Part 4 out of 5
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.
They were spending the summer at Kaltenleutgeben, a pleasant village
near Vienna, but apparently not entirely quiet. Many friends came
out from Vienna, including a number of visiting Americans. Clemens,
however, appears to have had considerable time for writing, as we
gather from the next to Howells.
To W. D. Howells, in America:
KALTENLEUTGEBEN, BEI WIEN,
Aug. 16, '98.
DEAR HOWELLS,--Your letter came yesterday. It then occurred to me that I
might have known (per mental telegraph) that it was due; for a couple of
weeks ago when the Weekly came containing that handsome reference to me I
was powerfully moved to write you; and my letter went on writing itself
while I was at work at my other literature during the day. But next day
my other literature was still urgent--and so on and so on; so my letter
didn't get put into ink at all. But I see now, that you were writing,
about that time, therefore a part of my stir could have come across the
Atlantic per mental telegraph. In 1876 or '75 I wrote 40,000 words of a
story called "Simon Wheeler" wherein the nub was the preventing of an
execution through testimony furnished by mental telegraph from the other
side of the globe. I had a lot of people scattered about the globe who
carried in their pockets something like the old mesmerizer-button, made
of different metals, and when they wanted to call up each other and have
a talk, they "pressed the button" or did something, I don't remember
what, and communication was at once opened. I didn't finish the story,
though I re-began it in several new ways, and spent altogether 70,000
words on it, then gave it up and threw it aside.
This much as preliminary to this remark: some day people will be able to
call each other up from any part of the world and talk by mental
telegraph--and not merely by impression, the impression will be
articulated into words. It could be a terrible thing, but it won't be,
because in the upper civilizations everything like sentimentality (I was
going to say sentiment) will presently get materialized out of people
along with the already fading spiritualities; and so when a man is called
who doesn't wish to talk he will be like those visitors you mention: "not
chosen"--and will be frankly damned and shut off.
Speaking of the ill luck of starting a piece of literary work wrong-and
again and again; always aware that there is a way, if you could only
think it out, which would make the thing slide effortless from the pen-
the one right way, the sole form for you, the other forms being for men
whose line those forms are, or who are capabler than yourself: I've had
no end of experience in that (and maybe I am the only one--let us hope
so.) Last summer I started 16 things wrong--3 books and 13 mag.
articles--and could only make 2 little wee things, 1500 words altogether,
succeed:--only that out of piles and stacks of diligently-wrought MS.,
the labor of 6 weeks' unremitting effort. I could make all of those
things go if I would take the trouble to re-begin each one half a dozen
times on a new plan. But none of them was important enough except one:
the story I (in the wrong form) mapped out in Paris three or four years
ago and told you about in New York under seal of confidence--no other
person knows of it but Mrs. Clemens--the story to be called "Which was
A week ago I examined the MS--10,000 words--and saw that the plan was a
totally impossible one-for me; but a new plan suggested itself, and
straightway the tale began to slide from the pen with ease and
confidence. I think I've struck the right one this time. I have already
put 12,000 words of it on paper and Mrs. Clemens is pretty outspokenly
satisfied with it-a hard critic to content. I feel sure that all of the
first half of the story--and I hope three-fourths--will be comedy; but by
the former plan the whole of it (except the first 3 chapters) would have
been tragedy and unendurable, almost. I think I can carry the reader a
long way before he suspects that I am laying a tragedy-trap. In the
present form I could spin 16 books out of it with comfort and joy; but I
shall deny myself and restrict it to one. (If you should see a little
short story in a magazine in the autumn called "My Platonic Sweetheart"
written 3 weeks ago) that is not this one. It may have been a
I expect all these singular privacies to interest you, and you are not to
let on that they don't.
We are leaving, this afternoon, for Ischl, to use that as a base for the
baggage, and then gad around ten days among the lakes and mountains to
rest-up Mrs. Clemens, who is jaded with housekeeping. I hope I can get a
chance to work a little in spots--I can't tell. But you do it--therefore
why should you think I can't?
The dream story was never completed. It was the same that he had
worked on in London, and perhaps again in Switzerland. It would be
tried at other times and in other forms, but it never seemed to
accommodate itself to a central idea, so that the good writing in it
eventually went to waste. The short story mentioned, "My Platonic
Sweetheart," a charming, idyllic tale, was not published during Mark
Twain's lifetime. Two years after his death it appeared in Harper's
The assassination of the Empress of Austria at Geneva was the
startling event of that summer. In a letter to Twichell Clemens
presents the tragedy in a few vivid paragraphs. Later he treated it
at some length in a magazine article which, very likely because of
personal relations with members of the Austrian court, he withheld
from print. It has since been included in a volume of essays, What
Is Man, etc.
To Rev. J. H. Twichell, in Hartford:
KALTENLEUTGEBEN, Sep. 13, '98.
DEAR JOE,--You are mistaken; people don't send us the magazines. No--
Harper, Century and McClure do; an example I should like to recommend to
other publishers. And so I thank you very much for sending me Brander's
article. When you say "I like Brander Matthews; he impresses me as a man
of parts and power," I back you, right up to the hub--I feel the same
way--. And when you say he has earned your gratitude for cuffing me for
my crimes against the Leather stockings and the Vicar, I ain't making any
objection. Dern your gratitude!
His article is as sound as a nut. Brander knows literature, and loves
it; he can talk about it and keep his temper; he can state his case so
lucidly and so fairly and so forcibly that you have to agree with him,
even when you don't agree with him; and he can discover and praise such
merits as a book has, even when they are half a dozen diamonds scattered
through an acre of mud. And so he has a right to be a critic.
To detail just the opposite of the above invoice is to describe me. I
haven't any right to criticise books, and I don't do it except when I
hate them. I often want to criticise Jane Austen, but her books madden
me so that I can't conceal my frenzy from the reader; and therefore I
have to stop every time I begin.
That good and unoffending lady the Empress is killed by a mad-man, and I
am living in the midst of world-history again. The Queen's jubilee last
year, the invasion of the Reichsrath by the police, and now this murder,
which will still be talked of and described and painted a thousand years
from now. To have a personal friend of the wearer of the crown burst in
at the gate in the deep dusk of the evening and say in a voice broken
with tears, "My God the Empress is murdered," and fly toward her home
before we can utter a question-why, it brings the giant event home to
you, makes you a part of it and personally interested; it is as if your
neighbor Antony should come flying and say "Caesar is butchered--the head
of the world is fallen!"
Of course there is no talk but of this. The mourning is universal and
genuine, the consternation is stupefying. The Austrian Empire is being
draped with black. Vienna will be a spectacle to see, by next Saturday,
when the funeral cortege marches. We are invited to occupy a room in the
sumptuous new hotel (the "Krantz" where we are to live during the Fall
and Winter) and view it, and we shall go.
Speaking of Mrs. Leiter, there is a noble dame in Vienna, about whom they
retail similar slanders. She said in French--she is weak in French--that
she had been spending a Sunday afternoon in a gathering of the
"demimonde." Meaning the unknown land, that mercantile land, that
mysterious half-world which underlies the aristocracy. But these
Malaproperies are always inventions--they don't happen.
Yes, I wish we could have some talks; I'm full to the eye-lids. Had a
noble good one with Parker and Dunham--land, but we were grateful for
Yours with all our loves.
[Inclosed with the foregoing.]
Among the inadequate attempts to account for the assassination we must
concede high rank to the German Emperor's. He justly describes it as a
"deed unparalleled for ruthlessness," and then adds that it was "ordained
I think this verdict will not be popular "above." A man is either a free
agent or he isn't. If a man is a free agent, this prisoner is
responsible for what he has done; but if a man is not a free agent, if
the deed was ordained from above, there is no rational way of making this
prisoner even partially responsible for it, and the German court cannot
condemn him without manifestly committing a crime. Logic is logic; and
by disregarding its laws even Emperors as capable and acute as William II
can be beguiled into making charges which should not be ventured upon
except in the shelter of plenty of lightning-rods.
The end of the year 1898 found Mark Twain once more in easy, even
luxurious, circumstances. The hard work and good fortune which had
enabled him to pay his debts had, in the course of another year,
provided what was comparative affluence: His report to Howells is
characteristic and interesting.
To W. D. Howells, in New York:
HOTEL KRANTZ, WIEN, L. NEVER MARKT 6
Dec. 30, '98.
DEAR HOWELLS,--I begin with a date--including all the details--though I
shall be interrupted presently by a South-African acquaintance who is
passing through, and it may be many days before I catch another leisure
moment. Note how suddenly a thing can become habit, and how
indestructible the habit is, afterward! In your house in Cambridge a
hundred years ago, Mrs. Howells said to me, "Here is a bunch of your
letters, and the dates are of no value, because you don't put any in--
the years, anyway." That remark diseased me with a habit which has cost
me worlds of time and torture and ink, and millions of vain efforts and
buckets of tears to break it, and here it is yet--I could easier get rid
of a virtue.....
I hope it will interest you (for I have no one else who would much care
to know it) that here lately the dread of leaving the children in
difficult circumstances has died down and disappeared and I am now having
peace from that long, long nightmare, and can sleep as well as anyone.
Every little while, for these three years, now, Mrs. Clemens has come
with pencil and paper and figured up the condition of things (she keeps
the accounts and the bank-book) and has proven to me that the clouds were
lifting, and so has hoisted my spirits temporarily and kept me going till
another figuring-up was necessary. Last night she figured up for her own
satisfaction, not mine, and found that we own a house and furniture in
Hartford; that my English and American copyrights pay an income which
represents a value of $200,000; and that we have $107,000 cash in the
bank. I have been out and bought a box of 6-cent cigars; I was smoking
4 1/2 centers before.
At the house of an English friend, on Christmas Eve, we saw the Mouse-
Trap played and well played. I thought the house would kill itself with
laughter. By George they played with life! and it was most
devastatingly funny. And it was well they did, for they put us Clemenses
in the front seat, and if they played it poorly I would have assaulted
them. The head young man and girl were Americans, the other parts were
taken by English, Irish and Scotch girls. Then there was a nigger-
minstrel show, of the genuine old sort, and I enjoyed that, too, for the
nigger-show was always a passion of mine. This one was created and
managed by a Quaker doctor from Philada., (23 years old) and he was the
middle man. There were 9 others--5 Americans from 5 States and a
Scotchman, 2 Englishmen and an Irishman--all post-graduate-medical young
fellows, of course--or, it could be music; but it would be bound to be
one or the other.
It's quite true--I don't read you "as much as I ought," nor anywhere near
half as much as I want to; still I read you all I get a chance to.
I saved up your last story to read when the numbers should be complete,
but before that time arrived some other admirer of yours carried off the
papers. I will watch admirers of yours when the Silver Wedding journey
begins, and that will not happen again. The last chance at a bound book
of yours was in London nearly two years ago--the last volume of your
short things, by the Harpers. I read the whole book twice through and
some of the chapters several times, and the reason that that was as far
as I got with it was that I lent it to another admirer of yours and he is
admiring it yet. Your admirers have ways of their own; I don't know
where they get them.
Yes, our project is to go home next autumn if we find we can afford to
live in New York. We've asked a friend to inquire about flats and
expenses. But perhaps nothing will come of it. We do afford to live in
the finest hotel in Vienna, and have 4 bedrooms, a dining-room, a
drawing-room, 3 bath-rooms and 3 Vorzimmers, (and food) but we couldn't
get the half of it in New York for the same money ($600 a month).
Susy hovers about us this holiday week, and the shadows fall all about us
"The days when we went gipsying
A long time ago."
Death is so kind, so benignant, to whom he loves; but he goes by us
others and will not look our way. We saw the "Master of Palmyra" last
night. How Death, with the gentleness and majesty, made the human grand-
folk around him seem little and trivial and silly!
With love from all of us to all of you.
LETTERS, 1899, TO HOWELLS AND OTHERS. VIENNA. LONDON. A SUMMER IN
The beginning of 1899 found the Clemens family still in Vienna, occupying
handsome apartments at the Hotel Krantz. Their rooms, so often thronged
with gay and distinguished people, were sometimes called the "Second
Embassy." Clemens himself was the central figure of these assemblies.
Of all the foreign visitors in the Austrian capital he was the most
notable. Everywhere he was surrounded by a crowd of listeners--his
sayings and opinions were widely quoted.
A project for world disarmament promulgated by the Czar of Russia would
naturally interest Mark Twain, and when William T. Stead, of the Review
of Reviews, cabled him for an opinion on the matter, he sent at first a
brief word and on the same day followed it with more extended comment.
The great war which has since devastated the world gives to this incident
an added interest.
To Wm. T. Stead, in London:
VIENNA, Jan. 9.
DEAR MR. STEAD,-The Czar is ready to disarm: I am ready to disarm.
Collect the others, it should not be much of a task now.
To Wm. T. Stead, in London:
DEAR MR. STEAD,--Peace by compulsion. That seems a better idea than the
other. Peace by persuasion has a pleasant sound, but I think we should
not be able to work it. We should have to tame the human race first, and
history seems to show that that cannot be done. Can't we reduce the
armaments little by little--on a pro rata basis--by concert of the
powers? Can't we get four great powers to agree to reduce their strength
10 per cent a year and thrash the others into doing likewise? For, of
course, we cannot expect all of the powers to be in their right minds at
one time. It has been tried. We are not going to try to get all of them
to go into the scheme peaceably, are we? In that case I must withdraw my
influence; because, for business reasons, I must preserve the outward
signs of sanity. Four is enough if they can be securely harnessed
together. They can compel peace, and peace without compulsion would be
against nature and not operative. A sliding scale of reduction of 10 per
cent a year has a sort of plausible look, and I am willing to try that if
three other powers will join. I feel sure that the armaments are now
many times greater than necessary for the requirements of either peace or
war. Take wartime for instance. Suppose circumstances made it necessary
for us to fight another Waterloo, and that it would do what it did
before--settle a large question and bring peace. I will guess that
400,000 men were on hand at Waterloo (I have forgotten the figures).
In five hours they disabled 50,000 men. It took them that tedious, long
time because the firearms delivered only two or three shots a minute.
But we would do the work now as it was done at Omdurman, with shower
guns, raining 600 balls a minute. Four men to a gun--is that the number?
A hundred and fifty shots a minute per man. Thus a modern soldier is 149
Waterloo soldiers in one. Thus, also, we can now retain one man out of
each 150 in service, disband the others, and fight our Waterloos just as
effectively as we did eighty-five years ago. We should do the same
beneficent job with 2,800 men now that we did with 400,000 then. The
allies could take 1,400 of the men, and give Napoleon 1,400 and then whip
But instead what do we see? In war-time in Germany, Russia and France,
taken together we find about 8 million men equipped for the field. Each
man represents 149 Waterloo men, in usefulness and killing capacity.
Altogether they constitute about 350 million Waterloo men, and there are
not quite that many grown males of the human race now on this planet.
Thus we have this insane fact--that whereas those three countries could
arm 18,000 men with modern weapons and make them the equals of 3 million
men of Napoleon's day, and accomplish with them all necessary war work,
they waste their money and their prosperity creating forces of their
populations in piling together 349,982,000 extra Waterloo equivalents
which they would have no sort of use for if they would only stop drinking
and sit down and cipher a little.
Perpetual peace we cannot have on any terms, I suppose; but I hope we can
gradually reduce the war strength of Europe till we get it down to where
it ought to be--20,000 men, properly armed. Then we can have all the
peace that is worth while, and when we want a war anybody can afford it.
VIENNA, January 9.
P. S.--In the article I sent the figures are wrong--"350 million" ought
to be 450 million; "349,982,000" ought to be 449,982,000, and the remark
about the sum being a little more than the present number of males on the
planet--that is wrong, of course; it represents really one and a half the
Now and then one of Mark Twain's old comrades still reached out to
him across the years. He always welcomed such letters--they came as
from a lost land of romance, recalled always with tenderness. He
sent light, chaffing replies, but they were never without an
undercurrent of affection.
To Major "Jack" Downing, in Middleport, Ohio:
HOTEL KRANTZ, WEIN, I, NEUER MART 6,
Feb. 26, 1899.
DEAR MAJOR,--No: it was to Bixby that I was apprenticed. He was to teach
me the river for a certain specified sum. I have forgotten what it was,
but I paid it. I steered a trip for Bart Bowen, of Keokuk, on the A. T.
Lacy, and I was partner with Will Bowen on the A. B. Chambers (one trip),
and with Sam Bowen a whole summer on a small Memphis packet.
The newspaper report you sent me is incorrect. Bixby is not 67: he is
97. I am 63 myself, and I couldn't talk plain and had just begun to walk
when I apprenticed myself to Bixby who was then passing himself off for
57 and successfully too, for he always looked 60 or 70 years younger than
he really was. At that time he was piloting the Mississippi on a Potomac
commission granted him by George Washington who was a personal friend of
his before the Revolution. He has piloted every important river in
America, on that commission, he has also used it as a passport in Russia.
I have never revealed these facts before. I notice, too, that you are
deceiving the people concerning your age. The printed portrait which you
have enclosed is not a portrait of you, but a portrait of me when I was
19. I remember very well when it was common for people to mistake Bixby
for your grandson. Is it spreading, I wonder--this disposition of pilots
to renew their youth by doubtful methods? Beck Jolly and Joe Bryan--they
probably go to Sunday school now--but it will not deceive.
Yes, it is as you say. All of the procession but a fraction has passed.
It is time for us all to fall in.
S. L. CLEMENS.
To W. D. Howells, in New York:
HOTEL KRANTZ, WIEN I. NEUER MARKT 6
April 2, '99.
DEAR HOWELLS,--I am waiting for the April Harper, which is about due now;
waiting, and strongly interested. You are old enough to be a weary man,
with paling interests, but you do not show it. You do your work in the
same old delicate and delicious and forceful and searching and perfect
way. I don't know how you can--but I suspect. I suspect that to you
there is still dignity in human life, and that Man is not a joke--a poor
joke--the poorest that was ever contrived. Since I wrote my Bible, (last
year)--["What Is Man."]--which Mrs. Clemens loathes, and shudders over,
and will not listen to the last half nor allow me to print any part of
it, Man is not to me the respect-worthy person he was before; and so I
have lost my pride in him, and can't write gaily nor praisefully about
him any more. And I don't intend to try. I mean to go on writing, for
that is my best amusement, but I shan't print much. (for I don't wish to
be scalped, any more than another.)
April 5. The Harper has come. I have been in Leipzig with your party,
and then went on to Karlsbad and saw Mrs. Marsh's encounter with the
swine with the toothpick and the other manners--["Their Silver Wedding
Journey."]--At this point Jean carried the magazine away.
Is it imagination, or--Anyway I seem to get furtive and fleeting glimpses
which I take to be the weariness and condolence of age; indifference to
sights and things once brisk with interest; tasteless stale stuff which
used to be champagne; the boredom of travel: the secret sigh behind the
public smile, the private What-in-hell-did-I-come-for!
But maybe that is your art. Maybe that is what you intend the reader to
detect and think he has made a Columbus-discovery. Then it is well done,
perfectly done. I wrote my last travel book--[Following the Equator.]--
in hell; but I let on, the best I could, that it was an excursion through
heaven. Some day I will read it, and if its lying cheerfulness fools me,
then I shall believe it fooled the reader. How I did loathe that journey
around the world!--except the sea-part and India.
Evening. My tail hangs low. I thought I was a financier--and I bragged
to you. I am not bragging, now. The stock which I sold at such a fine
profit early in January, has never ceased to advance, and is now worth
$60,000 more than I sold it for. I feel just as if I had been spending
$20,000 a month, and I feel reproached for this showy and unbecoming
Last week I was going down with the family to Budapest to lecture, and to
make a speech at a banquet. Just as I was leaving here I got a telegram
from London asking for the speech for a New York paper. I (this is
strictly private) sent it. And then I didn't make that speech, but
another of a quite different character--a speech born of something
which the introducer said. If that said speech got cabled and printed,
you needn't let on that it was never uttered.
That was a darling night, and those Hungarians were lively people. We
were there a week and had a great time. At the banquet I heard their
chief orator make a most graceful and easy and beautiful and delicious
speech--I never heard one that enchanted me more--although I did not
understand a word of it, since it was in Hungarian. But the art of it!-
it was superlative.
They are wonderful English scholars, these people; my lecture audience--
all Hungarians--understood me perfectly--to judge by the effects. The
English clergyman told me that in his congregation are 150 young English
women who earn their living teaching their language; and that there are.
others besides these.
For 60 cents a week the telephone reads the morning news to you at home;
gives you the stocks and markets at noon; gives you lessons in 3 foreign
languages during 3 hours; gives you the afternoon telegrams; and at night
the concerts and operas. Of course even the clerks and seamstresses and
bootblacks and everybody else are subscribers.
(Correction. Mrs. Clemens says it is 60 cents a month.)
I am renewing my youth. I made 4 speeches at one banquet here last
Saturday night. And I've been to a lot of football matches.
Jean has been in here examining the poll for the Immortals ("Literature,"
March 24,) in the hope, I think, that at last she should find me at the
top and you in second place; and if that is her ambition she has suffered
disappointment for the third time--and will never fare any better, I
hope, for you are where you belong, by every right. She wanted to know
who it is that does the voting, but I was not able to tell her. Nor when
the election will be completed and decided.
Next Morning. I have been reading the morning paper. I do it every
morning--well knowing that I shall find in it the usual depravities and
basenesses and hypocrisies and cruelties that make up civilization, and
cause me to put in the rest of the day pleading for the damnation of the
human race. I cannot seem to get my prayers answered, yet I do not
(Escaped from) 5 o'clock tea. ('sh!) Oh, the American girl in Europe!
Often she is creditable, but sometimes she is just shocking. This one,
a minute ago--19, fat-face, raspy voice, pert ways, the self-complacency
of God; and with it all a silly laugh (embarrassed) which kept breaking
out through her chatter all along, whereas there was no call for it, for
she said nothing that was funny. "Spose so many 've told y' how they
'njoyed y'r chapt'r on the Germ' tongue it's bringin' coals to Newcastle
Kehe! say anything 'bout it Ke-hehe! Spent m' vacation 'n Russia, 'n
saw Tolstoi; he said--" It made me shudder.
April 12. Jean has been in here with a copy of Literature, complaining
that I am again behind you in the election of the 10 consecrated members;
and seems troubled about it and not quite able to understand it. But I
have explained to her that you are right there on the ground, inside the
pool-booth, keeping game--and that that makes a large difference in these
13th. I have been to the Knustausstellung with Mrs. Clemens. The office
of art seems to be to grovel in the dirt before Emperors and this and
that and the other damned breed of priests.
Howells and Clemens were corresponding regularly again, though not
with the frequency of former years. Perhaps neither of them was
bubbling over with things to say; perhaps it was becoming yearly
less attractive to pick up a pen and write, and then, of course,
there was always the discouragement of distance. Once Howells
wrote: "I know this will find you in Austria before I can well turn
round, but I must make believe you are in Kennebunkport before I can
begin it." And in another letter: "It ought to be as pleasant to
sit down and write to you as to sit down and talk to you, but it
isn't..... The only reason why I write is that I want another
letter from you, and because I have a whole afternoon for the job.
I have the whole of every afternoon, for I cannot work later than
lunch. I am fagged by that time, and Sunday is the only day that
brings unbearable leisure. I hope you will be in New York another
winter; then I shall know what to do with these foretastes of
Clemens usually wrote at considerable length, for he had a good deal
to report of his life in the Austrian capital, now drawing to a
To W. D. Howells, in New York:
May 12, 1899.
DEAR HOWELLS,--7.15 p. m. Tea (for Mr. and Mrs. Tower, who are leaving
for Russia) just over; nice people and rather creditable to the human
race: Mr. and Mrs. Tower; the new Minister and his wife; the Secretary of
Legation; the Naval (and Military) Attach; several English ladies; an
Irish lady; a Scotch lady; a particularly nice young Austrian baron who
wasn't invited but came and went supposing it was the usual thing and
wondered at the unusually large gathering; two other Austrians and
several Americans who were also in his fix; the old Baronin Langeman,
the only Austrian invited; the rest were Americans. It made just a
comfortable crowd in our parlor, with an overflow into Clara's through
the folding doors. I don't enjoy teas, and am daily spared them by Mrs.
Clemens, but this was a pleasant one. I had only one accident. The old
Baronin Langeman is a person I have a strong fondness for, for we
violently disagree on some subjects and as violently agree on others--
for instance, she is temperance and I am not: she has religious beliefs
and feelings and I have none; (she's a Methodist!) she is a democrat and
so am I; she is woman's rights and so am I; she is laborers' rights and
approves trades unions and strikes, and that is me. And so on. After
she was gone an English lady whom I greatly like, began to talk sharply
against her for contributing money, time, labor, and public expression of
favor to a strike that is on (for an 11-hour day) in the silk factories
of Bohemia--and she caught me unprepared and betrayed me into over-warm
argument. I am sorry: for she didn't know anything about the subject,
and I did; and one should be gentle with the ignorant, for they are the
chosen of God.
(The new Minister is a good man, but out of place. The Sec. of Legation
is a good man, but out of place. The Attache is a good man, but out of
place. Our government for displacement beats the new White Star ship;
and her possible is 17,200 tons.)
May 13, 4 p. m. A beautiful English girl and her handsome English
husband came up and spent the evening, and she certainly is a bird.
English parents--she was born and reared in Roumania and couldn't talk
English till she was 8 or 10. She came up clothed like the sunset, and
was a delight to look at. (Roumanian costume.).....
Twenty-four young people have gone out to the Semmering to-day (and to-
morrow) and Mrs. Clemens and an English lady and old Leschetitzky and his
wife have gone to chaperon them. They gave me a chance to go, but there
are no snow mountains that I want to look at. Three hours out, three
hours back, and sit up all night watching the young people dance; yelling
conversationally and being yelled at, conversationally, by new
acquaintances, through the deafening music, about how I like Vienna, and
if it's my first visit, and how long we expect to stay, and did I see the
foot-washing, and am I writing a book about Vienna, and so on. The terms
seemed too severe. Snow mountains are too dear at the price ....
For several years I have been intending to stop writing for print as soon
as I could afford it. At last I can afford it, and have put the pot-
boiler pen away. What I have been wanting is a chance to write a book
without reserves--a book which should take account of no one's feelings,
and no one's prejudices, opinions, beliefs, hopes, illusions, delusions;
a book which should say my say, right out of my heart, in the plainest
language and without a limitation of any sort. I judged that that would
be an unimaginable luxury, heaven on earth.
It is under way, now, and it is a luxury! an intellectual drunk: Twice I
didn't start it right; and got pretty far in, both times, before I found
it out. But I am sure it is started right this time. It is in tale-
form. I believe I can make it tell what I think of Man, and how he is
constructed, and what a shabby poor ridiculous thing he is, and how
mistaken he is in his estimate of his character and powers and qualities
and his place among the animals.
So far, I think I am succeeding. I let the madam into the secret day
before yesterday, and locked the doors and read to her the opening
chapters. She said--
"It is perfectly horrible--and perfectly beautiful!"
"Within the due limits of modesty, that is what I think."
I hope it will take me a year or two to write it, and that it will turn
out to be the right vessel to contain all the abuse I am planning to dump
The story mentioned in the foregoing, in which Mark Twain was to
give his opinion of man, was The Mysterious Stranger. It was not
finished at the time, and its closing chapter was not found until
after his death. Six years later (1916) it was published serially
in Harper's Magazine, and in book form.
The end of May found the Clemens party in London, where they were
received and entertained with all the hospitality they had known in
earlier years. Clemens was too busy for letter-writing, but in the
midst of things he took time to report to Howells an amusing
incident of one of their entertainments.
To W. D. Howells, in America:
LONDON, July 3, '99
DEAR HOWELLS,--..... I've a lot of things to write you, but it's no use--
I can't get time for anything these days. I must break off and write a
postscript to Canon Wilberforce before I go to bed. This afternoon he
left a luncheon-party half an hour ahead of the rest, and carried off my
hat (which has Mark Twain in a big hand written in it.) When the rest of
us came out there was but one hat that would go on my head--it fitted
exactly, too. So wore it away. It had no name in it, but the Canon was
the only man who was absent. I wrote him a note at 8 p.m.; saying that
for four hours I had not been able to take anything that did not belong
to me, nor stretch a fact beyond the frontiers of truth, and my family
were getting alarmed. Could he explain my trouble? And now at 8.30 p.m.
comes a note from him to say that all the afternoon he has been
exhibiting a wonder-compelling mental vivacity and grace of expression,
etc., etc., and have I missed a hat? Our letters have crossed.
News came of the death of Robert Ingersoll. Clemens had been always
one of his most ardent admirers, and a warm personal friend. To
Ingersoll's niece he sent a word of heartfelt sympathy.
To Miss Eva Farrell, in New York:
30 WELLINGTON COURT, ALBERT GATE.
DEAR MISS FARRELL,--Except my daughter's, I have not grieved for any
death as I have grieved for his. His was a great and beautiful spirit,
he was a man--all man from his crown to his foot soles. My reverence for
him was deep and genuine; I prized his affection for me and returned it
S. L. CLEMENS.
Clemens and family decided to spend the summer in Sweden, at Sauna,
in order to avail themselves of osteopathic treatment as practised
by Heinrick Kellgren. Kellgren's method, known as the "Swedish
movements," seemed to Mark Twain a wonderful cure for all ailments,