutes, sometimes I can do it in an hour.
S. L. CLEMENS.
Mem. My charge is 2 boxes free. Not the choicest--sell the choicest,
and give me any 6-seat boxes you please.
S. L. C.
I want Fred Grant (in uniform) on the stage; also the rest of the
officials of the Association; also other distinguished people--all the
attractions we can get. Also, a seat for Mr. Albert Bigelow Paine, who
may be useful to me if he is near me and on the front.
S. L. C.
The seat chosen for the writer of these notes was to be at the front
of the stage in order that the lecturer might lean over now and then
and pretend to be asking information concerning Fulton. I was not
entirely happy in the thought of this showy honor, and breathed more
freely when this plan was abandoned and the part assigned to General
The lecture was given in Carnegie Hall, which had been gayly
decorated for the occasion. The house was more than filled, and a
great sum of money was realized for the fund.
It was that spring that Gorky and Tchaikowski, the Russian
revolutionists, came to America hoping to arouse interest in their
cause. The idea of the overthrow of the Russian dynasty was
pleasant to Mark Twain. Few things would have given him greater
comfort than to have known that a little more than ten years would
see the downfall of Russian imperialism. The letter which follows
was a reply to an invitation from Tchaikowski, urging him to speak
at one of the meetings.
DEAR MR. TCHAIKOWSKI,--I thank you for the honor of the invitation, but
I am not able to accept it, because on Thursday evening I shall be
presiding at a meeting whose object is to find remunerative work for
certain classes of our blind who would gladly support themselves if they
had the opportunity.
My sympathies are with the Russian revolution, of course. It goes
without saying. I hope it will succeed, and now that I have talked with
you I take heart to believe it will. Government by falsified promises;
by lies, by treacheries, and by the butcher-knife for the aggrandizement
of a single family of drones and its idle and vicious kin has been borne
quite long enough in Russia, I should think, and it is to be hoped that
the roused nation, now rising in its strength, will presently put an end
to it and set up the republic in its place. Some of us, even of the
white headed, may live to see the blessed day when Czars and Grand Dukes
will be as scarce there as I trust they are in heaven.
Most sincerely yours,
There came another summer at Dublin, New Hampshire, this time in the
fine Upton residence on the other slope of Monadnock, a place of
equally beautiful surroundings, and an even more extended view.
Clemens was at this time working steadily on his so-called
Autobiography, which was not that, in fact, but a series of
remarkable chapters, reminiscent, reflective, commentative, written
without any particular sequence as to time or subject-matter. He
dictated these chapters to a stenographer, usually in the open air,
sitting in a comfortable rocker or pacing up and down the long
veranda that faced a vast expanse of wooded slope and lake and
distant blue mountains. It became one of the happiest occupations
of his later years.
To W. D. Howells, in Maine:
DUBLIN, Sunday, June 17, '06.
DEAR HOWELLS,--..... The dictating goes lazily and pleasantly on. With
intervals. I find that I have been at it, off and on, nearly two hours a
day for 155 days, since Jan. 9. To be exact I've dictated 75 hours in 80
days and loafed 75 days. I've added 60,000 words in the month that I've
been here; which indicates that I've dictated during 20 days of that
time--40 hours, at an average of 1,500 words an hour. It's a plenty, and
I am satisfied.
There's a good deal of "fat" I've dictated, (from Jan. 9) 210,000 words,
and the "fat" adds about 50,000 more.
The "fat" is old pigeon-holed things, of the years gone by, which I or
editors didn't das't to print. For instance, I am dumping in the little
old book which I read to you in Hartford about 30 years ago and which you
said "publish--and ask Dean Stanley to furnish an introduction; he'll do
it." ("Captain Stormfield's Visit to Heaven.") It reads quite to suit
me, without altering a word, now that it isn't to see print until I am
To-morrow I mean to dictate a chapter which will get my heirs and assigns
burnt alive if they venture to print it this side of 2006 A.D.--which I
judge they won't. There'll be lots of such chapters if I live 3 or 4
years longer. The edition of A.D. 2006 will make a stir when it comes
out. I shall be hovering around taking notice, along with other dead
pals. You are invited.
His tendency to estimate the measure of the work he was doing, and
had completed, must have clung to him from his old printer days.
The chapter which was to get his heirs and assigns burned alive was
on the orthodox God, and there was more than one such chapter. In
the next letter he refers to two exquisite poems by Howells, and the
writer of these notes recalls his wonderful reading of them aloud.
'In Our Town' was a collection of short stories then recently issued
by William Allen White. Howells had recommended them.
To W. D. Howells, in Maine:
21 FIFTH AVE., Tuesday Eve.
DEAR HOWELLS,--It is lovely of you to say those beautiful things--I don't
know how to thank you enough. But I love you, that I know.
I read "After the Wedding" aloud and we felt all the pain of it and the
truth. It was very moving and very beautiful--would have been over-
comingly moving, at times, but for the haltings and pauses compelled by
the difficulties of MS--these were a protection, in that they furnished
me time to brace up my voice, and get a new start. Jean wanted to keep
the MS for another reading-aloud, and for "keeps," too, I suspected, but
I said it would be safest to write you about it.
I like "In Our Town," particularly that Colonel, of the Lookout Mountain
Oration, and very particularly pages 212-16. I wrote and told White so.
After "After the Wedding" I read "The Mother" aloud and sounded its human
deeps with your deep-sea lead. I had not read it before, since it was
I have been dictating some fearful things, for 4 successive mornings--for
no eye but yours to see until I have been dead a century--if then. But
I got them out of my system, where they had been festering for years--and
that was the main thing. I feel better, now.
I came down today on business--from house to house in 12 1/2 hours, and
expected to arrive dead, but am neither tired nor sleepy.
Yours as always
To William Allen White, in Emporia, Kans.:
DUBLIN, NEW HAMPSHIRE,
June 24, 1906.
DEAR MR. WHITE,--Howells told me that "In Our Town" was a charming book,
and indeed it is. All of it is delightful when read one's self, parts of
it can score finely when subjected to the most exacting of tests--the
reading aloud. Pages 197 and 216 are of that grade. I have tried them a
couple of times on the family, and pages 212 and 216 are qualified to
fetch any house of any country, caste or color, endowed with those riches
which are denied to no nation on the planet--humor and feeling.
Talk again--the country is listening.
S. L. CLEMENS.
Witter Bynner, the poet, was one of the editors of McClure's
Magazine at this time, but was trying to muster the courage to give
up routine work for verse-making and the possibility of poverty.
Clemens was fond of Bynner and believed in his work. He did not
advise him, however, to break away entirely from a salaried
position--at least not immediately; but one day Bynner did so, and
reported the step he had taken, with some doubt as to the answer he
To Witter Bynner, in New York:
DUBLIN, Oct. 5, 1906.
DEAR POET,--You have certainly done right for several good reasons; at
least, of them, I can name two:
1. With your reputation you can have your freedom and yet earn your
living. 2. if you fall short of succeeding to your wish, your
reputation will provide you another job. And so in high approval I
suppress the scolding and give you the saintly and fatherly pat instead.
On another occasion, when Bynner had written a poem to Clara
Clemens, her father pretended great indignation that the first poem
written by Bynner to any one in his household should not be to him,
and threatened revenge. At dinner shortly after he produced from
his pocket a slip of paper on which he had set down what he said was
"his only poem." He read the lines that follow:
"Of all sad words of tongue or pen,
The saddest are these: It might have been.
Ah, say not so! as life grows longer, leaner, thinner,
We recognize, O God, it might have Bynner!"
He returned to New York in October and soon after was presented by
Mrs. H. H. Rogers with a handsome billiard-table.
He had a passion for the game, but had played comparatively little
since the old Hartford days of fifteen years before, when a group of
his friends used to assemble on Friday nights in the room at the top
of the house for long, strenuous games and much hilarity. Now the
old fever all came back; the fascinations of the game superseded
even his interest in the daily dictations.
To Mrs. H. H. Rogers, in New York:
21 FIFTH AVENUE, Monday, Nov., 1906.
DEAR MRS. ROGERS,--The billiard table is better than the doctors. It is
driving out the heartburn in a most promising way. I have a billiardist
on the premises, and I walk not less than ten miles every day with the
cue in my hand. And the walking is not the whole of the exercise, nor
the most health-giving part of it, I think. Through the multitude of the
positions and attitudes it brings into play every muscle in the body and
exercises them all.
The games begin right after luncheon, daily, and continue until midnight,
with 2 hours' intermission for dinner and music. And so it is 9 hours'
exercise per day, and 10 or 12 on Sunday. Yesterday and last night it
was 12--and I slept until 8 this morning without waking. The billiard
table, as a Sabbath breaker can beat any coal-breaker in Pennsylvania,
and give it 30 in, the game. If Mr. Rogers will take to daily billiards
he can do without doctors and the massageur, I think.
We are really going to build a house on my farm, an hour and a half from
New York. It is decided. It is to be built by contract, and is to come
With love and many thanks.
S. L. C.
P.S. Clara is in the sanitarium--till January 28 when her western
concert tour will begin. She is getting to be a mighty competent singer.
You must know Clara better; she is one of the very finest and completest
and most satisfactory characters I have ever met. Others knew it before,
but I have always been busy with other matters.
The "billiardist on the premises" was the writer of these notes,
who, earlier in the year, had become his biographer, and, in the
course of time, his daily companion and friend. The farm mentioned
was one which he had bought at Redding, Connecticut, where, later,
he built the house known as "Stormfield."
Henry Mills Alden, for nearly forty years editor of Harper's
Magazine, arrived at his seventieth birthday on November 11th that
year, and Harper & Brothers had arranged to give him a great dinner
in the offices of Franklin Square, where, for half a century, he had
been an active force. Mark Twain, threatened with a cold, and
knowing the dinner would be strenuous, did not feel able to attend,
so wrote a letter which, if found suitable, could be read at the
To Mr. Henry Alden:
ALDEN,--dear and ancient friend--it is a solemn moment. You have now
reached the age of discretion. You have been a long time arriving. Many
years ago you docked me on an article because the subject was too old;
later, you docked me on an article because the subject was too new; later
still, you docked me on an article because the subject was betwixt and
between. Once, when I wrote a Letter to Queen Victoria, you did not put
it in the respectable part of the Magazine, but interred it in that
potter's field, the Editor's Drawer. As a result, she never answered it.
How often we recall, with regret, that Napoleon once shot at a magazine
editor and missed him and killed a publisher. But we remember, with
charity, that his intentions were good.
You will reform, now, Alden. You will cease from these economies, and
you will be discharged. But in your retirement you will carry with you
the admiration and earnest good wishes of the oppressed and toiling
scribes. This will be better than bread. Let this console you when the
You will carry with you another thing, too--the affection of the scribes;
for they all love you in spite of your crimes. For you bear a kind heart
in your breast, and the sweet and winning spirit that charms away all
hostilities and animosities, and makes of your enemy your friend and
keeps him so. You have reigned over us thirty-six years, and, please
God, you shall reign another thirty-six--"and peace to Mahmoud on his
A copyright bill was coming up in Washington and a delegation of
authors went down to work for it. Clemens was not the head of the
delegation, but he was the most prominent member of it, as well as
the most useful. He invited the writer to accompany him, and
elsewhere I have told in detail the story of that excursion,--[See
Mark Twain; A Biography, chap. ccli,]--which need be but briefly
touched upon here.
His work was mainly done aside from that of the delegation. They
had him scheduled for a speech, however, which he made without notes
and with scarcely any preparation. Meantime he had applied to
Speaker Cannon for permission to allow him on the floor of the
House, where he could buttonhole the Congressmen. He was not
eligible to the floor without having received the thanks of
Congress, hence the following letter:
To Hon. Joseph Cannon, House of Representatives:
Dec. 7, 1906.
DEAR UNCLE JOSEPH,--Please get me the thanks of the Congress--not next
week but right away. It is very necessary. Do accomplish this for your
affectionate old friend right away; by persuasion, if you can, by
violence if you must, for it is imperatively necessary that I get on the
floor for two or three hours and talk to the members, man by man, in
behalf of the support, encouragement and protection of one of the
nation's most valuable assets and industries--its literature. I have
arguments with me, also a barrel, with liquid in it.
Give me a chance. Get me the thanks of Congress. Don't wait for others;
there isn't time. I have stayed away and let Congress alone for seventy-
one years and I am entitled to thanks. Congress knows it perfectly well
and I have long felt hurt that this quite proper and earned expression of
gratitude has been merely felt by the House and never publicly uttered.
Send me an order on the Sergeant-at-Arms quick. When shall I come? With
love and a benediction.
This was mainly a joke. Mark Twain did not expect any "thanks," but
he did hope for access to the floor, which once, in an earlier day,
had been accorded him. We drove to the Capitol and he delivered his
letter to "Uncle Joe" by hand. "Uncle Joe" could not give him the
privilege of the floor; the rules had become more stringent. He
declared they would hang him if he did such a thing. He added that
he had a private room down-stairs, where Mark Twain might establish
headquarters, and that he would assign his colored servant, Neal, of
long acquaintanceship with many of the members, to pass the word
that Mark Twain was receiving.
The result was a great success. All that afternoon members of
Congress poured into the Speaker's room and, in an atmosphere blue
with tobacco smoke, Mark Twain talked the gospel of copyright to his
The bill did not come up for passage that session, but Mark Twain
lived to see his afternoon's lobbying bring a return. In 1909,
Champ Clark, and those others who had gathered around him that
afternoon, passed a measure that added fourteen years to the
The next letter refers to a proposed lobby of quite a different
To Helen Keller, in Wrentham, Mass.:
21 FIFTH AVENUE,
Dec. 23, '06.
DEAR HELEN KELLER,--. . . You say, "As a reformer, you know that
ideas must be driven home again and again."
Yes, I know it; and by old experience I know that speeches and documents
and public meetings are a pretty poor and lame way of accomplishing it.
Last year I proposed a sane way--one which I had practiced with success
for a quarter of a century--but I wasn't expecting it to get any
attention, and it didn't.
Give me a battalion of 200 winsome young girls and matrons, and let me
tell them what to do and how to do it, and I will be responsible for
shining results. If I could mass them on the stage in front of the
audience and instruct them there, I could make a public meeting take hold
of itself and do something really valuable for once. Not that the real
instruction would be done there, for it wouldn't; it would be previously
done privately, and merely repeated there.
But it isn't going to happen--the good old way will be stuck to: there'll
be a public meeting: with music, and prayer, and a wearying report, and a
verbal description of the marvels the blind can do, and 17 speeches--then
the call upon all present who are still alive, to contribute. This hoary
program was invented in the idiot asylum, and will never be changed. Its
function is to breed hostility to good causes.
Some day somebody will recruit my 200--my dear beguilesome Knights of the
Golden Fleece--and you will see them make good their ominous name.
Mind, we must meet! not in the grim and ghastly air of the platform,
mayhap, but by the friendly fire--here at 21.
Affectionately your friend,
S. L. CLEMENS.
They did meet somewhat later that winter in the friendly parlors of
No. 21, and friends gathered in to meet the marvelous blind girl and
to pay tribute to Miss Sullivan (Mrs. Macy) for her almost
MARK TWAIN'S LETTERS 1907-1910
ARRANGED WITH COMMENT BY ALBERT BIGELOW PAINE
LETTERS 1907-08. A DEGREE FROM OXFORD. THE NEW HOME AT REDDING
The author, J. Howard Moore, sent a copy of his book, The Universal
Kinship, with a letter in which he said: "Most humorists have no
anxiety except to glorify themselves and add substance to their
pocket-books by making their readers laugh. You have shown, on many
occasions, that your mission is not simply to antidote the
melancholy of a world, but includes a real and intelligent concern
for the general welfare of your fellowman."
The Universal Kinship was the kind of a book that Mark Twain
appreciated, as his acknowledgment clearly shows.
To Mr. J. Howard Moore:
Feb. 2, '07.
DEAR MR. MOORE, The book has furnished me several days of deep pleasure
and satisfaction; it has compelled my gratitude at the same time, since
it saves me the labor of stating my own long-cherished opinions and
reflections and resentments by doing it lucidly and fervently and
irascibly for me.
There is one thing that always puzzles me: as inheritors of the mentality
of our reptile ancestors we have improved the inheritance by a thousand
grades; but in the matter of the morals which they left us we have gone
backward as many grades. That evolution is strange, and to me
unaccountable and unnatural. Necessarily we started equipped with their
perfect and blemishless morals; now we are wholly destitute; we have no
real, morals, but only artificial ones--morals created and preserved by
the forced suppression of natural and hellish instincts. Yet we are dull
enough to be vain of them. Certainly we are a sufficiently comical
invention, we humans.
S. L. CLEMENS.
Mark Twain's own books were always being excommunicated by some
librarian, and the matter never failed to invite the attention and
amusement of the press, and the indignation of many correspondents.
Usually the books were Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn, the morals of which
were not regarded as wholly exemplary. But in 1907 a small library,
in a very small town, attained a day's national notoriety by putting
the ban on Eve's Diary, not so much on account of its text as for
the chaste and exquisite illustrations by Lester Ralph. When the
reporters came in a troop to learn about it, the author said: "I
believe this time the trouble is mainly with the pictures. I did
not draw them. I wish I had--they are so beautiful."
Just at this time, Dr. William Lyon Phelps, of Yale, was giving a
literary talk to the Teachers' Club, of Hartford, dwelling on the
superlative value of Mark Twain's writings for readers old and
young. Mrs. F. G. Whitmore, an old Hartford friend, wrote Clemens
of the things that Phelps had said, as consolation for Eve's latest
banishment. This gave him a chance to add something to what he had
said to the reporters.
To Mrs. Whitmore, in Hartford:
Feb. 7, 1907.
DEAR MRS. WHITMORE,--But the truth is, that when a Library expels a book
of mine and leaves an unexpurgated Bible lying around where unprotected
youth and age can get hold of it, the deep unconscious irony of it
delights me and doesn't anger me. But even if it angered me such words
as those of Professor Phelps would take the sting all out. Nobody
attaches weight to the freaks of the Charlton Library, but when a man
like Phelps speaks, the world gives attention. Some day I hope to meet
him and thank him for his courage for saying those things out in public.
Custom is, to think a handsome thing in private but tame it down in the
I hope you are all well and happy; and thereto I add my love.
S. L. CLEMENS.
In May, 1907, Mark Twain was invited to England to receive from
Oxford the degree of Literary Doctor. It was an honor that came to
him as a sort of laurel crown at the end of a great career, and
gratified him exceedingly. To Moberly Bell, of the London Times,
he expressed his appreciation. Bell had been over in April and
Clemens believed him concerned in the matter.
To Moberly Bell, in London:
21 FIFTH AVENUE, May 3, '07
DEAR MR. BELL,--Your hand is in it! and you have my best thanks.
Although I wouldn't cross an ocean again for the price of the ship that
carried me, I am glad to do it for an Oxford degree. I shall plan to
sail for England a shade before the middle of June, so that I can have a
few days in London before the 26th.
S. L. CLEMENS.
He had taken a house at Tuxedo for the summer, desiring to be near
New York City, and in the next letter he writes Mr. Rogers
concerning his London plans. We discover, also, in this letter that
he has begun work on the Redding home and the cost is to come
entirely out of the autobiographical chapters then running in the
North American Review. It may be of passing interest to note here
that he had the usual house-builder's fortune. He received thirty
thousand dollars for the chapters; the house cost him nearly double
To H. H. Rogers, in New York:
May 29, '07.
DEAR ADMIRAL,--Why hang it, I am not going to see you and Mrs. Rogers at
all in England! It is a great disappointment. I leave there a month
from now--June 29. No, I shall see you; for by your itinerary you are
most likely to come to London June 21st or along there. So that is very
good and satisfactory. I have declined all engagements but two--Whitelaw
Reid (dinner) June 21, and the Pilgrims (lunch), June 25. The Oxford
ceremony is June 26. I have paid my return passage in the Minne-
something, but it is just possible that I may want to stay in England a
week or two longer--I can't tell, yet. I do very much want to meet up
with the boys for the last time.
I have signed the contract for the building of the house on my
Connecticut farm and specified the cost limit, and work has been begun.
The cost has to all come out of a year's instalments of Autobiography in
the N. A. Review.
Clara, is winning her way to success and distinction with sure and steady
strides. By all accounts she is singing like a bird, and is not afraid
on the concert stage any more.
Tuxedo is a charming place; I think it hasn't its equal anywhere.
Very best wishes to you both.
S. L. C.
The story of Mark Twain's extraordinary reception and triumph in
England has been told.--[Mark Twain; A Biography, chaps. cclvi-
cclix]--It was, in fact, the crowning glory of his career. Perhaps
one of the most satisfactory incidents of his sojourn was a dinner
given to him by the staff of Punch, in the historic offices at 10
Bouverie Street where no other foreign visitor had been thus
honored--a notable distinction. When the dinner ended, little joy
Agnew, daughter of the chief editor, entered and presented to the
chief guest the original drawing of a cartoon by Bernard Partridge,
which had appeared on the front page of Punch. In this picture the
presiding genius of the paper is offering to Mark Twain health, long
life, and happiness from "The Punch Bowl."
A short time after his return to America he received a pretty
childish letter from little Miss Agnew acknowledging a photograph he
had sent her, and giving a list of her pets and occupations. Such a
letter always delighted Mark Twain, and his pleasure in this one is
reflected in his reply.
To Miss Joy Agnew, in London:
TUXEDO PARK, NEW YORK.
Unto you greetings and salutation and worship, you dear, sweet little
rightly-named Joy! I can see you now almost as vividly as I saw you that
night when you sat flashing and beaming upon those sombre swallow-tails.
"Fair as a star when only one
Is shining in the sky."
Oh, you were indeed the only one--there wasn't even the remotest chance
of competition with you, dear! Ah, you are a decoration, you little
The idea of your house going to the wanton expense of a flower garden!--
aren't you enough? And what do you want to go and discourage the other
flowers for? Is that the right spirit? is it considerate? is it kind?
How do you suppose they feel when you come around--looking the way you
look? And you so pink and sweet and dainty and lovely and supernatural?
Why, it makes them feel embarrassed and artificial, of course; and in my
opinion it is just as pathetic as it can be. Now then you want to
reform--dear--and do right.
Well certainly you are well off, Joy:
All you need, now, to be permanently beyond the reach of want, is one
more dog--just one more good, gentle, high principled, affectionate,
loyal dog who wouldn't want any nobler service than the golden privilege
of lying at your door, nights, and biting everything that came along--and
I am that very one, and ready to come at the dropping of a hat.
Do you think you could convey my love and thanks to your "daddy" and Owen
Seaman and those other oppressed and down-trodden subjects of yours, you
darling small tyrant?
On my knees! These--with the kiss of fealty from your other subject--
Elinor Glyn, author of Three Weeks and other erotic tales, was in
America that winter and asked permission to call on Mark Twain. An
appointment was made and Clemens discussed with her, for an hour or
more, those crucial phases of life which have made living a complex
problem since the days of Eve in Eden. Mrs. Glyn had never before
heard anything like Mark Twain's wonderful talk, and she was anxious
to print their interview. She wrote what she could remember of it
and sent it to him for approval. If his conversation had been
frank, his refusal was hardly less so.
To Mrs. Elinor Glyn, in New York:
Jan. 22, '08.
DEAR MRS. GLYN, It reads pretty poorly--I get the sense of it, but it is
a poor literary job; however, it would have to be that because nobody can
be reported even approximately, except by a stenographer.
Approximations, synopsized speeches, translated poems, artificial flowers
and chromos all have a sort of value, but it is small. If you had put
upon paper what I really said it would have wrecked your type-machine.
I said some fetid, over-vigorous things, but that was because it was a
confidential conversation. I said nothing for print. My own report of
the same conversation reads like Satan roasting a Sunday school. It, and
certain other readable chapters of my autobiography will not be published
until all the Clemens family are dead--dead and correspondingly
indifferent. They were written to entertain me, not the rest of the
world. I am not here to do good--at least not to do it intentionally.
You must pardon me for dictating this letter; I am sick a-bed and not
feeling as well as I might.
S. L. CLEMENS.
Among the cultured men of England Mark Twain had no greater admirer,
or warmer friend, than Andrew Lang. They were at one on most
literary subjects, and especially so in their admiration of the life
and character of Joan of Arc. Both had written of her, and both
held her to be something almost more than mortal. When, therefore,
Anatole France published his exhaustive biography of the maid of
Domremy, a book in which he followed, with exaggerated minuteness
and innumerable footnotes, every step of Joan's physical career at
the expense of her spiritual life, which he was inclined to cheapen,
Lang wrote feelingly, and with some contempt, of the performance,
inviting the author of the Personal Recollections to come to the
rescue of their heroine. "Compare every one of his statements with
the passages he cites from authorities, and make him the laughter of
the world" he wrote. "If you are lazy about comparing I can make
you a complete set of what the authorities say, and of what this
amazing novelist says that they say. When I tell you that he thinks
the Epiphany (January 6, Twelfth Night) is December 25th--Christmas
Day-you begin to see what an egregious ass he is. Treat him like
Dowden, and oblige"--a reference to Mark Twain's defense of Harriet
Shelley, in which he had heaped ridicule on Dowden's Life of the
Poet--a masterly performance; one of the best that ever came from
Mark Twain's pen.
Lang's suggestion would seem to have been a welcome one.
To Andrew Lang, in London:
NEW YORK, April 25, 1908.
DEAR MR. LANG,--I haven't seen the book nor any review of it, but only
not very-understandable references to it--of a sort which discomforted
me, but of course set my interest on fire. I don't want to have to read
it in French--I should lose the nice shades, and should do a lot of gross
misinterpreting, too. But there'll be a translation soon, nicht wahr?
I will wait for it. I note with joy that you say: "If you are lazy about
comparing, (which I most certainly am), I can make you a complete set of
what the authorities say, and of what this amazing novelist says that
Ah, do it for me! Then I will attempt the article, and (if I succeed in
doing it to my satisfaction,) will publish it. It is long since I
touched a pen (3 1/2 years), and I was intending to continue this happy
holiday to the gallows, but--there are things that could beguile me to
break this blessed Sabbath.
Yours very sincerely,
S. L. CLEMENS.
Certainly it is an interesting fact that an Englishman--one of the
race that burned Joan--should feel moved to defend her memory
against the top-heavy perversions of a distinguished French author.
But Lang seems never to have sent the notes. The copying would have
been a tremendous task, and perhaps he never found the time for it.
We may regret to-day that he did not, for Mark Twain's article on
the French author's Joan would have been at least unique.
Samuel Clemens could never accustom himself to the loss of his wife.
From the time of her death, marriage-which had brought him his
greatest joy in life-presented itself to him always with the thought
of bereavement, waiting somewhere just behind. The news of an
approaching wedding saddened him and there was nearly always a
somber tinge in his congratulations, of which the following to a
dear friend is an example:
To Father Fitz-Simon, in Washington:
June 5, '08.
DEAR FATHER FITZ-SIMON,--Marriage--yes, it is the supreme felicity of
life, I concede it. And it is also the supreme tragedy of life. The
deeper the love the surer the tragedy. And the more disconsolating when
And so I congratulate you. Not perfunctorily, not lukewarmly, but with a
fervency and fire that no word in the dictionary is strong enough to
convey. And in the same breath and with the same depth and sincerity,
I grieve for you. Not for both of you and not for the one that shall go
first, but for the one that is fated to be left behind. For that one
there is no recompense.--For that one no recompense is possible.
There are times--thousands of times--when I can expose the half of my
mind, and conceal the other half, but in the matter of the tragedy of
marriage I feel too deeply for that, and I have to bleed it all out or
shut it all in. And so you must consider what I have been through, and
am passing through and be charitable with me.
Make the most of the sunshine! and I hope it will last long--ever so
I do not really want to be present; yet for friendship's sake and because
I honor you so, I would be there if I could.
Most sincerely your friend,
S. L. CLEMENS.
The new home at Redding was completed in the spring of 1908, and on
the 18th of June, when it was entirely fitted and furnished, Mark
Twain entered it for the first time. He had never even seen the
place nor carefully examined plans which John Howells had made for
his house. He preferred the surprise of it, and the general
avoidance of detail. That he was satisfied with the result will be
seen in his letters. He named it at first "Innocence at Home";
later changing this title to "Stormfield."
The letter which follows is an acknowledgment of an interesting
souvenir from the battle-field of Tewksbury (1471), and some relics
of the Cavalier and Roundhead Regiments encamped at Tewksbury in
To an English admirer:
INNOCENCE AT HOME, REDDING, CONNECTICUT,
Aug. 15, '08.
DEAR SIR,--I highly prize the pipes, and shall intimate to people that
"Raleigh" smoked them, and doubtless he did. After a little practice I
shall be able to go further and say he did; they will then be the most
interesting features of my library's decorations. The Horse-shoe is
attracting a good deal of attention, because I have intimated that the
conqueror's horse cast it; it will attract more when I get my hand in and
say he cast it, I thank you for the pipes and the shoe; and also for the
official guide, which I read through at a single sitting. If a person
should say that about a book of mine I should regard it as good evidence
of the book's interest.
Very truly yours,
S. L. CLEMENS.
In his philosophy, What Is Man?, and now and again in his other
writings, we find Mark Twain giving small credit to the human mind
as an originator of ideas. The most original writer of his time, he
took no credit for pure invention and allowed none to others. The
mind, he declared, adapted, consciously or unconsciously; it did not
create. In a letter which follows he elucidates this doctrine. The
reference in it to the "captain" and to the kerosene, as the reader
may remember, have to do with Captain "Hurricane" Jones and his
theory of the miracles of "Isaac and of the prophets of Baal," as
expounded in Some Rambling Notes of an Idle Excursion.
By a trick of memory Clemens gives The Little Duke as his suggestion
for The Prince and the Pauper; he should have written The Prince and
the Page, by the same author.
To Rev. F. Y. Christ, in New York:
REDDING, CONN., Aug., '08.
DEAR SIR,--You say "I often owe my best sermons to a suggestion received
in reading or from other exterior sources." Your remark is not quite in
accordance with the facts. We must change it to--"I owe all my thoughts,
sermons and ideas to suggestions received from sources outside of myself."
The simplified English of this proposition is--"No man's brains ever
originated an idea." It is an astonishing thing that after all these
ages the world goes on thinking the human brain machinery can originate a
It can't. It never has done it. In all cases, little and big, the
thought is born of a suggestion; and in all cases the suggestions come to
the brain from the outside. The brain never acts except from exterior
A man can satisfy himself of the truth of this by a single process,--let
him examine every idea that occurs to him in an hour; a day; in a week
--in a lifetime if he please. He will always find that an outside
something suggested the thought, something which he saw with his eyes or
heard with his ears or perceived by his touch--not necessarily to-day,
nor yesterday, nor last year, nor twenty years ago, but sometime or
other. Usually the source of the suggestion is immediately traceable,
but sometimes it isn't.
However, if you will examine every thought that occurs to you for the
next two days, you will find that in at least nine cases out of ten you
can put your finger on the outside suggestion--And that ought to convince
you that No. 10 had that source too, although you cannot at present hunt
it down and find it.
The idea of writing to me would have had to wait a long time if it waited
until your brain originated it. It was born of an outside suggestion--
Sir Thomas and my old Captain.
The hypnotist thinks he has invented a new thing--suggestion. This is
very sad. I don't know where my captain got his kerosene idea. (It was
forty-one years ago, and he is long ago dead.) But I know that it didn't
originate in his head, but it was born from a suggestion from the
Yesterday a guest said, "How did you come to think of writing 'The Prince
and the Pauper?'" I didn't. The thought came to me from the outside--
suggested by that pleasant and picturesque little history-book, Charlotte
M. Yonge's "Little Duke," I doubt if Mrs. Burnett knows whence came to
her the suggestion to write "Little Lord Fauntleroy," but I know; it came
to her from reading "The Prince and the Pauper." In all my life I have
never originated an idea, and neither has she, nor anybody else.
Man's mind is a clever machine, and can work up materials into ingenious
fancies and ideas, but it can't create the material; none but the gods
can do that. In Sweden I saw a vast machine receive a block of wood, and
turn it into marketable matches in two minutes. It could do everything
but make the wood. That is the kind of machine the human mind is. Maybe
this is not a large compliment, but it is all I can afford.....
Your friend and well-wisher
S. L. CLEMENS.
To Mrs. H. H. Rogers, in Fair Hawn, Mass.:
REDDING, CONN, Aug. 12, 1908.
DEAR MRS. ROGERS, I believe I am the wellest man on the planet to-day,
and good for a trip to Fair Haven (which I discussed with the Captain of
the New Bedford boat, who pleasantly accosted me in the Grand Central
August 5) but the doctor came up from New York day before yesterday, and
gave positive orders that I must not stir from here before frost. It is
because I was threatened with a swoon, 10 or 12 days ago, and went to New
York a day or two later to attend my nephew's funeral and got horribly
exhausted by the heat and came back here and had a bilious collapse. In
24 hours I was as sound as a nut again, but nobody believes it but me.
This is a prodigiously satisfactory place, and I am so glad I don't have
to go back to the turmoil and rush of New York. The house stands high
and the horizons are wide, yet the seclusion is perfect. The nearest
public road is half a mile away, so there is nobody to look in, and I
don't have to wear clothes if I don't want to. I have been down stairs
in night-gown and slippers a couple of hours, and have been photographed
in that costume; but I will dress, now, and behave myself.
That doctor had half an idea that there is something the matter with my
brain. . . Doctors do know so little and they do charge so much for
it. I wish Henry Rogers would come here, and I wish you would come with
him. You can't rest in that crowded place, but you could rest here, for
sure! I would learn bridge, and entertain you, and rob you.
With love to you both,
S. L. C.
In the foregoing letter we get the first intimation of Mark Twain's
failing health. The nephew who had died was Samuel E. Moffett, son
of Pamela Clemens. Moffett, who was a distinguished journalist--an
editorial writer on Collier's Weekly, a man beloved by all who knew
him--had been drowned in the surf off the Jersey beach.
To W. D. Howells, Kittery Point, Maine:
Aug. 12, '08.
DEAR HOWELLS,--Won't you and Mrs. Howells and Mildred come and give us as
many days as you can spare, and examine John's triumph? It is the most
satisfactory house I am acquainted with, and the most satisfactorily
But it is no place to work in, because one is outside of it all the time,
while the sun and the moon are on duty. Outside of it in the loggia,
where the breezes blow and the tall arches divide up the scenery and
It's a ghastly long distance to come, and I wouldn't travel such a
distance to see anything short of a memorial museum, but if you can't
come now you can at least come later when you return to New York, for the
journey will be only an hour and a half per express-train. Things are
gradually and steadily taking shape inside the house, and nature is
taking care of the outside in her ingenious and wonderful fashion--and
she is competent and asks no help and gets none. I have retired from New
York for good, I have retired from labor for good, I have dismissed my
stenographer and have entered upon a holiday whose other end is in the
From a gentleman in Buffalo Clemens one day received a letter
inclosing an incompleted list of the world's "One Hundred Greatest
Men," men who had exerted "the largest visible influence on the life
and activities of the race." The writer asked that Mark Twain
examine the list and suggest names, adding "would you include Jesus,
as the founder of Christianity, in the list?"
To the list of statesmen Clemens added the name of Thomas Paine; to
the list of inventors, Edison and Alexander Graham Bell. The
question he answered in detail.
To-----------, Buffalo, N. Y.
Private. REDDING, CONN, Aug. 28, '08.
DEAR SIR,--By "private," I mean don't print any remarks of mine.
I like your list.
The "largest visible influence."
These terms require you to add Jesus. And they doubly and trebly require
you to add Satan. From A.D. 350 to A.D. 1850 these gentlemen exercised a
vaster influence over a fifth part of the human race than was exercised
over that fraction of the race by all other influences combined. Ninety-
nine hundredths of this influence proceeded from Satan, the remaining
fraction of it from Jesus. During those 1500 years the fear of Satan and
Hell made 99 Christians where love of God and Heaven landed one. During
those 1500 years, Satan's influence was worth very nearly a hundred times
as much to the business as was the influence of all the rest of the Holy
Family put together.
You have asked me a question, and I have answered it seriously and
sincerely. You have put in Buddha--a god, with a following, at one time,
greater than Jesus ever had: a god with perhaps a little better evidence
of his godship than that which is offered for Jesus's. How then, in
fairness, can you leave Jesus out? And if you put him in, how can you
logically leave Satan out? Thunder is good, thunder is impressive; but
it is the lightning that does the work.
Very truly yours,
S. L. CLEMENS.
The "Children's Theatre" of the next letter was an institution of
the New York East Side in which Mark Twain was deeply interested.
The children were most, if not all, of Hebrew parentage, and the
performances they gave, under the direction of Alice M. Herts, were
really remarkable. It seemed a pity that lack of funds should have
brought this excellent educational venture to an untimely end.
The following letter was in reply to one inclosing a newspaper
clipping reporting a performance of The Prince and the Pauper, given
by Chicago school children.
To Mrs. Hookway, in Chicago:
DEAR MRS. HOOKWAY,--Although I am full of the spirit of work this
morning, a rarity with me lately--I must steal a moment or two for a word
in person: for I have been reading the eloquent account in the Record-
Herald and am pleasurably stirred, to my deepest deeps. The reading
brings vividly back to me my pet and pride. The Children's Theatre of
the East side, New York. And it supports and re-affirms what I have so
often and strenuously said in public that a children's theatre is easily
the most valuable adjunct that any educational institution for the young
can have, and that no otherwise good school is complete without it.
It is much the most effective teacher of morals and promoter of good
conduct that the ingenuity of man has yet devised, for the reason that
its lessons are not taught wearily by book and by dreary homily, but by
visible and enthusing action; and they go straight to the heart, which is
the rightest of right places for them. Book morals often get no further
than the intellect, if they even get that far on their spectral and
shadowy pilgrimage: but when they travel from a Children's Theatre they
do not stop permanently at that halfway house, but go on home.
The children's theatre is the only teacher of morals and conduct and high
ideals that never bores the pupil, but always leaves him sorry when the
lesson is over. And as for history, no other teacher is for a moment
comparable to it: no other can make the dead heroes of the world rise up
and shake the dust of the ages from their bones and live and move and
breathe and speak and be real to the looker and listener: no other can
make the study of the lives and times of the illustrious dead a delight,
a splendid interest, a passion; and no other can paint a history-lesson
in colors that will stay, and stay, and never fade.
It is my conviction that the children's theatre is one of the very, very
great inventions of the twentieth century; and that its vast educational
value--now but dimly perceived and but vaguely understood--will presently
come to be recognized. By the article which I have been reading I find
the same things happening in the Howland School that we have become
familiar with in our Children's Theatre (of which I am President, and
sufficiently vain of the distinction.) These things among others;
1. The educating history-study does not stop with the little players,
but the whole school catches the infection and revels in it.
2. And it doesn't even stop there; the children carry it home and infect
the family with it--even the parents and grandparents; and the whole
household fall to studying history, and bygone manners and customs and
costumes with eager interest. And this interest is carried along to the
studying of costumes in old book-plates; and beyond that to the selecting
of fabrics and the making of clothes. Hundreds of our children learn,
the plays by listening without book, and by making notes; then the
listener goes home and plays the piece--all the parts! to the family.
And the family are glad and proud; glad to listen to the explanations and
analyses, glad to learn, glad to be lifted to planes above their dreary
workaday lives. Our children's theatre is educating 7,000 children--and
their families. When we put on a play of Shakespeare they fall to
studying it diligently; so that they may be qualified to enjoy it to the
limit when the piece is staged.
3. Your Howland School children do the construction-work, stage-
decorations, etc. That is our way too. Our young folks do everything
that is needed by the theatre, with their own hands; scene-designing,
scene-painting, gas-fitting, electric work, costume-designing--costume
making, everything and all things indeed--and their orchestra and its
leader are from their own ranks.
The article which I have been reading, says--speaking of the historical
play produced by the pupils of the Howland School--
"The question naturally arises, What has this drama done for those who so
enthusiastically took part?--The touching story has made a year out of
the Past live for the children as could no chronology or bald statement
of historical events; it has cultivated the fancy and given to the
imagination strength and purity; work in composition has ceased to be
drudgery, for when all other themes fall flat a subject dealing with some
aspect of the drama presented never fails to arouse interest and a rapid
pushing of pens over paper."
That is entirely true. The interest is not confined to the drama's
story, it spreads out all around the period of the story, and gives to
all the outlying and unrelated happenings of that period a fascinating
interest--an interest which does not fade out with the years, but remains
always fresh, always inspiring, always welcome. History-facts dug by the
job, with sweat and tears out of a dry and spiritless text-book--but
never mind, all who have suffered know what that is. . .
I remain, dear madam,
S. L. CLEMENS.
Mark Twain had a special fondness for cats. As a boy he always
owned one and it generally had a seat beside him at the table.
There were cats at Quarry Farm and at Hartford, and in the house at
Redding there was a gray mother-cat named Tammany, of which he was
especially fond. Kittens capering about were his chief delight.
In a letter to a Chicago woman he tells how those of Tammany
assisted at his favorite game.
To Mrs. Mabel Larkin Patterson, in Chicago:
Oct. 2, '08.
DEAR MRS. PATTERSON,--The contents of your letter are very pleasant and
very welcome, and I thank you for them, sincerely. If I can find a
photograph of my "Tammany" and her kittens, I will enclose it in this.
One of them likes to be crammed into a corner-pocket of the billiard
table--which he fits as snugly as does a finger in a glove and then he
watches the game (and obstructs it) by the hour, and spoils many a shot
by putting out his paw and changing the direction of a passing ball.
Whenever a ball is in his arms, or so close to him that it cannot be
played upon without risk of hurting him, the player is privileged to
remove it to anyone of the 3 spots that chances to be vacant.
Ah, no, my lecturing days are over for good and all.
S. L. CLEMENS.
The letter to Howells which follows was written a short time before
the passage of the copyright extension bill, which rendered Mark
Twain's new plan, here mentioned, unneeded--at least for the time.
To W. D. Howells, in New York:
Monday, Oct. 26, '08.
Oh, I say! Where are you hiding, and why are you hiding? You promised
to come here and you didn't keep your word. (This sounds like
astonishment--but don't be misled by that.)
Come, fire up again on your fiction-mill and give us another good
promise. And this time keep it--for it is your turn to be astonished.
Come and stay as long as you possibly can. I invented a new copyright
extension scheme last Friday, and sat up all night arranging its details.
It will interest you. Yesterday I got it down on paper in as compact a
form as I could. Harvey and I have examined the scheme, and to-morrow or
next day he will send me a couple of copyright-experts to arrange about
getting certain statistics for me.
Authors, publishers and the public have always been damaged by the
copyright laws. The proposed amendment will advantage all three--the
public most of all. I think Congress will pass it and settle the vexed
I shall need your assent and the assent of about a dozen other authors.
Also the assent of all the large firms of the 300 publishers. These
authors and publishers will furnish said assent I am sure. Not even the
pirates will be able to furnish a serious objection, I think.
Come along. This place seemed at its best when all around was summer-
green; later it seemed at its best when all around was burning with the
autumn splendors; and now once more it seems at its best, with the trees
naked and the ground a painter's palette.
Clemens was a great admirer of the sea stories of W. W. Jacobs and
generally kept one or more of this author's volumes in reach of his
bed, where most of his reading was done. The acknowledgment that
follows was sent when he had finished Salthaven.
To W. W. Jacobs, in England:
Oct. 28, '08.
DEAR MR. JACOBS,--It has a delightful look. I will not venture to say
how delightful, because the words would sound extravagant, and would
thereby lose some of their strength and to that degree misrepresent me.
It is my conviction that Dialstone Lane holds the supremacy over all
purely humorous books in our language, but I feel about Salthaven as the
Cape Cod poet feels about Simon Hanks:
"The Lord knows all things, great and small,
With doubt he's not perplexed:
'Tis Him alone that knows it all
But Simon Hanks comes next."
The poet was moved by envy and malice and jealousy, but I am not: I place
Salthaven close up next to Dialstone because I think it has a fair and
honest right to that high position. I have kept the other book moving;
I shall begin to hand this one around now.
And many thanks to you for remembering me.
This house is out in the solitudes of the woods and the hills, an hour
and a half from New York, and I mean to stay in it winter and summer the
rest of my days. I beg you to come and help occupy it a few days the
next time you visit the U.S.
S. L. CLEMENS.
One of the attractions of Stormfield was a beautiful mantel in the
billiard room, presented by the Hawaiian Promotion Committee. It
had not arrived when the rest of the house was completed, but came
in time to be set in place early in the morning of the owner's
seventy-third birthday. It was made of a variety of Hawaiian woods,
and was the work of a native carver, F. M. Otremba. Clemens was
deeply touched by the offering from those "western isles"--the
memory of which was always so sweet to him.
To Mr. Wood, in Hawaii:
Nov. 30, '08.
DEAR MR. WOOD,--The beautiful mantel was put in its place an hour ago,
and its friendly "Aloha" was the first uttered greeting my 73rd birthday
received. It is rich in color, rich in quality, and rich in decoration,
therefore it exactly harmonizes with the taste for such things which was
born in me and which I have seldom been able to indulge to my content.
It will be a great pleasure to me, daily renewed, to have under my eye
this lovely reminder of the loveliest fleet of islands that lies anchored
in any ocean, and I beg to thank the Committee for providing me that
S. L. CLEMENS.
LETTERS, 1909. TO HOWELLS AND OTHERS. LIFE AT STORMFIELD. COPYRIGHT
EXTENSION. DEATH OF JEAN CLEMENS
Clemens remained at Stormfield all that winter. New York was sixty
miles away and he did not often care to make the journey. He was
constantly invited to this or that public gathering, or private
party, but such affairs had lost interest for him. He preferred the
quiet of his luxurious home with its beautiful outlook, while for
entertainment he found the billiard afternoons sufficient. Guests
came from the city, now and again, for week-end visits, and if he
ever was restless or lonely he did not show it.
Among the invitations that came was one from General O. O. Howard
asking him to preside at a meeting to raise an endowment fund for a
Lincoln Memorial University at Cumberland Gap, Tennessee. Closing
his letter, General Howard said, "Never mind if you did fight on the
To General O. O. Howard:
STORMFIELD, REDDING, CONNECTICUT,
Jan, 12, '09.
DEAR GENERAL HOWARD,--You pay me a most gratifying compliment in asking
me to preside, and it causes me very real regret that I am obliged to
decline, for the object of the meeting appeals strongly to me, since that
object is to aid in raising the $500,000 Endowment Fund for Lincoln
Memorial University. The Endowment Fund will be the most fitting of all
the memorials the country will dedicate to the memory of Lincoln,
serving, as it will, to uplift his very own people.
I hope you will meet with complete success, and I am sorry I cannot be
there to witness it and help you rejoice. But I am older than people
think, and besides I live away out in the country and never stir from
home, except at geological intervals, to fill left-over engagements in
mesozoic times when I was younger and indiscreeter.
You ought not to say sarcastic things about my "fighting on the other
side." General Grant did not act like that. General Grant paid me
compliments. He bracketed me with Zenophon--it is there in his Memoirs
for anybody to read. He said if all the confederate soldiers had
followed my example and adopted my military arts he could never have
caught enough of them in a bunch to inconvenience the Rebellion. General
Grant was a fair man, and recognized my worth; but you are prejudiced,
and you have hurt my feelings.
But I have an affection for you, anyway.
One of Mark Twain's friends was Henniker-Heaton, the so-called
"Father of Penny Postage" between England and America. When, after
long years of effort, he succeeded in getting the rate established,
he at once bent his energies in the direction of cheap cable service
and a letter from him came one day to Stormfield concerning his new
plans. This letter happened to be over-weight, which gave Mark
Twain a chance for some amusing exaggerations at his expense.
To Henniker-Heaton, in London:
STORMFIELD, REDDING, CONNECTICUT,
Jan. 18, 1909.
DEAR HENNIKER-HEATON,--I do hope you will succeed to your heart's desire
in your cheap-cablegram campaign, and I feel sure you will. Indeed your
cheap-postage victory, achieved in spite of a quarter-century of
determined opposition, is good and rational prophecy that you will.
Wireless, not being as yet imprisoned in a Chinese wall of private cash
and high-placed and formidable influence, will come to your aid and make
your new campaign briefer and easier than the other one was.
Now then, after uttering my serious word, am I privileged to be frivolous
for a moment? When you shall have achieved cheap telegraphy, are you
going to employ it for just your own selfish profit and other people's
pecuniary damage, the way you are doing with your cheap postage? You get
letter-postage reduced to 2 cents an ounce, then you mail me a 4-ounce
letter with a 2-cent stamp on it, and I have to pay the extra freight at
this end of the line. I return your envelope for inspection. Look at
it. Stamped in one place is a vast "T," and under it the figures "40,"
and under those figures appears an "L," a sinister and suspicious and
mysterious L. In another place, stamped within a circle, in offensively
large capitals, you find the words "DUE 8 CENTS." Finally, in the midst
of a desert space up nor-noreastard from that circle you find a figure
"3" of quite unnecessarily aggressive and insolent magnitude--and done
with a blue pencil, so as to be as conspicuous as possible. I inquired
about these strange signs and symbols of the postman. He said they were
P. O. Department signals for his instruction.
"Instruction for what?"
"To get extra postage."
"Is it so? Explain. Tell me about the large T and the 40.
"It's short for Take 40--or as we postmen say, grab 40"
Go on, please, while I think up some words to swear with."
"Due 8 means, grab 8 more."
"The blue-pencil 3 was an afterthought. There aren't any stamps for
afterthoughts; the sums vary, according to inspiration, and they whirl in
the one that suggests itself at the last moment. Sometimes they go
several times higher than this one. This one only means hog 3 cents
more. And so if you've got 51 cents about you, or can borrow it--"
"Tell me: who gets this corruption?"
"Half of it goes to the man in England who ships the letter on short
postage, and the other half goes to the P.O.D. to protect cheap postage
from inaugurating a deficit."
"I can't blame you; I would say it myself in your place, if these ladies
were not present. But you see I'm only obeying orders, I can't help
"Oh, I know it; I'm not blaming you. Finally, what does that L stand
"Get the money, or give him L. It's English, you know."
"Take it and go. It's the last cent I've got in the world--."
After seeing the Oxford pageant file by the grand stand, picture after
picture, splendor after splendor, three thousand five hundred strong, the
most moving and beautiful and impressive and historically-instructive
show conceivable, you are not to think I would miss the London pageant of
next year, with its shining host of 15,000 historical English men and
women dug from the misty books of all the vanished ages and marching in