Part 2 out of 2
notice me. Then we understood, and our hearts broke. How poor we are
But how thankful I am that her persecutions are ended. I would not call
her back if I could.
Today, treasured in her worn old Testament, I found a dear and gentle
letter from you, dated Far Rockaway, Sept. 13, 1896, about our poor
Susy's death. I am tired and old; I wish I were with Livy.
I send my love-and hers-to you all.
S. L. C.
In a letter to Twichell he wrote: "How sweet she was in death; how
young, how beautiful, how like her dear, girlish self cf thirty
years ago; not a gray hair showing."
The family was now without plans for the future until they
remembered the summer home of R. W. Gilder, at Tyringham,
Massachusetts, and the possibility of finding lodgment for
themselves in that secluded corner of New England. Clemens wrote
without delay, as follows:
To R. W. Gilder, in New York:
VILLA DI QUARTO, FLORENCE,
June 7, '04.
DEAR GILDER FAMILY,--I have been worrying and worrying to know what to
do: at last I went to the girls with an idea: to ask the Gilders to get
us shelter near their summer home. It was the first time they have not
shaken their heads. So to-morrow I will cable to you and shall hope to
be in time.
An, hour ago the best heart that ever beat for me and mine went silent
out of this house, and I am as one who wanders and has lost his way. She
who is gone was our head, she was our hands. We are now trying to make
plans--we: we who have never made a plan before, nor ever needed to. If
she could speak to us she would make it all simple and easy with a word,
and our perplexities would vanish away. If she had known she was near to
death she would have told us where to go and what to do: but she was not
suspecting, neither were we. (She had been chatting cheerfully a moment
before, and in an instant she was gone from us and we did not know it.
We were not alarmed, we did not know anything had happened. It was a
blessed death--she passed away without knowing it.) She was all our
riches and she is gone: she was our breath, she was our life and now we
We send you our love--and with it the love of you that was in her heart
when she died.
S. L. CLEMENS.
Howells wrote his words of sympathy, adding: "The character which
now remains a memory was one of the most perfect ever formed on the
earth," and again, after having received Clemens's letter: "I cannot
speak of your wife's having kept that letter of mine where she did.
You know how it must humiliate a man in his unworthiness to have
anything of his so consecrated. She hallowed what she touched, far
To W. D. Howells, in New York:
VILLA DI QUARTO, '04.
June 12, 6 p. m.
DEAR HOWELLS,--We have to sit and hold our hands and wait--in the silence
and solitude of this prodigious house; wait until June 25, then we go to
Naples and sail in the Prince Oscar the 26th. There is a ship 12 days
earlier (but we came in that one.) I see Clara twice a day--morning and
evening--greeting--nothing more is allowed. She keeps her bed, and says
nothing. She has not cried yet. I wish she could cry. It would break
Livy's heart to see Clara. We excuse ourselves from all the friends that
call--though of course only intimates come. Intimates--but they are not
the old old friends, the friends of the old, old times when we laughed.
Shall we ever laugh again? If I could only see a dog that I knew in the
old times! and could put my arms around his neck and tell him all,
everything, and ease my heart.
Think-in 3 hours it will be a week!--and soon a month; and by and by a
year. How fast our dead fly from us.
She loved you so, and was always as pleased as a child with any notice
you took of her.
Soon your wife will be with you, oh fortunate man! And John, whom mine
was so fond of. The sight of him was such a delight to her. Lord, the
old friends, how dear they are.
S. L. C.
To Rev. J. R. Twichell, in Hartford:
VILLA DI QUARTO, FLORENCE,
June 18, '04.
DEAR JOE,--It is 13 days. I am bewildered and must remain so for a time
longer. It was so sudden, so unexpected. Imagine a man worth a hundred
millions who finds himself suddenly penniless and fifty million in debt
in his old age.
I was richer than any other person in the world, and now I am that pauper
without peer. Some day I will tell you about it, not now.
A tide of condolence flowed in from all parts of the world. It was
impossible to answer all. Only a few who had been their closest
friends received a written line, but the little printed
acknowledgment which was returned was no mere formality. It was a
heartfelt, personal word.
They arrived in America in July, and were accompanied by Twichell to
Elmira, and on the 14th Mrs. Clemens was laid to rest by the side of
Susy and little Langdon. R. W. Gilder had arranged for them to
occupy, for the summer, a cottage on his place at Tyringham, in the
Berkshire Hills. By November they were at the Grosvenor, in New
York, preparing to establish themselves in a house which they had
taken on the corner of Ninth Street and Fifth Avenue--Number 21.
To F. N. Doubleday, in New York:
DEAR DOUBLEDAY,--I did not know you were going to England: I would have
freighted you with such messages of homage and affection to Kipling.
And I would have pressed his hand, through you, for his sympathy with
me in my crushing loss, as expressed by him in his letter to Gilder.
You know my feeling for Kipling and that it antedates that expression.
I was glad that the boys came here to invite me to the house-warming and
I think they understood why a man in the shadow of a calamity like mine
could not go.
It has taken three months to repair and renovate our house--corner of 9th
and 5th Avenue, but I shall be in it in io or 15 days hence. Much of the
furniture went into it today (from Hartford). We have not seen it for 13
years. Katy Leary, our old housekeeper, who has been in our service more
than 24 years, cried when she told me about it to-day. She said "I had
forgotten it was so beautiful, and it brought Mrs. Clemens right back to
me--in that old time when she was so young and lovely."
Jean and my secretary and the servants whom we brought from Italy because
Mrs. Clemens liked them so well, are still keeping house in the Berkshire
hills--and waiting. Clara (nervously wrecked by her mother's death) is
in the hands of a specialist in 69th St., and I shall not be allowed to
have any communication with her--even telephone--for a year. I am in
this comfortable little hotel, and still in bed--for I dasn't budge till
I'm safe from my pet devil, bronchitis.
Isn't it pathetic? One hour and ten minutes before Mrs. Clemens died I
was saying to her "To-day, after five months search, I've found the villa
that will content you: to-morrow you will examine the plans and give it
your consent and I will buy it." Her eyes danced with pleasure, for she
longed for a home of her own. And there, on that morrow, she lay white
and cold. And unresponsive to my reverent caresses--a new thing to me
and a new thing to her; that had not happened before in five and thirty
I am coming to see you and Mrs. Doubleday by and bye. She loved and
honored Mrs. Doubleday and her work.
It was a presidential year and the air was thick with politics.
Mark Twain was no longer actively interested in the political
situation; he was only disheartened by the hollowness and pretense
of office-seeking, and the methods of office-seekers in general.
Grieved that Twichell should still pin his faith to any party when
all parties were so obviously venal and time-serving, he wrote in
outspoken and rather somber protest.
To Rev. J. H. Twichell, in Hartford:
THE GROSVENOR, Nov. 4, '04.
Oh, dear! get out of that sewer--party politics--dear Joe. At least
with your mouth. We hail only two men who could make speeches for their
parties and preserve their honor and their dignity. One of them is dead.
Possibly there were four. I am sorry for John Hay; sorry and ashamed.
And yet I know he couldn't help it. He wears the collar, and he had to
pay the penalty. Certainly he had no more desire to stand up before a
mob of confiding human incapables and debauch them than you had.
Certainly he took no more real pleasure in distorting history, concealing
facts, propagating immoralities, and appealing to the sordid side of
human nature than did you; but he was his party's property, and he had to
climb away down and do it.
It is interesting, wonderfully interesting--the miracles which party-
politics can do with a man's mental and moral make-up. Look at McKinley,
Roosevelt, and yourself: in private life spotless in character;
honorable, honest, just, humane, generous; scorning trickeries,
treacheries, suppressions of the truth, mistranslations of the meanings
of facts, the filching of credit earned by another, the condoning of
crime, the glorifying of base acts: in public political life the reverse
of all this.
McKinley was a silverite--you concealed it. Roosevelt was a silverite--
you concealed it. Parker was a silverite--you publish it. Along with a
shudder and a warning: "He was unsafe then. Is he any safer now?"
Joe, even I could be guilty of such a thing as that--if I were in party-
politics; I really believe it.
Mr. Cleveland gave the country the gold standard; by implication you
credit the matter to the Republican party.
By implication you prove the whole annual pension-scoop, concealing the
fact that the bulk of the money goes to people who in no way deserve it.
You imply that all the batteners upon this bribery-fund are Republicans.
An indiscreet confession, since about half of them must have been
Democrats before they were bought.
You as good as praise Order 78. It is true you do not shout, and you do
not linger, you only whisper and skip--still, what little you do in the
matter is complimentary to the crime.
It means, if it means anything, that our outlying properties will all be
given up by the Democrats, and our flag hauled down. All of them? Not
only the properties stolen by Mr. McKinley and Mr. Roosevelt, but the
properties honestly acquired? Joe, did you believe that hardy statement
when you made it? Yet you made it, and there it stands in permanent
print. Now what moral law would suffer if we should give up the stolen
"You know our standard-bearer. He will maintain all that we have
gained"--by whatever process. Land, I believe you!
By George, Joe, you are as handy at the game as if you had been in
training for it all your life. Your campaign Address is built from the
ground up upon the oldest and best models. There isn't a paragraph in it
whose facts or morals will wash--not even a sentence, I believe.
But you will soon be out of this. You didn't want to do it--that is
sufficiently apparent, thanks be!--but you couldn't well get out of it.
In a few days you will be out of it, and then you can fumigate yourself
and take up your legitimate work again and resume your clean and
wholesome private character once more and be happy--and useful.
I know I ought to hand you some guff, now, as propitiation and apology
for these reproaches, but on the whole I believe I won't.
I have inquired, and find that Mitsikuri does not arrive here until to-
morrow night. I shall watch out, and telephone again, for I greatly want
to see him.
P. S.--Nov, 4. I wish I could learn to remember that it is unjust and
dishonorable to put blame upon the human race for any of its acts. For
it did not make itself, it did not make its nature, it is merely a
machine, it is moved wholly by outside influences, it has no hand in
creating the outside influences nor in choosing which of them it will
welcome or reject, its performance is wholly automatic, it has no more
mastership nor authority over its mind than it has over its stomach,
which receives material from the outside and does as it pleases with it,
indifferent to it's proprietor's suggestions, even, let alone his
commands; wherefore, whatever the machine does--so called crimes and
infamies included--is the personal act of its Maker, and He, solely, is
responsible. I wish I could learn to pity the human race instead of
censuring it and laughing at it; and I could, if the outside influences
of old habit were not so strong upon my machine. It vexes me to catch
myself praising the clean private citizen Roosevelt, and blaming the
soiled President Roosevelt, when I know that neither praise nor blame is
due to him for any thought or word or deed of his, he being merely a
helpless and irresponsible coffee-mill ground by the hand of God.
Through a misunderstanding, Clemens, something more than a year
earlier, had severed his connection with the Players' Club, of which
he had been one of the charter members. Now, upon his return to New
York, a number of his friends joined in an invitation to him to
return. It was not exactly a letter they sent, but a bit of an old
"To Mark Twain
Will ye no come back again,
Will ye no come back again?
Better lo'ed ye canna be.
Will ye no come back again?"
Those who signed it were David Monroe, of the North American Review;
Robert Reid, the painter, and about thirty others of the Round Table
Group, so called because its members were accustomed to lunching at
a large round table in a bay window of the Player dining-room. Mark
Twain's reply was prompt and heartfelt. He wrote:
To Robt. Reid and the Others:
WELL-BELOVED,--Surely those lovely verses went to Prince Charley's heart,
if he had one, and certainly they have gone to mine. I shall be glad and
proud to come back again after such a moving and beautiful compliment as
this from comrades whom I have loved so long. I hope you can poll the
necessary vote; I know you will try, at any rate. It will be many months
before I can foregather with you, for this black border is not
perfunctory, not a convention; it symbolizes the loss of one whose memory
is the only thing I worship.
It is not necessary for me to thank you--and words could not deliver what
I feel, anyway. I will put the contents of your envelope in the small
casket where I keep the things which have become sacred to me.
S. L. C.
A year later, Mark Twain did "come back again," as an honorary life
member, and was given a dinner of welcome by those who had signed the
lines urging his return.
LETTERS OF 1905. TO TWICHELL, MR. DUNEKA AND OTHERS.
POLITICS AND HUMANITY. A SUMMER AT DUBLIN. MARK TWAIN AT 70
In 1884 Mark Twain had abandoned the Republican Party to vote for
Cleveland. He believed the party had become corrupt, and to his
last day it was hard for him to see anything good in Republican
policies or performance. He was a personal friend of Thedore
Roosevelt's but, as we have seen in a former letter, Roosevelt the
politician rarely found favor in his eyes. With or without
justification, most of the President's political acts invited his
caustic sarcasm and unsparing condemnation. Another letter to
Twichell of this time affords a fair example.
To Rev. J. H. Twichell, in Hartford:
Feb. 16, '05.
DEAR JOE,--I knew I had in me somewhere a definite feeling about the
President if I could only find the words to define it with. Here they
are, to a hair--from Leonard Jerome: "For twenty years I have loved
Roosevelt the man and hated Roosevelt the statesman and politician."
It's mighty good. Every time, in 25 years, that I have met Roosevelt the
man, a wave of welcome has streaked through me with the hand-grip;
but whenever (as a rule) I meet Roosevelt the statesman and politician,
I find him destitute of morals and not respectworthy. It is plain that
where his political self and his party self are concerned he has nothing
resembling a conscience; that under those inspirations he is naively
indifferent to the restraints of duty and even unaware of them; ready to
kick the Constitution into the back yard whenever it gets in the way; and
whenever he smells a vote, not only willing but eager to buy it, give
extravagant rates for it and pay the bill not out of his own pocket or
the party's, but out of the nation's, by cold pillage. As per Order 78
and the appropriation of the Indian trust funds.
But Roosevelt is excusable--I recognize it and (ought to) concede it.
We are all insane, each in his own way, and with insanity goes
irresponsibility. Theodore the man is sane; in fairness we ought to keep
in mind that Theodore, as statesman arid politician, is insane and
Do not throw these enlightenments aside, but study them, let them raise
you to higher planes and make you better. You taught me in my callow
days, let me pay back the debt now in my old age out of a thesaurus with
wisdom smelted from the golden ores of experience.
Ever yours for sweetness and light
The next letter to Twichell takes up politics and humanity in
general, in a manner complimentary to neither. Mark Twain was never
really a pessimist, but he had pessimistic intervals, such as come
to most of us in life's later years, and at such times he let
himself go without stint concerning "the damned human race," as he
called it, usually with a manifest sense of indignation that he
should be a member of it. In much of his later writing--
A Mysterious Stranger for example--he said his say with but small
restraint, and certainly in his purely intellectual moments he was
likely to be a pessimist of the most extreme type, capably damning
the race and the inventor of it. Yet, at heart, no man loved his
kind more genuinely, or with deeper compassion, than Mark Twain,
perhaps for its very weaknesses. It was only that he had intervals
--frequent intervals, and rather long ones--when he did not admire
it, and was still more doubtful as to the ways of providence.
To Rev. J. H. Twichell, in Hartford:
March 14, '05.
DEAR JOE,--I have a Puddn'head maxim:
"When a man is a pessimist before 48 he knows too much; if he is an
optimist after it, he knows too little."
It is with contentment, therefore, that I reflect that I am better and
wiser than you. Joe, you seem to be dealing in "bulks," now; the "bulk"
of the farmers and U. S. Senators are "honest." As regards purchase and
sale with money? Who doubts it? Is that the only measure of honesty?
Aren't there a dozen kinds of honesty which can't be measured by the
money-standard? Treason is treason--and there's more than one form of
it; the money-form is but one of them. When a person is disloyal to any
confessed duty, he is plainly and simply dishonest, and knows it; knows
it, and is privately troubled about it and not proud of himself. Judged
by this standard--and who will challenge the validity of it?--there isn't
an honest man in Connecticut, nor in the Senate, nor anywhere else. I do
not even except myself, this time.
Am I finding fault with you and the rest of the populace? No--I assure
you I am not. For I know the human race's limitations, and this makes it
my duty--my pleasant duty--to be fair to it. Each person in it is honest
in one or several ways, but no member of it is honest in all the ways
required by--by what? By his own standard. Outside of that, as I look
at it, there is no obligation upon him.
Am I honest? I give you my word of honor (private) I am not. For seven
years I have suppressed a book which my conscience tells me I ought to
publish. I hold it a duty to publish it. There are other difficult
duties which I am equal to, but I am not equal to that one. Yes, even I
am dishonest. Not in many ways, but in some. Forty-one, I think it is.
We are certainly all honest in one or several ways--every man in the
world--though I have reason to think I am the only one whose black-list
runs so light. Sometimes I feel lonely enough in this lofty solitude.
Yes, oh, yes, I am not overlooking the "steady progress from age to age
of the coming of the kingdom of God and righteousness." "From age to
age"--yes, it describes that giddy gait. I (and the rocks) will not live
to see it arrive, but that is all right--it will arrive, it surely will.
But you ought not to be always ironically apologizing for the Deity. If
that thing is going to arrive, it is inferable that He wants it to
arrive; and so it is not quite kind of you, and it hurts me, to see you
flinging sarcasms at the gait of it. And yet it would not be fair in me
not to admit that the sarcasms are deserved. When the Deity wants a
thing, and after working at it for "ages and ages" can't show even a
shade of progress toward its accomplishment, we--well, we don't laugh,
but it is only because we dasn't. The source of "righteousness"--is in
the heart? Yes. And engineered and directed by the brain? Yes. Well,
history and tradition testify that the heart is just about what it was in
the beginning; it has undergone no shade of change. Its good and evil
impulses and their consequences are the same today that they were in Old
Bible times, in Egyptian times, in Greek times, in Middle Age times, in
Twentieth Century times. There has been no change.
Meantime, the brain has undergone no change. It is what it always was.
There are a few good brains and a multitude of poor ones. It was so in
Old Bible times and in all other times--Greek, Roman, Middle Ages and
Twentieth Century. Among the savages--all the savages--the average brain
is as competent as the average brain here or elsewhere. I will prove it
to you, some time, if you like. And there are great brains among them,
too. I will prove that also, if you like.
Well, the 19th century made progress--the first progress after "ages and
ages"--colossal progress. In what? Materialities. Prodigious
acquisitions were made in things which add to the comfort of many and
make life harder for as many more. But the addition to righteousness?
Is that discoverable? I think not. The materialities were not invented
in the interest of righteousness; that there is more righteousness in the
world because of them than there, was before, is hardly demonstrable, I
think. In Europe and America, there is a vast change (due to them) in
ideals--do you admire it? All Europe and all America, are feverishly
scrambling for money. Money is the supreme ideal--all others take tenth
place with the great bulk of the nations named. Money-lust has always
existed, but not in the history of the world was it ever a craze, a
madness, until your time and mine. This lust has rotted these nations;
it has made them hard, sordid, ungentle, dishonest, oppressive.
Did England rise against the infamy of the Boer war? No--rose in favor
of it. Did America rise against the infamy of the Phillipine war? No--
rose in favor of it. Did Russia rise against the infamy of the present
war? No--sat still and said nothing. Has the Kingdom of God advanced in
Russia since the beginning of time?
Or in Europe and America, considering the vast backward step of the
money-lust? Or anywhere else? If there has been any progress toward
righteousness since the early days of Creation--which, in my ineradicable
honesty, I am obliged to doubt--I think we must confine it to ten per
cent of the populations of Christendom, (but leaving, Russia, Spain and
South America entirely out.) This gives us 320,000,000 to draw the ten
per cent from. That is to say, 32,000,000 have advanced toward
righteousness and the Kingdom of God since the "ages and ages" have been
flying along, the Deity sitting up there admiring. Well, you see it
leaves 1,200,000,000 out of the race. They stand just where they have
always stood; there has been no change.
N. B. No charge for these informations. Do come down soon, Joe.
St. Clair McKelway, of The Brooklyn Eagle, narrowly escaped injuries
in a railway accident, and received the following. Clemens and
McKelway were old friends.
To St. Clair McKelway, in Brooklyn:
21 FIFTH AVE. Sunday Morning.
April 30, 1905.
DEAR McKELWAY, Your innumerable friends are grateful, most grateful.
As I understand the telegrams, the engineer of your train had never seen
a locomotive before. Very well, then, I am once more glad that there is
an Ever-watchful Providence to foresee possible results and send Ogdens
and McIntyres along to save our friends.
The Government's Official report, showing that our railways killed twelve
hundred persons last year and injured sixty thousand convinces me that
under present conditions one Providence is not enough to properly and
efficiently take care of our railroad business. But it is
characteristically American--always trying to get along short-handed and
I am helping your family congratulate themselves, and am your friend as
S. L. CLEMENS.
Clemens did not spend any more summers at Quarry Farm. All its
associations were beautiful and tender, but they could only sadden
him. The life there had been as of another world, sunlit, idyllic,
now forever vanished. For the summer of 1905 he leased the Copley
Green house at Dublin, New Hampshire, where there was a Boston
colony of writing and artistic folk, including many of his long-time
friends. Among them was Colonel Thomas Wentworth Higginson, who
wrote a hearty letter of welcome when he heard the news. Clemens
replied in kind.
To Col. Thomas Wentworth Higginson, in Boston:
21 FIFTH AVE. Sunday, March 26, z9o.5.
DEAR COL. HIGGINSON,--I early learned that you would be my neighbor in
the Summer and I rejoiced, recognizing in you and your family a large
asset. I hope for frequent intercourse between the two households. I
shall have my youngest daughter with me. The other one will go from the
rest-cure in this city to the rest-cure in Norfolk Conn and we shall not
see her before autumn. We have not seen her since the middle of October.
Jean (the youngest daughter) went to Dublin and saw the house and came
back charmed with it. I know the Thayers of old--manifestly there is no
lack of attractions up there. Mrs. Thayer and I were shipmates in a wild
excursion perilously near 40 years ago.
You say you "send with this" the story. Then it should be here but it
isn't, when I send a thing with another thing, the other thing goes but
the thing doesn't, I find it later--still on the premises. Will you look
it up now and send it?
Aldrich was here half an hour ago, like a breeze from over the fields,
with the fragrance still upon his spirit. I am tired of waiting for that
man to get old.
S. L. C.
Mark Twain was in his seventieth year, old neither in mind nor body,
but willing to take life more quietly, to refrain from travel and
gay events. A sort of pioneers' reunion was to be held on the
Pacific Coast, and a letter from Robert Fulton, of Reno, Nevada,
invited Clemens to attend. He did not go, but he sent a letter that
we may believe was the next best thing to those who heard it read.
To Robert Fulton, in Reno, Nevada:
IN THE MOUNTAINS,
May 24, 1905.
DEAR MR. FULTON,--I remember, as if it were yesterday, that when I
disembarked from the overland stage in front of the Ormsby in Carson City
in August, 1861, I was not expecting to be asked to come again. I was
tired, discouraged, white with alkali dust, and did not know anybody; and
if you had said then, "Cheer up, desolate stranger, don't be down-
hearted--pass on, and come again in 1905," you cannot think how grateful
I would have been and how gladly I would have closed the contract.
Although I was not expecting to be invited, I was watching out for it,
and was hurt and disappointed when you started to ask me and changed it
to, "How soon are you going away?"
But you have made it all right, now, the wound is closed. And so I thank
you sincerely for the invitation; and with you, all Reno, and if I were a
few years younger I would accept it, and promptly. I would go. I would
let somebody else do the oration, but, as for me, I would talk--
just talk. I would renew my youth; and talk--and talk--and talk
--and have the time of my life! I would march the unforgotten and
unforgettable antiques by, and name their names, and give them reverent
Hailand-farewell as they passed: Goodman, McCarthy, Gillis, Curry,
Baldwin, Winters, Howard, Nye, Stewart; Neely Johnson, Hal Clayton,
North, Root,--and my brother, upon whom be peace!--and then the
desperadoes, who made life a joy and the "Slaughter-house" a precious
possession: Sam Brown, Farmer Pete, Bill Mayfield, Six-fingered Jake,
Jack Williams and the rest of the crimson discipleship--and so on and so
on. Believe me, I would start a resurrection it would do you more good
to look at than the next one will, if you go on the way you are doing
Those were the days! those old ones. They will come no more. Youth will
come no more. They were so full to the brim with the wine of life; there
have been no others like them. It chokes me up to think of them. Would
you like me to come out there and cry? It would not beseem my white
Good-bye. I drink to you all. Have a good time--and take an old man's
A few days later he was writing to H. H. Bancroft, of San Francisco,
who had invited him for a visit in event of his coming to the Coast.
Henry James had just been there for a week and it was hoped that
Howells would soon follow.
To H. H. Bancroft, in San Francisco:
UP IN NEW HAMPSHIRE,
May 27, 1905.
DEAR MR. BANCROFT,--I thank you sincerely for the tempting hospitalities
which you offer me, but I have to deny myself, for my wandering days are
over, and it is my desire and purpose to sit by the fire the rest of my
remnant of life and indulge myself with the pleasure and repose of work
--work uninterrupted and unmarred by duties or excursions.
A man who like me, is going to strike 70 on the 30th of next November has
no business to be flitting around the way Howells does--that shameless
old fictitious butter fly. (But if he comes, don't tell him I said it,
for it would hurt him and I wouldn't brush a flake of powder from his
wing for anything. I only say it in envy of his indestructible youth,
anyway. Howells will be 88 in October.) With thanks again,
S. L. C.
Clemens found that the air of the New Hampshire hills agreed with
him and stimulated him to work. He began an entirely new version of
The Mysterious Stranger, of which he already had a bulky and nearly
finished manuscript, written in Vienna. He wrote several hundred
pages of an extravaganza entitled, Three Thousand Years Among the
Microbes, and then, having got his superabundant vitality reduced
(it was likely to expend itself in these weird mental exploits),
he settled down one day and wrote that really tender and beautiful
idyl, Eve's Diary, which he had begun, or at least planned, the
previous summer at Tyringham. In a letter to Mr. Frederick A.
Duneka, general manager of Harper & Brothers, he tells something of
the manner of the story; also his revised opinion of Adam's Diary,
written in '93, and originally published as a souvenir of Niagara
To Frederick A. Duneka, in New York:
DUBLIN, July 16, '05.
DEAR MR. DUNEKA,--I wrote Eve's Diary, she using Adam's Diary as her
(unwitting and unconscious) text, of course, since to use any other text
would have been an imbecility--then I took Adam's Diary and read it. It
turned my stomach. It was not literature; yet it had been literature
once--before I sold it to be degraded to an advertisement of the Buffalo
Fair. I was going to write and ask you to melt the plates and put it out
But this morning I examined it without temper, and saw that if I
abolished the advertisement it would be literature again.
So I have done it. I have struck out 700 words and inserted 5 MS pages
of new matter (650 words), and now Adam's Diary is dam good--sixty times
as good as it ever was before.
I believe it is as good as Eve's Diary now--no, it's not quite that good,
I guess, but it is good enough to go in the same cover with Eve's. I'm
sure of that.
I hate to have the old Adam go out any more--don't put it on the presses
again, let's put the new one in place of it; and next Xmas, let us bind
Adam and Eve in one cover. They score points against each other--so, if
not bound together, some of the points would not be perceived.....
P. S. Please send another Adam's Diary, so that I can make 2 revised
copies. Eve's Diary is Eve's love-Story, but we will not name it that.
The peace-making at Portsmouth between Japan and Russia was not
satisfactory to Mark Twain, who had fondly hoped there would be no
peace until, as he said, "Russian liberty was safe. One more battle
would have abolished the waiting chains of millions upon millions of
unborn Russians and I wish it could have been fought." He set down
an expression of his feelings for the Associated Press, and it
invited many letters. Charles Francis Adams wrote, "It attracted my
attention because it so exactly expresses the views I have myself
all along entertained."
Clemens was invited by Colonel George Harvey to dine with the
Russian emissaries, Baron Rosen and Sergius Witte. He declined, but
his telegram so pleased Witte that he asked permission to publish
it, and announced that he would show it to the Czar.
Telegram. To Col. George Harvey, in New York:
TO COLONEL HARVEY,--I am still a cripple, otherwise I should be more than
glad of this opportunity to meet the illustrious magicians who came here
equipped with nothing but a pen, and with it have divided the honors of
the war with the sword. It is fair to presume that in thirty centuries
history will not get done admiring these men who attempted what the world
regarded as impossible and achieved it.
Witte would not have cared to show the Czar the telegram in its
original form, which follows.
Telegram (unsent). To Col. George Harvey, in New York:
TO COLONEL HARVEY,--I am still a cripple, otherwise I should be more than
glad of this opportunity to meet those illustrious magicians who with the
pen have annulled, obliterated, and abolished every high achievement of
the Japanese sword and turned the tragedy of a tremendous war into a gay
and blithesome comedy. If I may, let me in all respect and honor salute
them as my fellow-humorists, I taking third place, as becomes one who was
not born to modesty, but by diligence and hard work is acquiring it.
Nor still another unsent form, perhaps more characteristic than
either of the foregoing.
Telegram (unsent). To Col. George Harvey, in New York:
DEAR COLONEL,--No, this is a love-feast; when you call a lodge of sorrow
send for me.
To Mrs. Crane, Quarry Farm:
DUBLIN, Sept. 24, '05.
Susy dear, I have had a lovely dream. Livy, dressed in black, was
sitting up in my bed (here) at my right and looking as young and sweet as
she used to do when she was in health. She said: "what is the name of
your sweet sister?" I said, "Pamela." "Oh, yes, that is it, I thought
it was--" (naming a name which has escaped me) "Won't you write it down for
me?" I reached eagerly for a pen and pad--laid my hands upon both--then
said to myself, "It is only a dream," and turned back sorrowfully and
there she was, still. The conviction flamed through me that our lamented
disaster was a dream, and this a reality. I said, "How blessed it is,
how blessed it is, it was all a dream, only a dream!" She only smiled
and did not ask what dream I meant, which surprised me. She leaned her
head against mine and I kept saying, "I was perfectly sure it was a
dream, I never would have believed it wasn't."
I think she said several things, but if so they are gone from my memory.
I woke and did not know I had been dreaming. She was gone. I wondered
how she could go without my knowing it, but I did not spend any thought
upon that, I was too busy thinking of how vivid and real was the dream
that we had lost her and how unspeakably blessed it was to find that it
was not true and that she was still ours and with us.
S. L. C.
One day that summer Mark Twain received a letter from the actress,
Minnie Maddern Fiske, asking him to write something that would aid
her in her crusade against bull-fighting. The idea appealed to him;
he replied at once.
To Mrs. Fiske:
DEAR MRS. FISKE,--I shall certainly write the story. But I may not get
it to suit me, in which case it will go in the fire. Later I will try
again--and yet again--and again. I am used to this. It has taken me
twelve years to write a short story--the shortest one I ever wrote, I
think.--[Probably "The Death Disk."]--So do not be discouraged; I will
stick to this one in the same way. Sincerely yours,
S. L. CLEMENS.
He did not delay in his beginning, and a few weeks later was sending
word to his publisher about it.
To Frederick A. Duneka, in New York:
Oct. 2, '05.
DEAR MR. DUNEKA,--I have just finished a short story which I "greatly
admire," and so will you--"A Horse's Tale"--about 15,000 words, at a
rough guess. It has good fun in it, and several characters, and is
lively. I shall finish revising it in a few days or more, then Jean will
Don't you think you can get it into the Jan. and Feb. numbers and issue
it as a dollar booklet just after the middle of Jan. when you issue the
It ought to be ably illustrated.
Why not sell simultaneous rights, for this once, to the Ladies' Home
Journal or Collier's, or both, and recoup yourself?--for I would like to
get it to classes that can't afford Harper's. Although it doesn't
preach, there's a sermon concealed in it.
Five days later he added some rather interesting facts concerning
the new story.
To F. A. Duneka, in New York:
Oct. 7, 1906. ['05]
DEAR MR. DUNEKA,--..... I've made a poor guess as to number of words.
I think there must be 20,000. My usual page of MS. contains about 130
words; but when I am deeply interested in my work and dead to everything
else, my hand-writing shrinks and shrinks until there's a great deal more
than 130 on a page--oh, yes, a deal more. Well, I discover, this
morning, that this tale is written in that small hand.
This strong interest is natural, for the heroine is my daughter, Susy,
whom we lost. It was not intentional--it was a good while before I found
So I am sending you her picture to use--and to reproduce with
photographic exactness the unsurpassable expression and all. May you
find an artist who has lost an idol!
Take as good care of the picture as you can and restore it to me when I
I hope you will illustrate this tale considerably. Not humorous
pictures. No. When they are good (or bad) one's humor gets no chance to
play surprises on the reader. A humorous subject illustrated seriously
is all right, but a humorous artist is no fit person for such work. You
see, the humorous writer pretends to absolute seriousness (when he knows
his trade) then for an artist--to step in and give his calculated gravity
all away with a funny picture--oh, my land! It gives me the dry gripes
just to think of it. It would be just about up to the average comic
artist's intellectual level to make a funny picture of the horse kicking
the lungs out of a trader. Hang it, the remark is funny--because the
horse is not aware of it but the fact is not humorous, it is tragic and
it is no subject for a humorous picture.
Could I be allowed to sit in judgment upon the pictures before they are
accepted--at least those in which Cathy may figure?
This is not essential. It is but a suggestion, and it is hereby
withdrawn, if it would be troublesome or cause delay.
I hope you will reproduce the cat-pile, full page. And save the photo
for me in as good condition as possible. When Susy and Clara were little
tots those cats had their profoundest worship, and there is no duplicate
of this picture. These cats all had thundering names, or inappropriate
ones--furnished by the children with my help. One was named Buffalo
Are you interested in coincidences?
After discovering, about the middle of the book, that Cathy was Susy
Clemens, I put her picture with my MS., to be reproduced. After the book
was finished it was discovered that Susy had a dim model of Soldier Boy
in her arms; I had forgotten all about that toy.
Then I examined the cat-picture and laid it with the MS. for
introduction; but it was not until yesterday that I remembered that one
of the cats was named Buffalo Bill.
The reference in this letter to shrinkage of his hand-writing with
the increasing intensity of his interest, and the consequent
addition of the number of words to the page, recalls another fact,
noted by Mr. Duneka, viz.: that because of his terse Anglo-Saxon
diction, Mark Twain could put more words on a magazine page than any
other writer. It is hardly necessary to add that he got more force
into what he put on the page for the same reason.
There was always a run of reporters at Mark Twain's New York home.
His opinion was sought for on every matter of public interest, and
whatever happened to him in particular was considered good for at
least half a column of copy, with his name as a catch-line at the
top. When it was learned that he was to spend the summer in New
Hampshire, the reporters had all wanted to find out about it. Now
that the summer was ending, they began to want to know how he had
liked it, what work he had done and what were his plans for another
year. As they frequently applied to his publishers for these
details it was finally suggested to him that he write a letter
furnishing the required information. His reply, handed to Mr.
Duneka, who was visiting him at the moment, is full of interest.
Mem. for Mr. Duneka:
DUBLIN, Oct. 9, 1905.
.....As to the other matters, here are the details.
Yes, I have tried a number of summer homes, here and in Europe together.
Each of these homes had charms of its own; charms and delights of its
own, and some of them--even in Europe had comforts. Several of them had
conveniences, too. They all had a "view."
It is my conviction that there should always be some water in a view--
a lake or a river, but not the ocean, if you are down on its level. I
think that when you are down on its level it seldom inflames you with an
ecstasy which you could not get out of a sand-flat. It is like being on
board ship, over again; indeed it is worse than that, for there's three
months of it. On board ship one tires of the aspects in a couple of
days, and quits looking. The same vast circle of heaving humps is spread
around you all the time, with you in the centre of it and never gaining
an inch on the horizon, so far as you can see; for variety, a flight of
flying-fish, mornings; a flock of porpoises throwing summersaults
afternoons; a remote whale spouting, Sundays; occasional phosphorescent
effects, nights; every other day a streak of black smoke trailing along
under the horizon; on the one single red letter day, the illustrious
iceberg. I have seen that iceberg thirty-four times in thirty-seven
voyages; it is always the same shape, it is always the same size, it
always throws up the same old flash when the sun strikes it; you may set
it on any New York door-step of a June morning and light it up with a
mirror-flash; and I will engage to recognize it. It is artificial, and
it is provided and anchored out by the steamer companies. I used to like
the sea, but I was young then, and could easily get excited over any kind
of monotony, and keep it up till the monotonies ran out, if it was a
Last January, when we were beginning to inquire about a home for this
summer, I remembered that Abbott Thayer had said, three years before,
that the New Hampshire highlands was a good place. He was right--it was
a good place. Any place that is good for an artist in paint is good for
an artist in morals and ink. Brush is here, too; so is Col. T. W.
Higginson; so is Raphael Pumpelly; so is Mr. Secretary Hitchcock; so is
Henderson; so is Learned; so is Summer; so is Franklin MacVeigh; so is
Joseph L. Smith; so is Henry Copley Greene, when I am not occupying his
house, which I am doing this season. Paint, literature, science,
statesmanship, history, professorship, law, morals,--these are all
represented here, yet crime is substantially unknown.
The summer homes of these refugees are sprinkled, a mile apart, among the
forest-clad hills, with access to each other by firm smooth country roads
which are so embowered in dense foliage that it is always twilight in
there, and comfortable. The forests are spider-webbed with these good
roads, they go everywhere; but for the help of the guide-boards, the
stranger would not arrive anywhere.
The village--Dublin--is bunched together in its own place, but a good
telephone service makes its markets handy to all those outliars. I have
spelt it that way to be witty. The village executes orders on, the
Boston plan--promptness and courtesy.
The summer homes are high-perched, as a rule, and have contenting
outlooks. The house we occupy has one. Monadnock, a soaring double
hump, rises into the sky at its left elbow--that is to say, it is close
at hand. From the base of the long slant of the mountain the valley
spreads away to the circling frame of the hills, and beyond the frame the
billowy sweep of remote great ranges rises to view and flows, fold upon
fold, wave upon wave, soft and blue and unwordly, to the horizon fifty
miles away. In these October days Monadnock and the valley and its
framing hills make an inspiring picture to look at, for they are
sumptuously splashed and mottled and be-torched from sky-line to sky-line
with the richest dyes the autumn can furnish; and when they lie flaming
in the full drench of the mid-afternoon sun, the sight affects the
spectator physically, it stirs his blood like military music.
These summer homes are commodious, well built, and well furnished--facts
which sufficiently indicate that the owners built them to live in
themselves. They have furnaces and wood fireplaces, and the rest of the
comforts and conveniences of a city home, and can be comfortably occupied
all the year round.
We cannot have this house next season, but I have secured Mrs. Upton's
house which is over in the law and science quarter, two or three miles
from here, and about the same distance from the art, literary, and
scholastic groups. The science and law quarter has needed improving,
this good while.
The nearest railway-station is distant something like an hour's drive; it
is three hours from there to Boston, over a branch line. You can go to
New York in six hours per branch lines if you change cars every time you
think of it, but it is better to go to Boston and stop over and take the
trunk line next day, then you do not get lost.
It is claimed that the atmosphere of the New Hampshire highlands is
exceptionally bracing and stimulating, and a fine aid to hard and
continuous work. It is a just claim, I think. I came in May, and
wrought 35 successive days without a break. It is possible that I could
not have done it elsewhere. I do not know; I have not had any
disposition to try it, before. I think I got the disposition out of the
atmosphere, this time. I feel quite sure, in fact, that that is where it
I am ashamed to confess what an intolerable pile of manuscript I ground
out in the 35 days, therefore I will keep the number of words to myself.
I wrote the first half of a long tale--"The Adventures of a Microbe" and
put it away for a finish next summer, and started another long tale--"The
Mysterious Stranger;" I wrote the first half of it and put it with the
other for a finish next summer. I stopped, then. I was not tired, but I
had no books on hand that needed finishing this year except one that was
seven years old. After a little I took that one up and finished it. Not
for publication, but to have it ready for revision next summer.
Since I stopped work I have had a two months' holiday. The summer has
been my working time for 35 years; to have a holiday in it (in America)
is new for me. I have not broken it, except to write "Eve's Diary" and
"A Horse's Tale"--short things occupying the mill 12 days.
This year our summer is 6 months long and ends with November and the
flight home to New York, but next year we hope and expect to stretch it
another month and end it the first of December.
The fact that he was a persistent smoker was widely known, and many
friends and admirers of Mark Twain sent him cigars, most of which he
could not use, because they were too good. He did not care for
Havana cigars, but smoked the fragrant, inexpensive domestic tobacco
with plenty of "pep" in it, as we say today. Now and then he had an
opportunity to head off some liberal friend, who wrote asking
permission to contribute to his cigar collection, as instance the
To Rev. L. M. Powers, in Haverhill, Mass.:
Nov. 9, 1905.
DEAR MR. POWERS,--I should accept your hospitable offer at once but for
the fact I couldn't do it and remain honest. That is to say if I allowed
you to send me what you believe to be good cigars it would distinctly
mean that I meant to smoke them, whereas I should do nothing of the kind.
I know a good cigar better than you do, for I have had 60 years
No, that is not what I mean; I mean I know a bad cigar better than
anybody else; I judge by the price only; if it costs above 5 cents I know
it to be either foreign or half-foreign, and unsmokeable. By me. I have
many boxes of Havana cigars, of all prices from 20 cts apiece up to 1.66
apiece; I bought none of them, they were all presents, they are an
accumulation of several years. I have never smoked one of them and never
shall, I work them off on the visitor. You shall have a chance when you
Pessimists are born not made; optimists are born not made; but no man is
born either pessimist wholly or optimist wholly, perhaps; he is
pessimistic along certain lines and optimistic along certain others.
That is my case.
S. L. CLEMENS.
In spite of all the fine photographs that were made of him, there
recurred constantly among those sent him to be autographed a print
of one which, years before, Sarony had made and placed on public
sale. It was a good photograph, mechanically and even artistically,
but it did not please Mark Twain. Whenever he saw it he recalled
Sarony with bitterness and severity. Once he received an inquiry
concerning it, and thus feelingly expressed himself.
To Mr. Row (no address):
21 FIFTH AVENUE, NEW YORK,
November 14, 1905.
DEAR MR. ROW,--That alleged portrait has a private history. Sarony was
as much of an enthusiast about wild animals as he was about photography;
and when Du Chaillu brought the first Gorilla to this country in 1819 he
came to me in a fever of excitement and asked me if my father was of
record and authentic. I said he was; then Sarony, without any abatement
of his excitement asked if my grandfather also was of record and
authentic. I said he was. Then Sarony, with still rising excitement and
with joy added to it, said he had found my great grandfather in the
person of the gorilla, and had recognized him at once by his resemblance
to me. I was deeply hurt but did not reveal this, because I knew Saxony
meant no offense for the gorilla had not done him any harm, and he was
not a man who would say an unkind thing about a gorilla wantonly. I went
with him to inspect the ancestor, and examined him from several points of
view, without being able to detect anything more than a passing
resemblance. "Wait," said Sarony with confidence, "let me show you."
He borrowed my overcoat--and put it on the gorilla. The result was
surprising. I saw that the gorilla while not looking distinctly like me
was exactly what my great grand father would have looked like if I had
had one. Sarong photographed the creature in that overcoat, and spread
the picture about the world. It has remained spread about the world ever
since. It turns up every week in some newspaper somewhere or other. It
is not my favorite, but to my exasperation it is everybody else's.
Do you think you could get it suppressed for me? I will pay the limit.
S. L. CLEMENS.
The year 1905 closed triumphantly for Mark Twain. The great
"Seventieth Birthday" dinner planned by Colonel George Harvey is
remembered to-day as the most notable festival occasion in New York
literary history. Other dinners and ovations followed. At seventy
he had returned to the world, more beloved, more honored than ever
LETTERS, 1906, TO VARIOUS PERSONS. THE FAREWELL LECTURE. A SECOND
SUMMER IN DUBLIN. BILLIARDS AND COPYRIGHT
MARK TWAIN at "Pier Seventy," as he called it, paused to look
backward and to record some memoirs of his long, eventful past. The
Autobiography dictations begun in Florence were resumed, and daily
he traveled back, recalling long-ago scenes and all-but-forgotten
places. He was not without reminders. Now and again there came
some message that brought back the old days--the Tom Sawyer and Huck
Finn days--or the romance of the river that he never recalled other
than with tenderness and a tone of regret that it was gone. An
invitation to the golden wedding of two ancient friends moved and
saddened him, and his answer to it conveys about all the story of
To Mr. and Mrs. Gordon:
21 FIFTH AVENUE,
Jan. 24, '06.
DEAR GORDONS,--I have just received your golden-wedding "At Home" and am
trying to adjust my focus to it and realize how much it means. It is
inconceivable! With a simple sweep it carries me back over a stretch of
time measurable only in astronomical terms and geological periods.
It brings before me Mrs. Gordon, young, round-limbed, handsome; and with
her the Youngbloods and their two babies, and Laura Wright, that
unspoiled little maid, that fresh flower of the woods and the prairies.
Forty-eight years ago!
Life was a fairy-tale, then, it is a tragedy now. When I was 43 and John
Hay 41 he said life was a tragedy after 40, and I disputed it. Three
years ago he asked me to testify again: I counted my graves, and there
was nothing for me to say.
I am old; I recognize it but I don't realize it. I wonder if a person
ever really ceases to feel young--I mean, for a whole day at a time. My
love to you both, and to all of us that are left.
Though he used very little liquor of any kind, it was Mark Twain's
custom to keep a bottle of Scotch whiskey with his collection of
pipes and cigars and tobacco on a little table by his bed-side.
During restless nights he found a small quantity of it conducive to
sleep. Andrew Carnegie, learning of this custom, made it his
business to supply Scotch of his own special importation. The first
case came, direct from Scotland. When it arrived Clemens sent this
To Andrew Carnegie, in Scotland:
21 FIFTH AVE. Feb. 10, '06.
DEAR ST. ANDREW,--The whisky arrived in due course from over the water;
last week one bottle of it was extracted from the wood and inserted into
me, on the instalment plan, with this result: that I believe it to be the
best, smoothest whisky now on the planet. Thanks, oh, thanks: I have
Hoping that you three are well and happy and will be coming back before
the winter sets in.
It must have been a small bottle to be consumed by him in a week, or
perhaps he had able assistance. The next brief line refers to the
manuscript of his article, "Saint Joan of Arc," presented to the
museum at Rouen.
To Edward E. Clarke:
21 FIFTH AVE., Feb., 1906.
DEAR SIR,--I have found the original manuscript and with great pleasure I
transmit it herewith, also a printed copy.
It is a matter of great pride to me to have any word of mine concerning
the world's supremest heroine honored by a place in that Museum.
S. L. CLEMENS.
The series of letters which follows was prepared by Mark Twain and
General Fred Grant, mainly with a view of advertising the lecture
that Clemens had agreed to deliver for the benefit of the Robert
Fulton Monument Association. It was, in fact, to be Mark Twain's
"farewell lecture," and the association had really proposed to pay
him a thousand dollars for it. The exchange of these letters,
however, was never made outside of Mark Twain's bed-room. Propped
against the pillows, pen in hand, with General Grant beside him,
they arranged the series with the idea of publication. Later the
plan was discarded, so that this pleasant foolery appears here for
the first, time.
PRIVATE AND CONFIDENTIAL
Army Headquarters (date)
MARK TWAIN, New York,--Would you consider a proposal to talk at Carnegie
Hall for the benefit of the Robert Fulton Monument Association, of which
you are a Vice President, for a fee of a thousand dollars?
F. D. GRANT,
Fulton Monument Association.
MAJOR-GENERAL F. D. GRANT, Army Headquarters,--I shall be glad to do it,
but I must stipulate that you keep the thousand dollars and add it to the
Monument fund as my contribution.
DEAR MR. CLEMENS,--You have the thanks of the Association, and the terms
shall be as you say. But why give all of it? Why not reserve a portion
--why should you do this work wholly without compensation?
FRED. D. GRANT.
MAJOR GENERAL GRANT, Army Headquarters.
DEAR GENERAL,--Because I stopped talking for pay a good many years ago,
and I could not resume the habit now without a great deal of personal
discomfort. I love to hear myself talk, because I get so much
instruction and moral upheaval out of it, but I lose the bulk of this joy
when I charge for it. Let the terms stand.
General, if I have your approval, I wish to use this good occasion to
retire permanently from the platform.
S. L. CLEMENS.
DEAR MR. CLEMENS,--Certainly. But as an old friend, permit me to say,
Don't do that. Why should you?--you are not old yet.
FRED D. GRANT.
DEAR GENERAL,--I mean the pay-platform; I shan't retire from the gratis-
platform until after I am dead and courtesy requires me to keep still and
not disturb the others.
What shall I talk about? My idea is this: to instruct the audience about
Robert Fulton, and..... Tell me-was that his real name, or was it his
nom de plume? However, never mind, it is not important--I can skip it,
and the house will think I knew all about it, but forgot. Could you find
out for me if he was one of the Signers of the Declaration, and which
one? But if it is any trouble, let it alone, I can skip it. Was he out
with Paul Jones? Will you ask Horace Porter? And ask him if he brought
both of them home. These will be very interesting facts, if they can be
established. But never mind, don't trouble Porter, I can establish them
anyway. The way I look at it, they are historical gems--gems of the very
Well, that is my idea, as I have said: first, excite the audience with a
spoonful of information about Fulton, then quiet down with a barrel of
illustration drawn by memory from my books--and if you don't say anything
the house will think they never heard of it before, because people don't
really read your books, they only say they do, to keep you from feeling
bad. Next, excite the house with another spoonful of Fultonian fact,
then tranquilize them again with another barrel of illustration. And so
on and so on, all through the evening; and if you are discreet and don't
tell them the illustrations don't illustrate anything, they won't notice
it and I will send them home as well-informed about Robert Fulton as I am
myself. Don't be afraid; I know all about audiences, they believe
everything you say, except when you are telling the truth.
S. L. CLEMENS.
P.S. Mark all the advertisements "Private and Confidential," otherwise
the people will not read them.
DEAR MR. CLEMENS,--How long shall you talk? I ask in order that we may
be able to say when carriages may be called.
Very Truly yours,
HUGH GORDON MILLER,
DEAR MR. MILLER,--I cannot say for sure. It is my custom to keep on
talking till I get the audience cowed. Sometimes it takes an hour and
fifteen minutes, sometimes I can do it in an hour.
S. L. CLEMENS.
Mem. My charge is 2 boxes free. Not the choicest--sell the choicest,
and give me any 6-seat boxes you please.
S. L. C.
I want Fred Grant (in uniform) on the stage; also the rest of the
officials of the Association; also other distinguished people--all the
attractions we can get. Also, a seat for Mr. Albert Bigelow Paine, who
may be useful to me if he is near me and on the front.
S. L. C.
The seat chosen for the writer of these notes was to be at the front
of the stage in order that the lecturer might lean over now and then
and pretend to be asking information concerning Fulton. I was not
entirely happy in the thought of this showy honor, and breathed more
freely when this plan was abandoned and the part assigned to General
The lecture was given in Carnegie Hall, which had been gayly
decorated for the occasion. The house was more than filled, and a
great sum of money was realized for the fund.
It was that spring that Gorky and Tchaikowski, the Russian
revolutionists, came to America hoping to arouse interest in their
cause. The idea of the overthrow of the Russian dynasty was
pleasant to Mark Twain. Few things would have given him greater
comfort than to have known that a little more than ten years would
see the downfall of Russian imperialism. The letter which follows
was a reply to an invitation from Tchaikowski, urging him to speak
at one of the meetings.
DEAR MR. TCHAIKOWSKI,--I thank you for the honor of the invitation, but
I am not able to accept it, because on Thursday evening I shall be
presiding at a meeting whose object is to find remunerative work for
certain classes of our blind who would gladly support themselves if they
had the opportunity.
My sympathies are with the Russian revolution, of course. It goes
without saying. I hope it will succeed, and now that I have talked with
you I take heart to believe it will. Government by falsified promises;
by lies, by treacheries, and by the butcher-knife for the aggrandizement
of a single family of drones and its idle and vicious kin has been borne
quite long enough in Russia, I should think, and it is to be hoped that
the roused nation, now rising in its strength, will presently put an end
to it and set up the republic in its place. Some of us, even of the
white headed, may live to see the blessed day when Czars and Grand Dukes
will be as scarce there as I trust they are in heaven.
Most sincerely yours,
There came another summer at Dublin, New Hampshire, this time in the
fine Upton residence on the other slope of Monadnock, a place of
equally beautiful surroundings, and an even more extended view.
Clemens was at this time working steadily on his so-called
Autobiography, which was not that, in fact, but a series of
remarkable chapters, reminiscent, reflective, commentative, written
without any particular sequence as to time or subject-matter. He
dictated these chapters to a stenographer, usually in the open air,
sitting in a comfortable rocker or pacing up and down the long
veranda that faced a vast expanse of wooded slope and lake and
distant blue mountains. It became one of the happiest occupations
of his later years.
To W. D. Howells, in Maine:
DUBLIN, Sunday, June 17, '06.
DEAR HOWELLS,--..... The dictating goes lazily and pleasantly on. With
intervals. I find that I have been at it, off and on, nearly two hours a
day for 155 days, since Jan. 9. To be exact I've dictated 75 hours in 80
days and loafed 75 days. I've added 60,000 words in the month that I've
been here; which indicates that I've dictated during 20 days of that
time--40 hours, at an average of 1,500 words an hour. It's a plenty, and
I am satisfied.
There's a good deal of "fat" I've dictated, (from Jan. 9) 210,000 words,
and the "fat" adds about 50,000 more.
The "fat" is old pigeon-holed things, of the years gone by, which I or
editors didn't das't to print. For instance, I am dumping in the little
old book which I read to you in Hartford about 30 years ago and which you
said "publish--and ask Dean Stanley to furnish an introduction; he'll do
it." ("Captain Stormfield's Visit to Heaven.") It reads quite to suit
me, without altering a word, now that it isn't to see print until I am
To-morrow I mean to dictate a chapter which will get my heirs and assigns
burnt alive if they venture to print it this side of 2006 A.D.--which I
judge they won't. There'll be lots of such chapters if I live 3 or 4
years longer. The edition of A.D. 2006 will make a stir when it comes
out. I shall be hovering around taking notice, along with other dead
pals. You are invited.
His tendency to estimate the measure of the work he was doing, and
had completed, must have clung to him from his old printer days.
The chapter which was to get his heirs and assigns burned alive was
on the orthodox God, and there was more than one such chapter. In
the next letter he refers to two exquisite poems by Howells, and the
writer of these notes recalls his wonderful reading of them aloud.
'In Our Town' was a collection of short stories then recently issued
by William Allen White. Howells had recommended them.
To W. D. Howells, in Maine:
21 FIFTH AVE., Tuesday Eve.
DEAR HOWELLS,--It is lovely of you to say those beautiful things--I don't
know how to thank you enough. But I love you, that I know.
I read "After the Wedding" aloud and we felt all the pain of it and the
truth. It was very moving and very beautiful--would have been over-
comingly moving, at times, but for the haltings and pauses compelled by
the difficulties of MS--these were a protection, in that they furnished
me time to brace up my voice, and get a new start. Jean wanted to keep
the MS for another reading-aloud, and for "keeps," too, I suspected, but
I said it would be safest to write you about it.
I like "In Our Town," particularly that Colonel, of the Lookout Mountain
Oration, and very particularly pages 212-16. I wrote and told White so.
After "After the Wedding" I read "The Mother" aloud and sounded its human
deeps with your deep-sea lead. I had not read it before, since it was
I have been dictating some fearful things, for 4 successive mornings--for
no eye but yours to see until I have been dead a century--if then. But
I got them out of my system, where they had been festering for years--and
that was the main thing. I feel better, now.
I came down today on business--from house to house in 12 1/2 hours, and
expected to arrive dead, but am neither tired nor sleepy.
Yours as always
To William Allen White, in Emporia, Kans.:
DUBLIN, NEW HAMPSHIRE,
June 24, 1906.
DEAR MR. WHITE,--Howells told me that "In Our Town" was a charming book,
and indeed it is. All of it is delightful when read one's self, parts of
it can score finely when subjected to the most exacting of tests--the
reading aloud. Pages 197 and 216 are of that grade. I have tried them a
couple of times on the family, and pages 212 and 216 are qualified to
fetch any house of any country, caste or color, endowed with those riches
which are denied to no nation on the planet--humor and feeling.
Talk again--the country is listening.
S. L. CLEMENS.
Witter Bynner, the poet, was one of the editors of McClure's
Magazine at this time, but was trying to muster the courage to give
up routine work for verse-making and the possibility of poverty.
Clemens was fond of Bynner and believed in his work. He did not
advise him, however, to break away entirely from a salaried
position--at least not immediately; but one day Bynner did so, and
reported the step he had taken, with some doubt as to the answer he
To Witter Bynner, in New York:
DUBLIN, Oct. 5, 1906.
DEAR POET,--You have certainly done right for several good reasons; at
least, of them, I can name two:
1. With your reputation you can have your freedom and yet earn your
living. 2. if you fall short of succeeding to your wish, your
reputation will provide you another job. And so in high approval I
suppress the scolding and give you the saintly and fatherly pat instead.
On another occasion, when Bynner had written a poem to Clara
Clemens, her father pretended great indignation that the first poem
written by Bynner to any one in his household should not be to him,
and threatened revenge. At dinner shortly after he produced from
his pocket a slip of paper on which he had set down what he said was
"his only poem." He read the lines that follow:
"Of all sad words of tongue or pen,
The saddest are these: It might have been.
Ah, say not so! as life grows longer, leaner, thinner,
We recognize, O God, it might have Bynner!"
He returned to New York in October and soon after was presented by
Mrs. H. H. Rogers with a handsome billiard-table.
He had a passion for the game, but had played comparatively little
since the old Hartford days of fifteen years before, when a group of
his friends used to assemble on Friday nights in the room at the top
of the house for long, strenuous games and much hilarity. Now the
old fever all came back; the fascinations of the game superseded
even his interest in the daily dictations.
To Mrs. H. H. Rogers, in New York:
21 FIFTH AVENUE, Monday, Nov., 1906.
DEAR MRS. ROGERS,--The billiard table is better than the doctors. It is
driving out the heartburn in a most promising way. I have a billiardist
on the premises, and I walk not less than ten miles every day with the
cue in my hand. And the walking is not the whole of the exercise, nor
the most health-giving part of it, I think. Through the multitude of the
positions and attitudes it brings into play every muscle in the body and
exercises them all.
The games begin right after luncheon, daily, and continue until midnight,
with 2 hours' intermission for dinner and music. And so it is 9 hours'
exercise per day, and 10 or 12 on Sunday. Yesterday and last night it
was 12--and I slept until 8 this morning without waking. The billiard
table, as a Sabbath breaker can beat any coal-breaker in Pennsylvania,
and give it 30 in, the game. If Mr. Rogers will take to daily billiards
he can do without doctors and the massageur, I think.
We are really going to build a house on my farm, an hour and a half from
New York. It is decided. It is to be built by contract, and is to come
With love and many thanks.
S. L. C.
P.S. Clara is in the sanitarium--till January 28 when her western
concert tour will begin. She is getting to be a mighty competent singer.
You must know Clara better; she is one of the very finest and completest
and most satisfactory characters I have ever met. Others knew it before,
but I have always been busy with other matters.
The "billiardist on the premises" was the writer of these notes,
who, earlier in the year, had become his biographer, and, in the
course of time, his daily companion and friend. The farm mentioned
was one which he had bought at Redding, Connecticut, where, later,
he built the house known as "Stormfield."
Henry Mills Alden, for nearly forty years editor of Harper's
Magazine, arrived at his seventieth birthday on November 11th that
year, and Harper & Brothers had arranged to give him a great dinner
in the offices of Franklin Square, where, for half a century, he had
been an active force. Mark Twain, threatened with a cold, and
knowing the dinner would be strenuous, did not feel able to attend,
so wrote a letter which, if found suitable, could be read at the
To Mr. Henry Alden:
ALDEN,--dear and ancient friend--it is a solemn moment. You have now
reached the age of discretion. You have been a long time arriving. Many
years ago you docked me on an article because the subject was too old;
later, you docked me on an article because the subject was too new; later
still, you docked me on an article because the subject was betwixt and
between. Once, when I wrote a Letter to Queen Victoria, you did not put
it in the respectable part of the Magazine, but interred it in that
potter's field, the Editor's Drawer. As a result, she never answered it.
How often we recall, with regret, that Napoleon once shot at a magazine
editor and missed him and killed a publisher. But we remember, with
charity, that his intentions were good.
You will reform, now, Alden. You will cease from these economies, and
you will be discharged. But in your retirement you will carry with you
the admiration and earnest good wishes of the oppressed and toiling
scribes. This will be better than bread. Let this console you when the
You will carry with you another thing, too--the affection of the scribes;
for they all love you in spite of your crimes. For you bear a kind heart
in your breast, and the sweet and winning spirit that charms away all
hostilities and animosities, and makes of your enemy your friend and
keeps him so. You have reigned over us thirty-six years, and, please
God, you shall reign another thirty-six--"and peace to Mahmoud on his
A copyright bill was coming up in Washington and a delegation of
authors went down to work for it. Clemens was not the head of the
delegation, but he was the most prominent member of it, as well as
the most useful. He invited the writer to accompany him, and
elsewhere I have told in detail the story of that excursion,--[See
Mark Twain; A Biography, chap. ccli,]--which need be but briefly
touched upon here.
His work was mainly done aside from that of the delegation. They
had him scheduled for a speech, however, which he made without notes
and with scarcely any preparation. Meantime he had applied to
Speaker Cannon for permission to allow him on the floor of the
House, where he could buttonhole the Congressmen. He was not
eligible to the floor without having received the thanks of
Congress, hence the following letter:
To Hon. Joseph Cannon, House of Representatives:
Dec. 7, 1906.
DEAR UNCLE JOSEPH,--Please get me the thanks of the Congress--not next
week but right away. It is very necessary. Do accomplish this for your
affectionate old friend right away; by persuasion, if you can, by
violence if you must, for it is imperatively necessary that I get on the
floor for two or three hours and talk to the members, man by man, in
behalf of the support, encouragement and protection of one of the
nation's most valuable assets and industries--its literature. I have
arguments with me, also a barrel, with liquid in it.
Give me a chance. Get me the thanks of Congress. Don't wait for others;
there isn't time. I have stayed away and let Congress alone for seventy-
one years and I am entitled to thanks. Congress knows it perfectly well
and I have long felt hurt that this quite proper and earned expression of
gratitude has been merely felt by the House and never publicly uttered.
Send me an order on the Sergeant-at-Arms quick. When shall I come? With
love and a benediction.
This was mainly a joke. Mark Twain did not expect any "thanks," but
he did hope for access to the floor, which once, in an earlier day,
had been accorded him. We drove to the Capitol and he delivered his
letter to "Uncle Joe" by hand. "Uncle Joe" could not give him the
privilege of the floor; the rules had become more stringent. He
declared they would hang him if he did such a thing. He added that
he had a private room down-stairs, where Mark Twain might establish
headquarters, and that he would assign his colored servant, Neal, of
long acquaintanceship with many of the members, to pass the word
that Mark Twain was receiving.
The result was a great success. All that afternoon members of
Congress poured into the Speaker's room and, in an atmosphere blue
with tobacco smoke, Mark Twain talked the gospel of copyright to his
The bill did not come up for passage that session, but Mark Twain
lived to see his afternoon's lobbying bring a return. In 1909,
Champ Clark, and those others who had gathered around him that
afternoon, passed a measure that added fourteen years to the
The next letter refers to a proposed lobby of quite a different
To Helen Keller, in Wrentham, Mass.:
21 FIFTH AVENUE,
Dec. 23, '06.
DEAR HELEN KELLER,--. . . You say, "As a reformer, you know that
ideas must be driven home again and again."
Yes, I know it; and by old experience I know that speeches and documents
and public meetings are a pretty poor and lame way of accomplishing it.
Last year I proposed a sane way--one which I had practiced with success
for a quarter of a century--but I wasn't expecting it to get any
attention, and it didn't.
Give me a battalion of 200 winsome young girls and matrons, and let me
tell them what to do and how to do it, and I will be responsible for
shining results. If I could mass them on the stage in front of the
audience and instruct them there, I could make a public meeting take hold
of itself and do something really valuable for once. Not that the real
instruction would be done there, for it wouldn't; it would be previously
done privately, and merely repeated there.
But it isn't going to happen--the good old way will be stuck to: there'll
be a public meeting: with music, and prayer, and a wearying report, and a
verbal description of the marvels the blind can do, and 17 speeches--then
the call upon all present who are still alive, to contribute. This hoary
program was invented in the idiot asylum, and will never be changed. Its
function is to breed hostility to good causes.
Some day somebody will recruit my 200--my dear beguilesome Knights of the
Golden Fleece--and you will see them make good their ominous name.
Mind, we must meet! not in the grim and ghastly air of the platform,
mayhap, but by the friendly fire--here at 21.
Affectionately your friend,
S. L. CLEMENS.
They did meet somewhat later that winter in the friendly parlors of
No. 21, and friends gathered in to meet the marvelous blind girl and
to pay tribute to Miss Sullivan (Mrs. Macy) for her almost