Part 12 out of 16
went to Robert Reid's studio and had a most delightful time until 4 this
morning. No ladies were invited this time. Among the people present
Richard Harding Davis;
Harrison, the great out-door painter;
Wm. H. Chase, the artist;
Bettini, inventor of the new phonograph.
Nikola Tesla, the world-wide illustrious electrician; see article about
him in Jan. or Feb. Century.
John Drew, actor;
James Barnes, a marvelous mimic; my, you should see him!
Smedley the artist;
Zorn the artist;
Zogbaum the artist;
Reinhart the artist;
Metcalf the artist;
Ancona, head tenor at the Opera;
Oh, a great lot of others. Everybody there had done something and was in
his way famous.
Somebody welcomed Coquelin in a nice little French speech; John Drew did
the like for me in English, and then the fun began. Coquelin did some
excellent French monologues--one of them an ungrammatical Englishman
telling a colorless historiette in French. It nearly killed the fifteen
or twenty people who understood it.
I told a yarn, Ancona sang half a dozen songs, Barnes did his darling
imitations, Harding Davis sang the hanging of Danny Deever, which was of
course good, but he followed it with that most fascinating (for what
reason I don't know) of all Kipling's poems, "On the Road to Mandalay,"
sang it tenderly, and it searched me deeper and charmed me more than the
Young Gerrit Smith played some ravishing dance music and we all danced
about an hour. There couldn't be a pleasanter night than that one was.
Some of those people complained of fatigue but I don't seem to know what
the sense of fatigue is.
Coquelin talks quite good English now. He said:
"I have a brother who has the fine mind--ah, a charming and delicate
fancy, and he knows your writings so well, and loves them--and that is
the same with me. It will stir him so when I write and tell him I have
Wasn't that nice? We talked a good deal together. He is as winning as
his own face. But he wouldn't sign that photograph for Clara. "That?
No! She shall have a better one. I will send it to you."
He is much driven, and will forget it, but Reid has promised to get the
picture for me, and I will try and keep him reminded.
Oh, dear, my time is all used up and your letters are not answered.
Mama, dear, I don't go everywhere--I decline most things. But there are
plenty that I can't well get out of.
I will remember what you say and not make my yarning too common.
I am so glad Susy has gone on that trip and that you are trying the
electric. May you both prosper. For you are mighty dear to me and in my
The affairs of the Webster Publishing Company were by this time
getting into a very serious condition indeed. The effects of the
panic of the year before could not be overcome. Creditors were
pressing their claims and profits were negligible. In the following
letter we get a Mark Twain estimate of the great financier who so
cheerfully was willing to undertake the solving of Mark Twain's
To Mrs. Clemens, in Paris:
THE PLAYERS, Feb. 15, '94. 11.30 p. m.
Livy darling, Yesterday I talked all my various matters over with Mr.
Rogers and we decided that it would be safe for me to leave here the 7th
of March, in the New York. So his private secretary, Miss Harrison,
wrote and ordered a berth for me and then I lost no time in cabling you
that I should reach Southampton March 14, and Paris the 15th. Land, but
it made my pulses leap, to think I was going to see you again!.....
One thing at a time. I never fully laid Webster's disastrous condition
before Mr. Rogers until to-night after billiards. I did hate to burden
his good heart and over-worked head with it, but he took hold with
avidity and said it was no burden to work for his friends, but a
pleasure. We discussed it from various standpoints, and found it a
sufficiently difficult problem to solve; but he thinks that after he has
slept upon it and thought it over he will know what to suggest.
You must not think I am ever rude with Mr. Rogers, I am not. He is not
common clay, but fine--fine and delicate--and that sort do not call out
the coarsenesses that are in my sort. I am never afraid of wounding him;
I do not need to watch myself in that matter. The sight of him is peace.
He wants to go to Japan--it is his dream; wants to go with me--which
means, the two families--and hear no more about business for awhile, and
have a rest. And he needs it. But it is like all the dreams of all busy
men--fated to remain dreams.
You perceive that he is a pleasant text for me. It is easy to write
about him. When I arrived in September, lord how black the prospect was
--how desperate, how incurably desperate! Webster and Co had to have a
small sum of money or go under at once. I flew to Hartford--to my
friends--but they were not moved, not strongly interested, and I was
ashamed that I went. It was from Mr. Rogers, a stranger, that I got the
money and was by it saved. And then--while still a stranger--he set
himself the task of saving my financial life without putting upon me (in
his native delicacy) any sense that I was the recipient of a charity,
a benevolence--and he has accomplished that task; accomplished it at a
cost of three months of wearing and difficult labor. He gave that time
to me--time which could not be bought by any man at a hundred thousand
dollars a month--no, nor for three times the money.
Well, in the midst of that great fight, that long and admirable fight,
George Warner came to me and said:
"There is a splendid chance open to you. I know a man--a prominent man--
who has written a book that will go like wildfire; a book that arraigns
the Standard Oil fiends, and gives them unmitigated hell, individual by
individual. It is the very book for you to publish; there is a fortune
in it, and I can put you in communication with the author."
I wanted to say:
"The only man I care for in the world; the only man I would give a damn
for; the only man who is lavishing his sweat and blood to save me and
mine from starvation and shame, is a Standard Oil fiend. If you know me,
you know whether I want the book or not."
But I didn't say that. I said I didn't want any book; I wanted to get
out of the publishing business and out of all business, and was here for
that purpose and would accomplish it if I could.
But there's enough. I shall be asleep by 3, and I don't need much sleep,
because I am never drowsy or tired these days. Dear, dear Susy my
strength reproaches me when I think of her and you, my darling.
But even so able a man as Henry Rogers could not accomplish the
impossible. The affairs of the Webster Company were hopeless, the
business was not worth saving. By Mr. Rogers's advice an assignment
was made April, 18, 1894. After its early spectacular success less
than ten years had brought the business to failure. The publication
of the Grant memoirs had been its only great achievement.
Clemens would seem to have believed that the business would resume,
and for a time Rogers appears to have comforted him in his hope, but
we cannot believe that it long survived. Young Hall, who had made
such a struggle for its salvation, was eager to go on, but he must
presently have seen the futility of any effort in that direction.
Of course the failure of Mark Twain's firm made a great stir in the
country, and it is easy to understand that loyal friends would rally
in his behalf.
To Mrs. Clemens, in Paris:
April 22, '94.
Dear old darling, we all think the creditors are going to allow us to
resume business; and if they do we shall pull through and pay the debts.
I am prodigiously glad we made an assignment. And also glad that we did
not make it sooner. Earlier we should have made a poor showing; but now
we shall make a good one.
I meet flocks of people, and they all shake me cordially by the hand and
say "I was so sorry to hear of the assignment, but so glad you did it.
It was around, this long time, that the concern was tottering, and all
your friends were afraid you would delay the assignment too long."
John Mackay called yesterday, and said, "Don't let it disturb you, Sam--
we all have to do it, at one time or another; it's nothing to be ashamed
One stranger out in New York State sent me a dollar bill and thought he
would like to get up a dollar-subscription for me. And Poultney
Bigelow's note came promptly, with his check for $1,000. I had been
meeting him every day at the Club and liking him better and better all
the time. I couldn't take his money, of course, but I thanked him
cordially for his good will.
Now and then a good and dear Joe Twichell or Susy Warner condoles with me
and says "Cheer up--don't be downhearted," and some other friend says,
"I am glad and surprised to see how cheerful you are and how bravely you
stand it"--and none of them suspect what a burden has been lifted from me
and how blithe I am inside. Except when I think of you, dear heart--then
I am not blithe; for I seem to see you grieving and ashamed, and dreading
to look people in the face. For in the thick of the fight there is
cheer, but you are far away and cannot hear the drums nor see the
wheeling squadrons. You only seem to see rout, retreat, and dishonored
colors dragging in the dirt--whereas none of these things exist. There
is temporary defeat, but no dishonor--and we will march again. Charley
Warner said to-day, "Sho, Livy isn't worrying. So long as she's got you
and the children she doesn't care what happens. She knows it isn't her
affair." Which didn't convince me.
Good bye my darling, I love you and all of the kids--and you can tell
Clara I am not a spitting gray kitten.
Clemens sailed for Europe as soon as his affairs would permit him to
go. He must get settled where he could work comfortably. Type-
setter prospects seemed promising, but meantime there was need of
He began writing on the ship, as was his habit, and had completed
his article on Fenimore Cooper by the time he reached London. In
August we find him writing to Mr. Rogers from Etretat, a little
To H. H. Rogers, in New York:
CHALET DES ABRIS
Aug. 25, '94.
DEAR MR. ROGERS,--I find the Madam ever so much better in health and
strength. The air is superb and soothing and wholesome, and the Chalet
is remote from noise and people, and just the place to write in. I shall
begin work this afternoon.
Mrs. Clemens is in great spirits on, account of the benefit which she has
received from the electrical treatment in Paris and is bound to take it
up again and continue it all the winter, and of course I am perfectly
willing. She requires me to drop the lecture platform out of my mind and
go straight ahead with Joan until the book is finished. If I should have
to go home for even a week she means to go with me--won't consent to be
separated again--but she hopes I won't need to go.
I tell her all right, "I won't go unless you send, and then I must."
She keeps the accounts; and as she ciphers it we can't get crowded for
money for eight months yet. I didn't know that. But I don't know much
S. L. CLEMENS.
The reader may remember that Clemens had written the first half of
his Joan of Arc book at the Villa Viviani, in Florence, nearly two
years before. He had closed the manuscript then with the taking of
Orleans, and was by no means sure that he would continue the story
beyond that point. Now, however, he was determined to reach the
tale's tragic conclusion.
To H. H. Rogers, in New York:
Sunday, Sept. 9, '94.
DEAR MR. ROGERS, I drove the quill too hard, and I broke down--in my
head. It has now been three days since I laid up. When I wrote you a
week ago I had added 10,000 words or thereabout to Joan. Next day I
added 1,500 which was a proper enough day's work though not a full one;
but during Tuesday and Wednesday I stacked up an aggregate of 6,000
words--and that was a very large mistake. My head hasn't been worth a
However, there's a compensation; for in those two days I reached and
passed--successfully--a point which I was solicitous about before I ever
began the book: viz., the battle of Patay. Because that would naturally
be the next to the last chapter of a work consisting of either two books
or one. In the one case one goes right along from that point (as I shall
do now); in the other he would add a wind-up chapter and make the book
consist of Joan's childhood and military career alone.
I shall resume work to-day; and hereafter I will not go at such an
intemperate' rate. My head is pretty cobwebby yet.
I am hoping that along about this time I shall hear that the machine is
beginning its test in the Herald office. I shall be very glad indeed to
know the result of it. I wish I could be there.
S. L. CLEMENS.
Rouen, where Joan met her martyrdom, was only a short distance away,
and they halted there en route to Paris, where they had arranged to
spend the winter. The health of Susy Clemens was not good, and they
lingered in Rouen while Clemens explored the old city and
incidentally did some writing of another sort. In a note to Mr.
Rogers he said: "To put in my odd time I am writing some articles
about Paul Bourget and his Outre-Mer chapters--laughing at them and
at some of our oracular owls who find them important. What the hell
makes them important, I should like to know!"
He was still at Rouen two weeks later and had received encouraging
news from Rogers concerning the type-setter, which had been placed
for trial in the office of the Chicago Herald. Clemens wrote: "I
can hardly keep from sending a hurrah by cable. I would certainly
do it if I wasn't superstitious." His restraint, though wise, was
wasted the end was near.
To H. H. Rogers, in New York:
169 RUE DE L'UNIVERSITE,
PARIS, Dec. 22; '94.
DEAR MR. ROGERS,--I seemed to be entirely expecting your letter, and also
prepared and resigned; but Lord, it shows how little we know ourselves
and how easily we can deceive ourselves. It hit me like a thunder-clap.
It knocked every rag of sense out of my head, and I went flying here and
there and yonder, not knowing what I was doing, and only one clearly
defined thought standing up visible and substantial out of the crazy
storm-drift that my dream of ten years was in desperate peril, and out of
the 60,000 or 90,000 projects for its rescue that came floating through
my skull, not one would hold still long enough for me to examine it and
size it up. Have you ever been like that? Not so much so, I reckon.
There was another clearly defined idea--I must be there and see it die.
That is, if it must die; and maybe if I were there we might hatch up some
next-to-impossible way to make it take up its bed and take a walk.
So, at the end of four hours I started, still whirling and walked over to
the rue Scribe--4 P. M.--and asked a question or two and was told I
should be running a big risk if I took the 9 P. M. train for London and
Southampton; "better come right along at 6.52 per Havre special and step
aboard the New York all easy and comfortable." Very! and I about two
miles from home, with no packing done.
Then it occurred to me that none of these salvation-notions that were
whirl-winding through my head could be examined or made available unless
at least a month's time could be secured. So I cabled you, and said to
myself that I would take the French steamer tomorrow (which will be
By bedtime Mrs. Clemens had reasoned me into a fairly rational and
contented state of mind; but of course it didn't last long. So I went on
thinking--mixing it with a smoke in the dressing room once an hour--until
dawn this morning. Result--a sane resolution; no matter what your answer
to my cable might be, I would hold still and not sail until I should get
an answer to this present letter which I am now writing, or a cable
answer from you saying "Come" or "Remain."
I have slept 6 hours, my pond has clarified, and I find the sediment of
my 70,000 projects to be of this character:
[Several pages of suggestions for reconstructing the machine follow.]
Don't say I'm wild. For really I'm sane again this morning.
I am going right along with Joan, now, and wait untroubled till I hear
from you. If you think I can be of the least use, cable me "Come."
I can write Joan on board ship and lose no time. Also I could discuss my
plan with the publisher for a deluxe Joan, time being an object, for some
of the pictures could be made over here cheaply and quickly, but would
cost much time and money in America.
If the meeting should decide to quit business Jan. 4, I'd like to have
Stoker stopped from paying in any more money, if Miss Harrison doesn't
mind that disagreeable job. And I'll have to write them, too, of course.
S. L. CLEMENS.
The "Stoker" of this letter was Bram Stoker, long associated with
Sir Henry Irving. Irving himself had also taken stock in the
machine. The address, 169 Rue de l'Universite, whence these letters
are written, was the beautiful studio home of the artist Pomroy
which they had taken for the winter.
To H. H. Rogers, in New York:
169 RUE DE L'UNIVERSITE,
PARIS, Dec. 27, '94.
DEAR MR. ROGERS,--Notwithstanding your heart is "old and hard," you make
a body choke up. I know you "mean every word you say" and I do take it
"in the same spirit in which you tender it." I shall keep your regard
while we two live--that I know; for I shall always remember what you have
done for me, and that will insure me against ever doing anything that
could forfeit it or impair it. I am 59 years old; yet I never had a
friend before who put out a hand and tried to pull me ashore when he
found me in deep waters.
It is six days or seven days ago that I lived through that despairing
day, and then through a night without sleep; then settled down next day
into my right mind (or thereabouts,) and wrote you. I put in the rest of
that day till 7 P. M. plenty comfortably enough writing a long chapter
of my book; then went to a masked ball blacked up as Uncle Remus, taking
Clara along; and we had a good time. I have lost no day since and
suffered no discomfort to speak of, but drove my troubles out of my mind
and had good success in keeping them out--through watchfulness. I have
done a good week's work and put the book a good way ahead in the Great
Trial, which is the difficult part which requires the most thought and
carefulness. I cannot see the end of the Trial yet, but I am on the
road. I am creeping surely toward it.
"Why not leave them all to me." My business bothers? I take you by the
hand! I jump at the chance!
I ought to be ashamed and I am trying my best to be ashamed--and yet I do
jump at the chance in spite of it. I don't want to write Irving and I
don't want to write Stoker. It doesn't seem as if I could. But I can
suggest something for you to write them; and then if you see that I am
unwise, you can write them something quite different. Now this is my
1. To return Stoker's $100 to him and keep his stock.
2. And tell Irving that when luck turns with me I will make good to
him what the salvage from the dead Co. fails to pay him of his $500.
P. S. Madam says No, I must face the music. So I enclose my effort to
be used if you approve, but not otherwise.
There! Now if you will alter it to suit your judgment and bang away, I
shall be eternally obliged.
We shall try to find a tenant for our Hartford house; not an easy matter,
for it costs heavily to live in. We can never live in it again; though
it would break the family's hearts if they could believe it.
Nothing daunts Mrs. Clemens or makes the world look black to her--which
is the reason I haven't drowned myself.
We all send our deepest and warmest greetings to you and all of yours and
a Happy New Year!
S. L. CLEMENS.
MY DEAR STOKER,--I am not dating this because it is not to be mailed at
When it reaches you it will mean that there is a hitch in my machine-
enterprise--a hitch so serious as to make it take to itself the aspect of
a dissolved dream. This letter, then, will contain cheque for the $100
which you have paid. And will you tell Irving for me--I can't get up
courage enough to talk about this misfortune myself, except to you, whom
by good luck I haven't damaged yet that when the wreckage presently
floats ashore he will get a good deal of his $500 back; and a dab at a
time I will make up to him the rest.
I'm not feeling as fine as I was when I saw you there in your home.
Please remember me kindly to Mrs. Stoker. I gave up that London lecture-
project entirely. Had to--there's never been a chance since to find the
S. L. CLEMENS.
LETTERS, 1895-96, TO H. H. ROGERS AND OTHERS. FINISHING "JOAN OF ARC."
THE TRIP AROUND THE WORLD. DEATH OF SUSY CLEMENS
To H. H. Rogers, in New York City:
DEAR MR. ROGERS,--Yours of Dec. 21 has arrived, containing the circular
to stockholders and I guess the Co. will really quit--there doesn't seem
to be any other wise course.
There's one thing which makes it difficult for me to soberly realize that
my ten year dream is actually dissolved; and that is, that it reveries my
horoscope. The proverb says, "Born lucky, always lucky," and I am very
superstitious. As a small boy I was notoriously lucky. It was usual for
one or two of our lads (per annum) to get drowned in the Mississippi or
in Bear Creek, but I was pulled out in a 2/3 drowned condition 9 times
before I learned to swim, and was considered to be a cat in disguise.
When the "Pennsylvania" blew up and the telegraph reported my brother as
fatally injured (with 60 others) but made no mention of me, my uncle said
to my mother "It means that Sam was somewhere else, after being on that
boat a year and a half--he was born lucky." Yes, I was somewhere else.
I am so superstitious that I have always been afraid to have business
dealings with certain relatives and friends of mine because they were
unlucky people. All my life I have stumbled upon lucky chances of large
size, and whenever they were wasted it was because of my own stupidity
and carelessness. And so I have felt entirely certain that that machine
would turn up trumps eventually. It disappointed me lots of times, but I
couldn't shake off the confidence of a life-time in my luck.
Well, whatever I get out of the wreckage will be due to good luck--the
good luck of getting you into the scheme--for, but for that, there
wouldn't be any wreckage; it would be total loss.
I wish you had been in at the beginning. Then we should have had the
good luck to step promptly ashore.
Miss Harrison has had a dream which promises me a large bank account,
and I want her to go ahead and dream it twice more, so as to make the
prediction sure to be fulfilled.
I've got a first rate subject for a book. It kept me awake all night,
and I began it and completed it in my mind. The minute I finish Joan
I will take it up.
Love and Happy New Year to you all.
S. L. CLEMENS.
This was about the end of the machine interests so far as Clemens
was concerned. Paige succeeded in getting some new people
interested, but nothing important happened, or that in any way
affected Mark Twain. Characteristically he put the whole matter
behind him and plunged into his work, facing comparative poverty and
a burden of debts with a stout heart. The beginning of the new year
found him really poorer in purse than he had ever been in his life,
but certainly not crushed, or even discouraged--at least, not
permanently--and never more industrious or capable.
To H. H. Rogers, in New York City:
169 RUE DE L'UNIVERSITE,
PARIS, Jan. 23, '95.
DEAR MR. ROGERS,--After I wrote you, two or three days ago I thought I
would make a holiday of the rest of the day--the second deliberate
holiday since I had the gout. On the first holiday I wrote a tale of
about 6,000 words, which was 3 days' work in one; and this time I did
8,000 before midnight. I got nothing out of that first holiday but the
recreation of it, for I condemned the work after careful reading and some
revision; but this time I fared better--I finished the Huck Finn tale
that lies in your safe, and am satisfied with it.
The Bacheller syndicate (117 Tribune Building) want a story of 5,000
words (lowest limit of their London agent) for $1,000 and offer to plank
the check on delivery, and it was partly to meet that demand that I took
that other holiday. So as I have no short story that suits me (and can't
and shan't make promises), the best I can do is to offer the longer one
which I finished on my second holiday--"Tom Sawyer, Detective."
It makes 27 or 28,000 words, and is really written for grown folks,
though I expect young folk to read it, too. It transfers to the banks of
the Mississippi the incidents of a strange murder which was committed in
Sweden in old times.
I'll refer applicants for a sight of the story to you or Miss Harrison.--
[Secretary to Mr. Rogers.]
S. L. CLEMENS.
To H. H. Rogers, in New York City:
169 RUE DE L'UNIVERSITE,
Apr. 29, '95.
DEAR MR. ROGERS,--Your felicitous delightful letter of the 15th arrived
three days ago, and brought great pleasure into the house.
There is one thing that weighs heavily on Mrs. Clemens and me. That is
Brusnahan's money. If he is satisfied to have it invested in the Chicago
enterprise, well and good; if not, we would like to have the money paid
back to him. I will give him as many months to decide in as he pleases--
let him name 6 or 10 or 12--and we will let the money stay where it is in
your hands till the time is up. Will Miss Harrison tell him so? I mean
if you approve. I would like him to have a good investment, but would
meantime prefer to protect him against loss.
At 6 minutes past 7, yesterday evening, Joan of Arc was burned at the
With the long strain gone, I am in a sort of physical collapse today, but
it will be gone tomorrow. I judged that this end of the book would be
hard work, and it turned out so. I have never done any work before that
cost so much thinking and weighing and measuring and planning and
cramming, or so much cautious and painstaking execution. For I wanted
the whole Rouen trial in, if it could be got in in such a way that the
reader's interest would not flag--in fact I wanted the reader's interest
to increase; and so I stuck to it with that determination in view--with
the result that I have left nothing out but unimportant repetitions.
Although it is mere history--history pure and simple--history stripped
naked of flowers, embroideries, colorings, exaggerations, invention--the
family agree that I have succeeded. It was a perilous thing to try in a
tale, but I never believed it a doubtful one--provided I stuck strictly
to business and didn't weaken and give up: or didn't get lazy and skimp
the work. The first two-thirds of the book were easy; for I only needed
to keep my historical road straight; therefore I used for reference only
one French history and one English one--and shoveled in as much fancy
work and invention on both sides of the historical road as I pleased.
But on this last third I have constantly used five French sources and
five English ones and I think no telling historical nugget in any of them
has escaped me.
Possibly the book may not sell, but that is nothing--it was written for
There--I'm called to see company. The family seldom require this of me,
but they know I am not working today.
S. L. CLEMENS.
"Brusnahan," of the foregoing letter, was an employee of the New
York Herald, superintendent of the press-room--who had invested some
of his savings in the type-setter.
In February Clemens returned to New York to look after matters
connected with his failure and to close arrangements for a reading-
tour around the world. He was nearly sixty years old, and time had
not lessened his loathing for the platform. More than once,
however, in earlier years, he had turned to it as a debt-payer, and
never yet had his burden been so great as now. He concluded
arrangements with Major Pond to take him as far as the Pacific
Coast, and with R. S. Smythe, of Australia, for the rest of the
tour. In April we find him once more back in Paris preparing to
bring the family to America, He had returned by way of London,
where he had visited Stanley the explorer--an old friend.
To H. H. Rogers, in New York City:
169 RUE DE L'UNIVERSITE,
DEAR MR. ROGERS,--..... Stanley is magnificently housed in London, in a
grand mansion in the midst of the official world, right off Downing
Street and Whitehall. He had an extraordinary assemblage of brains and
fame there to meet me--thirty or forty (both sexes) at dinner, and more
than a hundred came in, after dinner. Kept it up till after midnight.
There were cabinet ministers, ambassadors, admirals, generals, canons,
Oxford professors, novelists, playwrights, poets, and a number of people
equipped with rank and brains. I told some yarns and made some speeches.
I promised to call on all those people next time I come to London, and
show them the wife and the daughters. If I were younger and very strong
I would dearly love to spend a season in London--provided I had no work
on hand, or no work more exacting than lecturing. I think I will lecture
there a month or two when I return from Australia.
There were many delightful ladies in that company. One was the wife of
His Excellency Admiral Bridge, Commander-in Chief of the Australian
Station, and she said her husband was able to throw wide all doors to me
in that part of the world and would be glad to do it, and would yacht me
and my party around, and excursion us in his flag-ship and make us have a
great time; and she said she would write him we were coming, and we would
find him ready. I have a letter from her this morning enclosing a letter
of introduction to the Admiral. I already know the Admiral commanding in
the China Seas and have promised to look in on him out there. He sleeps
with my books under his pillow. P'raps it is the only way he can sleep.
According to Mrs. Clemens's present plans--subject to modification, of
course--we sail in May; stay one day, or two days in New York, spend
June, July and August in Elmira and prepare my lectures; then lecture in
San Francisco and thereabouts during September and sail for Australia
before the middle of October and open the show there about the middle of
November. We don't take the girls along; it would be too expensive and
they are quite willing to remain behind anyway.
Mrs. C. is feeling so well that she is not going to try the New York
doctor till we have gone around the world and robbed it and made the
finances a little easier.
With a power of love to you all,
S. L. CLEMENS.
There would come moments of depression, of course, and a week later
he wrote: "I am tired to death all the time:" To a man of less
vitality, less vigor of mind and body, it is easy to believe that
under such circumstances this condition would have remained
permanent. But perhaps, after all, it was his comic outlook on
things in general that was his chief life-saver.
To H. H. Rogers, in New York City:
169 RUE DE L'UNIVERSITE, Apr. 29, '95.
DEAR MR. ROGERS,--I have been hidden an hour or two, reading proof of
Joan and now I think I am a lost child. I can't find anybody on the
place. The baggage has all disappeared, including the family. I reckon
that in the hurry and bustle of moving to the hotel they forgot me. But
it is no matter. It is peacefuller now than I have known it for days and
days and days.
In these Joan proofs which I have been reading for the September Harper
I find a couple of tip-top platform readings--and I mean to read them on
our trip. If the authorship is known by then; and if it isn't, I will
reveal it. The fact is, there is more good platform-stuff in Joan than
in any previous book of mine, by a long sight.
Yes, every danged member of the tribe has gone to the hotel and left me
lost. I wonder how they can be so careless with property. I have got to
try to get there by myself now.
All the trunks are going over as luggage; then I've got to find somebody
on the dock who will agree to ship 6 of them to the Hartford Customhouse.
If it is difficult I will dump them into the river. It is very careless
of Mrs. Clemens to trust trunks and things to me.
S. L. CLEMENS.
By the latter part of May they were at Quarry Farm, and Clemens,
laid up there with a carbuncle, was preparing for his long tour.
The outlook was not a pleasant one. To Mr. Rogers he wrote: "I
sha'n't be able to stand on the platform before we start west. I
sha'n't get a single chance to practice my reading; but will have to
appear in Cleveland without the essential preparation. Nothing in
this world can save it from being a shabby, poor disgusting
performance. I've got to stand; I can't do it and talk to a house,
and how in the nation am I going to sit? Land of Goshen, it's this
night week! Pray for me."
The opening at Cleveland July 15th appears not to have been much of
a success, though from another reason, one that doubtless seemed
amusing to him later.
To H. H. Rogers, in New York City:
CLEVELAND, July 16, '95.
DEAR MR. ROGERS,--Had a roaring success at the Elmira reformatory Sunday
night. But here, last night, I suffered defeat--There were a couple of
hundred little boys behind me on the stage, on a lofty tier of benches
which made them the most conspicuous objects in the house. And there was
nobody to watch them or keep them quiet. Why, with their scufflings and
horse-play and noise, it was just a menagerie. Besides, a concert of
amateurs had been smuggled into the program (to precede me,) and their
families and friends (say ten per cent of the audience) kept encoring
them and they always responded. So it was 20 minutes to 9 before I got
the platform in front of those 2,600 people who had paid a dollar apiece
for a chance to go to hell in this fashion.
I got started magnificently, but inside of half an hour the scuffling
boys had the audience's maddened attention and I saw it was a gone case;
so I skipped a third of my program and quit. The newspapers are kind,
but between you and me it was a defeat. There ain't going to be any more
concerts at my lectures. I care nothing for this defeat, because it was
not my fault. My first half hour showed that I had the house, and I
could have kept it if I hadn't been so handicapped.
S. L. CLEMENS.
P. S. Had a satisfactory time at Petoskey. Crammed the house and turned
away a crowd. We had $548 in the house, which was $300 more than it had
ever had in it before. I believe I don't care to have a talk go off
better than that one did.
Mark Twain, on this long tour, was accompanied by his wife and his
daughter Clara--Susy and Jean Clemens remaining with their aunt at
Quarry Farm. The tour was a financial success from the start.
By the time they were ready to sail from Vancouver five thousand
dollars had been remitted to Mr. Rogers against that day of
settlement when the debts of Webster & Co. were to be paid. Perhaps
it should be stated here that a legal settlement had been arranged
on a basis of fifty cents on the dollar, but neither Clemens nor his
wife consented to this as final. They would pay in full.
They sailed from Vancouver August 23, 1895. About the only letter
of this time is an amusing note to Rudyard Kipling, written at the
moment of departure.
To Rudyard Kipling, in England:
DEAR KIPLING,--It is reported that you are about to visit India. This
has moved me to journey to that far country in order that I may unload
from my conscience a debt long due to you. Years ago you came from India
to Elmira to visit me, as you said at the time. It has always been my
purpose to return that visit and that great compliment some day. I shall
arrive next January and you must be ready. I shall come riding my ayah
with his tusks adorned with silver bells and ribbons and escorted by a
troop of native howdahs richly clad and mounted upon a herd of wild
bungalows; and you must be on hand with a few bottles of ghee, for I
shall be thirsty.
S. L. CLEMENS.
Clemens, platforming in Australia, was too busy to write letters.
Everywhere he was welcomed by great audiences, and everywhere
lavishly entertained. He was beset by other carbuncles, but would
seem not to have been seriously delayed by them. A letter to his
old friend Twichell carries the story.
To Rev. Jos. H. Twichell, in Hartford:
FRANK MOELLER'S MASONIC HOTEL,
NAPIER, NEW ZEALAND,
November 29, '95.
DEAR JOE,--Your welcome letter of two months and five days ago has just
arrived, and finds me in bed with another carbuncle. It is No. 3. Not a
serious one this time. I lectured last night without inconvenience, but
the doctors thought best to forbid to-night's lecture. My second one
kept me in bed a week in Melbourne.
.....We are all glad it is you who is to write the article, it delights
us all through.
I think it was a good stroke of luck that knocked me on my back here at
Napier, instead of some hotel in the centre of a noisy city. Here we
have the smooth and placidly-complaining sea at our door, with nothing
between us and it but 20 yards of shingle--and hardly a suggestion of
life in that space to mar it or make a noise. Away down here fifty-five
degrees south of the Equator this sea seems to murmur in an unfamiliar
tongue--a foreign tongue--tongue bred among the ice-fields of the
Antarctic--a murmur with a note of melancholy in it proper to the vast
unvisited solitudes it has come from. It was very delicious and solacing
to wake in the night and find it still pulsing there. I wish you were
here--land, but it would be fine!
Livy and Clara enjoy this nomadic life pretty well; certainly better than
one could have expected they would. They have tough experiences, in the
way of food and beds and frantic little ships, but they put up with the
worst that befalls with heroic endurance that resembles contentment.
No doubt I shall be on the platform next Monday. A week later we shall
reach Wellington; talk there 3 nights, then sail back to Australia. We
sailed for New Zealand October 30.
Day before yesterday was Livy's birthday (under world time), and tomorrow
will be mine. I shall be 60--no thanks for it.
I and the others send worlds and worlds of love to all you dear ones.
The article mentioned in the foregoing letter was one which Twichell
had been engaged by Harper's Magazine to write concerning the home
life and characteristics of Mark Twain. By the time the Clemens
party had completed their tour of India--a splendid, triumphant
tour, too full of work and recreation for letter-writing--and had
reached South Africa, the article had appeared, a satisfactory one,
if we may judge by Mark Twain's next.
This letter, however, has a special interest in the account it gives
of Mark Twain's visit to the Jameson raiders, then imprisoned at
To Rev. Jos. H. Twichell, in Hartford:
PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICAN REPUBLIC,
The Queen's Birthday, '96.
DEAR OLD JOE,--Harper for May was given to me yesterday in Johannesburg
by an American lady who lives there, and I read your article on me while
coming up in the train with her and an old friend and fellow-Missourian
of mine, Mrs. John Hays Hammond, the handsome and spirited wife of the
chief of the 4 Reformers, who lies in prison here under a 15-year
sentence, along with 50 minor Reformers who are in for 1 and 5-year
terms. Thank you a thousand times Joe, you have praised me away above my
deserts, but I am not the man to quarrel with you for that; and as for
Livy, she will take your very hardiest statements at par, and be grateful
to you to the bottom of her heart. Between you and Punch and Brander
Matthews, I am like to have my opinion of myself raised sufficiently
high; and I guess the children will be after you, for it is the study of
their lives to keep my self-appreciation down somewhere within bounds.
I had a note from Mrs. Rev. Gray (nee Tyler) yesterday, and called on her
to-day. She is well.
Yesterday I was allowed to enter the prison with Mrs. Hammond. A Boer
guard was at my elbow all the time, but was courteous and polite, only
he barred the way in the compound (quadrangle or big open court) and
wouldn't let me cross a white mark that was on the ground--the "death-
line" one of the prisoners called it. Not in earnest, though, I think.
I found that I had met Hammond once when he was a Yale senior and a guest
of Gen. Franklin's. I also found that I had known Capt. Mein intimately
32 years ago. One of the English prisoners had heard me lecture in
London 23 years ago. After being introduced in turn to all the
prisoners, I was allowed to see some of the cells and examine their food,
beds, etc. I was told in Johannesburg that Hammond's salary of $150,000
a year is not stopped, and that the salaries of some of the others are
still continued. Hammond was looking very well indeed, and I can say the
same of all the others. When the trouble first fell upon them it hit
some of them very hard; several fell sick (Hammond among them), two or
three had to be removed to the hospital, and one of the favorites lost
his mind and killed himself, poor fellow, last week. His funeral, with a
sorrowing following of 10,000, took the place of the public demonstration
the Americans were getting up for me.
These prisoners are strong men, prominent men, and I believe they are all
educated men. They are well off; some of them are wealthy. They have a
lot of books to read, they play games and smoke, and for awhile they will
be able to bear up in their captivity; but not for long, not for very
long, I take it. I am told they have times of deadly brooding and
depression. I made them a speech--sitting down. It just happened so.
I don't prefer that attitude. Still, it has one advantage--it is only a
talk, it doesn't take the form of a speech. I have tried it once before
on this trip. However, if a body wants to make sure of having "liberty,"
and feeling at home, he had better stand up, of course. I advised them
at considerable length to stay where they were--they would get used to it
and like it presently; if they got out they would only get in again
somewhere else, by the look of their countenances; and I promised to go
and see the President and do what I could to get him to double their
We had a very good sociable time till the permitted time was up and a
little over, and we outsiders had to go. I went again to-day, but the
Rev. Mr. Gray had just arrived, and the warden, a genial, elderly Boer
named Du Plessis--explained that his orders wouldn't allow him to admit
saint and sinner at the same time, particularly on a Sunday. Du Plessis
--descended from the Huguenot fugitives, you see, of 200 years ago--
but he hasn't any French left in him now--all Dutch.
It gravels me to think what a goose I was to make Livy and Clara remain
in Durban; but I wanted to save them the 30-hour railway trip to
Johannesburg. And Durban and its climate and opulent foliage were so
lovely, and the friends there were so choice and so hearty that I
sacrificed myself in their interests, as I thought. It is just the
beginning of winter, and although the days are hot, the nights are cool.
But it's lovely weather in these regions, too; and the friends are as
lovely as the weather, and Johannesburg and Pretoria are brimming with
interest. I talk here twice more, then return to Johannesburg next
Wednesday for a fifth talk there; then to the Orange Free State capital,
then to some town on the way to Port Elizabeth, where the two will join
us by sea from Durban; then the gang will go to Kimberley and presently
to the Cape--and so, in the course of time, we shall get through and sail
for England; and then we will hunt up a quiet village and I will write
and Livy edit, for a few months, while Clara and Susy and Jean study
music and things in London.
We have had noble good times everywhere and every day, from Cleveland,
July 15, to Pretoria, May 24, and never a dull day either on sea or land,
notwithstanding the carbuncles and things. Even when I was laid up 10
days at Jeypore in India we had the charmingest times with English
friends. All over India the English well, you will never know how good
and fine they are till you see them.
Midnight and after! and I must do many things to-day, and lecture
A world of thanks to you, Joe dear, and a world of love to all of you.
Perhaps for readers of a later day a word as to what constituted the
Jameson raid would not be out of place here. Dr. Leander Starr
Jameson was an English physician, located at Kimberley. President
Kruger (Oom Paul), head of the South African Republic, was one of
his patients; also, Lobengula, the Matabele chief. From Lobengula
concessions were obtained which led to the formation of the South
African Company. Jameson gave up his profession and went in for
conquest, associating himself with the projects of Cecil Rhodes.
In time he became administrator of Rhodesia. By the end of 1894.
he was in high feather, and during a visit to England was feted as
a sort of romantic conqueror of the olden time. Perhaps this turned
his head; at all events at the end of 1895 came the startling news
that "Dr. Jim," as he was called, at the head of six hundred men,
had ridden into the Transvaal in support of a Rhodes scheme for an
uprising at Johannesburg. The raid was a failure. Jameson, and
those other knights of adventure, were captured by the forces of
"Oom Paul," and some of them barely escaped execution. The Boer
president handed them over to the English Government for punishment,
and they received varying sentences, but all were eventually
released. Jameson, later, became again prominent in South-African
politics, but there is no record of any further raids.
The Clemens party sailed from South Africa the middle of July, 1896,
and on the last day of the month reached England. They had not
planned to return to America, but to spend the winter in or near
London in some quiet place where Clemens could write the book of his
The two daughters in America, Susy and Jean, were expected to arrive
August 12th, but on that day there came, instead, a letter saying
that Susy Clemens was not well enough to sail. A cable inquiry was
immediately sent, but the reply when it came was not satisfactory,
and Mrs. Clemens and Clara sailed for America without further delay.
This was on August 15th. Three days later, in the old home at
Hartford, Susy Clemens died of cerebral fever. She had been
visiting Mrs. Charles Dudley Warner, but by the physician's advice
had been removed to the comfort and quiet of her own home, only a
few steps away.
Mark Twain, returning from his triumphant tour of the world in the
hope that soon, now, he might be free from debt, with his family
happily gathered about him, had to face alone this cruel blow.
There was no purpose in his going to America; Susy would be buried
long before his arrival. He awaited in England the return of his
broken family. They lived that winter in a quiet corner of Chelsea,
No. 23 Tedworth Square.
To Rev. Joseph H. Twichell, in Hartford, Conn.:
% CHATTO & WINDUS
111 T. MARTIN'S LANE, LONDON,
Sept. 27, '96.
Through Livy and Katy I have learned, dear old Joe, how loyally you stood
poor Susy's friend, and mine, and Livy's: how you came all the way down,
twice, from your summer refuge on your merciful errands to bring the
peace and comfort of your beloved presence, first to that poor child, and
again to the broken heart of her poor desolate mother. It was like you;
like your good great heart, like your matchless and unmatchable self.
It was no surprise to me to learn that you stayed by Susy long hours,
careless of fatigue and heat, it was no surprise to me to learn that you
could still the storms that swept her spirit when no other could; for she
loved you, revered you, trusted you, and "Uncle Joe" was no empty phrase
upon her lips! I am grateful to you, Joe, grateful to the bottom of my
heart, which has always been filled with love for you, and respect and
admiration; and I would have chosen you out of all the world to take my
place at Susy's side and Livy's in those black hours.
Susy was a rare creature; the rarest that has been reared in Hartford in
this generation. And Livy knew it, and you knew it, and Charley Warner
and George, and Harmony, and the Hillyers and the Dunhams and the
Cheneys, and Susy and Lilly, and the Bunces, and Henry Robinson and Dick
Burton, and perhaps others. And I also was of the number, but not in the
same degree--for she was above my duller comprehension. I merely knew
that she was my superior in fineness of mind, in the delicacy and
subtlety of her intellect, but to fully measure her I was not competent.
I know her better now; for I have read her private writings and sounded
the deeps of her mind; and I know better, now, the treasure that was mine
than I knew it when I had it. But I have this consolation: that dull as
I was, I always knew enough to be proud when she commended me or my work
--as proud as if Livy had done it herself--and I took it as the accolade
from the hand of genius. I see now--as Livy always saw--that she had
greatness in her; and that she herself was dimly conscious of it.
And now she is dead--and I can never tell her.
God bless you Joe--and all of your house.
S. L. C.
To Mr. Henry C. Robinson, Hartford, Conn.:
LONDON, Sept. 28, '96.
It is as you say, dear old friend, "the pathos of it" yes, it was a
piteous thing--as piteous a tragedy as any the year can furnish. When we
started westward upon our long trip at half past ten at night, July 14,
1895, at Elmira, Susy stood on the platform in the blaze of the electric
light waving her good-byes to us as the train glided away, her mother
throwing back kisses and watching her through her tears. One year, one
month, and one week later, Clara and her mother having exactly completed
the circuit of the globe, drew up at that platform at the same hour of
the night, in the same train and the same car--and again Susy had come a
journey and was near at hand to meet them. She was waiting in the house
she was born in, in her coffin.
All the circumstances of this death were pathetic--my brain is worn to
rags rehearsing them. The mere death would have been cruelty enough,
without overloading it and emphasizing it with that score of harsh and
wanton details. The child was taken away when her mother was within
three days of her, and would have given three decades for sight of her.
In my despair and unassuageable misery I upbraid myself for ever parting
with her. But there is no use in that. Since it was to happen it would
S. L. C.
The life at Tedworth Square that winter was one of almost complete
privacy. Of the hundreds of friends which Mark Twain had in London
scarcely half a dozen knew his address. He worked steadily on his
book of travels, 'Following the Equator', and wrote few letters
beyond business communications to Mr. Rogers. In one of these he
said, "I am appalled! Here I am trying to load you up with work
again after you have been dray-horsing over the same tiresome ground
for a year. It's too bad, and I am ashamed of it."
But late in November he sent a letter of a different sort--one that
was to have an important bearing on the life of a girl today of
unique and world-wide distinction.
To Mrs. H. H. Rogers, in New York City:
For and in behalf of Helen Keller,
stone blind and deaf, and formerly dumb.
DEAR MRS. ROGERS,--Experience has convinced me that when one wishes to
set a hard-worked man at something which he mightn't prefer to be
bothered with, it is best to move upon him behind his wife. If she can't
convince him it isn't worth while for other people to try.
Mr. Rogers will remember our visit with that astonishing girl at Lawrence
Hutton's house when she was fourteen years old. Last July, in Boston,
when she was 16 she underwent the Harvard examination for admission to
Radcliffe College. She passed without a single condition. She was
allowed the same amount of time that is granted to other applicants, and
this was shortened in her case by the fact that the question papers had
to be read to her. Yet she scored an average of 90 as against an average
of 78 on the part of the other applicants.
It won't do for America to allow this marvelous child to retire from her
studies because of poverty. If she can go on with them she will make a
fame that will endure in history for centuries. Along her special lines
she is the most extraordinary product of all the ages.
There is danger that she must retire from the struggle for a College
degree for lack of support for herself and for Miss Sullivan, (the
teacher who has been with her from the start--Mr. Rogers will remember
her.) Mrs. Hutton writes to ask me to interest rich Englishmen in her
case, and I would gladly try, but my secluded life will not permit it.
I see nobody. Nobody knows my address. Nothing but the strictest hiding
can enable me to write my long book in time.
So I thought of this scheme: Beg you to lay siege to your husband and get
him to interest himself and Mess. John D. and William Rockefeller and the
other Standard Oil chiefs in Helen's case; get them to subscribe an
annual aggregate of six or seven hundred or a thousand dollars--and agree
to continue this for three or four years, until she has completed her
college course. I'm not trying to limit their generosity--indeed no,
they may pile that Standard Oil, Helen Keller College Fund as high as
they please, they have my consent.
Mrs. Hutton's idea is to raise a permanent fund the interest upon which
shall support Helen and her teacher and put them out of the fear of want.
I shan't say a word against it, but she will find it a difficult and
disheartening job, and meanwhile what is to become of that miraculous
No, for immediate and sound effectiveness, the thing is for you to plead
with Mr. Rogers for this hampered wonder of your sex, and send him
clothed with plenary powers to plead with the other chiefs--they have
spent mountains of money upon the worthiest benevolences, and I think
that the same spirit which moved them to put their hands down through
their hearts into their pockets in those cases will answer "Here!" when
its name is called in this one. 638
There--I don't need to apologize to you or to H. H. for this appeal that
I am making; I know you too well for that.
Good-bye with love to all of you
S. L. CLEMENS.
Laurence Hutton is on the staff of Harper's Monthly--close by, and handy
The plea was not made in vain. Mr. and Mrs. Rogers interested
themselves most liberally in Helen Keller's fortune, and certainly
no one can say that any of those who contributed to her success ever
had reason for disappointment.
In his letter of grateful acknowledgment, which follows, Clemens
also takes occasion to thank Mr. Rogers for his further efforts in
the matter of his own difficulties. This particular reference
concerns the publishing, complications which by this time had arisen
between the American Publishing Company, of Hartford, and the house
in Franklin Square.
LONDON, Dec. 22, '96.
DEAR MRS. ROGERS,--It is superb! And I am beyond measure grateful to you
both. I knew you would be interested in that wonderful girl, and that
Mr. Rogers was already interested in her and touched by her; and I was
sure that if nobody else helped her you two would; but you have gone far
and away beyond the sum I expected--may your lines fall in pleasant
places here and Hereafter for it!
The Huttons are as glad and grateful as they can be, and I am glad for
their sakes as well as for Helen's.
I want to thank Mr. Rogers for crucifying himself again on the same old
cross between Bliss and Harper; and goodness knows I hope he will come to
enjoy it above all other dissipations yet, seeing that it has about it
the elements of stability and permanency. However, at any time that he
says sign, we're going to do it.
Ever sincerely Yours
S. L. CLEMENS.
LETTERS 1897. LONDON, SWITZERLAND, VIENNA
Mark Twain worked steadily on his book that sad winter and managed to
keep the gloom out of his chapters, though it is noticeable that
'Following the Equator' is more serious than his other books of travel.
He wrote few letters, and these only to his three closest friends,
Howells, Twichell, and Rogers. In the letter to Twichell, which follows,
there is mention of two unfinished manuscripts which he expects to
resume. One of these was a dream story, enthusiastically begun, but
perhaps with insufficient plot to carry it through, for it never reached
conclusion. He had already tried it in one or two forms and would begin
it again presently. The identity of the other tale is uncertain.
To Rev. J. H. Twichell, in Hartford:
LONDON, Jan. 19, '97.
DEAR JOE,--Do I want you to write to me? Indeed I do. I do not want
most people to write, but I do want you to do it. The others break my
heart, but you will not. You have a something divine in you that is not
in other men. You have the touch that heals, not lacerates. And you
know the secret places of our hearts. You know our life--the outside of
it--as the others do--and the inside of it--which they do not. You have
seen our whole voyage. You have seen us go to sea, a cloud of sail--and
the flag at the peak; and you see us now, chartless, adrift--derelicts;
battered, water-logged, our sails a ruck of rags, our pride gone. For it
is gone. And there is nothing in its place. The vanity of life was all
we had, and there is no more vanity left in us. We are even ashamed of
that we had; ashamed that we trusted the promises of life and builded
high--to come to this!
I did know that Susy was part of us; I did not know that she could go
away; I did not know that she could go away, and take our lives with her,
yet leave our dull bodies behind. And I did not know what she was. To
me she was but treasure in the bank; the amount known, the need to look
at it daily, handle it, weigh it, count it, realize it, not necessary;
and now that I would do it, it is too late; they tell me it is not there,
has vanished away in a night, the bank is broken, my fortune is gone, I
am a pauper. How am I to comprehend this? How am I to have it? Why am
I robbed, and who is benefited?
Ah, well, Susy died at home. She had that privilege. Her dying eyes
rested upon nothing that was strange to them, but only upon things which
they had known and loved always and which had made her young years glad;
and she had you, and Sue, and Katy, and John, and Ellen. This was happy
fortune--I am thankful that it was vouchsafed to her. If she had died in
another house-well, I think I could not have borne that. To us, our
house was not unsentient matter--it had a heart, and a soul, and eyes to
see us with; and approvals, and solicitudes, and deep sympathies; it was
of us, and we were in its confidence, and lived in its grace and in the
peace of its benediction. We never came home from an absence that its
face did not light up and speak out its eloquent welcome--and we could
not enter it unmoved. And could we now, oh, now, in spirit we should
enter it unshod.
I am trying to add to the "assets" which you estimate so generously.
No, I am not. The thought is not in my mind. My purpose is other. I am
working, but it is for the sake of the work--the "surcease of sorrow"
that is found there. I work all the days, and trouble vanishes away when
I use that magic. This book will not long stand between it and me, now;
but that is no matter, I have many unwritten books to fly to for my
preservation; the interval between the finishing of this one and the
beginning of the next will not be more than an hour, at most.
Continuances, I mean; for two of them are already well along--in fact
have reached exactly the same stage in their journey: 19,000 words each.
The present one will contain 180,000 words--130,000 are done. I am well
protected; but Livy! She has nothing in the world to turn to; nothing
but housekeeping, and doing things for the children and me. She does not
see people, and cannot; books have lost their interest for her. She sits
solitary; and all the day, and all the days, wonders how it all happened,
and why. We others were always busy with our affairs, but Susy was her
comrade--had to be driven from her loving persecutions--sometimes at 1 in
the morning. To Livy the persecutions were welcome. It was heaven to
her to be plagued like that. But it is ended now. Livy stands so in
need of help; and none among us all could help her like you.
Some day you and I will walk again, Joe, and talk. I hope so. We could
have such talks! We are all grateful to you and Harmony--how grateful it
is not given to us to say in words. We pay as we can, in love; and in
this coin practicing no economy.
Good bye, dear old Joe!
The letters to Mr. Rogers were, for the most part, on matters of
business, but in one of them he said: "I am going to write with all
my might on this book, and follow it up with others as fast as I can
in the hope that within three years I can clear out the stuff that
is in me waiting to be written, and that I shall then die in the
promptest kind of a way and no fooling around." And in one he
wrote: "You are the best friend ever a man had, and the surest."
To W. D. Howells, in New York
LONDON, Feb. 23, '97.
DEAR HOWELLS,-I find your generous article in the Weekly, and I want to
thank you for its splendid praises, so daringly uttered and so warmly.
The words stir the dead heart of me, and throw a glow of color into a
life which sometimes seems to have grown wholly wan. I don't mean that I
am miserable; no--worse than that--indifferent. Indifferent to nearly
everything but work. I like that; I enjoy it, and stick to it. I do it
without purpose and without ambition; merely for the love of it.
This mood will pass, some day--there is history for it. But it cannot
pass until my wife comes up out of the submergence. She was always so
quick to recover herself before, but now there is no rebound, and we are
dead people who go through the motions of life. Indeed I am a mud image,
and it will puzzle me to know what it is in me that writes, and has
comedy-fancies and finds pleasure in phrasing them. It is a law of our
nature, of course, or it wouldn't happen; the thing in me forgets the
presence of the mud image and goes its own way, wholly unconscious of it
and apparently of no kinship with it. I have finished my book, but I go
on as if the end were indefinitely away--as indeed it is. There is no
hurry--at any rate there is no limit.
Jean's spirits are good; Clara's are rising. They have youth--the only
thing that was worth giving to the race.
These are sardonic times. Look at Greece, and that whole shabby muddle.
But I am not sorry to be alive and privileged to look on. If I were not
a hermit I would go to the House every day and see those people scuffle
over it and blether about the brotherhood of the human race. This has
been a bitter year for English pride, and I don't like to see England
humbled--that is, not too much. We are sprung from her loins, and it
hurts me. I am for republics, and she is the only comrade we've got, in
that. We can't count France, and there is hardly enough of Switzerland
to count. Beneath the governing crust England is sound-hearted--and
sincere, too, and nearly straight. But I am appalled to notice that the
wide extension of the surface has damaged her manners, and made her
rather Americanly uncourteous on the lower levels.
Won't you give our love to the Howellses all and particular?
S. L. CLEMENS.
The travel-book did not finish easily, and more than once when he
thought it completed he found it necessary to cut and add and
change. The final chapters were not sent to the printer until the
middle of May, and in a letter to Mr. Rogers he commented: "A
successful book is not made of what is in it, but what is left out
of it." Clemens was at the time contemplating a uniform edition of
his books, and in one of his letters to Mr. Rogers on the matter he
wrote, whimsically, "Now I was proposing to make a thousand sets at
a hundred dollars a set, and do the whole canvassing myself..... I
would load up every important jail and saloon in America with de
luxe editions of my books. But Mrs. Clemens and the children object
to this, I do not know why." And, in a moment of depression: "You
see the lightning refuses to strike me--there is where the defect
is. We have to do our own striking as Barney Barnato did. But
nobody ever gets the courage until he goes crazy."
They went to Switzerland for the summer to the village of Weggis, on
Lake Lucerne--"The charmingest place we ever lived in," he declared,
"for repose, and restfulness, and superb scenery." It was here that
he began work on a new story of Tom and Huck, and at least upon one
other manuscript. From a brief note to Mr. Rogers we learn
something of his employments and economies.
To Henry H. Rogers, in New York:
LUCERNE, August the something or other, 1897.
DEAR MR. ROGERS,--I am writing a novel, and am getting along very well
I believe that this place (Weggis, half an hour from Lucerne,) is the
loveliest in the world, and the most satisfactory. We have a small house
on the hillside all to ourselves, and our meals are served in it from the
inn below on the lake shore. Six francs a day per head, house and food
included. The scenery is beyond comparison beautiful. We have a row
boat and some bicycles, and good roads, and no visitors. Nobody knows we
are here. And Sunday in heaven is noisy compared to this quietness.
S. L. C.
To Rev. J. H. Twichell, in Hartford:
LUCERNE, Aug. 22, '97.
DEAR JOE,--Livy made a noble find on the Lucerne boat the other day on
one of her shopping trips--George Williamson Smith--did I tell you about
it? We had a lovely time with him, and such intellectual refreshment as
we had not tasted in many a month.
And the other night we had a detachment of the jubilee Singers--6. I had
known one of them in London 24 years ago. Three of the 6 were born in
slavery, the others were children of slaves. How charming they were--in
spirit, manner, language, pronunciation, enunciation, grammar, phrasing,
matter, carriage, clothes--in every detail that goes to make the real
lady and gentleman, and welcome guest. We went down to the village hotel
and bought our tickets and entered the beer-hall, where a crowd of German
and Swiss men and women sat grouped at round tables with their beer mugs
in front of them--self-contained and unimpressionable looking people, an
indifferent and unposted and disheartened audience--and up at the far end
of the room sat the Jubilees in a row. The Singers got up and stood--the
talking and glass jingling went on. Then rose and swelled out above
those common earthly sounds one of those rich chords the secret of whose
make only the Jubilees possess, and a spell fell upon that house. It was
fine to see the faces light up with the pleased wonder and surprise of
it. No one was indifferent any more; and when the singers finished, the
camp was theirs. It was a triumph. It reminded me of Launcelot riding
in Sir Kay's armor and astonishing complacent Knights who thought they
had struck a soft thing. The Jubilees sang a lot of pieces. Arduous and
painstaking cultivation has not diminished or artificialized their music,
but on the contrary--to my surprise--has mightily reinforced its
eloquence and beauty. Away back in the beginning--to my mind--their
music made all other vocal music cheap; and that early notion is
emphasized now. It is utterly beautiful, to me; and it moves me
infinitely more than any other music can. I think that in the Jubilees
and their songs America has produced the perfectest flower of the ages;
and I wish it were a foreign product, so that she would worship it and
lavish money on it and go properly crazy over it.
Now, these countries are different: they would do all that, if it were
native. It is true they praise God, but that is merely a formality, and
nothing in it; they open out their whole hearts to no foreigner.
The musical critics of the German press praise the Jubilees with great
enthusiasm--acquired technique etc, included.
One of the jubilee men is a son of General Joe Johnson, and was educated
by him after the war. The party came up to the house and we had a
This is paradise, here--but of course we have got to leave it by and by.
The 18th of August--[Anniversary of Susy Clemens's death.]--has come and
gone, Joe--and we still seem to live.
With love from us all.
Clemens declared he would as soon spend his life in Weggis "as
anywhere else in the geography," but October found them in Vienna
for the winter, at the Hotel Metropole. The Austrian capital was
just then in a political turmoil, the character of which is hinted
in the following:
To Rev. J. H. Twichell, in Hartford:
VIENNA, Oct. 23, '97.
DEAR JOE,--We are gradually getting settled down and wonted. Vienna is
not a cheap place to live in, but I have made one small arrangement
which: has a distinctly economical aspect. The Vice Consul made the
contract for me yesterday-to-wit: a barber is to come every morning 8.30
and shave me and keep my hair trimmed for $2.50 a month. I used to pay
$1.50 per shave in our house in Hartford.
Does it suggest to you reflections when you reflect that this is the most
important event which has happened to me in ten days--unless I count--in
my handing a cabman over to the police day before yesterday, with the
proper formalities, and promised to appear in court when his case comes
If I had time to run around and talk, I would do it; for there is much
politics agoing, and it would be interesting if a body could get the hang
of it. It is Christian and Jew by the horns--the advantage with the
superior man, as usual--the superior man being the Jew every time and in
all countries. Land, Joe, what chance would the Christian have in a
country where there were 3 Jews to 10 Christians! Oh, not the shade of a
shadow of a chance. The difference between the brain of the average
Christian and that of the average Jew--certainly in Europe--is about the
difference between a tadpole's and an Archbishop's. It's a marvelous,
race--by long odds the most marvelous that the world has produced, I
And there's more politics--the clash between Czech and Austrian. I wish
I could understand these quarrels, but of course I can't.
With the abounding love of us all
In Following the Equator there was used an amusing picture showing
Mark Twain on his trip around the world. It was a trick photograph
made from a picture of Mark Twain taken in a steamer-chair, cut out
and combined with a dilapidated negro-cart drawn by a horse and an
ox. In it Clemens appears to be sitting luxuriously in the end of
the disreputable cart. His companions are two negroes. To the
creator of this ingenious effect Mark Twain sent a characteristic
To T. S. Frisbie
VIENNA, Oct. 25, '97.
MR. T. S. FRISBIE,--Dear Sir: The picture has reached me, and has moved
me deeply. That was a steady, sympathetic and honorable team, and
although it was not swift, and not showy, it pulled me around the globe
successfully, and always attracted its proper share of attention, even in
the midst of the most costly and fashionable turnouts. Princes and dukes
and other experts were always enthused by the harness and could hardly
keep from trying to buy it. The barouche does not look as fine, now, as
it did earlier-but that was before the earthquake.
The portraits of myself and uncle and nephew are very good indeed, and
your impressionist reproduction of the palace of the Governor General of
India is accurate and full of tender feeling.
I consider that this picture is much more than a work of art. How much
more, one cannot say with exactness, but I should think two-thirds more.
Very truly yours
Following the Equator was issued by subscription through Mark
Twain's old publishers, the Blisses, of Hartford. The sale of it
was large, not only on account of the value of the book itself, but
also because of the sympathy of the American people with Mark
Twain's brave struggle to pay his debts. When the newspapers began
to print exaggerated stories of the vast profits that were piling
up, Bliss became worried, for he thought it would modify the
sympathy. He cabled Clemens for a denial, with the following
To Frank E. Bliss, in Hartford:
VIENNA, Nov. 4, 1897.
DEAR BLISS,--Your cablegram informing me that a report is in circulation
which purports to come from me and which says I have recently made
$82,000 and paid all my debts has just reached me, and I have cabled
back my regret to you that it is not true. I wrote a letter--a private
letter--a short time ago, in which I expressed the belief that I should
be out of debt within the next twelvemonth. If you make as much as usual
for me out of the book, that belief will crystallize into a fact, and I
shall be wholly out of debt. I am encoring you now.
It is out of that moderate letter that the Eighty-Two Thousand-Dollar
mare's nest has developed. But why do you worry about the various
reports? They do not worry me. They are not unfriendly, and I don't see
how they can do any harm. Be patient; you have but a little while to
wait; the possible reports are nearly all in. It has been reported that
I was seriously ill--it was another man; dying--it was another man; dead
--the other man again. It has been reported that I have received a
legacy it was another man; that I am out of debt--it was another man; and
now comes this $82,000--still another man. It has been reported that I
am writing books--for publication; I am not doing anything of the kind.
It would surprise (and gratify) me if I should be able to get another
book ready for the press within the next three years. You can see,
yourself, that there isn't anything more to be reported--invention is
exhausted. Therefore, don't worry, Bliss--the long night is breaking.
As far as I can see, nothing remains to be reported, except that I have
become a foreigner. When you hear it, don't you believe it. And don't
take the trouble to deny it. Merely just raise the American flag on our
house in Hartford, and let it talk.
P. S. This is not a private letter. I am getting tired of private
To Rev. J. H. Twichell, in Hartford:
HOTEL METROPOLE, NOV. 19, '97.
DEAR JOE,--Above is our private (and permanent) address for the winter.
You needn't send letters by London.
I am very much obliged for Forrest's Austro-Hungarian articles. I have
just finished reading the first one: and in it I find that his opinion
and Vienna's are the same, upon a point which was puzzling me--the
paucity (no, the absence) of Austrian Celebrities. He and Vienna both
say the country cannot afford to allow great names to grow up; that the
whole safety and prosperity of the Empire depends upon keeping things
quiet; can't afford to have geniuses springing up and developing ideas
and stirring the public soul. I am assured that every time a man finds
himself blooming into fame, they just softly snake him down and relegate
him to a wholesome obscurity. It is curious and interesting.
Three days ago the New York World sent and asked a friend of mine
(correspondent of a London daily) to get some Christmas greetings from
the celebrities of the Empire. She spoke of this. Two or three bright
Austrians were present. They said "There are none who are known all over
the world! none who have achieved fame; none who can point to their work
and say it is known far and wide in the earth: there are no names;
Kossuth (known because he had a father) and Lecher, who made the 12 hour
speech; two names-nothing more. Every other country in the world,
perhaps, has a giant or two whose heads are away up and can be seen, but
ours. We've got the material--have always had it--but we have to
suppress it; we can't afford to let it develop; our political salvation
depends upon tranquillity--always has."
Poor Livy! She is laid up with rheumatism; but she is getting along now.
We have a good doctor, and he says she will be out of bed in a couple of
days, but must stay in the house a week or ten.
Clara is working faithfully at her music, Jean at her usual studies, and
we all send love.
Mention has already been made of the political excitement in Vienna.
The trouble between the Hungarian and German legislative bodies
presently became violent. Clemens found himself intensely
interested, and was present in one of the galleries when it was
cleared by the police. All sorts of stories were circulated as to
what happened to him, one of which was cabled to America. A letter
to Twichell sets forth what really happened.
To Rev. J. H. Twichell, in Hartford:
VIENNA, Dec. 10, '97.
DEAR JOE,--Pond sends me a Cleveland paper with a cablegram from here in
it which says that when the police invaded the parliament and expelled
the 11 members I waved my handkerchief and shouted 'Hoch die Deutschen!'
and got hustled out. Oh dear, what a pity it is that one's adventures
never happen! When the Ordner (sergeant-at-arms) came up to our gallery
and was hurrying the people out, a friend tried to get leave for me to
stay, by saying, "But this gentleman is a foreigner--you don't need to
turn him out--he won't do any harm."
"Oh, I know him very well--I recognize him by his pictures; and I should
be very glad to let him stay, but I haven't any choice, because of the
strictness of the orders."
And so we all went out, and no one was hustled. Below, I ran across the
London Times correspondent, and he showed me the way into the first
gallery and I lost none of the show. The first gallery had not
misbehaved, and was not disturbed.
. . . We cannot persuade Livy to go out in society yet, but all the
lovely people come to see her; and Clara and I go to dinner parties, and
around here and there, and we all have a most hospitable good time.
Jean's woodcarving flourishes, and her other studies.
Good-bye Joe--and we all love all of you.
Clemens made an article of the Austrian troubles, one of the best
things he ever wrote, and certainly one of the clearest elucidations
of the Austro-Hungarian confusions. It was published in Harper's
Magazine, and is now included in his complete works.
Thus far none of the Webster Company debts had been paid--at least,
none of importance. The money had been accumulating in Mr. Rogers's
hands, but Clemens was beginning to be depressed by the heavy
burden. He wrote asking for relief.
Part of a letter to H. H. Rogers, in New York:
DEAR MR. ROGERS,--I throw up the sponge. I pull down the flag. Let us
begin on the debts. I cannot bear the weight any longer. It totally
unfits me for work. I have lost three entire months now. In that time I
have begun twenty magazine articles and books--and flung every one of
them aside in turn. The debts interfered every time, and took the spirit
out of any work. And yet I have worked like a bond slave and wasted no
time and spared no effort----
Rogers wrote, proposing a plan for beginning immediately upon the debts.
Clemens replied enthusiastically, and during the next few weeks wrote
every few days, expressing his delight in liquidation.
Extracts from letters to H. H. Rogers, in New York:
. . . We all delighted with your plan. Only don't leave B--out.
Apparently that claim has been inherited by some women--daughters, no
doubt. We don't want to see them lose any thing. B----- is an ass, and
disgruntled, but I don't care for that. I am responsible for the money
and must do the best I can to pay it..... I am writing hard--writing for
Land we are glad to see those debts diminishing. For the first time in
my life I am getting more pleasure out of paying money out than pulling
Since we have begun to pay off the debts I have abundant peace of mind
again--no sense of burden. Work is become a pleasure again--it is not
labor any longer.
Mrs. Clemens has been reading the creditors' letters over and over again
and thanks you deeply for sending them, and says it is the only really
happy day she has had since Susy died.
LETTERS, 1898, TO HOWELLS AND TWICHELL. LIFE IN VIENNA. PAYMENT OF THE
DEBTS. ASSASSINATION OF THE EMPRESS
The end of January saw the payment of the last of Mark Twain's debts.
Once more he stood free before the world--a world that sounded his
praises. The latter fact rather amused him. "Honest men must be pretty
scarce," he said, "when they make so much fuss over even a defective
specimen." When the end was in sight Clemens wrote the news to Howells
in a letter as full of sadness as of triumph.
To W. D. Howells, in New York:
VIENNA, Jan. 22, '98.
DEAR HOWELLS,--Look at those ghastly figures. I used to write it
"Hartford, 1871." There was no Susy then--there is no Susy now. And how
much lies between--one long lovely stretch of scented fields, and
meadows, and shady woodlands, and suddenly Sahara! You speak of the
glorious days of that old time--and they were. It is my quarrel--that
traps like that are set. Susy and Winnie given us, in miserable sport,
and then taken away.
About the last time I saw you I described to you the culminating disaster
in a book I was going to write (and will yet, when the stroke is further
away)--a man's dead daughter brought to him when he had been through all
other possible misfortunes--and I said it couldn't be done as it ought to
be done except by a man who had lived it--it must be written with the
blood out of a man's heart. I couldn't know, then, how soon I was to be
made competent. I have thought of it many a time since. If you were
here I think we could cry down each other's necks, as in your dream.
For we are a pair of old derelicts drifting around, now, with some of our
passengers gone and the sunniness of the others in eclipse.
I couldn't get along without work now. I bury myself in it up to the
ears. Long hours--8 and 9 on a stretch, sometimes. And all the days,
Sundays included. It isn't all for print, by any means, for much of it
fails to suit me; 50,000 words of it in the past year. It was because of
the deadness which invaded me when Susy died. But I have made a change
lately--into dramatic work--and I find it absorbingly entertaining.
I don't know that I can write a play that will play: but no matter, I'll
write half a dozen that won't, anyway. Dear me, I didn't know there was
such fun in it. I'll write twenty that won't play. I get into immense
spirits as soon as my day is fairly started. Of course a good deal of
this friskiness comes of my being in sight of land--on the Webster & Co.
debts, I mean. (Private.) We've lived close to the bone and saved every
cent we could, and there's no undisputed claim, now, that we can't cash.
I have marked this "private" because it is for the friends who are
attending to the matter for us in New York to reveal it when they want to
and if they want to. There are only two claims which I dispute and which
I mean to look into personally before I pay them. But they are small.
Both together they amount to only $12,500. I hope you will never get the
like of the load saddled onto you that was saddled onto me 3 years ago.
And yet there is such a solid pleasure in paying the things that I reckon
maybe it is worth while to get into that kind of a hobble, after all.
Mrs. Clemens gets millions of delight out of it; and the children have
never uttered one complaint about the scrimping, from the beginning.
We all send you and all of you our love.
Howells wrote: "I wish you could understand how unshaken you are,
you old tower, in every way; your foundations are struck so deep
that you will catch the sunshine of immortal years, and bask in the
same light as Cervantes and Shakespeare."
The Clemens apartments at the Metropole became a sort of social
clearing-house of the Viennese art and literary life, much more like
an embassy than the home of a mere literary man. Celebrities in
every walk of life, persons of social and official rank, writers for
the press, assembled there on terms hardly possible in any other
home in Vienna. Wherever Mark Twain appeared in public he was a
central figure. Now and then he read or spoke to aid some benefit,
and these were great gatherings attended by members of the royal
family. It was following one such event that the next letter was
To Rev. J. H. Twichell, in Hartford:
VIENNA, Feb. 3, '98.
DEAR JOE, There's that letter that I began so long ago--you see how
it is: can't get time to finish anything. I pile up lots of work,
nevertheless. There may be idle people in the world, but I'm not one of
them. I say "Private" up there because I've got an adventure to tell,
and you mustn't let a breath of it get out. First I thought I would lay
it up along with a thousand others that I've laid up for the same
purpose--to talk to you about, but--those others have vanished out of my
memory; and that must not happen with this.
The other night I lectured for a Vienna charity; and at the end of it
Livy and I were introduced to a princess who is aunt to the heir apparent
of the imperial throne--a beautiful lady, with a beautiful spirit, and
very cordial in her praises of my books and thanks to me for writing
them; and glad to meet me face to face and shake me by the hand--just the
kind of princess that adorns a fairy tale and makes it the prettiest tale
Very well, we long ago found that when you are noticed by supremacies,
the correct etiquette is to go, within a couple of days, and pay your
respects in the quite simple form of writing your name in the Visitors'
Book kept in the office of the establishment. That is the end of it, and
everything is squared up and ship-shape.
So at noon today Livy and I drove to the Archducal palace, and got by the
sentries all right, and asked the grandly-uniformed porter for the book
and said we wished to write our names in it. And he called a servant in
livery and was sending us up stairs; and said her Royal Highness was out
but would soon be in. Of course Livy said "No--no--we only want the
book;" but he was firm, and said, "You are Americans?"
"Then you are expected, please go up stairs."
"But indeed we are not expected--please let us have the book and--"
"Her Royal Highness will be back in a very little while--she commanded me
to tell you so--and you must wait."
Well, the soldiers were there close by--there was no use trying to
resist--so we followed the servant up; but when he tried to beguile us
into a drawing-room, Livy drew the line; she wouldn't go in. And she
wouldn't stay up there, either. She said the princess might come in at
any moment and catch us, and it would be too infernally ridiculous for
anything. So we went down stairs again--to my unspeakable regret. For
it was too darling a comedy to spoil. I was hoping and praying the
princess would come, and catch us up there, and that those other
Americans who were expected would arrive, and be taken for impostors by
the portier, and shot by the sentinels--and then it would all go into the
papers, and be cabled all over the world, and make an immense stir and be
perfectly lovely. And by that time the princess would discover that we
were not the right ones, and the Minister of War would be ordered out,
and the garrison, and they would come for us, and there would be another
prodigious time, and that would get cabled too, and--well, Joe, I was in
a state of perfect bliss. But happily, oh, so happily, that big portier
wouldn't let us out--he was sorry, but he must obey orders--we must go
back up stairs and wait. Poor Livy--I couldn't help but enjoy her
distress. She said we were in a fix, and how were we going to explain,
if the princess should arrive before the rightful Americans came? We
went up stairs again--laid off our wraps, and were conducted through one
drawing room and into another, and left alone there and the door closed
Livy was in a state of mind! She said it was too theatrically
ridiculous; and that I would never be able to keep my mouth shut; that I
would be sure to let it out and it would get into the papers--and she
tried to make me promise--"Promise what?" I said--"to be quiet about
this? Indeed I won't--it's the best thing that ever happened; I'll tell
it, and add to it; and I wish Joe and Howells were here to make it
perfect; I can't make all the rightful blunders myself--it takes all
three of us to do justice to an opportunity like this. I would just like
to see Howells get down to his work and explain, and lie, and work his
futile and inventionless subterfuges when that princess comes raging in
here and wanting to know." But Livy could not hear fun--it was not a
time to be trying to be funny--we were in a most miserable and shameful
situation, and if--
Just then the door spread wide and our princess and 4 more, and 3 little
princes flowed in! Our princess, and her sister the Archduchess Marie
Therese (mother to the imperial Heir and to the young girl Archduchesses
present, and aunt to the 3 little princes)--and we shook hands all around
and sat down and had a most sociable good time for half an hour--and by
and by it turned out that we were the right ones, and had been sent for
by a messenger who started too late to catch us at the hotel. We were
invited for 2 o'clock, but we beat that arrangement by an hour and a
Wasn't it a rattling good comedy situation? Seems a kind of pity we were
the right ones. It would have been such nuts to see the right ones come,
and get fired out, and we chatting along comfortably and nobody
suspecting us for impostors.
We send lots and lots of love.
The reader who has followed these pages has seen how prone Mark
Twain was to fall a victim to the lure of a patent-right--how he
wasted several small fortunes on profitless contrivances, and one
large one on that insatiable demon of intricacy and despair, the
Paige type-setter. It seems incredible that, after that experience
and its attending disaster, he should have been tempted again. But
scarcely was the ink dry on the receipts from his creditors when he
was once more borne into the clouds on the prospect of millions,
perhaps even billions, to be made from a marvelous carpet-pattern
machine, the invention of Sczezepanik, an Austrian genius. That
Clemens appreciated his own tendencies is shown by the parenthetic
line with which he opens his letter on the subject to Mr. Rogers.
Certainly no man was ever a more perfect prototype of Colonel
Sellers than the creator of that lovely, irrepressible visionary.
To Mr. Rogers, in New York:
March 24, '98.
DEAR MR. ROGERS,--(I feel like Col. Sellers).
Mr. Kleinberg [agent for Sczezepanik] came according to appointment, at
8.30 last night, and brought his English-speaking Secretary. I asked
questions about the auxiliary invention (which I call "No. 2 ") and got
as good an idea of it as I could. It is a machine. It automatically
punches the holes in the jacquard cards, and does it with mathematical
accuracy. It will do for $1 what now costs $3. So it has value, but
"No. 2" is the great thing(the designing invention.) It saves $9 out of
$10 and the jacquard looms must have it.
Then I arrived at my new project, and said to him in substance, this:
"You are on the point of selling the No. 2 patents to Belgium, Italy,
etc. I suggest that you stop those negotiations and put those people off
two or three months. They are anxious now, they will not be less anxious
then--just the reverse; people always want a thing that is denied them.
"So far as I know, no great world-patent has ever yet been placed in the
grip of a single corporation. This is a good time to begin.
"We have to do a good deal of guess-work here, because we cannot get hold
of just the statistics we want. Still, we have some good statistics--and
I will use those for a test.
"You say that of the 1500 Austrian textile factories, 800 use the
jacquard. Then we will guess that of the 4,000 American factories 2,000
use the jacquard and must have our No. 2.
"You say that a middle-sized Austrian factory employs from 20 to 30
designers and pays them from 800 to 3,000 odd florins a year--(a florin
is 2 francs). Let us call the average wage 1500 florins ($600).
"Let us apply these figures (the low wages too) to the 2,000 American
factories--with this difference, to guard against over-guessing; that
instead of allowing for 20 to 30 designers to a middle-sized factory, we
allow only an average of 10 to each of the 2,000 factories--a total of
20,000 designers. Wages at $600, a total of $12,000,000. Let us
consider that No. 2 will reduce this expense to $2,000,000 a year. The
saving is $5,000,000 per each of the $200,000,000 of capital employed in
the jacquard business over there.
"Let us consider that in the countries covered by this patent, an
aggregate of $1,500,000,000 of capital is employed in factories requiring
"The saving (as above) is $75,000,000 a year. The Company holding in its
grip all these patents would collar $50,000,000 of that, as its share.
"Competition would be at an end in the Jacquard business, on this planet.
Price-cutting would end. Fluctuations in values would cease. The
business would be the safest and surest in the world; commercial panics
could not seriously affect it; its stock would be as choice an investment
as Government bonds. When the patents died the Company would be so
powerful that it could still keep the whole business in its hands. Would
you like to grant me the privilege of placing the whole jacquard business
of the world in the grip of a single Company? And don't you think that
the business would grow-grow like a weed?"
"Ach, America--it is the country of the big! Let me get my breath--then
we will talk."
So then we talked--talked till pretty late. Would Germany and England
join the combination? I said the Company would know how to persuade
Then I asked for a Supplementary Option, to cover the world, and we
I am taking all precautions to keep my name out of print in connection
with this matter. And we will now keep the invention itself out of print
as well as we can. Descriptions of it have been granted to the "Dry
Goods Economist" (New York) and to a syndicate of American papers. I
have asked Mr. Kleinberg to suppress these, and he feels pretty sure he
can do it.
S. L. C.
If this splendid enthusiasm had not cooled by the time a reply came
from Mr. Rogers, it must have received a sudden chill from the
letter which he inclosed--the brief and concise report from a
carpet-machine expert, who said: "I do not feel that it would be of
any value to us in our mills, and the number of jacquard looms in
America is so limited that I am of the opinion that there is no
field for a company to develop the invention here. A cursory
examination of the pamphlet leads me to place no very high value
upon the invention, from a practical standpoint."
With the receipt of this letter carpet-pattern projects would seem
to have suddenly ceased to be a factor in Mark Twain's calculations.
Such a letter in the early days of the type-machine would have saved
him a great sum in money and years of disappointment. But perhaps
he would not have heeded it then.
The year 1898 brought the Spanish-American War. Clemens was
constitutionally against all wars, but writing to Twichell, whose
son had enlisted, we gather that this one was an exception.
To Rev. J. H. Twichell, in Hartford:
KALTENLEUTGEBEN, NEAR VIENNA,
June 17, '98.
DEAR JOE,--You are living your war-days over again in Dave, and it must
be a strong pleasure, mixed with a sauce of apprehension--enough to make
it just schmeck, as the Germans say. Dave will come out with two or
three stars on his shoulder-straps if the war holds, and then we shall
all be glad it happened.
We started with Bull Run, before. Dewey and Hobson have introduced an
improvement on the game this time.
I have never enjoyed a war-even in written history--as I am enjoying this
one. For this is the worthiest one that was ever fought, so far as my
knowledge goes. It is a worthy thing to fight for one's freedom; it is
another sight finer to fight for another man's. And I think this is the
first time it has been done.
Oh, never mind Charley Warner, he would interrupt the raising of Lazarus.
He would say, the will has been probated, the property distributed, it
will be a world of trouble to settle the rows--better leave well enough
alone; don't ever disturb anything, where it's going to break the soft
smooth flow of things and wobble our tranquillity.
Company! (Sh! it happens every day--and we came out here to be quiet.)
Love to you all.