By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Mark Twain's Letters — Complete (1853-1910)
Author: Twain, Mark
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Mark Twain's Letters — Complete (1853-1910)" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.




By Mark Twain





By Mark Twain


Nowhere is the human being more truly revealed than in his letters. Not
in literary letters--prepared with care, and the thought of possible
publication--but in those letters wrought out of the press of
circumstances, and with no idea of print in mind. A collection of such
documents, written by one whose life has become of interest to mankind
at large, has a value quite aside from literature, in that it reflects
in some degree at least the soul of the writer.

The letters of Mark Twain are peculiarly of the revealing sort. He was a
man of few restraints and of no affectations. In his correspondence,
as in his talk, he spoke what was in his mind, untrammeled by literary

Necessarily such a collection does not constitute a detailed life story,
but is supplementary to it. An extended biography of Mark Twain has
already been published. His letters are here gathered for those who
wish to pursue the subject somewhat more exhaustively from the strictly
personal side. Selections from this correspondence were used in the
biography mentioned. Most of these are here reprinted in the belief
that an owner of the “Letters” will wish the collection to be reasonably

     [Etext Editor’s Note:  A. B. Paine considers this compendium
     a supplement to his “Mark Twain, A Biography”, I have
     arranged the volumes of the “Letters” to correspond as
     six volumes of the “Biography”.  D.W.]


SAMUEL LANGHORNE CLEMENS, for nearly half a century known and celebrated
as “Mark Twain,” was born in Florida, Missouri, on November 30, 1835.
He was one of the foremost American philosophers of his day; he was the
world’s most famous humorist of any day. During the later years of his
life he ranked not only as America’s chief man of letters, but likewise
as her best known and best loved citizen.

The beginnings of that life were sufficiently unpromising. The
family was a good one, of old Virginia and Kentucky stock, but its
circumstances were reduced, its environment meager and disheartening.
The father, John Marshall Clemens--a lawyer by profession, a merchant
by vocation--had brought his household to Florida from Jamestown,
Tennessee, somewhat after the manner of judge Hawkins as pictured in The
Gilded Age. Florida was a small town then, a mere village of twenty-one
houses located on Salt River, but judge Clemens, as he was usually
called, optimistic and speculative in his temperament, believed in
its future. Salt River would be made navigable; Florida would become
a metropolis. He established a small business there, and located his
family in the humble frame cottage where, five months later, was born a
baby boy to whom they gave the name of Samuel--a family name--and added
Langhorne, after an old Virginia friend of his father.

The child was puny, and did not make a very sturdy fight for life.
Still he weathered along, season after season, and survived two stronger
children, Margaret and Benjamin. By 1839 Judge Clemens had lost faith
in Florida. He removed his family to Hannibal, and in this Mississippi
River town the little lad whom the world was to know as Mark Twain spent
his early life. In Tom Sawyer we have a picture of the Hannibal of those
days and the atmosphere of his boyhood there.

His schooling was brief and of a desultory kind. It ended one day in
1847, when his father died and it became necessary that each one should
help somewhat in the domestic crisis. His brother Orion, ten years
his senior, was already a printer by trade. Pamela, his sister; also
considerably older, had acquired music, and now took a few pupils. The
little boy Sam, at twelve, was apprenticed to a printer named Ament. His
wages consisted of his board and clothes--“more board than clothes,” as
he once remarked to the writer.

He remained with Ament until his brother Orion bought out a small paper
in Hannibal in 1850. The paper, in time, was moved into a part of the
Clemens home, and the two brothers ran it, the younger setting most
of the type. A still younger brother, Henry, entered the office as an
apprentice. The Hannibal journal was no great paper from the beginning,
and it did not improve with time. Still, it managed to survive--country
papers nearly always manage to survive--year after year, bringing in
some sort of return. It was on this paper that young Sam Clemens
began his writings--burlesque, as a rule, of local characters and
conditions--usually published in his brother’s absence; generally
resulting in trouble on his return. Yet they made the paper sell, and if
Orion had but realized his brother’s talent he might have turned it into
capital even then.

In 1853 (he was not yet eighteen) Sam Clemens grew tired of his
limitations and pined for the wider horizon of the world. He gave out to
his family that he was going to St. Louis, but he kept on to New York,
where a World’s Fair was then going on. In New York he found
employment at his trade, and during the hot months of 1853 worked in
a printing-office in Cliff Street. By and by he went to Philadelphia,
where he worked a brief time; made a trip to Washington, and presently
set out for the West again, after an absence of more than a year.

Onion, meanwhile, had established himself at Muscatine, Iowa, but soon
after removed to Keokuk, where the brothers were once more together,
till following their trade. Young Sam Clemens remained in Keokuk until
the winter of 1856-57, when he caught a touch of the South-American
fever then prevalent; and decided to go to Brazil. He left Keokuk for
Cincinnati, worked that winter in a printing-office there, and in April
took the little steamer, Paul Jones, for New Orleans, where he expected
to find a South-American vessel. In Life on the Mississippi we have his
story of how he met Horace Bixby and decided to become a pilot instead
of a South American adventurer--jauntily setting himself the stupendous
task of learning the twelve hundred miles of the Mississippi River
between St. Louis and New Orleans--of knowing it as exactly and as
unfailingly, even in the dark, as one knows the way to his own
features. It seems incredible to those who knew Mark Twain in his later
years--dreamy, unpractical, and indifferent to details--that he could
have acquired so vast a store of minute facts as were required by that
task. Yet within eighteen months he had become not only a pilot, but one
of the best and most careful pilots on the river, intrusted with some of
the largest and most valuable steamers. He continued in that profession
for two and a half years longer, and during that time met with no
disaster that cost his owners a single dollar for damage.

Then the war broke out. South Carolina seceded in December, 1860 and
other States followed. Clemens was in New Orleans in January, 1861, when
Louisiana seceded, and his boat was put into the Confederate service
and sent up the Red River. His occupation gone, he took steamer for the
North--the last one before the blockade closed. A blank cartridge was
fired at them from Jefferson Barracks when they reached St. Louis,
but they did not understand the signal, and kept on. Presently a shell
carried away part of the pilot-house and considerably disturbed its
inmates. They realized, then, that war had really begun.

In those days Clemens’s sympathies were with the South. He hurried up
to Hannibal and enlisted with a company of young fellows who were
recruiting with the avowed purpose of “throwing off the yoke of the
invader.” They were ready for the field, presently, and set out in good
order, a sort of nondescript cavalry detachment, mounted on animals more
picturesque than beautiful. Still, it was a resolute band, and might
have done very well, only it rained a good deal, which made soldiering
disagreeable and hard. Lieutenant Clemens resigned at the end of
two weeks, and decided to go to Nevada with Orion, who was a Union
abolitionist and had received an appointment from Lincoln as Secretary
of the new Territory.

In ‘Roughing It’ Mark Twain gives us the story of the overland journey
made by the two brothers, and a picture of experiences at the other
end--true in aspect, even if here and there elaborated in detail. He was
Orion’s private secretary, but there was no private-secretary work to
do, and no salary attached to the position. The incumbent presently went
to mining, adding that to his other trades.

He became a professional miner, but not a rich one. He was at Aurora,
California, in the Esmeralda district, skimping along, with not much
to eat and less to wear, when he was summoned by Joe Goodman, owner and
editor of the Virginia City Enterprise, to come up and take the local
editorship of that paper. He had been contributing sketches to it now
and then, under the pen, name of “Josh,” and Goodman, a man of fine
literary instincts, recognized a talent full of possibilities. This was
in the late summer of 1862. Clemens walked one hundred and thirty
miles over very bad roads to take the job, and arrived way-worn and
travel-stained. He began on a salary of twenty-five dollars a week,
picking up news items here and there, and contributing occasional
sketches, burlesques, hoaxes, and the like. When the Legislature
convened at Carson City he was sent down to report it, and then, for the
first time, began signing his articles “Mark Twain,” a river term, used
in making soundings, recalled from his piloting days. The name presently
became known up and down the Pacific coast. His articles were, copied
and commented upon. He was recognized as one of the foremost among a
little coterie of overland writers, two of whom, Mark Twain and Bret
Harte, were soon to acquire a world-wide fame.

He left Carson City one day, after becoming involved in a duel, the
result of an editorial squib written in Goodman’s absence, and went
across the Sierras to San Francisco. The duel turned out farcically
enough, but the Nevada law, which regarded even a challenge or its
acceptance as a felony, was an inducement to his departure. Furthermore,
he had already aspired to a wider field of literary effort. He attached
himself to the Morning Call, and wrote occasionally for one or two
literary papers--the Golden Era and the Californian---prospering well
enough during the better part of the year. Bret Harte and the rest of
the little Pacific-slope group were also on the staff of these papers,
and for a time, at least, the new school of American humor mustered in
San Francisco.

The connection with the Call was not congenial. In due course it came
to a natural end, and Mark Twain arranged to do a daily San Francisco
letter for his old paper, the Enterprise. The Enterprise letters stirred
up trouble. They criticized the police of San Francisco so severely that
the officials found means of making the writer’s life there difficult
and comfortless. With Jim Gillis, brother of a printer of whom he was
fond, and who had been the indirect cause of his troubles, he went
up into Calaveras County, to a cabin on jackass Hill. Jim Gillis, a
lovable, picturesque character (the Truthful James of Bret Harte),
owned mining claims. Mark Twain decided to spend his vacation in
pocket-mining, and soon added that science to his store of knowledge.
It was a halcyon, happy three months that he lingered there, but did not
make his fortune; he only laid the corner-stone.

They tried their fortune at Angel’s Camp, a place well known to readers
of Bret Harte. But it rained pretty steadily, and they put in most
of their time huddled around the single stove of the dingy hotel of
Angel’s, telling yarns. Among the stories was one told by a dreary
narrator named Ben Coon. It was about a frog that had been trained to
jump, but failed to win a wager because the owner of a rival frog had
surreptitiously loaded him with shot. The story had been circulated
among the camps, but Mark Twain had never heard it until then. The tale
and the tiresome fashion of its telling amused him. He made notes to
remember it.

Their stay in Angel’s Camp came presently to an end. One day, when the
mining partners were following the specks of gold that led to a pocket
somewhere up the hill, a chill, dreary rain set in. Jim, as usual was
washing, and Clemens was carrying water. The “color” became better and
better as they ascended, and Gillis, possessed with the mining passion,
would have gone on, regardless of the rain. Clemens, however, protested,
and declared that each pail of water was his last. Finally he said, in
his deliberate drawl:

“Jim, I won’t carry any more water. This work is too disagreeable. Let’s
go to the house and wait till it clears up.”
Gillis had just taken out a pan of earth. “Bring one more pail, Sam,” he

“I won’t do it, Jim! Not a drop! Not if I knew there was a million
dollars in that pan!”
They left the pan standing there and went back to Angel’s Camp. The rain
continued and they returned to jackass Hill without visiting their claim
again. Meantime the rain had washed away the top of the pan of earth
left standing on the slope above Angel’s, and exposed a handful of
nuggets-pure gold. Two strangers came along and, observing it, had sat
down to wait until the thirty-day claim-notice posted by Jim Gillis
should expire. They did not mind the rain--not with that gold in
sight--and the minute the thirty days were up they followed the lead a
few pans further, and took out-some say ten, some say twenty, thousand
dollars. It was a good pocket. Mark Twain missed it by one pail of
water. Still, it is just as well, perhaps, when one remembers The
Jumping Frog.

Matters having quieted down in San Francisco, he returned and took up
his work again. Artemus Ward, whom he had met in Virginia City, wrote
him for something to use in his (Ward’s) new book. Clemens sent the frog
story, but he had been dilatory in preparing it, and when it reached
New York, Carleton, the publisher, had Ward’s book about ready for
the press. It did not seem worth while to Carleton to include the
frog story, and handed it over to Henry Clapp, editor of the Saturday
Press--a perishing sheet-saying:

“Here, Clapp, here’s something you can use.”
The story appeared in the Saturday Press of November 18, 1865. According
to the accounts of that time it set all New York in a roar, which
annoyed, rather than gratified, its author. He had thought very little
of it, indeed, yet had been wondering why some of his more highly
regarded work had not found fuller recognition.

But The Jumping Frog did not die. Papers printed it and reprinted it,
and it was translated into foreign tongues. The name of “Mark Twain”
 became known as the author of that sketch, and the two were permanently
associated from the day of its publication.

Such fame as it brought did not yield heavy financial return. Its
author continued to win a more or less precarious livelihood doing
miscellaneous work, until March, 1866, when he was employed by the
Sacramento Union to contribute a series of letters from the Sandwich
Islands. They were notable letters, widely read and freely copied, and
the sojourn there was a generally fortunate one. It was during his stay
in the islands that the survivors of the wrecked vessel, the Hornet,
came in, after long privation at sea. Clemens was sick at the time,
but Anson Burlingame, who was in Honolulu, on the way to China, had him
carried in a cot to the hospital, where he could interview the surviving
sailors and take down their story. It proved a great “beat” for the
Union, and added considerably to its author’s prestige. On his return
to San Francisco he contributed an article on the Hornet disaster to
Harper’s Magazine, and looked forward to its publication as a beginning
of a real career. But, alas! when it appeared the printer and the
proof-reader had somehow converted “Mark Twain” into “Mark Swain,” and
his dreams perished.

Undecided as to his plans, he was one day advised by a friend to deliver
a lecture. He was already known as an entertaining talker, and his
adviser judged his possibilities well. In Roughing It we find the
story of that first lecture and its success. He followed it with other
lectures up and down the Coast. He had added one more profession to his
intellectual stock in trade.

Mark Twain, now provided with money, decided to pay a visit to his
people. He set out for the East in December, 1866, via Panama, arriving
in New York in January. A few days later he was with his mother, then
living with his sister, in St. Louis. A little later he lectured in
Keokuk, and in Hannibal, his old home.

It was about this time that the first great Mediterranean steamship
excursion began to be exploited. No such ocean picnic had ever been
planned before, and it created a good deal of interest East and West.
Mark Twain heard of it and wanted to go. He wrote to friends on the
‘Alta California,’ of San Francisco, and the publishers of that paper
had sufficient faith to advance the money for his passage, on the
understanding that he was to contribute frequent letters, at twenty
dollars apiece. It was a liberal offer, as rates went in those days, and
a godsend in the fullest sense of the word to Mark Twain.

Clemens now hurried to New York in order to be there in good season for
the sailing date, which was in June. In New York he met Frank Fuller,
whom he had known as territorial Governor of Utah, an energetic and
enthusiastic admirer of the Western humorist. Fuller immediately
proposed that Clemens give a lecture in order to establish his
reputation on the Atlantic coast. Clemens demurred, but Fuller insisted,
and engaged Cooper Union for the occasion. Not many tickets were sold.
Fuller, however, always ready for an emergency, sent out a flood
of complimentaries to the school-teachers of New York and adjacent
territory, and the house was crammed. It turned out to be a notable
event. Mark Twain was at his best that night; the audience laughed
until, as some of them declared when the lecture was over, they were too
weak to leave their seats. His success as a lecturer was assured.

The Quaker City was the steamer selected for the great oriental tour. It
sailed as advertised, June 8, 1867, and was absent five months, during
which Mark Twain contributed regularly to the ‘Alta-California’, and
wrote several letters for the New York Tribune. They were read and
copied everywhere. They preached a new gospel in travel literature--a
gospel of seeing with an overflowing honesty; a gospel of sincerity in
according praise to whatever he considered genuine, and ridicule to the
things believed to be shams. It was a gospel that Mark Twain continued
to preach during his whole career. It became, in fact, his chief
literary message to the world, a world ready for that message.

He returned to find himself famous. Publishers were ready with plans for
collecting the letters in book form. The American Publishing Company,
of Hartford, proposed a volume, elaborately illustrated, to be sold by
subscription. He agreed with them as to terms, and went to Washington’ 
to prepare copy. But he could not work quietly there, and presently
was back in San Francisco, putting his book together, lecturing
occasionally, always to crowded houses. He returned in August, 1868,
with the manuscript of the Innocents Abroad, and that winter, while his
book was being manufactured, lectured throughout the East and Middle
West, making his headquarters in Hartford, and in Elmira, New York.

He had an especial reason for going to Elmira. On the Quaker City he had
met a young man by the name of Charles Langdon, and one day, in the Bay
of Smyrna, had seen a miniature of the boy’s sister, Olivia Langdon,
then a girl of about twenty-two. He fell in love with that picture, and
still more deeply in love with the original when he met her in New
York on his return. The Langdon home was in Elmira, and it was for
this reason that as time passed he frequently sojourned there. When the
proofs of the Innocents Abroad were sent him he took them along, and
he and sweet “Livy” Langdon read them together. What he lacked in those
days in literary delicacy she detected, and together they pruned it
away. She became his editor that winter--a position which she held until
her death.

The book was published in July, 1869, and its success was immediate and
abundant. On his wedding-day, February 2, 1870, Clemens received a
check from his publishers for more than four thousand dollars, royalty
accumulated during the three months preceding. The sales soon amounted
to more than fifty thousand copies, and had increased to very nearly one
hundred thousand at the end of the first three years. It was a book of
travel, its lowest price three dollars and fifty cents. Even with our
increased reading population no such sale is found for a book of that
description to-day. And the Innocents Abroad holds its place--still
outsells every other book in its particular field. [This in 1917. D.W.]

Mark Twain now decided to settle down. He had bought an interest in the
Express, of Buffalo, New York, and took up his residence in that city in
a house presented to the young couple by Mr. Langdon. It did not prove
a fortunate beginning. Sickness, death, and trouble of many kinds put
a blight on the happiness of their first married year and gave, them a
distaste for the home in which they had made such a promising start. A
baby boy, Langdon Clemens, came along in November, but he was never
a strong child. By the end of the following year the Clemenses had
arranged for a residence in Hartford, temporary at first, later made
permanent. It was in Hartford that little Langdon died, in 1872.

Clemens, meanwhile, had sold out his interest in the Express, severed
his connection with the Galaxy, a magazine for which he was doing a
department each month, and had written a second book for the American
Publishing Company, Roughing It, published in 1872. In August of the
same year he made a trip to London, to get material for a book on
England, but was too much sought after, too continuously feted, to do
any work. He went alone, but in November returned with the purpose of
taking Mrs. Clemens and the new baby, Susy, to England the following
spring. They sailed in April, 1873, and spent a good portion of the
year in England and Scotland. They returned to America in November,
and Clemens hurried back to London alone to deliver a notable series of
lectures under the management of George Dolby, formerly managing agent
for Charles Dickens. For two months Mark Twain lectured steadily
to London audiences--the big Hanover Square rooms always filled. He
returned to his family in January, 1874.

Meantime, a home was being built for them in Hartford, and in the autumn
of 1874 they took up residence in ita happy residence, continued through
seventeen years--well-nigh perfect years. Their summers they spent in
Elmira, on Quarry Farm--a beautiful hilltop, the home of Mrs. Clemens’s
sister. It was in Elmira that much of Mark Twain’s literary work was
done. He had a special study there, some distance from the house, where
he loved to work out his fancies and put them into visible form.

It was not so easy to work at Hartford; there was too much going on. The
Clemens home was a sort of general headquarters for literary folk, near
and far, and for distinguished foreign visitors of every sort. Howells
and Aldrich used it as their half-way station between Boston and New
York, and every foreign notable who visited America made a pilgrimage to
Hartford to see Mark Twain. Some even went as far as Elmira, among them
Rudyard Kipling, who recorded his visit in a chapter of his American
Notes. Kipling declared he had come all the way from India to see Mark

Hartford had its own literary group. Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe lived
near the Clemens home; also Charles Dudley Warner. The Clemens and
Warner families were constantly associated, and The Gilded Age,
published in 1873, resulted from the friendship of Warner and Mark
Twain. The character of Colonel Sellers in that book has become
immortal, and it is a character that only Mark Twain could create, for,
though drawn from his mother’s cousin, James Lampton, it embodies--and
in no very exaggerated degree--characteristics that were his own. The
tendency to make millions was always imminent; temptation was always
hard to resist. Money-making schemes are continually being placed before
men of means and prominence, and Mark Twain, to the day of his death,
found such schemes fatally attractive.

It was because of the Sellers characteristics in him that he invested in
a typesetting-machine which cost him nearly two hundred thousand dollars
and helped to wreck his fortunes by and by. It was because of this
characteristic that he invested in numberless schemes of lesser
importance, but no less disastrous in the end. His one successful
commercial venture was his association with Charles L. Webster in the
publication of the Grant Memoirs, of which enough copies were sold to
pay a royalty of more than four hundred thousand dollars to Grant’s
widow--the largest royalty ever paid from any single publication.
It saved the Grant family from poverty. Yet even this triumph was a
misfortune to Mark Twain, for it led to scores of less profitable book
ventures and eventual disaster.

Meanwhile he had written and published a number of books. Tom Sawyer,
The Prince and the Pauper, Life on the Mississippi, Huckleberry Finn,
and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court were among the volumes
that had entertained the world and inspired it with admiration and love
for their author. In 1878-79 he had taken his family to Europe, where
they spent their time in traveling over the Continent. It was during
this period that he was joined by his intimate friend, the Rev. Joseph
H. Twichell, of Hartford, and the two made a journey, the story of which
is told in A Tramp Abroad.

In 1891 the Hartford house was again closed, this time indefinitely,
and the family, now five in number, took up residence in Berlin. The
typesetting-machine and the unfortunate publishing venture were drawing
heavily on the family finances at this period, and the cost of the
Hartford establishment was too great to be maintained. During the next
three years he was distracted by the financial struggle which ended in
April, 1894, with the failure of Charles L. Webster & Co. Mark Twain now
found himself bankrupt, and nearly one hundred thousand dollars in debt.
It had been a losing fight, with this bitter ending always in view;
yet during this period of hard, hopeless effort he had written a large
portion of the book which of all his works will perhaps survive the
longest--his tender and beautiful story of Joan of Arc. All his life
Joan had been his favorite character in the world’s history, and during
those trying months and years of the early nineties--in Berlin, in
Florence, in Paris--he was conceiving and putting his picture of that
gentle girl-warrior into perfect literary form. It was published in
Harper’s Magazine--anonymously, because, as he said, it would not
have been received seriously had it appeared over his own name. The
authorship was presently recognized. Exquisitely, reverently, as the
story was told, it had in it the touch of quaint and gentle humor which
could only have been given to it by Mark Twain.

It was only now and then that Mark Twain lectured during these years.
He had made a reading tour with George W. Cable during the winter of
1884-85, but he abominated the platform, and often vowed he would never
appear before an audience again. Yet, in 1895, when he was sixty years
old, he decided to rebuild his fortunes by making a reading tour around
the world. It was not required of him to pay his debts in full. The
creditors were willing to accept fifty per cent. of the liabilities, and
had agreed to a settlement on that basis. But this did not satisfy Mrs.
Clemens, and it did not satisfy him. They decided to pay dollar for
dollar. They sailed for America, and in July, 1895, set out from Elmira
on the long trail across land and sea. Mrs. Clemens, and Clara Clemens,
joined this pilgrimage, Susy and Jean Clemens remaining at Elmira with
their aunt. Looking out of the car windows, the travelers saw Susy
waving them an adieu. It was a picture they would long remember.

The reading tour was one of triumph. High prices and crowded houses
prevailed everywhere. The author-reader visited Australia, New Zealand,
India, Ceylon, South Africa, arriving in England, at last, with the
money and material which would pay off the heavy burden of debt and make
him once more free before the world. And in that hour of triumph came
the heavy blow. Susy Clemens, never very strong, had been struck down.
The first cable announced her illness. The mother and Clara sailed
at once. Before they were half-way across the ocean a second cable
announced that Susy was dead. The father had to meet and endure the
heartbreak alone; he could not reach America, in time for the burial. He
remained in England, and was joined there by the sorrowing family.

They passed that winter in London, where he worked at the story of his
travels, Following the Equator, the proofs of which he read the next
summer in Switzerland. The returns from it, and from his reading
venture, wiped away Mark Twain’s indebtedness and made him free. He
could go back to America; as he said, able to look any man in the face

Yet he did not go immediately. He could live more economically abroad,
and economy was still necessary. The family spent two winters in Vienna,
and their apartments there constituted a veritable court where the
world’s notables gathered. Another winter in England followed, and then,
in the latter part of 1900, they went home--that is, to America. Mrs.
Clemens never could bring herself to return to Hartford, and never saw
their home there again.

Mark Twain’s return to America, was in the nature of a national event.
Wherever he appeared throngs turned out to bid him welcome. Mighty
banquets were planned in his honor.

In a house at 14 West Tenth Street, and in a beautiful place at
Riverdale, on the Hudson, most of the next three years were passed. Then
Mrs. Clemens’s health failed, and in the autumn of 1903 the family went
to Florence for her benefit. There, on the 5th of June, 1904, she died.
They brought her back and laid her beside Susy, at Elmira. That winter
the family took up residence at 21 Fifth Avenue, New York, and remained
there until the completion of Stormfield, at Redding, Connecticut, in

In his later life Mark Twain was accorded high academic honors. Already,
in 1888, he had received from Yale College the degree of Master of Arts,
and the same college made him a Doctor of Literature in 1901. A year
later the university of his own State, at Columbia, Missouri, conferred
the same degree, and then, in 1907, came the crowning honor, when
venerable Oxford tendered him the doctor’s robe.

“I don’t know why they should give me a degree like that,” he said,
quaintly. “I never doctored any literature--I wouldn’t know how.”
He had thought never to cross the ocean again, but he declared he would
travel to Mars and back, if necessary, to get that Oxford degree.
He appreciated its full meaning-recognition by the world’s foremost
institution of learning of the achievements of one who had no learning
of the institutionary kind. He sailed in June, and his sojourn in
England was marked by a continuous ovation. His hotel was besieged by
callers. Two secretaries were busy nearly twenty hours a day attending
to visitors and mail. When he appeared on the street his name went
echoing in every direction and the multitudes gathered. On the day when
he rose, in his scarlet robe and black mortar-board, to receive his
degree (he must have made a splendid picture in that dress, with his
crown of silver hair), the vast assembly went wild. What a triumph,
indeed, for the little Missouri printer-boy! It was the climax of a
great career.

Mark Twain’s work was always of a kind to make people talk, always
important, even when it was mere humor. Yet it was seldom that; there
was always wisdom under it, and purpose, and these things gave it
dynamic force and enduring life. Some of his aphorisms--so quaint in
form as to invite laughter--are yet fairly startling in their purport.
His paraphrase, “When in doubt, tell the truth,” is of this sort.
“Frankness is a jewel; only the young can afford it,” he once said to
the writer, apropos of a little girl’s remark. His daily speech was full
of such things. The secret of his great charm was his great humanity and
the gentle quaintness and sincerity of his utterance.

His work did not cease when the pressing need of money came to an end.
He was full of ideas, and likely to begin a new article or story at any
time. He wrote and published a number of notable sketches, articles,
stories, even books, during these later years, among them that marvelous
short story--“The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg.” In that story, as in
most of his later work, he proved to the world that he was much more
than a humorist--that he was, in fact, a great teacher, moralist,
philosopher--the greatest, perhaps, of his age.

His life at Stormfield--he had never seen the place until the day of his
arrival, June 18, 1908--was a peaceful and serene old age. Not that he
was really old; he never was that. His step, his manner, his point of
view, were all and always young. He was fond of children and frequently
had them about him. He delighted in games--especially in billiards--and
in building the house at Stormfield the billiard-room was first
considered. He had a genuine passion for the sport; without it his
afternoon was not complete. His mornings he was likely to pass in bed,
smoking--he was always smoking--and attending to his correspondence and
reading. History and the sciences interested him, and his bed was strewn
with biographies and stories of astronomical and geological research.
The vastness of distances and periods always impressed him. He had
no head for figures, but he would labor for hours over scientific
calculations, trying to compass them and to grasp their gigantic import.
I remember once finding him highly elated over the fact that he had
figured out for himself the length in hours and minutes of a “light
year.” He showed me the pages covered with figures, and was more proud
of them than if they had been the pages of an immortal story. Then
we played billiards, but even his favorite game could not make him
altogether forget his splendid achievement.

It was on the day before Christmas, 1909, that heavy bereavement once
more came into the life of Mark Twain. His daughter Jean, long subject
to epileptic attacks, was seized with a convulsion while in her bath and
died before assistance reached her. He was dazed by the suddenness of
the blow. His philosophy sustained him. He was glad, deeply glad for the
beautiful girl that had been released.

“I never greatly envied anybody but the dead,” he said, when he had
looked at her. “I always envy the dead.”
The coveted estate of silence, time’s only absolute gift, it was the one
benefaction he had ever considered worth while.

Yet the years were not unkindly to Mark Twain. They brought him sorrow,
but they brought him likewise the capacity and opportunity for large
enjoyment, and at the last they laid upon him a kind of benediction.
Naturally impatient, he grew always more gentle, more generous, more
tractable and considerate as the seasons passed. His final days may be
said to have been spent in the tranquil light of a summer afternoon.

His own end followed by a few months that of his daughter. There were
already indications that his heart was seriously affected, and soon
after Jean’s death he sought the warm climate of Bermuda. But his malady
made rapid progress, and in April he returned to Stormfield. He died
there just a week later, April 21, 1910.

Any attempt to designate Mark Twain’s place in the world’s literary
history would be presumptuous now. Yet I cannot help thinking that he
will maintain his supremacy in the century that produced him. I think so
because, of all the writers of that hundred years, his work was the most
human his utterances went most surely to the mark. In the long analysis
of the ages it is the truth that counts, and he never approximated,
never compromised, but pronounced those absolute verities to which every
human being of whatever rank must instantly respond.

His understanding of subjective human nature--the vast, unwritten
life within--was simply amazing. Such knowledge he acquired at the
fountainhead--that is, from himself. He recognized in himself an extreme
example of the human being with all the attributes of power and of
weakness, and he made his exposition complete.

The world will long miss Mark Twain; his example and his teaching will
be neither ignored nor forgotten. Genius defies the laws of perspective
and looms larger as it recedes. The memory of Mark Twain remains to us
a living and intimate presence that today, even more than in life,
constitutes a stately moral bulwark reared against hypocrisy and
superstition--a mighty national menace to sham.



     We have no record of Mark Twain’s earliest letters.  Very likely
     they were soiled pencil notes, written to some school sweetheart
     --to “Becky Thatcher,” perhaps--and tossed across at lucky moments,
     or otherwise, with happy or disastrous results.  One of those
     smudgy, much-folded school notes of the Tom Sawyer period would be
     priceless to-day, and somewhere among forgotten keepsakes it may
     exist, but we shall not be likely to find it.  No letter of his
     boyhood, no scrap of his earlier writing, has come to light except
     his penciled name, SAM CLEMENS, laboriously inscribed on the inside
     of a small worn purse that once held his meager, almost non-existent
     wealth.  He became a printer’s apprentice at twelve, but as he
     received no salary, the need of a purse could not have been urgent.
     He must have carried it pretty steadily, however, from its
     appearance--as a kind of symbol of hope, maybe--a token of that
     Sellers-optimism which dominated his early life, and was never
     entirely subdued.

     No other writing of any kind has been preserved from Sam Clemens’s
     boyhood, none from that period of his youth when he had served his
     apprenticeship and was a capable printer on his brother’s paper, a
     contributor to it when occasion served.  Letters and manuscripts of
     those days have vanished--even his contributions in printed form are
     unobtainable.  It is not believed that a single number of Orion
     Clemens’s paper, the Hannibal Journal, exists to-day.

     It was not until he was seventeen years old that Sam Clemens wrote a
     letter any portion of which has survived.  He was no longer in
     Hannibal.  Orion’s unprosperous enterprise did not satisfy him.
     His wish to earn money and to see the world had carried him first to
     St. Louis, where his sister Pamela was living, then to New York
     City, where a World’s Fair in a Crystal Palace was in progress.
     The letter tells of a visit to this great exhibition.  It is not
     complete, and the fragment bears no date, but it was written during
     the summer of 1853.

Fragment of a letter from Sam L. Clemens to his sister Pamela Moffett,
in St. Louis, summer of 1853:

... From the gallery (second floor) you have a glorious sight--the
flags of the different countries represented, the lofty dome, glittering
jewelry, gaudy tapestry, &c., with the busy crowd passing to and
fro--tis a perfect fairy palace--beautiful beyond description.

The Machinery department is on the main floor, but I cannot enumerate
any of it on account of the lateness of the hour (past 8 o’clock.) It
would take more than a week to examine everything on exhibition; and as
I was only in a little over two hours tonight, I only glanced at about
one-third of the articles; and having a poor memory; I have enumerated
scarcely any of even the principal objects. The visitors to the Palace
average 6,000 daily--double the population of Hannibal. The price of
admission being 50 cents, they take in about $3,000.

The Latting Observatory (height about 280 feet) is near the Palace--from
it you can obtain a grand view of the city and the country round. The
Croton Aqueduct, to supply the city with water, is the greatest wonder
yet. Immense sewers are laid across the bed of the Hudson River, and
pass through the country to Westchester county, where a whole river is
turned from its course, and brought to New York. From the reservoir
in the city to the Westchester county reservoir, the distance is
thirty-eight miles! and if necessary, they could supply every family in
New York with one hundred barrels of water per day!

I am very sorry to learn that Henry has been sick. He ought to go to the
country and take exercise; for he is not half so healthy as Ma thinks he
is. If he had my walking to do, he would be another boy entirely. Four
times every day I walk a little over one mile; and working hard all day,
and walking four miles, is exercise--I am used to it, now, though, and
it is no trouble. Where is it Orion’s going to? Tell Ma my promises are
faithfully kept, and if I have my health I will take her to Ky. in the
spring--I shall save money for this. Tell Jim and all the rest of them
to write, and give me all the news. I am sorry to hear such bad
news from Will and Captain Bowen. I shall write to Will soon. The
Chatham-square Post Office and the Broadway office too, are out of my
way, and I always go to the General Post Office; so you must write the
direction of my letters plain, “New York City, N. Y.,” without giving
the street or anything of the kind, or they may go to some of the other
offices. (It has just struck 2 A.M. and I always get up at 6, and am
at work at 7.) You ask me where I spend my evenings. Where would you
suppose, with a free printers’ library containing more than 4,000
volumes within a quarter of a mile of me, and nobody at home to talk to?
I shall write to Ella soon. Write soon

                         Truly your Brother


P. S. I have written this by a light so dim that you nor Ma could not
read by it.

     He was lodging in a mechanics’ cheap boarding-house in Duane Street,
     and we may imagine the bareness of his room, the feeble poverty of
     his lamp.

     “Tell Ma my promises are faithfully kept.”  It was the day when he
     had left Hannibal.  His mother, Jane Clemens, a resolute, wiry woman
     of forty-nine, had put together his few belongings.  Then, holding
     up a little Testament:

     “I want you to take hold of the end of this, Sam,” she said, “and
     make me a promise.  I want you to repeat after me these words:
     ‘I do solemnly swear that I will not throw a card, or drink a drop
     of liquor while I am gone.’”
     It was this oath, repeated after her, that he was keeping
     faithfully.  The Will Bowen mentioned is a former playmate, one of
     Tom Sawyer’s outlaw band.  He had gone on the river to learn
     piloting with an elder brother, the “Captain.”  What the bad news
     was is no longer remembered, but it could not have been very
     serious, for the Bowen boys remained on the river for many years.
     “Ella” was Samuel Clemens’s cousin and one-time sweetheart, Ella
     Creel.  “Jim” was Jim Wolfe, an apprentice in Orion’s office, and
     the hero of an adventure which long after Mark Twain wrote under the
     title of, “Jim Wolfe and the Cats.”
     There is scarcely a hint of the future Mark Twain in this early
     letter.  It is the letter of a boy of seventeen who is beginning to
     take himself rather seriously--who, finding himself for the first
     time far from home and equal to his own responsibilities, is willing
     to carry the responsibility of others.  Henry, his brother, three
     years younger, had been left in the printing-office with Orion, who,
     after a long, profitless fight, is planning to remove from Hannibal.
     The young traveler is concerned as to the family outlook, and will
     furnish advice if invited.  He feels the approach of prosperity, and
     will take his mother on a long-coveted trip to her old home in the
     spring.  His evenings?  Where should he spend them, with a free
     library of four thousand volumes close by?  It is distinctly a
     youthful letter, a bit pretentious, and wanting in the spontaneity
     and humor of a later time.  It invites comment, now, chiefly because
     it is the first surviving document in the long human story.

     He was working in the printing-office of John A. Gray and Green, on
     Cliff Street, and remained there through the summer.  He must have
     written more than once during this period, but the next existing
     letter--also to Sister Pamela--was written in October.  It is
     perhaps a shade more natural in tone than the earlier example, and
     there is a hint of Mark Twain in the first paragraph.

To Mrs. Moffett, in St. Louis:

                              NEW YORK..., Oct. Saturday ‘53.

MY DEAR SISTER,--I have not written to any of the family for some
time, from the fact, firstly, that I didn’t know where they were, and
secondly, because I have been fooling myself with the idea that I was
going to leave New York every day for the last two weeks. I have taken
a liking to the abominable place, and every time I get ready to leave, I
put it off a day or so, from some unaccountable cause. It is as hard
on my conscience to leave New York, as it was easy to leave Hannibal. I
think I shall get off Tuesday, though.

Edwin Forrest has been playing, for the last sixteen days, at the
Broadway Theatre, but I never went to see him till last night. The play
was the “Gladiator.” I did not like parts of it much, but other portions
were really splendid. In the latter part of the last act, where the
“Gladiator” (Forrest) dies at his brother’s feet, (in all the fierce
pleasure of gratified revenge,) the man’s whole soul seems absorbed
in the part he is playing; and it is really startling to see him. I am
sorry I did not see him play “Damon and Pythias” the former character
being his greatest. He appears in Philadelphia on Monday night.

I have not received a letter from home lately, but got a “‘Journal’” the
other day, in which I see the office has been sold. I suppose Ma, Orion
and Henry are in St. Louis now. If Orion has no other project in his
head, he ought to take the contract for getting out some weekly
paper, if he cannot get a foremanship. Now, for such a paper as the
“Presbyterian” (containing about 60,000,--[Sixty thousand ems, type
measurement.]) he could get $20 or $25 per week, and he and Henry could
easily do the work; nothing to do but set the type and make up the

If my letters do not come often, you need not bother yourself about me;
for if you have a brother nearly eighteen years of age, who is not able
to take care of himself a few miles from home, such a brother is not
worth one’s thoughts: and if I don’t manage to take care of No. 1, be
assured you will never know it. I am not afraid, however; I shall ask
favors from no one, and endeavor to be (and shall be) as “independent as
a wood-sawyer’s clerk.”
I never saw such a place for military companies as New York. Go on the
street when you will, you are sure to meet a company in full uniform,
with all the usual appendages of drums, fifes, &c. I saw a large company
of soldiers of 1812 the other day, with a ‘76 veteran scattered here and
there in the ranks. And as I passed through one of the parks lately,
I came upon a company of boys on parade. Their uniforms were neat, and
their muskets about half the common size. Some of them were not more
than seven or eight years of age; but had evidently been well-drilled.

Passage to Albany (160 miles) on the finest steamers that ply’ the
Hudson, is now 25 cents--cheap enough, but is generally cheaper than
that in the summer.

I want you to write as soon as I tell you where to direct your letter.
I would let you know now, if I knew myself. I may perhaps be here a week
longer; but I cannot tell. When you write tell me the whereabouts of the
family. My love to Mr. Moffett and Ella. Tell Ella I intend to write to
her soon, whether she wants me to nor not.

                              Truly your Brother,

                                        SAML L. CLEMENS.

     He was in Philadelphia when he wrote the nest letter that has come
     down to us, and apparently satisfied with the change.  It is a
     letter to Orion Clemens, who had disposed of his paper, but
     evidently was still in Hannibal.  An extended description of a trip
     to Fairmount Park is omitted because of its length, its chief
     interest being the tendency it shows to descriptive writing--the
     field in which he would make his first great fame.  There is,
     however, no hint of humor, and only a mild suggestion of the author
     of the Innocents Abroad in this early attempt.  The letter as here
     given is otherwise complete, the omissions being indicated.

To Orion Clemens, in Hannibal:

                                   PHILADELPHIA, PA. Oct. 26,1853.

MY DEAR BROTHER,--It was at least two weeks before I left New York, that
I received my last letter from home: and since then, not a word have I
heard from any of you. And now, since I think of it, it wasn’t a letter,
either, but the last number of the “Daily Journal,” saying that that
paper was sold, and I very naturally supposed from that, that the family
had disbanded, and taken up winter quarters in St. Louis. Therefore, I
have been writing to Pamela, till I’ve tired of it, and have received no
answer. I have been writing for the last two or three weeks, to send Ma
some money, but devil take me if I knew where she was, and so the money
has slipped out of my pocket somehow or other, but I have a dollar left,
and a good deal owing to me, which will be paid next Monday. I shall
enclose the dollar in this letter, and you can hand it to her. I know
it’s a small amount, but then it will buy her a handkerchief, and at the
same time serve as a specimen of the kind of stuff we are paid with in
Philadelphia, for you see it’s against the law, in Pennsylvania, to keep
or pass a bill of less denomination than $5. I have only seen two or
three bank bills since I have been in the State. On Monday the hands are
paid off in sparkling gold, fresh from the Mint; so your dreams are not
troubled with the fear of having doubtful money in your pocket.

I am subbing at the Inquirer office. One man has engaged me to work for
him every Sunday till the first of next April, (when I shall return home
to take Ma to Ky;) and another has engaged my services for the 24th of
next month; and if I want it, I can get subbing every night of the week.
I go to work at 7 o’clock in the evening, and work till 3 o’clock the
next morning. I can go to the theatre and stay till 12 o’clock and then
go to the office, and get work from that till 3 the next morning; when
I go to bed, and sleep till 11 o’clock, then get up and loaf the rest of
the day. The type is mostly agate and minion, with some bourgeois; and
when one gets a good agate take,--[“Agate,” “minion,” etc., sizes of
type; “take,” a piece of work. Type measurement is by ems, meaning the
width of the letter ‘m’.]--he is sure to make money. I made $2.50 last
Sunday, and was laughed at by all the hands, the poorest of whom sets
11,000 on Sunday; and if I don’t set 10,000, at least, next Sunday,
I’ll give them leave to laugh as much as they want to. Out of the 22
compositors in this office, 12 at least, set 15,000 on Sunday.

Unlike New York, I like this Philadelphia amazingly, and the people in
it. There is only one thing that gets my “dander” up--and that is
the hands are always encouraging me: telling me--“it’s no use to get
discouraged--no use to be down-hearted, for there is more work here than
you can do!” “Down-hearted,” the devil! I have not had a particle of
such a feeling since I left Hannibal, more than four months ago. I fancy
they’ll have to wait some time till they see me down-hearted or afraid
of starving while I have strength to work and am in a city of 400,000
inhabitants. When I was in Hannibal, before I had scarcely stepped out
of the town limits, nothing could have convinced me that I would starve
as soon as I got a little way from home....

The grave of Franklin is in Christ Church-yard, corner of Fifth and Arch
streets. They keep the gates locked, and one can only see the flat slab
that lies over his remains and that of his wife; but you cannot see the
inscription distinctly enough to read it. The inscription, I believe,
reads thus:

                        “Benjamin  |
                         and       |  Franklin”
                          Deborah   |

I counted 27 cannons (6 pounders) planted in the edge of the sidewalk in
Water St. the other day. They are driven into the ground, about a foot,
with the mouth end upwards. A ball is driven fast into the mouth of
each, to exclude the water; they look like so many posts. They were
put there during the war. I have also seen them planted in this manner,
round the old churches, in N. Y.....

There is one fine custom observed in Phila. A gentleman is always
expected to hand up a lady’s money for her. Yesterday, I sat in the
front end of the ‘bus, directly under the driver’s box--a lady sat
opposite me. She handed me her money, which was right. But, Lord! a St.
Louis lady would think herself ruined, if she should be so familiar with
a stranger. In St. Louis a man will sit in the front end of the stage,
and see a lady stagger from the far end, to pay her fare. The Phila.
‘bus drivers cannot cheat. In the front of the stage is a thing like an
office clock, with figures from 0 to 40, marked on its face. When the
stage starts, the hand of the clock is turned toward the 0. When you get
in and pay your fare, the driver strikes a bell, and the hand moves
to the figure 1--that is, “one fare, and paid for,” and there is your
receipt, as good as if you had it in your pocket. When a passenger pays
his fare and the driver does not strike the bell immediately, he is
greeted “Strike that bell! will you?”
I must close now. I intend visiting the Navy Yard, Mint, etc., before
I write again. You must write often. You see I have nothing to write
interesting to you, while you can write nothing that will not interest
me. Don’t say my letters are not long enough. Tell Jim Wolfe to write.
Tell all the boys where I am, and to write. Jim Robinson, particularly.
I wrote to him from N. Y. Tell me all that is going on in H--l.

                                   Truly your brother


     Those were primitive times.  Imagine a passenger in these
     easy-going days calling to a driver or conductor to “Strike
     that bell!”
     “H--l” is his abbreviation for Hannibal.  He had first used
     it in a title of a poem which a few years before, during one
     of Orion’s absences, he had published in the paper.  “To
     Mary in Hannibal” was too long to set as a display head in
     single column.  The poem had no great merit, but under the
     abbreviated title it could hardly fail to invite notice.  It
     was one of several things he did to liven up the circulation
     during a brief period of his authority.

     The doubtful money he mentions was the paper issued by
     private banks, “wild cat,” as it was called.  He had been
     paid with it in New York, and found it usually at a
     discount--sometimes even worthless.  Wages and money were
     both better in Philadelphia, but the fund for his mother’s
     trip to Kentucky apparently did not grow very rapidly.

     The next letter, written a month later, is also to Orion
     Clemens, who had now moved to Muscatine, Iowa, and
     established there a new paper with an old title, ‘The

To Orion Clemens, in Muscatine, Iowa:

                                   PHILADELPHIA, Nov. 28th, 1853.

MY DEAR BROTHER,--I received your letter today. I think Ma ought to
spend the winter in St. Louis. I don’t believe in that climate--it’s too
cold for her.

The printers’ annual ball and supper came off the other night. The
proceeds amounted to about $1,000. The printers, as well as other
people, are endeavoring to raise money to erect a monument to Franklin,
but there are so many abominable foreigners here (and among printers,
too,) who hate everything American, that I am very certain as much money
for such a purpose could be raised in St. Louis, as in Philadelphia.
I was in Franklin’s old office this morning--the “North American”
 (formerly “Philadelphia Gazette”) and there was at least one foreigner
for every American at work there.

How many subscribers has the Journal got? What does the job-work pay?
and what does the whole concern pay?...

I will try to write for the paper occasionally, but I fear my letters
will be very uninteresting, for this incessant night-work dulls one’s
ideas amazingly.

From some cause, I cannot set type nearly so fast as when I was at home.
Sunday is a long day, and while others set 12 and 15,000, yesterday,
I only set 10,000. However, I will shake this laziness off, soon, I

How do you like “free-soil?”--I would like amazingly to see a good
old-fashioned negro.

                                  My love to all

                                        Truly your brother


     We may believe that it never occurred to the young printer, looking
     up landmarks of Ben Franklin, that time would show points of
     resemblance between the great Franklin’s career and his own.  Yet
     these seem now rather striking.  Like Franklin, he had been taken
     out of school very young and put at the printer’s trade; like
     Franklin, he had worked in his brother’s office, and had written for
     the paper.  Like him, too, he had left quietly for New York and
     Philadelphia to work at the trade of printing, and in time Samuel
     Clemens, like Benjamin Franklin, would become a world-figure,
     many-sided, human, and of incredible popularity.  The boy Sam
     Clemens may have had such dreams, but we find no trace of them.

     There is but one more letter of this early period.  Young Clemens
     spent some time in Washington, but if he wrote from there his
     letters have disappeared.  The last letter is from Philadelphia and
     seems to reflect homesickness.  The novelty of absence and travel
     was wearing thin.

To Mrs. Moffett, in St. Louis:

                                   PHILADELPHIA, Dec. 5, ‘53.

MY DEAR SISTER,--I have already written two letters within the last
two hours, and you will excuse me if this is not lengthy. If I had
the money, I would come to St. Louis now, while the river is open; but
within the last two or three weeks I have spent about thirty dollars for
clothing, so I suppose I shall remain where I am. I only want to return
to avoid night-work, which is injuring my eyes. I have received one or
two letters from home, but they are not written as they should be, and I
know no more about what is going on there than the man in the moon. One
only has to leave home to learn how to write an interesting letter to
an absent friend when he gets back. I suppose you board at Mrs. Hunter’s
yet--and that, I think, is somewhere in Olive street above Fifth.
Philadelphia is one of the healthiest places in the Union. I wanted to
spend this winter in a warm climate, but it is too late now. I don’t
like our present prospect for cold weather at all.

                                   Truly your brother


     But he did not return to the West for another half year.  The
     letters he wrote during that period have not survived.  It was late
     in the summer of 1854 when he finally started for St. Louis.  He sat
     up for three days and nights in a smoking-car to make the journey,
     and arrived exhausted.  The river packet was leaving in a few hours
     for Muscatine, Iowa, where his mother and his two brothers were now
     located.  He paid his sister a brief visit, and caught the boat.
     Worn-out, he dropped into his berth and slept the thirty-six hours
     of the journey.

     It was early when-he arrived--too early to arouse the family.  In
     the office of the little hotel where he waited for daylight he found
     a small book.  It contained portraits of the English rulers, with
     the brief facts of their reigns.  Young Clemens entertained himself
     by learning this information by heart.  He had a fine memory for
     such things, and in an hour or two had the printed data perfectly
     and permanently committed.  This incidentally acquired knowledge
     proved of immense value to him.  It was his groundwork for all
     English history.


     There comes a period now of nearly four years, when Samuel Clemens
     was either a poor correspondent or his letters have not been
     preserved.  Only two from this time have survived--happily of
     intimate biographical importance.

     Young Clemens had not remained in Muscatine.  His brother had no
     inducements to offer, and he presently returned to St. Louis, where
     he worked as a compositor on the Evening News until the following
     spring, rooming with a young man named Burrough, a journeyman
     chair-maker with a taste for the English classics.  Orion Clemens,
     meantime, on a trip to Keokuk, had casually married there, and a
     little later removed his office to that city.  He did not move the
     paper; perhaps it did not seem worth while, and in Keokuk he
     confined himself to commercial printing.  The Ben Franklin Book and
     Job Office started with fair prospects.  Henry Clemens and a boy
     named Dick Hingham were the assistants, and somewhat later, when
     brother Sam came up from St. Louis on a visit, an offer of five
     dollars a week and board induced him to remain.  Later, when it
     became increasingly difficult to pay the five dollars, Orion took
     his brother into partnership, which perhaps relieved the financial
     stress, though the office methods would seem to have left something
     to be desired.  It is about at this point that the first of the two
     letters mentioned was written.  The writer addressed it to his
     mother and sister--Jane Clemens having by this time taken up her
     home with her daughter, Mrs. Moffett.

To Mrs. Clemens and Mrs. Moffett, in St. Louis:

                                        KEOKUK, Iowa, June 10th, 1856.

MY DEAR MOTHER & SISTER,--I have nothing to write. Everything is
going on well. The Directory is coming on finely. I have to work on it
occasionally, which I don’t like a particle I don’t like to work at too
many things at once. They take Henry and Dick away from me too. Before
we commenced the Directory, I could tell before breakfast just how much
work could be done during the day, and manage accordingly--but now,
they throw all my plans into disorder by taking my hands away from their
work. I have nothing to do with the book--if I did I would have the two
book hands do more work than they do, or else I would drop it. It is
not a mere supposition that they do not work fast enough--I know it; for
yesterday the two book hands were at work all day, Henry and Dick all
the afternoon, on the advertisements, and they set up five pages and
a half--and I set up two pages and a quarter of the same matter after
supper, night before last, and I don’t work fast on such things. They
are either excessively slow motioned or very lazy. I am not getting
along well with the job work. I can’t work blindly--without system. I
gave Dick a job yesterday, which I calculated he would set in two hours
and I could work off in three, and therefore just finish it by supper
time, but he was transferred to the Directory, and the job, promised
this morning, remains untouched. Through all the great pressure of job
work lately, I never before failed in a promise of the kind.

                                        Your Son

Excuse brevity this is my 3rd letter to-night.

     Samuel Clemens was never celebrated for his patience; we may imagine
     that the disorder of the office tried his nerves.  He seems, on the
     whole, however, to have been rather happy in Keokuk.  There were
     plenty of young people there, and he was a favorite among them.  But
     he had grown dissatisfied, and when one day some weeks later there
     fell into His hands an account of the riches of the newly explored
     regions of the upper Amazon, he promptly decided to find his fortune
     at the headwaters of the great South-American river.  The second
     letter reports this momentous decision.  It was written to Henry
     Clemens, who was temporarily absent-probably in Hannibal.

To Henry Clemens:

                                        KEOKUK, August 5th, ‘56.

MY DEAR BROTHER,--.... Ward and I held a long consultation, Sunday
morning, and the result was that we two have determined to start to
Brazil, if possible, in six weeks from now, in order to look carefully
into matters there and report to Dr. Martin in time for him to follow on
the first of March. We propose going via New York. Now, between you and
I and the fence you must say nothing about this to Orion, for he thinks
that Ward is to go clear through alone, and that I am to stop at
New York or New Orleans until he reports. But that don’t suit me. My
confidence in human nature does not extend quite that far. I won’t
depend upon Ward’s judgment, or anybody’s else--I want to see with my
own eyes, and form my own opinion. But you know what Orion is. When he
gets a notion into his head, and more especially if it is an erroneous
one, the Devil can’t get it out again. So I know better than to combat
his arguments long, but apparently yielded, inwardly determined to go
clear through. Ma knows my determination, but even she counsels me to
keep it from Orion. She says I can treat him as I did her when I started
to St. Louis and went to New York--I can start to New York and go to
South America! Although Orion talks grandly about furnishing me with
fifty or a hundred dollars in six weeks, I could not depend upon him
for ten dollars, so I have “feelers” out in several directions, and
have already asked for a hundred dollars from one source (keep it to
yourself.) I will lay on my oars for awhile, and see how the wind sets,
when I may probably try to get more. Mrs. Creel is a great friend of
mine, and has some influence with Ma and Orion, though I reckon they
would not acknowledge it. I am going up there tomorrow, to press her
into my service. I shall take care that Ma and Orion are plentifully
supplied with South American books. They have Herndon’s Report now. Ward
and the Dr. and myself will hold a grand consultation tonight at the
office. We have agreed that no more shall be admitted into our company.

I believe the Guards went down to Quincy today to escort our first
locomotive home.

                         Write soon.

                                   Your Brother,

     Readers familiar with the life of Mark Twain know that none of the
     would-be adventurers found their way to the Amazon: His two
     associates gave up the plan, probably for lack of means.  Young
     Clemens himself found a fifty-dollar bill one bleak November day
     blowing along the streets of Keokuk, and after duly advertising his
     find without result, set out for the Amazon, by way of Cincinnati
     and New Orleans.

     “I advertised the find and left for the Amazon the same day,” he
     once declared, a statement which we may take with a literary

     He remained in Cincinnati that winter (1856-57) working at his
     trade.  No letters have been preserved from that time, except two
     that were sent to a Keokuk weekly, the Saturday Post, and as these
     were written for publication, and are rather a poor attempt at
     burlesque humor--their chief feature being a pretended illiteracy
     --they would seem to bear no relation to this collection.  He roomed
     that winter with a rugged, self-educated Scotchman--a mechanic, but
     a man of books and philosophies, who left an impress on Mark Twain’s
     mental life.

     In April he took up once more the journey toward South America, but
     presently forgot the Amazon altogether in the new career that opened
     to him.  All through his boyhood and youth Samuel Clemens had wanted
     to be a pilot.  Now came the long-deferred opportunity.  On the
     little Cincinnati steamer, the Paul Jones, there was a pilot named
     Horace Bixby.  Young Clemens idling in the pilot-house was one
     morning seized with the old ambition, and laid siege to Bixby to
     teach him the river.  The terms finally agreed upon specified a fee
     to Bixby of five hundred dollars, one hundred down, the balance when
     the pupil had completed the course and was earning money.  But all
     this has been told in full elsewhere, and is only summarized here
     because the letters fail to complete the story.

     Bixby soon made some trips up the Missouri River, and in his absence
     turned his apprentice, or “cub,” over to other pilots, such being
     the river custom.  Young Clemens, in love with the life, and a
     favorite with his superiors, had a happy time until he came under a
     pilot named Brown.  Brown was illiterate and tyrannical, and from
     the beginning of their association pilot and apprentice disliked
     each other cordially.

     It is at this point that the letters begin once more--the first
     having been written when young Clemens, now twenty-two years old,
     had been on the river nearly a year.  Life with Brown, of course,
     was not all sorrow, and in this letter we find some of the fierce
     joy of adventure which in those days Samuel Clemens loved.

To Onion Clemens and Wife, in Keokuk, Iowa:

                                        SAINT LOUIS, March 9th, 1858.

DEAR BROTHER AND SISTER,--I must take advantage of the opportunity
now presented to write you, but I shall necessarily be dull, as I feel
uncommonly stupid. We have had a hard trip this time. Left Saint Louis
three weeks ago on the Pennsylvania. The weather was very cold, and the
ice running densely. We got 15 miles below town, landed the boat, and
then one pilot. Second Mate and four deck hands took the sounding boat
and shoved out in the ice to hunt the channel. They failed to find it,
and the ice drifted them ashore. The pilot left the men with the boat
and walked back to us, a mile and a half. Then the other pilot and
myself, with a larger crew of men started out and met with the same
fate. We drifted ashore just below the other boat. Then the fun
commenced. We made fast a line 20 fathoms long, to the bow of the yawl,
and put the men (both crews) to it like horses, on the shore. Brown, the
pilot, stood in the bow, with an oar, to keep her head out, and I took
the tiller. We would start the men, and all would go well till the yawl
would bring up on a heavy cake of ice, and then the men would drop like
so many ten-pins, while Brown assumed the horizontal in the bottom of
the boat. After an hour’s hard work we got back, with ice half an inch
thick on the oars. Sent back and warped up the other yawl, and then
George (the first mentioned pilot,) and myself, took a double crew of
fresh men and tried it again. This time we found the channel in less
than half an hour, and landed on an island till the Pennsylvania came
along and took us off. The next day was colder still. I was out in the
yawl twice, and then we got through, but the infernal steamboat came
near running over us. We went ten miles further, landed, and George and
I cleared out again--found the channel first trial, but got caught in
the gorge and drifted helplessly down the river. The Ocean Spray came
along and started into the ice after us, but although she didn’t succeed
in her kind intention of taking us aboard, her waves washed us out, and
that was all we wanted. We landed on an island, built a big fire and
waited for the boat. She started, and ran aground! It commenced raining
and sleeting, and a very interesting time we had on that barren sandbar
for the next four hours, when the boat got off and took us aboard. The
next day was terribly cold. We sounded Hat Island, warped up around a
bar and sounded again--but in order to understand our situation you will
have to read Dr. Kane. It would have been impossible to get back to the
boat. But the Maria Denning was aground at the head of the island--they
hailed us--we ran alongside and they hoisted us in and thawed us out.
We had then been out in the yawl from 4 o’clock in the morning till half
past 9 without being near a fire. There was a thick coating of ice over
men, yawl, ropes and everything else, and we looked like rock-candy
statuary. We got to Saint Louis this morning, after an absence of 3
weeks--that boat generally makes the trip in 2.

Henry was doing little or nothing here, and I sent him to our clerk to
work his way for a trip, by measuring wood piles, counting coal boxes,
and other clerkly duties, which he performed satisfactorily. He may go
down with us again, for I expect he likes our bill of fare better than
that of his boarding house.

I got your letter at Memphis as I went down. That is the best place to
write me at. The post office here is always out of my route, somehow or
other. Remember the direction: “S.L.C., Steamer Pennsylvania Care Duval
& Algeo, Wharfboat, Memphis.” I cannot correspond with a paper, because
when one is learning the river, he is not allowed to do or think about
anything else.

I am glad to see you in such high spirits about the land, and I hope you
will remain so, if you never get richer. I seldom venture to think about
our landed wealth, for “hope deferred maketh the heart sick.”
I did intend to answer your letter, but I am too lazy and too sleepy
now. We have had a rough time during the last 24 hours working through
the ice between Cairo and Saint Louis, and I have had but little rest.

I got here too late to see the funeral of the 10 victims by the burning
of the Pacific hotel in 7th street. Ma says there were 10 hearses, with
the fire companies (their engines in mourning--firemen in uniform,) the
various benevolent societies in uniform and mourning, and a multitude
of citizens and strangers, forming, altogether, a procession of 30,000
persons! One steam fire engine was drawn by four white horses, with
crape festoons on their heads.

                    Well I am--just--about--asleep--

                                   Your brother

     Among other things, we gather from this letter that Orion Clemens
     had faith in his brother as a newspaper correspondent, though the
     two contributions from Cincinnati, already mentioned, were not
     promising.  Furthermore, we get an intimation of Orion’s unfailing
     confidence in the future of the “land”--that is to say, the great
     tract of land in Eastern Tennessee which, in an earlier day, his
     father had bought as a heritage for his children.  It is the same
     Tennessee land that had “millions in it” for Colonel Sellers--the
     land that would become, as Orion Clemens long afterward phrased it,
     “the worry of three generations.”
     The Doctor Kane of this letter is, of course, Dr. Elisha Kent Kane,
     the American Arctic explorer.  Any book of exploration always
     appealed to Mark Twain, and in those days Kane was a favorite.

     The paragraph concerning Henry, and his employment on the
     Pennsylvania, begins the story of a tragedy.  The story has been
     fully told elsewhere,--[Mark Twain: A Biography, by same author.]
     --and need only be sketched briefly here.  Henry, a gentle, faithful
     boy, shared with his brother the enmity of the pilot Brown.  Some
     two months following the date of the foregoing letter, on a down
     trip of the Pennsylvania, an unprovoked attack made by Brown upon
     the boy brought his brother Sam to the rescue.  Brown received a
     good pummeling at the hands of the future humorist, who, though
     upheld by the captain, decided to quit the Pennsylvania at New
     Orleans and to come up the river by another boat.  The Brown episode
     has no special bearing on the main tragedy, though now in retrospect
     it seems closely related to it.  Samuel Clemens, coming up the river
     on the A. T. Lacey, two days behind the Pennsylvania, heard a voice
     shout as they approached the Greenville, Mississippi, landing:

     “The Pennsylvania is blown up just below Memphis, at Ship Island!
     One hundred and fifty lives lost!”
     It was a true report.  At six o’clock of a warm, mid-June morning,
     while loading wood, sixty miles below Memphis, the Pennsylvania’s
     boilers had exploded with fearful results.  Henry Clemens was among
     the injured.  He was still alive when his brother reached Memphis on
     the Lacey, but died a few days later.  Samuel Clemens had idolized
     the boy, and regarded himself responsible for his death.  The letter
     that follows shows that he was overwrought by the scenes about him
     and the strain of watching, yet the anguish of it is none the less

To Mrs. Onion Clemens:

                              MEMPHIS, TENN., Friday, June 18th, 1858.

DEAR SISTER MOLLIE,--Long before this reaches you, my poor Henry my
darling, my pride, my glory, my all, will have finished his blameless
career, and the light of my life will have gone out in utter
darkness. (O, God! this is hard to bear.) Hardened, hopeless,--aye,
lost--lost--lost and ruined sinner as I am--I, even I, have humbled
myself to the ground and prayed as never man prayed before, that the
great God might let this cup pass from me--that he would strike me to
the earth, but spare my brother--that he would pour out the fulness of
his just wrath upon my wicked head, but have mercy, mercy, mercy upon
that unoffending boy. The horrors of three days have swept over me--they
have blasted my youth and left me an old man before my time. Mollie,
there are gray hairs in my head tonight. For forty-eight hours I labored
at the bedside of my poor burned and bruised, but uncomplaining brother,
and then the star of my hope went out and left me in the gloom of
despair. Men take me by the hand and congratulate me, and call me
“lucky” because I was not on the Pennsylvania when she blew up! May God
forgive them, for they know not what they say.

Mollie you do not understand why I was not on that boat--I will tell
you. I left Saint Louis on her, but on the way down, Mr. Brown, the
pilot that was killed by the explosion (poor fellow,) quarreled with
Henry without cause, while I was steering. Henry started out of the
pilot-house--Brown jumped up and collared him--turned him half way
around and struck him in the face!--and him nearly six feet high--struck
my little brother. I was wild from that moment. I left the boat to steer
herself, and avenged the insult--and the Captain said I was right--that
he would discharge Brown in N. Orleans if he could get another pilot,
and would do it in St. Louis, anyhow. Of course both of us could not
return to St. Louis on the same boat--no pilot could be found, and the
Captain sent me to the A. T. Lacey, with orders to her Captain to bring
me to Saint Louis. Had another pilot been found, poor Brown would have
been the “lucky” man.

I was on the Pennsylvania five minutes before she left N. Orleans, and I
must tell you the truth, Mollie--three hundred human beings perished by
that fearful disaster. Henry was asleep--was blown up--then fell back
on the hot boilers, and I suppose that rubbish fell on him, for he is
injured internally. He got into the water and swam to shore, and got
into the flatboat with the other survivors.--[Henry had returned once
to the Pennsylvania to render assistance to the passengers. Later he had
somehow made his way to the flatboat.]--He had nothing on but his wet
shirt, and he lay there burning up with a southern sun and freezing in
the wind till the Kate Frisbee came along. His wounds were not dressed
till he got to Memphis, 15 hours after the explosion. He was senseless
and motionless for 12 hours after that. But may God bless Memphis, the
noblest city on the face of the earth. She has done her duty by these
poor afflicted creatures--especially Henry, for he has had five--aye,
ten, fifteen, twenty times the care and attention that any one else has
had. Dr. Peyton, the best physician in Memphis (he is exactly like the
portraits of Webster) sat by him for 36 hours. There are 32 scalded men
in that room, and you would know Dr. Peyton better than I can describe
him, if you could follow him around and hear each man murmur as he
passes, “May the God of Heaven bless you, Doctor!” The ladies have done
well, too. Our second Mate, a handsome, noble hearted young fellow, will
die. Yesterday a beautiful girl of 15 stooped timidly down by his side
and handed him a pretty bouquet. The poor suffering boy’s eyes kindled,
his lips quivered out a gentle “God bless you, Miss,” and he burst into
tears. He made them write her name on a card for him, that he might not
forget it.

Pray for me, Mollie, and pray for my poor sinless brother.

                         Your unfortunate Brother,

                                        SAML. L. CLEMENS.

P. S. I got here two days after Henry.

     It is said that Mark Twain never really recovered from the tragedy
     of his brother’s death--that it was responsible for the serious,
     pathetic look that the face of the world’s greatest laugh-maker
     always wore in repose.

     He went back to the river, and in September of the same year, after
     an apprenticeship of less than eighteen months, received his license
     as a St. Louis and New Orleans pilot, and was accepted by his old
     chief, Bixby, as full partner on an important boat.  In Life on the
     Mississippi Mark Twain makes the period of his study from two to two
     and a half years, but this is merely an attempt to magnify his
     dullness.  He was, in fact, an apt pupil and a pilot of very high

     Clemens was now suddenly lifted to a position of importance.  The
     Mississippi River pilot of those days was a person of distinction,
     earning a salary then regarded as princely.  Certainly two hundred
     and fifty dollars a month was large for a boy of twenty-three.  At
     once, of course, he became the head of the Clemens family.  His
     brother Orion was ten years older, but he had not the gift of
     success.  By common consent the younger brother assumed permanently
     the position of family counselor and financier.  We expect him to
     feel the importance of his new position, and he is too human to
     disappoint us.  Incidentally, we notice an improvement in his
     English.  He no longer writes “between you and I.”

Fragment of a letter to Orion Clemens. Written at St. Louis in 1859:

... I am not talking nonsense, now--I am in earnest, I want you to keep
your troubles and your plans out of the reach of meddlers, until the
latter are consummated, so that in case you fail, no one will know it
but yourself.

Above all things (between you and me) never tell Ma any of your
troubles; she never slept a wink the night your last letter came, and
she looks distressed yet. Write only cheerful news to her. You know that
she will not be satisfied so long as she thinks anything is going on
that she is ignorant of--and she makes a little fuss about it when her
suspicions are awakened; but that makes no difference--. I know that
it is better that she be kept in the dark concerning all things of an
unpleasant nature. She upbraids me occasionally for giving her only the
bright side of my affairs (but unfortunately for her she has to put up
with it, for I know that troubles that I curse awhile and forget,
would disturb her slumbers for some time.) (Parenthesis No. 2--Possibly
because she is deprived of the soothing consolation of swearing.) Tell
her the good news and me the bad.

Putting all things together, I begin to think I am rather lucky than
otherwise--a notion which I was slow to take up. The other night I
was about to round to for a storm--but concluded that I could find a
smoother bank somewhere. I landed 5 miles below. The storm came--passed
away and did not injure us. Coming up, day before yesterday, I looked
at the spot I first chose, and half the trees on the bank were torn to
shreds. We couldn’t have lived 5 minutes in such a tornado. And I am
also lucky in having a berth, while all the young pilots are idle. This
is the luckiest circumstance that ever befell me. Not on account of the
wages--for that is a secondary consideration--but from the fact that
the City of Memphis is the largest boat in the trade and the hardest to
pilot, and consequently I can get a reputation on her, which is a
thing I never could accomplish on a transient boat. I can “bank” in the
neighborhood of $100 a month on her, and that will satisfy me for the
present (principally because the other youngsters are sucking their
fingers.) Bless me! what a pleasure there is in revenge! and what vast
respect Prosperity commands! Why, six months ago, I could enter the
“Rooms,” and receive only a customary fraternal greeting--but now they
say, “Why, how are you, old fellow--when did you get in?”
And the young pilots who used to tell me, patronizingly, that I could
never learn the river cannot keep from showing a little of their chagrin
at seeing me so far ahead of them. Permit me to “blow my horn,” for I
derive a living pleasure from these things, and I must confess that
when I go to pay my dues, I rather like to let the d---d rascals get
a glimpse of a hundred dollar bill peeping out from amongst notes of
smaller dimensions, whose face I do not exhibit! You will despise this
egotism, but I tell you there is a “stern joy” in it.....

Pilots did not remain long on one boat, as a rule; just why it is not so
easy to understand. Perhaps they liked the experience of change;
perhaps both captain and pilot liked the pursuit of the ideal. In the
light-hearted letter that follows--written to a friend of the family,
formerly of Hannibal--we get something of the uncertainty of the pilot’s

To Mrs. Elizabeth W. Smith, in Jackson, Cape Girardeau County, Mo.:

                                   ST.  Louis, Oct. 31 [probably 1859].

DEAR AUNT BETSEY,--Ma has not written you, because she did not know when
I would get started down the river again....

You see, Aunt Betsey, I made but one trip on the packet after you left,
and then concluded to remain at home awhile. I have just discovered this
morning that I am to go to New Orleans on the “Col. Chambers”--fine,
light-draught, swift-running passenger steamer--all modern
accommodations and improvements--through with dispatch--for freight
or passage apply on board, or to--but--I have forgotten the agent’s
name--however, it makes no difference--and as I was saying, or had
intended to say, Aunt Betsey, probably, if you are ready to come up, you
had better take the “Ben Lewis,” the best boat in the packet line. She
will be at Cape Girardeau at noon on Saturday (day after tomorrow,)
and will reach here at breakfast time, Sunday. If Mr. Hamilton is chief
clerk,--very well, I am slightly acquainted with him. And if Messrs.
Carter Gray and Dean Somebody (I have forgotten his other name,) are in
the pilot-house--very well again-I am acquainted with them. Just tell
Mr. Gray, Aunt Betsey--that I wish him to place himself at your command.

All the family are well--except myself--I am in a bad way
again--disease, Love, in its most malignant form. Hopes are entertained
of my recovery, however. At the dinner table--excellent symptom--I am
still as “terrible as an army with banners.”
Aunt Betsey--the wickedness of this world--but I haven’t time to
moralize this morning.


                                        SAM CLEMENS.

     As we do not hear of this “attack” again, the recovery was probably
     prompt.  His letters are not frequent enough for us to keep track of
     his boats, but we know that he was associated with Bixby from time
     to time, and now and again with one of the Bowen boys, his old
     Hannibal schoolmates.  He was reveling in the river life, the ease
     and distinction and romance of it.  No other life would ever suit
     him as well.  He was at the age to enjoy just what it brought him
     --at the airy, golden, overweening age of youth.

To Orion Clemens, in Keokuk, Iowa:

                                        ST. LOUIS, Mch. 1860.

MY DEAR BRO.,--Your last has just come to hand. It reminds me strongly
of Tom Hood’s letters to his family, (which I have been reading lately).
But yours only remind me of his, for although there is a striking
likeness, your humour is much finer than his, and far better expressed.
Tom Hood’s wit, (in his letters) has a savor of labor about it which is
very disagreeable. Your letter is good. That portion of it wherein the
old sow figures is the very best thing I have seen lately. Its
quiet style resembles Goldsmith’s “Citizen of the World,” and “Don
Quixote,”--which are my beau ideals of fine writing.

You have paid the preacher! Well, that is good, also. What a man wants
with religion in these breadless times, surpasses my comprehension.

Pamela and I have just returned from a visit to the most wonderfully
beautiful painting which this city has ever seen--Church’s “Heart of the
Andes”--which represents a lovely valley with its rich vegetation in all
the bloom and glory of a tropical summer--dotted with birds and flowers
of all colors and shades of color, and sunny slopes, and shady corners,
and twilight groves, and cool cascades--all grandly set off with a
majestic mountain in the background with its gleaming summit clothed in
everlasting ice and snow! I have seen it several times, but it is always
a new picture--totally new--you seem to see nothing the second time
which you saw the first. We took the opera glass, and examined its
beauties minutely, for the naked eye cannot discern the little wayside
flowers, and soft shadows and patches of sunshine, and half-hidden
bunches of grass and jets of water which form some of its most
enchanting features. There is no slurring of perspective effect about
it--the most distant--the minutest object in it has a marked and
distinct personality--so that you may count the very leaves on the
trees. When you first see the tame, ordinary-looking picture, your first
impulse is to turn your back upon it, and say “Humbug”--but your third
visit will find your brain gasping and straining with futile efforts to
take all the wonder in--and appreciate it in its fulness--and understand
how such a miracle could have been conceived and executed by human brain
and human hands. You will never get tired of looking at the picture, but
your reflections--your efforts to grasp an intelligible Something--you
hardly know what--will grow so painful that you will have to go away
from the thing, in order to obtain relief. You may find relief, but you
cannot banish the picture--It remains with you still. It is in my mind
now--and the smallest feature could not be removed without my detecting
it. So much for the “Heart of the Andes.”
Ma was delighted with her trip, but she was disgusted with the girls
for allowing me to embrace and kiss them--and she was horrified at the
Schottische as performed by Miss Castle and myself. She was perfectly
willing for me to dance until 12 o’clock at the imminent peril of my
going to sleep on the after watch--but then she would top off with a
very inconsistent sermon on dancing in general; ending with a terrific
broadside aimed at that heresy of heresies, the Schottische.

I took Ma and the girls in a carriage, round that portion of New Orleans
where the finest gardens and residences are to be seen, and although
it was a blazing hot dusty day, they seemed hugely delighted. To use
an expression which is commonly ignored in polite society, they were
“hell-bent” on stealing some of the luscious-looking oranges from
branches which overhung the fences, but I restrained them. They were not
aware before that shrubbery could be made to take any queer shape which
a skilful gardener might choose to twist it into, so they found not only
beauty but novelty in their visit. We went out to Lake Pontchartrain in
the cars.                                   Your Brother

                                             SAM CLEMENS

     We have not before heard of Miss Castle, who appears to have been
     one of the girls who accompanied Jane Clemens on the trip which her
     son gave her to New Orleans, but we may guess that the other was his
     cousin and good comrade, Ella Creel.  One wishes that he might have
     left us a more extended account of that long-ago river journey, a
     fuller glimpse of a golden age that has vanished as completely as
     the days of Washington.

     We may smile at the natural youthful desire to air his reading, and
     his art appreciation, and we may find his opinions not without
     interest.  We may even commend them--in part.  Perhaps we no longer
     count the leaves on Church’s trees, but Goldsmith and Cervantes
     still deserve the place assigned them.

     He does not tell us what boat he was on at this time, but later in
     the year he was with Bixby again, on the Alonzo Child.  We get a bit
     of the pilot in port in his next.

To Orion Clemens, in Keokuk, Iowa:

                         “ALONZO CHILD,” N. ORLEANS, Sep. 28th 1860.

DEAR BROTHER,--I just received yours and Mollies letter yesterday--they
had been here two weeks--forwarded from St. Louis. We got here
yesterday--will leave at noon to-day. Of course I have had no time, in
24 hours, to do anything. Therefore I’ll answer after we are under way
again. Yesterday, I had many things to do, but Bixby and I got with
the pilots of two other boats and went off dissipating on a ten dollar
dinner at a French restaurant breathe it not unto Ma!--where we ate
sheep-head, fish with mushrooms, shrimps and oysters--birds--coffee with
brandy burnt in it, &c &c,--ate, drank and smoked, from 2 p.m. until 5
o’clock, and then--then the day was too far gone to do any thing.

Please find enclosed and acknowledge receipt of--$20.00

                                   In haste

                                        SAM L. CLEMENS

     It should be said, perhaps, that when he became pilot Jane Clemens
     had released her son from his pledge in the matter of cards and
     liquor.  This license did not upset him, however.  He cared very
     little for either of these dissipations.  His one great indulgence
     was tobacco, a matter upon which he was presently to receive some
     grave counsel.  He reports it in his next letter, a sufficiently
     interesting document.  The clairvoyant of this visit was Madame
     Caprell, famous in her day.  Clemens had been urged to consult her,
     and one idle afternoon concluded to make the experiment.  The letter
     reporting the matter to his brother is fragmentary, and is the last
     remaining to us of the piloting period.

Fragment of a letter to Orion Clemens, in Keokuk, Iowa:

                                        NEW ORLEANS February 6, 1862.

... She’s a very pleasant little lady--rather pretty--about 28,--say
5 feet 2 and one quarter--would weigh 116--has black eyes and hair--is
polite and intelligent--used good language, and talks much faster than I

She invited me into the little back parlor, closed the door; and we were
alone. We sat down facing each other. Then she asked my age. Then she
put her hands before her eyes a moment, and commenced talking as if she
had a good deal to say and not much time to say it in. Something after
this style:

MADAME. Yours is a watery planet; you gain your livelihood on the water;
but you should have been a lawyer--there is where your talents lie: you
might have distinguished yourself as an orator, or as an editor; you
have written a great deal; you write well--but you are rather out of
practice; no matter--you will be in practice some day; you have a superb
constitution, and as excellent health as any man in the world; you have
great powers of endurance; in your profession your strength holds out
against the longest sieges, without flagging; still, the upper part of
your lungs, the top of them is slightly affected--you must take care of
yourself; you do not drink, but you use entirely too much tobacco; and
you must stop it; mind, not moderate, but stop the use of it totally;
then I can almost promise you 86 when you will surely die; otherwise
look out for 28, 31, 34, 47, and 65; be careful--for you are not of a
long-lived race, that is on your father’s side; you are the only healthy
member of your family, and the only one in it who has anything like the
certainty of attaining to a great age--so, stop using tobacco, and be
careful of yourself..... In some respects you take after your father,
but you are much more like your mother, who belongs to the long-lived,
energetic side of the house.... You never brought all your energies to
bear upon any subject but what you accomplished it--for instance, you
are self-made, self-educated.

S. L. C. Which proves nothing.

MADAME. Don’t interrupt. When you sought your present occupation you
found a thousand obstacles in the way--obstacles unknown--not even
suspected by any save you and me, since you keep such matters to
yourself--but you fought your way, and hid the long struggle under a
mask of cheerfulness, which saved your friends anxiety on your account.
To do all this requires all the qualities I have named.

S. L. C. You flatter well, Madame.

MADAME. Don’t interrupt: Up to within a short time you had always lived
from hand to mouth-now you are in easy circumstances--for which you
need give credit to no one but yourself. The turning point in your life
occurred in 1840-7-8.

S. L. C. Which was?

MADAME. A death perhaps, and this threw you upon the world and made
you what you are; it was always intended that you should make yourself;
therefore, it was well that this calamity occurred as early as it did.
You will never die of water, although your career upon it in the future
seems well sprinkled with misfortune. You will continue upon the water
for some time yet; you will not retire finally until ten years from
now.... What is your brother’s age? 35--and a lawyer? and in pursuit of
an office? Well, he stands a better chance than the other two, and he
may get it; he is too visionary--is always flying off on a new hobby;
this will never do--tell him I said so. He is a good lawyer--a, very
good lawyer--and a fine speaker--is very popular and much respected, and
makes many friends; but although he retains their friendship, he loses
their confidence by displaying his instability of character..... The
land he has now will be very valuable after a while--

S. L. C. Say a 50 years hence, or thereabouts. Madame--

MADAME. No--less time-but never mind the land, that is a secondary
consideration--let him drop that for the present, and devote himself to
his business and politics with all his might, for he must hold offices
under the Government.....

After a while you will possess a good deal of property--retire at the
end of ten years--after which your pursuits will be literary--try
the law--you will certainly succeed. I am done now. If you have any
questions to ask--ask them freely--and if it be in my power, I will
answer without reserve--without reserve.

I asked a few questions of minor importance--paid her $2--and left,
under the decided impression that going to the fortune teller’s was
just as good as going to the opera, and the cost scarcely a trifle
more--ergo, I will disguise myself and go again, one of these days, when
other amusements fail. Now isn’t she the devil? That is to say, isn’t
she a right smart little woman?

When you want money, let Ma know, and she will send it. She and Pamela
are always fussing about change, so I sent them a hundred and twenty
quarters yesterday--fiddler’s change enough to last till I get back, I


     It is not so difficult to credit Madame Caprell with clairvoyant
     powers when one has read the letters of Samuel Clemens up to this
     point.  If we may judge by those that have survived, her prophecy of
     literary distinction for him was hardly warranted by anything she
     could have known of his past performance.  These letters of his
     youth have a value to-day only because they were written by the man
     who later was to become Mark Twain.  The squibs and skits which he
     sometimes contributed to the New Orleans papers were bright,
     perhaps, and pleasing to his pilot associates, but they were without
     literary value.  He was twenty-five years old.  More than one author
     has achieved reputation at that age.  Mark Twain was of slower
     growth; at that age he had not even developed a definite literary
     ambition:  Whatever the basis of Madame Caprell’s prophecy, we must
     admit that she was a good guesser on several matters, “a right smart
     little woman,” as Clemens himself phrased it.

     She overlooked one item, however: the proximity of the Civil War.
     Perhaps it was too close at hand for second sight.  A little more
     than two months after the Caprell letter was written Fort Sumter was
     fired upon.  Mask Twain had made his last trip as a pilot up the
     river to St. Louis--the nation was plunged into a four years’ 

     There are no letters of this immediate period.  Young Clemens went
     to Hannibal, and enlisting in a private company, composed mainly of
     old schoolmates, went soldiering for two rainy, inglorious weeks,
     by the end of which he had had enough of war, and furthermore had
     discovered that he was more of a Union abolitionist than a
     slave-holding secessionist, as he had at first supposed.
     Convictions were likely to be rather infirm during those early days
     of the war, and subject to change without notice.  Especially was
     this so in a border State.


     Clemens went from the battle-front to Keokuk, where Orion was
     preparing to accept the appointment prophesied by Madame Caprell.
     Orion was a stanch Unionist, and a member of Lincoln’s Cabinet had
     offered him the secretaryship of the new Territory of Nevada.  Orion
     had accepted, and only needed funds to carry him to his destination.
     His pilot brother had the funds, and upon being appointed “private”
      secretary, agreed to pay both passages on the overland stage, which
     would bear them across the great plains from St. Jo to Carson City.
     Mark Twain, in Roughing It, has described that glorious journey and
     the frontier life that followed it.  His letters form a supplement
     of realism to a tale that is more or less fictitious, though
     marvelously true in color and background.  The first bears no date,
     but it was written not long after their arrival, August 14, 1861.
     It is not complete, but there is enough of it to give us a very fair
     picture of Carson City, “a wooden town; its population two thousand

Part of a letter to Mrs. Jane Clemens, in St. Louis:

                              (Date not given, but Sept, or Oct., 1861.)

MY DEAR MOTHER,--I hope you will all come out here someday. But I shan’t
consent to invite you, until we can receive you in style. But I guess we
shall be able to do that, one of these days. I intend that Pamela shall
live on Lake Bigler until she can knock a bull down with her fist--say,
about three months.

“Tell everything as it is--no better, and no worse.”
Well, “Gold Hill” sells at $5,000 per foot, cash down; “Wild cat” isn’t
worth ten cents. The country is fabulously rich in gold, silver, copper,
lead, coal, iron, quick silver, marble, granite, chalk, plaster of
Paris, (gypsum,) thieves, murderers, desperadoes, ladies, children,
lawyers, Christians, Indians, Chinamen, Spaniards, gamblers, sharpers,
coyotes (pronounced Ki-yo-ties,) poets, preachers, and jackass rabbits.
I overheard a gentleman say, the other day, that it was “the d---dest
country under the sun.”--and that comprehensive conception I fully
subscribe to. It never rains here, and the dew never falls. No flowers
grow here, and no green thing gladdens the eye. The birds that fly over
the land carry their provisions with them. Only the crow and the
raven tarry with us. Our city lies in the midst of a desert of the
purest--most unadulterated, and compromising sand--in which infernal
soil nothing but that fag-end of vegetable creation, “sage-brush,”
 ventures to grow. If you will take a Lilliputian cedar tree for a
model, and build a dozen imitations of it with the stiffest article of
telegraph wire--set them one foot apart and then try to walk through
them, you’ll understand (provided the floor is covered 12 inches deep
with sand,) what it is to wander through a sage-brush desert. When
crushed, sage brush emits an odor which isn’t exactly magnolia and
equally isn’t exactly polecat but is a sort of compromise between the
two. It looks a good deal like grease-wood, and is the ugliest plant
that was ever conceived of. It is gray in color. On the plains,
sage-brush and grease-wood grow about twice as large as the common
geranium--and in my opinion they are a very good substitute for that
useless vegetable. Grease-wood is a perfect--most perfect imitation in
miniature of a live oak tree-barring the color of it. As to the other
fruits and flowers of the country, there ain’t any, except “Pulu” or
“Tuler,” or what ever they call it,--a species of unpoetical willow that
grows on the banks of the Carson--a RIVER, 20 yards wide, knee deep, and
so villainously rapid and crooked, that it looks like it had wandered
into the country without intending it, and had run about in a bewildered
way and got lost, in its hurry to get out again before some thirsty
man came along and drank it up. I said we are situated in a flat, sandy
desert--true. And surrounded on all sides by such prodigious mountains,
that when you gaze at them awhile,--and begin to conceive of their
grandeur--and next to feel their vastness expanding your soul--and
ultimately find yourself growing and swelling and spreading into a
giant--I say when this point is reached, you look disdainfully down upon
the insignificant village of Carson, and in that instant you are seized
with a burning desire to stretch forth your hand, put the city in your
pocket, and walk off with it.

As to churches, I believe they have got a Catholic one here, but like
that one the New York fireman spoke of, I believe “they don’t run her
now:” Now, although we are surrounded by sand, the greatest part of
the town is built upon what was once a very pretty grassy spot; and
the streams of pure water that used to poke about it in rural sloth and
solitude, now pass through on dusty streets and gladden the hearts of
men by reminding them that there is at least something here that hath
its prototype among the homes they left behind them. And up “King’s
Canon,” (please pronounce canyon, after the manner of the natives,)
there are “ranches,” or farms, where they say hay grows, and grass, and
beets and onions, and turnips, and other “truck” which is suitable for
cows--yes, and even Irish potatoes; also, cabbage, peas and beans.

The houses are mostly frame, unplastered, but “papered” inside with
flour-sacks sewed together, and the handsomer the “brand” upon the sacks
is, the neater the house looks. Occasionally, you stumble on a stone
house. On account of the dryness of the country, the shingles on
the houses warp till they look like short joints of stove pipe split

(Remainder missing.)

     In this letter is something of the “wild freedom of the West,” which
     later would contribute to his fame.  The spirit of the frontier--of
     Mark Twain--was beginning to stir him.

     There had been no secretary work for him to do, and no provision for
     payment.  He found his profit in studying human nature and in
     prospecting native resources.  He was not interested in mining not
     yet.  With a boy named John Kinney he made an excursion to Lake
     Bigler--now Tahoe--and located a timber claim, really of great
     value.  They were supposed to build a fence around it, but they were
     too full of the enjoyment of camp-life to complete it.  They put in
     most of their time wandering through the stately forest or drifting
     over the transparent lake in a boat left there by lumbermen.  They
     built themselves a brush house, but they did not sleep in it.  In
     ‘Roughing It’ he writes, “It never occurred to us, for one thing;
     and, besides, it was built to hold the ground, and that was enough.
     We did not wish to strain it.”
     They were having a glorious time, when their camp-fire got away from
     them and burned up their claim.  His next letter, of which the
     beginning is missing, describes the fire.

Fragment of a letter to Mrs. Jane Clemens and Mrs. Moffett, in St.

... The level ranks of flame were relieved at intervals by the
standard-bearers, as we called the tall dead trees, wrapped in fire, and
waving their blazing banners a hundred feet in the air. Then we could
turn from this scene to the Lake, and see every branch, and leaf, and
cataract of flame upon its bank perfectly reflected as in a gleaming,
fiery mirror. The mighty roaring of the conflagration, together with our
solitary and somewhat unsafe position (for there was no one within six
miles of us,) rendered the scene very impressive. Occasionally, one of
us would remove his pipe from his mouth and say, “Superb! magnificent!
Beautiful! but-by the Lord God Almighty, if we attempt to sleep in this
little patch tonight, we’ll never live till morning! for if we don’t
burn up, we’ll certainly suffocate.” But he was persuaded to sit up
until we felt pretty safe as far as the fire was concerned, and then we
turned in, with many misgivings. When we got up in the morning, we found
that the fire had burned small pieces of drift wood within six feet of
our boat, and had made its way to within 4 or 5 steps of us on the
South side. We looked like lava men, covered as we were with ashes, and
begrimed with smoke. We were very black in the face, but we soon washed
ourselves white again.

John D. Kinney, a Cincinnati boy, and a first-rate fellow, too, who came
out with judge Turner, was my comrade. We staid at the Lake four days--I
had plenty of fun, for John constantly reminded me of Sam Bowen when we
were on our campaign in Missouri. But first and foremost, for Annie’s,
Mollies, and Pamela’s comfort, be it known that I have never been guilty
of profane language since I have been in this Territory, and Kinney
hardly ever swears.--But sometimes human nature gets the better of him.
On the second day we started to go by land to the lower camp, a distance
of three miles, over the mountains, each carrying an axe. I don’t think
we got lost exactly, but we wandered four hours over the steepest,
rockiest and most dangerous piece of country in the world. I couldn’t
keep from laughing at Kinney’s distress, so I kept behind, so that
he could not see me. After he would get over a dangerous place, with
infinite labor and constant apprehension, he would stop, lean on his
axe, and look around, then behind, then ahead, and then drop his
head and ruminate awhile.--Then he would draw a long sigh, and say:
“Well--could any Billygoat have scaled that place without breaking his
---- ------ neck?” And I would reply, “No,--I don’t think he could.”
 “No--you don’t think he could--” (mimicking me,) “Why don’t you curse
the infernal place? You know you want to.--I do, and will curse the ----
------ thieving country as long as I live.” Then we would toil on in
silence for awhile. Finally I told him--“Well, John, what if we don’t
find our way out of this today--we’ll know all about the country when
we do get out.” “Oh stuff--I know enough--and too much about the d---d
villainous locality already.” Finally, we reached the camp. But as we
brought no provisions with us, the first subject that presented itself
to us was, how to get back. John swore he wouldn’t walk back, so we
rolled a drift log apiece into the Lake, and set about making paddles,
intending to straddle the logs and paddle ourselves back home sometime
or other. But the Lake objected--got stormy, and we had to give it up.
So we set out for the only house on this side of the Lake--three miles
from there, down the shore. We found the way without any trouble,
reached there before sundown, played three games of cribbage, borrowed
a dug-out and pulled back six miles to the upper camp. As we had eaten
nothing since sunrise, we did not waste time in cooking our supper or
in eating it, either. After supper we got out our pipes--built a rousing
camp fire in the open air-established a faro bank (an institution of
this country,) on our huge flat granite dining table, and bet white
beans till one o’clock, when John went to bed. We were up before the
sun the next morning, went out on the Lake and caught a fine trout for
breakfast. But unfortunately, I spoilt part of the breakfast. We had
coffee and tea boiling on the fire, in coffee-pots and fearing they
might not be strong enough, I added more ground coffee, and more tea,
but--you know mistakes will happen.--I put the tea in the coffee-pot,
and the coffee in the teapot--and if you imagine that they were not
villainous mixtures, just try the effect once.

And so Bella is to be married on the 1st of Oct. Well, I send her and
her husband my very best wishes, and--I may not be here--but wherever I
am on that night, we’ll have a rousing camp-fire and a jollification in
honor of the event.

In a day or two we shall probably go to the Lake and build another cabin
and fence, and get everything into satisfactory trim before our trip to
Esmeralda about the first of November.

What has become of Sam Bowen? I would give my last shirt to have him out
here. I will make no promises, but I believe if John would give him a
thousand dollars and send him out here he would not regret it. He might
possibly do very well here, but he could do little without capital.

Remember me to all my St. Louis and Keokuk friends, and tell Challie and
Hallie Renson that I heard a military band play “What are the Wild Waves
Saying?” the other night, and it reminded me very forcibly of them. It
brought Ella Creel and Belle across the Desert too in an instant, for
they sang the song in Orion’s yard the first time I ever heard it. It
was like meeting an old friend. I tell you I could have swallowed that
whole band, trombone and all, if such a compliment would have been any
gratification to them.

                         Love to the young folks,


     The reference in the foregoing letter to Esmeralda has to do
     with mining plans.  He was beginning to be mildly
     interested, and, with his brother Orion, had acquired “feet”
      in an Esmeralda camp, probably at a very small price--so
     small as to hold out no exciting prospect of riches.  In his
     next letter he gives us the size of this claim, which he has
     visited. His interest, however, still appears to be chiefly
     in his timber claim on Lake Bigler (Tahoe), though we are
     never to hear of it again after this letter.

To Mrs. Moffett, in St. Louis:

                                             CARSON CITY, Oct. 25, 1861.

MY DEAR SISTER,--I have just finished reading your letter and Ma’s of
Sept. 8th. How in the world could they have been so long coming? You ask
me if I have for gotten my promise to lay a claim for Mr. Moffett. By
no means. I have already laid a timber claim on the borders of a lake
(Bigler) which throws Como in the shade--and if we succeed in getting
one Mr. Jones, to move his saw-mill up there, Mr. Moffett can just
consider that claim better than bank stock. Jones says he will move his
mill up next spring. In that claim I took up about two miles in length
by one in width--and the names in it are as follows: “Sam. L Clemens,
Wm. A. Moffett, Thos. Nye” and three others. It is situated on “Sam
Clemens Bay”--so named by Capt. Nye--and it goes by that name among
the inhabitants of that region. I had better stop about “the Lake,”
 though,--for whenever I think of it I want to go there and die, the
place is so beautiful. I’ll build a country seat there one of these days
that will make the Devil’s mouth water if he ever visits the earth.
Jim Lampton will never know whether I laid a claim there for him or not
until he comes here himself. We have now got about 1,650 feet of mining
ground--and if it proves good, Mr. Moffett’s name will go in--if not,
I can get “feet” for him in the Spring which will be good. You see,
Pamela, the trouble does not consist in getting mining ground--for that
is plenty enough--but the money to work it with after you get it is the
mischief. When I was in Esmeralda, a young fellow gave me fifty feet in
the “Black Warrior”--an unprospected claim. The other day he wrote me
that he had gone down eight feet on the ledge, and found it eight feet
thick--and pretty good rock, too. He said he could take out rock now if
there were a mill to crush it--but the mills are all engaged (there are
only four of them) so, if I were willing, he would suspend work until
Spring. I wrote him to let it alone at present--because, you see, in the
Spring I can go down myself and help him look after it. There will
then be twenty mills there. Orion and I have confidence enough in this
country to think that if the war will let us alone we can make Mr.
Moffett rich without its ever costing him a cent of money or particle
of trouble. We shall lay plenty of claims for him, but if they never
pay him anything, they will never cost him anything, Orion and I are not
financiers. Therefore, you must persuade Uncle Jim to come out here and
help us in that line. I have written to him twice to come. I wrote him
today. In both letters I told him not to let you or Ma know that we
dealt in such romantic nonsense as “brilliant prospects,” because I
always did hate for anyone to know what my plans or hopes or prospects
were--for, if I kept people in ignorance in these matters, no one could
be disappointed but myself, if they were not realized. You know I never
told you that I went on the river under a promise to pay Bixby $500,
until I had paid the money and cleared my skirts of the possibility
of having my judgment criticised. I would not say anything about our
prospects now, if we were nearer home. But I suppose at this distance
you are more anxious than you would be if you saw us every month-and
therefore it is hardly fair to keep you in the dark. However, keep these
matters to yourselves, and then if we fail, we’ll keep the laugh in the

What we want now is something that will commence paying immediately. We
have got a chance to get into a claim where they say a tunnel has been
run 150 feet, and the ledge struck. I got a horse yesterday, and went
out with the Attorney-General and the claim-owner--and we tried to go to
the claim by a new route, and got lost in the mountains--sunset overtook
us before we found the claim--my horse got too lame to carry me, and I
got down and drove him ahead of me till within four miles of town--then
we sent Rice on ahead. Bunker, (whose horse was in good condition,)
undertook, to lead mine, and I followed after him. Darkness shut him out
from my view in less than a minute, and within the next minute I lost
the road and got to wandering in the sage brush. I would find the road
occasionally and then lose it again in a minute or so. I got to Carson
about nine o’clock, at night, but not by the road I traveled when I left
it. The General says my horse did very well for awhile, but soon refused
to lead. Then he dismounted, and had a jolly time driving both horses
ahead of him and chasing them here and there through the sage brush (it
does my soul good when I think of it) until he got to town, when both
animals deserted him, and he cursed them handsomely and came home alone.
Of course the horses went to their stables.

Tell Sammy I will lay a claim for him, and he must come out and attend
to it. He must get rid of that propensity for tumbling down, though,
for when we get fairly started here, I don’t think we shall have time to
pick up those who fall.....

That is Stoughter’s house, I expect, that Cousin Jim has moved into.
This is just the country for Cousin Jim to live in. I don’t believe it
would take him six months to make $100,000 here, if he had 3,000 dollars
to commence with. I suppose he can’t leave his family though.

Tell Mrs. Benson I never intend to be a lawyer. I have been a slave
several times in my life, but I’ll never be one again. I always intend
to be so situated (unless I marry,) that I can “pull up stakes” and
clear out whenever I feel like it.

We are very thankful to you, Pamela, for the papers you send. We have
received half a dozen or more, and, next to letters, they are the most
welcome visitors we have.

                              Write oftener, Pamela.
                                             Yr.  Brother

The “Cousin Jim” mentioned in this letter is the original of the
character of Colonel Sellers. Whatever Mark Twain’s later opinion of
Cousin Jim Lampton’s financial genius may have been, he seems to have
respected it at this time.

More than three months pass until we have another letter, and in that
time the mining fever had become well seated. Mark Twain himself was
full of the Sellers optimism, and it was bound to overflow, fortify as
he would against it.

He met with little enough encouragement. With three companions, in
midwinter, he made a mining excursion to the much exploited Humboldt
region, returning empty-handed after a month or two of hard experience.
This is the trip picturesquely described in Chapters XXVII to XXXIII of
Roughing It.--[It is set down historically in Mark Twain ‘A Biography.’ 
Harper & brothers.]--He, mentions the Humboldt in his next letter, but
does not confess his failure.

To Mrs. Jane Clemens and Mrs. Moffett, in St. Louis:

                                             CARSON CITY, Feb. 8, 1862.

MY DEAR MOTHER AND SISTER,--By George Pamela, I begin to fear that
I have invoked a Spirit of some kind or other which I will find
some difficulty in laying. I wasn’t much terrified by your growing
inclinations, but when you begin to call presentiments to your aid, I
confess that I “weaken.” Mr. Moffett is right, as I said before--and I
am not much afraid of his going wrong. Men are easily dealt with--but
when you get the women started, you are in for it, you know. But I
have decided on two things, viz: Any of you, or all of you, may live
in California, for that is the Garden of Eden reproduced--but you shall
never live in Nevada; and secondly, none of you, save Mr. Moffett, shall
ever cross the Plains. If you were only going to Pike’s Peak, a little
matter of 700 miles from St. Jo, you might take the coach, and I
wouldn’t say a word. But I consider it over 2,000 miles from St. Jo to
Carson, and the first 6 or 800 miles is mere Fourth of July, compared to
the balance of the route. But Lord bless you, a man enjoys every foot
of it. If you ever come here or to California, it must be by sea. Mr.
Moffett must come by overland coach, though, by all means. He would
consider it the jolliest little trip he ever took in his life. Either
June, July, or August are the proper months to make the journey in. He
could not suffer from heat, and three or four heavy army blankets would
make the cold nights comfortable. If the coach were full of passengers,
two good blankets would probably be sufficient. If he comes, and brings
plenty of money, and fails to invest it to his entire satisfaction; I
will prophesy no more.

But I will tell you a few things which you wouldn’t have found out if I
hadn’t got myself into this scrape. I expect to return to St. Louis in
July--per steamer. I don’t say that I will return then, or that I
shall be able to do it--but I expect to--you bet. I came down here
from Humboldt, in order to look after our Esmeralda interests, and my
sore-backed horse and the bad roads have prevented me from making the
journey. Yesterday one of my old Esmeralda friends, Bob Howland, arrived
here, and I have had a talk with him. He owns with me in the “Horatio
and Derby” ledge. He says our tunnel is in 52 feet, and a small stream
of water has been struck, which bids fair to become a “big thing” by the
time the ledge is reached--sufficient to supply a mill. Now, if you knew
anything of the value of water, here; you would perceive, at a glance
that if the water should amount to 50 or 100 inches, we wouldn’t care
whether school kept or not. If the ledge should prove to be worthless,
we’d sell the water for money enough to give us quite a lift. But you
see, the ledge will not prove to be worthless. We have located, near by,
a fine site for a mill; and when we strike the ledge, you know, we’ll
have a mill-site, water power, and pay-rock, all handy. Then we shan’t
care whether we have capital or not. Mill-folks will build us a mill,
and wait for their pay. If nothing goes wrong, we’ll strike the ledge in
June--and if we do, I’ll be home in July, you know.

Pamela, don’t you know that undemonstrated human calculations won’t do
to bet on? Don’t you know that I have only talked, as yet, but proved
nothing? Don’t you know that I have expended money in this country but
have made none myself? Don’t you know that I have never held in my hands
a gold or silver bar that belonged to me? Don’t you know that it’s all
talk and no cider so far? Don’t you know that people who always feel
jolly, no matter where they are or what happens to them--who have
the organ of hope preposterously developed--who are endowed with an
uncongealable sanguine temperament--who never feel concerned about the
price of corn--and who cannot, by any possibility, discover any but the
bright side of a picture--are very apt to go to extremes, and exaggerate
with 40-horse microscopic power? Of course I never tried to raise these
suspicions in your mind, but then your knowledge of the fact that some
people’s poor frail human nature is a sort of crazy institution anyhow,
ought to have suggested them to you. Now, if I hadn’t thoughtlessly got
you into the notion of coming out here, and thereby got myself into a
scrape, I wouldn’t have given you that highly-colored paragraph about
the mill, etc., because, you know, if that pretty little picture should
fail, and wash out, and go the Devil generally, it wouldn’t cost me the
loss of an hour’s sleep, but you fellows would be so much distressed on
my account as I could possibly be if “circumstances beyond my control”
 were to prevent my being present at my own funeral. But--but--

               “In the bright lexicon of youth,
               There’s no such word as Fail--”
                                              and I’ll prove it!

And look here. I came near forgetting it. Don’t you say a word to me
about “trains” across the plains. Because I am down on that arrangement.
That sort of thing is “played out,” you know. The Overland Coach or the
Mail Steamer is the thing.

You want to know something about the route between California and Nevada
Territory? Suppose you take my word for it, that it is exceedingly
jolly. Or take, for a winter view, J. Ross Brown’s picture, in Harper’s
Monthly, of pack mules tumbling fifteen hundred feet down the side of a
mountain. Why bless you, there’s scenery on that route. You can stand on
some of those noble peaks and see Jerusalem and the Holy Land. And you
can start a boulder, and send it tearing up the earth and crashing over
trees-down-down-down-to the very devil, Madam. And you would probably
stand up there and look, and stare and wonder at the magnificence spread
out before you till you starved to death, if let alone. But you should
take someone along to keep you moving.

Since you want to know, I will inform you that an eight-stamp water
mill, put up and ready for business would cost about $10,000 to $12,000.
Then, the water to run it with would cost from $1,000 to $30,000--and
even more, according to the location. What I mean by that, is, that
water powers in THIS vicinity, are immensely valuable. So, also, in
Esmeralda. But Humboldt is a new country, and things don’t cost so much
there yet. I saw a good water power sold there for $750.00. But here is
the way the thing is managed. A man with a good water power on Carson
river will lean his axe up against a tree (provided you find him
chopping cord-wood at $4 a day,) and taking his chalk pipe out of his
mouth to afford him an opportunity to answer your questions, will look
you coolly in the face and tell you his little property is worth forty
or fifty thousand dollars! But you can easily fix him. You tell him that
you’ll build a quartz mill on his property, and make him a fourth or a
third, or half owner in said mill in consideration of the privilege of
using said property--and that will bring him to his milk in a jiffy. So
he spits on his hands, and goes in again with his axe, until the mill is
finished, when lo! out pops the quondam wood-chopper, arrayed in purple
and fine linen, and prepared to deal in bank-stock, or bet on the races,
or take government loans, with an air, as to the amount, of the most
don’t care a-d---dest unconcern that you can conceive of. By George,
if I just had a thousand dollars--I’d be all right! Now there’s the
“Horatio,” for instance. There are five or six shareholders in it, and I
know I could buy half of their interests at, say $20 per foot, now that
flour is worth $50 per barrel and they are pressed for money. But I am
hard up myself, and can’t buy--and in June they’ll strike the ledge and
then “good-bye canary.” I can’t get it for love or money. Twenty dollars
a foot! Think of it. For ground that is proven to be rich. Twenty
dollars, Madam--and we wouldn’t part with a foot of our 75 for five
times the sum. So it will be in Humboldt next summer. The boys will get
pushed and sell ground for a song that is worth a fortune. But I am at
the helm, now. I have convinced Orion that he hasn’t business talent
enough to carry on a peanut stand, and he has solemnly promised me that
he will meddle no more with mining, or other matters not connected with
the Secretary’s office. So, you see, if mines are to be bought or sold,
or tunnels run, or shafts sunk, parties have to come to me--and me only.
I’m the “firm,” you know.

“How long does it take one of those infernal trains to go through?”
 Well, anywhere between three and five months.

Tell Margaret that if you ever come to live in California, that you
can promise her a home for a hundred years, and a bully one--but she
wouldn’t like the country. Some people are malicious enough to think
that if the devil were set at liberty and told to confine himself
to Nevada Territory, that he would come here--and look sadly around,
awhile, and then get homesick and go back to hell again. But I hardly
believe it, you know. I am saying, mind you, that Margaret wouldn’t
like the country, perhaps--nor the devil either, for that matter, or any
other man but I like it. When it rains here, it never lets up till it
has done all the raining it has got to do--and after that, there’s a dry
spell, you bet. Why, I have had my whiskers and moustaches so full of
alkali dust that you’d have thought I worked in a starch factory and
boarded in a flour barrel.

Since we have been here there has not been a fire--although the houses
are built of wood. They “holler” fire sometimes, though, but I am always
too late to see the smoke before the fire is out, if they ever have any.
Now they raised a yell here in front of the office a moment ago. I put
away my papers, and locked up everything of value, and changed my boots,
and pulled off my coat, and went and got a bucket of water, and came
back to see what the matter was, remarking to myself, “I guess I’ll be
on hand this time, any way.” But I met a friend on the pavement, and he
said, “Where you been? Fire’s out half an hour ago.”
Ma says Axtele was above “suspition”--but I have searched through
Webster’s Unabridged, and can’t find the word. However, it’s of no
consequence--I hope he got down safely. I knew Axtele and his wife as
well as I know Dan Haines. Mrs. A. once tried to embarrass me in the
presence of company by asking me to name her baby, when she was well
aware that I didn’t know the sex of that Phenomenon. But I told her to
call it Frances, and spell it to suit herself. That was about nine years
ago, and Axtele had no property, and could hardly support his family by
his earnings. He was a pious cuss, though. Member of Margaret Sexton’s

And Ma says “it looks like a man can’t hold public office and be
honest.” Why, certainly not, Madam. A man can’t hold public office and
be honest. Lord bless you, it is a common practice with Orion to go
about town stealing little things that happen to be lying around loose.
And I don’t remember having heard him speak the truth since we have been
in Nevada. He even tries to prevail upon me to do these things, Ma, but
I wasn’t brought up in that way, you know. You showed the public what
you could do in that line when you raised me, Madam. But then you ought
to have raised me first, so that Orion could have had the benefit of
my example. Do you know that he stole all the stamps out of an 8 stamp
quartz mill one night, and brought them home under his over-coat and hid
them in the back room?

                              Yrs. etc.,

     A little later he had headed for the Esmeralda Hills.  Some time in
     February he was established there in a camp with a young man by the
     name of Horatio Phillips (Raish).  Later he camped with Bob Howland,
     who, as City Marshal of Aurora, became known as the most fearless
     man in the Territory, and, still later, with Calvin H. Higbie (Cal),
     to whom ‘Roughing It’ would one day be dedicated.  His own funds
     were exhausted by this time, and Orion, with his rather slender
     salary, became the financial partner of the firm.

     It was a comfortless life there in the Esmeralda camp.  Snow covered
     everything.  There was nothing to do, and apparently nothing to
     report; for there are no letters until April.  Then the first one is
     dated Carson City, where he seems to be making a brief sojourn.  It
     is a rather heavy attempt to be light-hearted; its playfulness
     suggests that of a dancing bear.

To Mrs. Jane Clemens, in St. Louis:

                                        CARSON CITY, April 2, 1862.

MY DEAR MOTHER,--Yours of March 2nd has just been received. I see I am
in for it again--with Annie. But she ought to know that I was always
stupid. She used to try to teach me lessons from the Bible, but I never
could understand them. Doesn’t she remember telling me the story of
Moses, one Sunday, last Spring, and how hard she tried to explain it and
simplify it so that I could understand it--but I couldn’t? And how she
said it was strange that while her ma and her grandma and her uncle
Orion could understand anything in the world, I was so dull that I
couldn’t understand the “ea-siest thing?” And doesn’t she remember that
finally a light broke in upon me and I said it was all right--that I
knew old Moses himself--and that he kept a clothing store in Market
Street? And then she went to her ma and said she didn’t know what would
become of her uncle Sam he was too dull to learn anything--ever! And I’m
just as dull yet. Now I have no doubt her letter was spelled right, and
was correct in all particulars--but then I had to read it according to
my lights; and they being inferior, she ought to overlook the mistakes
I make specially, as it is not my fault that I wasn’t born with good
sense. I am sure she will detect an encouraging ray of intelligence in
that last argument.....

I am waiting here, trying to rent a better office for Orion. I have got
the refusal after next week of a room on first floor of a fire-proof
brick-rent, eighteen hundred dollars a year. Don’t know yet whether we
can get it or not. If it is not rented before the week is up, we can.

I was sorry to hear that Dick was killed. I gave him his first lesson in
the musket drill. We had half a dozen muskets in our office when it was
over Isbell’s Music Rooms.

I hope I am wearing the last white shirt that will embellish my person
for many a day--for I do hope that I shall be out of Carson long before
this reaches you.

                                      Love to all.
                                             Very Respectfully

     The “Annie” in this letter was his sister Pamela’s little daughter;
     long years after, she would be the wife of Charles L. Webster, Mark
     Twain’s publishing partner.  “Dick” the reader may remember as Dick
     Hingham, of the Keokuk printing-office; he was killed in charging
     the works at Fort Donelson.

     Clemens was back in Esmeralda when the next letter was written, and
     we begin now to get pictures of that cheerless mining-camp, and to
     know something of the alternate hopes and discouragements of the
     hunt for gold--the miner one day soaring on wings of hope, on the
     next becoming excited, irritable, profane.  The names of new mines
     appear constantly and vanish almost at a touch, suggesting the
     fairy-like evanescence of their riches.

     But a few of the letters here will best speak for themselves; not
     all of them are needed.  It is perhaps unnecessary to say that there
     is no intentional humor in these documents.

To Orion Clemens, in Carson City:

                                        ESMERALDA, 13th April, 1862.

MY DEAR BROTHER,--Wasson got here night before last “from the wars.”
 Tell Lockhart he is not wounded and not killed--is altogether unhurt.
He says the whites left their stone fort before he and Lieut. Noble
got there. A large amount of provisions and ammunition, which they left
behind them, fell into the hands of the Indians. They had a pitched
battle with the savages some fifty miles from the fort, in which Scott
(sheriff) and another man was killed. This was the day before the
soldiers came up with them. I mean Noble’s men, and those under
Cols. Evans and Mayfield, from Los Angeles. Evans assumed the chief
command--and next morning the forces were divided into three parties,
and marched against the enemy. Col. Mayfield was killed, and Sergeant
Gillespie, also Noble’s colonel was wounded. The California troops went
back home, and Noble remained, to help drive the stock over here. And,
as Cousin Sally Dillard says, this is all I know about the fight.

Work not yet begun on the H. and Derby--haven’t seen it yet. It is still
in the snow. Shall begin on it within 3 or 4 weeks--strike the ledge in
July. Guess it is good--worth from $30 to $50 a foot in California.

Why didn’t you send the “Live Yankee” deed-the very one I wanted? Have
made no inquiries about it, much. Don’t intend to until I get the deed.
Send it along--by mail-- d---n the Express-- have to pay three times for
all express matter; once in Carson and twice here. I don’t expect to
take the saddle-bags out of the express office. I paid twenty-five cts.
for the Express deeds.

Man named Gebhart shot here yesterday while trying to defend a claim on
Last Chance Hill. Expect he will die.

These mills here are not worth a d---n-except Clayton’s--and it is not
in full working trim yet.

Send me $40 or $50--by mail--immediately.

The Red Bird is probably good--can’t work on the tunnel on account of
snow. The “Pugh” I have thrown away--shan’t re-locate it. It is nothing
but bed-rock croppings--too much work to find the ledge, if there is
one. Shan’t record the “Farnum” until I know more about it--perhaps not
at all.

“Governor” under the snow.

“Douglas” and “Red Bird” are both recorded.

I have had opportunities to get into several ledges, but refused all but
three--expect to back out of two of them.

Stir yourself as much as possible, and lay up $100 or $15,000, subject
to my call. I go to work to-morrow, with pick and shovel. Something’s
got to come, by G--, before I let go, here.

Col. Youngs says you must rent Kinkead’s room by all means--Government
would rather pay $150 a month for your office than $75 for Gen. North’s.
Says you are playing your hand very badly, for either the Government’s
good opinion or anybody’s else, in keeping your office in a shanty. Says
put Gov. Nye in your place and he would have a stylish office, and no
objections would ever be made, either. When old Col. Youngs talks this
way, I think it time to get a fine office. I wish you would take that
office, and fit it up handsomely, so that I can omit telling people
that by this time you are handsomely located, when I know it is no such

I am living with “Ratio Phillips.” Send him one of those black
portfolios--by the stage, and put a couple of pen-holders and a dozen
steel pens in it.

If you should have occasion to dispose of the long desk before I return,
don’t forget to break open the middle drawer and take out my things.
Envelop my black cloth coat in a newspaper and hang it in the back room.

Don’t buy anything while I am here--but save up some money for me.
Don’t send any money home. I shall have your next quarter’s salary spent
before you get it, I think. I mean to make or break here within the next
two or three months.


     The “wars” mentioned in the opening paragraph of this letter
     were incident to the trouble concerning the boundary line
     between California and Nevada.  The trouble continued for
     some time, with occasional bloodshed.  The next letter is an
     exultant one.  There were few enough of this sort.  We
     cannot pretend to keep track of the multiplicity of mines
     and shares which lure the gold-hunters, pecking away at the
     flinty ledges, usually in the snow.  It has been necessary
     to abbreviate this letter, for much of it has lost all
     importance with the years, and is merely confusing.  Hope is
     still high in the writer’s heart, and confidence in his
     associates still unshaken.  Later he was to lose faith in
     “Raish,” whether with justice or not we cannot know now.

To Orion Clowns, in Carson City:

                                        ESMERALDA, May 11, 1862.

MY DEAR BRO.,--TO use a French expression I have “got my d--d satisfy”
 at last. Two years’ time will make us capitalists, in spite of anything.
Therefore, we need fret and fume, and worry and doubt no more, but
just lie still and put up with privations for six months. Perhaps three
months will “let us out.” Then, if Government refuses to pay the rent on
your new office we can do it ourselves. We have got to wait six weeks,
anyhow, for a dividend, maybe longer--but that it will come there is
no shadow of a doubt, I have got the thing sifted down to a dead moral
certainty. I own one-eighth of the new “Monitor Ledge, Clemens Company,”
 and money can’t buy a foot of it; because I know it to contain our
fortune. The ledge is six feet wide, and one needs no glass to see gold
and silver in it. Phillips and I own one half of a segregated claim in
the “Flyaway” discovery, and good interests in two extensions on it. We
put men to work on our part of the discovery yesterday, and last night
they brought us some fine specimens. Rock taken from ten feet below the
surface on the other part of the discovery, has yielded $150.00 to the
ton in the mill and we are at work 300 feet from their shaft.

May 12--Yours by the mail received last night. “Eighteen hundred feet in
the C. T. Rice’s Company!” Well, I am glad you did not accept of the 200
feet. Tell Rice to give it to some poor man.

But hereafter, when anybody holds up a glittering prospect before you,
just argue in this wise, viz: That, if all spare change be devoted to
working the “Monitor” and “Flyaway,” 12 months, or 24 at furthest, will
find all our earthly wishes satisfied, so far as money is concerned--and
the more “feet” we have, the more anxiety we must bear--therefore, why
not say “No--d---n your ‘prospects,’ I wait on a sure thing--and a man
is less than a man, if he can’t wait 2 years for a fortune?” When
you and I came out here, we did not expect ‘63 or ‘64 to find us rich
men--and if that proposition had been made, we would have accepted it
gladly. Now, it is made.

Well, I am willing, now, that “Neary’s tunnel,” or anybody else’s tunnel
shall succeed. Some of them may beat us a few months, but we shall be
on hand in the fullness of time, as sure as fate. I would hate to swap
chances with any member of the “tribe”--in fact, I am so lost to all
sense and reason as to be capable of refusing to trade “Flyaway” (with
but 200 feet in the Company of four,) foot for foot for that splendid
“Lady Washington,” with its lists of capitalist proprietors, and its
35,000 feet of Priceless ground.

I wouldn’t mind being in some of those Clear Creek claims, if I lived
in Carson and we could spare the money. But I have struck my tent in
Esmeralda, and I care for no mines but those which I can superintend
myself. I am a citizen here now, and I am satisfied--although R. and I
are strapped and we haven’t three days’ rations in the house.

Raish is looking anxiously for money and so am I. Send me whatever you
can spare conveniently--I want it to work the Flyaway with. My fourth
of that claim only cost me $50, (which isn’t paid yet, though,) and I
suppose I could sell it here in town for ten times that amount today,
but I shall probably hold onto it till the cows come home. I shall work
the “Monitor” and the other claims with my own hands. I prospected of
a pound of “M,” yesterday, and Raish reduced it with the blow-pipe, and
got about ten or twelve cents in gold and silver, besides the other half
of it which we spilt on the floor and didn’t get. The specimen came from
the croppings, but was a choice one, and showed much free gold to the
naked eye.

Well, I like the corner up-stairs office amazingly--provided, it has one
fine, large front room superbly carpeted, for the safe and a $150 desk,
or such a matter--one handsome room amidships, less handsomely gotten
up, perhaps, for records and consultations, and one good-sized bedroom
and adjoining it a kitchen, neither of which latter can be entered by
anybody but yourself--and finally, when one of the ledges begins to pay,
the whole to be kept in parlor order by two likely contrabands at big
wages, the same to be free of expense to the Government. You want the
entire second story--no less room than you would have had in Harris and
Co’s. Make them fix for you before the 1st of July-for maybe you might
want to “come out strong” on the 4th, you know.

No, the Post Office is all right and kept by a gentleman but W. F.
Express isn’t. They charge 25 cts to express a letter from here, but I
believe they have quit charging twice for letters that arrive prepaid.

The “Flyaway” specimen I sent you, (taken by myself from DeKay’s shaft,
300 feet from where we are going to sink) cannot be called “choice,”
 exactly--say something above medium, to be on the safe side. But I have
seen exceedingly choice chunks from that shaft. My intention at first in
sending the Antelope specimen was that you might see that it resembles
the Monitor--but, come to think, a man can tell absolutely nothing about
that without seeing both ledges themselves. I tried to break a handsome
chunk from a huge piece of my darling Monitor which we brought from
the croppings yesterday, but it all splintered up, and I send you the
scraps. I call that “choice”--any d---d fool would. Don’t ask if it has
been assayed, for it hasn’t. It don’t need it. It is amply able to
speak for itself. It is six feet wide on top, and traversed through and
through with veins whose color proclaims their worth. What the devil
does a man want with any more feet when he owns in the Flyaway and the
invincible bomb-proof Monitor?

If I had anything more to say I have forgotten what it was, unless,
perhaps, that I want a sum of money--anywhere from $20 to $150, as soon
as possible.

Raish sends regards. He or I, one will drop a line to the “Age”
 occasionally. I suppose you saw my letters in the “Enterprise.”
                                   Yr.  BRO,

P. S. I suppose Pamela never will regain her health, but she could
improve it by coming to California--provided the trip didn’t kill her.

You see Bixby is on the flag-ship. He always was the best pilot on the
Mississippi, and deserves his “posish.” They have done a reckless thing,
though, in putting Sam Bowen on the “Swan”--for if a bomb-shell happens
to come his way, he will infallibly jump overboard.

Send me another package of those envelopes, per Bagley’s coat pocket.

     We see how anxious he was for his brother to make a good official
     showing.  If a niggardly Government refused to provide decent
     quarters--no matter; the miners, with gold pouring in, would
     themselves pay for a suite “superbly carpeted,” and all kept in
     order by “two likely contrabands”--that is to say, negroes.  Samuel
     Clemens in those days believed in expansion and impressive
     surroundings.  His brother, though also mining mad, was rather
     inclined to be penny wise in the matter of office luxury--not a bad
     idea, as it turned out.

     Orion, by the way, was acquiring “feet” on his own account, and in
     one instance, at least, seems to have won his brother’s

     The ‘Enterprise’ letters mentioned we shall presently hear of again.

To Orion Clemens, in Carson City:

                                        ESMERALDA, Sunday, May--, 1862.

MY DEAR BROTHER,--Well, if you haven’t “struck it rich--” that is, if
the piece of rock you sent me came from a bona fide ledge--and it looks
as if it did. If that is a ledge, and you own 200 feet in it, why, it’s
a big thing--and I have nothing more to say. If you have actually made
something by helping to pay somebody’s prospecting expenses it is a
wonder of the first magnitude, and deserves to rank as such.

If that rock came from a well-defined ledge, that particular vein must
be at least an inch wide, judging from this specimen, which is fully
that thick.

When I came in the other evening, hungry and tired and ill-natured, and
threw down my pick and shovel, Raish gave me your specimen--said Bagley
brought it, and asked me if it were cinnabar. I examined it by the
waning daylight, and took the specks of fine gold for sulphurets--wrote
you I did not think much of it--and posted the letter immediately.

But as soon as I looked at it in the broad light of day, I saw my
mistake. During the week, we have made three horns, got a blow-pipe, &c,
and yesterday, all prepared, we prospected the “Mountain House.” I broke
the specimen in two, and found it full of fine gold inside. Then we
washed out one-fourth of it, and got a noble prospect. This we reduced
with the blow-pipe, and got about two cents (herewith enclosed) in pure

As the fragment prospected weighed rather less than an ounce, this would
give about $500 to the ton. We were eminently well satisfied. Therefore,
hold on to the “Mountain House,” for it is a “big thing.” Touch it
lightly, as far as money is concerned, though, for it is well to reserve
the code of justice in the matter of quartz ledges--that is, consider
them all (and their owners) guilty (of “shenanigan”) until they are
proved innocent.

P. S.--Monday--Ratio and I have bought one-half of a segregated claim
in the original “Flyaway,” for $100--$50 down. We haven’t a cent in the
house. We two will work the ledge, and have full control, and pay all
expenses. If you can spare $100 conveniently, let me have it--or $50,
anyhow, considering that I own one fourth of this, it is of course more
valuable than one 1/7 of the “Mountain House,” although not so rich....

     There is too much of a sameness in the letters of this period to use
     all of them.  There are always new claims, and work done, apparently
     without system or continuance, hoping to uncover sudden boundless

     In the next letter and the one following it we get a hint of an
     episode, or rather of two incidents which he combined into an
     episode in Roughing It.  The story as told in that book is an
     account of what might have happened, rather than history.  There was
     never really any money in the “blind lead” of the Wide West claim,
     except that which was sunk in it by unfortunate investors.  Only
     extracts from these letters are given.  The other portions are
     irrelevant and of slight value.

Extract from a letter to Orion Clemens, in Carson City:


Two or three of the old “Salina” company entered our hole on the Monitor
yesterday morning, before our men got there, and took possession, armed
with revolvers. And according to the d---d laws of this forever d---d
country, nothing but the District Court (and there ain’t any) can touch
the matter, unless it assumes the shape of an infernal humbug which they
call “forcible entry and detainer,” and in order to bring that about,
you must compel the jumpers to use personal violence toward you! We
went up and demanded possession, and they refused. Said they were in the
hole, armed and meant to die for it, if necessary.

I got in with them, and again demanded possession. They said I might
stay in it as long as I pleased, and work but they would do the same. I
asked one of our company to take my place in the hole, while I went to
consult a lawyer. He did so. The lawyer said it was no go. They must
offer some “force.”
Our boys will try to be there first in the morning--in which case they
may get possession and keep it. Now you understand the shooting scrape
in which Gebhart was killed the other day. The Clemens Company--all of
us--hate to resort to arms in this matter, and it will not be done
until it becomes a forced hand--but I think that will be the end of it,

     The mine relocated in this letter was not the “Wide West,” but it
     furnished the proper incident.  The only mention of the “Wide West”
      is found in a letter written in July.

Extract from a letter to Orion Clemens, in Carson City: 1862

If I do not forget it, I will send you, per next mail, a pinch of decom.
(decomposed rock) which I pinched with thumb and finger from “Wide West”
 ledge awhile ago. Raish and I have secured 200 out of a 400 ft. in it,
which perhaps (the ledge, I mean) is a spur from the W. W.--our shaft
is about 100 ft. from the W. W. shaft. In order to get in, we agreed to
sink 30 ft. We have sub-let to another man for 50 ft., and we pay for
powder and sharpening tools.

     The “Wide West” claim was forfeited, but there is no evidence to
     show that Clemens and his partners were ever, except in fiction,
     “millionaires for ten days.”  The background, the local color, and
     the possibilities are all real enough, but Mark Twain’s aim in this,
     as in most of his other reminiscent writing, was to arrange and
     adapt his facts to the needs of a good story.

     The letters of this summer (1862) most of them bear evidence of
     waning confidence in mining as a source of fortune--the miner has
     now little faith in his own judgment, and none at all in that of his
     brother, who was without practical experience.

Letter to Orion Clemens, in Carson City:

                                             ESMERALDA, Thursday.

MY DEAR BRO.,--Yours of the 17th, per express, just received. Part of
it pleased me exceedingly, and part of it didn’t. Concerning the letter,
for instance: You have PROMISED me that you would leave all mining
matters, and everything involving an outlay of money, in my hands.

Sending a man fooling around the country after ledges, for God’s sake!
when there are hundreds of feet of them under my nose here, begging for
owners, free of charge. I don’t want any more feet, and I won’t touch
another foot--so you see, Orion, as far as any ledges of Perry’s are
concerned, (or any other except what I examine first with my own eyes,)
I freely yield my right to share ownership with you.

The balance of your letter, I say, pleases me exceedingly. Especially
that about the H. and D. being worth from $30 to $50 in Cal. It pleases
me because, if the ledges prove to be worthless, it will be a pleasant
reflection to know that others were beaten worse than ourselves. Raish
sold a man 30 feet, yesterday, at $20 a foot, although I was present at
the sale, and told the man the ground wasn’t worth a d---n. He said he
had been hankering after a few feet in the H. and D. for a long time,
and he had got them at last, and he couldn’t help thinking he had
secured a good thing. We went and looked at the ledges, and both of them
acknowledged that there was nothing in them but good “indications.” Yet
the owners in the H. and D. will part with anything else sooner than
with feet in these ledges. Well, the work goes slowly--very slowly
on, in the tunnel, and we’ll strike it some day. But--if we “strike it
rich,”--I’ve lost my guess, that’s all. I expect that the way it got so
high in Cal. was, that Raish’s brother, over there was offered $750.00
for 20 feet of it, and he refused.....

Couldn’t go on the hill today. It snowed. It always snows here, I

Don’t you suppose they have pretty much quit writing, at home?

When you receive your next 1/4 yr’s salary, don’t send any of it here
until after you have told me you have got it. Remember this. I am afraid
of that H. and D.

They have struck the ledge in the Live Yankee tunnel, and I told the
President, Mr. Allen, that it wasn’t as good as the croppings. He said
that was true enough, but they would hang to it until it did prove rich.
He is much of a gentleman, that man Allen.

And ask Gaslerie why the devil he don’t send along my commission as
Deputy Sheriff. The fact of my being in California, and out of his
country, wouldn’t amount to a d---n with me, in the performance of my
official duties.

I have nothing to report, at present, except that I shall find out all I
want to know about this locality before I leave it.

How do the Records pay?

                              Yr.  Bro.

     In one of the foregoing letters--the one dated May 11 there is a
     reference to the writer’s “Enterprise Letters.”  Sometimes, during
     idle days in the camp, the miner had followed old literary impulses
     and written an occasional burlesque sketch, which he had signed
     “Josh,” and sent to the Territorial Enterprise, at Virginia City.
     --[One contribution was sent to a Keokuk paper, The Gate City, and a
     letter written by Mrs. Jane Clemens at the time would indicate that
     Mark Twain’s mother did not always approve of her son’s literary
     efforts.  She hopes that he will do better, and some time write
     something “that his kin will be proud of.”]--The rough, vigorous
     humor of these had attracted some attention, and Orion, pleased with
     any measure of success that might come to his brother, had allowed
     the authorship of them to become known.  When, in July, the
     financial situation became desperate, the Esmeralda miner was moved
     to turn to literature for relief.  But we will let him present the
     situation himself.

To Orion Clemens, in Carson City:

                                        ESMERALDA, July 23d, 1862.

MY DEAR BRO.,--No, I don’t own a foot in the “Johnson” ledge--I will
tell the story some day in a more intelligible manner than Tom has told
it. You needn’t take the trouble to deny Tom’s version, though. I own
25 feet (1-16) of the 1st east ex. on it--and Johnson himself has
contracted to find the ledge for 100 feet. Contract signed yesterday.
But as the ledge will be difficult to find he is allowed six months
to find it in. An eighteenth of the Ophir was a fortune to John D.
Winters--and the Ophir can’t beat the Johnson any.....

My debts are greater than I thought for; I bought $25 worth of clothing,
and sent $25 to Higbie, in the cement diggings. I owe about $45 or $50,
and have got about $45 in my pocket. But how in the h--l I am going to
live on something over $100 until October or November, is singular. The
fact is, I must have something to do, and that shortly, too.....

Now write to the Sacramento Union folks, or to Marsh, and tell them I’ll
write as many letters a week as they want, for $10 a week--my board must
be paid. Tell them I have corresponded with the N. Orleans Crescent, and
other papers--and the Enterprise. California is full of people who have
interests here, and it’s d---d seldom they hear from this country. I
can’t write a specimen letter--now, at any rate--I’d rather undertake
to write a Greek poem. Tell ‘em the mail and express leave three times
a week, and it costs from 25 to 50 cents to send letters by the blasted
express. If they want letters from here, who’ll run from morning till
night collecting materials cheaper. I’ll write a short letter twice a
week, for the present, for the “Age,” for $5 per week. Now it has been
a long time since I couldn’t make my own living, and it shall be a long
time before I loaf another year.....

If I get the other 25 feet in the Johnson ex., I shan’t care a d---n.
I’ll be willing to curse awhile and wait. And if I can’t move the bowels
of those hills this fall, I will come up and clerk for you until I get
money enough to go over the mountains for the winter.

                                   Yr.  Bro.

     The Territorial Enterprise at Virginia City was at this time owned
     by Joseph T. Goodman, who had bought it on the eve of the great
     Comstock silver-mining boom, and from a struggling, starving sheet
     had converted it into one of the most important--certainly the most
     picturesque-papers on the coast.  The sketches which the Esmeralda
     miner had written over the name of “Josh” fitted into it exactly,
     and when a young man named Barstow, in the business office, urged
     Goodman to invite “Josh” to join their staff, the Enterprise owner
     readily fell in with the idea.  Among a lot of mining matters of no
     special interest, Clemens, July 30th, wrote his brother: “Barstow
     has offered me the post as local reporter for the Enterprise at $25
     a week, and I have written him that I will let him know next mail,
     if possible.”
     In Roughing It we are told that the miner eagerly accepted the
     proposition to come to Virginia City, but the letters tell a
     different story.  Mark Twain was never one to abandon any
     undertaking easily.  His unwillingness to surrender in a lost cause
     would cost him more than one fortune in the years to come.  A week
     following the date of the foregoing he was still undecided.

To Orion Clemens, in Carson City:

                                        ESMERALDA, Aug. 7, 1862.

MY DEAR BRO,--Barstow wrote that if I wanted the place I could have
it. I wrote him that I guessed I would take it, and asked him how long
before I must come up there. I have not heard from him since.

Now, I shall leave at mid-night tonight, alone and on foot for a walk of
60 or 70 miles through a totally uninhabited country, and it is barely
possible that mail facilities may prove infernally “slow” during the few
weeks I expect to spend out there. But do you write Barstow that I have
left here for a week or so, and in case he should want me he must write
me here, or let me know through you.

The Contractors say they will strike the Fresno next week. After fooling
with those assayers a week, they concluded not to buy “Mr. Flower”
 at $50, although they would have given five times the sum for it four
months ago. So I have made out a deed for one half of all Johnny’s
ground and acknowledged and left in judge F. K. Becktel’s hands, and if
judge Turner wants it he must write to Becktel and pay him his Notary
fee of $1.50. I would have paid that fee myself, but I want money now as
I leave town tonight. However, if you think it isn’t right, you can pay
the fee to judge Turner yourself.

Hang to your money now. I may want some when I get back.....

See that you keep out of debt--to anybody. Bully for B.! Write him that
I would write him myself, but I am to take a walk tonight and haven’t
time. Tell him to bring his family out with him. He can rely upon what
I say--and I say the land has lost its ancient desolate appearance; the
rose and the oleander have taken the place of the departed sage-bush; a
rich black loam, garnished with moss, and flowers, and the greenest
of grass, smiles to Heaven from the vanished sand-plains; the “endless
snows” have all disappeared, and in their stead, or to repay us for
their loss, the mountains rear their billowy heads aloft, crowned with
a fadeless and eternal verdure; birds, and fountains, and trees-tropical
bees--everywhere!--and the poet dreamt of Nevada when he wrote:

               “and Sharon waves, in solemn praise,
               Her silent groves of palm.”
and today the royal Raven listens in a dreamy stupor to the songs of
the thrush and the nightingale and the canary--and shudders when the
gaudy-plumaged birds of the distant South sweep by him to the orange
groves of Carson. Tell him he wouldn’t recognize the d--d country. He
should bring his family by all means.

I intended to write home, but I haven’t done it.

                                             Yr.  Bro.

     In this letter we realize that he had gone into the wilderness to
     reflect--to get a perspective on the situation.  He was a great
     walker in those days, and sometimes with Higbie, sometimes alone,
     made long excursions.  One such is recorded in Roughing It, the trip
     to Mono Lake.  We have no means of knowing where his seventy-mile
     tour led him now, but it is clear that he still had not reached a
     decision on his return.  Indeed, we gather that he is inclined to
     keep up the battle among the barren Esmeralda hills.

Last mining letter; written to Mrs. Moffett, in St. Louis:

                                   ESMERALDA, CAL., Aug. 15, 1862.

MY DEAR SISTER,-I mailed a letter to you and Ma this morning, but since
then I have received yours to Orion and me. Therefore, I must answer
right away, else I may leave town without doing it at all. What in
thunder are pilot’s wages to me? which question, I beg humbly to
observe, is of a general nature, and not discharged particularly at you.
But it is singular, isn’t it, that such a matter should interest Orion,
when it is of no earthly consequence to me? I never have once thought
of returning home to go on the river again, and I never expect to do
any more piloting at any price. My livelihood must be made in this
country--and if I have to wait longer than I expected, let it be so--I
have no fear of failure. You know I have extravagant hopes, for Orion
tells you everything which he ought to keep to himself--but it’s his
nature to do that sort of thing, and I let him alone. I did think for
awhile of going home this fall--but when I found that that was and had
been the cherished intention and the darling aspiration every year, of
these old care-worn Californians for twelve weary years--I felt a little
uncomfortable, but I stole a march on Disappointment and said I would
not go home this fall. I will spend the winter in San Francisco, if
possible. Do not tell any one that I had any idea of piloting again at
present--for it is all a mistake. This country suits me, and--it shall
suit me, whether or no....

Dan Twing and I and Dan’s dog, “cabin” together--and will continue to do
so for awhile--until I leave for--

The mansion is 10x12, with a “domestic” roof. Yesterday it rained--the
first shower for five months. “Domestic,” it appears to me, is not
water-proof. We went outside to keep from getting wet. Dan makes the bed
when it is his turn to do it--and when it is my turn, I don’t, you know.
The dog is not a good hunter, and he isn’t worth shucks to watch--but he
scratches up the dirt floor of the cabin, and catches flies, and makes
himself generally useful in the way of washing dishes. Dan gets up first
in the morning and makes a fire--and I get up last and sit by it,
while he cooks breakfast. We have a cold lunch at noon, and I cook
supper--very much against my will. However, one must have one good meal
a day, and if I were to live on Dan’s abominable cookery, I should lose
my appetite, you know. Dan attended Dr. Chorpenning’s funeral yesterday,
and he felt as though he ought to wear a white shirt--and we had a jolly
good time finding such an article. We turned over all our traps, and he
found one at last--but I shall always think it was suffering from yellow
fever. He also found an old black coat, greasy, and wrinkled to that
degree that it appeared to have been quilted at some time or other. In
this gorgeous costume he attended the funeral. And when he returned,
his own dog drove him away from the cabin, not recognizing him. This is

You would not like to live in a country where flour was $40 a barrel?
Very well; then, I suppose you would not like to live here, where flour
was $100 a barrel when I first came here. And shortly afterwards, it
couldn’t be had at any price--and for one month the people lived on
barley, beans and beef--and nothing beside. Oh, no--we didn’t luxuriate
then! Perhaps not. But we said wise and severe things about the vanity
and wickedness of high living. We preached our doctrine and practised
it. Which course I respectfully recommend to the clergymen of St. Louis.

Where is Beack Jolly?--[a pilot]--and Bixby?

                                             Your Brother


     There is a long hiatus in the correspondence here.  For a
     space of many months there is but one letter to continue the
     story.  Others were written, of course, but for some reason
     they have not survived.  It was about the end of August
     (1862) when the miner finally abandoned the struggle, and
     with his pack on his shoulders walked the one and thirty
     miles over the mountains to Virginia City, arriving dusty,
     lame, and travel-stained to claim at last his rightful
     inheritance.  At the Enterprise office he was welcomed, and
     in a brief time entered into his own.  Goodman, the
     proprietor, himself a man of great ability, had surrounded
     himself with a group of gay-hearted fellows, whose fresh,
     wild way of writing delighted the Comstock pioneers far more
     than any sober presentation of mere news.  Samuel Clemens
     fitted exactly into this group.  By the end of the year he
     had become a leader of it.  When he asked to be allowed to
     report the coming Carson legislature, Goodman consented,
     realizing that while Clemens knew nothing of parliamentary
     procedure, he would at least make the letters picturesque.

     It was in the midst of this work that he adopted the name
     which he was to make famous throughout the world.  The story
     of its adoption has been fully told elsewhere and need not
     be repeated here.--[See Mark Twain: A Biography, by the same
     author; Chapter XL.]

     “Mark Twain” was first signed to a Carson letter, February
     2, 1863, and from that time was attached to all of Samuel
     Clemens’s work.  The letters had already been widely copied,
     and the name now which gave them personality quickly
     obtained vogue.  It was attached to himself as well as to
     the letters; heretofore he had been called Sam or Clemens,
     now he became almost universally Mark Twain and Mark.

     This early period of Mark Twain’s journalism is full of
     delicious history, but we are permitted here to retell only
     such of it as will supply connection to the infrequent
     letters.  He wrote home briefly in February, but the letter
     contained nothing worth preserving.  Then two months later
     he gives us at least a hint of his employment.

To Mrs. Jane Clemens and Mrs. Moffett, in St. Louis:

                                             VIRGINIA, April 11, 1863.

MY DEAR MOTHER AND SISTER,--It is very late at night, and I am writing
in my room, which is not quite as large or as nice as the one I had
at home. My board, washing and lodging cost me seventy-five dollars a

I have just received your letter, Ma, from Carson--the one in which you
doubt my veracity about the statements I made in a letter to you. That’s
right. I don’t recollect what the statements were, but I suppose they
were mining statistics. I have just finished writing up my report for
the morning paper, and giving the Unreliable a column of advice about
how to conduct himself in church, and now I will tell you a few more
lies, while my hand is in. For instance, some of the boys made me a
present of fifty feet in the East India G. and S. M. Company ten days
ago. I was offered ninety-five dollars a foot for it, yesterday, in
gold. I refused it--not because I think the claim is worth a cent for I
don’t but because I had a curiosity to see how high it would go, before
people find out how worthless it is. Besides, what if one mining claim
does fool me? I have got plenty more. I am not in a particular hurry to
get rich. I suppose I couldn’t well help getting rich here some time or
other, whether I wanted to or not. You folks do not believe in Nevada,
and I am glad you don’t. Just keep on thinking so.

I was at the Gould and Curry mine, the other day, and they had two or
three tons of choice rock piled up, which was valued at $20,000 a ton.
I gathered up a hat-full of chunks, on account of their beauty as
specimens--they don’t let everybody supply themselves so liberally. I
send Mr. Moffett a little specimen of it for his cabinet. If you don’t
know what the white stuff on it is, I must inform you that it is purer
silver than the minted coin. There is about as much gold in it as there
is silver, but it is not visible. I will explain to you some day how to
detect it.

Pamela, you wouldn’t do for a local reporter--because you don’t
appreciate the interest that attaches to names. An item is of no use
unless it speaks of some person, and not then, unless that person’s name
is distinctly mentioned. The most interesting letter one can write, to
an absent friend, is one that treats of persons he has been acquainted
with rather than the public events of the day. Now you speak of a young
lady who wrote to Hollie Benson that she had seen me; and you didn’t
mention her name. It was just a mere chance that I ever guessed who she
was--but I did, finally, though I don’t remember her name, now. I was
introduced to her in San Francisco by Hon. A. B. Paul, and saw her
afterwards in Gold Hill. They were a very pleasant lot of girls--she and
her sisters.

P. S. I have just heard five pistol shots down street--as such things
are in my line, I will go and see about it.

P. S. No 2--5 A.M.--The pistol did its work well--one man--a Jackson
County Missourian, shot two of my friends, (police officers,) through
the heart--both died within three minutes. Murderer’s name is John

     The “Unreliable” of this letter was a rival reporter on whom Mark
     Twain had conferred this name during the legislative session.  His
     real name was Rice, and he had undertaken to criticize Clemens’s
     reports.  The brisk reply that Rice’s letters concealed with a show
     of parliamentary knowledge a “festering mass of misstatements the
     author of whom should be properly termed the ‘Unreliable,” fixed
     that name upon him for life.  This burlesque warfare delighted the
     frontier and it did not interfere with friendship.  Clemens and Rice
     were constant associates, though continually firing squibs at each
     other in their respective papers--a form of personal journalism much
     in vogue on the Comstock.

     In the next letter we find these two journalistic “blades” enjoying
     themselves together in the coast metropolis.  This letter is labeled
     “No. 2,” meaning, probably, the second from San Francisco, but No. 1
     has disappeared, and even No, 2 is incomplete.

To Mrs. Jane Clemens and Mrs. Moffett, in St. Louis:

No. 2--($20.00 Enclosed)

                                      LICK HOUSE, S. F., June 1, ‘63.

MY DEAR MOTHER AND SISTER,--The Unreliable and myself are still here,
and still enjoying ourselves. I suppose I know at least a thousand
people here--a great many of them citizens of San Francisco, but the
majority belonging in Washoe--and when I go down Montgomery street,
shaking hands with Tom, Dick and Harry, it is just like being in Main
street in Hannibal and meeting the old familiar faces. I do hate to go
back to Washoe. We fag ourselves completely out every day, and go to
sleep without rocking, every night. We dine out and we lunch out, and we
eat, drink and are happy--as it were. After breakfast, I don’t often
see the hotel again until midnight--or after. I am going to the Dickens
mighty fast. I know a regular village of families here in the house,
but I never have time to call on them. Thunder! we’ll know a little more
about this town, before we leave, than some of the people who live in
it. We take trips across the Bay to Oakland, and down to San Leandro,
and Alameda, and those places; and we go out to the Willows, and Hayes
Park, and Fort Point, and up to Benicia; and yesterday we were invited
out on a yachting excursion, and had a sail in the fastest yacht on the
Pacific Coast. Rice says: “Oh, no--we are not having any fun, Mark--Oh,
no, I reckon not--it’s somebody else--it’s probably the ‘gentleman in
the wagon’!” (popular slang phrase.) When I invite Rice to the Lick
House to dinner, the proprietors send us champagne and claret, and then
we do put on the most disgusting airs. Rice says our calibre is too
light--we can’t stand it to be noticed!

I rode down with a gentleman to the Ocean House, the other day, to see
the sea horses, and also to listen to the roar of the surf, and watch
the ships drifting about, here, and there, and far away at sea. When I
stood on the beach and let the surf wet my feet, I recollected doing
the same thing on the shores of the Atlantic--and then I had a proper
appreciation of the vastness of this country--for I had traveled from
ocean to ocean across it.                         (Remainder missing.)

     Not far from Virginia City there are some warm springs that
     constantly send up jets of steam through fissures in the
     mountainside.  The place was a health resort, and Clemens, always
     subject to bronchial colds, now and again retired there for a cure.

     A letter written in the late summer--a gay, youthful document
     --belongs to one of these periods of convalescence.

To Mrs. Jane Clemens and Mrs. Moffett, in St. Louis:

No. 12--$20 enclosed.

                                STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, August 19, ‘63.

MY DEAR MOTHER AND SISTER,--Ma, you have given my vanity a deadly
thrust. Behold, I am prone to boast of having the widest reputation, as
a local editor, of any man on the Pacific coast, and you gravely come
forward and tell me “if I work hard and attend closely to my business, I
may aspire to a place on a big San Francisco daily, some day.” There’s
a comment on human vanity for you! Why, blast it, I was under the
impression that I could get such a situation as that any time I asked
for it. But I don’t want it. No paper in the United States can afford
to pay me what my place on the “Enterprise” is worth. If I were not
naturally a lazy, idle, good-for-nothing vagabond, I could make it pay
me $20,000 a year. But I don’t suppose I shall ever be any account. I
lead an easy life, though, and I don’t care a cent whether school keeps
or not. Everybody knows me, and I fare like a prince wherever I go, be
it on this side of the mountains or the other. And I am proud to say I
am the most conceited ass in the Territory.

You think that picture looks old? Well, I can’t help it--in reality I am
not as old as I was when I was eighteen.

I took a desperate cold more than a week ago, and I seduced Wilson (a
Missouri boy, reporter of the Daily Union,) from his labors, and we went
over to Lake Bigler. But I failed to cure my cold. I found the “Lake
House” crowded with the wealth and fashion of Virginia, and I could
not resist the temptation to take a hand in all the fun going. Those
Virginians--men and women both--are a stirring set, and I found if
I went with them on all their eternal excursions, I should bring the
consumption home with me--so I left, day before yesterday, and came back
into the Territory again. A lot of them had purchased a site for a town
on the Lake shore, and they gave me a lot. When you come out, I’ll build
you a house on it. The Lake seems more supernaturally beautiful now,
than ever. It is the masterpiece of the Creation.

The hotel here at the Springs is not so much crowded as usual, and I am
having a very comfortable time of it. The hot, white steam puffs up out
of fissures in the earth like the jets that come from a steam-boat’s
‘scape pipes, and it makes a boiling, surging noise like a steam-boat,
too-hence the name. We put eggs in a handkerchief and dip them in the
springs--they “soft boil” in 2 Minutes, and boil as hard as a rock in
4 minutes. These fissures extend more than a quarter of a mile, and
the long line of steam columns looks very pretty. A large bath house is
built over one of the springs, and we go in it and steam ourselves as
long as we can stand it, and then come out and take a cold shower bath.
You get baths, board and lodging, all for $25 a week--cheaper than
living in Virginia without baths.....

                                   Yrs aft

     It was now the autumn of 1863.  Mark Twain was twenty-eight years
     old.  On the Coast he had established a reputation as a gaily
     original newspaper writer.  Thus far, however, he had absolutely no
     literary standing, nor is there any evidence that he had literary
     ambitions; his work was unformed, uncultivated--all of which seems
     strange, now, when we realize that somewhere behind lay the
     substance of immortality.  Rudyard Kipling at twenty-eight had done
     his greatest work.

     Even Joseph Goodman, who had a fine literary perception and a deep
     knowledge of men, intimately associated with Mark Twain as he was,
     received at this time no hint of his greater powers.  Another man on
     the staff of the Enterprise, William Wright, who called himself “Dan
     de Quille,” a graceful humorist, gave far more promise, Goodman
     thought, of future distinction.

     It was Artemus Ward who first suspected the value of Mark Twain’s
     gifts, and urged him to some more important use of them.  Artemus in
     the course of a transcontinental lecture tour, stopped in Virginia
     City, and naturally found congenial society on the Enterprise staff.
     He had intended remaining but a few days, but lingered three weeks,
     a period of continuous celebration, closing only with the holiday
     season.  During one night of final festivities, Ward slipped away
     and gave a performance on his own account.  His letter to Mark
     Twain, from Austin, Nevada, written a day or two later, is most

Artemus Ward’s letter to Mark Twain:

                                             AUSTIN, Jan. 1, ‘64.

MY DEAREST LOVE,--I arrived here yesterday a.m. at 2 o’clock. It is a
wild, untamable place, full of lionhearted boys. I speak tonight. See
small bills.

Why did you not go with me and save me that night?--I mean the night I
left you after that dinner party. I went and got drunker, beating, I may
say, Alexander the Great, in his most drinkinist days, and I blackened
my face at the Melodeon, and made a gibbering, idiotic speech. God-dam
it! I suppose the Union will have it. But let it go. I shall always
remember Virginia as a bright spot in my existence, as all others must
or rather cannot be, as it were.

Love to Jo. Goodman and Dan. I shall write soon, a powerfully convincing
note to my friends of “The Mercury.” Your notice, by the way, did much
good here, as it doubtlessly will elsewhere. The miscreants of the
Union will be batted in the snout if they ever dare pollute this rapidly
rising city with their loathsome presence.

Some of the finest intellects in the world have been blunted by liquor.

Do not, sir--do not flatter yourself that you are the only
chastely-humorous writer onto the Pacific slopes.

Good-bye, old boy--and God bless you! The matter of which I spoke to you
so earnestly shall be just as earnestly attended to--and again with
very many warm regards for Jo. and Dan., and regards to many of the good
friends we met.

                         I am Faithfully, gratefully yours,
                                                  ARTEMUS WARD.

     The Union which Ward mentions was the rival Virginia.  City paper;
     the Mercury was the New York Sunday Mercury, to which he had urged
     Mark Twain to contribute.  Ward wrote a second letter, after a siege
     of illness at Salt Lake City.  He was a frail creature, and three
     years later, in London, died of consumption.  His genius and
     encouragement undoubtedly exerted an influence upon Mark Twain.
     Ward’s second letter here follows.

Artemus Ward to S. L. Clemens:

                                        SALT LAKE CITY, Jan. 21, ‘64.

MY DEAR MARK,--I have been dangerously ill for the past two weeks here,
of congestive fever. Very grave fears were for a time entertained of my
recovery, but happily the malady is gone, though leaving me very, very
weak. I hope to be able to resume my journey in a week or so. I think
I shall speak in the Theater here, which is one of the finest
establishments of the kind in America.

The Saints have been wonderfully kind to me, I could not have been
better or more tenderly nursed at home--God bless them!

I am still exceedingly weak--can’t write any more. Love to Jo and Dan,
and all the rest. Write me at St. Louis.

                                        Always yours,
                                                  ARTEMUS WARD.

     If one could only have Mark Twain’s letters in reply to these!  but
     they have vanished and are probably long since dust.  A letter which
     he wrote to his mother assures us that he undertook to follow Ward’s
     advice.  He was not ready, however, for serious literary effort.
     The article, sent to the Mercury, was distinctly of the Comstock
     variety; it was accepted, but it apparently made no impression, and
     he did not follow it up.

     For one thing, he was just then too busy reporting the Legislature
     at Carson City and responding to social demands.  From having been a
     scarcely considered unit during the early days of his arrival in
     Carson Mark Twain had attained a high degree of importance in the
     little Nevada capital.  In the Legislature he was a power; as
     correspondent for the Enterprise he was feared and respected as well
     as admired.  His humor, his satire, and his fearlessness were
     dreaded weapons.

     Also, he was of extraordinary popularity.  Orion’s wife, with her
     little daughter, Jennie, had come out from the States.  The Governor
     of Nevada had no household in Carson City, and was generally absent.
     Orion Clemens reigned in his stead, and indeed was usually addressed
     as “Governor” Clemens.  His home became the social center of the
     capital, and his brilliant brother its chief ornament.  From the
     roughest of miners of a year before he had become, once more, almost
     a dandy in dress, and no occasion was complete without him.  When
     the two Houses of the Legislature assembled, in January, 1864, a
     burlesque Third House was organized and proposed to hold a session,
     as a church benefit.  After very brief consideration it was decided
     to select Mark Twain to preside at this Third House assembly under
     the title of “Governor,” and a letter of invitation was addressed to
     him.  His reply to it follows:

To S. Pixley and G. A. Sears, Trustees:

                                        CARSON CITY, January 23, 1864.

GENTLEMEN, Certainly. If the public can find anything in a grave state
paper worth paying a dollar for, I am willing that they should pay
that amount, or any other; and although I am not a very dusty Christian
myself, I take an absorbing interest in religious affairs, and would
willingly inflict my annual message upon the Church itself if it might
derive benefit thereby. You can charge what you please; I promise
the public no amusement, but I do promise a reasonable amount of
instruction. I am responsible to the Third House only, and I hope to
be permitted to make it exceedingly warm for that body, without caring
whether the sympathies of the public and the Church be enlisted in their
favor, and against myself, or not.

                                             MARK TWAIN.

     There is a quality in this letter more suggestive of the later Mark
     Twain than anything that has preceded it.  His Third House address,
     unfortunately, has not been preserved, but those who heard it
     regarded it as a classic.  It probably abounded in humor of the
     frontier sort-unsparing ridicule of the Governor, the Legislature,
     and individual citizens.  It was all taken in good part, of course,
     and as a recognition of his success he received a gold watch, with
     the case properly inscribed to “The Governor of the Third House.”
      This was really his first public appearance in a field in which he
     was destined to achieve very great fame.


     Life on the Comstock came to an end for Mark Twain in May, 1864.  It
     was the time of The Flour Sack Sanitary Fund, the story of which he
     has told in Roughing It.  He does not, however, refer to the
     troubles which this special fund brought upon himself.  Coming into
     the Enterprise office one night, after a gay day of “Fund”
      celebration, Clemens wrote, for next day’s paper, a paragraph
     intended to be merely playful, but which proved highly offending to
     certain ladies concerned with the flour-sack enterprise.  No files
     of the paper exist today, so we cannot judge of the quality of humor
     that stirred up trouble.

     The trouble, however, was genuine enough, Virginia’s rival paper
     seized upon the chance to humiliate its enemy, and presently words
     were passed back and forth until nothing was left to write but a
     challenge.  The story of this duel, which did not come off, has been
     quite fully told elsewhere, both by Mark Twain and the present
     writer; but the following letter--a revelation of his inner feelings
     in the matter of his offense--has never before been published.

To Mrs. Cutler, in Carson City:

                                        VIRGINIA, May 23rd, 1864.


MADAM,--I address a lady in every sense of the term. Mrs. Clemens has
informed me of everything that has occurred in Carson in connection with
that unfortunate item of mine about the Sanitary Funds accruing from the
ball, and from what I can understand, you are almost the only lady in
your city who has understood the circumstances under which my fault was
committed, or who has shown any disposition to be lenient with me. Had
the note of the ladies been properly worded, I would have published an
ample apology instantly--and possibly I might even have done so anyhow,
had that note arrived at any other time--but it came at a moment when
I was in the midst of what ought to have been a deadly quarrel with
the publishers of the Union, and I could not come out and make public
apologies to any one at such a time. It is bad policy to do it even now
(as challenges have already passed between myself and a proprietor of
the Union, and the matter is still in abeyance,) but I suppose I had
better say a word or two to show the ladies that I did not wilfully and
maliciously do them a wrong.

But my chief object, Mrs. Cutler, in writing you this note (and you
will pardon the liberty I have taken,) was to thank you very kindly and
sincerely for the consideration you have shown me in this matter, and
for your continued friendship for Mollie while others are disposed to
withdraw theirs on account of a fault for which I alone am responsible.

                              Very truly yours,
                                             SAM. L. CLEMENS.

     The matter did not end with the failure of the duel.  A very strict
     law had just been passed, making it a felony even to send or accept
     a challenge.  Clemens, on the whole, rather tired of Virginia City
     and Carson, thought it a good time to go across the mountains to San
     Francisco.  With Steve Gillis, a printer, of whom he was very fond
     --an inveterate joker, who had been more than half responsible for
     the proposed duel, and was to have served as his second--he took the
     stage one morning, and in due time was in the California metropolis,
     at work on the Morning Call.

     Clemens had been several times in San Francisco, and loved the
     place.  We have no letter of that summer, the first being dated
     several months after his arrival.  He was still working on the Call
     when it was written, and contributing literary articles to the
     Californian, of which Bret Harte, unknown to fame, was editor.
     Harte had his office just above the rooms of the Call, and he and
     Clemens were good friends.  San Francisco had a real literary group
     that, for a time at least, centered around the offices of the Golden
     Era.  In a letter that follows Clemens would seem to have scorned
     this publication, but he was a frequent contributor to it at one
     period.  Joaquin Miller was of this band of literary pioneers; also
     Prentice Mulford, Charles Warren Stoddard, Fitzhugh Ludlow, and
     Orpheus C.  Kerr.

To Mrs. Jane Clemens and Mrs. Moffett, in St. Louis:

                                                  Sept. 25, 1864.

MY DEAR MOTHER AND SISTER,--You can see by my picture that this superb
climate agrees with me. And it ought, after living where I was never
out of sight of snow peaks twenty-four hours during three years. Here
we have neither snow nor cold weather; fires are never lighted, and yet
summer clothes are never worn--you wear spring clothing the year round.

Steve Gillis, who has been my comrade for two years, and who came down
here with me, is to be married, in a week or two, to a very pretty girl
worth $130,000 in her own right--and then I shall be alone again, until
they build a house, which they will do shortly.

We have been here only four months, yet we have changed our lodgings
five times, and our hotel twice. We are very comfortably fixed where
we are, now, and have no fault to find with the rooms or with the
people--we are the only lodgers in a well-to-do private family, with one
grown daughter and a piano in the parlor adjoining our room. But I
need a change, and must move again. I have taken rooms further down the
street. I shall stay in this little quiet street, because it is full of
gardens and shrubbery, and there are none but dwelling houses in it.

I am taking life easy, now, and I mean to keep it up for awhile. I don’t
work at night any more. I told the “Call” folks to pay me $25 a week and
let me work only in daylight. So I get up at ten every morning, and quit
work at five or six in the afternoon. You ask if I work for greenbacks?
Hardly. What do you suppose I could do with greenbacks here?

I have engaged to write for the new literary paper--the
“Californian”--same pay I used to receive on the “Golden Era”--one
article a week, fifty dollars a month. I quit the “Era,” long ago. It
wasn’t high-toned enough. The “Californian” circulates among the highest
class of the community, and is the best weekly literary paper in the
United States--and I suppose I ought to know.

I work as I always did--by fits and starts. I wrote two articles last
night for the Californian, so that lets me out for two weeks. That would
be about seventy-five dollars, in greenbacks, wouldn’t it?

Been down to San Jose (generally pronounced Sannozay--emphasis on last
syllable)--today fifty miles from here, by railroad. Town of 6,000
inhabitants, buried in flowers and shrubbery. The climate is finer than
ours here, because it is not so close to the ocean, and is protected
from the winds by the coast range.

I had an invitation today, to go down on an excursion to San Luis
Obispo, and from thence to the city of Mexico, to be gone six or eight
weeks, or possibly longer, but I could not accept, on account of my
contract to act as chief mourner or groomsman at Steve’s wedding.

I have triumphed. They refused me and other reporters some information
at a branch of the Coroner’s office--Massey’s undertaker establishment,
a few weeks ago. I published the wickedest article on them I ever wrote
in my life, and you can rest assured we got all the information we
wanted after that.

By the new census, San Francisco has a population of 130,000. They don’t
count the hordes of Chinamen.

                                   Yrs aftly,

I send a picture for Annie, and one for Aunt Ella--that is, if she will
have it.

     Relations with the Call ceased before the end of the year, though
     not in the manner described in Roughing It.  Mark Twain loved to
     make fiction of his mishaps, and to show himself always in a bad
     light.  As a matter of fact, he left the Call with great
     willingness, and began immediately contributing a daily letter to
     the Enterprise, which brought him a satisfactory financial return.

     In the biographical sketch with which this volume opens, and more
     extendedly elsewhere, has been told the story of the trouble growing
     out of the Enterprise letters, and of Mark Twain’s sojourn with
     James Gillis in the Tuolumne Hills.  Also how, in the frowsy hotel
     at Angel’s Camp, he heard the frog anecdote that would become the
     corner-stone of his fame.  There are no letters of this period--only
     some note-book entries.  It is probable that he did not write home,
     believing, no doubt, that he had very little to say.

     For more than a year there is not a line that has survived.  Yet it
     had been an important year; the jumping frog story, published in New
     York, had been reprinted East and West, and laughed over in at least
     a million homes.  Fame had not come to him, but it was on the way.

     Yet his outlook seems not to have been a hopeful one.

To Mrs. Jane Clemens and Mrs. Moffett, in St. Louis:

                                        SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 20, 1866.

MY DEAR MOTHER AND SISTER,--I do not know what to write; my life is
so uneventful. I wish I was back there piloting up and down the river
again. Verily, all is vanity and little worth--save piloting.

To think that, after writing many an article a man might be excused
for thinking tolerably good, those New York people should single out
a villainous backwoods sketch to compliment me on! “Jim Smiley and His
Jumping Frog”--a squib which would never have been written but to please
Artemus Ward, and then it reached New York too late to appear in his

But no matter. His book was a wretchedly poor one, generally speaking,
and it could be no credit to either of us to appear between its covers.

This paragraph is from the New York correspondence of the San Francisco

(Clipping pasted in.)

     “Mark Twain’s story in the Saturday Press of November 18th, called
     ‘Jim Smiley and His Jumping Frog,’ has set all New York in a roar,
     and he may be said to have made his mark.  I have been asked fifty
     times about it and its author, and the papers are copying it far and
     near.  It is voted the best thing of the day.  Cannot the
     Californian afford to keep Mark all to itself?  It should not let
     him scintillate so widely without first being filtered through the
     California press.”
The New York publishing house of Carleton & Co. gave the sketch to the
Saturday Press when they found it was too late for the book.

Though I am generally placed at the head of my breed of scribblers in
this part of the country, the place properly belongs to Bret Harte, I
think, though he denies it, along with the rest. He wants me to club a
lot of old sketches together with a lot of his, and publish a book. I
wouldn’t do it, only he agrees to take all the trouble. But I want to
know whether we are going to make anything out of it, first. However,
he has written to a New York publisher, and if we are offered a bargain
that will pay for a month’s labor we will go to work and prepare the
volume for the press.

                                   Yours affy,

     Bret Harte and Clemens had by this time quit the Californian,
     expecting to contribute to Eastern periodicals.  Clemens, however,
     was not yet through with Coast journalism.  There was much interest
     just at this time in the Sandwich Islands, and he was selected by
     the foremost Sacramento paper to spy out the islands and report
     aspects and conditions there.  His letters home were still
     infrequent, but this was something worth writing.

To Mrs. Jane Clemens and Mrs. Moffett, in St. Louis:

                                   SAN FRANCISCO, March 5th, 1866.

MY DEAR MOTHER AND SISTER,--I start to do Sandwich Islands day after
tomorrow, (I suppose Annie is geographer enough by this time to find
them on the map), in the steamer “Ajax.” We shall arrive there in
about twelve days. My friends seem determined that I shall not lack
acquaintances, for I only decided today to go, and they have already
sent me letters of introduction to everybody down there worth knowing. I
am to remain there a month and ransack the islands, the great cataracts
and the volcanoes completely, and write twenty or thirty letters to the
Sacramento Union--for which they pay me as much money as I would get if
I staid at home.

If I come back here I expect to start straight across the continent by
way of the Columbia river, the Pend d’Oreille Lakes, through Montana
and down the Missouri river,--only 200 miles of land travel from San
Francisco to New Orleans.

                              Goodbye for the present.

     His home letters from the islands are numerous enough; everything
     there being so new and so delightful that he found joy in telling of
     it; also, he was still young enough to air his triumphs a little,
     especially when he has dined with the Grand Chamberlain and is going
     to visit the King!

     The languorous life of the islands exactly suited Mask Twain.  All
     his life he remembered them--always planning to return, some day, to
     stay there until he died.  In one of his note-books he wrote: “Went
     with Mr. Dam to his cool, vine-shaded home; no care-worn or eager,
     anxious faces in this land of happy contentment.  God, what a
     contrast with California and the Washoe!”
     And again:

          “Oh, Islands there are on the face of the deep
          Where the leaves never fade and the skies never weep.”
     The letters tell the story of his sojourn, which stretched itself
     into nearly five months.

To Mrs. Jane Clemens and Mrs. Moffett, in St. Louis:

                              HONOLULU, SANDWICH ISLANDS, April 3, 1866.

MY DEAR MOTHER AND SISTER,--I have been here two or three weeks, and
like the beautiful tropical climate better and better. I have ridden on
horseback all over this island (Oahu) in the meantime, and have visited
all the ancient battle-fields and other places of interest. I have got a
lot of human bones which I took from one of these battle-fields--I guess
I will bring you some of them. I went with the American Minister and
took dinner this evening with the King’s Grand Chamberlain, who is
related to the royal family, and although darker than a mulatto, he
has an excellent English education and in manners is an accomplished
gentleman. The dinner was as ceremonious as any I ever attended in
California--five regular courses, and five kinds of wine and one of
brandy. He is to call for me in the morning with his carriage, and we
will visit the King at the palace--both are good Masons--the King is
a Royal Arch Mason. After dinner tonight they called in the “singing
girls,” and we had some beautiful music; sung in the native tongue.

The steamer I came here in sails tomorrow, and as soon as she is gone
I shall sail for the other islands of the group and visit the great
volcano--the grand wonder of the world. Be gone two months.


To Mrs. Jane Clemens and Mrs. Moffett, in St. Louis:

                                   WAILUKU SUGAR PLANTATION,

                                   ISLAND OF MAUI, H. I., May 4,1866.

MY DEAR MOTHER AND SISTER,--11 O’clock at night.--This is the
infernalist darkest country, when the moon don’t shine; I stumbled and
fell over my horse’s lariat a minute ago and hurt my leg, so I must stay
here tonight.

I got the same leg hurt last week; I said I hadn’t got hold of
a spirited horse since I had been on the island, and one of the
proprietors loaned me a big vicious colt; he was altogether too
spirited; I went to tighten the cinch before mounting him, when he let
out with his left leg (?) and kicked me across a ten-acre lot. A native
rubbed and doctored me so well that I was able to stand on my feet in
half an hour. It was then half after four and I had an appointment to go
seven miles and get a girl and take her to a card party at five.

I have been clattering around among the plantations for three weeks,
now, and next week I am going to visit the extinct crater of Mount
Haleakala--the largest in the world; it is ten miles to the foot of the
mountain; it rises 10,000 feet above the valley; the crater is 29 miles
in circumference and 1,000 feet deep. Seen from the summit, the city of
St. Louis would look like a picture in the bottom of it.

As soon as I get back from Haleakala (pronounced Hally-ekka-lah) I will
sail for Honolulu again and thence to the Island of Hawaii (pronounced
Hah-wy-ye,) to see the greatest active volcano in the world--that
of Kilauea (pronounced Kee-low-way-ah)--and from thence back to San
Francisco--and then, doubtless, to the States. I have been on this
trip two months, and it will probably be two more before I get back to

                                   Yrs affy

     He was having a glorious time--one of the most happy, carefree
     adventures of his career.  No form of travel or undertaking could
     discountenance Mark Twain at thirty.

To Mrs. Orion Clemens, in Carson City:

                                             HONOLULU, May 22, 1866.

MY DEAR SISTER,--I have just got back from a sea voyage--from the
beautiful island of Maui, I have spent five weeks there, riding
backwards and forwards among the sugar plantations--looking up the
splendid scenery and visiting the lofty crater of Haleakala. It has been
a perfect jubilee to me in the way of pleasure.

I have not written a single line, and have not once thought of business,
or care or human toil or trouble or sorrow or weariness. Few such months
come in a lifetime.

I set sail again, a week hence, for the island of Hawaii, to see the
great active volcano of Kilauea. I shall not get back here for four or
five weeks, and shall not reach San Francisco before the latter part of

So it is no use to wait for me to go home. Go on yourselves.

If I were in the east now, I could stop the publication of a piratical
book which has stolen some of my sketches.

It is late-good-bye, Mollie,

                                   Yr Bro

To Mrs. Jane Clemens and Mrs. Moffett, in St. Louis:

                              HONOLULU, SANDWICH ISLANDS, June 21,1866.

MY DEAR MOTHER AND SISTER,--I have just got back from a hard trip
through the Island of Hawaii, begun on the 26th of May and finished
on the 18th of June--only six or seven days at sea--all the balance
horse-back, and the hardest mountain road in the world. I staid at
the volcano about a week and witnessed the greatest eruption that has
occurred for years. I lived well there. They charge $4 a day for board,
and a dollar or two extra for guides and horses. I had a pretty good
time. They didn’t charge me anything. I have got back sick--went to bed
as soon as I arrived here--shall not be strong again for several days
yet. I rushed too fast. I ought to have taken five or six weeks on that

A week hence I start for the Island of Kauai, to be gone three weeks and
then I go back to California.

The Crown Princess is dead and thousands of natives cry and wail and
dance and dance for the dead, around the King’s Palace all night and
every night. They will keep it up for a month and then she will be

Hon. Anson Burlingame, U. S. Minister to China, and Gen. Van
Valkenburgh, Minister to Japan, with their families and suites, have
just arrived here en route. They were going to do me the honor to call
on me this morning, and that accounts for my being out of bed now. You
know what condition my room is always in when you are not around--so I
climbed out of bed and dressed and shaved pretty quick and went up
to the residence of the American Minister and called on them. Mr.
Burlingame told me a good deal about Hon. Jere Clemens and that Virginia
Clemens who was wounded in a duel. He was in Congress years with both of
them. Mr. B. sent for his son, to introduce him--said he could tell that
frog story of mine as well as anybody. I told him I was glad to hear it
for I never tried to tell it myself without making a botch of it. At
his request I have loaned Mr. Burlingame pretty much everything I ever
wrote. I guess he will be an almighty wise man by the time he wades
through that lot.

If the New United States Minister to the Sandwich Islands (Hon. Edwin
McCook,) were only here now, so that I could get his views on this new
condition of Sandwich Island politics, I would sail for California at
once. But he will not arrive for two weeks yet and so I am going to
spend that interval on the island of Kauai.

I stopped three days with Hon. Mr. Cony, Deputy Marshal of the Kingdom,
at Hilo, Hawaii, last week and by a funny circumstance he knew everybody
that I ever knew in Hannibal and Palmyra. We used to sit up all night
talking and then sleep all day. He lives like a Prince. Confound that
Island! I had a streak of fat and a streak of lean all over it--got lost
several times and had to sleep in huts with the natives and live like a

Of course I couldn’t speak fifty words of the language. Take it
altogether, though, it was a mighty hard trip.

                                        Yours Affect.

     Burlingame and Van Valkenburgh were on their way to their posts,
     and their coming to the islands just at this time proved a most
     important circumstance to Mark Twain.  We shall come to this
     presently, in a summary of the newspaper letters written to the
     Union.  June 27th he wrote to his mother and sister a letter, only a
     fragment of which survives, in which he tells of the arrival in
     Honolulu of the survivors of the ship Hornet, burned on the line,
     and of his securing the first news report of the lost vessel.

Part of a letter to Mrs. Jane Clemens and Mrs. Moffett, in St. Louis:

                                             HONOLULU, June 27, 1866

... with a gill of water a day to each man. I got the whole story
from the third mate and two of the sailors. If my account gets to the
Sacramento Union first, it will be published first all over the United
States, France, England, Russia and Germany--all over the world; I may
say. You will see it. Mr. Burlingame went with me all the time, and
helped me question the men--throwing away invitations to dinner with the
princes and foreign dignitaries, and neglecting all sorts of things to
accommodate me. You know how I appreciate that kind of thing--especially
from such a man, who is acknowledged to have no superior in the
diplomatic circles of the world, and obtained from China concessions in
favor of America which were refused to Sir Frederick Bruce and Envoys of
France and Russia until procured for them by Burlingame himself--which
service was duly acknowledged by those dignitaries. He hunted me up as
soon as he came here, and has done me a hundred favors since, and says
if I will come to China in the first trip of the great mail steamer
next January and make his house in Pekin my home, he will afford me
facilities that few men can have there for seeing and learning. He will
give me letters to the chiefs of the great Mail Steamship Company which
will be of service to me in this matter. I expect to do all this, but
I expect to go to the States first--and from China to the Paris World’s

Don’t show this letter.

                                   Yours affly

P. S. The crown Princess of this Kingdom will be buried tomorrow with
great ceremony--after that I sail in two weeks for California.

     This concludes Mark Twain’s personal letters from the islands.
     Of his descriptive news letters there were about twenty, and they
     were regarded by the readers of the Union as distinctly notable.
     Re-reading those old letters to-day it is not altogether easy to
     understand why.  They were set in fine nonpareil type, for one
     thing, which present-day eyes simply refuse at any price, and the
     reward, by present-day standards, is not especially tempting.

     The letters began in the Union with the issue of April the 16th,
     1866.  The first--of date March 18th--tells of the writer’s arrival
     at Honolulu.  The humor in it is not always of a high order; it
     would hardly pass for humor today at all.  That the same man who
     wrote the Hawaiian letters in 1866 (he was then over thirty years
     old) could, two years later, have written that marvelous book, the
     Innocents Abroad, is a phenomenon in literary development.

     The Hawaiian letters, however, do show the transition stage between
     the rough elemental humor of the Comstock and the refined and subtle
     style which flowered in the Innocents Abroad.  Certainly Mark
     Twain’s genius was finding itself, and his association with the
     refined and cultured personality of Anson Burlingame undoubtedly
     aided in that discovery.  Burlingame pointed out his faults to him,
     and directed him to a better way.  No more than that was needed at
     such a time to bring about a transformation.

     The Sandwich Islands letters, however, must have been precisely
     adapted to their audience--a little more refined than the log
     Comstock, a little less subtle than the Atlantic public--and they
     added materially to his Coast prestige.  But let us consider a
     sample extract from the first Sandwich Islands letter:

Our little band of passengers were as well and thoughtfully cared for by
the friends they left weeping upon the wharf, as ever were any similar
body of pilgrims. The traveling outfit conferred upon me began with
a naval uniform, continued with a case of wine, a small assortment
of medicinal liquors and brandy, several boxes of cigars, a bunch of
matches, a fine-toothed comb, and a cake of soap, and ended with a pair
of socks. (N. B. I gave the soap to Brown, who bit into it, and then.
shook his head and said that, as a general thing, he liked to prospect
curious, foreign dishes, and find out what they were made of, but he
couldn’t go that, and threw it overboard.)

     It is nearly impossible to imagine humor in this extract, yet it is
     a fair sample of the entire letter.

     He improves in his next, at least, in description, and gives us a
     picture of the crater.  In this letter, also, he writes well and
     seriously, in a prophetic strain, of the great trade that is to be
     established between San Francisco and Hawaii, and argues for a line
     of steamers between the ports, in order that the islands might be
     populated by Americans, by which course European trade in that
     direction could be superseded.  But the humor in this letter, such
     as it is, would scarcely provoke a smile to-day.

     As the letters continue, he still urges the fostering of the island
     trade by the United States, finds himself impressed by the work of
     the missionaries, who have converted cannibals to Christians, and
     gives picturesque bits of the life and scenery.

     Hawaii was then dominated chiefly by French and English; though the
     American interests were by no means small.

Extract from letter No. 4:

Cap. Fitch said “There’s the king. That’s him in the buggy. I know him
as far as I can see him.”
I had never seen a king, and I naturally took out a note-book and put
him down: “Tall, slender, dark, full-bearded; green frock-coat, with
lapels and collar bordered with gold band an inch wide; plug hat, broad
gold band around it; royal costume looks too much like livery; this man
is not as fleshy as I thought he was.”
I had just got these notes when Cap. Fitch discovered that he’d got hold
of the wrong king, or rather, that he’d got hold of the king’s driver,
or a carriage driver of one of the nobility. The king wasn’t present at
all. It was a great disappointment to me. I heard afterwards that the
comfortable, easy-going king, Kamehameha V., had been seen sitting on
a barrel on the wharf, the day before, fishing. But there was no
consolation in that. That did not restore me my lost king.

     This has something of the flavor of the man we were to know later;
     the quaint, gentle resignation to disappointment which is one of the
     finest touches in his humor.

     Further on he says: “I had not shaved since I left San Francisco.
     As soon as I got ashore I hunted up a striped pole, and shortly
     found one.  I always had a yearning to be a king.  This may never
     be, I suppose, but, at any rate, it will always be a satisfaction to
     me to know that, if I am not a king, I am the next thing to it.
     I have been shaved by the king’s barber.”
     Honolulu was a place of cats.  He saw cats of every shade and
     variety.  He says: “I saw cats--tomcats, Mary-Ann cats, bobtailed
     cats, blind cats, one-eyed cats, wall-eyed cats, cross-eyed cats,
     gray cats, black cats, white cats, yellow cats, striped cats,
     spotted cats, tame cats, wild cats, singed cats, individual cats,
     groups of cats, platoons of cats, companies of cats, armies of cats,
     multitudes of cats, millions of cats, and all of them sleek, fat,
     and lazy, and sound asleep.”  Which illustrates another
     characteristic of the humor we were to know later--the humor of
     grotesque exaggeration, in which he was always strong.

     He found the islands during his periods of inaction conducive to
     indolence.  “If I were not so fond of looking into the rich mass of
     green leaves,” he says, “that swathe the stately tamarind right
     before my door, I would idle less, and write more, I think.”
     The Union made good use of his letters.  Sometimes it printed them
     on the front page.  Evidently they were popular from the beginning.
     The Union was a fine, handsome paper--beautiful in its minute
     typography, and in its press-work; more beautiful than most papers
     of to-day, with their machine-set type, their vulgar illustrations,
     and their chain-lightning presses.  A few more extracts:

     “The only cigars here are those trifling, insipid, tasteless,
     flavorless things they call Manilas--ten for twenty-five cents--and
     it would take a thousand of them to be worth half the money.  After
     you have smoked about thirty-five dollars’ worth of them in the
     forenoon, you feel nothing but a desperate yearning to go out
     somewhere and take a smoke.”
     “Captains and ministers form about half the population.  The third
     fourth is composed of Kanakas and mercantile foreigners and their
     families.  The final fourth is made up of high officers of the
     Hawaiian government, and there are just about enough cats to go
     In No. 6, April the 2d, he says: “An excursion to Diamond Head, and
     the king’s cocoanut grove, was planned to-day, at 4.30 P. M., the
     party to consist of half a dozen gentlemen and three ladies.  They
     all started at the appointed hour except myself.  Somebody remarked
     that it was twenty minutes past five o’clock, and that woke me up.
     It was a fortunate circumstance that Cap. Phillips was there with
     his ‘turn-out,’ as he calls his top buggy that Cap. Cook brought
     here in 1778, and a horse that was here when Cap. Cook came.”
     This bit has something the savor of his subsequent work, but, as a
     rule, the humor compares poorly with that which was to come later.

     In No. 7 he speaks of the natives singing American songs--not always
     to his comfort.  “Marching Through Georgia” was one of their
     favorite airs.  He says: “If it had been all the same to Gen.
     Sherman, I wish he had gone around by the way of the Gulf of Mexico,
     instead of marching through Georgia.”
     Letters Nos. 8, 9, and 10 were not of special importance.  In No. 10
     he gives some advice to San Francisco as to the treatment of
     whalers.  He says:

     “If I were going to advise San Francisco as to the best strategy to
     employ in order to secure the whaling trade, I should say, ‘Cripple
     your facilities for “pulling” sea captains on any pretence that
     sailors can trump up, and show the whaler a little more
     consideration when he is in port.’”
     In No. 11, May 24th, he tells of a trip to the Kalehi Valley, and
     through historic points.  At one place he looked from a precipice
     over which old Kamehameha I. drove the army of Oahu, three-quarters
     of a century before.

     The vegetation and glory of the tropics attracted him.  “In one open
     spot a vine of a species unknown had taken possession of two tall
     dead stumps, and wound around and about them, and swung out from
     their tops, and twined their meeting tendrils together into a
     faultless arch.  Man, with all his art, could not improve upon its
     He saw Sam Brannan’s palace, “The Bungalow,” built by one Shillaber
     of San Francisco at a cost of from thirty to forty thousand dollars.
     In its day it had outshone its regal neighbor, the palace of the
     king, but had fallen to decay after passing into Brannan’s hands,
     and had become a picturesque Theban ruin by the time of Mark Twain’s

     In No. 12, June 20th (written May 23d), he tells of the Hawaiian
     Legislature, and of his trip to the island of Maui, where, as he
     says, he never spent so pleasant a month before, or bade any place
     good-by so regretfully.

     In No. 13 he continues the Legislature, and gives this picture of
     Minister Harris: “He is six feet high, bony and rather slender;
     long, ungainly arms; stands so straight he leans back a little; has
     small side whiskers; his head long, up and down; he has no command
     of language or ideas; oratory all show and pretence; a big washing
     and a small hang-out; weak, insipid, and a damn fool in general.”
     In No. 14, June 22d, published July 16th, he tells of the death and
     burial ceremonies of the Princess Victoria K. K., and, what was to
     be of more importance to him, of the arrival of Anson Burlingame,
     U. S. Minister to China, and Gen. Van Valkenburgh, U. S. Minister to
     Japan.  They were to stay ten or fourteen days, he said, but an
     effort would be made to have them stay over July 4th.

     Speaking of Burlingame: “Burlingame is a man who could be esteemed,
     respected, and popular anywhere, no matter whether he was among
     Christians or cannibals.”  Then, in the same letter, comes the great
     incident.  “A letter arrived here yesterday, giving a meagre account
     of the arrival, on the Island of Hawaii, of nineteen poor, starving
     wretches, who had been buffeting a stormy sea, in an open boat, for
     forty-three days.  Their ship, the Hornet, from New York, with a
     quantity of kerosene on board had taken fire and burned in Lat. 2d.
     north, and Long. 35d. west.  When they had been entirely out of
     provisions for a day or two, and the cravings of hunger become
     insufferable, they yielded to the ship-wrecked mariner’s fearful and
     awful alternative, and solemnly drew lots to determine who of their
     number should die, to furnish food for his comrades; and then the
     morning mists lifted, and they saw land.  They are being cared for
     at Sanpahoe (Not yet corroborated).”
     The Hornet disaster was fully told in his letter of June 27th.  The
     survivors were brought to Honolulu, and with the assistance of the
     Burlingame party, Clemens, laid up with saddle boils, was carried on
     a stretcher to the hospital, where, aided by Burlingame, he
     interviewed the shipwrecked men, securing material for the most
     important piece of serious writing he had thus far performed.
     Letter No. 15 to the Union--of date June 25th--occupied the most of
     the first page in the issue of July 19.  It was a detailed account
     of the sufferings of officers and crew, as given by the third
     officer and members of the crew.

From letter No. 15:

In the postscript of a letter which I wrote two or three days ago, and
sent by the ship “Live Yankee,” I gave you the substance of a letter
received here from Hilo, by Walker Allen and Co., informing them that a
boat, containing fifteen men in a helpless and starving condition, had
drifted ashore at Sanpahoe, Island of Hawaii, and that they had belonged
to the clipper ship “Hornet”--Cap. Mitchell, master--had been afloat
since the burning of that vessel, about one hundred miles north of the
equator, on the third of May--forty-three days.

The Third Mate, and ten of the seamen have arrived here, and are now in
the hospital. Cap. Mitchell, one seaman named Antonio Passene, and two
passengers, Samuel and Henry Ferguson, of New York City, eighteen and
twenty-eight years, are still at Hilo, but are expected here within the
week. In the Captain’s modest epitome of the terrible romance you detect
the fine old hero through it. It reads like Grant.

     Here follows the whole terrible narrative, which has since been
     published in more substantial form, and has been recognized as
     literature.  It occupied three and a half columns on the front page
     of the Union, and, of course, constituted a great beat for that
     paper--a fact which they appreciated to the extent of one hundred
     dollars the column upon the writer’s return from the islands.

     In letters Nos. 14. and 15. he gives further particulars of the
     month of mourning for the princess, and funeral ceremonials.  He
     refers to Burlingame, who was still in the islands.  The remaining
     letters are unimportant.

     The Hawaiian episode in Mark Twain’s life was one of those spots
     that seemed to him always filled with sunlight.  From beginning to
     end it had been a long luminous dream; in the next letter, written
     on the homeward-bound ship, becalmed under a cloudless sky, we
     realize the fitting end of the experience.

To Mrs. Jane Clemens and Mrs. Moffett, in St. Louis:

                                        ON BOARD SHIP Smyrniote,

                                        AT SEA, July 30, 1866.

DEAR MOTHER AND SISTER,--I write, now, because I must go hard at work as
soon as I get to San Francisco, and then I shall have no time for other
things--though truth to say I have nothing now to write which will be
calculated to interest you much. We left the Sandwich Islands eight or
ten days--or twelve days ago--I don’t know which, I have been so hard at
work until today (at least part of each day,) that the time has slipped
away almost unnoticed. The first few days we came at a whooping gait
being in the latitude of the “North-east trades,” but we soon ran out
of them. We used them as long as they lasted-hundred of miles--and came
dead straight north until exactly abreast of San Francisco precisely
straight west of the city in a bee-line--but a long bee-line, as we were
about two thousand miles at sea-consequently, we are not a hundred yards
nearer San Francisco than you are. And here we lie becalmed on a glassy
sea--we do not move an inch-we throw banana and orange peel overboard
and it lies still on the water by the vessel’s side. Sometimes the ocean
is as dead level as the Mississippi river, and glitters glassily as if
polished--but usually, of course, no matter how calm the weather is,
we roll and surge over the grand ground-swell. We amuse ourselves tying
pieces of tin to the ship’s log and sinking them to see how far we can
distinguish them under water--86 feet was the deepest we could see a
small piece of tin, but a white plate would show about as far down as
the steeple of Dr. Bullard’s church would reach, I guess. The sea is
very dark and blue here.

Ever since we got becalmed--five days--I have been copying the diary of
one of the young Fergusons (the two boys who starved and suffered, with
thirteen others, in an open boat at sea for forty-three days, lately,
after their ship, the “Hornet,” was burned on the equator.) Both these
boys, and Captain Mitchell, are passengers with us. I am copying the
diary to publish in Harper’s Magazine, if I have time to fix it up
properly when I get to San Francisco.

I suppose, from present appearances,--light winds and calms,--that we
shall be two or three weeks at sea, yet--and I hope so--I am in no hurry
to go to work.

                                             Sunday Morning, Aug. 6.

This is rather slow. We still drift, drift, drift along--at intervals a
spanking breeze and then--drift again--hardly move for half a day. But
I enjoy it. We have such snowy moonlight, and such gorgeous sunsets. And
the ship is so easy--even in a gale she rolls very little, compared to
other vessels--and in this calm we could dance on deck, if we chose.
You can walk a crack, so steady is she. Very different from the Ajax.
My trunk used to get loose in the stateroom and rip and tear around the
place as if it had life in it, and I always had to take my clothes off
in bed because I could not stand up and do it.

There is a ship in sight--the first object we have seen since we left
Honolulu. We are still 1300 or 1400 miles from land and so anything
like this that varies the vast solitude of the ocean makes all hands
light-hearted and cheerful. We think the ship is the “Comet,” which left
Honolulu several hours before we did. She is about twelve miles away,
and so we cannot see her hull, but the sailors think it is the Comet
because of some peculiarity about her fore-top-gallant sails. We have
watched her all the forenoon.

Afternoon We had preaching on the quarter-deck by Rev. Mr. Rising, of
Virginia City, old friend of mine. Spread a flag on the booby-hatch,
which made a very good pulpit, and then ranged the chairs on either side
against the bulwarks; last Sunday we had the shadow of the mainsail, but
today we were on the opposite tack, close hauled, and had the sun. I am
leader of the choir on this ship, and a sorry lead it is. I hope they
will have a better opinion of our music in Heaven than I have down here.
If they don’t a thunderbolt will come down and knock the vessel endways.

The other ship is the Comet--she is right abreast three miles away,
sailing on our course--both of us in a dead calm. With the glasses
we can see what we take to be men and women on her decks. I am well
acquainted with nearly all her passengers, and being so close seems
right sociable.

Monday 7--I had just gone to bed a little after midnight when the 2d
mate came and roused up the captain and said “The Comet has come round
and is standing away on the other tack.” I went up immediately, and
so did all our passengers, without waiting to dress-men, women and
children. There was a perceptible breeze. Pretty soon the other ship
swept down upon us with all her sails set, and made a fine show in the
luminous starlight. She passed within a hundred yards of us, so we could
faintly see persons on her decks. We had two minutes’ chat with each
other, through the medium of hoarse shouting, and then she bore away to

In the morning she was only a little black peg standing out of the
glassy sea in the distant horizon--an almost invisible mark in the
bright sky. Dead calm. So the ships have stood, all day long--have not
moved 100 yards.

Aug. 8--The calm continues. Magnificent weather. The gentlemen have all
turned boys. They play boyish games on the poop and quarter-deck. For
instance: They lay a knife on the fife-rail of the mainmast--stand
off three steps, shut one eye, walk up and strike at it with the
fore-finger; (seldom hit it;) also they lay a knife on the deck and
walk seven or eight steps with eyes close shut, and try to find it.
They kneel--place elbows against knees--extend hands in front along the
deck--place knife against end of fingers--then clasp hands behind back
and bend forward and try to pick up the knife with their teeth and rise
up from knees without rolling over or losing their balance. They tie a
string to the shrouds--stand with back against it walk three steps (eyes
shut)--turn around three times and go and put finger on the string; only
a military man can do it. If you want to know how perfectly ridiculous
a grown man looks performing such absurdities in the presence of ladies,
get one to try it.

Afternoon--The calm is no more. There are three vessels in sight. It is
so sociable to have them hovering about us on this broad waste of water.
It is sunny and pleasant, but blowing hard. Every rag about the ship is
spread to the breeze and she is speeding over the sea like a bird. There
is a large brig right astern of us with all her canvas set and chasing
us at her best. She came up fast while the winds were light, but now it
is hard to tell whether she gains or not. We can see the people on the
forecastle with the glass. The race is exciting. I am sorry to know that
we shall soon have to quit the vessel and go ashore if she keeps up this

Friday, Aug. 10--We have breezes and calms alternately. The brig is two
miles to three astern, and just stays there. We sail directly east--this
brings the brig, with all her canvas set, almost in the eye of the sun,
when it sets--beautiful. She looks sharply cut and black as a coal,
against a background of fire and in the midst of a sea of blood.

San Francisco, Aug. 20.--We never saw the Comet again till the 13th, in
the morning, three miles away. At three o’clock that afternoon, 25 days
out from Honolulu, both ships entered the Golden Gate of San Francisco
side by side, and 300 yards apart. There was a gale blowing, and both
vessels clapped on every stitch of canvas and swept up through the
channel and past the fortresses at a magnificent gait.

I have been up to Sacramento and squared accounts with the Union. They
paid me a great deal more than they promised me.

                                   Yrs aff


     It was August 13th when he reached San Francisco and wrote in his
     note-book, “Home again.  No--not home again--in prison again, and
     all the wild sense of freedom gone.  City seems so cramped and so
     dreary with toil and care and business anxieties.  God help me, I
     wish I were at sea again!”
     The transition from the dreamland of a becalmed sailing-vessel to
     the dull, cheerless realities of his old life, and the uncertainties
     of his future, depressed him--filled him with forebodings.  At one
     moment he felt himself on the verge of suicide--the world seemed so
     little worth while.

     He wished to make a trip around the world, a project that required
     money.  He contemplated making a book of his island letters and
     experiences, and the acceptance by Harper’s Magazine of the revised
     version of the Hornet Shipwreck story encouraged this thought.

     Friends urged him to embody in a lecture the picturesque aspect of
     Hawaiian life.  The thought frightened him, but it also appealed to
     him strongly.  He believed he could entertain an audience, once he
     got started on the right track.  As Governor of the Third House at
     Carson City he had kept the audience in hand.  Men in whom he had
     the utmost confidence insisted that he follow up the lecture idea
     and engage the largest house in the city for his purpose.  The
     possibility of failure appalled him, but he finally agreed to the

     In Roughing It, and elsewhere, has been told the story of this
     venture--the tale of its splendid success.  He was no longer
     concerned, now, as to his immediate future.  The lecture field was
     profitable.  His audience laughed and shouted.  He was learning the
     flavor of real success and exulting in it.  With Dennis McCarthy,
     formerly one of the partners in the Enterprise, as manager, he made
     a tour of California and Nevada.

To Mrs. Jane Clemens and others, in St. Louis:

                                        VIRGINIA CITY, Nov. 1, 1866.

ALL THE FOLKS, AFFECTIONATE GREETING,--You know the flush time’s are
past, and it has long been impossible to more than half fill the Theatre
here, with any sort of attraction, but they filled it for me, night
before last--full--dollar all over the house.

I was mighty dubious about Carson, but the enclosed call and some
telegrams set that all right--I lecture there tomorrow night.

They offer a full house and no expense in Dayton--go there next. Sandy
Baldwin says I have made the most sweeping success of any man he knows

I have lectured in San Francisco, Sacramento, Marysville, Grass Valley,
Nevada, You Bet, Red Dog and Virginia. I am going to talk in Carson,
Gold Hill, Silver City, Dayton, Washoe, San Francisco again, and again
here if I have time to re-hash the lecture.

Then I am bound for New York--lecture on the Steamer, maybe.

I’ll leave toward 1st December--but I’ll telegraph you.

                                   Love to all.

     His lecture tour continued from October until December, a
     period of picturesque incident, the story of which has been
     recorded elsewhere. --[See Mark Twain: A Biography, by the
     same author]--It paid him well; he could go home now,
     without shame.  Indeed, from his next letter, full of the
     boyish elation which always to his last years was the
     complement of his success, we gather that he is going home
     with special honors--introductions from ministers and the
     like to distinguished personages of the East.

To Mrs. Jane Clemens and family, in St. Louis:

                                             SAN F., Dec. 4, 1866.

MY DEAR FOLKS,--I have written to Annie and Sammy and Katie some time
ago--also, to the balance of you.

I called on Rev. Dr. Wadsworth last night with the City College man,
but he wasn’t at home. I was sorry, because I wanted to make his
acquaintance. I am thick as thieves with the Rev. Stebbings, and I am
laying for the Rev. Scudder and the Rev. Dr. Stone. I am running on
preachers, now, altogether. I find them gay. Stebbings is a regular
brick. I am taking letters of introduction to Henry Ward Beecher, Rev.
Dr. Tyng, and other eminent parsons in the east. Whenever anybody offers
me a letter to a preacher, now I snaffle it on the spot. I shall make
Rev. Dr. Bellows trot out the fast nags of the cloth for me when I get
to New York. Bellows is an able, upright and eloquent man--a man of
imperial intellect and matchless power--he is Christian in the truest
sense of the term and is unquestionably a brick....

Gen. Drum has arrived in Philadelphia and established his head-quarters
there, as Adjutant Genl. to Maj. Gen. Meade. Col. Leonard has received a
letter from him in which he offers me a complimentary benefit if I will
come there. I am much obliged, really, but I am afraid I shan’t lecture
much in the States.

The China Mail Steamer is getting ready and everybody says I am throwing
away a fortune in not going in her. I firmly believe it myself.

I sail for the States in the Opposition steamer of the 5th inst.,
positively and without reserve. My room is already secured for me, and
is the choicest in the ship. I know all the officers.

                                   Yrs.  Affy

     We get no hint of his plans, and perhaps he had none.  If his
     purpose was to lecture in the East, he was in no hurry to begin.
     Arriving in New York, after an adventurous voyage, he met a number
     of old Californians--men who believed in him--and urged him to
     lecture.  He also received offers of newspaper engagements, and from
     Charles Henry Webb, who had published the Californian, which Bret
     Harte had edited, came the proposal to collect his published
     sketches, including the jumping Frog story, in book form.  Webb
     himself was in New York, and offered the sketches to several
     publishers, including Canton, who had once refused the Frog story by
     omitting it from Artemus Ward’s book.  It seems curious that Canton
     should make a second mistake and refuse it again, but publishers
     were wary in those days, and even the newspaper success of the Frog
     story did not tempt him to venture it as the title tale of a book.
     Webb finally declared he would publish the book himself, and
     Clemens, after a few weeks of New York, joined his mother and family
     in St. Louis and gave himself up to a considerable period of
     visiting, lecturing meantime in both Hannibal and Keokuk.

     Fate had great matters in preparation for him.  The Quaker City
     Mediterranean excursion, the first great ocean picnic, was announced
     that spring, and Mark Twain realized that it offered a possible
     opportunity for him to see something of the world.  He wrote at once
     to the proprietors of the Alta-California and proposed that they
     send him as their correspondent.  To his delight his proposition was
     accepted, the Alta agreeing to the twelve hundred dollars passage
     money, and twenty dollars each for letters.

     The Quaker City was not to sail until the 8th of June, but the Alta
     wished some preliminary letters from New York.  Furthermore, Webb
     had the Frog book in press, and would issue it May 1st.  Clemens,
     therefore, returned to New York in April, and now once more being
     urged by the Californians to lecture, he did not refuse.  Frank
     Fuller, formerly Governor of Utah, took the matter in hand and
     engaged Cooper Union for the venture.  He timed it for May 6th,
     which would be a few days after the appearance of Webb’s book.
     Clemens was even more frightened at the prospect of this lecture
     than he had been in San Francisco, and with more reason, for in New
     York his friends were not many, and competition for public favor was
     very great.  There are two letters written May 1st, one to his
     people, and one to Bret Harte, in San Francisco; that give us the


By Mark Twain




To Bret Harte, in San Francisco:

                                   WESTMINSTER HOTEL, May 1, 1867.

DEAR BRET,--I take my pen in hand to inform you that I am well and hope
these few lines will find you enjoying the same God’s blessing.

The book is out, and is handsome. It is full of damnable errors of
grammar and deadly inconsistencies of spelling in the Frog sketch
because I was away and did not read the proofs; but be a friend and say
nothing about these things. When my hurry is over, I will send you an
autograph copy to pisen the children with.

I am to lecture in Cooper Institute next Monday night. Pray for me.

We sail for the Holy Land June 8. Try to write me (to this hotel,) and
it will be forwarded to Paris, where we remain 10 or 15 days.

Regards and best wishes to Mrs. Bret and the family.

                              Truly Yr Friend


To Mrs. Jane Clemens and family, in St. Louis:

                                   WESTMINSTER HOTEL, May 1, 1867.

DEAR FOLKS,--Don’t expect me to write for a while. My hands are full
of business on account of my lecture for the 6th inst., and everything
looks shady, at least, if not dark. I have got a good agent--but now
after we have hired Cooper Institute and gone to an expense in one way
or another of $500, it comes out that I have got to play against Speaker
Colfax at Irving Hall, Ristori, and also the double troupe of Japanese
jugglers, the latter opening at the great Academy of Music--and with all
this against me I have taken the largest house in New York and cannot
back water. Let her slide! If nobody else cares I don’t.

I’ll send the book soon. I am awfully hurried now, but not worried.


     The Cooper Union lecture proved a failure, and a success.
     When it became evident to Fuller that the venture was not
     going to pay, he sent out a flood of complimentaries to the
     school-teachers of New York City and the surrounding
     districts.  No one seems to have declined them.  Clemens
     lectured to a jammed house and acquired much reputation.
     Lecture proposals came from several directions, but he could
     not accept them now. He wrote home that he was eighteen Alta
     letters behind and had refused everything.  Thos. Nast, the
     cartoonist, then in his first fame, propped a joint tour,
     Clemens to lecture while he, Nast, would illustrate with
     “lightning” sketches; but even this could not be considered
     now.  In a little while he would sail, and the days were
     overfull.  A letter written a week before he sailed is full
     of the hurry and strain of these last days.


To Mrs. Jane Clemens and family, in St. Louis:

                         WESTMINSTER HOTEL, NEW YORK, June 1, 1867.

DEAR FOLKS,--I know I ought to write oftener (just got your last,) and
more fully, but I cannot overcome my repugnance to telling what I am
doing or what I expect to do or propose to do. Then, what have I left to
write about? Manifestly nothing.

It isn’t any use for me to talk about the voyage, because I can have no
faith in that voyage till the ship is under way. How do I know she will
ever sail? My passage is paid, and if the ship sails, I sail in
her--but I make no calculations, have bought no cigars, no sea-going
clothing--have made no preparation whatever--shall not pack my trunk
till the morning we sail. Yet my hands are full of what I am going to do
the day before we sail--and what isn’t done that day will go undone.

All I do know or feel, is, that I am wild with impatience to
move--move--move! Half a dozen times I have wished I had sailed long
ago in some ship that wasn’t going to keep me chained here to chafe for
lagging ages while she got ready to go. Curse the endless delays!
They always kill me--they make me neglect every duty and then I have a
conscience that tears me like a wild beast. I wish I never had to stop
anywhere a month. I do more mean things, the moment I get a chance to
fold my hands and sit down than ever I can get forgiveness for.

Yes, we are to meet at Mr. Beach’s next Thursday night, and I suppose
we shall have to be gotten up regardless of expense, in swallow-tails,
white kids and everything en regle.

I am resigned to Rev. Mr. Hutchinson’s or anybody else’s supervision.
I don’t mind it. I am fixed. I have got a splendid, immoral,
tobacco-smoking, wine-drinking, godless room-mate who is as good and
true and right-minded a man as ever lived--a man whose blameless conduct
and example will always be an eloquent sermon to all who shall come
within their influence. But send on the professional preachers--there
are none I like better to converse with. If they’re not narrow minded
and bigoted they make good companions.

I asked them to send the N. Y. Weekly to you--no charge. I am not going
to write for it. Like all other, papers that pay one splendidly it
circulates among stupid people and the ‘canaille.’ I have made no
arrangement with any New York paper--I will see about that Monday or

                              Love to all
                                   Good bye,
                                        Yrs affy

     The “immoral” room-mate whose conduct was to be an “eloquent
     example” was Dan Slote, immortalized in the Innocents as “Dan”
      --a favorite on the ship, and later beloved by countless readers.

     There is one more letter, written the night before the Quaker City
     sailed-a letter which in a sense marks the close of the first great
     period of his life--the period of aimless wandering--adventure

     Perhaps a paragraph of explanation should precede this letter.
     Political changes had eliminated Orion in Nevada, and he was now
     undertaking the practice of law.  “Bill Stewart” was Senator
     Stewart, of Nevada, of whom we shall hear again.  The “Sandwich
     Island book,” as may be imagined, was made up of his letters to the
     Sacramento Union.  Nothing came of the venture, except some chapters
     in ‘Roughing It’, rewritten from the material.  “Zeb and John
     Leavenworth” were pilots whom he had known on the river.


To Mrs. Jane Clemens and family in St. Louis:

                                        NEW YORK, June 7th, 1867.

DEAR FOLKS, I suppose we shall be many a league at sea tomorrow night,
and goodness knows I shall be unspeakably glad of it.

I haven’t got anything to write, else I would write it. I have just
written myself clear out in letters to the Alta, and I think they
are the stupidest letters that were ever written from New York.
Corresponding has been a perfect drag ever since I got to the states. If
it continues abroad, I don’t know what the Tribune and Alta folks will
think. I have withdrawn the Sandwich Island book--it would be useless to
publish it in these dull publishing times. As for the Frog book, I don’t
believe that will ever pay anything worth a cent. I published it simply
to advertise myself--not with the hope of making anything out of it.

Well, I haven’t anything to write, except that I am tired of staying in
one place--that I am in a fever to get away. Read my Alta letters--they
contain everything I could possibly write to you. Tell Zeb and John
Leavenworth to write me. They can get plenty of gossip from the pilots.

An importing house sent two cases of exquisite champagne aboard the ship
for me today--Veuve Clicquot and Lac d’Or. I and my room-mate have set
apart every Saturday as a solemn fast day, wherein we will entertain no
light matters of frivolous conversation, but only get drunk. (That is
a joke.) His mother and sisters are the best and most homelike people
I have yet found in a brown stone front. There is no style about them,
except in house and furniture.

I wish Orion were going on this voyage, for I believe he could not help
but be cheerful and jolly. I often wonder if his law business is going
satisfactorily to him, but knowing that the dull season is setting in
now (it looked like it had already set in before) I have felt as if I
could almost answer the question myself--which is to say in plain words,
I was afraid to ask. I wish I had gone to Washington in the winter
instead of going West. I could have gouged an office out of Bill Stewart
for him, and that would atone for the loss of my home visit. But I am so
worthless that it seems to me I never do anything or accomplish anything
that lingers in my mind as a pleasant memory. My mind is stored full
of unworthy conduct toward Orion and towards you all, and an accusing
conscience gives me peace only in excitement and restless moving from
place to place. If I could say I had done one thing for any of you that
entitled me to your good opinion, (I say nothing of your love, for I am
sure of that, no matter how unworthy of it I may make myself, from Orion
down you have always given me that, all the days of my life, when God
Almighty knows I seldom deserve it,) I believe I could go home and stay
there and I know I would care little for the world’s praise or blame.
There is no satisfaction in the world’s praise anyhow, and it has
no worth to me save in the way of business. I tried to gather up its
compliments to send to you, but the work was distasteful and I dropped

You observe that under a cheerful exterior I have got a spirit that is
angry with me and gives me freely its contempt. I can get away from that
at sea, and be tranquil and satisfied--and so, with my parting love and
benediction for Orion and all of you, I say goodbye and God bless you
all--and welcome the wind that wafts a weary soul to the sunny lands of
the Mediterranean!

                              Yrs.  Forever,

     Mark Twain, now at sea, was writing many letters; not
     personal letters, but those unique descriptive relations of
     travel which would make him his first great fame--those
     fresh first impressions preserved to us now as chapters of
     The Innocents Abroad.  Yet here and there in the midst of
     sight-seeing and reporting he found time to send a brief
     line to those at home, merely that they might have a word
     from his own hand, for he had ordered the papers to which he
     was to contribute--the Alta and the New York Tribune--sent
     to them, and these would give the story of his travels.  The
     home letters read like notebook entries.


Letters to Mrs. Jane Clemens and family, in St. Louis:

                                   FAYAL (Azores,) June 20th, 1867.

DEAR FOLKS,--We are having a lively time here, after a stormy trip. We
meant to go to San Miguel, but were driven here by stress of weather.
Beautiful climate.


                                   GIBRALTAR, June 30th, 1867.

DEAR FOLKS,--Arrived here this morning, and am clear worn out with
riding and climbing in and over and around this monstrous rock and its
fortifications. Summer climate and very pleasant.


                              TANGIER, MOROCCO, (AFRICA), July 1, 1867.

DEAR FOLKS, Half a dozen of us came here yesterday from Gibraltar and
some of the company took the other direction; went up through Spain, to
Paris by rail. We decided that Gibraltar and San Roque were all of Spain
that we wanted to see at present and are glad we came here among the
Africans, Moors, Arabs and Bedouins of the desert. I would not give
this experience for all the balance of the trip combined. This is the
infernalest hive of infernally costumed barbarians I have ever come
across yet.


                                        AT SEA, July 2, 1867.

DR. FOLKS,--We are far up the intensely blue and ravishingly beautiful
Mediterranean. And now we are just passing the island of Minorca. The
climate is perfectly lovely and it is hard to drive anybody to bed, day
or night. We remain up the whole night through occasionally, and by this
means enjoy the rare sensation of seeing the sun rise. But the sunsets
are soft, rich, warm and superb!

We had a ball last night under the awnings of the quarter deck, and
the share of it of three of us was masquerade. We had full, flowing,
picturesque Moorish costumes which we purchased in the bazaars of


                                   MARSEILLES, FRANCE, July 5, 1867.

We are here. Start for Paris tomorrow. All well. Had gorgeous 4th of
July jollification yesterday at sea.


     The reader may expand these sketchy outlines to his heart’s content
     by following the chapters in The Innocents Abroad, which is very
     good history, less elaborated than might be supposed.  But on the
     other hand, the next letter adds something of interest to the
     book-circumstances which a modest author would necessarily omit.


To Mrs. Jane Clemens and family, in St. Louis:

                                        YALTA, RUSSIA, Aug.  25, 1867.

DEAR FOLKS,--We have been representing the United States all we knew how
today. We went to Sebastopol, after we got tired of Constantinople (got
your letter there, and one at Naples,) and there the Commandant and the
whole town came aboard and were as jolly and sociable as old friends.
They said the Emperor of Russia was at Yalta, 30 miles or 40 away, and
urged us to go there with the ship and visit him--promised us a cordial
welcome. They insisted on sending a telegram to the Emperor, and also
a courier overland to announce our coming. But we knew that a great
English Excursion party, and also the Viceroy of Egypt, in his splendid
yacht, had been refused an audience within the last fortnight, so we
thought it not safe to try it. They said, no difference--the Emperor
would hardly visit our ship, because that would be a most extraordinary
favor, and one which he uniformly refuses to accord under any
circumstances, but he would certainly receive us at his palace. We still
declined. But we had to go to Odessa, 250 miles away, and there the
Governor General urged us, and sent a telegram to the Emperor, which we
hardly expected to be answered, but it was, and promptly. So we sailed
back to Yalta.

We all went to the palace at noon, today, (3 miles) in carriages and
on horses sent by the Emperor, and we had a jolly time. Instead of the
usual formal audience of 15 minutes, we staid 4 hours and were made
a good deal more at home than we could have been in a New York
drawing-room. The whole tribe turned out to receive our party-Emperor,
Empress, the oldest daughter (Grand-Duchess Marie, a pretty girl of 14,)
a little Grand Duke, her brother, and a platoon of Admirals, Princes,
Peers of the Empire, etc., and in a little while an aid-de-camp arrived
with a request from the Grand Duke Michael, the Emperor’s brother,
that we would visit his palace and breakfast with him. The Emperor also
invited us, on behalf of his absent eldest son and heir (aged 22,) to
visit his palace and consider it a visit to him. They all talk English
and they were all very neatly but very plainly dressed. You all dress a
good deal finer than they were dressed. The Emperor and his family threw
off all reserve and showed us all over the palace themselves. It is very
rich and very elegant, but in no way gaudy.

I had been appointed chairman of a committee to draught an address to
the Emperor in behalf of the passengers, and as I fully expected, and
as they fully intended, I had to write the address myself. I didn’t mind
it, because I have no modesty and would as soon write to an Emperor as
to anybody else--but considering that there were 5 on the committee I
thought they might have contributed one paragraph among them, anyway.
They wanted me to read it to him, too, but I declined that honor--not
because I hadn’t cheek enough (and some to spare,) but because our
Consul at Odessa was along, and also the Secretary of our Legation
at St. Petersburgh, and of course one of those ought to read it. The
Emperor accepted the address--it was his business to do it--and so
many others have praised it warmly that I begin to imagine it must be a
wonderful sort of document and herewith send you the original draught of
it to be put into alcohol and preserved forever like a curious reptile.

They live right well at the Grand Duke Michael’s their breakfasts are
not gorgeous but very excellent--and if Mike were to say the word I
would go there and breakfast with him tomorrow.

                                   Yrs aff

P. S. [Written across the face of the last page.] They had told us it
would be polite to invite the Emperor to visit the ship, though he would
not be likely to do it. But he didn’t give us a chance--he has requested
permission to come on board with his family and all his relations
tomorrow and take a sail, in case it is calm weather. I can, entertain
them. My hand is in, now, and if you want any more Emperors feted in
style, trot them out.

     The next letter is of interest in that it gives us the program and
     volume of his work.  With all the sight seeing he was averaging a
     full four letters a week--long letters, requiring careful
     observation and inquiry.  How fresh and impressionable and full of
     vigor he was, even in that fierce southern heat!  No one makes the
     Mediterranean trip in summer to-day, and the thought of adding
     constant letter-writing to steady travel through southern France,
     Italy, Greece, and Turkey in blazing midsummer is stupefying.  And
     Syria and Egypt in September!


To Mrs. Jane Clemens and family, in St. Louis:

                                        CONSTANTINOPLE, Sept. 1, ‘67.

DEAR FOLKS,--All well. Do the Alta’s come regularly? I wish I knew
whether my letters reach them or not. Look over the back papers and see.
I wrote them as follows:

     1 Letter from Fayal, in the Azores Islands.
     1 from Gibraltar, in Spain.
     1 from Tangier, in Africa.
     2 from Paris and Marseilles, in France.
     1 from Genoa, in Italy.
     1 from Milan.
     1 from Lake Como.
     1 from some little place in Switzerland--have forgotten the name.
     4 concerning Lecce, Bergamo, Padua, Verona, Battlefield of Marengo,
  Pestachio, and some other cities in Northern Italy.

     2 from Venice.
     1 about Bologna.
     1 from Florence.
     1 from Pisa.
     1 from Leghorn.
     1 from Rome and Civita Vecchia.
     2 from Naples.
     1 about Pazzuoli, where St. Paul landed, the Baths of Nero, and the
  ruins of Baia, Virgil’s tomb, the Elysian Fields, the Sunken Cities and
  the spot where Ulysses landed.
     1 from Herculaneum and Vesuvius.
     1 from Pompeii.
     1 from the Island of Ischia.
     1 concerning the Volcano of Stromboli, the city and Straits of
  Messina, the land of Sicily, Scylla and Charybdis etc.
  1 about the Grecian Archipelago.

  1 about a midnight visit to Athens, the Piraeus and the ruins of
  the Acropolis.

  1 about the Hellespont, the site of ancient Troy, the Sea of
  Marmara, etc.

  2 about Constantinople, the Golden Horn and the beauties of the

  1 from Odessa and Sebastopol in Russia, the Black Sea, etc.

  2 from Yalta, Russia, concerning a visit to the Czar. And
  yesterday I wrote another letter from Constantinople and

  1 today about its neighbor in Asia, Scatter.  I am not done with
  Turkey yet. Shall write 2 or 3 more.

  I have written to the New York Herald 2 letters from Naples, (no
  name signed,) and 1 from Constantinople.

  To the New York Tribune I have written

  1 from Fayal. 1 from Civita Vecchia in the Roman States. 2 from
  Yalta, Russia. And 1 from Constantinople.

I have never seen any of these letters in print except the one to the
Tribune from Fayal and that was not worth printing.

We sail hence tomorrow, perhaps, and my next letters will be mailed at
Smyrna, in Syria. I hope to write from the Sea of Tiberius, Damascus,
Jerusalem, Joppa, and possibly other points in the Holy Land. The
letters from Egypt, the Nile and Algiers I will look out for, myself. I
will bring them in my pocket.

They take the finest photographs in the world here. I have ordered some.
They will be sent to Alexandria, Egypt.

You cannot conceive of anything so beautiful as Constantinople, viewed
from the Golden Horn or the Bosphorus. I think it must be the handsomest
city in the world. I will go on deck and look at it for you, directly.
I am staying in the ship, tonight. I generally stay on shore when we are
in port. But yesterday I just ran myself down. Dan Slote, my room-mate,
is on shore. He remained here while we went up the Black Sea, but
it seems he has not got enough of it yet. I thought Dan had got the
state-room pretty full of rubbish at last, but a while ago his dragoman
arrived with a bran new, ghastly tomb-stone of the Oriental pattern,
with his name handsomely carved and gilded on it, in Turkish characters.
That fellow will buy a Circassian slave, next.

I am tired. We are going on a trip, tomorrow. I must to bed. Love to



               U. S. CONSUL’S OFFICE, BEIRUT, SYRIA, Sept. 11. (1867)

DEAR FOLKS,--We are here, eight of us, making a contract with a dragoman
to take us to Baalbek, then to Damascus, Nazareth, &c. then to Lake
Genassareth (Sea of Tiberias,) then South through all the celebrated
Scriptural localities to Jerusalem--then to the Dead Sea, the Cave of
Macpelah and up to Joppa where the ship will be. We shall be in the
saddle three weeks--we have horses, tents, provisions, arms, a dragoman
and two other servants, and we pay five dollars a day apiece, in gold.

                         Love to all, yrs.

We leave tonight, at two o’clock in the morning.

     There appear to be no further home letters written from Syria--and
     none from Egypt.  Perhaps with the desert and the delta the heat at
     last became too fearful for anything beyond the actual requirements
     of the day.  When he began his next it was October, and the fiercer
     travel was behind him.


To Mrs. Jane Clemens and family, in St. Louis:

                                   CAGHARI, SARDINIA, Oct, 12, 1867.

DEAR FOLKS,--We have just dropped anchor before this handsome city and--

                                   ALGIERS, AFRICA, Oct. 15.

They would not let us land at Caghari on account of cholera. Nothing to

                                   MALAGA, SPAIN, Oct.  17.

The Captain and I are ashore here under guard, waiting to know whether
they will let the ship anchor or not. Quarantine regulations are very
strict here on all vessels coming from Egypt. I am a little anxious
because I want to go inland to Granada and see the Alhambra. I can go on
down by Seville and Cordova, and be picked up at Cadiz.

Later: We cannot anchor--must go on. We shall be at Gibraltar before
midnight and I think I will go horseback (a long days) and thence
by rail and diligence to Cadiz. I will not mail this till I see the
Gibraltar lights--I begin to think they won’t let us in anywhere.

11.30 P. M.--Gibraltar.

At anchor and all right, but they won’t let us land till morning--it is
a waste of valuable time. We shall reach New York middle of November.


                                        CADIZ, Oct 24, 1867.

DEAR FOLKS,--We left Gibraltar at noon and rode to Algeciras, (4 hours)
thus dodging the quarantine, took dinner and then rode horseback all
night in a swinging trot and at daylight took a caleche (a wheeled
vehicle) and rode 5 hours--then took cars and traveled till twelve at
night. That landed us at Seville and we were over the hard part of our
trip, and somewhat tired. Since then we have taken things comparatively
easy, drifting around from one town to another and attracting a good
deal of attention, for I guess strangers do not wander through Andalusia
and the other Southern provinces of Spain often. The country is
precisely as it was when Don Quixote and Sancho Panza were possible

But I see now what the glory of Spain must have been when it was under
Moorish domination. No, I will not say that, but then when one is
carried away, infatuated, entranced, with the wonders of the Alhambra
and the supernatural beauty of the Alcazar, he is apt to overflow with
admiration for the splendid intellects that created them.

I cannot write now. I am only dropping a line to let you know I am well.
The ship will call for us here tomorrow. We may stop at Lisbon, and
shall at the Bermudas, and will arrive in New York ten days after this
letter gets there.


     This is the last personal letter written during that famous first
     sea-gipsying, and reading it our regret grows that he did not put
     something of his Spanish excursion into his book.  He never returned
     to Spain, and he never wrote of it.  Only the barest mention of
     “seven beautiful days” is found in The Innocents Abroad.


     From Mark Twain’s home letters we get several important side-lights
     on this first famous book.  We learn, for in stance, that it was he
     who drafted the ship address to the Emperor--the opening lines of
     which became so wearisome when repeated by the sailors.
     Furthermore, we learn something of the scope and extent of his
     newspaper correspondence, which must have kept him furiously busy,
     done as it was in the midst of super-heated and continuous
     sight-seeing.  He wrote fifty three letters to the Alta-California,
     six to the New York Tribune, and at least two to the New York
     Herald more than sixty, all told, of an average, length of three to
     four thousand words each. Mark Twain always claimed to be a lazy
     man, and certainly he was likely to avoid an undertaking not suited
     to his gifts, but he had energy in abundance for work in his chosen
     field. To have piled up a correspondence of that size in the time,
     and under the circumstances already noted, quality considered, may
     be counted a record in the history of travel letters.

     They made him famous.  Arriving in New York, November 19, 1867, Mark
     Twain found himself no longer unknown to the metropolis, or to any
     portion of America.  Papers East and West had copied his Alta and
     Tribune letters and carried his name into every corner of the States
     and Territories.  He had preached a new gospel in travel literature,
     the gospel of frankness and sincerity that Americans could
     understand.  Also his literary powers had awakened at last.  His
     work was no longer trivial, crude, and showy; it was full of
     dignity, beauty, and power; his humor was finer, worthier.  The
     difference in quality between the Quaker City letters and those
     written from the Sandwich Islands only a year before can scarcely be

     He did not remain in New York, but went down to Washington, where he
     had arranged for a private secretaryship with Senator William M.
     Stewart,--[The “Bill” Stewart mentioned in the preceding chapter.]
     whom he had known in Nevada.  Such a position he believed would make
     but little demand upon his time, and would afford him an insight
     into Washington life, which he could make valuable in the shape of
     newspaper correspondence.

     But fate had other plans for him.  He presently received the
     following letter:

                   From Elisha Bliss, Jr., in Hartford


                                        HARTFORD, CONN, Nov 21, 1867.


Tribune Office, New York.

DR. SIR,--We take the liberty to address you this, in place of a letter
which we had recently written and was about to forward to you, not
knowing your arrival home was expected so soon. We are desirous of
obtaining from you a work of some kind, perhaps compiled from your
letters from the East, &c., with such interesting additions as may be
proper. We are the publishers of A. D. Richardson’s works, and flatter
ourselves that we can give an author as favorable terms and do as full
justice to his productions as any other house in the country. We are
perhaps the oldest subscription house in the country, and have never
failed to give a book an immense circulation. We sold about 100,000
copies of Richardson’s F. D. & E. (Field, Dungeon and Escape) and are
now printing 41,000, of “Beyond the Mississippi,” and large orders
ahead. If you have any thought of writing a book, or could be induced to
do so, we should be pleased to see you; and will do so. Will you do us
the favor to reply at once, at your earliest convenience.

                                   Very truly, &c.,
                                                  E. BLISS, Jr.

     Clemens had already the idea of a book in mind and welcomed this


                    To Elisha Bliss, Jr., in Hartford:

                                        WASHINGTON, Dec.  2, 1867.
E. BLISS, Jr. Esq.

Sec’y American Publishing Co.--

DEAR SIR,--I only received your favor of Nov. 21st last night, at the
rooms of the Tribune Bureau here. It was forwarded from the Tribune
office, New York, where it had lain eight or ten days. This will be a
sufficient apology for the seeming discourtesy of my silence.

I wrote fifty-two (three) letters for the San Francisco “Alta
California” during the Quaker City excursion, about half of which number
have been printed, thus far. The “Alta” has few exchanges in the East,
and I suppose scarcely any of these letters have been copied on this
side of the Rocky Mountains. I could weed them of their chief faults of
construction and inelegancies of expression and make a volume that would
be more acceptable in many respects than any I could now write. When
those letters were written my impressions were fresh, but now they have
lost that freshness; they were warm then--they are cold, now. I could
strike out certain letters, and write new ones wherewith to supply their
places. If you think such a book would suit your purpose, please drop
me a line, specifying the size and general style of the volume; when the
matter ought to be ready; whether it should have pictures in it or not;
and particularly what your terms with me would be, and what amount of
money I might possibly make out of it. The latter clause has a degree of
importance for me which is almost beyond my own comprehension. But you
understand that, of course.

I have other propositions for a book, but have doubted the propriety of
interfering with good newspaper engagements, except my way as an author
could be demonstrated to be plain before me. But I know Richardson,
and learned from him some months ago, something of an idea of the
subscription plan of publishing. If that is your plan invariably, it
looks safe.

I am on the N. Y. Tribune staff here as an “occasional,”, among other
things, and a note from you addressed to

                                   Very truly &c.

                                             SAM L. CLEMENS

New York Tribune Bureau, Washington, will find me, without fail.

     The exchange of these two letters marked the beginning of one of the
     most notable publishing connections in American literary history.
     The book, however, was not begun immediately.  Bliss was in poor
     health and final arrangements were delayed; it was not until late in
     January that Clemens went to Hartford and concluded the arrangement.

     Meantime, fate had disclosed another matter of even greater
     importance; we get the first hint of it in the following letter,
     though to him its beginning had been earlier--on a day in the blue
     harbor of Smyrna, when young Charles Langdon, a fellow-passenger on
     the Quaker City, had shown to Mark Twain a miniature of young
     Langdon’s sister at home:


To Mrs. Jane Clemens and Mrs. Moffett, in St. Louis:

                                   224 F. STREET, WASH, Jan. 8, 1868.

MY DEAR MOTHER AND SISTER,--And so the old Major has been there, has he?
I would like mighty well to see him. I was a sort of benefactor to
him once. I helped to snatch him out when he was about to ride into a
Mohammedan Mosque in that queer old Moorish town of Tangier, in Africa.
If he had got in, the Moors would have knocked his venerable old head
off, for his temerity.

I have just arrived from New York-been there ever since Christmas
staying at the house of Dan Slote my Quaker City room-mate, and having
a splendid time. Charley Langdon, Jack Van Nostrand, Dan and I, (all
Quaker City night-hawks,) had a blow-out at Dan’s’ house and a lively
talk over old times. We went through the Holy Land together, and I just
laughed till my sides ached, at some of our reminiscences. It was the
unholiest gang that ever cavorted through Palestine, but those are
the best boys in the world. We needed Moulton badly. I started to make
calls, New Year’s Day, but I anchored for the day at the first house I
came to--Charlie Langdon’s sister was there (beautiful girl,) and Miss
Alice Hooker, another beautiful girl, a niece of Henry Ward Beecher’s.
We sent the old folks home early, with instructions not to send the
carriage till midnight, and then I just staid there and worried the life
out of those girls. I am going to spend a few days with the Langdon’s in
Elmira, New York, as soon as I get time, and a few days at Mrs. Hooker’s
in Hartford, Conn., shortly.

Henry Ward Beecher sent for me last Sunday to come over and dine (he
lives in Brooklyn, you know,) and I went. Harriet Beecher Stowe was
there, and Mrs. and Miss Beecher, Mrs. Hooker and my old Quaker City
favorite, Emma Beach.

We had a very gay time, if it was Sunday. I expect I told more lies than
I have told before in a month.

I went back by invitation, after the evening service, and finished
the blow-out, and then staid all night at Mr. Beach’s. Henry Ward is a

I found out at 10 o’clock, last night, that I was to lecture tomorrow
evening and so you must be aware that I have been working like sin all
night to get a lecture written. I have finished it, I call it “Frozen
Truth.” It is a little top-heavy, though, because there is more truth in
the title than there is in the lecture.

But thunder, I mustn’t sit here writing all day, with so much business
before me.

Good by, and kind regards to all.

                         Yrs affy
                                   SAM L. CLEMENS.

     Jack Van Nostrand of this letter is “Jack” of the Innocents.  Emma
     Beach was the daughter of Moses S.  Beach, of the ‘New York Sun.’ 
     Later she became the wife of the well-known painter, Abbot H.

     We do not hear of Miss Langdon again in the letters of that time,
     but it was not because she was absent from his thoughts.  He had
     first seen her with her father and brother at the old St. Nicholas
     Hotel, on lower Broadway, where, soon after the arrival of the
     Quaker City in New York, he had been invited to dine.  Long
     afterward he said: “It is forty years ago; from that day to this she
     has never been out of my mind.”
     From his next letter we learn of the lecture which apparently was
     delivered in Washington.


To Mrs. Jane Clemens and Mrs. Moffett, in St. Louis:

                                        WASH. Jan. 9, 1868.

MY DEAR MOTHER AND SISTER,--That infernal lecture is over, thank Heaven!
It came near being a villainous failure. It was not advertised at all.
The manager was taken sick yesterday, and the man who was sent to tell
me, never got to me till afternoon today. There was the dickens to pay.
It was too late to do anything--too late to stop the lecture. I scared
up a door-keeper, and was ready at the proper time, and by pure good
luck a tolerably good house assembled and I was saved! I hardly knew
what I was going to talk about, but it went off in splendid style. I was
to have preached again Saturday night, but I won’t--I can’t get along
without a manager.

I have been in New York ever since Christmas, you know, and now I shall
have to work like sin to catch up my correspondence.

And I have got to get up that book, too. Cut my letters out of the
Alta’s and send them to me in an envelop. Some, here, that are not
mailed yet, I shall have to copy, I suppose.

I have got a thousand things to do, and am not doing any of them. I feel
perfectly savage.

                         Good bye
                                   Yrs aff

     On the whole, matters were going well with him.  His next letter is
     full of his success--overflowing with the boyish radiance which he
     never quite outgrew.


To Mrs. Jane Clemens and Mrs. Moffett, in St. Louis:

                                        HARTFORD, CONN.  Jan. 24-68.

DEAR MOTHER AND SISTER,--This is a good week for me. I stopped in the
Herald office as I came through New York, to see the boys on the
staff, and young James Gordon Bennett asked me to write twice a week,
impersonally, for the Herald, and said if I would I might have full
swing, and (write) about anybody and everybody I wanted to. I said I
must have the very fullest possible swing, and he said “all right.” I
said “It’s a contract--” and that settled that matter.

I’ll make it a point to write one letter a week, any-how.

But the best thing that has happened was here. This great American
Publishing Company kept on trying to bargain with me for a book till I
thought I would cut the matter short by coming up for a talk. I met Rev.
Henry Ward Beecher in Brooklyn, and with his usual whole-souled way of
dropping his own work to give other people a lift when he gets a chance,
he said, “Now, here, you are one of the talented men of the age--nobody
is going to deny that---but in matters of business, I don’t suppose you
know more than enough to came in when it rains. I’ll tell you what to
do, and how to do it.” And he did.

And I listened well, and then came up here and made a splendid contract
for a Quaker City book of 5 or 600 large pages, with illustrations, the
manuscript to be placed in the publishers’ hands by the middle of July.
My percentage is to be a fifth more than they have ever paid any author,
except Horace Greeley. Beecher will be surprised, I guess, when he hears

But I had my mind made up to one thing--I wasn’t going to touch a book
unless there was money in it, and a good deal of it. I told them so. I
had the misfortune to “bust out” one author of standing. They had his
manuscript, with the understanding that they would publish his book if
they could not get a book from me, (they only publish two books at a
time, and so my book and Richardson’s Life of Grant will fill the bill
for next fall and winter)--so that manuscript was sent back to its
author today.

These publishers get off the most tremendous editions of their books
you can imagine. I shall write to the Enterprise and Alta every week,
as usual, I guess, and to the Herald twice a week--occasionally to the
Tribune and the Magazines (I have a stupid article in the Galaxy, just
issued) but I am not going to write to this, that and the other paper
any more.

The Chicago Tribune wants letters, but I hope and pray I have charged
them so much that they will not close the contract. I am gradually
getting out of debt, but these trips to New York do cost like sin.
I hope you have cut out and forwarded my printed letters to
Washington--please continue to do so as they arrive.

I have had a tip-top time, here, for a few days (guest of Mr. Jno.
Hooker’s family--Beecher’s relatives-in a general way of Mr. Bliss,
also, who is head of the publishing firm.) Puritans are mighty
straight-laced and they won’t let me smoke in the parlor, but the
Almighty don’t make any better people.

Love to all-good-bye. I shall be in New York 3 days--then go on to the

                    Yrs affly, especially Ma.,
                                                  Yr SAM.

I have to make a speech at the annual Herald dinner on the 6th of May.

     No formal contract for the book had been made when this letter was
     written.  A verbal agreement between Bliss and Clemens had been
     reached, to be ratified by an exchange of letters in the near
     future.  Bliss had made two propositions, viz., ten thousand
     dollars, cash in hand, or a 5-per-cent. royalty on the selling price
     of the book.  The cash sum offered looked very large to Mark Twain,
     and he was sorely tempted to accept it.  He had faith, however, in
     the book, and in Bliss’s ability to sell it.  He agreed, therefore,
     to the royalty proposition; “The best business judgment I ever
     displayed” he often declared in after years.  Five per cent.
     royalty sounds rather small in these days of more liberal contracts.
     But the American Publishing Company sold its books only by
     subscription, and the agents’ commissions and delivery expenses ate
     heavily into the profits.  Clemens was probably correct in saying
     that his percentage was larger than had been paid to any previous
     author except Horace Greeley.  The John Hooker mentioned was the
     husband of Henry Ward Beecher’s sister, Isabel.  It was easy to
     understand the Beecher family’s robust appreciation of Mark Twain.

     From the office of Dan Slote, his room-mate of the Quaker City
     --“Dan” of the Innocents--Clemens wrote his letter that closed the
     agreement with Bliss.


To Elisha Bliss, Jr., in Hartford:

               Office of SLOTE & WOODMAN, Blank Book Manufacturers,

                                   Nos. 119-121 William St.

                                        NEW YORK, January 27, 1868.
Mr. E. Bliss, Jr.

Sec’y American Publishing Co.

Hartford Conn.

DEAR SIR, Your favor of Jan. 25th is received, and in reply, I will say
that I accede to your several propositions, viz: That I furnish to the
American Publishing Company, through you, with MSS sufficient for a
volume of 500 to 600 pages, the subject to be the Quaker City, the
voyage, description of places, &c., and also embodying the substance of
the letters written by me during that trip, said MSS to be ready
about the first of August, next, I to give all the usual and necessary
attention in preparing said MSS for the press, and in preparation of
illustrations, in correction of proofs--no use to be made by me of
the material for this work in any way which will conflict with its
interest--the book to be sold by the American Publishing Co., by
subscription--and for said MS and labor on my part said Company to pay
me a copyright of 5 percent, upon the subscription price of the book for
all copies sold.

As further proposed by you, this understanding, herein set forth shall
be considered a binding contract upon all parties concerned, all minor
details to be arranged between us hereafter.

                         Very truly yours,

                                   SAM. L. CLEMENS.

                          (Private and General.)

I was to have gone to Washington tonight, but have held over a day,
to attend a dinner given by a lot of newspaper Editors and literary
scalliwags, at the Westminster Hotel. Shall go down to-morrow, if I
survive the banquet.

                         Yrs truly
                              SAM. CLEMENS.

     Mark Twain, in Washington, was in line for political preferment: His
     wide acquaintance on the Pacific slope, his new fame and growing
     popularity, his powerful and dreaded pen, all gave him special
     distinction at the capital.  From time to time the offer of one
     office or another tempted him, but he wisely, or luckily, resisted.
     In his letters home are presented some of his problems.


To Mrs. Jane Clemens and Mrs. Moffett, in St. Louis:

                              224 F. STREET WASHINGTON Feb.  6, 1868.

MY DEAR MOTHER AND SISTER,--For two months there have been some fifty
applications before the government for the postmastership of San
Francisco, which is the heaviest concentration of political power on the
coast and consequently is a post which is much coveted.,

When I found that a personal friend of mine, the Chief Editor of the
Alta was an applicant I said I didn’t want it--I would not take $10,000
a year out of a friend’s pocket.

The two months have passed, I heard day before yesterday that a new and
almost unknown candidate had suddenly turned up on the inside track, and
was to be appointed at once. I didn’t like that, and went after his case
in a fine passion. I hunted up all our Senators and representatives and
found that his name was actually to come from the President early in the

Then Judge Field said if I wanted the place he could pledge me the
President’s appointment--and Senator Conness said he would guarantee
me the Senate’s confirmation. It was a great temptation, but it would
render it impossible to fill my book contract, and I had to drop the

I have to spend August and September in Hartford which isn’t San
Francisco. Mr. Conness offers me any choice out of five influential
California offices. Now, some day or other I shall want an office and
then, just my luck, I can’t get it, I suppose.

They want to send me abroad, as a Consul or a Minister. I said I didn’t
want any of the pie. God knows I am mean enough and lazy enough, now,
without being a foreign consul.

Sometime in the course of the present century I think they will create a
Commissioner of Patents, and then I hope to get a berth for Orion.

I published 6 or 7 letters in the Tribune while I was gone, now I cannot
get them. I suppose I must have them copied.

                                   Love to all


     Orion Clemens was once more a candidate for office: Nevada
     had become a State; with regularly elected officials, and
     Orion had somehow missed being chosen.  His day of authority
     had passed, and the law having failed to support him, he was
     again back at his old occupation, setting type in St. Louis.
     He was, as ever, full of dreams and inventions that would
     some day lead to fortune.  With the gift of the Sellers
     imagination, inherited by all the family, he lacked the
     driving power which means achievement.  More and more as the
     years went by he would lean upon his brother for moral and
     physical support.  The chances for him in Washington do not
     appear to have been bright.  The political situation under
     Andrew Johnson was not a happy one.


To Orion Clemens, in St. Louis:

                              224 F. STREET, WASH., Feb. 21. (1868)

MY DEAR BRO.,--I am glad you do not want the clerkship, for that Patent
Office is in such a muddle that there would be no security for the
permanency of a place in it. The same remark will apply to all
offices here, now, and no doubt will, till the close of the present

Any man who holds a place here, now, stands prepared at all times to
vacate it. You are doing, now, exactly what I wanted you to do a year

We chase phantoms half the days of our lives.

It is well if we learn wisdom even then, and save the other half.

I am in for it. I must go on chasing them until I marry--then I am done
with literature and all other bosh,--that is, literature wherewith to
please the general public.

I shall write to please myself, then. I hope you will set type till you
complete that invention, for surely government pap must be nauseating
food for a man--a man whom God has enabled to saw wood and be
independent. It really seemed to me a falling from grace, the idea
of going back to San Francisco nothing better than a mere postmaster,
albeit the public would have thought I came with gilded honors, and in
great glory.

I only retain correspondence enough, now, to make a living for myself,
and have discarded all else, so that I may have time to spare for
the book. Drat the thing, I wish it were done, or that I had no other
writing to do.

This is the place to get a poor opinion of everybody in. There isn’t
one man in Washington, in civil office, who has the brains of Anson
Burlingame--and I suppose if China had not seized and saved his great
talents to the world, this government would have discarded him when his
time was up.

There are more pitiful intellects in this Congress! Oh, geeminy! There
are few of them that I find pleasant enough company to visit.

I am most infernally tired of Wash. and its “attractions.” To be busy is
a man’s only happiness--and I am--otherwise I should die

                                             Yrs.  aff.

     The secretarial position with Senator Stewart was short-lived.  One
     cannot imagine Mark Twain as anybody’s secretary, and doubtless
     there was little to be gained on either side by the arrangement.
     They parted without friction, though in later years, when Stewart
     had become old and irascible, he used to recount a list of
     grievances and declare that he had been obliged to threaten violence
     in order to bring Mark to terms; but this was because the author of
     Roughing It had in that book taken liberties with the Senator, to
     the extent of an anecdote and portrait which, though certainly
     harmless enough, had for some reason given deep offense.

     Mark Twain really had no time for secretary work.  For one thing he
     was associated with John Swinton in supplying a Washington letter to
     a list of newspapers, and then he was busy collecting his Quaker
     City letters, and preparing the copy for his book.  Matters were
     going well enough, when trouble developed from an unexpected
     quarter.  The Alta-California had copyrighted the letters and
     proposed to issue them in book form.  There had been no contract
     which would prevent this, and the correspondence which Clemens
     undertook with the Alta management led to nothing.  He knew that he
     had powerful friends among the owners, if he could reach them
     personally, and he presently concluded to return to San Francisco,
     make what arrangement he could, and finish his book there.  It was
     his fashion to be prompt; in his next letter we find him already on
     the way.


To Mrs. Jane Clemens and family, in St. Louis:

                              AT SEA, Sunday, March 15, Lat. 25. (1868)

DEAR FOLKS,--I have nothing to write, except that I am well--that
the weather is fearfully hot-that the Henry Chauncey is a magnificent
ship--that we have twelve hundred, passengers on board--that I have two
staterooms, and so am not crowded--that I have many pleasant friends
here, and the people are not so stupid as on the Quaker City--that we
had Divine Service in the main saloon at 10.30 this morning--that we
expect to meet the upward bound vessel in Latitude 23, and this is why I
am writing now.

We shall reach Aspinwall Thursday morning at 6 o’clock, and San
Francisco less than two weeks later. I worry a great deal about being
obliged to go without seeing you all, but it could not be helped.

Dan Slote, my splendid room-mate in the Quaker City and the noblest man
on earth, will call to see you within a month. Make him dine with you
and spend the evening. His house is my home always in. New York.

                                             Yrs affy,

     The San Francisco trip proved successful.  Once on the
     ground Clemens had little difficulty in convincing the Alta
     publishers that they had received full value in the
     newspaper use of the letters, and that the book rights
     remained with the author.  A letter to Bliss conveys the


To Elisha Bliss, Jr., in Hartford:

                                        SAN FRANCISCO, May 5, ‘68.

E. BLISS, Jr. Esq.

Dr. SIR,--The Alta people, after some hesitation, have given me
permission to use my printed letters, and have ceased to think of
publishing them themselves in book form. I am steadily at work, and
shall start East with the completed Manuscript, about the middle of

I lectured here, on the trip, the other night-over sixteen hundred
dollars in gold in the house--every seat taken and paid for before

                              Yrs truly,
                                        MARK TWAIN.

     But he did not sail in June.  His friends persuaded him to cover his
     lecture circuit of two years before, telling the story of his
     travels.  This he did with considerable profit, being everywhere
     received with great honors.  He ended this tour with a second
     lecture in San Francisco, announced in a droll and characteristic
     fashion which delighted his Pacific admirers, and insured him a
     crowded house.--[See Mark Twain: A Biography, chap  xlvi, and
     Appendix H.]

     His agreement had been to deliver his MS. about August 1st.
     Returning by the Chauncey, July 28th, he was two days later in
     Hartford, and had placid the copy for the new book in Bliss’s hands.
     It was by no means a compilation of his newspaper letters.  His
     literary vision was steadily broadening.  All of the letters had
     been radically edited, some had been rewritten, some entirely
     eliminated.  He probably thought very well of the book, an opinion
     shared by Bliss, but it is unlikely that either of them realized
     that it was to become a permanent classic, and the best selling book
     of travel for at least fifty years.

     The story of Mark Twain’s courtship has been fully told in the
     completer story of his life; it need only be briefly sketched here
     as a setting for the letters of this period.  In his letter of
     January 8th we note that he expects to go to Elmira for a few days
     as soon as he has time.

     But he did not have time, or perhaps did not receive a pressing
     invitation until he had returned with his MS. from California.
     Then, through young Charles Langdon, his Quaker City shipmate, he
     was invited to Elmira.  The invitation was given for a week, but
     through a subterfuge--unpremeditated, and certainly fair enough in
     a matter of love-he was enabled to considerably prolong his visit.
     By the end of his stay he had become really “like one of the
     family,” though certainly not yet accepted as such.  The fragmentary
     letter that follows reflects something of his pleasant situation.
     The Mrs. Fairbanks mentioned in this letter had been something more
     than a “shipmother” to Mark Twain.  She was a woman of fine literary
     taste, and Quaker City correspondent for her husband’s paper, the
     Cleveland Herald.  She had given Mark Twain sound advice as to his
     letters, which he had usually read to her, and had in no small
     degree modified his early natural tendency to exaggeration and
     outlandish humor.  He owed her much, and never failed to pay her


Fragment of a letter to Mrs. Jane Clemens and family, in St. Louis:

                                   ELMIRA, N.Y.  Aug.  26, 1868.

DEAR FOLKS,--You see I am progressing--though slowly. I shall be here
a week yet maybe two--for Charlie Langdon cannot get away until his
father’s chief business man returns from a journey--and a visit to Mrs.
Fairbanks, at Cleveland, would lose half its pleasure if Charlie were
not along. Moulton of St. Louis ought to be there too. We three were
Mrs. F’s “cubs,” in the Quaker City. She took good care that we were at
church regularly on Sundays; at the 8-bells prayer meeting every night;
and she kept our buttons sewed on and our clothing in order--and in a
word was as busy and considerate, and as watchful over her family of
uncouth and unruly cubs, and as patient and as long-suffering, withal,
as a natural mother. So we expect.....

                                        Aug.  25th.

Didn’t finish yesterday. Something called me away. I am most comfortably
situated here. This is the pleasantest family I ever knew. I only have
one trouble, and that is they give me too much thought and too much time
and invention to the object of making my visit pass delightfully. It

     Just how and when he left the Langdon home the letters do not
     record.  Early that fall he began a lecture engagement with James
     Redpath, proprietor of the Boston Lyceum Bureau, and his engagements
     were often within reach of Elmira.  He had a standing invitation now
     to the Langdon home, and the end of the week often found him there.
     Yet when at last he proposed for the hand of Livy Langdon the
     acceptance was by no means prompt.  He was a favorite in the Langdon
     household, but his suitability as a husband for the frail and gentle
     daughter was questioned.

     However, he was carrying everything, just then, by storm.  The
     largest houses everywhere were crowded to hear him.  Papers spoke of
     him as the coming man of the age, people came to their doors to see
     him pass.  There is but one letter of this period, but it gives us
     the picture.


To Mrs. Jane Clemens and family, in St. Louis:

                                             CLEVELAND, Nov. 20, 1868.

DEAR FOLKS,--I played against the Eastern favorite, Fanny Kemble, in
Pittsburgh, last night. She had 200 in her house, and I had upwards of
1,500. All the seats were sold (in a driving rain storm, 3 days ago,)
as reserved seats at 25 cents extra, even those in the second and third
tiers--and when the last seat was gone the box office had not been open
more than 2 hours. When I reached the theatre they were turning people
away and the house was crammed, 150 or 200 stood up, all the evening.

I go to Elmira tonight. I am simply lecturing for societies, at $100 a


     It would be difficult for any family to refuse relationship with one
     whose star was so clearly ascending, especially when every
     inclination was in his favor, and the young lady herself encouraged
     his suit.  A provisional engagement was presently made, but it was
     not finally ratified until February of the following year.  Then in
     a letter from one of his lecture points he tells his people
     something of his happiness.


To Mrs. Jane Clemens and family, in St. Louis:

                                        LOCKPORT, N. Y.  Feb. 27, 1868.

DEAR FOLKS,--I enclose $20 for Ma. I thought I was getting ahead of her
little assessments of $35 a month, but find I am falling behind with her
instead, and have let her go without money. Well, I did not mean to
do it. But you see when people have been getting ready for months in
a quiet way to get married, they are bound to grow stingy, and go to
saving up money against that awful day when it is sure to be needed. I
am particularly anxious to place myself in a position where I can carry
on my married life in good shape on my own hook, because I have paddled
my own canoe so long that I could not be satisfied now to let anybody
help me--and my proposed father-in-law is naturally so liberal that it
would be just like him to want to give us a start in life. But I don’t
want it that way. I can start myself. I don’t want any help. I can run
this institution without any outside assistance, and I shall have a wife
who will stand by me like a soldier through thick and thin, and
never complain. She is only a little body, but she hasn’t her peer in
Christendom. I gave her only a plain gold engagement ring, when fashion
imperatively demands a two-hundred dollar diamond one, and told her it
was typical of her future lot--namely, that she would have to flourish
on substantials rather than luxuries. (But you see I know the girl--she
don’t care anything about luxuries.) She is a splendid girl. She spends
no money but her usual year’s allowance, and she spends nearly every
cent of that on other people. She will be a good sensible little wife,
without any airs about her. I don’t make intercession for her beforehand
and ask you to love her, for there isn’t any use in that--you couldn’t
help it if you were to try.

I warn you that whoever comes within the fatal influence of her
beautiful nature is her willing slave for evermore. I take my affidavit
on that statement. Her father and mother and brother embrace and pet her
constantly, precisely as if she were a sweetheart, instead of a blood
relation. She has unlimited power over her father, and yet she never
uses it except to make him help people who stand in need of help....

But if I get fairly started on the subject of my bride, I never shall
get through--and so I will quit right here. I went to Elmira a little
over a week ago, and staid four days and then had to go to New York on


     No further letters have been preserved until June, when he is in
     Elmira and with his fiancee reading final proofs on the new book.
     They were having an idyllic good time, of course, but it was a
     useful time, too, for Olivia Langdon had a keen and refined literary
     instinct, and the Innocents Abroad, as well as Mark Twain’s other
     books, are better to-day for her influence.

     It has been stated that Mark Twain loved the lecture platform, but
     from his letters we see that even at this early date, when he was at
     the height of his first great vogue as a public entertainer, he had
     no love for platform life.  Undoubtedly he rejoiced in the brief
     periods when he was actually before his audience and could play upon
     it with his master touch, but the dreary intermissions of travel and
     broken sleep were too heavy a price to pay.


To Mrs. Jane Clemens and family, in St. Louis

                                        ELMIRA, June 4. (1868)

DEAR FOLKS,--Livy sends you her love and loving good wishes, and I send
you mine. The last 3 chapters of the book came tonight--we shall read it
in the morning and then thank goodness, we are done.

In twelve months (or rather I believe it is fourteen,) I have earned
just eighty dollars by my pen--two little magazine squibs and one
newspaper letter--altogether the idlest, laziest 14 months I ever spent
in my life. And in that time my absolute and necessary expenses have
been scorchingly heavy--for I have now less than three thousand six
hundred dollars in bank out of the eight or nine thousand I have made
during those months, lecturing. My expenses were something frightful
during the winter. I feel ashamed of my idleness, and yet I have had
really no inclination to do anything but court Livy. I haven’t any other
inclination yet. I have determined not to work as hard traveling,
any more, as I did last winter, and so I have resolved not to lecture
outside of the 6 New England States next winter. My Western course would
easily amount to $10,000, but I would rather make 2 or 3 thousand in New
England than submit again to so much wearing travel. (I have promised
to talk ten nights for a thousand dollars in the State of New York,
provided the places are close together.) But after all if I get located
in a newspaper in a way to suit me, in the meantime, I don’t want to
lecture at all next winter, and probably shan’t. I most cordially hate
the lecture field. And after all, I shudder to think that I may never
get out of it.

In all conversations with Gough, and Anna Dickinson, Nasby, Oliver
Wendell Holmes, Wendell Phillips and the other old stagers, I could not
observe that they ever expected or hoped to get out of the business. I
don’t want to get wedded to it as they are. Livy thinks we can live on
a very moderate sum and that we’ll not need to lecture. I know very
well that she can live on a small allowance, but I am not so sure about
myself. I can’t scare her by reminding her that her father’s family
expenses are forty thousand dollars a year, because she produces the
documents at once to show that precious little of this outlay is on her
account. But I must not commence writing about Livy, else I shall never
stop. There isn’t such another little piece of perfection in the world
as she is.

My time is become so short, now, that I doubt if I get to California
this summer. If I manage to buy into a paper, I think I will visit you
a while and not go to Cal. at all. I shall know something about it
after my next trip to Hartford. We all go there on the 10th--the whole
family--to attend a wedding, on the 17th. I am offered an interest in a
Cleveland paper which would pay me $2,300 to $2,500 a year, and a salary
added of $3,000. The salary is fair enough, but the interest is not
large enough, and so I must look a little further. The Cleveland folks
say they can be induced to do a little better by me, and urge me to
come out and talk business. But it don’t strike me--I feel little or no
inclination to go.

I believe I haven’t anything else to write, and it is bed-time. I want
to write to Orion, but I keep putting it off--I keep putting everything
off. Day after day Livy and I are together all day long and until 10 at
night, and then I feel dreadfully sleepy. If Orion will bear with me and
forgive me I will square up with him yet. I will even let him kiss Livy.

My love to Mollie and Annie and Sammie and all. Good-bye.


     It is curious, with his tendency to optimism and general expansion
     of futures, that he says nothing of the possible sales of the new
     book, or of his expectations in that line.  It was issued in July,
     and by June the publishers must have had promising advance orders
     from their canvassers; but apparently he includes none of these
     chickens in his financial forecast.  Even when the book had been out
     a full month, and was being shipped at the rate of several hundreds
     a day, he makes no reference to it in a letter to his sister, other
     than to ask if she has not received a copy.  This, however, was a
     Mark Twain peculiarity.  Writing was his trade; the returns from it
     seldom excited him.  It was only when he drifted into strange and
     untried fields that he began to chase rainbows, to blow iridescent
     bubbles, and count unmined gold.


To Mrs. Moffett, in St. Louis:

                                        BUFFALO, Aug. 20, 1869.

MY DEAR SISTER,--I have only time to write a line. I got your letter
this morning and mailed it to Livy. She will be expecting me tonight and
I am sorry to disappoint her so, but then I couldn’t well get away. I
will go next Saturday.

I have bundled up Livy’s picture and will try and recollect to mail it
tomorrow. It is a porcelaintype and I think you will like it.

I am sorry I never got to St. Louis, because I may be too busy to go,
for a long time. But I have been busy all the time and St. Louis is
clear out of the way, and remote from the world and all ordinary routes
of travel. You must not place too much weight upon this idea of moving
the capital from Washington. St. Louis is in some respects a better
place for it than Washington, though there isn’t more than a toss-up
between the two after all. One is dead and the other in a trance.
Washington is in the centre of population and business, while St. Louis
is far removed from both. And you know there is no geographical centre
any more. The railroads and telegraph have done away with all that. It
is no longer a matter of sufficient importance to be gravely considered
by thinking men. The only centres, now, are narrowed down to those of
intelligence, capital and population. As I said before Washington is the
nearest to those and you don’t have to paddle across a river on ferry
boats of a pattern popular in the dark ages to get to it, nor have to
clamber up vilely paved hills in rascally omnibuses along with a herd
of all sorts of people after you are there. Secondly, the removal of
the capital is one of those old, regular, reliable dodges that are the
bread-and meat of back country congressmen. It is agitated every year.
It always has been, it always will be; It is not new in any respect.
Thirdly. The Capitol has cost $40,000,000 already and lacks a good deal
of being finished, yet. There are single stones in the Treasury building
(and a good many of them) that cost twenty-seven thousand dollars
apiece--and millions were spent in the construction of that and the
Patent Office and the other great government buildings. To move to
St. Louis, the country must throw away a hundred millions of capital
invested in those buildings, and go right to work to spend a hundred
millions on new buildings in St. Louis. Shall we ever have a Congress, a
majority of whose members are hopelessly insane? Probably not. But it is
possible--unquestionably such a thing is possible. Only I don’t believe
it will happen in our time; and I am satisfied the capital will not be
moved until it does happen. But if St. Louis would donate the ground and
the buildings, it would be a different matter. No, Pamela, I don’t see
any good reason to believe you or I will ever see the capital moved.

I have twice instructed the publishers to send you a book--it was the
first thing I did--long before the proofs were finished. Write me if it
is not yet done.

Livy says we must have you all at our marriage, and I say we can’t. It
will be at Christmas or New Years, when such a trip across the country
would be equivalent to murder & arson & everything else.--And it would
cost five hundred dollars--an amount of money she don’t know the value
of now, but will before a year is gone. She grieves over it, poor little
rascal, but it can’t be helped. She must wait awhile, till I am firmly
on my legs, & then she shall see you. She says her father and mother
will invite you just as soon as the wedding date is definitely fixed,
anyway--& she thinks that’s bound to settle it. But the ice & snow, &
the long hard journey, & the injudiciousness of laying out any money
except what we are obliged to part with while we are so much in debt,
settles the case differently. For it is a debt.

.... Mr. Langdon is just as good as bound for $25,000 for me, and has
already advanced half of it in cash. I wrote and asked whether I had
better send him my note, or a due-bill, or how he would prefer to have
the indebtedness made of record and he answered every other topic in the
letter pleasantly but never replied to that at all. Still, I shall
give my note into the hands of his business agent here, and pay him the
interest as it falls due. We must “go slow.” We are not in the Cleveland
Herald. We are a hundred thousand times better off, but there isn’t so
much money in it.

(Remainder missing.)

     In spite of the immediate success of his book--a success the like of
     which had scarcely been known in America--Mark Twain held himself to
     be, not a literary man, but a journalist: He had no plans for
     another book; as a newspaper owner and editor he expected, with his
     marriage, to settle down and devote the rest of his life to
     journalism.  The paper was the Buffalo Express; his interest in it
     was one-third--the purchase price, twenty-five thousand dollars, of
     which he had paid a part, Jervis Langdon, his future father-in-law,
     having furnished cash and security for the remainder.  He was
     already in possession in August, but he was not regularly in Buffalo
     that autumn, for he had agreed with Redpath to deliver his Quaker
     City lecture, and the tour would not end until a short time before
     his wedding-day, February 2, 1870.

     Our next letter hardly belongs in this collection; as it was
     doubtless written with at least the possibility of publication in
     view.  But it is too amusing, too characteristic of Mark Twain, to
     be omitted.  It was sent in response to an invitation from the New
     York Society of California Pioneers to attend a banquet given in New
     York City, October 13, 1869, and was, of course, read to the
     assembled diners.


To the New York Society of California Pioneers, in New York City:

                                        ELMIRA, October 11, 1869.

GENTLEMEN,--Circumstances render it out of my power to take advantage
of the invitation extended to me through Mr. Simonton, and be present at
your dinner at New York. I regret this very much, for there are several
among you whom I would have a right to join hands with on the score of
old friendship, and I suppose I would have a sublime general right to
shake hands with the rest of you on the score of kinship in California
ups and downs in search of fortune.

If I were to tell some of my experience, you would recognize California
blood in me; I fancy the old, old story would sound familiar, no
doubt. I have the usual stock of reminiscences. For instance: I went to
Esmeralda early. I purchased largely in the “Wide West,” “Winnemucca,”
 and other fine claims, and was very wealthy. I fared sumptuously on
bread when flour was $200 a barrel and had beans for dinner every
Sunday, when none but bloated aristocrats could afford such grandeur.
But I finished by feeding batteries in a quartz mill at $15 a week, and
wishing I was a battery myself and had somebody to feed me. My claims in
Esmeralda are there yet. I suppose I could be persuaded to sell.

I went to Humboldt District when it was new; I became largely interested
in the “Alba Nueva” and other claims with gorgeous names, and was rich
again--in prospect. I owned a vast mining property there. I would not
have sold out for less than $400,000 at that time. But I will now.
Finally I walked home--200 miles partly for exercise, and partly because
stage fare was expensive. Next I entered upon an affluent career in
Virginia City, and by a judicious investment of labor and the capital
of friends, became the owner of about all the worthless wild cat mines
there were in that part of the country. Assessments did the business
for me there. There were a hundred and seventeen assessments to one
dividend, and the proportion of income to outlay was a little against
me. My financial barometer went down to 32 Fahrenheit, and the
subscriber was frozen out.

I took up extensions on the main lead-extensions that reached to
British America, in one direction, and to the Isthmus of Panama in the
other--and I verily believe I would have been a rich man if I had ever
found those infernal extensions. But I didn’t. I ran tunnels till I
tapped the Arctic Ocean, and I sunk shafts till I broke through the roof
of perdition; but those extensions turned up missing every time. I am
willing to sell all that property and throw in the improvements.

Perhaps you remember that celebrated “North Ophir?” I bought that mine.
It was very rich in pure silver. You could take it out in lumps as large
as a filbert. But when it was discovered that those lumps were melted
half dollars, and hardly melted at that, a painful case of “salting” was
apparent, and the undersigned adjourned to the poorhouse again.

I paid assessments on “Hale and Norcross” until they sold me out, and
I had to take in washing for a living--and the next month that infamous
stock went up to $7,000 a foot.

I own millions and millions of feet of affluent silver leads in
Nevada--in fact the entire undercrust of that country nearly, and if
Congress would move that State off my property so that I could get at
it, I would be wealthy yet. But no, there she squats--and here am I.
Failing health persuades me to sell. If you know of any one desiring
a permanent investment, I can furnish one that will have the virtue of
being eternal.

I have been through the California mill, with all its “dips, spurs and
angles, variations and sinuosities.” I have worked there at all the
different trades and professions known to the catalogues. I have
been everything, from a newspaper editor down to a cow-catcher on a
locomotive, and I am encouraged to believe that if there had been a few
more occupations to experiment on, I might have made a dazzling success
at last, and found out what mysterious designs Providence had in
creating me.

But you perceive that although I am not a Pioneer, I have had a
sufficiently variegated time of it to enable me to talk Pioneer like a
native, and feel like a Forty-Niner. Therefore, I cordially welcome you
to your old-remembered homes and your long deserted firesides, and close
this screed with the sincere hope that your visit here will be a happy
one, and not embittered by the sorrowful surprises that absence and
lapse of years are wont to prepare for wanderers; surprises which come
in the form of old friends missed from their places; silence where
familiar voices should be; the young grown old; change and decay
everywhere; home a delusion and a disappointment; strangers at
hearthstone; sorrow where gladness was; tears for laughter; the
melancholy-pomp of death where the grace of life has been!

With all good wishes for the Returned Prodigals, and regrets that I
cannot partake of a small piece of the fatted calf (rare and no gravy,)

                         I am yours, cordially,
                                        MARK TWAIN.

     In the next letter we find him in the midst of a sort of confusion
     of affairs, which, in one form or another, would follow him
     throughout the rest of his life.  It was the price of his success
     and popularity, combined with his general gift for being concerned
     with a number of things, and a natural tendency for getting into hot
     water, which becomes more evident as the years and letters pass in
     review.  Orion Clemens, in his attempt to save money for the
     government, had employed methods and agents which the officials at
     Washington did not understand, and refused to recognize.  Instead of
     winning the credit and commendation he had expected, he now found
     himself pursued by claims of considerable proportions.  The “land”
      referred to is the Tennessee tract, the heritage which John Clemens
     had provided for his children.  Mark Twain had long since lost faith
     in it, and was not only willing, but eager to renounce his rights.

     “Nasby” is, of course, David R.  Locke, of the Toledo Blade, whose
     popularity at this time both as a lecturer and writer was very
     great.  Clemens had met him here and there on their platform tour,
     and they had become good friends.  Clemens, in fact, had once
     proposed to Nasby a joint trip to the Pacific coast.

     The California idea had been given up, but both Mark Twain and Nasby
     found engagements enough, and sufficient profit east of the
     Mississippi.  Boston was often their headquarters that winter [‘69
     and ‘70), and they were much together.  “Josh Billings,” another of
     Redpath’s lecturers, was likewise often to be found in the Lyceum
     offices.  There is a photograph of Mark Twain, Nasby, and Josh
     Billings together.

     Clemens also, that winter, met William Dean Howells, then in the
     early days of his association with the Atlantic Monthly.  The two
     men, so widely different, became firm friends at sight, and it was
     to Howells in the years to come that Mark Twain would write more
     letters, and more characteristic letters, than to any other living
     man.  Howells had favorably reviewed ‘The Innocents Abroad,’ and
     after the first moment of their introduction had passed Clemens
     said: “When I read that review of yours I felt like the woman who
     said that she was so glad that her baby had come white.”  It was not
     the sort of thing that Howells would have said, but it was the sort
     of thing that he could understand and appreciate from Mark Twain.

     In company with Nasby Clemens, that season, also met Oliver Wendell
     Holmes.  Later he had sent Holmes a copy of his book and received a
     pleasantly appreciative reply.  “I always like,” wrote Holmes, “to
     hear what one of my fellow countrymen, who is not a Hebrew scholar,
     or a reader of hiero-glyphics, but a good-humored traveler with a
     pair of sharp, twinkling Yankee (in the broader sense) eyes in his
     head, has to say about the things that learned travelers often make
     unintelligible, and sentimental ones ridiculous or absurd....  I
     hope your booksellers will sell a hundred thousand copies of your
     travels.”  A wish that was realized in due time, though it is
     doubtful if Doctor Holmes or any one else at the moment believed
     that a book of that nature and price (it was $3.50 a copy) would
     ever reach such a sale.


To Mrs. Moffett, in St. Louis:

                                                  BOSTON, Nov. 9, 1869.

MY DEAR SISTER,--Three or four letters just received from home. My
first impulse was to send Orion a check on my publisher for the money he
wants, but a sober second thought suggested that if he has not defrauded
the government out of money, why pay, simply because the government
chooses to consider him in its debt? No: Right is right. The idea don’t
suit me. Let him write the Treasury the state of the case, and tell them
he has no money. If they make his sureties pay, then I will make the
sureties whole, but I won’t pay a cent of an unjust claim. You talk of
disgrace. To my mind it would be just as disgraceful to allow one’s self
to be bullied into paying that which is unjust.

Ma thinks it is hard that Orion’s share of the land should be swept away
just as it is right on the point (as it always has been) of becoming
valuable. Let her rest easy on that point. This letter is his ample
authority to sell my share of the land immediately and appropriate the
proceeds--giving no account to me, but repaying the amount to Ma first,
or in case of her death, to you or your heirs, whenever in the future
he shall be able to do it. Now, I want no hesitation in this matter. I
renounce my ownership from this date, for this purpose, provided it is
sold just as suddenly as he can sell it.

In the next place--Mr. Langdon is old, and is trying hard to
withdraw from business and seek repose. I will not burden him with a
purchase--but I will ask him to take full possession of a coal tract of
the land without paying a cent, simply conditioning that he shall mine
and throw the coal into market at his own cost, and pay to you and all
of you what he thinks is a fair portion of the profits accruing--you
can do as you please with the rest of the land. Therefore, send me
(to Elmira,) information about the coal deposits so framed that he can
comprehend the matter and can intelligently instruct an agent how to
find it and go to work.

Tomorrow night I appear for the first time before a Boston
audience--4,000 critics--and on the success of this matter depends my
future success in New England. But I am not distressed. Nasby is in the
same boat. Tonight decides the fate of his brand-new lecture. He
has just left my room--been reading his lecture to me--was greatly
depressed. I have convinced him that he has little to fear.

I get just about five hundred more applications to lecture than I can
possibly fill--and in the West they say “Charge all you please, but
come.” I shan’t go West at all. I stop lecturing the 22d of January,
sure. But I shall talk every night up to that time. They flood me
with high-priced invitations to write for magazines and papers, and
publishers besiege me to write books. Can’t do any of these things.

I am twenty-two thousand dollars in debt, and shall earn the money
and pay it within two years--and therefore I am not spending any money
except when it is necessary.

I had my life insured for $10,000 yesterday (what ever became of Mr.
Moffett’ s life insurance?) “for the benefit of my natural heirs”--the
same being my mother, for Livy wouldn’t claim it, you may be sure of
that. This has taken $200 out of my pocket which I was going to send
to Ma. But I will send her some, soon. Tell Orion to keep a stiff upper
lip--when the worst comes to the worst I will come forward. Must talk in
Providence, R. I., tonight. Must leave now. I thank Mollie and Orion and
the rest for your letters, but you see how I am pushed--ought to have 6


     By the end of January, 1870 more than thirty thousand copies of the
     Innocents had been sold, and in a letter to his publisher the author
     expressed his satisfaction.


To Elisha Bliss, in Hartford:

                                        ELMIRA, Jan. 28 ‘70.

FRIEND BLISS,--.... Yes, I am satisfied with the way you are running the
book. You are running it in staving, tip-top, first-class style. I never
wander into any corner of the country but I find that an agent has been
there before me, and many of that community have read the book. And on
an average about ten people a day come and hunt me up to thank me and
tell me I’m a benefactor! I guess this is a part of the programme we
didn’t expect in the first place.

I think you are rushing this book in a manner to be proud of; and
you will make the finest success of it that has ever been made with
a subscription book, I believe. What with advertising, establishing
agencies, &c., you have got an enormous lot of machinery under way and
hard at work in a wonderfully short space of time. It is easy to see,
when one travels around, that one must be endowed with a deal of genuine
generalship in order to maneuvre a publication whose line of battle
stretches from end to end of a great continent, and whose foragers and
skirmishers invest every hamlet and besiege every village hidden away in
all the vast space between.

I’ll back you against any publisher in America, Bliss--or elsewhere.

                                        Yrs as ever

     There is another letter written just at this time which of all
     letters must not be omitted here.  Only five years earlier Mark
     Twain, poor, and comparatively unknown, had been carrying water
     while Jim Gillis and Dick Stoker washed out the pans of dirt in
     search of the gold pocket which they did not find.  Clemens must
     have received a letter from Gillis referring to some particular
     occasion, but it has disappeared; the reply, however, always
     remained one of James Gillis’s treasured possessions.


To James Gillis, in his cabin on Jackass Hill, Tuolumne Co., California:

                                        ELMIRA, N.Y.  Jan.  26, ‘70.

DEAR JIM,--I remember that old night just as well! And somewhere among
my relics I have your remembrance stored away. It makes my heart ache
yet to call to mind some of those days. Still, it shouldn’t--for right
in the depths of their poverty and their pocket-hunting vagabondage
lay the germ of my coming good fortune. You remember the one gleam
of jollity that shot across our dismal sojourn in the rain and mud of
Angels’ Camp I mean that day we sat around the tavern stove and heard
that chap tell about the frog and how they filled him with shot. And you
remember how we quoted from the yarn and laughed over it, out there on
the hillside while you and dear old Stoker panned and washed. I jotted
the story down in my note-book that day, and would have been glad to get
ten or fifteen dollars for it--I was just that blind. But then we
were so hard up! I published that story, and it became widely known in
America, India, China, England--and the reputation it made for me has
paid me thousands and thousands of dollars since. Four or five months
ago I bought into the Express (I have ordered it sent to you as long as
you live--and if the book keeper sends you any bills, you let me hear of
it.) I went heavily in debt never could have dared to do that, Jim, if
we hadn’t heard the jumping Frog story that day.

And wouldn’t I love to take old Stoker by the hand, and wouldn’t I love
to see him in his great specialty, his wonderful rendition of “Rinalds”
 in the “Burning Shame!” Where is Dick and what is he doing? Give him my
fervent love and warm old remembrances.

A week from today I shall be married to a girl even better, and lovelier
than the peerless “Chapparal Quails.” You can’t come so far, Jim, but
still I cordially invite you to come, anyhow--and I invite Dick, too.
And if you two boys were to land here on that pleasant occasion, we
would make you right royally welcome.

                              Truly your friend,
                                        SAML L. CLEMENS.

P. S. “California plums are good, Jim--particularly when they are

     Steve Gillis, who sent a copy of his letter to the writer, added:
     “Dick Stoker--dear, gentle unselfish old Dick-died over three years
     ago, aged 78.  I am sure it will be a melancholy pleasure to Mark to
     know that Dick lived in comfort all his later life, sincerely loved
     and respected by all who knew him.  He never left Jackass Hill.  He
     struck a pocket years ago containing enough not only to build
     himself a comfortable house near his old cabin, but to last him,
     without work, to his painless end.  He was a Mason, and was buried
     by the Order in Sonora.

     “The ‘Quails’--the beautiful, the innocent, the wild little Quails
     --lived way out in the Chapparal; on a little ranch near the
     Stanislaus River, with their father and mother.  They were famous
     for their beauty and had many suitors.”
     The mention of “California plums” refers to some inedible fruit
     which Gillis once, out of pure goodness of heart, bought of a poor
     wandering squaw, and then, to conceal his motive, declared that they
     were something rare and fine, and persisted in eating them, though
     even when stewed they nearly choked him.


     Samuel L. Clemens and Olivia Langdon were married in the Langdon
     home at Elmira, February 2, 1870, and took up their residence in
     Buffalo in a beautiful home, a wedding present from the bride’s
     father.  The story of their wedding, and the amusing circumstances
     connected with their establishment in Buffalo, have been told
     elsewhere.--[Mark Twain: A Biography, chap. lxxiv.]

     Mark Twain now believed that he was through with lecturing.  Two
     letters to Redpath, his agent, express his comfortable condition.


To James Redpath, in Boston:

                                             BUFFALO, March 22, 1890.

DEAR RED,--I am not going to lecture any more forever. I have got things
ciphered down to a fraction now. I know just about what it will cost us
to live and I can make the money without lecturing. Therefore old man,
count me out.

          Your friend,
                    S.  L.  CLEMENS.


To James Redpath, in Boston:

                                   ELMIRA, N. Y.  May 10, 1870.

FRIEND REDPATH,--I guess I am out of the field permanently.

Have got a lovely wife; a lovely house, bewitchingly furnished; a
lovely carriage, and a coachman whose style and dignity are simply
awe-inspiring--nothing less--and I am making more money than
necessary--by considerable, and therefore why crucify myself nightly on
the platform. The subscriber will have to be excused from the present
season at least.

Remember me to Nasby, Billings and Fall.--[Redpath’s partner in the
lecture lyceum.]--Luck to you! I am going to print your menagerie,
Parton and all, and make comments.

In next Galaxy I give Nasby’s friend and mine from Philadelphia (John
Quill, a literary thief) a “hyste.”
                         Yours always and after.

     The reference to the Galaxy in the foregoing letter has to do with a
     department called Memoranda, which he had undertaken to conduct for
     the new magazine.  This work added substantially to his income, and
     he believed it would be congenial.  He was allowed free hand to
     write and print what he chose, and some of his best work at this
     time was published in the new department, which he continued for a

     Mark Twain now seemed to have his affairs well regulated.  His
     mother and sister were no longer far away in St. Louis.  Soon after
     his marriage they had, by his advice, taken up residence at
     Fredonia, New York, where they could be easily visited from Buffalo.

     Altogether, the outlook seemed bright to Mark Twain and his wife,
     during the first months of their marriage.  Then there came a
     change.  In a letter which Clemens wrote to his mother and sister we
     get the first chapter of disaster.


To Mrs. Jane Clemens, and Mrs. Moffett, in Fredonia, N. Y.:

                                        ELMIRA, N. Y.  June 25, 1870.

MY DEAR MOTHER AND SISTER,--We were called here suddenly by telegram, 3
days ago. Mr. Langdon is very low. We have well-nigh lost hope--all of
us except Livy.

Mr. Langdon, whose hope is one of his most prominent characteristics,
says himself, this morning, that his recovery is only a possibility,
not a probability. He made his will this morning--that is, appointed
executors--nothing else was necessary. The household is sad enough
Charley is in Bavaria. We telegraphed Munroe & Co. Paris, to notify
Charley to come home--they sent the message to Munich. Our message left
here at 8 in the morning and Charley’s answer arrived less than eight
hours afterward. He sailed immediately.

He will reach home two weeks from now. The whole city is troubled. As I
write (at the office,) a dispatch arrives from Charley who has reached
London, and will sail thence on 28th. He wants news. We cannot send him


P. S. I sent $300 to Fredonia Bank for Ma--It is in her name.

     Mrs. Clemens, herself, was not in the best of health at this time,
     but devotion to her father took her to his bedside, where she
     insisted upon standing long, hard watches, the strain of which told
     upon her severely.  Meantime, work must go on; the daily demand of
     the newspaper and the monthly call of the Memoranda could not go
     unheeded.  Also, Bliss wanted a new book, and met Mark Twain at
     Elmira to arrange for it.  In a letter to Orion we learn of this


To Orion Clemens, in St. Louis:

                                             ELMIRA, July 15, 1870

MY DEAR BRO.,--Per contract I must have another 600-page book ready for
my publisher Jan. 2, and I only began it today. The subject of it is a
secret, because I may possibly change it. But as it stands, I propose to
do up Nevada and Cal., beginning with the trip across the country in the
stage. Have you a memorandum of the route we took--or the names of any
of the Stations we stopped at? Do you remember any of the scenes, names,
incidents or adventures of the coach trip?--for I remember next to
nothing about the matter. Jot down a foolscap page of items for me. I
wish I could have two days’ talk with you.

I suppose I am to get the biggest copyright, this time, ever paid on a
subscription book in this country.

Give our love to Mollie.--Mr. Langdon is very low.

                         Yr Bro

     The “biggest copyright,” mentioned in this letter, was a royalty of
     7 1/2 per cent., which Bliss had agreed to pay, on the retail price
     of the book.  The book was Roughing It, though this title was not
     decided upon until considerably later.  Orion Clemens eagerly
     furnished a detailed memorandum of the route of their overland
     journey, which brought this enthusiastic acknowledgment:


To Orion Clemens, in St. Louis:

                                                  BUF., 1870.

DEAR BRO.,--I find that your little memorandum book is going to be ever
so much use to me, and will enable me to make quite a coherent narrative
of the Plains journey instead of slurring it over and jumping 2,000
miles at a stride. The book I am writing will sell. In return for the
use of the little memorandum book I shall take the greatest pleasure
in forwarding to you the third $1,000 which the publisher of the
forthcoming work sends me or the first $1,000, I am not particular--they
will both be in the first quarterly statement of account from the

                                   In great haste,
                                                  Yr Obliged Bro.

Love to Mollie. We are all getting along tolerably well.

     Mr. Langdon died early in August, and Mrs. Clemens returned to
     Buffalo, exhausted in mind and body.  If she hoped for rest now, in
     the quiet of her own home, she was disappointed, as the two brief
     letters that follow clearly show.


To Mrs. Moffett, in Fredonia, N. Y.:

                                                  BUFFALO, Aug.  31, 70.

MY DEAR SISTER,--I know I ought to be thrashed for not writing you, but
I have kept putting it off. We get heaps of letters every day; it is a
comfort to have somebody like you that will let us shirk and be patient
over it. We got the book and I did think I wrote a line thanking you for
it-but I suppose I neglected it.

We are getting along tolerably well. Mother [Mrs. Langdon] is here, and
Miss Emma Nye. Livy cannot sleep since her father’s death--but I give
her a narcotic every night and make her. I am just as busy as I can
be--am still writing for the Galaxy and also writing a book like the
“Innocents” in size and style. I have got my work ciphered down to days,
and I haven’t a single day to spare between this and the date which, by
written contract I am to deliver the M.S. of the book to the publisher.

                             ----In a hurry


To Orion Clemens, in St, Louis:

                                        BUF.  Sept. 9th, 1870.

MY DEAR BRO,--O here! I don’t want to be consulted at all about Tenn. I
don’t want it even mentioned to me. When I make a suggestion it is for
you to act upon it or throw it aside, but I beseech you never to ask my
advice, opinion or consent about that hated property. If it was because
I felt the slightest personal interest in the infernal land that I ever
made a suggestion, the suggestion would never be made.

Do exactly as you please with the land--always remember this--that so
trivial a percentage as ten per cent will never sell it.

It is only a bid for a somnambulist.

I have no time to turn round, a young lady visitor (schoolmate of
Livy’s) is dying in the house of typhoid fever (parents are in South
Carolina) and the premises are full of nurses and doctors and we are all
fagged out.


     Miss Nye, who had come to cheer her old schoolmate, had been
     prostrated with the deadly fever soon after her arrival.  Another
     period of anxiety and nursing followed.  Mrs. Clemens, in spite of
     her frail health, devoted much time to her dying friend, until by
     the time the end came she was herself in a precarious condition.
     This was at the end of September.  A little more than a month later,
     November 7th, her first child, Langdon Clemens, was prematurely
     born.  To the Rev. Joseph H. Twichell and wife, of Hartford, Mark
     Twain characteristically announced the new arrival.


To Rev. Joseph H. Twichell and wife, in Hartford, Conn.:

                                        BUFFALO, Nov 12, ‘70.

DEAR UNCLE AND AUNT,--I came into the world on the 7th inst., and
consequently am about five days old, now. I have had wretched health
ever since I made my appearance. First one thing and then another has
kept me under the weather, and as a general thing I have been chilly and

I am not corpulent, nor am I robust in any way. At birth I only weighed
4 1/2 pounds with my clothes on--and the clothes were the chief feature
of the weight, too, I am obliged to confess. But I am doing finely,
all things considered. I was at a standstill for 3 days and a half, but
during the last 24 hours I have gained nearly an ounce, avoirdupois.

They all say I look very old and venerable--and I am aware, myself, that
I never smile. Life seems a serious thing, what I have seen of it--and
my observation teaches me that it is made up mainly of hiccups,
unnecessary washings, and colic. But no doubt you, who are old, have
long since grown accustomed and reconciled to what seems to me such a
disagreeable novelty.

My father said, this morning, when my face was in repose and thoughtful,
that I looked precisely as young Edward Twichell of Hartford used to
look some is months ago--chin, mouth, forehead, expression--everything.

My little mother is very bright and cheery, and I guess she is
pretty happy, but I don’t know what about. She laughs a great deal,
notwithstanding she is sick abed. And she eats a great deal, though she
says that is because the nurse desires it. And when she has had all the
nurse desires her to have, she asks for more. She is getting along very
well indeed.

My aunt Susie Crane has been here some ten days or two weeks, but
goes home today, and Granny Fairbanks of Cleveland arrives to take her
place.--[Mrs. Fairbanks, of the Quaker City excursion.]

                                   Very lovingly,
                                             LANGDON CLEMENS.

P. S. Father said I had better write because you would be more
interested in me, just now, than in the rest of the family.

     Clemens had made the acquaintance of the Rev. Joseph Hopkins
     Twichell and his wife during his several sojourns in Hartford, in
     connection with his book publication, and the two men had
     immediately become firm friends.  Twichell had come to Elmira in
     February to the wedding to assist Rev. Thos. K. Beecher in the
     marriage ceremony.  Joseph Twichell was a devout Christian, while
     Mark Twain was a doubter, even a scoffer, where orthodoxy was
     concerned, yet the sincerity and humanity of the two men drew them
     together; their friendship was lifelong.

     A second letter to Twichell, something more than a month later,
     shows a somewhat improved condition in the Clemens household.


To Rev. Twichell, in Hartford:

                                             BUF. Dec. 19th, 1870.

DEAR J. H.,--All is well with us, I believe--though for some days the
baby was quite ill. We consider him nearly restored to health now,
however. Ask my brother about us--you will find him at Bliss’s
publishing office, where he is gone to edit Bliss’s new paper--left here
last Monday. Make his and his wife’s acquaintance. Take Mrs. T. to see
them as soon as they are fixed.

Livy is up, and the prince keeps her busy and anxious these latter days
and nights, but I am a bachelor up stairs and don’t have to jump up and
get the soothing syrup--though I would as soon do it as not, I assure
you. (Livy will be certain to read this letter.)

Tell Harmony (Mrs. T.) that I do hold the baby, and do it pretty
handily, too, although with occasional apprehensions that his loose head
will fall off. I don’t have to quiet him--he hardly ever utters a cry.
He is always thinking about something. He is a patient, good little

Smoke? I always smoke from 3 till 5 Sunday afternoons--and in New York
the other day I smoked a week, day and night. But when Livy is well I
smoke only those two hours on Sunday. I’m “boss” of the habit, now, and
shall never let it boss me any more. Originally, I quit solely on Livy’s
account, (not that I believed there was the faintest reason in the
matter, but just as I would deprive myself of sugar in my coffee if she
wished it, or quit wearing socks if she thought them immoral), and I
stick to it yet on Livy’s account, and shall always continue to do so,
without a pang. But somehow it seems a pity that you quit, for Mrs. T.
didn’t mind it if I remember rightly. Ah, it is turning one’s back upon
a kindly Providence to spurn away from us the good creature he sent to
make the breath of life a luxury as well as a necessity, enjoyable as
well as useful, to go and quit smoking when then ain’t any sufficient
excuse for it! Why, my old boy, when they use to tell me I would shorten
my life ten years by smoking, they little knew the devotee they were
wasting their puerile word upon--they little knew how trivial and
valueless I would regard a decade that had no smoking in it! But I won’t
persuade you, Twichell--I won’t until I see you again--but then we’ll
smoke for a week together, and then shut off again.

I would have gone to Hartford from New York last Saturday, but I got so
homesick I couldn’t. But maybe I’ll come soon.

No, Sir, catch me in the metropolis again, to get homesick.

I didn’t know Warner had a book out.

We send oceans and continents of love--I have worked myself down, today.

                              Yrs always

     With his establishment in Buffalo, Clemens, as already noted, had
     persuaded his sister, now a widow, and his mother, to settle in
     Fredonia, not far away.  Later, he had found a position for Orion,
     as editor of a small paper which Bliss had established.  What with
     these several diversions and the sorrows and sicknesses of his own
     household, we can readily imagine that literary work had been
     performed under difficulties.  Certainly, humorous writing under
     such disturbing conditions could not have been easy, nor could we
     expect him to accept an invitation to be present and make a comic
     speech at an agricultural dinner, even though Horace Greeley would
     preside.  However, he sent to the secretary of the association a
     letter which might be read at the gathering:


To A. B. Crandall, in Woodberry Falls, N. Y., to be read at an
agricultural dinner:

                                        BUFFALO, Dec. 26, 1870.

GENTLEMEN,--I thank you very much for your invitation to the
Agricultural dinner, and would promptly accept it and as promptly be
there but for the fact that Mr. Greeley is very busy this month and
has requested me to clandestinely continue for him in The Tribune the
articles “What I Know about Farming.” Consequently the necessity of
explaining to the readers of that journal why buttermilk cannot be
manufactured profitably at 8 cents a quart out of butter that costs 60
cents a pound compels my stay at home until the article is written.

                         With reiterated thanks, I am
                                    Yours truly,
                                             MARK TWAIN.

     In this letter Mark Twain made the usual mistake as to the title of
     the Greeley farming series, “What I Know of Farming” being the
     correct form.

     The Buffalo Express, under Mark Twain’s management, had become a
     sort of repository for humorous efforts, often of an indifferent
     order.  Some of these things, signed by nom de plumes, were charged
     to Mark Twain.  When Bret Harte’s “Heathen Chinee” devastated the
     country, and was so widely parodied, an imitation of it entitled,
     “Three Aces,” and signed “Carl Byng,” was printed in the Express.
     Thomas Bailey Aldrich, then editor of Every Saturday, had not met
     Mark Twain, and, noticing the verses printed in the exchanges over
     his signature, was one of those who accepted them as Mark Twain’s
     work.  He wrote rather an uncomplimentary note in Every Saturday
     concerning the poem and its authorship, characterizing it as a
     feeble imitation of Bret Harte’s “Heathen Chinee.”  Clemens promptly
     protested to Aldrich, then as promptly regretted having done so,
     feeling that he was making too much of a small matter.  Hurriedly he
     sent a second brief note.


To Thomas Bailey Aldrich, editor of “Every Saturday,” Boston,

                                        BUFFALO, Jan. 22, 1870.

DEAR SIR,--Please do not publish the note I sent you the other day about
“Hy. Slocum’s” plagiarism entitled “Three Aces”--it is not important
enough for such a long paragraph. Webb writes me that he has put in a
paragraph about it, too--and I have requested him to suppress it. If you
would simply state, in a line and a half under “Literary Notes,” that
you mistook one “Hy. Slocum” (no, it was one “Carl Byng,” I perceive)
“Carl Byng” for Mark Twain, and that it was the former who wrote the
plagiarism entitled “Three Aces,” I think that would do a fair
justice without any unseemly display. But it is hard to be accused of
plagiarism--a crime I never have committed in my life.

                              Yrs.  Truly
                                        MARK TWAIN.

     But this came too late.  Aldrich replied that he could not be
     prevented from doing him justice, as forty-two thousand copies of
     the first note, with the editor’s apology duly appended, were
     already in press.  He would withdraw his apology in the next number
     of Every Saturday, if Mark Twain said so.  Mark Twain’s response
     this time assumed the proportions of a letter.


To Thomas Bailey Aldrich, in Boston:

                                   472 DELAWARE ST., BUFFALO, Jan. 28.

DEAR MR. ALDRICH,--No indeed, don’t take back the apology! Hang it,
I don’t want to abuse a man’s civility merely because he gives me the

I hear a good deal about doing things on the “spur of the moment”--I
invariably regret the things I do on the spur of the moment. That
disclaimer of mine was a case in point. I am ashamed every time I think
of my bursting out before an unconcerned public with that bombastic
pow-wow about burning publishers’ letters, and all that sort of
imbecility, and about my not being an imitator, etc. Who would find out
that I am a natural fool if I kept always cool and never let nature come
to the surface? Nobody.

But I did hate to be accused of plagiarizing Bret Harte, who trimmed and
trained and schooled me patiently until he changed me from an awkward
utterer of coarse grotesquenesses to a writer of paragraphs and chapters
that have found a certain favor in the eyes of even some of the very
decentest people in the land--and this grateful remembrance of mine
ought to be worth its face, seeing that Bret broke our long friendship a
year ago without any cause or provocation that I am aware of.

Well, it is funny, the reminiscences that glare out from murky corners
of one’s memory, now and then, without warning. Just at this moment a
picture flits before me: Scene--private room in Barnum’s Restaurant,
Virginia, Nevada; present, Artemus Ward, Joseph T. Goodman, (editor
and proprietor Daily “Enterprise”), and “Dan de Quille” and myself,
reporters for same; remnants of the feast thin and scattering, but such
tautology and repetition of empty bottles everywhere visible as to
be offensive to the sensitive eye; time, 2.30 A.M.; Artemus thickly
reciting a poem about a certain infant you wot of, and interrupting
himself and being interrupted every few lines by poundings of the table
and shouts of “Splendid, by Shorzhe!” Finally, a long, vociferous,
poundiferous and vitreous jingling of applause announces the conclusion,
and then Artemus: “Let every man ‘at loves his fellow man and ‘preciates
a poet ‘at loves his fellow man, stan’ up!--Stan’ up and drink health
and long life to Thomas Bailey Aldrich!--and drink it stanning!” (On all
hands fervent, enthusiastic, and sincerely honest attempts to comply.)
Then Artemus: “Well--consider it stanning, and drink it just as ye are!”
 Which was done.

You must excuse all this stuff from a stranger, for the present, and
when I see you I will apologize in full.

Do you know the prettiest fancy and the neatest that ever shot through
Harte’s brain? It was this: When they were trying to decide upon a
vignette for the cover of the Overland, a grizzly bear (of the arms of
the State of California) was chosen. Nahl Bras. carved him and the page
was printed, with him in it, looking thus: [Rude sketch of a grizzly

As a bear, he was a success--he was a good bear--. But then, it was
objected, that he was an objectless bear--a bear that meant nothing in
particular, signified nothing,--simply stood there snarling over his
shoulder at nothing--and was painfully and manifestly a boorish and
ill-natured intruder upon the fair page. All hands said that--none were
satisfied. They hated badly to give him up, and yet they hated as much
to have him there when there was no paint to him. But presently Harte
took a pencil and drew these two simple lines under his feet and behold
he was a magnificent success!--the ancient symbol of California savagery
snarling at the approaching type of high and progressive Civilization,
the first Overland locomotive!: [Sketch of a small section of railway

I just think that was nothing less than inspiration itself.

Once more I apologize, and this time I do it “stanning!”
                         Yrs.  Truly
                              SAML. L. CLEMENS.

     The “two simple lines,” of course, were the train rails under the
     bear’s feet, and completed the striking cover design of the Overland

     The brief controversy over the “Three Aces” was the beginning of
     along and happy friendship between Aldrich and Mark Twain.  Howells,
     Aldrich, Twichell, and Charles Dudley Warner--these were Mark
     Twain’s intimates, men that he loved, each for his own special charm
     and worth.

     Aldrich he considered the most brilliant of living men.

     In his reply to Clemens’s letter, Aldrich declared that he was glad
     now that, for the sake of such a letter, he had accused him falsely,
     and added:

     “Mem.  Always abuse people.

     “When you come to Boston, if you do not make your presence manifest
     to me, I’ll put in a!! in ‘Every Saturday’ to the effect that
     though you are generally known as Mark Twain your favorite nom de
     plume is ‘Barry Gray.’”
     Clemens did not fail to let Aldrich know when he was in Boston
     again, and the little coterie of younger writers forgathered to give
     him welcome.

     Buffalo agreed with neither Mrs. Clemens nor the baby.  What with
     nursing and anguish of mind, Mark Twain found that he could do
     nothing on the new book, and that he must give up his magazine
     department.  He had lost interest in his paper and his surroundings
     in general.  Journalism and authorship are poor yoke-mates.  To
     Onion Clemens, at this time editing Bliss’s paper at Hartford, he
     explained the situation.


To Onion Clemens, in Hartford:

                                             BUFFALO, 4th 1871.

MY DEAR BRO,--What I wanted of the “Liar” Sketch, was to work it into
the California book--which I shall do. But day before yesterday I
concluded to go out of the Galaxy on the strength of it, so I have
turned it into the last Memoranda I shall ever write, and published it
as a “specimen chapter” of my forthcoming book.

I have written the Galaxy people that I will never furnish them
another article long or short, for any price but $500.00 cash--and have
requested them not to ask me for contributions any more, even at that

I hope that lets them out, for I will stick to that. Now do try
and leave me clear out of the ‘Publisher’ for the present, for I am
endangering my reputation by writing too much--I want to get out of the
public view for awhile.

I am still nursing Livy night and day and cannot write anything. I
am nearly worn out. We shall go to Elmira ten days hence (if Livy can
travel on a mattress then,) and stay there till I have finished the
California book--say three months. But I can’t begin work right away
when I get there--must have a week’s rest, for I have been through 30
days’ terrific siege.

That makes it after the middle of March before I can go fairly to
work--and then I’ll have to hump myself and not lose a moment. You and
Bliss just put yourselves in my place and you will see that my hands are
full and more than full.

When I told Bliss in N. Y. that I would write something for the
Publisher I could not know that I was just about to lose fifty days. Do
you see the difference it makes? Just as soon as ever I can, I will send
some of the book M.S. but right in the first chapter I have got to alter
the whole style of one of my characters and re-write him clear through
to where I am now. It is no fool of a job, I can tell you, but the book
will be greatly bettered by it. Hold on a few days--four or five--and I
will see if I can get a few chapters fixed to send to Bliss.

I have offered this dwelling house and the Express for sale, and when we
go to Elmira we leave here for good. I shall not select a new home till
the book is finished, but we have little doubt that Hartford will be the

We are almost certain of that. Ask Bliss how it would be to ship our
furniture to Hartford, rent an upper room in a building and unbox it and
store it there where somebody can frequently look after it. Is not the
idea good? The furniture is worth $10,000 or $12,000 and must not be
jammed into any kind of a place and left unattended to for a year.

The first man that offers $25,000 for our house can take it--it cost
that. What are taxes there? Here, all bunched together--of all kinds,
they are 7 per cent--simply ruin.

The things you have written in the Publisher are tip-top.

                         In haste,
                                   Yr Bro

     There are no further letters until the end of April, by which time
     the situation had improved.  Clemens had sold his interest in the
     Express (though at a loss), had severed his magazine connection, and
     was located at Quarry Farm, on a beautiful hilltop above Elmira, the
     home of Mrs. Clemens’s sister, Mrs. Theodore Crane.  The pure air
     and rest of that happy place, where they were to spend so many
     idyllic summers, had proved beneficial to the sick ones, and work on
     the new book progressed in consequence.  Then Mark Twain’s old
     editor, “Joe” Goodman, came from Virginia City for a visit, and his
     advice and encouragement were of the greatest value.  Clemens even
     offered to engage Goodman on a salary, to remain until he had
     finished his book.  Goodman declined the salary, but extended his
     visit, and Mark Twain at last seems to have found himself working
     under ideal conditions.  He jubilantly reports his progress.


To Elisha Bliss, in Hartford:

                                   ELMIRA, Monday.  May 15th 1871

FRIEND BLISS,--Yrs rec’d enclosing check for $703.35 The old “Innocents”
 holds out handsomely.

I have MS. enough on hand now, to make (allowing for engravings) about
400 pages of the book--consequently am two-thirds done. I intended
to run up to Hartford about the middle of the week and take it along;
because it has chapters in it that ought by all means to be in the
prospectus; but I find myself so thoroughly interested in my work, now
(a thing I have not experienced for months) that I can’t bear to lose
a single moment of the inspiration. So I will stay here and peg away
as long as it lasts. My present idea is to write as much more as I have
already written, and then cull from the mass the very best chapters and
discard the rest. I am not half as well satisfied with the first part of
the book as I am with what I am writing now. When I get it done I want
to see the man who will begin to read it and not finish it. If it falls
short of the “Innocents” in any respect I shall lose my guess.

When I was writing the “Innocents” my daily stunt was 30 pages of MS and
I hardly ever got beyond it; but I have gone over that nearly every day
for the last ten. That shows that I am writing with a red-hot interest.
Nothing grieves me now--nothing troubles me, nothing bothers me or gets
my attention--I don’t think of anything but the book, and I don’t have
an hour’s unhappiness about anything and don’t care two cents whether
school keeps or not. It will be a bully book. If I keep up my present
lick three weeks more I shall be able and willing to scratch out half of
the chapters of the Overland narrative--and shall do it.

You do not mention having received my second batch of MS, sent a week or
two ago--about 100 pages.

If you want to issue a prospectus and go right to canvassing, say
the word and I will forward some more MS--or send it by hand--special
messenger. Whatever chapters you think are unquestionably good, we will
retain of course, so they can go into a prospectus as well one time
as another. The book will be done soon, now. I have 1200 pages of MS
already written and am now writing 200 a week--more than that, in
fact; during the past week wrote 23 one day, then 30, 33, 35, 52, and
65.--How’s that?

It will be a starchy book, and should be full of snappy
pictures--especially pictures worked in with the letterpress. The
dedication will be worth the price of the volume--thus:

                           To the Late Cain.
                        This Book is Dedicated:

Not on account of respect for his memory, for it merits little respect;
not on account of sympathy with him, for his bloody deed placed him
without the pale of sympathy, strictly speaking: but out of a mere human
commiseration for him that it was his misfortune to live in a dark age
that knew not the beneficent Insanity Plea.

I think it will do.                         Yrs.  CLEMENS.

P. S.--The reaction is beginning and my stock is looking up. I am
getting the bulliest offers for books and almanacs; am flooded with
lecture invitations, and one periodical offers me $6,000 cash for
12 articles, of any length and on any subject, treated humorously or

     The suggested dedication “to the late Cain” may have been the
     humoristic impulse of the moment.  At all events, it did not

     Clemens’s enthusiasm for work was now such that he agreed with
     Redpath to return to the platform that autumn, and he began at once
     writing lectures.  His disposal of the Buffalo paper had left him
     considerably in debt, and platforming was a sure and quick method of
     retrenchment.  More than once in the years ahead Mark Twain would
     return to travel and one-night stands to lift a burden of debt.
     Brief letters to Redpath of this time have an interest and even a
     humor of their own.


Letters to James Redpath, in Boston:

                                        ELMIRA, June 27, 1871.

DEAR RED,--Wrote another lecture--a third one-today. It is the one I
am going to deliver. I think I shall call it “Reminiscences of Some
Pleasant Characters Whom I Have Met,” (or should the “whom” be left
out?) It covers my whole acquaintance--kings, lunatics, idiots and all.
Suppose you give the item a start in the Boston papers. If I write fifty
lectures I shall only choose one and talk that one only.

No sir: Don’t you put that scarecrow (portrait) from the Galaxy in, I
won’t stand that nightmare.


                                        ELMIRA, July 10, 1871.
DEAR REDPATH,--I never made a success of a lecture delivered in a church
yet. People are afraid to laugh in a church. They can’t be made to do it
in any possible way.

Success to Fall’s carbuncle and many happy returns.



To Mr. Fall, in Boston:

                                        ELMIRA, N. Y. July 20, 1871.

FRIEND FALL,--Redpath tells me to blow up. Here goes! I wanted you to
scare Rondout off with a big price. $125 ain’t big. I got $100 the first
time I ever talked there and now they have a much larger hall. It is
a hard town to get to--I run a chance of getting caught by the ice and
missing next engagement. Make the price $150 and let them draw out.



Letters to James Redpath, in Boston:

                                        HARTFORD, Tuesday Aug. 8, 1871.

DEAR RED,--I am different from other women; my mind changes oftener.
People who have no mind can easily be steadfast and firm, but when a
man is loaded down to the guards with it, as I am, every heavy sea of
foreboding or inclination, maybe of indolence, shifts the cargo. See?
Therefore, if you will notice, one week I am likely to give rigid
instructions to confine me to New England; next week, send me to
Arizona; the next week withdraw my name; the next week give you full
untrammelled swing; and the week following modify it. You must try to
keep the run of my mind, Redpath, it is your business being the agent,
and it always was too many for me. It appears to me to be one of the
finest pieces of mechanism I have ever met with. Now about the
West, this week, I am willing that you shall retain all the Western
engagements. But what I shall want next week is still with God.

Let us not profane the mysteries with soiled hands and prying eyes of


P. S. Shall be here 2 weeks, will run up there when Nasby comes.

                                        ELMIRA, N. Y. Sept. 15, 1871.

DEAR REDPATH,--I wish you would get me released from the lecture at
Buffalo. I mortally hate that society there, and I don’t doubt they
hired me. I once gave them a packed house free of charge, and they never
even had the common politeness to thank me. They left me to shift
for myself, too, a la Bret Harte at Harvard. Get me rid of Buffalo!
Otherwise I’ll have no recourse left but to get sick the day I lecture
there. I can get sick easy enough, by the simple process of saying the
word--well never mind what word--I am not going to lecture there.


                                        BUFFALO, Sept. 26, 1871.

DEAR REDPATH,--We have thought it all over and decided that we can’t
possibly talk after Feb. 2.

We shall take up our residence in Hartford 6 days from now



     The house they had taken in Hartford was the Hooker property on
     Forest Street, a handsome place in a distinctly literary
     neighborhood.  Harriet Beecher Stowe, Charles Dudley Warner, and
     other well-known writers were within easy walking distance; Twichell
     was perhaps half a mile away.

     It was the proper environment for Mark Twain.  He settled his little
     family there, and was presently at Redpath’s office in Boston, which
     was a congenial place, as we have seen before.  He did not fail to
     return to the company of Nasby, Josh Billings, and those others of
     Redpath’s “attractions” as long and as often as distance would
     permit.  Bret Harte, who by this time had won fame, was also in
     Boston now, and frequently, with Howells, Aldrich, and Mark Twain,
     gathered in some quiet restaurant corner for a luncheon that lasted
     through a dim winter afternoon--a period of anecdote, reminiscence,
     and mirth.  They were all young then, and laughed easily.  Howells,
     has written of one such luncheon given by Ralph Keeler, a young
     Californian--a gathering at which James T. Fields was present
     “Nothing remains to me of the happy time but a sense of idle and
     aimless and joyful talk-play, beginning and ending nowhere, of eager
     laughter, of countless good stories from Fields, of a heat-lightning
     shimmer of wit from Aldrich, of an occasional concentration of our
     joint mockeries upon our host, who took it gladly.”
     But a lecture circuit cannot be restricted to the radius of Boston.
     Clemens was presently writing to Redpath from Washington and points
     farther west.


To James Redpath, in Boston:

                                   WASHINGTON, Tuesday, Oct. 28, 1871.

DEAR RED,--I have come square out, thrown “Reminiscences” overboard, and
taken “Artemus Ward, Humorist,” for my subject. Wrote it here on Friday
and Saturday, and read it from MS last night to an enormous house. It
suits me and I’ll never deliver the nasty, nauseous “Reminiscences” any


     The Artemus Ward lecture lasted eleven days, then he wrote:


To Redpath and Fall, in Boston:

                                   BUFFALO DEPOT, Dec. 8, 1871.

REDPATH & FALL, BOSTON,--Notify all hands that from this time I shall
talk nothing but selections from my forthcoming book “Roughing It.”
 Tried it last night. Suits me tip-top.

                                   SAM’L L. CLEMENS.

     The “Roughing It” chapters proved a success, and continued in high
     favor through the rest of the season.


To James Redpath, in Boston:

                                   LOGANSPORT, IND.  Jan. 2, 1872.

FRIEND REDPATH,--Had a splendid time with a splendid audience in
Indianapolis last night--a perfectly jammed house, just as I have had
all the time out here. I like the new lecture but I hate the “Artemus
Ward” talk and won’t talk it any more. No man ever approved that choice
of subject in my hearing, I think.

Give me some comfort. If I am to talk in New York am I going to have a
good house? I don’t care now to have any appointments cancelled. I’ll
even “fetch” those Dutch Pennsylvanians with this lecture.

Have paid up $4000 indebtedness. You are the last on my list. Shall
begin to pay you in a few days and then I shall be a free man again.


     With his debts paid, Clemens was anxious to be getting home.  Two
     weeks following the above he wrote Redpath that he would accept no
     more engagements at any price, outside of New England, and added,
     “The fewer engagements I have from this time forth the better I
     shall be pleased.”  By the end of February he was back in Hartford,
     refusing an engagement in Boston, and announcing to Redpath, “If I
     had another engagement I’d rot before I’d fill it.”  From which we
     gather that he was not entirely happy in the lecture field.

     As a matter of fact, Mark Twain loathed the continuous travel and
     nightly drudgery of platform life.  He was fond of entertaining, and
     there were moments of triumph that repaid him for a good deal, but
     the tyranny of a schedule and timetables was a constant

     Meantime, Roughing It had appeared and was selling abundantly.  Mark
     Twain, free of debt, and in pleasant circumstances, felt that the
     outlook was bright.  It became even more so when, in March, the
     second child, a little girl, Susy, was born, with no attending
     misfortunes.  But, then, in the early summer little Langdon died.
     It was seldom, during all of Mark Twain’s life, that he enjoyed more
     than a brief period of unmixed happiness.

     It was in June of that year that Clemens wrote his first letter to
     William Dean Howells the first of several hundred that would follow
     in the years to come, and has in it something that is characteristic
     of nearly all the Clemens-Howells letters--a kind of tender
     playfulness that answered to something in Howells’s make-up, his
     sense of humor, his wide knowledge of a humanity which he pictured
     so amusingly to the world.


To William Dean Howells, in Boston:

                                             HARTFORD, June 15, 1872.

FRIEND HOWELLS,--Could you tell me how I could get a copy of your
portrait as published in Hearth and Home? I hear so much talk about it
as being among the finest works of art which have yet appeared in that
journal, that I feel a strong desire to see it. Is it suitable for
framing? I have written the publishers of H & H time and again, but they
say that the demand for the portrait immediately exhausted the edition
and now a copy cannot be had, even for the European demand, which has
now begun. Bret Harte has been here, and says his family would not be
without that portrait for any consideration. He says his children get up
in the night and yell for it. I would give anything for a copy of that
portrait to put up in my parlor. I have Oliver Wendell Holmes and Bret
Harte’s, as published in Every Saturday, and of all the swarms that
come every day to gaze upon them none go away that are not softened and
humbled and made more resigned to the will of God. If I had yours to put
up alongside of them, I believe the combination would bring more souls
to earnest reflection and ultimate conviction of their lost condition,
than any other kind of warning would. Where in the nation can I get that
portrait? Here are heaps of people that want it,--that need it. There
is my uncle. He wants a copy. He is lying at the point of death. He has
been lying at the point of death for two years. He wants a copy--and I
want him to have a copy. And I want you to send a copy to the man that
shot my dog. I want to see if he is dead to every human instinct.

Now you send me that portrait. I am sending you mine, in this letter;
and am glad to do it, for it has been greatly admired. People who are
judges of art, find in the execution a grandeur which has not been
equalled in this country, and an expression which has not been
approached in any.

                                   Yrs truly,
                                             S. L. CLEMENS.

P. S. 62,000 copies of “Roughing It” sold and delivered in 4 months.

     The Clemens family did not spend the summer at Quarry Farm that
     year.  The sea air was prescribed for Mrs. Clemens and the baby, and
     they went to Saybrook, Connecticut, to Fenwick Hall.  Clemens wrote
     very little, though he seems to have planned Tom Sawyer, and perhaps
     made its earliest beginning, which was in dramatic form.

     His mind, however, was otherwise active.  He was always more or less
     given to inventions, and in his next letter we find a description of
     one which he brought to comparative perfection.

     He had also conceived the idea of another book of travel, and this
     was his purpose of a projected trip to England.


To Orion Clemens, in Hartford:

                                        FENWICK HALL, SAYBROOK, CONN.

                                        Aug. 11, 1872.

MY DEAR BRO.--I shall sail for England in the Scotia, Aug. 21.

But what I wish to put on record now, is my new invention--hence
this note, which you will preserve. It is this--a self-pasting
scrap-book--good enough idea if some juggling tailor does not come
along and ante-date me a couple of months, as in the case of the elastic

The nuisance of keeping a scrap-book is: 1. One never has paste or gum
tragacanth handy; 2. Mucilage won’t stick, or stay, 4 weeks; 3. Mucilage
sucks out the ink and makes the scraps unreadable; 4. To daub and paste
3 or 4 pages of scraps is tedious, slow, nasty and tiresome. My idea is
this: Make a scrap-book with leaves veneered or coated with gum-stickum
of some kind; wet the page with sponge, brush, rag or tongue, and dab on
your scraps like postage stamps.

Lay on the gum in columns of stripes.

Each stripe of gum the length of say 20 ems, small pica, and as broad
as your finger; a blank about as broad as your finger between each 2
stripes--so in wetting the paper you need not wet any more of the gum
than your scrap or scraps will cover--then you may shut up the book and
the leaves won’t stick together.

Preserve, also, the envelope of this letter--postmark ought to be good
evidence of the date of this great humanizing and civilizing invention.

I’ll put it into Dan Slote’s hands and tell him he must send you all
over America, to urge its use upon stationers and booksellers--so
don’t buy into a newspaper. The name of this thing is “Mark Twain’s
Self-Pasting Scrapbook.”
All well here. Shall be up a P. M. Tuesday. Send the carriage.

                                   Yr Bro.
                                             S.  L.  CLEMENS.

     The Dan Slote of this letter is, of course, his old Quaker City
     shipmate, who was engaged in the blank-book business, the firm being
     Slote & Woodman, located at 119 and 121 William Street, New York.


     Clemens did, in fact, sail for England on the given date, and was
     lavishly received there.  All literary London joined in giving him a
     good time.  He had not as yet been received seriously by the older
     American men of letters, but England made no question as to his
     title to first rank.  Already, too, they classified him as of the
     human type of Lincoln, and reveled in him without stint.  Howells
     writes: “In England, rank, fashion, and culture rejoiced in him.
     Lord Mayors, Lord Chief justices, and magnates of many kinds were
     his hosts.”
     He was treated so well and enjoyed it all so much that he could not
     write a book--the kind of book he had planned.  One could not poke
     fun at a country or a people that had welcomed him with open arms.
     He made plenty of notes, at first, but presently gave up the book
     idea and devoted himself altogether to having a good time.

     He had one grievance--a publisher by the name of Hotten, a sort of
     literary harpy, of which there were a great number in those days of
     defective copyright, not merely content with pilfering his early
     work, had reprinted, under the name of Mark Twain, the work of a
     mixed assortment of other humorists, an offensive volume bearing the
     title, Screamers and Eye-openers, by Mark Twain.

     They besieged him to lecture in London, and promised him overflowing
     houses.  Artemus Ward, during his last days, had earned London by
     storm with his platform humor, and they promised Mark Twain even
     greater success.  For some reason, however, he did not welcome the
     idea; perhaps there was too much gaiety.  To Mrs. Clemens he wrote:


To Mrs. Clemens, in Hartford:

                                             LONDON, Sep. 15, 1872.

Livy, darling, everybody says lecture-lecture-lecture--but I have not
the least idea of doing it--certainly not at present. Mr. Dolby, who
took Dickens to America, is coming to talk business to me tomorrow,
though I have sent him word once before, that I can’t be hired to talk
here, because I have no time to spare.

There is too much sociability--I do not get along fast enough with work.
Tomorrow I lunch with Mr. Toole and a Member of Parliament--Toole is
the most able Comedian of the day. And then I am done for a while. On
Tuesday I mean to hang a card to my keybox, inscribed--“Gone out of the
City for a week”--and then I shall go to work and work hard. One can’t
be caught in a hive of 4,000,000 people, like this.

I have got such a perfectly delightful razor. I have a notion to buy
some for Charley, Theodore and Slee--for I know they have no such razors
there. I have got a neat little watch-chain for Annie--$20.

I love you my darling. My love to all of you.


     That Mark Twain should feel and privately report something of his
     triumphs we need not wonder at.  Certainly he was never one to give
     himself airs, but to have the world’s great literary center paying
     court to him, who only ten years before had been penniless and
     unknown, and who once had been a barefoot Tom Sawyer in Hannibal,
     was quite startling.  It is gratifying to find evidence of human
     weakness in the following heart-to-heart letter to his publisher,
     especially in view of the relating circumstances.


To Elisha Bliss, in Hartford:

                                             LONDON, Sept. 28, 1872.

FRIEND BLISS,--I have been received in a sort of tremendous way,
tonight, by the brains of London, assembled at the annual dinner of the
Sheriffs of London--mine being (between you and me) a name which was
received with a flattering outburst of spontaneous applause when the
long list of guests was called.

I might have perished on the spot but for the friendly support and
assistance of my excellent friend Sir John Bennett--and I want you
to paste the enclosed in a couple of the handsomest copies of the
“Innocents” and “Roughing It,” and send them to him. His address is

          “Sir John Bennett,
                         Yrs Truly
                              S. L. CLEMENS.

     The “relating circumstances” were these: At the abovementioned
     dinner there had been a roll-call of the distinguished guests
     present, and each name had been duly applauded.  Clemens, conversing
     in a whisper with his neighbor, Sir John Bennett, did not give very
     close attention to the names, applauding mechanically with the

     Finally, a name was read that brought out a vehement hand-clapping.
     Mark Twain, not to be outdone in cordiality, joined vigorously, and
     kept his hands going even after the others finished.  Then,
     remarking the general laughter, he whispered to Sir John: “Whose
     name was that we were just applauding?”
     “Mark Twain’s.”
     We may believe that the “friendly support” of Sir John Bennett was
     welcome for the moment.  But the incident could do him no harm; the
     diners regarded it as one of his jokes, and enjoyed him all the more
     for it.

     He was ready to go home by November, but by no means had he had
     enough of England.  He really had some thought of returning there
     permanently.  In a letter to Mrs. Crane, at Quarry Farm, he wrote:

     “If you and Theodore will come over in the Spring with Livy and me,
     and spend the summer you will see a country that is so beautiful
     that you will be obliged to believe in Fairyland..... and Theodore
     can browse with me among dusty old dens that look now as they looked
     five hundred years ago; and puzzle over books in the British Museum
     that were made before Christ was born; and in the customs of their
     public dinners, and the ceremonies of every official act, and the
     dresses of a thousand dignitaries, trace the speech and manners of
     all the centuries that have dragged their lagging decades over
     England since the Heptarchy fell asunder.  I would a good deal
     rather live here if I could get the rest of you over.”
     In a letter home, to his mother and sister, we get a further picture
     of his enjoyment.


To Mrs. Jane Clemens and Mrs. Moffett:

                                             LONDON, Nov. 6, 1872.

MY DEAR MOTHER AND SISTER,--I have been so everlasting busy that I
couldn’t write--and moreover I have been so unceasingly lazy that I
couldn’t have written anyhow. I came here to take notes for a book, but
I haven’t done much but attend dinners and make speeches. But have had a
jolly good time and I do hate to go away from these English folks; they
make a stranger feel entirely at home--and they laugh so easily that it
is a comfort to make after-dinner speeches here. I have made hundreds
of friends; and last night in the crush of the opening of the New
Guild-hall Library and Museum, I was surprised to meet a familiar face
every few steps. Nearly 4,000 people, of both sexes, came and went
during the evening, so I had a good opportunity to make a great many new

Livy is willing to come here with me next April and stay several
months--so I am going home next Tuesday. I would sail on Saturday, but
that is the day of the Lord Mayor’s annual grand state dinner, when they
say 900 of the great men of the city sit down to table, a great many of
them in their fine official and court paraphernalia, so I must not miss
it. However, I may yet change my mind and sail Saturday. I am looking
at a fine Magic lantern which will cost a deal of money, and if I buy
it Sammy may come and learn to make the gas and work the machinery,
and paint pictures for it on glass. I mean to give exhibitions for
charitable purposes in Hartford, and charge a dollar a head.

                    In a hurry,
                              Ys affly

     He sailed November 12th on the Batavia, arriving in New York two
     weeks later.  There had been a presidential election in his absence.
     General Grant had defeated Horace Greeley, a result, in some measure
     at least, attributed to the amusing and powerful pictures of the
     cartoonist, Thomas Nast.  Mark Twain admired Greeley’s talents, but
     he regarded him as poorly qualified for the nation’s chief
     executive.  He wrote:


To Th. Nast, in Morristown, N. J.:

                                             HARTFORD, Nov. 1872.

Nast, you more than any other man have won a prodigious victory for
Grant--I mean, rather, for civilization and progress. Those pictures
were simply marvelous, and if any man in the land has a right to hold
his head up and be honestly proud of his share in this year’s vast
events that man is unquestionably yourself. We all do sincerely honor
you, and are proud of you.

                                   MARK TWAIN.

     Perhaps Mark Twain was too busy at this time to write letters.  His
     success in England had made him more than ever popular in America,
     and he could by no means keep up with the demands on him.  In
     January he contributed to the New York Tribune some letters on the
     Sandwich Islands, but as these were more properly articles they do
     not seem to belong here.

     He refused to go on the lecture circuit, though he permitted Redpath
     to book him for any occasional appearance, and it is due to one of
     these special engagements that we have the only letter preserved
     from this time.  It is to Howells, and written with that
     exaggeration with which he was likely to embellish his difficulties.
     We are not called upon to believe that there were really any such
     demonstrations as those ascribed to Warner and himself.


To W. D. Howells, in Boston:

                                   FARMINGTON AVE, Hartford Feb. 27.

MY DEAR HOWELLS,--I am in a sweat and Warner is in another. I told
Redpath some time ago I would lecture in Boston any two days he might
choose provided they were consecutive days--

I never dreamed of his choosing days during Lent since that was his
special horror--but all at once he telegraphs me, and hollers at me in
all manner of ways that I am booked for Boston March 5 of all days in
the year--and to make matters just as mixed and uncertain as possible, I
can’t find out to save my life whether he means to lecture me on the 6th
or not.

Warner’s been in here swearing like a lunatic, and saying he had written
you to come on the 4th,--and I said, “You leather-head, if I talk in
Boston both afternoon and evening March 5, I’ll have to go to Boston the
4th,”--and then he just kicked up his heels and went off cursing after a
fashion I never heard of before.

Now let’s just leave this thing to Providence for 24 hours--you bet it
will come out all right.

                                   Yours ever

     He was writing a book with Warner at this time--The Gilded Age
     --the two authors having been challenged by their wives one night at
     dinner to write a better book than the current novels they had been
     discussing with some severity.  Clemens already had a story in his
     mind, and Warner agreed to collaborate in the writing.  It was begun
     without delay.  Clemens wrote the first three hundred and
     ninety-nine pages, and read there aloud to Warner, who took up the
     story at this point and continued it through twelve chapters, after
     which they worked alternately, and with great enjoyment.  They also
     worked rapidly, and in April the story was completed.  For a
     collaboration by two men so different in temperament and literary
     method it was a remarkable performance.

     Another thing Mark Twain did that winter was to buy some land on
     Farmington Avenue and begin the building of a home.  He had by no
     means given up returning to England, and made his plans to sail with
     Mrs. Clemens and Susy in May.  Miss Clara Spaulding, of Elmira
     --[Later Mrs. John B. Stanchfield, of New York.]--a girlhood friend
     of Mrs. Clemens--was to accompany them.

     The Daily Graphic heard of the proposed journey, and wrote, asking
     for a farewell word.  His characteristic reply is the only letter of
     any kind that has survived from that spring.


To the Editor of “The Daily Graphic,” in New York City:

                                        HARTFORD, Apl. 17, 1873.

ED. GRAPHIC,--Your note is received. If the following two lines which I
have cut from it are your natural handwriting, then I understand you to
ask me “for a farewell letter in the name of the American people.”
 Bless you, the joy of the American people is just a little premature;
I haven’t gone yet. And what is more, I am not going to stay, when I do

Yes, it is true. I am only going to remain beyond the sea, six months,
that is all. I love stir and excitement; and so the moment the spring
birds begin to sing, and the lagging weariness of summer to threaten,
I grow restless, I get the fidgets; I want to pack off somewhere where
there’s something going on. But you know how that is--you must have
felt that way. This very day I saw the signs in the air of the coming
dullness, and I said to myself, “How glad I am that I have already
chartered a steamship!” There was absolutely nothing in the morning
papers. You can see for yourself what the telegraphic headings were:


     A Father Killed by His Son

     A Bloody Fight in Kentucky

     A Court House Fired, and
     Negroes Therein Shot
     while Escaping

     A Louisiana Massacre

     An Eight-year-old murderer
     Two to Three Hundred Men Roasted Alive!

     A Town in a State of General Riot

     A Lively Skirmish in Indiana
     (and thirty other similar headings.)

The items under those headings all bear date yesterday, Apl. 16 (refer
to your own paper)--and I give you my word of honor that that string of
commonplace stuff was everything there was in the telegraphic columns
that a body could call news. Well, said I to myself this is getting
pretty dull; this is getting pretty dry; there don’t appear to be
anything going on anywhere; has this progressive nation gone to sleep?
Have I got to stand another month of this torpidity before I can begin
to browse among the lively capitals of Europe?

But never mind-things may revive while I am away. During the last two
months my next-door neighbor, Chas. Dudley Warner, has dropped
his “Back-Log Studies,” and he and I have written a bulky novel in
partnership. He has worked up the fiction and I have hurled in the
facts. I consider it one of the most astonishing novels that ever was
written. Night after night I sit up reading it over and over again and
crying. It will be published early in the Fall, with plenty of pictures.
Do you consider this an advertisement?--and if so, do you charge for
such things when a man is your friend?

                         Yours truly,
                                   SAML.  L.  CLEMENS,
                                   “MARK TWAIN,”

     An amusing, even if annoying, incident happened about the time of
     Mark Twain’s departure.  A man named Chew related to Twichell a most
     entertaining occurrence.  Twichell saw great possibilities in it,
     and suggested that Mark Twain be allowed to make a story of it,
     sharing the profits with Chew.  Chew agreed, and promised to send
     the facts, carefully set down.  Twichell, in the mean time, told the
     story to Clemens, who was delighted with it and strongly tempted to
     write it at once, while he was in the spirit, without waiting on
     Chew.  Fortunately, he did not do so, for when Chew’s material came
     it was in the form of a clipping, the story having been already
     printed in some newspaper.  Chew’s knowledge of literary ethics
     would seem to have been slight.  He thought himself entitled to
     something under the agreement with Twichell.  Mark Twain, by this
     time in London, naturally had a different opinion.


To Rev. J. H. Twichell, in Hartford:

                                                  LONDON, June 9, ‘73.

DEAR OLD JOE,--I consider myself wholly at liberty to decline to pay
Chew anything, and at the same time strongly tempted to sue him into the
bargain for coming so near ruining me. If he hadn’t happened to send me
that thing in print, I would have used the story (like an innocent fool)
and would straightway have been hounded to death as a plagiarist. It
would have absolutely destroyed me. I cannot conceive of a man being
such a hopeless ass (after serving as a legislative reporter, too) as to
imagine that I or any other literary man in his senses would consent to
chew over old stuff that had already been in print. If that man weren’t
an infant in swaddling clothes, his only reply to our petition would
have been, “It has been in print.” It makes me as mad as the very Old
Harry every time I think of Mr. Chew and the frightfully narrow escape I
have had at his hands. Confound Mr. Chew, with all my heart! I’m willing
that he should have ten dollars for his trouble of warming over his cold
victuals--cheerfully willing to that--but no more. If I had had him near
when his letter came, I would have got out my tomahawk and gone for him.
He didn’t tell the story half as well as you did, anyhow.

I wish to goodness you were here this moment--nobody in our parlor but
Livy and me,--and a very good view of London to the fore. We have a
luxuriously ample suite of apartments in the Langham Hotel, 3rd floor,
our bedroom looking straight up Portland Place and our parlor having
a noble array of great windows looking out upon both streets (Portland
Place and the crook that joins it to Regent Street.)

9 P.M. Full twilight--rich sunset tints lingering in the west.

I am not going to write anything--rather tell it when I get back. I love
you and Harmony, and that is all the fresh news I’ve got, anyway. And I
mean to keep that fresh all the time.


P. S.--Am luxuriating in glorious old Pepy’s Diary, and smoking.

     Letters are exceedingly scarce through all this period.  Mark Twain,
     now on his second visit to London, was literally overwhelmed with
     honors and entertainment; his rooms at the Langham were like a
     court.  Such men as Robert Browning, Turgenieff, Sir John Millais,
     and Charles Kingsley hastened to call.  Kingsley and others gave him
     dinners.  Mrs. Clemens to her sister wrote: “It is perfectly
     discouraging to try to write you.”
     The continuous excitement presently told on her.  In July all
     further engagements were canceled, and Clemens took his little
     family to Scotland, for quiet and rest.  They broke the journey at
     York, and it was there that Mark Twain wrote the only letter
     remaining from this time.


Fragment of a letter to Mrs. Jervis Langdon, of Elmira, N. Y.:

For the present we shall remain in this queer old walled town, with
its crooked, narrow lanes, that tell us of their old day that knew no
wheeled vehicles; its plaster-and-timber dwellings, with upper stories
far overhanging the street, and thus marking their date, say three
hundred years ago; the stately city walls, the castellated gates, the
ivy-grown, foliage-sheltered, most noble and picturesque ruin of St.
Mary’s Abbey, suggesting their date, say five hundred years ago, in the
heart of Crusading times and the glory of English chivalry and romance;
the vast Cathedral of York, with its worn carvings and quaintly pictured
windows, preaching of still remoter days; the outlandish names of
streets and courts and byways that stand as a record and a memorial,
all these centuries, of Danish dominion here in still earlier times;
the hint here and there of King Arthur and his knights and their
bloody fights with Saxon oppressors round about this old city more than
thirteen hundred years gone by; and, last of all, the melancholy old
stone coffins and sculptured inscriptions, a venerable arch and a hoary
tower of stone that still remain and are kissed by the sun and caressed
by the shadows every day, just as the sun and the shadows have kissed
and caressed them every lagging day since the Roman Emperor’s soldiers
placed them here in the times when Jesus the Son of Mary walked
the streets of Nazareth a youth, with no more name or fame than the
Yorkshire boy who is loitering down this street this moment.

     Their destination was Edinburgh, where they remained a month.  Mrs.
     Clemens’s health gave way on their arrival there, and her husband,
     knowing the name of no other physician in the place, looked up Dr.
     John Brown, author of Rab and His Friends, and found in him not only
     a skilful practitioner, but a lovable companion, to whom they all
     became deeply attached.  Little Susy, now seventeen months old,
     became his special favorite.  He named her Megalops, because of her
     great eyes.

     Mrs. Clemens regained her strength and they returned to London.
     Clemens, still urged to lecture, finally agreed with George Dolby to
     a week’s engagement, and added a promise that after taking his wife
     and daughter back to America he would return immediately for a more
     extended course.  Dolby announced him to appear at the Queen’s
     Concert Rooms, Hanover Square, for the week of October 13-18, his
     lecture to be the old Sandwich Islands talk that seven years before
     had brought him his first success.  The great hall, the largest in
     London, was thronged at each appearance, and the papers declared
     that Mark Twain had no more than “whetted the public appetite” for
     his humor.  Three days later, October 1873, Clemens, with his
     little party, sailed for home.  Half-way across the ocean he wrote
     the friend they had left in Scotland:


To Dr. John Brown, in Edinburgh:

                                        MID-ATLANTIC, Oct. 30, 1873.

OUR DEAR FRIEND THE DOCTOR,--We have plowed a long way over the sea,
and there’s twenty-two hundred miles of restless water between us, now,
besides the railway stretch. And yet you are so present with us, so
close to us that a span and a whisper would bridge the distance.

The first three days were stormy, and wife, child, maid, and Miss
Spaulding were all sea-sick 25 hours out of the 24, and I was sorry
I ever started. However, it has been smooth, and balmy, and sunny and
altogether lovely for a day or two now, and at night there is a broad
luminous highway stretching over the sea to the moon, over which the
spirits of the sea are traveling up and down all through the secret
night and having a genuine good time, I make no doubt.

Today they discovered a “collie” on board! I find (as per advertisement
which I sent you) that they won’t carry dogs in these ships at any
price. This one has been concealed up to this time. Now his owner has to
pay L10 or heave him overboard. Fortunately the doggie is a performing
doggie and the money will be paid. So after all it was just as well you
didn’t intrust your collie to us.

A poor little child died at midnight and was buried at dawn this
morning--sheeted and shotted, and sunk in the middle of the lonely ocean
in water three thousand fathoms deep. Pity the poor mother.

                                        With our love.
                                                  S. L. CLEMENS.

     Mark Twain was back in London, lecturing again at the Queen’s
     Concert Rooms, after barely a month’s absence.  Charles Warren
     Stoddard, whom he had known in California, shared his apartment at
     the Langham, and acted as his secretary--a very necessary office,
     for he was besieged by callers and bombarded with letters.

     He remained in London two months, lecturing steadily at Hanover
     Square to full houses.  It is unlikely that there is any other
     platform record to match it.  One letter of this period has been
     preserved.  It is written to Twichell, near the end of his


To Rev. J. H. Twichell, in Hartford:

                                             LONDON, Jan. 5 1874.

MY DEAR OLD JOE,--I knew you would be likely to graduate into an ass if
I came away; and so you have--if you have stopped smoking. However,
I have a strong faith that it is not too late, yet, and that the
judiciously managed influence of a bad example will fetch you back

I wish you had written me some news--Livy tells me precious little. She
mainly writes to hurry me home and to tell me how much she respects me:
but she’s generally pretty slow on news. I had a letter from her along
with yours, today, but she didn’t tell me the book is out. However, it’s
all right. I hope to be home 20 days from today, and then I’ll see her,
and that will make up for a whole year’s dearth of news. I am right down
grateful that she is looking strong and “lovelier than ever.” I only
wish I could see her look her level best, once--I think it would be a

I have just spent a good part of this day browsing through the Royal
Academy Exhibition of Landseer’s paintings. They fill four or five
great salons, and must number a good many hundreds. This is the only
opportunity ever to see them, because the finest of them belong to
the queen and she keeps them in her private apartments. Ah, they’re
wonderfully beautiful! There are such rich moonlights and dusks in “The
Challenge” and “The Combat;” and in that long flight of birds across
a lake in the subdued flush of sunset (or sunrise--for no man can ever
tell tother from which in a picture, except it has the filmy morning
mist breathing itself up from the water). And there is such a grave
analytical profundity in the faces of “The Connoisseurs;” and such
pathos in the picture of the fawn suckling its dead mother, on a snowy
waste, with only the blood in the footprints to hint that she is not
asleep. And the way he makes animals absolute flesh and blood--insomuch
that if the room were darkened ever so little and a motionless living
animal placed beside a painted one, no man could tell which was which.

I interrupted myself here, to drop a line to Shirley Brooks and suggest
a cartoon for Punch. It was this. In one of the Academy salons (in the
suite where these pictures are), a fine bust of Landseer stands on a
pedestal in the centre of the room. I suggest that some of Landseer’s
best known animals be represented as having come down out of their
frames in the moonlight and grouped themselves about the bust in
mourning attitudes.

Well, old man, I am powerful glad to hear from you and shall be powerful
glad to see you and Harmony. I am not going to the provinces because I
cannot get halls that are large enough. I always felt cramped in Hanover
Square Rooms, but I find that everybody here speaks with awe and respect
of that prodigious place, and wonder that I could fill it so long.

I am hoping to be back in 20 days, but I have so much to go home to and
enjoy with a jubilant joy, that it seems hardly possible that it can
ever come to pass in so uncertain a world as this.

I have read the novel--[The Gilded Age, published during his absence,
December, 1873.]--here, and I like it. I have made no inquiries about
it, though. My interest in a book ceases with the printing of it.

                                   With a world of love,


Naturally Redpath would not give him any peace now. His London success
must not be wasted. At first his victim refused point-blank, and with
great brevity. But he was overborne and persuaded, and made occasional
appearances, wiring at last this final defiant word:


Telegram to James Redpath, in Boston:

                                        HARTFORD, March 3, 1874.

JAMES REDPATH,--Why don’t you congratulate me?

I never expect to stand on a lecture platform again after Thursday


     That he was glad to be home again we may gather from a letter sent
     at this time to Doctor Brown, of Edinburgh.


To Dr. John Brown, in Edinburgh:

                                        FARMINGTON AVENUE, HARTFORD

                                        Feby.  28, 1874.

MY DEAR FRIEND,--We are all delighted with your commendations of the
Gilded Age-and the more so because some of our newspapers have set forth
the opinion that Warner really wrote the book and I only added my name
to the title page in order to give it a larger sale. I wrote the first
eleven chapters, every word and every line. I also wrote chapters 24,
25, 27, 28, 30, 32, 33, 34, 36, 37, 21, 42, 43, 45, 51, 52. 53, 57,
59, 60, 61, 62, and portions of 35, 49 and 56. So I wrote 32 of the 63
chapters entirely and part of 3 others beside.

The fearful financial panic hit the book heavily, for we published it in
the midst of it. But nevertheless in the 8 weeks that have now elapsed
since the day we published, we have sold 40,000 copies; which gives
L3,000 royalty to be divided between the authors. This is really the
largest two-months’ sale which any American book has ever achieved
(unless one excepts the cheaper editions of Uncle Tom’s Cabin). The
average price of our book is 16 shillings a copy--Uncle Tom was 2
shillings a copy. But for the panic our sale would have been doubled,
I verily believe. I do not believe the sale will ultimately go over
100,000 copies.

I shipped to you, from Liverpool, Barley’s Illustrations of Judd’s
“Margaret” (the waiter at the Adelphi Hotel agreeing to ship it securely
per parcel delivery,) and I do hope it did not miscarry, for we
in America think a deal of Barley’s--[Felix Octavius Carr barley,
1822-1888, illustrator of the works of Irving, Cooper, etc. Probably the
most distinguished American illustrator of his time.]--work. I shipped
the novel (“Margaret”) to you from here a week ago.

Indeed I am thankful for the wife and the child--and if there is one
individual creature on all this footstool who is more thoroughly and
uniformly and unceasingly happy than I am I defy the world to produce
him and prove him. In my opinion, he doesn’t exist. I was a mighty
rough, coarse, unpromising subject when Livy took charge of me 4 years
ago, and I may still be, to the rest of the world, but not to her. She
has made a very creditable job of me.

Success to the Mark Twain Club!--and the novel shibboleth of the
Whistle. Of course any member rising to speak would be required to
preface his remark with a keen respectful whistle at the chair-the chair
recognizing the speaker with an answering shriek, and then as the
speech proceeded its gravity and force would be emphasized and its
impressiveness augmented by the continual interjection of whistles in
place of punctuation-pauses; and the applause of the audience would be
manifested in the same way....

They’ve gone to luncheon, and I must follow. With strong love from us

                    Your friend,
                                   SAML. L. CLEMENS.

     These were the days when the Howells and Clemens families began
     visiting back and forth between Boston and Hartford, and sometimes
     Aldrich came, though less frequently, and the gatherings at the
     homes of Warner and Clemens were full of never-to-be-forgotten
     happiness.  Of one such visit Howells wrote:

     “In the good-fellowship of that cordial neighborhood we had two such
     days as the aging sun no longer shines on in his round.  There was
     constant running in and out of friendly houses, where the lively
     hosts and guests called one another by their christian names or
     nicknames, and no such vain ceremony as knocking or ringing at
     doors.  Clemens was then building the stately mansion in which he
     satisfied his love of magnificence as if it had been another
     sealskin coat, and he was at the crest of the prosperity which
     enabled him to humor every whim or extravagance.”
     It was the delight of such a visit that kept Clemens constantly
     urging its repetition.  One cannot but feel the genuine affection of
     these letters.


To W. D. Howells, in Boston:

                                                  Mch. 1, 1876.

MY DEAR HOWELLS,--Now you will find us the most reasonable people in the
world. We had thought of precipitating upon you George Warner and wife
one day; Twichell and his jewel of a wife another day, and Chas. Perkins
and wife another. Only those--simply members of our family, they are.
But I’ll close the door against them all--which will “fix” all of the
lot except Twichell, who will no more hesitate to climb in at the back
window than nothing.

And you shall go to bed when you please, get up when you please, talk
when you please, read when you please. Mrs. Howells may even go to New
York Saturday if she feels that she must, but if some gentle, unannoying
coaxing can beguile her into putting that off a few days, we shall be
more than glad, for I do wish she and Mrs. Clemens could have a good
square chance to get acquainted with each other. But first and last
and all the time, we want you to feel untrammeled and wholly free from
restraint, here.

The date suits--all dates suit.

                              Yrs ever


To W. D. Howells, in Boston:

                         FARMINGTON AVENUE, HARTFORD, Mch. 20, 1876.

DEAR HOWELLS,--You or Aldrich or both of you must come to Hartford to
live. Mr. Hall, who lives in the house next to Mrs. Stowe’s (just where
we drive in to go to our new house) will sell for $16,000 or $17,000.
The lot is 85 feet front and 150 deep--long time and easy payments on
the purchase? You can do your work just as well here as in Cambridge,
can’t you? Come, will one of you boys buy that house? Now say yes.

Mrs. Clemens is an invalid yet, but is getting along pretty fairly.

We send best regards.                              MARK.

     April found the Clemens family in Elmira.  Mrs. Clemens was not
     over-strong, and the cares of house-building were many.  They went
     early, therefore, remaining at the Langdon home in the city until
     Quarry Farm should feel a touch of warmer sun, Clemens wrote the
     news to Doctor Brown.


To Dr. John Brown, in Edinburgh:

                                   ELMIRA, N. Y., April 27, ‘86.

DEAR DOCTOR,--This town is in the interior of the State of New York--and
was my wife’s birth-place. We are here to spend the whole summer.
Although it is so near summer, we had a great snow-storm yesterday, and
one the day before. This is rather breaking in upon our plans, as it may
keep us down here in the valley a trifle longer than we desired. It gets
fearfully hot here in the summer, so we spend our summers on top of a
hill 6 or 700 feet high, about two or three miles from here--it never
gets hot up there.

Mrs. Clemens is pretty strong, and so is the “little wifie” barring
a desperate cold in the head the child grows in grace and beauty
marvellously. I wish the nations of the earth would combine in a baby
show and give us a chance to compete. I must try to find one of her
latest photographs to enclose in this. And this reminds me that Mrs.
Clemens keeps urging me to ask you for your photograph and last night
she said, “and be sure to ask him for a photograph of his sister, and
Jock-but say Master Jock--do not be headless and forget that courtesy;
he is Jock in our memories and our talk, but he has a right to his title
when a body uses his name in a letter.” Now I have got it all in--I
can’t have made any mistake this time. Miss Clara Spaulding looked in, a
moment, yesterday morning, as bright and good as ever. She would like to
lay her love at your feet if she knew I was writing--as would also fifty
friends of ours whom you have never seen, and whose homage is as fervent
as if the cold and clouds and darkness of a mighty sea did not lie
between their hearts and you. Poor old Rab had not many “friends” at
first, but if all his friends of today could gather to his grave from
the four corners of the earth what a procession there would be! And
Rab’s friends are your friends.

I am going to work when we get on the hill-till then I’ve got to lie
fallow, albeit against my will. We join in love to you and yours.

                                   Your friend ever,
                                             SAML. L. CLEMENS.

P. S. I enclose a specimen of villainy. A man pretends to be my brother
and my lecture agent--gathers a great audience together in a city more
than a thousand miles from here, and then pockets the money and elopes,
leaving the audience to wait for the imaginary lecturer! I am after him
with the law.

     It was a historic summer at the Farm.  A new baby arrived in June; a
     new study was built for Mark Twain by Mrs. Crane, on the hillside
     near the old quarry; a new book was begun in it--The Adventures of
     Tom Sawyer--and a play, the first that Mark Twain had really
     attempted, was completed--the dramatization of The Gilded Age.

     An early word went to Hartford of conditions at the Farm.


To Rev. and Mrs. Twichell, in Hartford:

                                             ELMIRA, June 11, 1874.

MY DEAR OLD JOE AND HARMONY,--The baby is here and is the great American
Giantess--weighing 7 3/4 pounds. We had to wait a good long time for
her, but she was full compensation when she did come.

The Modoc was delighted with it, and gave it her doll at once. There is
nothing selfish about the Modoc. She is fascinated with the new baby.
The Modoc rips and tears around out doors, most of the time, and
consequently is as hard as a pine knot and as brown as an Indian. She is
bosom friend to all the ducks, chickens, turkeys and guinea hens on the
place. Yesterday as she marched along the winding path that leads up the
hill through the red clover beds to the summer-house, there was a long
procession of these fowls stringing contentedly after her, led by a
stately rooster who can look over the Modoc’s head. The devotion of
these vassals has been purchased with daily largess of Indian meal, and
so the Modoc, attended by her bodyguard, moves in state wherever she

Susie Crane has built the loveliest study for me, you ever saw. It
is octagonal, with a peaked roof, each octagon filled with a spacious
window, and it sits perched in complete isolation on top of an elevation
that commands leagues of valley and city and retreating ranges of
distant blue hills. It is a cosy nest, with just room in it for a sofa
and a table and three or four chairs--and when the storms sweep down the
remote valley and the lightning flashes above the hills beyond, and
the rain beats upon the roof over my head, imagine the luxury of it! It
stands 500 feet above the valley and 2 1/2 miles from it.

However one must not write all day. We send continents of love to you
and yours.


     We have mentioned before that Clemens had settled his mother and
     sister at Fredonia, New York, and when Mrs. Clemens was in condition
     to travel he concluded to pay them a visit.

     It proved an unfortunate journey; the hot weather was hard on Mrs.
     Clemens, and harder still, perhaps, on Mark Twain’s temper.  At any
     period of his life a bore exasperated him, and in these earlier days
     he was far more likely to explode than in his mellower age.  Remorse
     always followed--the price he paid was always costly.  We cannot
     know now who was the unfortunate that invited the storm, but in the
     next letter we get the echoes of it and realize something of its


To Mrs. Jane Clemens and Mrs. Moffett, in Fredonia:

                                             ELMIRA, Aug. 15.

MY DEAR MOTHER AND SISTER,--I came away from Fredonia ashamed of
myself;--almost too much humiliated to hold up my head and say good-bye.
For I began to comprehend how much harm my conduct might do you socially
in your village. I would have gone to that detestable oyster-brained
bore and apologized for my inexcusable rudeness to him, but that I
was satisfied he was of too small a calibre to know how to receive an
apology with magnanimity.

Pamela appalled me by saying people had hinted that they wished to visit
Livy when she came, but that she had given them no encouragement. I
feared that those people would merely comprehend that their courtesies
were not wanted, and yet not know exactly why they were not wanted.

I came away feeling that in return for your constant and tireless
efforts to secure our bodily comfort and make our visit enjoyable, I had
basely repaid you by making you sad and sore-hearted and leaving you
so. And the natural result has fallen to me likewise--for a guilty
conscience has harassed me ever since, and I have not had one short
quarter of an hour of peace to this moment.

You spoke of Middletown. Why not go there and live? Mr. Crane says it is
only about a hundred miles this side of New York on the Erie road. The
fact that one or two of you might prefer to live somewhere else is not
a valid objection--there are no 4 people who would all choose the same
place--so it will be vain to wait for the day when your tastes shall be
a unit. I seriously fear that our visit has damaged you in Fredonia, and
so I wish you were out of it.

The baby is fat and strong, and Susie the same. Susie was charmed with
the donkey and the doll.

                    Ys affectionately

P. S.--DEAR MA AND PAMELA--I am mainly grieved because I have been rude
to a man who has been kind to you--and if you ever feel a desire
to apologize to him for me, you may be sure that I will endorse the
apology, no matter how strong it may be. I went to his bank to apologize
to him, but my conviction was strong that he was not man enough to know
how to take an apology and so I did not make it.

     William Dean Howells was in those days writing those vividly
     realistic, indeed photographic stories which fixed his place among
     American men of letters.  He had already written ‘Their Wedding
     Journey’ and ‘A Chance Acquaintance’ when ‘A Foregone Conclusion’ 
     appeared.  For the reason that his own work was so different, and
     perhaps because of his fondness for the author, Clemens always
     greatly admired the books of Howells.  Howells’s exact observation
     and his gift for human detail seemed marvelous to Mark Twain, who
     with a bigger brush was inclined to record the larger rather than
     the minute aspects of life.  The sincerity of his appreciation of
     Howells, however, need not be questioned, nor, for that matter, his
     detestation of Scott.


To W. D. Howells, in Boston:

                                             ELMIRA, Aug. 22, 1874.

DEAR HOWELLS,--I have just finished reading the ‘Foregone Conclusion’ to
Mrs. Clemens and we think you have even outdone yourself. I should think
that this must be the daintiest, truest, most admirable workmanship
that was ever put on a story. The creatures of God do not act out their
natures more unerringly than yours do. If your genuine stories can die,
I wonder by what right old Walter Scott’s artificialities shall continue
to live.

I brought Mrs. Clemens back from her trip in a dreadfully broken-down
condition--so by the doctor’s orders we unpacked the trunks sorrowfully
to lie idle here another month instead of going at once to Hartford and
proceeding to furnish the new house which is now finished. We hate to
have it go longer desolate and tenantless, but cannot help it.

By and by, if the madam gets strong again, we are hoping to have the
Grays there, and you and the Aldrich households, and Osgood, down to
engage in an orgy with them.

                              Ys Ever

     Howells was editor of the Atlantic by this time, and had been urging
     Clemens to write something suitable for that magazine.  He had done
     nothing, however, until this summer at Quarry Farm.  There, one
     night in the moonlight, Mrs. Crane’s colored cook, who had been a
     slave, was induced to tell him her story.  It was exactly the story
     to appeal to Mark Twain, and the kind of thing he could write.  He
     set it down next morning, as nearly in her own words and manner as
     possible, without departing too far from literary requirements.

     He decided to send this to Howells.  He did not regard it very
     highly, but he would take the chance.  An earlier offering to the
     magazine had been returned.  He sent the “True Story,” with a brief


To W. D. Howells, in Boston:

                                             ELMIRA, Sept. 2, ‘74.
MY DEAR HOWELLS,--.....I enclose also a “True Story” which has no humor
in it. You can pay as lightly as you choose for that, if you want it,
for it is rather out of my line. I have not altered the old colored
woman’s story except to begin at the beginning, instead of the middle,
as she did--and traveled both ways....

                                   Yrs Ever

     But Howells was delighted with it.  He referred to its “realest kind
     of black talk,” and in another place added, “This little story
     delights me more and more.  I wish you had about forty of them.”
     Along with the “True Story” Mark Twain had sent the “Fable for Good
     Old Boys and Girls”; but this Howells returned, not, as he said,
     because he didn’t like it, but because the Atlantic on matters of
     religion was just in that “Good Lord, Good Devil condition when a
     little fable like yours wouldn’t leave it a single Presbyterian,
     Baptist, Unitarian, Episcopalian, Methodist, or Millerite paying
     subscriber, while all the deadheads would stick to it and abuse it
     in the denominational newspapers!”
     But the shorter MS. had been only a brief diversion.  Mark Twain was
     bowling along at a book and a play.  The book was Tom Sawyer, as
     already mentioned, and the play a dramatization from The Gilded Age.
     Clemens had all along intended to dramatize the story of Colonel
     Sellers, and was one day thunderstruck to receive word from
     California that a San Francisco dramatist had appropriated his
     character in a play written for John T. Raymond.  Clemens had taken
     out dramatic copyright on the book, and immediately stopped the
     performance by telegraph.  A correspondence between the author and
     the dramatist followed, leading to a friendly arrangement by which
     the latter agreed to dispose of his version to Mark Twain.  A good
     deal of discussion from time to time having arisen over the
     authorship of the Sellers play, as presented by Raymond, certain
     among the letters that follow may be found of special interest.
     Meanwhile we find Clemens writing to Dr. John Brown, of Edinburgh,
     on these matters and events in general.  The book MS., which he
     mentions as having put aside, was not touched again for nearly a


To Dr. John Brown, in Edinburgh:

                                   QUARRY FARM, NEAR ELMIRA, N. Y.

                                   Sept.  4, 1874.

DEAR FRIEND,--I have been writing fifty pages of manuscript a day, on
an average, for sometime now, on a book (a story) and consequently
have been so wrapped up in it and so dead to anything else, that I
have fallen mighty short in letter-writing. But night before last I
discovered that that day’s chapter was a failure, in conception, moral
truth to nature, and execution--enough blemish to impair the excellence
of almost any chapter--and so I must burn up the day’s work and do it
all over again. It was plain that I had worked myself out, pumped myself
dry. So I knocked off, and went to playing billiards for a change. I
haven’t had an idea or a fancy for two days, now--an excellent time to
write to friends who have plenty of ideas and fancies of their own, and
so will prefer the offerings of the heart before those of the head. Day
after to-morrow I go to a neighboring city to see a five-act-drama of
mine brought out, and suggest amendments in it, and would about as soon
spend a night in the Spanish Inquisition as sit there and be tortured
with all the adverse criticisms I can contrive to imagine the audience
is indulging in. But whether the play be successful or not, I hope I
shall never feel obliged to see it performed a second time. My interest
in my work dies a sudden and violent death when the work is done.

I have invented and patented a pretty good sort of scrap-book (I
think) but I have backed down from letting it be known as mine just
at present--for I can’t stand being under discussion on a play and a
scrap-book at the same time!

I shall be away two days, and then return to take our tribe to New York,
where we shall remain five days buying furniture for the new house, and
then go to Hartford and settle solidly down for the winter. After all
that fallow time I ought to be able to go to work again on the book. We
shall reach Hartford about the middle of September, I judge.

We have spent the past four months up here on top of a breezy hill, six
hundred feet high, some few miles from Elmira, N. Y., and overlooking
that town; (Elmira is my wife’s birthplace and that of Susie and the
new baby). This little summer house on the hill-top (named Quarry Farm
because there’s a quarry on it,) belongs to my wife’s sister, Mrs.

A photographer came up the other day and wanted to make some views, and
I shall send you the result per this mail.

My study is a snug little octagonal den, with a coal-grate, 6 big
windows, one little one, and a wide doorway (the latter opening upon
the distant town.) On hot days I spread the study wide open, anchor my
papers down with brickbats and write in the midst of the hurricanes,
clothed in the same thin linen we make shirts of. The study is nearly on
the peak of the hill; it is right in front of the little perpendicular
wall of rock left where they used to quarry stones. On the peak of the
hill is an old arbor roofed with bark and covered with the vine you call
the “American Creeper”--its green is almost bloodied with red. The
Study is 30 yards below the old arbor and 200 yards above the
dwelling-house-it is remote from all noises.....

Now isn’t the whole thing pleasantly situated?

In the picture of me in the study you glimpse (through the left-hand
window) the little rock bluff that rises behind the pond, and the bases
of the little trees on top of it. The small square window is over
the fireplace; the chimney divides to make room for it. Without the
stereoscope it looks like a framed picture. All the study windows have
Venetian blinds; they long ago went out of fashion in America but they
have not been replaced with anything half as good yet.

The study is built on top of a tumbled rock-heap that has
morning-glories climbing about it and a stone stairway leading down
through and dividing it.

There now--if you have not time to read all this, turn it over to “Jock”
 and drag in the judge to help.

Mrs. Clemens must put in a late picture of Susie--a picture which she
maintains is good, but which I think is slander on the child.

We revisit the Rutland Street home many a time in fancy, for we hold
every individual in it in happy and grateful memory.

                                   Your friend,
                                        SAML. L. CLEMENS.

P. S.--I gave the P.O. Department a blast in the papers about sending
misdirected letters of mine back to the writers for reshipment, and
got a blast in return, through a New York daily, from the New York
postmaster. But I notice that misdirected letters find me, now, without
any unnecessary fooling around.

     The new house in Hartford was now ready to be occupied, and in a
     letter to Howells, written a little more than a fortnight after the
     foregoing, we find them located in “part” of it.  But what seems
     more interesting is that paragraph of the letter which speaks of
     close friendly relations still existing with the Warners, in that it
     refutes a report current at this time that there was a break between
     Clemens and Warner over the rights in the Sellers play.  There was,
     in fact, no such rupture.  Warner, realizing that he had no hand in
     the character of Sellers, and no share in the work of dramatization,
     generously yielded all claim to any part of the returns.


To W. D. Howells, in Boston:

                         FARMINGTON AVENUE, HARTFORD, Sept. 20, 1876.

MY DEAR HOWELLS,--All right, my boy, send proof sheets here. I amend
dialect stuff by talking and talking and talking it till it sounds
right--and I had difficulty with this negro talk because a negro
sometimes (rarely) says “goin” and sometimes “gwyne,” and they make just
such discrepancies in other words--and when you come to reproduce
them on paper they look as if the variation resulted from the writer’s
carelessness. But I want to work at the proofs and get the dialect as
nearly right as possible.

We are in part of the new house. Goodness knows when we’ll get in the
rest of it--full of workmen yet.

I worked a month at my play, and launched it in New York last Wednesday.
I believe it will go. The newspapers have been complimentary. It is
simply a setting for the one character, Col. Sellers--as a play I guess
it will not bear a critical assault in force.

The Warners are as charming as ever. They go shortly to the devil for a
year--(which is but a poetical way of saying they are going to afflict
themselves with the unsurpassable--(bad word) of travel for a spell.)
I believe they mean to go and see you, first-so they mean to start from
heaven to the other place; not from earth. How is that?

I think that is no slouch of a compliment--kind of a dim religious light
about it. I enjoy that sort of thing.

                                   Yrs ever

     Raymond, in a letter to the Sun, stated that not “one line” of the
     California dramatization had been used by Mark Twain, “except that
     which was taken bodily from The Gilded Age.”  Clemens himself, in a
     statement that he wrote for the Hartford Post, but suppressed,
     probably at the request of his wife, gave a full history of the
     play’s origin, a matter of slight interest to-day.

     Sellers on the stage proved a great success.  The play had no
     special merit as a literary composition, but the character of
     Sellers delighted the public, and both author and actor were richly
     repaid for their entertainment.


     “Couldn’t you send me some such story as that colored one
     for our January number--that is, within a month?” wrote
     Howells, at the end of September, and during the week
     following Mark Twain struggled hard to comply, but without
     result.  When the month was nearly up he wrote:


To W. D. Howells, in Boston:

                                             HARTFORD, Oct. 23, 1874.

MY DEAR HOWELLS,--I have delayed thus long, hoping I might do something
for the January number and Mrs. Clemens has diligently persecuted me
day by day with urgings to go to work and do that something, but it’s
no use--I find I can’t. We are in such a state of weary and endless
confusion that my head won’t go. So I give it up.....

                              Yrs ever,

     But two hours later, when he had returned from one of the long walks
     which he and Twichell so frequently took together, he told a
     different story.

Later, P.M. HOME, 24th ‘74.

MY DEAR HOWELLS,--I take back the remark that I can’t write for the Jan.
number. For Twichell and I have had a long walk in the woods and I got
to telling him about old Mississippi days of steam-boating glory and
grandeur as I saw them (during 5 years) from the pilothouse. He said
“What a virgin subject to hurl into a magazine!” I hadn’t thought of
that before. Would you like a series of papers to run through 3 months
or 6 or 9?--or about 4 months, say?

                         Yrs ever,

     Howells himself had come from a family of pilots, and rejoiced in
     the idea.  A few days later Mark Twain forwarded the first
     instalment of the new series--those wonderful chapters that begin,
     now, with chapter four in the Mississippi book.  Apparently he was
     not without doubt concerning the manuscript, and accompanied it with
     a brief line.


To W. D. Howells, in Boston:

DEAR HOWELLS,--Cut it, scarify it, reject it handle it with entire

                         Yrs ever,

     But Howells had no doubts as to the quality of the new find.  He
     declared that the “piece” about the Mississippi was capital, that it
     almost made the water in their ice-pitcher turn muddy as he read it.
     “The sketch of the low-lived little town was so good that I could
     have wished that there was more of it.  I want the sketches, if you
     can make them, every month.”
     The “low-lived little town” was Hannibal, and the reader can turn to
     the vivid description of it in the chapter already mentioned.

     In the same letter Howells refers to a “letter from Limerick,” which
     he declares he shall keep until he has shown it around--especially
     to Aldrich and Osgood.

     The “letter from Limerick” has to do with a special episode.
     Mention has just been made of Mark Twain’s walk with Twichell.
     Frequently their walks were extended tramps, and once in a daring
     moment one or the other of them proposed to walk to Boston.  The
     time was November, and the bracing air made the proposition seem
     attractive.  They were off one morning early, Twichell carrying a
     little bag, and Clemens a basket of luncheon.  A few days before,
     Clemens had written Redpath that the Rev. J. H. Twichell and he
     expected to start at eight o’clock Thursday morning “to walk to
     Boston in twenty-four hours--or more.  We shall telegraph Young’s
     Hotel for rooms Saturday night, in order to allow for a low average
     of pedestrianism.”
     They did not get quite to Boston.  In fact, they got only a little
     farther than the twenty-eight miles they made the first day.
     Clemens could hardly walk next morning, but they managed to get to
     North Ashford, where they took a carriage for the nearest railway
     station.  There they telegraphed to Redpath and Howells that they
     would be in Boston that evening.  Howells, of course, had a good
     supper and good company awaiting them at his home, and the
     pedestrians spent two happy days visiting and recounting their

     It was one morning, at his hotel, that Mark Twain wrote the Limerick
     letter.  It was addressed to Mrs. Clemens, but was really intended
     for Howells and Twichell and the others whom it mentions.  It was an
     amusing fancy, rather than a letter, but it deserves place here.


To Mrs. Clemens---intended for Howells, Aldrich, etc.

                                   BOSTON, Nov. 16, 1935. [1874]

DEAR LIVY, You observe I still call this beloved old place by the name
it had when I was young. Limerick! It is enough to make a body sick.

The gentlemen-in-waiting stare to see me sit here telegraphing this
letter to you, and no doubt they are smiling in their sleeves. But let
them! The slow old fashions are good enough for me, thank God, and I
will none other. When I see one of these modern fools sit absorbed,
holding the end of a telegraph wire in his hand, and reflect that a
thousand miles away there is another fool hitched to the other end of
it, it makes me frantic with rage; and then am I more implacably fixed
and resolved than ever, to continue taking twenty minutes to telegraph
you what I communicate in ten sends by the new way if I would so debase
myself. And when I see a whole silent, solemn drawing-room full of
idiots sitting with their hands on each other’s foreheads “communing,” I
tug the white hairs from my head and curse till my asthma brings me the
blessed relief of suffocation. In our old day such a gathering talked
pure drivel and “rot,” mostly, but better that, a thousand times, than
these dreary conversational funerals that oppress our spirits in this
mad generation.

It is sixty years since I was here before. I walked hither, then, with
my precious old friend. It seems incredible, now, that we did it in two
days, but such is my recollection. I no longer mention that we walked
back in a single day, it makes me so furious to see doubt in the face of
the hearer. Men were men in those old times. Think of one of the puerile
organisms in this effeminate age attempting such a feat.

My air-ship was delayed by a collision with a fellow from China loaded
with the usual cargo of jabbering, copper-colored missionaries, and so I
was nearly an hour on my journey. But by the goodness of God thirteen of
the missionaries were crippled and several killed, so I was content to
lose the time. I love to lose time, anyway, because it brings soothing
reminiscences of the creeping railroad days of old, now lost to us

Our game was neatly played, and successfully.--None expected us, of
course. You should have seen the guards at the ducal palace stare when I
said, “Announce his grace the Archbishop of Dublin and the Rt. Hon. the
Earl of Hartford.” Arrived within, we were all eyes to see the Duke of
Cambridge and his Duchess, wondering if we might remember their faces,
and they ours. In a moment, they came tottering in; he, bent and
withered and bald; she blooming with wholesome old age. He peered
through his glasses a moment, then screeched in a reedy voice: “Come
to my arms! Away with titles--I’ll know ye by no names but Twain and
Twichell! Then fell he on our necks and jammed his trumpet in his ear,
the which we filled with shoutings to this effect: God bless you, old
Howells what is left of you!”
We talked late that night--none of your silent idiot “communings” for
us--of the olden time. We rolled a stream of ancient anecdotes over our
tongues and drank till the lord Archbishop grew so mellow in the mellow
past that Dublin ceased to be Dublin to him and resumed its sweeter
forgotten name of New York. In truth he almost got back into his ancient
religion, too, good Jesuit, as he has always been since O’Mulligan the
First established that faith in the Empire.

And we canvassed everybody. Bailey Aldrich, Marquis of Ponkapog, came
in, got nobly drunk, and told us all about how poor Osgood lost his
earldom and was hanged for conspiring against the second Emperor--but
he didn’t mention how near he himself came to being hanged, too, for
engaging in the same enterprise. He was as chaffy as he was sixty years
ago, too, and swore the Archbishop and I never walked to Boston--but
there was never a day that Ponkapog wouldn’t lie, so be it by the grace
of God he got the opportunity.

The Lord High Admiral came in, a hale gentleman close upon seventy
and bronzed by the suns and storms of many climes and scarred with the
wounds got in many battles, and I told him how I had seen him sit in a
high chair and eat fruit and cakes and answer to the name of Johnny. His
granddaughter (the eldest) is but lately warned to the youngest of the
Grand Dukes, and so who knows but a day may come when the blood of the
Howells’s may reign in the land? I must not forget to say, while I think
of it, that your new false teeth are done, my dear, and your wig. Keep
your head well bundled with a shawl till the latter comes, and so cheat
your persecuting neuralgias and rheumatisms. Would you believe it?--the
Duchess of Cambridge is deafer than you--deafer than her husband. They
call her to breakfast with a salvo of artillery; and usually when it
thunders she looks up expectantly and says “come in.....”
The monument to the author of “Gloverson and His Silent partners” is
finished. It is the stateliest and the costliest ever erected to the
memory of any man. This noble classic has now been translated into all
the languages of the earth and is adored by all nations and known to all
creatures. Yet I have conversed as familiarly with the author of it as I
do with my own great-grandchildren.

I wish you could see old Cambridge and Ponkapog. I love them as dearly
as ever, but privately, my dear, they are not much improvement on
idiots. It is melancholy to hear them jabber over the same pointless
anecdotes three and four times of an evening, forgetting that they had
jabbered them over three or four times the evening before. Ponkapog
still writes poetry, but the old-time fire has mostly gone out of it.
Perhaps his best effort of late years is this:

               “O soul, soul, soul of mine:
               Soul, soul, soul of thine!
               Thy soul, my soul, two souls entwine,
               And sing thy lauds in crystal wine!”
This he goes about repeating to everybody, daily and nightly, insomuch
that he is become a sore affliction to all that know him.

But I must desist. There are drafts here, everywhere and my gout is
something frightful. My left foot hath resemblance to a snuff-bladder.

                         God be with you.

These to Lady Hartford, in the earldom of Hartford, in the upper portion
of the city of Dublin.

     One may imagine the joy of Howells and the others in this ludicrous
     extravaganza, which could have been written by no one but Mark
     Twain.  It will hardly take rank as prophecy, though certainly true
     forecast in it is not wholly lacking.

     Clemens was now pretty well satisfied with his piloting story, but
     he began to have doubts as to its title, “Old Times on the
     Mississippi.”  It seemed to commit him to too large an undertaking.


To W. D. Howells, in Boston:

                                                  Dec. 3, 1874.

MY DEAR HOWELLS,--Let us change the heading to “Piloting on the Miss
in the Old Times”--or to “Steamboating on the M. in Old Times”--or to
“Personal Old Times on the Miss.”--We could change it for Feb. if now
too late for Jan.--I suggest it because the present heading is too
pretentious, too broad and general. It seems to command me to deliver a
Second Book of Revelation to the world, and cover all the Old Times the
Mississippi (dang that word, it is worse than “type” or “Egypt “) ever
saw--whereas here I have finished Article No. III and am about to start
on No. 4. and yet I have spoken of nothing but of Piloting as a science
so far; and I doubt if I ever get beyond that portion of my subject. And
I don’t care to. Any muggins can write about Old Times on the Miss. of
500 different kinds, but I am the only man alive that can scribble about
the piloting of that day--and no man ever has tried to scribble about it
yet. Its newness pleases me all the time--and it is about the only new
subject I know of. If I were to write fifty articles they would all be
about pilots and piloting--therefore let’s get the word Piloting into
the heading. There’s a sort of freshness about that, too.

                                              Ys ever,

     But Howells thought the title satisfactory, and indeed it was the
     best that could have been selected for the series.  He wrote every
     few days of his delight in the papers, and cautioned the author not
     to make an attempt to please any “supposed Atlantic audience,”
      adding, “Yarn it off into my sympathetic ear.”  Clemens replied:


To W. D. Howells, in Boston:

                                             H’t’f’d.  Dec. 8, 1874.

MY DEAR HOWELLS,--It isn’t the Atlantic audience that distresses me; for
it is the only audience that I sit down before in perfect serenity (for
the simple reason that it doesn’t require a “humorist” to paint himself
striped and stand on his head every fifteen minutes.) The trouble was,
that I was only bent on “working up an atmosphere” and that is to me a
most fidgety and irksome thing, sometimes. I avoid it, usually, but
in this case it was absolutely necessary, else every reader would be
applying the atmosphere of his own or sea experiences, and that shirt
wouldn’t fit, you know.

I could have sent this Article II a week ago, or more, but I couldn’t
bring myself to the drudgery of revising and correcting it. I have been
at that tedious work 3 hours, now, and by George but I am glad it is

Say--I am as prompt as a clock, if I only know the day a thing is
wanted--otherwise I am a natural procrastinaturalist. Tell me what day
and date you want Nos. 3 and 4, and I will tackle and revise them and
they’ll be there to the minute.

I could wind up with No. 4., but there are some things more which I am
powerfully moved to write. Which is natural enough, since I am a person
who would quit authorizing in a minute to go to piloting, if the madam
would stand it. I would rather sink a steamboat than eat, any time.

My wife was afraid to write you--so I said with simplicity, “I will give
you the language--and ideas.” Through the infinite grace of God there
has not been such another insurrection in the family before as followed
this. However, the letter was written, and promptly, too--whereas,
heretofore she has remained afraid to do such things.

With kind regards to Mrs. Howells,

                         Yrs ever,

     The “Old Times” papers appeared each month in the Atlantic until
     July, 1875, and take rank to-day with Mark Twain’s best work.  When
     the first number appeared, John Hay wrote: “It is perfect; no more
     nor less.  I don’t see how you do it.”  Which was reported to
     Howells, who said: “What business has Hay, I should like to know,
     praising a favorite of mine?  It’s interfering.”
     These were the days when the typewriter was new.  Clemens and
     Twichell, during their stay in Boston, had seen the marvel in
     operation, and Clemens had been unable to resist owning one.  It was
     far from being the perfect machine of to-day; the letters were all
     capitals, and one was never quite certain, even of those.  Mark
     Twain, however, began with enthusiasm and practised faithfully.  On
     the day of its arrival he wrote two letters that have survived, the
     first to his brother, the other to Howells.


Typewritten letter to W. D. Howells, in Boston:

                                   HARTFORD, Dec. 9, 1874.

MY DEAR HOWELLS,--I want to add a short paragraph to article No. 1, when
the proof comes. Merely a line or two, however.

I don’t know whether I am going to make this typewriting machine go or
nto: that last word was intended for n-not; but I guess I shall
make some sort of a succss of it before I run it very long. I am so
thick-fingered that I miss the keys.

You needn’t a swer this; I am only practicing to get three; another
slip-up there; only practici?ng to get the hang of the thing. I notice
I miss fire & get in a good many unnecessary letters and punctuation
marks. I am simply using you for a target to bang at. Blame my cats but
this thing requires genius in order to work it just right.

                         Yours ever,

     Knowing Mark Twain, Howells wrote: “When you get tired of the
     machine send it to me.”  Clemens naturally did get tired of the
     machine; it was ruining his morals, he said.  He presently offered
     it to Howells, who by this time hesitated, but eventually yielded
     and accepted it.  If he was blasted by its influence the fact has
     not been recorded.

     One of the famous Atlantic dinners came along in December.  “Don’t
     you dare to refuse that invitation,” wrote Howells, “to meet
     Emerson, Aldrich, and all those boys at the Parker House, at six
     o’clock, Tuesday, December 15th.  Come!”
     Clemens had no desire to refuse; he sent word that he would come,
     and followed it with a characteristic line.


To W. D. Howells, in Boston:

                                                  HARTFORD, Sunday.

MY DEAR HOWELLS,--I want you to ask Mrs. Howells to let you stay all
night at the Parker House and tell lies and have an improving time, and
take breakfast with me in the morning. I will have a good room for you,
and a fire. Can’t you tell her it always makes you sick to go home
late at night, or something like that? That sort of thing rouses Mrs.
Clemens’s sympathies, easily; the only trouble is to keep them up.
Twichell and I talked till 2 or 3 in the morning, the night we supped at
your house and it restored his health, on account of his being drooping
for some time and made him much more robuster than what he was before.
Will Mrs. Howells let you?

                              Yrs ever,
                                        S. L. C.

     Aldrich had issued that year a volume of poems, and he presented
     Clemens with a copy of it during this Boston visit.  The letter of
     appreciation which follows contains also reference to an amusing
     incident; but we shall come to that presently.


To T. B. Aldrich, in Ponkapog, Mass.

                                        FARMINGTON AVENUE, HARTFORD.

                                        Dec.  18, 1874.

MY DEAR ALDRICH,--I read the “Cloth of Gold” through, coming down in the
cars, and it is just lightning poetry--a thing which it gravels me to
say because my own efforts in that line have remained so persistently
unrecognized, in consequence of the envy and jealousy of this
generation. “Baby Bell” always seemed perfection, before, but now that
I have children it has got even beyond that. About the hour that I was
reading it in the cars, Twichell was reading it at home and forthwith
fell upon me with a burst of enthusiasm about it when I saw him. This
was pleasant, because he has long been a lover of it.

“Thos. Bailey Aldrich responded” etc., “in one of the brightest speeches
of the evening.”
That is what the Tribune correspondent says. And that is what everybody
that heard it said. Therefore, you keep still. Don’t ever be so unwise
as to go on trying to unconvince those people.

I’ve been skating around the place all day with some girls, with Mrs.
Clemens in the window to do the applause. There would be a power of fun
in skating if you could do it with somebody else’s muscles.--There are
about twenty boys booming by the house, now, and it is mighty good to
look at.

I’m keeping you in mind, you see, in the matter of photographs. I have a
couple to enclose in this letter and I want you to say you got them, and
then I shall know I have been a good truthful child.

I am going to send more as I ferret them out, about the place.--And I
won’t forget that you are a “subscriber.”
The wife and I unite in warm regards to you and Mrs. Aldrich.

                              Yrs ever,
                                        S. L. CLEMENS.

     A letter bearing the same date as the above went back to Howells, we
     find, in reference to still another incident, which perhaps should
     come first.

     Mark Twain up to this time had worn the black “string” necktie of
     the West--a decoration which disturbed Mrs. Clemens, and invited
     remarks from his friends.  He had persisted in it, however, up to
     the date of the Atlantic dinner, when Howells and Aldrich decided
     that something must be done about it.


To W. D. Howells, in Boston:

                                        HARTFORD, Dec.  18, 1874.

MY DEAR HOWELLS,--I left No. 3, (Miss. chapter) in my eldest’s reach,
and it may have gone to the postman and it likewise may have gone into
the fire. I confess to a dread that the latter is the case and that that
stack of MS will have to be written over again. If so, O for the return
of the lamented Herod!

You and Aldrich have made one woman deeply and sincerely grateful--Mrs.
Clemens. For months--I may even say years--she had shown unaccountable
animosity toward my neck-tie, even getting up in the night to take it
with the tongs and blackguard it--sometimes also going so far as to
threaten it.

When I said you and Aldrich had given me two new neck-ties, and that
they were in a paper in my overcoat pocket, she was in a fever of
happiness until she found I was going to frame them; then all the venom
in her nature gathered itself together,--insomuch that I, being near to
a door, went without, perceiving danger.

Now I wear one of the new neck-ties, nothing being sacred in Mrs.
Clemens’s eyes that can be perverted to a gaud that shall make the
person of her husband more alluring than it was aforetime.

Jo Twichell was the delightedest old boy I ever saw, when he read the
words you had written in that book. He and I went to the Concert of the
Yale students last night and had a good time.

Mrs. Clemens dreads our going to New Orleans, but I tell her she’ll have
to give her consent this time.

With kindest regards unto ye both.

                              Yrs ever,
                                        S. L. CLEMENS.

     The reference to New Orleans at the end of this letter grew
     naturally out of the enthusiasm aroused by the Mississippi papers.
     The more Clemens wrote about the river the more he wished to revisit
     it and take Howells with him.  Howells was willing enough to go and
     they eventually arranged to take their wives on the excursion.  This
     seemed all very well and possible, so long as the time was set for
     some date in the future still unfixed.  But Howells was a busy
     editor, and it was much more easy for him to promise good-naturedly
     than to agree on a definite time of departure.  He explained at
     length why he could not make the journey, and added: “Forgive me
     having led you on to fix a time; I never thought it would come to
     that; I supposed you would die, or something.  I am really more
     sorry and ashamed than I can make it appear.”  So the beautiful plan
     was put aside, though it was not entirely abandoned for a long time.

     We now come to the incident mentioned in Mark Twain’s letter to
     Aldrich, of December the 18th.  It had its beginning at the Atlantic
     dinner, where Aldrich had abused Clemens for never sending him any
     photographs of himself.  It was suggested by one or the other that
     his name be put down as a “regular subscriber” for all Mark Twain
     photographs as they “came out.”  Clemens returned home and hunted up
     fifty-two different specimens, put each into an envelope, and began
     mailing them to him, one each morning.  When a few of them had
     arrived Aldrich wrote, protesting.

     “The police,” he said, “have a way of swooping down on that kind of
     publication.  The other day they gobbled up an entire edition of
     ‘The Life in New York.’”
     Whereupon Clemens bundled up the remaining collection--forty-five
     envelopes of photographs and prints-and mailed them together.

     Aldrich wrote, now, violently declaring the perpetrator of the
     outrage to be known to the police; that a sprawling yellow figure
     against a green background had been recognized as an admirable
     likeness of Mark Twain, alias the jumping Frog, a well-known
     Californian desperado, formerly the chief of Henry Plummer’s band of
     road agents in Montana.  The letter was signed, “T. Bayleigh, Chief
     of Police.”  On the back of the envelope “T. Bayleigh” had also
     written that it was “no use for the person to send any more letters,
     as the post-office at that point was to be blown up.  Forty-eight
     hogs-head of nitroglycerine had been syrupticiously introduced into
     the cellar of the building, and more was expected.  R.W.E.  H.W.L.
     O.W.H., and other conspirators in masks have been seen flitting
     about the town for some days past.  The greatest excitement combined
     with the most intense quietness reigns at Ponkapog.”


Orion Clemens had kept his job with Bliss only a short time. His mental
make-up was such that it was difficult for him to hold any position
long. He meant to do well, but he was unfortunate in his efforts. His
ideas were seldom practical, his nature was yielding and fickle. He had
returned to Keokuk presently, and being convinced there was a fortune
in chickens, had prevailed upon his brother to purchase for him a little
farm not far from the town. But the chicken business was not lively and
Orion kept the mail hot with manuscripts and propositions of every sort,
which he wanted his brother to take under advisement.

Certainly, to Mark Twain Orion Clemens was a trial. The letters of the
latter show that scarcely one of them but contains the outline of some
rainbow-chasing scheme, full of wild optimism, and the certainty that
somewhere just ahead lies the pot of gold. Only, now and then, there is
a letter of abject humiliation and complete surrender, when some golden
vision, some iridescent soap-bubble, had vanished at his touch. Such
depression did not last; by sunrise he was ready with a new dream, new
enthusiasm, and with a new letter inviting his “brother Sam’s” interest
and investment. Yet, his fear of incurring his brother’s displeasure
was pitiful, regardless of the fact that he constantly employed the very
means to insure that result. At one time Clemens made him sign a sworn
agreement that he would not suggest any plan or scheme of investment
for the period of twelve months. Orion must have kept this agreement. He
would have gone to the stake before he would have violated an oath,
but the stake would have probably been no greater punishment than his
sufferings that year.

On the whole, Samuel Clemens was surprisingly patient and considerate
with Orion, and there was never a time that he was not willing to help.
Yet there were bound to be moments of exasperation; and once, when
his mother, or sister, had written, suggesting that he encourage his
brother’s efforts, he felt moved to write at considerable freedom.


To Mrs. Jane Clemens and Mrs. Moffett, in Fredonia, N. Y.:

                                             HARTFORD, Sunday, 1875.

MY DEAR MOTHER AND SISTER,--I Saw Gov. Newell today and he said he was
still moving in the matter of Sammy’s appointment--[As a West Point
cadet.]--and would stick to it till he got a result of a positive nature
one way or the other, but thus far he did not know whether to expect
success or defeat.

Ma, whenever you need money I hope you won’t be backward about saying
so--you can always have it. We stint ourselves in some ways, but we have
no desire to stint you. And we don’t intend to, either.

I can’t “encourage” Orion. Nobody can do that, conscientiously, for the
reason that before one’s letter has time to reach him he is off on some
new wild-goose chase. Would you encourage in literature a man who, the
older he grows the worse he writes? Would you encourage Orion in the
glaring insanity of studying law? If he were packed and crammed full of
law, it would be worthless lumber to him, for his is such a capricious
and ill-regulated mind that he would apply the principles of the law
with no more judgment than a child of ten years. I know what I am
saying. I laid one of the plainest and simplest of legal questions
before Orion once, and the helpless and hopeless mess he made of it was
absolutely astonishing. Nothing aggravates me so much as to have Orion
mention law or literature to me.

Well, I cannot encourage him to try the ministry, because he would
change his religion so fast that he would have to keep a traveling agent
under wages to go ahead of him to engage pulpits and board for him.

I cannot conscientiously encourage him to do anything but potter around
his little farm and put in his odd hours contriving new and impossible
projects at the rate of 365 a year--which is his customary average.
He says he did well in Hannibal! Now there is a man who ought to be
entirely satisfied with the grandeurs, emoluments and activities of a
hen farm--

If you ask me to pity Orion, I can do that. I can do it every day
and all day long. But one can’t “encourage” quick-silver, because the
instant you put your finger on it it isn’t there. No, I am saying
too much--he does stick to his literary and legal aspirations; and
he naturally would select the very two things which he is wholly and
preposterously unfitted for. If I ever become able, I mean to put Orion
on a regular pension without revealing the fact that it is a pension.
That is best for him. Let him consider it a periodical loan, and pay
interest out of the principal. Within a year’s time he would be looking
upon himself as a benefactor of mine, in the way of furnishing me a
good permanent investment for money, and that would make him happy and
satisfied with himself. If he had money he would share with me in a
moment and I have no disposition to be stingy with him.


Livy sends love.

     The New Orleans plan was not wholly dead at this time.  Howells
     wrote near the end of January that the matter was still being
     debated, now and then, but was far from being decided upon.  He
     hoped to go somewhere with Mrs. Howells for a brief time in March,
     he said.  Clemens, in haste, replied:


To W. D. Howells, in Boston:

                                             HARTFORD, Jan.  26, 1875.

MY DEAR HOWELLS,--When Mrs. Clemens read your letter she said: “Well,
then, wherever they go, in March, the direction will be southward and
so they must give us a visit on the way.” I do not know what sort of
control you may be under, but when my wife speaks as positively as that,
I am not in the habit of talking back and getting into trouble. Situated
as I am, I would not be able to understand, now, how you could pass by
this town without feeling that you were running a wanton risk and doing
a daredevil thing. I consider it settled that you are to come in March,
and I would be sincerely sorry to learn that you and Mrs. Howells feel
differently about it.

The piloting material has been uncovering itself by degrees, until
it has exposed such a huge hoard to my view that a whole book will be
required to contain it if I use it. So I have agreed to write the book
for Bliss.--[The book idea was later given up for the time being.]--I
won’t be able to run the articles in the Atlantic later than the
September number, for the reason that a subscription book issued in the
fall has a much larger sale than if issued at any other season of the
year. It is funny when I reflect that when I originally wrote you and
proposed to do from 6 to 9 articles for the magazine, the vague thought
in my mind was that 6 might exhaust the material and 9 would be pretty
sure to do it. Or rather it seems to me that that was my thought--can’t
tell at this distance. But in truth 9 chapters don’t now seem to more
than open up the subject fairly and start the yarn to wagging.

I have been sick a-bed several days, for the first time in 21 years.
How little confirmed invalids appreciate their advantages. I was able
to read the English edition of the Greville Memoirs through without
interruption, take my meals in bed, neglect all business without a pang,
and smoke 18 cigars a day. I try not to look back upon these 21 years
with a feeling of resentment, and yet the partialities of Providence do
seem to me to be slathered around (as one may say) without that gravity
and attention to detail which the real importance of the matter would
seem to suggest.

                              Yrs ever

     The New Orleans idea continued to haunt the letters.  The thought of
     drifting down the Mississippi so attracted both Clemens and Howells,
     that they talked of it when they met, and wrote of it when they were
     separated.  Howells, beset by uncertainties, playfully tried to put
     the responsibility upon his wife.  Once he wrote: “She says in the
     noblest way, ‘Well, go to New Orleans, if you want to so much’ (you
     know the tone).  I suppose it will do if I let you know about the
     middle of February?”
     But they had to give it up in the end.  Howells wrote that he had
     been under the weather, and on half work the whole winter.  He did
     not feel that he had earned his salary, he said, or that he was
     warranted in taking a three weeks’ pleasure trip.  Clemens offered
     to pay all the expenses of the trip, but only indefinite
     postponement followed.  It would be seven years more before Mark
     Twain would return to the river, and then not with Howells.

     In a former chapter mention has been made of Charles Warren
     Stoddard, whom Mark Twain had known in his California days.  He was
     fond of Stoddard, who was a facile and pleasing writer of poems and
     descriptive articles.  During the period that he had been acting as
     Mark Twain’s secretary in London, he had taken pleasure in
     collecting for him the news reports of the celebrated Tichborn
     Claimant case, then in the English courts.  Clemens thought of
     founding a story on it, and did, in fact, use the idea, though ‘The
     American Claimant,’ which he wrote years later, had little or no
     connection with the Tichborn episode.


To C. W. Stoddard:

                                        HARTFORD, Feb. 1, 1875.

DEAR CHARLEY,--All right about the Tichborn scrapbooks; send them along
when convenient. I mean to have the Beecher-Tilton trial scrap-book as a

I am writing a series of 7-page articles for the Atlantic at $20 a page;
but as they do not pay anybody else as much as that, I do not complain
(though at the same time I do swear that I am not content.) However the
awful respectability of the magazine makes up.

I have cut your articles about San Marco out of a New York paper (Joe
Twichell saw it and brought it home to me with loud admiration,) and
sent it to Howells. It is too bad to fool away such good literature in a
perishable daily journal.

Do remember us kindly to Lady Hardy and all that rare family--my wife
and I so often have pleasant talks about them.

                         Ever your friend,
                                   SAML. L. CLEMENS.

     The price received by Mark Twain for the Mississippi papers, as
     quoted in this letter, furnishes us with a realizing sense of the
     improvement in the literary market, with the advent of a flood of
     cheap magazines and the Sunday newspaper.  The Atlantic page
     probably contained about a thousand words, which would make his
     price average, say, two cents per word.  Thirty years later, when
     his fame was not much more extended, his pay for the same matter
     would have been fifteen times as great, that is to say, at the rate
     of thirty cents per word.  But in that early time there were no
     Sunday magazines--no literary magazines at all except the Atlantic,
     and Harpers, and a few fashion periodicals.  Probably there were
     news-stands, but it is hard to imagine what they must have looked
     like without the gay pictorial cover-femininity that to-day pleases
     and elevates the public and makes author and artist affluent.

     Clemens worked steadily on the river chapters, and Howells was
     always praising him and urging him to go on.  At the end of January
     he wrote: “You’re doing the science of piloting splendidly.  Every
     word’s interesting.  And don’t you drop the series ‘til you’ve got
     every bit of anecdote and reminiscence into it.”


To W. D. Howells, in Boston:

                                        HARTFORD, Feb. 10, 1875.

MY DEAR HOWELLS,--Your praises of my literature gave me the solidest
gratification; but I never did have the fullest confidence in my
critical penetration, and now your verdict on S----- has knocked what
little I did have gully-west! I didn’t enjoy his gush, but I thought a
lot of his similes were ever so vivid and good. But it’s just my luck;
every time I go into convulsions of admiration over a picture and want
to buy it right away before I’ve lost the chance, some wretch who really
understands art comes along and damns it. But I don’t mind. I would
rather have my ignorance than another man’s knowledge, because I have
got so much more of it.

I send you No. 5 today. I have written and re-written the first half of
it three different times, yesterday and today, and at last Mrs. Clemens
says it will do. I never saw a woman so hard to please about things she
doesn’t know anything about.

                              Yours ever,

     Of course, the reference to his wife’s criticism in this is tenderly
     playful, as always--of a pattern with the severity which he pretends
     for her in the next.


To Mrs. W. D. Howells, in Boston:


DEAR MRS. HOWELLS,--Mrs. Clemens is delighted to get the pictures, and
so am I. I can perceive in the group, that Mr. Howells is feeling as I
so often feel, viz: “Well, no doubt I am in the wrong, though I do not
know how or where or why--but anyway it will be safest to look meek, and
walk circumspectly for a while, and not discuss the thing.” And you look
exactly as Mrs. Clemens does after she has said, “Indeed I do not wonder
that you can frame no reply: for you know only too well, that your
conduct admits of no excuse, palliation or argument--none!”
I shall just delight in that group on account of the good old human
domestic spirit that pervades it--bother these family groups that put on
a state aspect to get their pictures taken in.

We want a heliotype made of our eldest daughter. How soft and rich and
lovely the picture is. Mr. Howells must tell me how to proceed in the

                    Truly Yours
                         SAM. L. CLEMENS.

     In the next letter we have a picture of Susy--[This spelling of the
     name was adopted somewhat later and much preferred.  It appears as
     “Susie” in most of the earlier letters.]--Clemens’s third birthday,
     certainly a pretty picture, and as sweet and luminous and tender
     today as it was forty years ago-as it will be a hundred years hence,
     if these lines should survive that long.  The letter is to her uncle
     Charles Langdon, the “Charlie” of the Quaker City.  “Atwater” was
     associated with the Langdon coal interests in Elmira.  “The play”
      is, of course, “The Gilded Age.”


To Charles Langdon, in Elmira:

                                                  Mch. 19, 1875.

DEAR CHARLIE,--Livy, after reading your letter, used her severest form
of expression about Mr. Atwater--to wit: She did not “approve” of
his conduct. This made me shudder; for it was equivalent to Allie
Spaulding’s saying “Mr. Atwater is a mean thing;” or Rev. Thomas
Beecher’s saying “Damn that Atwater,” or my saying “I wish Atwater was
three hundred million miles in----!”
However, Livy does not often get into one of these furies, God be

In Brooklyn, Baltimore, Washington, Cincinnati, St. Louis and Chicago,
the play paid me an average of nine hundred dollars a week. In smaller
towns the average is $400 to $500.

This is Susie’s birth-day. Lizzie brought her in at 8.30 this morning
(before we were up) hooded with a blanket, red curl-papers in her hair,
a great red japonica, in one hand (for Livy) and a yellow rose-bud
nestled in violets (for my buttonhole) in the other--and she looked
wonderfully pretty. She delivered her memorials and received her
birth-day kisses. Livy laid her japonica, down to get a better “holt”
 for kissing--which Susie presently perceived, and became thoughtful:
then said sorrowfully, turning the great deeps of her eyes upon her
mother: “Don’t you care for you wow?”
Right after breakfast we got up a rousing wood fire in the main hall (it
is a cold morning) illuminated the place with a rich glow from all the
globes of the newell chandelier, spread a bright rug before the fire,
set a circling row of chairs (pink ones and dove-colored) and in the
midst a low invalid-table covered with a fanciful cloth and laden with
the presents--a pink azalia in lavish bloom from Rosa; a gold inscribed
Russia-leather bible from Patrick and Mary; a gold ring (inscribed) from
“Maggy Cook;” a silver thimble (inscribed with motto and initials) from
Lizzie; a rattling mob of Sunday clad dolls from Livy and Annie, and a
Noah’s Ark from me, containing 200 wooden animals such as only a human
being could create and only God call by name without referring to the
passenger list. Then the family and the seven servants assembled there,
and Susie and the “Bay” arrived in state from above, the Bay’s head
being fearfully and wonderfully decorated with a profusion of blazing
red flowers and overflowing cataracts of lycopodium. Wee congratulatory
notes accompanied the presents of the servants. I tell you it was
a great occasion and a striking and cheery group, taking all the
surroundings into account and the wintry aspect outside.

(Remainder missing.)

     There was to be a centennial celebration that year of the battles of
     Lexington and Concord, and Howells wrote, urging Clemens and his
     wife to visit them and attend it.  Mrs. Clemens did not go, and
     Clemens and Howells did not go, either--to the celebration.  They
     had their own ideas about getting there, but found themselves unable
     to board the thronged train at Concord, and went tramping about in
     the cold and mud, hunting a conveyance, only to return at length to
     the cheer of the home, defeated and rather low in spirits.

     Twichell, who went on his own hook, had no such difficulties.  To
     Howells, Mark Twain wrote the adventures of this athletic and
     strenuous exponent of the gospel.

     The “Winnie” mentioned in this letter was Howells’s daughter
     Winifred.  She had unusual gifts, but did not live to develop them.


To W. D. Howells, in Boston:

                         FARMINGTON AVENUE, HARTFORD.  Apl. 23, 1875.

MY DEAR HOWELLS,--I’ve got Mrs. Clemens’s picture before me, and hope I
shall not forget to send it with this.

Joe Twichell preached morning and evening here last Sunday; took
midnight train for Boston; got an early breakfast and started by rail
at 7.30 A. M. for Concord; swelled around there until 1 P. M., seeing
everything; then traveled on top of a train to Lexington; saw everything
there; traveled on top of a train to Boston, (with hundreds in company)
deluged with dust, smoke and cinders; yelled and hurrahed all the way
like a schoolboy; lay flat down to dodge numerous bridges, and sailed
into the depot, howling with excitement and as black as a chimney-sweep;
got to Young’s Hotel at 7 P. M.; sat down in reading-room and
immediately fell asleep; was promptly awakened by a porter who supposed
he was drunk; wandered around an hour and a half; then took 9 P.
M. train, sat down in smoking car and remembered nothing more until
awakened by conductor as the train came into Hartford at 1.30 A. M.
Thinks he had simply a glorious time--and wouldn’t have missed the
Centennial for the world. He would have run out to see us a moment at
Cambridge, but was too dirty. I wouldn’t have wanted him there--his
appalling energy would have been an insufferable reproach to mild
adventurers like you and me.

Well, he is welcome to the good time he had--I had a deal better one. My
narrative has made Mrs. Clemens wish she could have been there.--When I
think over what a splendid good sociable time I had in your house I
feel ever so thankful to the wise providence that thwarted our several
ably-planned and ingenious attempts to get to Lexington. I am coming
again before long, and then she shall be of the party.

Now you said that you and Mrs. Howells could run down here nearly any
Saturday. Very well then, let us call it next Saturday, for a “starter.”
 Can you do that? By that time it will really be spring and you
won’t freeze. The birds are already out; a small one paid us a visit
yesterday. We entertained it and let it go again, Susie protesting.

The spring laziness is already upon me--insomuch that the spirit begins
to move me to cease from Mississippi articles and everything else and
give myself over to idleness until we go to New Orleans. I have one
article already finished, but somehow it doesn’t seem as proper a
chapter to close with as the one already in your hands. I hope to get
in a mood and rattle off a good one to finish with--but just now all my
moods are lazy ones.

Winnie’s literature sings through me yet! Surely that child has one of
these “futures” before her.

Now try to come--will you?

With the warmest regards of the two of us--

                         Yrs ever,
                              S. L. CLEMENS.

Mrs. Clemens sent a note to Mrs. Howells, which will serve as a pendant
to the foregoing.


From Mrs. Clemens to Mrs. Howells, in Boston:

MY DEAR MRS. HOWELLS,--Don’t dream for one instant that my not getting a
letter from you kept me from Boston. I am too anxious to go to let such
a thing as that keep me.

Mr. Clemens did have such a good time with you and Mr. Howells. He
evidently has no regret that he did not get to the Centennial. I was
driven nearly distracted by his long account of Mr. Howells and his
wanderings. I would keep asking if they ever got there, he would never
answer but made me listen to a very minute account of everything that
they did. At last I found them back where they started from.

If you find misspelled words in this note, you will remember my
infirmity and not hold me responsible.

                         Affectionately yours,

                                        LIVY L. CLEMENS.

     In spite of his success with the Sellers play and his itch
     to follow it up, Mark Twain realized what he believed to be
     his literary limitations. All his life he was inclined to
     consider himself wanting in the finer gifts of character-
     shading and delicate portrayal.  Remembering Huck Finn, and
     the rare presentation of Joan of Arc, we may not altogether
     agree with him.  Certainly, he was never qualified to
     delineate those fine artificialities of life which we are
     likely to associate with culture, and perhaps it was
     something of this sort that caused the hesitation confessed
     in the letter that follows.  Whether the plan suggested
     interested Howells or not we do not know.  In later years
     Howells wrote a novel called The Story of a Play; this may
     have been its beginning.


To W. D. Howells, in Boston:

                         FARMINGTON AVENUE, HARTFORD, Apl. 26, 1875.

MY DEAR HOWELLS,--An actor named D. H. Harkins has been here to ask me
to put upon paper a 5-act play which he has been mapping out in his mind
for 3 or 4 years. He sat down and told me his plot all through, in a
clear, bright way, and I was a deal taken with it; but it is a line of
characters whose fine shading and artistic development requires an abler
hand than mine; so I easily perceived that I must not make the attempt.
But I liked the man, and thought there was a good deal of stuff in him;
and therefore I wanted his play to be written, and by a capable hand,
too. So I suggested you, and said I would write and see if you would be
willing to undertake it. If you like the idea, he will call upon you
in the course of two or three weeks and describe his plot and his
characters. Then if it doesn’t strike you favorably, of course you can
simply decline; but it seems to me well worth while that you should hear
what he has to say. You could also “average” him while he talks, and
judge whether he could play your priest--though I doubt if any man can
do that justice.

Shan’t I write him and say he may call? If you wish to communicate
directly with him instead, his address is “Larchmont Manor, Westchester
Co., N. Y.”
Do you know, the chill of that 19th of April seems to be in my bones
yet? I am inert and drowsy all the time. That was villainous weather for
a couple of wandering children to be out in.

                                        Ys ever

     The sinister typewriter did not find its way to Howells for nearly a
     year.  Meantime, Mark Twain had refused to allow the manufacturers
     to advertise his ownership.  He wrote to them:

                                        HARTFORD, March 19, 1875.

Please do not use my name in any way. Please do not even divulge the
fact that I own a machine. I have entirely stopped using the typewriter,
for the reason that I never could write a letter with it to anybody
without receiving a request by return mail that I would not only
describe the machine, but state what progress I had made in the use of
it, etc., etc. I don’t like to write letters, and so I don’t want people
to know I own this curiosity-breeding little joker.

     Three months later the machine was still in his possession.  Bliss
     had traded a twelve-dollar saddle for it, but apparently showed
     little enthusiasm in his new possession.


To W. D. Howells, in Boston:

                                                  June 25, 1875.

MY DEAR HOWELLS,--I told Patrick to get some carpenters and box the
machine and send it to you--and found that Bliss had sent for the
machine and earned it off.

I have been talking to you and writing to you as if you were present
when I traded the machine to Bliss for a twelve-dollar saddle worth $25
(cheating him outrageously, of course--but conscience got the upper hand
again and I told him before I left the premises that I’d pay for the
saddle if he didn’t like the machine--on condition that he donate said
machine to a charity)

This was a little over five weeks ago--so I had long ago concluded
that Bliss didn’t want the machine and did want the saddle--wherefore I
jumped at the chance of shoving the machine off onto you, saddle or no
saddle so I got the blamed thing out of my sight.

The saddle hangs on Tara’s walls down below in the stable, and the
machine is at Bliss’s grimly pursuing its appointed mission, slowly and
implacably rotting away another man’s chances for salvation.

I have sent Bliss word not to donate it to a charity (though it is a
pity to fool away a chance to do a charity an ill turn,) but to let me
know when he has got his dose, because I’ve got another candidate for
damnation. You just wait a couple of weeks and if you don’t see the
Type-Writer come tilting along toward Cambridge with an unsatisfied
appetite in its eye, I lose my guess.

Don’t you be mad about this blunder, Howells--it only comes of a bad
memory, and the stupidity which is inseparable from true genius. Nothing
intentionally criminal in it.

                              Yrs ever

     It was November when Howells finally fell under the baleful
     influence of the machine.  He wrote:

     “The typewriter came Wednesday night, and is already beginning to
     have its effect on me.  Of course, it doesn’t work: if I can
     persuade some of the letters to get up against the ribbon they won’t
     get down again without digital assistance.  The treadle refuses to
     have any part or parcel in the performance; and I don’t know how to
     get the roller to turn with the paper.  Nevertheless I have begun
     several letters to My d-a-r lemans, as it prefers to spell your
     respected name, and I don’t despair yet of sending you something in
     its beautiful handwriting--after I’ve had a man out from the agent’s
     to put it in order.  It’s fascinating in the meantime, and it wastes
     my time like an old friend.”
     The Clemens family remained in Hartford that summer, with the
     exception of a brief season at Bateman’s Point, R. I., near
     Newport.  By this time Mark Twain had taken up and finished the Tom
     Sawyer story begun two years before.  Naturally he wished Howells to
     consider the MS.


To W. D. Howells, in Boston:

                                             HARTFORD, July 5th, 1875.

MY DEAR HOWELLS,--I have finished the story and didn’t take the chap
beyond boyhood. I believe it would be fatal to do it in any shape but
autobiographically--like Gil Blas. I perhaps made a mistake in not
writing it in the first person. If I went on, now, and took him into
manhood, he would just like like all the one-horse men in literature and
the reader would conceive a hearty contempt for him. It is not a boy’s
book, at all. It will only be read by adults. It is only written for

Moreover the book is plenty long enough as it stands. It is about 900
pages of MS, and may be 1000 when I shall have finished “working
up” vague places; so it would make from 130 to 150 pages of the
Atlantic--about what the Foregone Conclusion made, isn’t it?

I would dearly like to see it in the Atlantic, but I doubt if it would
pay the publishers to buy the privilege, or me to sell it. Bret Harte
has sold his novel (same size as mine, I should say) to Scribner’s
Monthly for $6,500 (publication to begin in September, I think,) and he
gets a royalty of 7 1/2 per cent from Bliss in book form afterwards.
He gets a royalty of ten per cent on it in England (issued in serial
numbers) and the same royalty on it in book form afterwards, and is to
receive an advance payment of five hundred pounds the day the first
No. of the serial appears. If I could do as well, here, and there, with
mine, it might possibly pay me, but I seriously doubt it though it is
likely I could do better in England than Bret, who is not widely known

You see I take a vile, mercenary view of things--but then my household
expenses are something almost ghastly.

By and by I shall take a boy of twelve and run him on through life (in
the first person) but not Tom Sawyer--he would not be a good character
for it.

I wish you would promise to read the MS of Tom Sawyer some time, and
see if you don’t really decide that I am right in closing with him as a
boy--and point out the most glaring defects for me. It is a tremendous
favor to ask, and I expect you to refuse and would be ashamed to expect
you to do otherwise. But the thing has been so many months in my mind
that it seems a relief to snake it out. I don’t know any other person
whose judgment I could venture to take fully and entirely. Don’t
hesitate about saying no, for I know how your time is taxed, and I would
have honest need to blush if you said yes.

Osgood and I are “going for” the puppy G---- on infringement of
trademark. To win one or two suits of this kind will set literary folks
on a firmer bottom. I wish Osgood would sue for stealing Holmes’s poem.
Wouldn’t it be gorgeous to sue R---- for petty larceny? I will promise
to go into court and swear I think him capable of stealing pea-nuts from
a blind pedlar.

                         Yrs ever,

     Of course Howells promptly replied that he would read the story,
     adding: “You’ve no idea what I may ask you to do for me, some day.
     I’m sorry that you can’t do it for the Atlantic, but I
     succumb. Perhaps you will do Boy No. 2 for us.”  Clemens,
     conscience-stricken, meantime, hastily put the MS. out of reach
     of temptation.


To W. D. Howells, in Boston:

                                                  July 13, 1875

MY DEAR HOWELLS,--Just as soon as you consented I realized all the
atrocity of my request, and straightway blushed and weakened. I
telegraphed my theatrical agent to come here and carry off the MS and
copy it.

But I will gladly send it to you if you will do as follows: dramatize
it, if you perceive that you can, and take, for your remuneration, half
of the first $6000 which I receive for its representation on the stage.
You could alter the plot entirely, if you chose. I could help in the
work, most cheerfully, after you had arranged the plot. I have my eye
upon two young girls who can play “Tom” and “Huck.” I believe a good
deal of a drama can be made of it. Come--can’t you tackle this in the
odd hours of your vacation? or later, if you prefer?

I do wish you could come down once more before your holiday. I’d give

                    Yrs ever,

     Howells wrote that he had no time for the dramatization and
     urged Clemens to undertake it himself.  He was ready to read
     the story, whenever it should arrive.  Clemens did not
     hurry, however, The publication of Tom Sawyer could wait.
     He already had a book in press--the volume of Sketches New
     and Old, which he had prepared for Bliss several years

     Sketches was issued that autumn, and Howells gave it a good
     notice--possibly better than it deserved.

     Considered among Mark Twain’s books to-day, the collection
     of sketches does not seem especially important.  With the
     exception of the frog story and the “True Story” most of
     those included--might be spared.  Clemens himself confessed
     to Howells that He wished, when it was too late, that he had
     destroyed a number of them.  The book, however, was
     distinguished in a special way: it contains Mark Twain’s
     first utterance in print on the subject of copyright, a
     matter in which he never again lost interest. The absurdity
     and injustice of the copyright laws both amused and
     irritated him, and in the course of time he would be largely
     instrumental in their improvement.  In the book his open
     petition to Congress that all property rights, as well as
     literary ownership, should be put on the copyright basis and
     limited to a “beneficent term of forty-two years,” was more
     or less of a joke, but, like so many of Mark Twain’s jokes,
     it was founded on reason and justice.

     He had another idea, that was not a joke: an early plan in
     the direction of international copyright.  It was to be a
     petition signed by the leading American authors, asking the
     United States to declare itself to be the first to stand for
     right and justice by enacting laws against the piracy of
     foreign books.  It was a rather utopian scheme, as most
     schemes for moral progress are, in their beginning.  It
     would not be likely ever to reach Congress, but it would
     appeal to Howells and his Cambridge friends.  Clemens wrote,
     outlining his plan of action.


To W. D. Howells, in Boston:

                                        HARTFORD, Sept. 18, 1875.

MY DEAR HOWELLS,--My plan is this--you are to get Mr. Lowell and Mr.
Longfellow to be the first signers of my copyright petition; you must
sign it yourself and get Mr. Whittier to do likewise. Then Holmes will
sign--he said he would if he didn’t have to stand at the head. Then
I’m fixed. I will then put a gentlemanly chap under wages and send him
personally to every author of distinction in the country, and corral
the rest of the signatures. Then I’ll have the whole thing lithographed
(about a thousand copies) and move upon the President and Congress in
person, but in the subordinate capacity of a party who is merely the
agent of better and wiser men--men whom the country cannot venture to
laugh at.

I will ask the President to recommend the thing in his message (and if
he should ask me to sit down and frame the paragraph for him I should
blush--but still I would frame it.)

Next I would get a prime leader in Congress: I would also see that votes
enough to carry the measure were privately secured before the bill was
offered. This I would try through my leader and my friends there.

And then if Europe chose to go on stealing from us, we would say with
noble enthusiasm, “American lawmakers do steal but not from foreign
authors--Not from foreign authors!”
You see, what I want to drive into the Congressional mind is the simple
fact that the moral law is “Thou shalt not steal”--no matter what Europe
may do.

I swear I can’t see any use in robbing European authors for the benefit
of American booksellers, anyway.

If we can ever get this thing through Congress, we can try making
copyright perpetual, some day. There would be no sort of use in it,
since only one book in a hundred millions outlives the present copyright
term--no sort of use except that the writer of that one book have his
rights--which is something.

If we only had some God in the country’s laws, instead of being in such
a sweat to get Him into the Constitution, it would be better all around.

The only man who ever signed my petition with alacrity, and said
that the fact that a thing was right was all-sufficient, was Rev. Dr.

I have lost my old petition, (which was brief) but will draft and
enclose another--not in the words it ought to be, but in the substance.
I want Mr. Lowell to furnish the words (and the ideas too,) if he will
do it.

Say--Redpath beseeches me to lecture in Boston in November--telegraphs
that Beecher’s and Nast’s withdrawal has put him in the tightest kind of
a place. So I guess I’ll do that old “Roughing It” lecture over again in
November and repeat it 2 or 3 times in New York while I am at it.

Can I take a carriage after the lecture and go out and stay with you
that night, provided you find at that distant time that it will not
inconvenience you? Is Aldrich home yet?

                              With love to you all
                                        Yrs ever,
                                             S. L. C.

     Of course the petition never reached Congress.  Holmes’s comment
     that governments were not in the habit of setting themselves up as
     high moral examples, except for revenue, was shared by too many
     others.  The petition was tabled, but Clemens never abandoned his
     purpose and lived to see most of his dream fulfilled.  Meantime,
     Howells’s notice of the Sketches appeared in the Atlantic, and
     brought grateful acknowledgment from the author.


To W. D. Howells, in Boston:

                                   HARTFORD, Oct. 19, 1875.

MY DEAR HOWELLS,--That is a perfectly superb notice. You can easily
believe that nothing ever gratified me so much before. The newspaper
praises bestowed upon the “Innocents Abroad” were large and generous,
but somehow I hadn’t confidence in the critical judgement of the parties
who furnished them. You know how that is, yourself, from reading the
newspaper notices of your own books. They gratify a body, but they
always leave a small pang behind in the shape of a fear that the
critic’s good words could not safely be depended upon as authority.
Yours is the recognized critical Court of Last Resort in this country;
from its decision there is no appeal; and so, to have gained this decree
of yours before I am forty years old, I regard as a thing to be right
down proud of. Mrs. Clemens says, “Tell him I am just as grateful to him
as I can be.” (It sounds as if she were grateful to you for heroically
trampling the truth under foot in order to praise me but in reality it
means that she is grateful to you for being bold enough to utter a truth
which she fully believes all competent people know, but which none has
heretofore been brave enough to utter.) You see, the thing that gravels
her is that I am so persistently glorified as a mere buffoon, as if that
entirely covered my case--which she denies with venom.

The other day Mrs. Clemens was planning a visit to you, and so I am
waiting with a pleasurable hope for the result of her deliberations. We
are expecting visitors every day, now, from New York; and afterward
some are to come from Elmira. I judge that we shall then be free to
go Bostonward. I should be just delighted; because we could visit in
comfort, since we shouldn’t have to do any shopping--did it all in New
York last week, and a tremendous pull it was too.

Mrs. C. said the other day, “We will go to Cambridge if we have to walk;
for I don’t believe we can ever get the Howellses to come here again
until we have been there.” I was gratified to see that there was one
string, anyway, that could take her to Cambridge. But I will do her
the justice to say that she is always wanting to go to Cambridge,
independent of the selfish desire to get a visit out of you by it. I
want her to get started, now, before children’s diseases are fashionable
again, because they always play such hob with visiting arrangements.

                              With love to you all
                                        Yrs Ever
                                             S. L. CLEMENS.

     Mark Twain’s trips to Boston were usually made alone.  Women require
     more preparation to go visiting, and Mrs. Clemens and Mrs. Howells
     seem to have exchanged visits infrequently.  For Mark Twain,
     perhaps, it was just as well that his wife did not always go with
     him; his absent-mindedness and boyish ingenuousness often led him
     into difficulties which Mrs. Clemens sometimes found embarrassing.
     In the foregoing letter they were planning a visit to Cambridge.  In
     the one that follows they seem to have made it--with certain
     results, perhaps not altogether amusing at the moment.


To W. D. Howells, in Boston:

                                                  Oct. 4, ‘75.

MY DEAR HOWELLS,--We had a royal good time at your house, and have had
a royal good time ever since, talking about it, both privately and with
the neighbors.

Mrs. Clemens’s bodily strength came up handsomely under that cheery
respite from household and nursery cares. I do hope that Mrs. Howells’s
didn’t go correspondingly down, under the added burden to her cares
and responsibilities. Of course I didn’t expect to get through without
committing some crimes and hearing of them afterwards, so I have taken
the inevitable lashings and been able to hum a tune while the punishment
went on. I “caught it” for letting Mrs. Howells bother and bother about
her coffee when it was “a good deal better than we get at home.” I
“caught it” for interrupting Mrs. C. at the last moment and losing her
the opportunity to urge you not to forget to send her that MS when the
printers are done with it. I “caught it” once more for personating that
drunken Col. James. I “caught it” for mentioning that Mr. Longfellow’s
picture was slightly damaged; and when, after a lull in the storm, I
confessed, shame-facedly, that I had privately suggested to you that
we hadn’t any frames, and that if you wouldn’t mind hinting to Mr.
Houghton, &c., &c., &c., the Madam was simply speechless for the space
of a minute. Then she said:

“How could you, Youth! The idea of sending Mr. Howells, with his
sensitive nature, upon such a repulsive er--”
“Oh, Howells won’t mind it! You don’t know Howells. Howells is a man
who--” She was gone. But George was the first person she stumbled on in
the hall, so she took it out of George. I was glad of that, because it
saved the babies.

I’ve got another rattling good character for my novel! That great work
is mulling itself into shape gradually.

Mrs. Clemens sends love to Mrs. Howells--meantime she is diligently
laying up material for a letter to her.

                                   Yrs ever

     The “George” of this letter was Mark Twain’s colored butler, a
     valued and even beloved member of the household--a most picturesque
     character, who “one day came to wash windows,” as Clemens used to
     say, “and remained eighteen years.”  The fiction of Mrs. Clemens’s
     severity he always found amusing, because of its entire contrast
     with the reality of her gentle heart.

     Clemens carried the Tom Sawyer MS. to Boston himself and placed it
     in Howells’s hands.  Howells had begged to be allowed to see the
     story, and Mrs. Clemens was especially anxious that he should do so.
     She had doubts as to certain portions of it, and had the fullest
     faith in Howells’s opinion.

     It was a gratifying one when it came.  Howells wrote: “I finished
     reading Tom Sawyer a week ago, sitting up till one A.M. to get to
     the end, simply because it was impossible to leave off.  It’s
     altogether the best boy’s story I ever read.  It will be an immense
     success.  But I think you ought to treat it explicitly as a boy’s
     story.  Grown-ups will enjoy it just as much if you do; and if you
     should put it forth as a study of boy character from the grown-up
     point of view, you give the wrong key to it....  The adventures
     are enchanting.  I wish I had been on that island.  The
     treasure-hunting, the loss in the cave--it’s all exciting and
     splendid. I shouldn’t think of publishing this story serially.
     Give me a hint when it’s to be out, and I’ll start the sheep to
     jumping in the right places”--meaning that he would have an advance
     review ready for publication in the Atlantic, which was a leader of
     criticism in America.

     Mark Twain was writing a great deal at this time.  Howells was
     always urging him to send something to the Atlantic, declaring a
     willingness to have his name appear every month in their pages, and
     Clemens was generally contributing some story or sketch.  The
     “proof” referred to in the next letter was of one of these articles.


To W. D. Howells, in Boston:

                                        HARTFORD, Nov. 23, ‘75.

MY DEAR HOWELLS,--Herewith is the proof. In spite of myself, how
awkwardly I do jumble words together; and how often I do use three words
where one would answer--a thing I am always trying to guard against. I
shall become as slovenly a writer as Charles Francis Adams, if I don’t
look out. (That is said in jest; because of course I do not seriously
fear getting so bad as that. I never shall drop so far toward his and
Bret Harte’s level as to catch myself saying “It must have been wiser to
have believed that he might have accomplished it if he could have felt
that he would have been supported by those who should have &c. &c. &c.”)
The reference to Bret Harte reminds me that I often accuse him of being
a deliberate imitator of Dickens; and this in turn reminds me that I
have charged unconscious plagiarism upon Charley Warner; and this in
turn reminds me that I have been delighting my soul for two weeks over a
bran new and ingenious way of beginning a novel--and behold, all at once
it flashes upon me that Charley Warner originated the idea 3 years ago
and told me about it! Aha! So much for self-righteousness! I am well
repaid. Here are 108 pages of MS, new and clean, lying disgraced in
the waste paper basket, and I am beginning the novel over again in an
unstolen way. I would not wonder if I am the worst literary thief in the
world, without knowing it.

It is glorious news that you like Tom Sawyer so well. I mean to see to
it that your review of it shall have plenty of time to appear before the
other notices. Mrs. Clemens decides with you that the book should issue
as a book for boys, pure and simple--and so do I. It is surely the
correct idea. As to that last chapter, I think of just leaving it off
and adding nothing in its place. Something told me that the book was
done when I got to that point--and so the strong temptation to put
Huck’s life at the Widow’s into detail, instead of generalizing it in
a paragraph was resisted. Just send Sawyer to me by express--I enclose
money for it. If it should get lost it will be no great matter.

Company interfered last night, and so “Private Theatricals” goes over
till this evening, to be read aloud. Mrs. Clemens is mad, but the story
will take that all out. This is going to be a splendid winter night for
fireside reading, anyway.

I am almost at a dead stand-still with my new story, on account of the
misery of having to do it all over again. We--all send love to you--all.                              Yrs ever

     The “story” referred to may have been any one of several
     begun by him at this time.  His head was full of ideas for
     literature of every sort. Many of his beginnings came to
     nothing, for the reason that he started wrong, or with no
     definitely formed plan.  Others of his literary enterprises
     were condemned by his wife for their grotesqueness or for
     the offense they might give in one way or another, however
     worthy the intention behind them.  Once he wrote a burlesque
     on family history “The Autobiography of a Damned Fool.”
      “Livy wouldn’t have it,” he said later, “so I gave it up.”
      The world is indebted to Mark Twain’s wife for the check she
     put upon his fantastic or violent impulses.  She was his
     public, his best public--clearheaded and wise.  That he
     realized this, and was willing to yield, was by no means the
     least of his good fortunes. We may believe that he did not
     always yield easily, and perhaps sometimes only out of love
     for her.  In the letter which he wrote her on her thirtieth
     birthday we realize something of what she had come to mean
     in his life.


To Mrs. Clemens on her Thirtieth Birthday:

                                        HARTFORD, November 27, 1875.

Livy darling, six years have gone by since I made my first great success
in life and won you, and thirty years have passed since Providence made
preparation for that happy success by sending you into the world. Every
day we live together adds to the security of my confidence, that we
can never any more wish to be separated than that we can ever imagine a
regret that we were ever joined. You are dearer to me to-day, my child,
than you were upon the last anniversary of this birth-day; you were
dearer then than you were a year before--you have grown more and more
dear from the first of those anniversaries, and I do not doubt that this
precious progression will continue on to the end.

Let us look forward to the coming anniversaries, with their age and
their gray hairs without fear and without depression, trusting and
believing that the love we bear each other will be sufficient to make
them blessed.

So, with abounding affection for you and our babies, I hail this day
that brings you the matronly grace and dignity of three decades!

                              Always Yours
                                        S. L. C.



By Mark Twain



     The Monday Evening Club of Hartford was an association of most of
     the literary talent of that city, and it included a number of very
     distinguished members.  The writers, the editors, the lawyers, and
     the ministers of the gospel who composed it were more often than not
     men of national or international distinction.  There was but one
     paper at each meeting, and it was likely to be a paper that would
     later find its way into some magazine.

     Naturally Mark Twain was one of its favorite members, and his
     contributions never failed to arouse interest and discussion.  A
     “Mark Twain night” brought out every member.  In the next letter we
     find the first mention of one of his most memorable contributions--a
     story of one of life’s moral aspects.  The tale, now included in his
     collected works, is, for some reason, little read to-day; yet the
     curious allegory, so vivid in its seeming reality, is well worth


To W. D. Howells, in Boston:

                                             HARTFORD, Jan. 11, ‘76.

MY DEAR HOWELLS,--Indeed we haven’t forgotten the Howellses, nor scored
up a grudge of any kind against them; but the fact is I was under the
doctor’s hands for four weeks on a stretch and have been disabled from
working for a week or so beside. I thought I was well, about ten days
ago, so I sent for a short-hand writer and dictated answers to a bushel
or so of letters that had been accumulating during my illness. Getting
everything shipshape and cleared up, I went to work next day upon an
Atlantic article, which ought to be worth $20 per page (which is the
price they usually pay for my work, I believe) for although it is only
70 pages MS (less than two days work, counting by bulk,) I have spent 3
more days trimming, altering and working at it. I shall put in one more
day’s polishing on it, and then read it before our Club, which is to
meet at our house Monday evening, the 24th inst. I think it will bring
out considerable discussion among the gentlemen of the Club--though
the title of the article will not give them much notion of what is to
follow,--this title being “The Facts Concerning the Recent Carnival of
Crime in Connecticut”--which reminds me that today’s Tribune says there
will be a startling article in the current Atlantic, in which a being
which is tangible bud invisible will figure-exactly the case with
the sketch of mine which I am talking about! However, mine can lie
unpublished a year or two as well as not--though I wish that contributor
of yours had not interfered with his coincidence of heroes.

But what I am coming at, is this: won’t you and Mrs. Howells come down
Saturday the 22nd and remain to the Club on Monday night? We always have
a rattling good time at the Club and we do want you to come, ever so
much. Will you? Now say you will. Mrs. Clemens and I are persuading
ourselves that you twain will come.

My volume of sketches is doing very well, considering the times;
received my quarterly statement today from Bliss, by which I perceive
that 20,000 copies have been sold--or rather, 20,000 had been sold 3
weeks ago; a lot more, by this time, no doubt.

I am on the sick list again--and was, day before yesterday--but on the
whole I am getting along.

                              Yrs ever

     Howells wrote that he could not come down to the club meeting,
     adding that sickness was “quite out of character” for Mark Twain,
     and hardly fair on a man who had made so many other people feel
     well.  He closed by urging that Bliss “hurry out” ‘Tom Sawyer.’ 
     “That boy is going to make a prodigious hit.”  Clemens answered:


To W. D. Howells, in Boston.

                                             HARTFORD, Jan. 18, ‘76.

MY DEAR HOWELLS,--Thanks, and ever so many, for the good opinion of ‘Tom
Sawyer.’ Williams has made about 300 rattling pictures for it--some
of them very dainty. Poor devil, what a genius he has and how he does
murder it with rum. He takes a book of mine, and without suggestion from
anybody builds no end of pictures just from his reading of it.

There was never a man in the world so grateful to another as I was to
you day before yesterday, when I sat down (in still rather wretched
health) to set myself to the dreary and hateful task of making final
revision of Tom Sawyer, and discovered, upon opening the package of MS
that your pencil marks were scattered all along. This was splendid, and
swept away all labor. Instead of reading the MS, I simply hunted out the
pencil marks and made the emendations which they suggested. I reduced
the boy battle to a curt paragraph; I finally concluded to cut the
Sunday school speech down to the first two sentences, leaving no
suggestion of satire, since the book is to be for boys and girls; I
tamed the various obscenities until I judged that they no longer carried
offense. So, at a single sitting I began and finished a revision which
I had supposed would occupy 3 or 4. days and leave me mentally and
physically fagged out at the end. I was careful not to inflict the MS
upon you until I had thoroughly and painstakingly revised it. Therefore,
the only faults left were those that would discover themselves to
others, not me--and these you had pointed out.

There was one expression which perhaps you overlooked. When Huck is
complaining to Tom of the rigorous system in vogue at the widow’s, he
says the servants harass him with all manner of compulsory decencies,
and he winds up by saying: “and they comb me all to hell.” (No
exclamation point.) Long ago, when I read that to Mrs. Clemens, she made
no comment; another time I created occasion to read that chapter to her
aunt and her mother (both sensitive and loyal subjects of the kingdom
of heaven, so to speak) and they let it pass. I was glad, for it was the
most natural remark in the world for that boy to make (and he had been
allowed few privileges of speech in the book;) when I saw that you, too,
had let it go without protest, I was glad, and afraid; too--afraid you
hadn’t observed it. Did you? And did you question the propriety of it?
Since the book is now professedly and confessedly a boy’s and girl’s
hook, that darn word bothers me some, nights, but it never did until I
had ceased to regard the volume as being for adults.

Don’t bother to answer now, (for you’ve writing enough to do without
allowing me to add to the burden,) but tell me when you see me again!

Which we do hope will be next Saturday or Sunday or Monday. Couldn’t you
come now and mull over the alterations which you are going to make in
your MS, and make them after you go back? Wouldn’t it assist the work
if you dropped out of harness and routine for a day or two and have that
sort of revivification which comes of a holiday-forgetfulness of the
work-shop? I can always work after I’ve been to your house; and if you
will come to mine, now, and hear the club toot their various horns over
the exasperating metaphysical question which I mean to lay before them
in the disguise of a literary extravaganza, it would just brace you up
like a cordial.

(I feel sort of mean trying to persuade a man to put down a critical
piece of work at a critical time, but yet I am honest in thinking it
would not hurt the work nor impair your interest in it to come under
the circumstances.) Mrs. Clemens says, “Maybe the Howellses could come
Monday if they cannot come Saturday; ask them; it is worth trying.”
 Well, how’s that? Could you? It would be splendid if you could. Drop me
a postal card--I should have a twinge of conscience if I forced you to
write a letter, (I am honest about that,)--and if you find you can’t
make out to come, tell me that you bodies will come the next Saturday if
the thing is possible, and stay over Sunday.

                                   Yrs ever

     Howells, however, did not come to the club meeting, but promised to
     come soon when they could have a quiet time to themselves together.
     As to Huck’s language, he declared:

     “I’d have that swearing out in an instant.  I suppose I didn’t
     notice it because the locution was so familiar to my Western sense,
     and so exactly the thing that Huck would say.”  Clemens changed the
     phrase to, “They comb me all to thunder,” and so it stands to-day.

     The “Carnival of Crime,” having served its purpose at the club,
     found quick acceptance by Howells for the Atlantic.  He was so
     pleased with it, in fact, that somewhat later he wrote, urging that
     its author allow it to be printed in a dainty book, by Osgood, who
     made a specialty of fine publishing.  Meantime Howells had written
     his Atlantic notice of Tom Sawyer, and now inclosed Clemens a proof
     of it.  We may judge from the reply that it was satisfactory.


To W. D. Howells, in Boston:

                                                  Apl 3, ‘76.

MY DEAR HOWELLS,--It is a splendid notice and will embolden weak-kneed
journalistic admirers to speak out, and will modify or shut up the
unfriendly. To “fear God and dread the Sunday school” exactly described
that old feeling which I used to have, but I couldn’t have formulated
it. I want to enclose one of the illustrations in this letter, if I do
not forget it. Of course the book is to be elaborately illustrated, and
I think that many of the pictures are considerably above the American
average, in conception if not in execution.

I do not re-enclose your review to you, for you have evidently read and
corrected it, and so I judge you do not need it. About two days after
the Atlantic issues I mean to begin to send books to principal journals
and magazines.

I read the “Carnival of Crime” proof in New York when worn and witless
and so left some things unamended which I might possibly have altered
had I been at home. For instance, “I shall always address you in your
own S-n-i-v-e-l-i-n-g d-r-a-w-l, baby.” I saw that you objected to
something there, but I did not understand what! Was it that it was too
personal? Should the language be altered?--or the hyphens taken out?
Won’t you please fix it the way it ought to be, altering the language as
you choose, only making it bitter and contemptuous?

“Deuced” was not strong enough; so I met you halfway with “devilish.”
Mrs. Clemens has returned from New York with dreadful sore throat, and
bones racked with rheumatism. She keeps her bed. “Aloha nui!” as the
Kanakas say.                         MARK.

     Henry Irving once said to Mark Twain: “You made a mistake by not
     adopting the stage as a profession.  You would have made even a
     greater actor than a writer.”
     Mark Twain would have made an actor, certainly, but not a very
     tractable one.  His appearance in Hartford in “The Loan of a Lover”
      was a distinguished event, and his success complete, though he made
     so many extemporaneous improvements on the lines of thick-headed
     Peter Spuyk, that he kept the other actors guessing as to their
     cues, and nearly broke up the performance.  It was, of course, an
     amateur benefit, though Augustin Daly promptly wrote, offering to
     put it on for a long run.

     The “skeleton novelette” mentioned in the next letter refers to a
     plan concocted by Howells and Clemens, by which each of twelve
     authors was to write a story, using the same plot, “blindfolded” as
     to what the others had written.  It was a regular “Mark Twain”
      notion, and it is hard to-day to imagine Howells’s continued
     enthusiasm in it.  Neither he nor Clemens gave up the idea for a
     long time.  It appears in their letters again and again, though
     perhaps it was just as well for literature that it was never carried


To W. D. Howells, in Boston:

                                             Apl.  22, 1876.

MY DEAR HOWELLS, You’ll see per enclosed slip that I appear for the
first time on the stage next Wednesday. You and Mrs. H. come down and
you shall skip in free.

I wrote my skeleton novelette yesterday and today. It will make a little
under 12 pages.

Please tell Aldrich I’ve got a photographer engaged, and tri-weekly
issue is about to begin. Show him the canvassing specimens and beseech
him to subscribe.

                    Ever yours,
                              S. L. C.

     In his next letter Mark Twain explains why Tom Sawyer is not to
     appear as soon as planned.  The reference to “The Literary
     Nightmare” refers to the “Punch, Conductor, Punch with Care” sketch,
     which had recently appeared in the Atlantic.  Many other versifiers
     had had their turn at horse-car poetry, and now a publisher was
     anxious to collect it in a book, provided he could use the Atlantic
     sketch.  Clemens does not tell us here the nature of Carlton’s
     insult, forgiveness of which he was not yet qualified to grant, but
     there are at least two stories about it, or two halves of the same
     incident, as related afterward by Clemens and Canton.  Clemens said
     that when he took the Jumping Frog book to Carlton, in 1867, the
     latter, pointing to his stock, said, rather scornfully: “Books?
     I don’t want your book; my shelves are full of books now,” though
     the reader may remember that it was Carlton himself who had given
     the frog story to the Saturday Press and had seen it become famous.
     Carlton’s half of the story was that he did not accept Mark Twain’s
     book because the author looked so disreputable.  Long afterward,
     when the two men met in Europe, the publisher said to the now rich
     and famous author: “Mr. Clemens, my one claim on immortality is that
     I declined your first book.”


To W. D. Howells, in Boston:

                                        HARTFORD, Apl. 25, 1876

MY DEAR HOWELLS,--Thanks for giving me the place of honor.

Bliss made a failure in the matter of getting Tom Sawyer ready on
time--the engravers assisting, as usual. I went down to see how much of
a delay there was going to be, and found that the man had not even put
a canvasser on, or issued an advertisement yet--in fact, that the
electrotypes would not all be done for a month! But of course the
main fact was that no canvassing had been done--because a subscription
harvest is before publication, (not after, when people have discovered
how bad one’s book is.)

Well, yesterday I put in the Courant an editorial paragraph stating that
Tam Sawyer is “ready to issue, but publication is put off in order to
secure English copyright by simultaneous publication there and here. The
English edition is unavoidably delayed.”
You see, part of that is true. Very well. When I observed that my
“Sketches” had dropped from a sale of 6 or 7000 a month down to 1200 a
month, I said “this ain’t no time to be publishing books; therefore, let
Tom lie still till Autumn, Mr. Bliss, and make a holiday book of him to
beguile the young people withal.”
I shall print items occasionally, still further delaying Tom, till I
ease him down to Autumn without shock to the waiting world.

As to that “Literary Nightmare” proposition. I’m obliged to withhold
consent, for what seems a good reason--to wit: A single page of
horse-car poetry is all that the average reader can stand, without
nausea; now, to stack together all of it that has been written, and
then add it to my article would be to enrage and disgust each and every
reader and win the deathless enmity of the lot.

Even if that reason were insufficient, there would still be a sufficient
reason left, in the fact that Mr. Carlton seems to be the publisher of
the magazine in which it is proposed to publish this horse-car matter.
Carlton insulted me in Feb. 1867, and so when the day arrives that sees
me doing him a civility I shall feel that I am ready for Paradise, since
my list of possible and impossible forgivenesses will then be complete.

Mrs. Clemens says my version of the blindfold novelette “A Murder and A
Marriage” is “good.” Pretty strong language--for her.

The Fieldses are coming down to the play tomorrow, and they promise to
get you and Mrs. Howells to come too, but I hope you’ll do nothing of
the kind if it will inconvenience you, for I’m not going to play either
strikingly bad enough or well enough to make the journey pay you.

My wife and I think of going to Boston May 7th to see Anna Dickinson’s
debut on the 8th. If I find we can go, I’ll try to get a stage box and
then you and Mrs. Howells must come to Parker’s and go with us to the

(Is that spelt right?--somehow it doesn’t look right.)

With our very kindest regards to the whole family.

                                   Yrs ever,

     The mention of Anna Dickinson, at the end of this letter, recalls a
     prominent reformer and lecturer of the Civil War period.  She had
     begun her crusades against temperance and slavery in 1857, when she
     was but fifteen years old, when her success as a speaker had been
     immediate and extraordinary.  Now, in this later period, at the age
     of thirty-four, she aspired to the stage--unfortunately for her, as
     her gifts lay elsewhere.  Clemens and Howells knew Miss Dickinson,
     and were anxious for the success which they hardly dared hope for.
     Clemens arranged a box party.


To W. D. Howells, in Boston:

                                                       May 4, ‘76.

MY DEAR HOWELLS,--I shall reach Boston on Monday the 8th, either at 4:30
p.m. or 6 p.m. (Which is best?) and go straight to Parker’s. If you and
Mrs. Howells cannot be there by half past 4, I’ll not plan to arrive
till the later train-time (6,) because I don’t want to be there
alone--even a minute. Still, Joe Twichell will doubtless go with me
(forgot that,) he is going to try hard to. Mrs. Clemens has given up
going, because Susy is just recovering from about the savagest assault
of diphtheria a child ever did recover from, and therefore will not be
entirely her healthy self again by the 8th.

Would you and Mrs. Howells like to invite Mr. and Mrs. Aldrich? I have a
large proscenium box--plenty of room. Use your own pleasure about it--I
mainly (that is honest,) suggest it because I am seeking to make matters
pleasant for you and Mrs. Howells. I invited Twichell because I thought
I knew you’d like that. I want you to fix it so that you and the Madam
can remain in Boston all night; for I leave next day and we can’t have
a talk, otherwise. I am going to get two rooms and a parlor; and would
like to know what you decide about the Aldriches, so as to know whether
to apply for an additional bedroom or not.

Don’t dine that evening, for I shall arrive dinnerless and need your

I’ll bring my Blindfold Novelette, but shan’t exhibit it unless you
exhibit yours. You would simply go to work and write a novelette that
would make mine sick. Because you would know all about where my weak
points lay. No, Sir, I’m one of these old wary birds!

Don’t bother to write a letter--3 lines on a postal card is all that I
can permit from a busy man.                         Yrs ever

P. S. Good! You’ll not have to feel any call to mention that debut in
the Atlantic--they’ve made me pay the grand cash for my box!--a thing
which most managers would be too worldly-wise to do, with journalistic
folks. But I’m most honestly glad, for I’d rather pay three prices, any
time, than to have my tongue half paralyzed with a dead-head ticket.

Hang that Anna Dickinson, a body can never depend upon her debuts! She
has made five or six false starts already. If she fails to debut this
time, I will never bet on her again.

     In his book, My Mark Twain, Howells refers to the “tragedy” of Miss
     Dickinson’s appearance.  She was the author of numerous plays, some
     of which were successful, but her career as an actress was never

     At Elmira that summer the Clemenses heard from their good friend
     Doctor Brown, of Edinburgh, and sent eager replies.


To Dr. John Brown, in Edinburgh:

                              ELMIRA, NEW YORK, U. S. June 22, 1876.

DEAR FRIEND THE DOCTOR,--It was a perfect delight to see the well-known
handwriting again! But we so grieve to know that you are feeling
miserable. It must not last--it cannot last. The regal summer is come
and it will smile you into high good cheer; it will charm away your
pains, it will banish your distresses. I wish you were here, to spend
the summer with us. We are perched on a hill-top that overlooks a little
world of green valleys, shining rivers, sumptuous forests and billowy
uplands veiled in the haze of distance. We have no neighbors. It is the
quietest of all quiet places, and we are hermits that eschew caves and
live in the sun. Doctor, if you’d only come!

I will carry your letter to Mrs. C. now, and there will be a glad woman,
I tell you! And she shall find one of those pictures to put in this
for Mrs. Barclays and if there isn’t one here we’ll send right away to
Hartford and get one. Come over, Doctor John, and bring the Barclays,
the Nicolsons and the Browns, one and all!

                                        SAML. L. CLEMENS.

     From May until August no letters appear to have passed between
     Clemens and Howells; the latter finally wrote, complaining of the
     lack of news.  He was in the midst of campaign activities, he said,
     writing a life of Hayes, and gaily added: “You know I wrote the life
     of Lincoln, which elected him.”  He further reported a comedy he had
     completed, and gave Clemens a general stirring up as to his own

     Mark Twain, in his hillside study, was busy enough.  Summer was his
     time for work, and he had tried his hand in various directions.  His
     mention of Huck Finn in his reply to Howells is interesting, in that
     it shows the measure of his enthusiasm, or lack of it, as a gauge of
     his ultimate achievement


To W. D. Howells, in Boston:

                                             ELMIRA, Aug. 9, 1876.

MY DEAR HOWELLS,--I was just about to write you when your letter
came--and not one of those obscene postal cards, either, but reverently,
upon paper.

I shall read that biography, though the letter of acceptance was amply
sufficient to corral my vote without any further knowledge of the man.
Which reminds me that a campaign club in Jersey City wrote a few
days ago and invited me to be present at the raising of a Tilden
and Hendricks flag there, and to take the stand and give them some
“counsel.” Well, I could not go, but gave them counsel and advice
by letter, and in the kindliest terms as to the raising of the
flag--advised them “not to raise it.”
Get your book out quick, for this is a momentous time. If Tilden is
elected I think the entire country will go pretty straight to--Mrs.
Howells’s bad place.

I am infringing on your patent--I started a record of our children’s
sayings, last night. Which reminds me that last week I sent down and
got Susie a vast pair of shoes of a most villainous pattern, for I
discovered that her feet were being twisted and cramped out of shape
by a smaller and prettier article. She did not complain, but looked
degraded and injured. At night her mamma gave her the usual admonition
when she was about to say her prayers--to wit:

“Now, Susie--think about God.”
“Mamma, I can’t, with those shoes.”
The farm is perfectly delightful this season. It is as quiet and
peaceful as a South Sea Island. Some of the sunsets which we have
witnessed from this commanding eminence were marvelous. One evening a
rainbow spanned an entire range of hills with its mighty arch, and from
a black hub resting upon the hill-top in the exact centre, black rays
diverged upward in perfect regularity to the rainbow’s arch and created
a very strongly defined and altogether the most majestic, magnificent
and startling half-sunk wagon wheel you can imagine. After that, a world
of tumbling and prodigious clouds came drifting up out of the West and
took to themselves a wonderfully rich and brilliant green color--the
decided green of new spring foliage. Close by them we saw the intense
blue of the skies, through rents in the cloud-rack, and away off in
another quarter were drifting clouds of a delicate pink color. In one
place hung a pall of dense black clouds, like compacted pitch-smoke. And
the stupendous wagon wheel was still in the supremacy of its unspeakable
grandeur. So you see, the colors present in the sky at once and the same
time were blue, green, pink, black, and the vari-colored splendors of
the rainbow. All strong and decided colors, too. I don’t know whether
this weird and astounding spectacle most suggested heaven, or hell.
The wonder, with its constant, stately, and always surprising changes,
lasted upwards of two hours, and we all stood on the top of the hill by
my study till the final miracle was complete and the greatest day ended
that we ever saw.

Our farmer, who is a grave man, watched that spectacle to the end, and
then observed that it was “dam funny.”
The double-barreled novel lies torpid. I found I could not go on with
it. The chapters I had written were still too new and familiar to me. I
may take it up next winter, but cannot tell yet; I waited and waited to
see if my interest in it would not revive, but gave it up a month ago
and began another boys’ book--more to be at work than anything else. I
have written 400 pages on it--therefore it is very nearly half done. It
is Huck Finn’s Autobiography. I like it only tolerably well, as far as I
have got, and may possibly pigeonhole or burn the MS when it is done.

So the comedy is done, and with a “fair degree of satisfaction.” That
rejoices me, and makes me mad, too--for I can’t plan a comedy, and what
have you done that God should be so good to you? I have racked myself
baldheaded trying to plan a comedy harness for some promising characters
of mine to work in, and had to give it up. It is a noble lot of blooded
stock and worth no end of money, but they must stand in the stable and
be profitless. I want to be present when the comedy is produced and help
enjoy the success.

Warner’s book is mighty readable, I think.

                         Love to yez.
                              Yrs ever

     Howells promptly wrote again, urging him to enter the campaign for
     Hayes.  “There is not another man in this country,” he said, “who
     could help him so much as you.”  The “farce” which Clemens refers to
     in his reply, was “The Parlor Car,” which seems to have been about
     the first venture of Howells in that field.


To W. D. Howells, in Boston:

                                             ELMIRA, August 23, 1876.

MY DEAR HOWELLS,--I am glad you think I could do Hayes any good, for I
have been wanting to write a letter or make a speech to that end. I’ll
be careful not to do either, however, until the opportunity comes in a
natural, justifiable and unlugged way; and shall not then do anything
unless I’ve got it all digested and worded just right. In which case
I might do some good--in any other I should do harm. When a humorist
ventures upon the grave concerns of life he must do his job better than
another man or he works harm to his cause.

The farce is wonderfully bright and delicious, and must make a hit. You
read it to me, and it was mighty good; I read it last night and it was
better; I read it aloud to the household this morning and it was better
than ever. So it would be worth going a long way to see it well played;
for without any question an actor of genius always adds a subtle
something to any man’s work that none but the writer knew was there
before. Even if he knew it. I have heard of readers convulsing audiences
with my “Aurelia’s Unfortunate Young Man.” If there is anything really
funny in the piece, the author is not aware of it.

All right--advertise me for the new volume. I send you herewith a sketch
which will make 3 pages of the Atlantic. If you like it and accept
it, you should get it into the December No. because I shall read it in
public in Boston the 13th and 14th of Nov. If it went in a month earlier
it would be too old for me to read except as old matter; and if it went
in a month later it would be too old for the Atlantic--do you see?
And if you wish to use it, will you set it up now, and send me three
proofs?--one to correct for Atlantic, one to send to Temple Bar (shall I
tell them to use it not earlier than their November No.) and one to use
in practising for my Boston readings.

We must get up a less elaborate and a much better skeleton-plan for
the Blindfold Novels and make a success of that idea. David Gray spent
Sunday here and said we could but little comprehend what a rattling stir
that thing would make in the country. He thought it would make a mighty
strike. So do I. But with only 8 pages to tell the tale in, the plot
must be less elaborate, doubtless. What do you think?

When we exchange visits I’ll show you an unfinished sketch of
Elizabeth’s time which shook David Gray’s system up pretty exhaustively.

                                        Yrs ever,

     The MS. sketch mentioned in the foregoing letter was “The
     Canvasser’s Tale,” later included in the volume, Tom Sawyer Abroad,
     and Other Stories.  It is far from being Mark Twain’s best work, but
     was accepted and printed in the Atlantic.  David Gray was an able
     journalist and editor whom Mark Twain had known in Buffalo.

     The “sketch of Elizabeth’s time” is a brilliant piece of writing
     --an imaginary record of conversation and court manners in the good
     old days of free speech and performance, phrased in the language of
     the period.  Gray, John Hay, Twichell, and others who had a chance
     to see it thought highly of it, and Hay had it set in type and a few
     proofs taken for private circulation.  Some years afterward a West
     Point officer had a special font of antique type made for it, and
     printed a hundred copies.  But the present-day reader would hardly
     be willing to include “Fireside Conversation in the Time of Queen
     Elizabeth” in Mark Twain’s collected works.

     Clemens was a strong Republican in those days, as his letters of
     this period show.  His mention of the “caves” in the next is another
     reference to “The Canvasser’s Tale.”


To W. D. Howells, in Boston:

                                             Sept.  14, 1876.

MY DEAR HOWELLS,--Yes, the collection of caves was the origin of it.
I changed it to echoes because these being invisible and intangible,
constituted a still more absurd species of property, and yet a man could
really own an echo, and sell it, too, for a high figure--such an echo
as that at the Villa Siminetti, two miles from Milan, for instance.
My first purpose was to have the man make a collection of caves and
afterwards of echoes; but perceived that the element of absurdity and
impracticability was so nearly identical as to amount to a repetition of
an idea.....

I will not, and do not, believe that there is a possibility of Hayes’s
defeat, but I want the victory to be sweeping.....

It seems odd to find myself interested in an election. I never was
before. And I can’t seem to get over my repugnance to reading or
thinking about politics, yet. But in truth I care little about any
party’s politics--the man behind it is the important thing.

You may well know that Mrs. Clemens liked the Parlor Car--enjoyed it
ever so much, and was indignant at you all through, and kept exploding
into rages at you for pretending that such a woman ever existed--closing
each and every explosion with “But it is just what such a woman would
do.”--“It is just what such a woman would say.” They all voted the
Parlor Car perfection--except me. I said they wouldn’t have been allowed
to court and quarrel there so long, uninterrupted; but at each critical
moment the odious train-boy would come in and pile foul literature all
over them four or five inches deep, and the lover would turn his head
aside and curse--and presently that train-boy would be back again (as
on all those Western roads) to take up the literature and leave prize

Of course the thing is perfect, in the magazine, without the train-boy;
but I was thinking of the stage and the groundlings. If the dainty
touches went over their heads, the train-boy and other possible
interruptions would fetch them every time. Would it mar the flow of the
thing too much to insert that devil? I thought it over a couple of hours
and concluded it wouldn’t, and that he ought to be in for the sake of
the groundlings (and to get new copyright on the piece.)

And it seemed to me that now that the fourth act is so successfully
written, why not go ahead and write the 3 preceding acts? And then after
it is finished, let me put into it a low-comedy character (the girl’s or
the lover’s father or uncle) and gobble a big pecuniary interest in
your work for myself. Do not let this generous proposition disturb your
rest--but do write the other 3 acts, and then it will be valuable to
managers. And don’t go and sell it to anybody, like Harte, but keep it
for yourself.

Harte’s play can be doctored till it will be entirely acceptable and
then it will clear a great sum every year. I am out of all patience
with Harte for selling it. The play entertained me hugely, even in its
present crude state.

                         Love to you all.
                                   Yrs ever,

     Following the Sellers success, Clemens had made many attempts at
     dramatic writing.  Such undertakings had uniformly failed, but he
     had always been willing to try again.  In the next letter we get the
     beginning of what proved his first and last direct literary
     association, that is to say, collaboration, with Bret Harte.
     Clemens had great admiration for Harte’s ability and believed that
     between them they could turn out a successful play.  Whether or not
     this belief was justified will appear later.  Howells’s biography of
     Hayes, meanwhile, had not gone well.  He reported that only two
     thousand copies had been sold in what was now the height of the
     campaign.  “There’s success for you,” he said; “it makes me despair
     of the Republic.”
     Clemens, on his part, had made a speech for Hayes that Howells
     declared had put civil-service reform in a nutshell; he added: “You
     are the only Republican orator, quoted without distinction of party
     by all the newspapers.”


To W. D. Howells, in Boston:

                                        HARTFORD, Oct. 11, 1876.

MY DEAR HOWELLS, This is a secret, to be known to nobody but you (of
course I comprehend that Mrs. Howells is part of you) that Bret Harte
came up here the other day and asked me to help him write a play and
divide the swag, and I agreed. I am to put in Scotty Briggs (See Buck
Fanshaw’s Funeral, in “Roughing It.”) and he is to put in a Chinaman (a
wonderfully funny creature, as Bret presents him--for 5 minutes--in his
Sandy Bar play.) This Chinaman is to be the character of the play, and
both of us will work on him and develop him. Bret is to draw a plot,
and I am to do the same; we shall use the best of the two, or gouge from
both and build a third. My plot is built--finished it yesterday--six
days’ work, 8 or 9 hours a day, and has nearly killed me.

Now the favor I ask of you is that you will have the words “Ah Sin, a
Drama,” printed in the middle of a note-paper page and send the same to
me, with Bill. We don’t want anybody to know that we are building this
play. I can’t get this title page printed here without having to lie
so much that the thought of it is disagreeable to one reared as I have
been. And yet the title of the play must be printed--the rest of the
application for copyright is allowable in penmanship.

We have got the very best gang of servants in America, now. When George
first came he was one of the most religious of men. He had but one
fault--young George Washington’s. But I have trained him; and now it
fairly breaks Mrs. Clemens’s heart to hear George stand at that front
door and lie to the unwelcome visitor. But your time is valuable; I must
not dwell upon these things.....I’ll ask Warner and Harte if they’ll do
Blindfold Novelettes. Some time I’ll simplify that plot. All it needs
is that the hanging and the marriage shall not be appointed for the
same day. I got over that difficulty, but it required too much MS to
reconcile the thing--so the movement of the story was clogged.

I came near agreeing to make political speeches with our candidate for
Governor the 16th and 23 inst., but I had to give up the idea, for Harte
and I will be here at work then.                              Yrs ever,

     Mark Twain was writing few letters these days to any one but
     Howells, yet in November he sent one to an old friend of his youth,
     Burrough, the literary chair-maker who had roomed with him in the
     days when he had been setting type for the St. Louis Evening News.


To Mr. Burrough, of St. Louis:

                                             HARTFORD, Nov. 1, 1876.

MY DEAR BURROUGHS,--As you describe me I can picture myself as I was 20
years ago. The portrait is correct. You think I have grown some; upon
my word there was room for it. You have described a callow fool, a
self-sufficient ass, a mere human tumble-bug.... imagining that he
is remodeling the world and is entirely capable of doing it right.
Ignorance, intolerance, egotism, self-assertion, opaque perception,
dense and pitiful chuckle-headedness--and an almost pathetic
unconsciousness of it all. That is what I was at 19 and 20; and that
is what the average Southerner is at 60 today. Northerners, too, of a
certain grade. It is of children like this that voters are made. And
such is the primal source of our government! A man hardly knows whether
to swear or cry over it.

I think I comprehend the position there--perfect freedom to vote just
as you choose, provided you choose to vote as other people think--social
ostracism, otherwise. The same thing exists here, among the Irish. An
Irish Republican is a pariah among his people. Yet that race find fault
with the same spirit in Know-Nothingism.

Fortunately a good deal of experience of men enabled me to choose my
residence wisely. I live in the freest corner of the country. There are
no social disabilities between me and my Democratic personal friends.
We break the bread and eat the salt of hospitality freely together and
never dream of such a thing as offering impertinent interference in each
other’s political opinions.

Don’t you ever come to New York again and not run up here to see me. I
Suppose we were away for the summer when you were East; but no matter,
you could have telegraphed and found out. We were at Elmira N. Y. and
right on your road, and could have given you a good time if you had
allowed us the chance.

Yes, Will Bowen and I have exchanged letters now and then for several
years, but I suspect that I made him mad with my last--shortly after you
saw him in St. Louis, I judge. There is one thing which I can’t stand
and won’t stand, from many people. That is sham sentimentality--the kind
a school-girl puts into her graduating composition; the sort that makes
up the Original Poetry column of a country newspaper; the rot that deals
in the “happy days of yore,” the “sweet yet melancholy past,” with its
“blighted hopes” and its “vanished dreams” and all that sort of drivel.
Will’s were always of this stamp. I stood it years. When I get a letter
like that from a grown man and he a widower with a family, it gives me
the stomach ache. And I just told Will Bowen so, last summer. I told him
to stop being 16 at 40; told him to stop drooling about the sweet yet
melancholy past, and take a pill. I said there was but one solitary
thing about the past worth remembering, and that was the fact that it is
the past--can’t be restored. Well, I exaggerated some of these truths
a little--but only a little--but my idea was to kill his sham
sentimentality once and forever, and so make a good fellow of him again.
I went to the unheard-of trouble of re-writing the letter and saying the
same harsh things softly, so as to sugarcoat the anguish and make it a
little more endurable and I asked him to write and thank me honestly
for doing him the best and kindliest favor that any friend ever had done
him--but he hasn’t done it yet. Maybe he will, sometime. I am grateful
to God that I got that letter off before he was married (I get that news
from you) else he would just have slobbered all over me and drowned me
when that event happened.

I enclose photograph for the young ladies. I will remark that I do not
wear seal-skin for grandeur, but because I found, when I used to lecture
in the winter, that nothing else was able to keep a man warm sometimes,
in these high latitudes. I wish you had sent pictures of yourself and
family--I’ll trade picture for picture with you, straight through, if
you are commercially inclined.

                    Your old friend,
                              SAML L. CLEMENS.


     Mark Twain must have been too busy to write letters that winter.
     Those that have survived are few and unimportant.  As a matter of
     fact, he was writing the play, “Ah Sin,” with Bret Harte, and
     getting it ready for production. Harte was a guest in the Clemens
     home while the play was being written, and not always a pleasant
     one.  He was full of requirements, critical as to the ‘menage,’ to
     the point of sarcasm.  The long friendship between Clemens and Harte
     weakened under the strain of collaboration and intimate daily
     intercourse, never to renew its old fiber.  It was an unhappy
     outcome of an enterprise which in itself was to prove of little
     profit.  The play, “Ah Sin,” had many good features, and with
     Charles T. Parsloe in an amusing Chinese part might have been made a
     success, if the two authors could have harmoniously undertaken the
     needed repairs.  It opened in Washington in May, and a letter from
     Parsloe, written at the moment, gives a hint of the situation.


From Charles T. Parsloe to S. L. Clemens:

                                   WASHINGTON, D. C.  May 11th, 1877.

MR. CLEMENS,--I forgot whether I acknowledged receipt of check by
telegram. Harte has been here since Monday last and done little or
nothing yet, but promises to have something fixed by tomorrow morning.
We have been making some improvements among ourselves. The last act is
weak at the end, and I do hope Mr. Harte will have something for a good
finish to the piece. The other acts I think are all right, now.

Hope you have entirely recovered. I am not very well myself, the
excitement of a first night is bad enough, but to have the annoyance
with Harte that I have is too much for a beginner. I ain’t used to it.
The houses have been picking up since Tuesday Mr. Ford has worked well
and hard for us.

               Yours in, haste,
                    CHAS. THOS.  PARSLOE.

     The play drew some good houses in Washington, but it could not hold
     them for a run.  Never mind what was the matter with it; perhaps a
     very small change at the right point would have turned it into a
     fine success.  We have seen in a former letter the obligation which
     Mark Twain confessed to Harte--a debt he had tried in many ways to
     repay--obtaining for him a liberal book contract with Bliss;
     advancing him frequent and large sums of money which Harte could
     not, or did not, repay; seeking to advance his fortunes in many
     directions.  The mistake came when he introduced another genius into
     the intricacies of his daily life.  Clemens went down to Washington
     during the early rehearsals of “Ah Sin.”
     Meantime, Rutherford B. Hayes had been elected President, and
     Clemens one day called with a letter of introduction from Howells,
     thinking to meet the Chief Executive.  His own letter to Howells,
     later, probably does not give the real reason of his failure, but it
     will be amusing to those who recall the erratic personality of
     George Francis Train.  Train and Twain were sometimes confused by
     the very unlettered; or pretendedly, by Mark Twain’s friends.


To W. D. Howells, in Boston:

                                        BALTIMORE, May 1, ‘77.

MY DEAR HOWELLS,--Found I was not absolutely needed in Washington so I
only staid 24 hours, and am on my way home, now. I called at the White
House, and got admission to Col. Rodgers, because I wanted to inquire
what was the right hour to go and infest the President. It was my luck
to strike the place in the dead waste and middle of the day, the very
busiest time. I perceived that Mr. Rodgers took me for George Francis
Train and had made up his mind not to let me get at the President; so at
the end of half an hour I took my letter of introduction from the table
and went away. It was a great pity all round, and a great loss to the
nation, for I was brim full of the Eastern question. I didn’t get to
see the President or the Chief Magistrate either, though I had sort of a
glimpse of a lady at a window who resembled her portraits.

                                       Yrs ever,

     Howells condoled with him on his failure to see the President,
     “but,” he added, “if you and I had both been there, our combined
     skill would have no doubt procured us to be expelled from the White
     House by Fred Douglass.  But the thing seems to be a complete
     failure as it was.”  Douglass at this time being the Marshal of
     Columbia, gives special point to Howells’s suggestion.

     Later, in May, Clemens took Twichell for an excursion to Bermuda.
     He had begged Howells to go with them, but Howells, as usual, was
     full of literary affairs.  Twichell and Clemens spent four glorious
     days tramping the length and breadth of the beautiful island, and
     remembered it always as one of their happiest adventures.  “Put it
     down as an Oasis!” wrote Twichell on his return, “I’m afraid I shall
     not see as green a spot again soon.  And it was your invention and
     your gift.  And your company was the best of it.  Indeed, I never
     took more comfort in being with you than on this journey, which, my
     boy, is saying a great deal.”

     To Howells, Clemens triumphantly reported the success of the


To W. D. Howells, in Boston:

                              FARMINGTON AVENUE, HARTFORD, May 29, 1877.

Confound you, Joe Twichell and I roamed about Bermuda day and night
and never ceased to gabble and enjoy. About half the talk was--“It is
a burning shame that Howells isn’t here.” “Nobody could get at the very
meat and marrow of this pervading charm and deliciousness like Howells;”
 “How Howells would revel in the quaintness, and the simplicity of this
people and the Sabbath repose of this land.” “What an imperishable
sketch Howells would make of Capt. West the whaler, and Capt. Hope with
the patient, pathetic face, wanderer in all the oceans for 42
years, lucky in none; coming home defeated once more, now, minus his
ship--resigned, uncomplaining, being used to this.” “What a rattling
chapter Howells would make out of the small boy Alfred, with his alert
eye and military brevity and exactness of speech; and out of the old
landlady; and her sacred onions; and her daughter; and the visiting
clergyman; and the ancient pianos of Hamilton and the venerable music
in vogue there--and forty other things which we shall leave untouched
or touched but lightly upon, we not being worthy.” “Dam Howells for not
being here!” (this usually from me, not Twichell.)

O, your insufferable pride, which will have a fall some day! If you had
gone with us and let me pay the $50 which the trip and the board and
the various nicknacks and mementoes would cost, I would have picked up
enough droppings from your conversation to pay me 500 per cent profit
in the way of the several magazine articles which I could have written,
whereas I can now write only one or two and am therefore largely out of
pocket by your proud ways. Ponder these things. Lord, what a perfectly
bewitching excursion it was! I traveled under an assumed name and was
never molested with a polite attention from anybody.

                         Love to you all.
                                        Yrs ever

     Aldrich, meantime, had invited the Clemenses to Ponkapog during the
     Bermuda absence, and Clemens hastened to send him a line expressing
     regrets.  At the close he said:


To T. B. Aldrich, in Ponkapog, Mass.:

                              FARMINGTON AVENUE, HARTFORD, June 3, 1877.

Day after tomorrow we leave for the hills beyond Elmira, N. Y. for the
summer, when I shall hope to write a book of some sort or other to beat
the people with. A work similar to your new one in the Atlantic is what
I mean, though I have not heard what the nature of that one is. Immoral,
I suppose. Well, you are right. Such books sell best, Howells says.
Howells says he is going to make his next book indelicate. He says
he thinks there is money in it. He says there is a large class of the
young, in schools and seminaries who--But you let him tell you. He has
ciphered it all down to a demonstration.

With the warmest remembrances to the pair of you

                                   Ever Yours
                                        SAMUEL L. CLEMENS.

     Clemens would naturally write something about Bermuda, and began at
     once, “Random Notes of an Idle Excursion,” and presently completed
     four papers, which Howells eagerly accepted for the Atlantic.  Then
     we find him plunging into another play, this time alone.


To W. D. Howells, in Boston:

                                             ELMIRA, June 27, 1877.

MY DEAR HOWELLS,--If you should not like the first 2 chapters, send
them to me and begin with Chapter 3--or Part 3, I believe you call these
things in the magazine. I have finished No. 4., which closes the series,
and will mail it tomorrow if I think of it. I like this one, I liked the
preceding one (already mailed to you some time ago) but I had my doubts
about 1 and 2. Do not hesitate to squelch them, even with derision and

Today I am deep in a comedy which I began this morning--principal
character, that old detective--I skeletoned the first act and wrote the
second, today; and am dog-tired, now. Fifty-four close pages of MS in
7 hours. Once I wrote 55 pages at a sitting--that was on the opening
chapters of the “Gilded Age” novel. When I cool down, an hour from now,
I shall go to zero, I judge.

                              Yrs ever,

     Clemens had doubts as to the quality of the Bermuda papers, and with
     some reason.  They did not represent him at his best.  Nevertheless,
     they were pleasantly entertaining, and Howells expressed full
     approval of them for Atlantic use.  The author remained troubled.


To W. D. Howells, in Boston:

                                             ELMIRA, July 4,1877.

MY DEAR HOWELLS,--It is splendid of you to say those pleasant things.
But I am still plagued with doubts about Parts 1 and 2. If you have any,
don’t print. If otherwise, please make some cold villain like Lathrop
read and pass sentence on them. Mind, I thought they were good, at
first--it was the second reading that accomplished its hellish purpose
on me. Put them up for a new verdict. Part 4 has lain in my pigeon-hole
a good while, and when I put it there I had a Christian’s confidence
in 4 aces in it; and you can be sure it will skip toward Connecticut
tomorrow before any fatal fresh reading makes me draw my bet.

I’ve piled up 151 MS pages on my comedy. The first, second and fourth
acts are done, and done to my satisfaction, too. Tomorrow and next day
will finish the 3rd act and the play. I have not written less than 30
pages any day since I began. Never had so much fun over anything in my
life-never such consuming interest and delight. (But Lord bless you the
second reading will fetch it!) And just think!--I had Sol Smith Russell
in my mind’s eye for the old detective’s part, and hang it he has gone
off pottering with Oliver Optic, or else the papers lie.

I read everything about the President’s doings there with exultation.

I wish that old ass of a private secretary hadn’t taken me for George
Francis Train. If ignorance were a means of grace I wouldn’t trade that
gorilla’s chances for the Archbishop of Canterbury’s.

I shall call on the President again, by and by. I shall go in my war
paint; and if I am obstructed the nation will have the unusual spectacle
of a private secretary with a pen over one ear a tomahawk over the

I read the entire Atlantic this time. Wonderful number. Mrs. Rose Terry
Cooke’s story was a ten-strike. I wish she would write 12 old-time New
England tales a year.

Good times to you all! Mind if you don’t run here for a few days you
will go to hence without having had a fore-glimpse of heaven.


     The play, “Ah Sin,” that had done little enough in Washington, was
     that summer given another trial by Augustin Daly, at the Fifth
     Avenue Theater, New York, with a fine company.  Clemens had
     undertaken to doctor the play, and it would seem to have had an
     enthusiastic reception on the opening night.  But it was a summer
     audience, unspoiled by many attractions.  “Ah Sin” was never a
     success in the New York season--never a money-maker on the road.

     The reference in the first paragraph of the letter that follows is
     to the Bermuda chapters which Mark Twain was publishing
     simultaneously in England and America.

                                             ELMIRA, Aug 3,1877.

MY DEAR HOWELLS,--I have mailed one set of the slips to London, and told
Bentley you would print Sept. 15, in October Atlantic, and he must not
print earlier in Temple Bar. Have I got the dates and things right?

I am powerful glad to see that No. 1 reads a nation sight better in
print than it did in MS. I told Bentley we’d send him the slips, each
time, 6 weeks before day of publication. We can do that can’t we? Two
months ahead would be still better I suppose, but I don’t know.

“Ah Sin” went a-booming at the Fifth Avenue. The reception of Col.
Sellers was calm compared to it.

The criticisms were just; the criticisms of the great New York dailies
are always just, intelligent, and square and honest--notwithstanding,
by a blunder which nobody was seriously to blame for, I was made to say
exactly the opposite of this in a newspaper some time ago. Never said it
at all, and moreover I never thought it. I could not publicly correct
it before the play appeared in New York, because that would look as if I
had really said that thing and then was moved by fears for my pocket and
my reputation to take it back. But I can correct it now, and shall do
it; for now my motives cannot be impugned. When I began this letter, it
had not occurred to me to use you in this connection, but it occurs to
me now. Your opinion and mine, uttered a year ago, and repeated more
than once since, that the candor and ability of the New York critics
were beyond question, is a matter which makes it proper enough that I
should speak through you at this time. Therefore if you will print this
paragraph somewhere, it may remove the impression that I say unjust
things which I do not think, merely for the pleasure of talking.

There, now, Can’t you say--

     “In a letter to Mr. Howells of the Atlantic Monthly, Mark
     Twain describes the reception of the new comedy ‘Ali Sin,’ 
     and then goes on to say:” etc.

Beginning at the star with the words, “The criticisms were just.” Mrs.
Clemens says, “Don’t ask that of Mr. Howells--it will be disagreeable
to him.” I hadn’t thought of it, but I will bet two to one on the
correctness of her instinct. We shall see.

Will you cut that paragraph out of this letter and precede it with the
remarks suggested (or with better ones,) and send it to the Globe or
some other paper? You can’t do me a bigger favor; and yet if it is in
the least disagreeable, you mustn’t think of it. But let me know, right
away, for I want to correct this thing before it grows stale again. I
explained myself to only one critic (the World)--the consequence was a
noble notice of the play. This one called on me, else I shouldn’t have
explained myself to him.

I have been putting in a deal of hard work on that play in New York, but
it is full of incurable defects.

My old Plunkett family seemed wonderfully coarse and vulgar on the
stage, but it was because they were played in such an outrageously and
inexcusably coarse way. The Chinaman is killingly funny. I don’t know
when I have enjoyed anything as much as I did him. The people say there
isn’t enough of him in the piece. That’s a triumph--there’ll never be
any more of him in it.

John Brougham said, “Read the list of things which the critics have
condemned in the piece, and you have unassailable proofs that the play
contains all the requirements of success and a long life.”
That is true. Nearly every time the audience roared I knew it was over
something that would be condemned in the morning (justly, too) but
must be left in--for low comedies are written for the drawing-room, the
kitchen and the stable, and if you cut out the kitchen and the stable
the drawing-room can’t support the play by itself.

There was as much money in the house the first two nights as in the
first ten of Sellers. Haven’t heard from the third--I came away.

                                   Yrs ever,

     In a former letter we have seen how Mark Twain, working on a story
     that was to stand as an example of his best work, and become one of
     his surest claims to immortality (The Adventures of Huckleberry
     Finn), displayed little enthusiasm in his undertaking.  In the
     following letter, which relates the conclusion of his detective
     comedy, we find him at the other extreme, on very tiptoe with
     enthusiasm over something wholly without literary value or dramatic
     possibility.  One of the hall-marks of genius is the inability to
     discriminate as to the value of its output.  “Simon Wheeler, Amateur
     Detective” was a dreary, absurd, impossible performance, as wild and
     unconvincing in incident and dialogue as anything out of an asylum
     could well be.  The title which he first chose for it, “Balaam’s
     Ass,” was properly in keeping with the general scheme.  Yet Mark
     Twain, still warm with the creative fever, had the fullest faith in
     it as a work of art and a winner of fortune.  It would never see the
     light of production, of course.  We shall see presently that the
     distinguished playwright, Dion Boucicault, good-naturedly
     complimented it as being better than “Ahi Sin.”  One must wonder
     what that skilled artist really thought, and how he could do even
     this violence to his conscience.


To W. D. Howells, in Boston:

                                        ELMIRA, Wednesday P.M.  (1877)

MY DEAR HOWELLS,--It’s finished. I was misled by hurried mis-paging.
There were ten pages of notes, and over 300 pages of MS when the
play was done. Did it in 42 hours, by the clock; 40 pages of the
Atlantic--but then of course it’s very “fat.” Those are the figures, but
I don’t believe them myself, because the thing’s impossible.

But let that pass. All day long, and every day, since I finished (in the
rough) I have been diligently altering, amending, re-writing, cutting
down. I finished finally today. Can’t think of anything else in the way
of an improvement. I thought I would stick to it while the interest was
hot--and I am mighty glad I did. A week from now it will be frozen--then
revising would be drudgery. (You see I learned something from the fatal
blunder of putting “Ah Sin” aside before it was finished.)

She’s all right, now. She reads in two hours and 20 minutes and will
play not longer than 2 3/4 hours. Nineteen characters; 3 acts; (I
bunched 2 into 1.)

Tomorrow I will draw up an exhaustive synopsis to insert in the printed
title-page for copyrighting, and then on Friday or Saturday I go to New
York to remain a week or ten days and lay for an actor. Wish you could
run down there and have a holiday. ‘Twould be fun.

My wife won’t have “Balaam’s Ass”; therefore I call the piece “Cap’n
Simon Wheeler, The Amateur Detective.”


To W. D. Howells, in Boston:

                                             ELMIRA, Aug.  29, 1877.

MY DEAR HOWELLS,--Just got your letter last night. No, dern that
article,--[One of the Bermuda chapters.]--it made me cry when I read it
in proof, it was so oppressively and ostentatiously poor. Skim your eye
over it again and you will think as I do. If Isaac and the prophets of
Baal can be doctored gently and made permissible, it will redeem the
thing: but if it can’t, let’s burn all of the articles except the
tail-end of it and use that as an introduction to the next article--as I
suggested in my letter to you of day before yesterday. (I had this proof
from Cambridge before yours came.)

Boucicault says my new play is ever so much better than “Ah Sin;” says
the Amateur detective is a bully character, too. An actor is chawing
over the play in New York, to see if the old Detective is suited to his
abilities. Haven’t heard from him yet.

If you’ve got that paragraph by you yet, and if in your judgment it
would be good to publish it, and if you absolutely would not mind doing
it, then I think I’d like to have you do it--or else put some other
words in my mouth that will be properer, and publish them. But mind,
don’t think of it for a moment if it is distasteful--and doubtless it
is. I value your judgment more than my own, as to the wisdom of saying
anything at all in this matter. To say nothing leaves me in an injurious
position--and yet maybe I might do better to speak to the men themselves
when I go to New York. This was my latest idea, and it looked wise.

We expect to leave here for home Sept. 4, reaching there the 8th--but we
may be delayed a week.

Curious thing. I read passages from my play, and a full synopsis, to
Boucicault, who was re-writing a play, which he wrote and laid aside 3
or 4 years ago. (My detective is about that age, you know.) Then he read
a passage from his play, where a real detective does some things that
are as idiotic as some of my old Wheeler’s performances. Showed me the
passages, and behold, his man’s name is Wheeler! However, his Wheeler
is not a prominent character, so we’ll not alter the names. My Wheeler’s
name is taken from the old jumping Frog sketch.

I am re-reading Ticknor’s diary, and am charmed with it, though I still
say he refers to too many good things when he could just as well have
told them. Think of the man traveling 8 days in convoy and familiar
intercourse with a band of outlaws through the mountain fastnesses of
Spain--he the fourth stranger they had encountered in thirty years--and
compressing this priceless experience into a single colorless paragraph
of his diary! They spun yarns to this unworthy devil, too.

I wrote you a very long letter a day or two ago, but Susy Crane wanted
to make a copy of it to keep, so it has not gone yet. It may go today,

We unite in warm regards to you and yours.

                              Yrs ever,

     The Ticknor referred to in a former letter was Professor George
     Ticknor, of Harvard College, a history-writer of distinction.  On
     the margin of the “Diary” Mark Twain once wrote, “Ticknor is a
     Millet, who makes all men fall in love with him.”  And adds: “Millet
     was the cause of lovable qualities in people, and then he admired
     and loved those persons for the very qualities which he (without
     knowing it) had created in them.  Perhaps it would be strictly truer
     of these two men to say that they bore within them the divine
     something in whose presence the evil in people fled away and hid
     itself, while all that was good in them came spontaneously forward
     out of the forgotten walls and comers in their systems where it was
     accustomed to hide.”
     It is Frank Millet, the artist, he is speaking of--a knightly soul
     whom all the Clemens household loved, and who would one day meet his
     knightly end with those other brave men that found death together
     when the Titanic went down.

     The Clemens family was still at Quarry Farm at the end of August,
     and one afternoon there occurred a startling incident which Mark
     Twain thought worth setting down in practically duplicate letters to
     Howells and to Dr. John Brown.  It may be of interest to the reader
     to know that John T. Lewis, the colored man mentioned, lived to a
     good old age--a pensioner of the Clemens family and, in the course
     of time, of H. H. Rogers.  Howells’s letter follows.  It is the
     “very long letter” referred to in the foregoing.


To W. D. Howells and wife, in Boston:

                                             ELMIRA, Aug. 25 ‘77.

MY DEAR HOWELLSES,--I thought I ought to make a sort of record of it for
further reference; the pleasantest way to do that would be to write it
to somebody; but that somebody would let it leak into print and that we
wish to avoid. The Howellses would be safe--so let us tell the Howellses
about it.

Day before yesterday was a fine summer day away up here on the summit.
Aunt Marsh and Cousin May Marsh were here visiting Susie Crane and Livy
at our farmhouse. By and by mother Langdon came up the hill in the
“high carriage” with Nora the nurse and little Jervis (Charley Langdon’s
little boy)--Timothy the coachman driving. Behind these came Charley’s
wife and little girl in the buggy, with the new, young, spry, gray
horse--a high-stepper. Theodore Crane arrived a little later.

The Bay and Susy were on hand with their nurse, Rosa. I was on hand,
too. Susy Crane’s trio of colored servants ditto--these being Josie,
house-maid; Aunty Cord, cook, aged 62, turbaned, very tall, very broad,
very fine every way (see her portrait in “A True Story just as I
Heard It” in my Sketches;) Chocklate (the laundress) (as the Bay calls
her--she can’t say Charlotte,) still taller, still more majestic of
proportions, turbaned, very black, straight as an Indian--age 24. Then
there was the farmer’s wife (colored) and her little girl, Susy.

Wasn’t it a good audience to get up an excitement before? Good
excitable, inflammable material?

Lewis was still down town, three miles away, with his two-horse wagon,
to get a load of manure. Lewis is the farmer (colored). He is of mighty
frame and muscle, stocky, stooping, ungainly, has a good manly face and
a clear eye. Age about 45--and the most picturesque of men, when he sits
in his fluttering work-day rags, humped forward into a bunch, with his
aged slouch hat mashed down over his ears and neck. It is a spectacle to
make the broken-hearted smile. Lewis has worked mighty hard and remained
mighty poor. At the end of each whole year’s toil he can’t show a gain
of fifty dollars. He had borrowed money of the Cranes till he owed them
$700 and he being conscientious and honest, imagine what it was to him
to have to carry this stubborn, helpless load year in and year out.

Well, sunset came, and Ida the young and comely (Charley Langdon’s wife)
and her little Julia and the nurse Nora, drove out at the gate behind
the new gray horse and started down the long hill--the high carriage
receiving its load under the porte cochere. Ida was seen to turn her
face toward us across the fence and intervening lawn--Theodore waved
good-bye to her, for he did not know that her sign was a speechless
appeal for help.

The next moment Livy said, “Ida’s driving too fast down hill!” She
followed it with a sort of scream, “Her horse is running away!”
We could see two hundred yards down that descent. The buggy seemed to
fly. It would strike obstructions and apparently spring the height of a
man from the ground.

Theodore and I left the shrieking crowd behind and ran down the hill
bare-headed and shouting. A neighbor appeared at his gate--a tenth of
a second too late! the buggy vanished past him like a thought. My last
glimpse showed it for one instant, far down the descent, springing high
in the air out of a cloud of dust, and then it disappeared. As I flew
down the road my impulse was to shut my eyes as I turned them to the
right or left, and so delay for a moment the ghastly spectacle of
mutilation and death I was expecting.

I ran on and on, still spared this spectacle, but saying to myself:
“I shall see it at the turn of the road; they never can pass that turn
alive.” When I came in sight of that turn I saw two wagons there bunched
together--one of them full of people. I said, “Just so--they are staring
petrified at the remains.”
But when I got amongst that bunch, there sat Ida in her buggy and nobody
hurt, not even the horse or the vehicle. Ida was pale but serene. As
I came tearing down, she smiled back over her shoulder at me and
said, “Well, we’re alive yet, aren’t we?” A miracle had been
performed--nothing else.

You see Lewis, the prodigious, humped upon his front seat, had been
toiling up, on his load of manure; he saw the frantic horse plunging
down the hill toward him, on a full gallop, throwing his heels as high
as a man’s head at every jump. So Lewis turned his team diagonally
across the road just at the “turn,” thus making a V with the fence--the
running horse could not escape that, but must enter it. Then Lewis
sprang to the ground and stood in this V. He gathered his vast strength,
and with a perfect Creedmoor aim he seized the gray horse’s bit as he
plunged by and fetched him up standing!

It was down hill, mind you. Ten feet further down hill neither Lewis
nor any other man could have saved them, for they would have been on the
abrupt “turn,” then. But how this miracle was ever accomplished at
all, by human strength, generalship and accuracy, is clean beyond my
comprehension--and grows more so the more I go and examine the ground
and try to believe it was actually done. I know one thing, well; if
Lewis had missed his aim he would have been killed on the spot in the
trap he had made for himself, and we should have found the rest of the
remains away down at the bottom of the steep ravine.

Ten minutes later Theodore and I arrived opposite the house, with the
servants straggling after us, and shouted to the distracted group on the
porch, “Everybody safe!”
Believe it? Why how could they? They knew the road perfectly. We might
as well have said it to people who had seen their friends go over

However, we convinced them; and then, instead of saying something, or
going on crying, they grew very still--words could not express it, I

Nobody could do anything that night, or sleep, either; but there was a
deal of moving talk, with long pauses between pictures of that flying
carriage, these pauses represented--this picture intruded itself all the
time and disjointed the talk.

But yesterday evening late, when Lewis arrived from down town he
found his supper spread, and some presents of books there, with very
complimentary writings on the fly-leaves, and certain very complimentary
letters, and more or less greenbacks of dignified denomination pinned to
these letters and fly-leaves,--and one said, among other things, (signed
by the Cranes) “We cancel $400 of your indebtedness to us,” &c. &c.

(The end thereof is not yet, of course, for Charley Langdon is West and
will arrive ignorant of all these things, today.)

The supper-room had been kept locked and imposingly secret and
mysterious until Lewis should arrive; but around that part of the house
were gathered Lewis’s wife and child, Chocklate, Josie, Aunty Cord and
our Rosa, canvassing things and waiting impatiently. They were all on
hand when the curtain rose.

Now, Aunty Cord is a violent Methodist and Lewis an implacable
Dunker--Baptist. Those two are inveterate religious disputants. The
revealments having been made Aunty Cord said with effusion--

“Now, let folks go on saying there ain’t no God! Lewis, the Lord sent
you there to stop that horse.”
Says Lewis:

“Then who sent the horse there in sich a shape?”
But I want to call your attention to one thing. When Lewis arrived the
other evening, after saving those lives by a feat which I think is the
most marvelous of any I can call to mind--when he arrived, hunched up
on his manure wagon and as grotesquely picturesque as usual, everybody
wanted to go and see how he looked. They came back and said he was
beautiful. It was so, too--and yet he would have photographed exactly as
he would have done any day these past 7 years that he has occupied this

                                                       Aug. 27.

P. S. Our little romance in real life is happily and satisfactorily
completed. Charley has come, listened, acted--and now John T. Lewis has
ceased to consider himself as belonging to that class called “the poor.”
It has been known, during some years, that it was Lewis’s purpose to
buy a thirty dollar silver watch some day, if he ever got where he
could afford it. Today Ida has given him a new, sumptuous gold Swiss
stem-winding stop-watch; and if any scoffer shall say, “Behold this
thing is out of character,” there is an inscription within, which will
silence him; for it will teach him that this wearer aggrandizes the
watch, not the watch the wearer.

I was asked beforehand, if this would be a wise gift, and I said “Yes,
the very wisest of all;” I know the colored race, and I know that
in Lewis’s eyes this fine toy will throw the other more valuable
testimonials far away into the shade. If he lived in England the Humane
Society would give him a gold medal as costly as this watch, and nobody
would say: “It is out of character.” If Lewis chose to wear a town
clock, who would become it better?

Lewis has sound common sense, and is not going to be spoiled. The
instant he found himself possessed of money, he forgot himself in a plan
to make his old father comfortable, who is wretchedly poor and lives
down in Maryland. His next act, on the spot, was the proffer to the
Cranes of the $300 of his remaining indebtedness to them. This was put
off by them to the indefinite future, for he is not going to be allowed
to pay that at all, though he doesn’t know it.

A letter of acknowledgment from Lewis contains a sentence which raises
it to the dignity of literature:

“But I beg to say, humbly, that inasmuch as divine providence saw fit
to use me as a instrument for the saving of those presshious lives, the
honner conferd upon me was greater than the feat performed.”
That is well said.

                    Yrs ever

     Howells was moved to use the story in the “Contributors’ Club,”
      and warned Clemens against letting it get into the newspapers.  He
     declared he thought it one of the most impressive things he had ever
     read.  But Clemens seems never to have allowed it to be used in any
     form.  In its entirety, therefore, it is quite new matter.


To W. D. Howells, in Boston:

                                        HARTFORD, Sept.  19, 1877.

MY DEAR HOWELLS,--I don’t really see how the story of the runaway horse
could read well with the little details of names and places and things
left out. They are the true life of all narrative. It wouldn’t quite
do to print them at this time. We’ll talk about it when you come.
Delicacy--a sad, sad false delicacy--robs literature of the best
two things among its belongings. Family-circle narrative and obscene
stories. But no matter; in that better world which I trust we are all
going to I have the hope and belief that they will not be denied us.

Say--Twichell and I had an adventure at sea, 4 months ago, which I did
not put in my Bermuda articles, because there was not enough to it. But
the press dispatches bring the sequel today, and now there’s plenty
to it. A sailless, wasteless, chartless, compassless, grubless old
condemned tub that has been drifting helpless about the ocean for 4
months and a half, begging bread and water like any other tramp, flying
a signal of distress permanently, and with 13 innocent, marveling
chuckleheaded Bermuda niggers on board, taking a Pleasure Excursion!
Our ship fed the poor devils on the 25th of last May, far out at sea and
left them to bullyrag their way to New York--and now they ain’t as near
New York as they were then by 250 miles! They have drifted 750 miles
and are still drifting in the relentless Gulf Stream! What a delicious
magazine chapter it would make--but I had to deny myself. I had to come
right out in the papers at once, with my details, so as to try to raise
the government’s sympathy sufficiently to have better succor sent them
than the cutter Colfax, which went a little way in search of them the
other day and then struck a fog and gave it up.

If the President were in Washington I would telegraph him.

When I hear that the “Jonas Smith” has been found again, I mean to send
for one of those darkies, to come to Hartford and give me his adventures
for an Atlantic article.

Likely you will see my today’s article in the newspapers.

                                   Yrs ever,

The revenue cutter Colfax went after the Jonas Smith, thinking there was
mutiny or other crime on board. It occurs to me now that, since there is
only mere suffering and misery and nobody to punish, it ceases to be a
matter which (a republican form of) government will feel authorized to
interfere in further. Dam a republican form of government.

     Clemens thought he had given up lecturing for good; he was
     prosperous and he had no love for the platform.  But one day an idea
     popped into his head: Thomas Nast, the “father of the American
     cartoon,” had delivered a successful series of illustrated lectures
     --talks for which he made the drawings as he went along.  Mark
     Twain’s idea was to make a combination with Nast.  His letter gives
     us the plan in full.


To Thomas Nast, Morristown, N. J.:

                                             HARTFORD, CONN. 1877.

MY DEAR NAST,--I did not think I should ever stand on a platform again
until the time was come for me to say “I die innocent.” But the same old
offers keep arriving. I have declined them all, just as usual, though
sorely tempted, as usual.

Now, I do not decline because I mind talking to an audience, but because
(1) traveling alone is so heartbreakingly dreary, and (2) shouldering
the whole show is such a cheer-killing responsibility.

Therefore, I now propose to you what you proposed to me in 1867, ten
years ago (when I was unknown) viz., that you stand on the platform and
make pictures, and I stand by you and blackguard the audience. I should
enormously enjoy meandering around (to big towns--don’t want to go to
the little ones) with you for company.

My idea is not to fatten the lecture agents and lyceums on the spoils,
but put all the ducats religiously into two equal piles, and say to the
artist and lecturer, “Absorb these.”
For instance--[Here follows a plan and a possible list of cities to be
visited. The letter continues]

Call the gross receipts $100,000 for four months and a half, and the
profit from $60,000 to $75,000 (I try to make the figures large enough,
and leave it to the public to reduce them.)

I did not put in Philadelphia because Pugh owns that town, and last
winter when I made a little reading-trip he only paid me $300 and
pretended his concert (I read fifteen minutes in the midst of a concert)
cost him a vast sum, and so he couldn’t afford any more. I could get up
a better concert with a barrel of cats.

I have imagined two or three pictures and concocted the accompanying
remarks to see how the thing would go. I was charmed.

Well, you think it over, Nast, and drop me a line. We should have some

                    Yours truly,
                         SAMUEL L. CLEMENS.

     The plan came to nothing.  Nast, like Clemens, had no special taste
     for platforming, and while undoubtedly there would have been large
     profits in the combination, the promise of the venture did not
     compel his acceptance.

     In spite of his distaste for the platform Mark Twain was always
     giving readings and lectures, without charge, for some worthy
     Hartford cause.  He was ready to do what he could to help an
     entertainment along, if he could do it in his own way--an original
     way, sometimes, and not always gratifying to the committee, whose
     plans were likely to be prearranged.

     For one thing, Clemens, supersensitive in the matter of putting
     himself forward in his own town, often objected to any special
     exploitation of his name.  This always distressed the committee, who
     saw a large profit to their venture in the prestige of his fame.
     The following characteristic letter was written in self-defense
     when, on one such occasion, a committee had become sufficiently
     peevish to abandon a worthy enterprise.


To an Entertainment Committee, in Hartford:

                                        Nov. 9.
E. S. SYKES, Esq:

Dr. SIR,--Mr. Burton’s note puts upon me all the blame of the
destruction of an enterprise which had for its object the succor of the
Hartford poor. That is to say, this enterprise has been dropped because
of the “dissatisfaction with Mr. Clemens’s stipulations.” Therefore I
must be allowed to say a word in my defense.

There were two “stipulations”--exactly two. I made one of them; if the
other was made at all, it was a joint one, from the choir and me.

My individual stipulation was, that my name should be kept out of the
newspapers. The joint one was that sufficient tickets to insure a good
sum should be sold before the date of the performance should be set.
(Understand, we wanted a good sum--I do not think any of us bothered
about a good house; it was money we were after)

Now you perceive that my concern is simply with my individual
stipulation. Did that break up the enterprise?

Eugene Burton said he would sell $300 worth of the tickets himself.--Mr.
Smith said he would sell $200 or $300 worth himself. My plan for Asylum
Hill Church would have ensured $150 from that quarter.--All this in
the face of my “Stipulation.” It was proposed to raise $1000; did my
stipulation render the raising of $400 or $500 in a dozen churches

My stipulation is easily defensible. When a mere reader or lecturer has
appeared 3 or 4 times in a town of Hartford’s size, he is a good deal
more than likely to get a very unpleasant snub if he shoves himself
forward about once or twice more. Therefore I long ago made up my
mind that whenever I again appeared here, it should be only in a minor
capacity and not as a chief attraction.

Now, I placed that harmless and very justifiable stipulation before
the committee the other day; they carried it to headquarters and it was
accepted there. I am not informed that any objection was made to it, or
that it was regarded as an offense. It seems late in the day, now, after
a good deal of trouble has been taken and a good deal of thankless work
done by the committees, to, suddenly tear up the contract and then turn
and bowl me down from long range as being the destroyer of it.

If the enterprise has failed because of my individual stipulation, here
you have my proper and reasonable reasons for making that stipulation.

If it has failed because of the joint stipulation, put the blame there,
and let us share it collectively.

I think our plan was a good one. I do not doubt that Mr. Burton still
approves of it, too. I believe the objections come from other quarters,
and not from him. Mr. Twichell used the following words in last Sunday’s
sermon, (if I remember correctly):

“My hearers, the prophet Deuteronomy says this wise thing: ‘Though ye
plan a goodly house for the poor, and plan it with wisdom, and do take
off your coats and set to to build it, with high courage, yet shall the
croaker presently come, and lift up his voice, (having his coat on,) and
say, Verily this plan is not well planned--and he will go his way; and
the obstructionist will come, and lift up his voice, (having his coat
on,) and say, Behold, this is but a sick plan--and he will go his way;
and the man that knows it all will come, and lift up his voice, (having
his coat on,) and say, Lo, call they this a plan? then will he go his
way; and the places which knew him once shall know him no more forever,
because he was not, for God took him. Now therefore I say unto you,
Verily that house will not be budded. And I say this also: He that
waiteth for all men to be satisfied with his plan, let him seek eternal
life, for he shall need it.’”
This portion of Mr. Twichell’s sermon made a great impression upon me,
and I was grieved that some one had not wakened me earlier so that I
might have heard what went before.

                                   S. L. CLEMENS.

     Mr. Sykes (of the firm of Sykes & Newton, the Allen House Pharmacy)
     replied that he had read the letter to the committee and that it had
     set those gentlemen right who had not before understood the
     situation.  “If others were as ready to do their part as yourself
     our poor would not want assistance,” he said, in closing.

     We come now to an incident which assumes the proportions of an
     episode-even of a catastrophe--in Mark Twain’s career.  The disaster
     was due to a condition noted a few pages earlier--the inability of
     genius to judge its own efforts.  The story has now become history
     --printed history--it having been sympathetically told by Howells in
     My Mark Twain, and more exhaustively, with a report of the speech
     that invited the lightning, in a former work by the present writer.

     The speech was made at John Greenleaf Whittier’s seventieth birthday
     dinner, given by the Atlantic staff on the evening of December 17,
     1877.  It was intended as a huge joke--a joke that would shake the
     sides of these venerable Boston deities, Longfellow, Emerson,
     Holmes, and the rest of that venerated group.  Clemens had been a
     favorite at the Atlantic lunches and dinners--a speech by him always
     an event.  This time he decided to outdo himself.

     He did that, but not in the way he had intended.  To use one of his
     own metaphors, he stepped out to meet the rainbow and got struck by
     lightning.  His joke was not of the Boston kind or size.  When its
     full nature burst upon the company--when the ears of the assembled
     diners heard the sacred names of Longfellow, Emerson, and Holmes
     lightly associated with human aspects removed--oh, very far removed
    --from Cambridge and Concord, a chill fell upon the diners that
     presently became amazement, and then creeping paralysis.  Nobody
     knew afterward whether the great speech that he had so gaily planned
     ever came to a natural end or not.  Somebody--the next on the
     program--attempted to follow him, but presently the company melted
     out of the doors and crept away into the night.

     It seemed to Mark Twain that his career had come to an end.  Back in
     Hartford, sweating and suffering through sleepless nights, he wrote
     Howells his anguish.


To W. D. Howells, in Boston:

                                                  Sunday Night.  1877.

MY DEAR HOWELLS,--My sense of disgrace does not abate. It grows. I see
that it is going to add itself to my list of permanencies--a list of
humiliations that extends back to when I was seven years old, and which
keep on persecuting me regardless of my repentancies.

I feel that my misfortune has injured me all over the country; therefore
it will be best that I retire from before the public at present. It
will hurt the Atlantic for me to appear in its pages, now. So it is my
opinion and my wife’s that the telephone story had better be suppressed.
Will you return those proofs or revises to me, so that I can use the
same on some future occasion?

It seems as if I must have been insane when I wrote that speech and saw
no harm in it, no disrespect toward those men whom I reverenced so much.
And what shame I brought upon you, after what you said in introducing
me! It burns me like fire to think of it.

The whole matter is a dreadful subject--let me drop it here--at least on

                         Penitently yrs,

     Howells sent back a comforting letter.  “I have no idea of dropping
     you out of the Atlantic,” he wrote; “and Mr. Houghton has still
     less, if possible.  You are going to help and not hurt us many a
     year yet, if you will....  You are not going to be floored by it;
     there is more justice than that, even in this world.”
     Howells added that Charles Elliot Norton had expressed just the
     right feeling concerning the whole affair, and that many who had not
     heard the speech, but read the newspaper reports of it, had found it
     without offense.

     Clemens wrote contrite letters to Holmes, Emerson, and Longfellow,
     and received most gracious acknowledgments.  Emerson, indeed, had
     not heard the speech: His faculties were already blurred by the
     mental mists that would eventually shut him in.  Clemens wrote again
     to Howells, this time with less anguish.


To W. D. Howells, in Boston:

                                             HARTFORD, Friday, 1877.

MY DEAR HOWELLS,--Your letter was a godsend; and perhaps the welcomest
part of it was your consent that I write to those gentlemen; for you
discouraged my hints in that direction that morning in Boston--rightly,
too, for my offense was yet too new, then. Warner has tried to hold up
our hands like the good fellow he is, but poor Twichell could not say a
word, and confessed that he would rather take nearly any punishment than
face Livy and me. He hasn’t been here since.

It is curious, but I pitched early upon Mr. Norton as the very man who
would think some generous thing about that matter, whether he said it or
not. It is splendid to be a man like that--but it is given to few to be.

I wrote a letter yesterday, and sent a copy to each of the three. I
wanted to send a copy to Mr. Whittier also, since the offense was done
also against him, being committed in his presence and he the guest of
the occasion, besides holding the well-nigh sacred place he does in his
people’s estimation; but I didn’t know whether to venture or not, and so
ended by doing nothing. It seemed an intrusion to approach him, and even
Livy seemed to have her doubts as to the best and properest way to do
in the case. I do not reverence Mr. Emerson less, but somehow I could
approach him easier.

Send me those proofs, if you have got them handy; I want to submit them
to Wylie; he won’t show them to anybody.

Had a very pleasant and considerate letter from Mr. Houghton, today, and
was very glad to receive it.

You can’t imagine how brilliant and beautiful that new brass fender is,
and how perfectly naturally it takes its place under the carved oak. How
they did scour it up before they sent it! I lied a good deal about it
when I came home--so for once I kept a secret and surprised Livy on a
Christmas morning!

I haven’t done a stroke of work since the Atlantic dinner; have only
moped around. But I’m going to try tomorrow. How could I ever have.

Ah, well, I am a great and sublime fool. But then I am God’s fool, and
all His works must be contemplated with respect.

Livy and I join in the warmest regards to you and yours,

                                        Yrs ever,

     Longfellow, in his reply, said: “I do not believe anybody
     was much hurt. Certainly I was not, and Holmes tells me he
     was not. So I think you may dismiss the matter from your
     mind without further remorse.”
     Holmes wrote: “It never occurred to me for a moment to take
     offense, or feel wounded by your playful use of my name.”
     Miss Ellen Emerson replied for her father (in a letter to
     Mrs. Clemens) that the speech had made no impression upon
     him, giving at considerable length the impression it had
     made on herself and other members of the family.

     Clearly, it was not the principals who were hurt, but only those who
     held them in awe, though one can realize that this would not make it
     much easier for Mark Twain.


     Whether the unhappy occurrence at the Whittier dinner had anything
     to do with Mark Twain’s resolve to spend a year or two in Europe
     cannot be known now.  There were other good reasons for going, one
     in particular being a demand for another book of travel.  It was
     also true, as he explains in a letter to his mother, that his days
     were full of annoyances, making it difficult for him to work.  He
     had a tendency to invest money in almost any glittering enterprise
     that came along, and at this time he was involved in the promotion
     of a variety of patent rights that brought him no return other than
     assessment and vexation.

     Clemens’s mother was by this time living with her son Onion and his
     wife, in Iowa.


To Mrs. Jane Clemens, in Keokuk, Iowa:

                                             HARTFORD, Feb. 17, 1878

MY DEAR MOTHER,--I suppose I am the worst correspondent in the whole
world; and yet I grow worse and worse all the time. My conscience
blisters me for not writing you, but it has ceased to abuse me for not
writing other folks.

Life has come to be a very serious matter with me. I have a badgered,
harassed feeling, a good part of my time. It comes mainly of business
responsibilities and annoyances, and the persecution of kindly letters
from well meaning strangers--to whom I must be rudely silent or else put
in the biggest half of my time bothering over answers. There are other
things also that help to consume my time and defeat my projects. Well,
the consequence is, I cannot write a book at home. This cuts my income
down. Therefore, I have about made up my mind to take my tribe and fly
to some little corner of Europe and budge no more until I shall have
completed one of the half dozen books that lie begun, up stairs. Please
say nothing about this at present.

We propose to sail the 11th of April. I shall go to Fredonia to meet
you, but it will not be well for Livy to make that trip I am afraid.
However, we shall see. I will hope she can go.

Mr. Twichell has just come in, so I must go to him. We are all well, and
send love to you all.


     He was writing few letters at this time, and doing but little work.
     There were always many social events during the winter, and what
     with his European plans and a diligent study of the German language,
     which the entire family undertook, his days and evenings were full
     enough.  Howells wrote protesting against the European travel and
     berating him for his silence:

     “I never was in Berlin and don’t know any family hotel there.
     I should be glad I didn’t, if it would keep you from going.  You
     deserve to put up at the Sign of the Savage in Vienna.  Really, it’s
     a great blow to me to hear of that prospected sojourn.  It’s a
     shame.  I must see you, somehow, before you go.  I’m in dreadfully
     low spirits about it.

     “I was afraid your silence meant something wicked.”
     Clemens replied promptly, urging a visit to Hartford, adding a
     postscript for Mrs. Howells, characteristic enough to warrant

P. S. to Mrs. Howells, in Boston:

                                                       Feb. ‘78.
DEAR MRS. HOWELLS. Mrs. Clemens wrote you a letter, and handed it to me
half an hour ago, while I was folding mine to Mr. Howells. I laid that
letter on this table before me while I added the paragraph about R,’s
application. Since then I have been hunting and swearing, and swearing
and hunting, but I can’t find a sign of that letter. It is the most
astonishing disappearance I ever heard of. Mrs. Clemens has gone off
driving--so I will have to try and give you an idea of her communication
from memory. Mainly it consisted of an urgent desire that you come to
see us next week, if you can possibly manage it, for that will be a
reposeful time, the turmoil of breaking up beginning the week after. She
wants you to tell her about Italy, and advise her in that connection, if
you will. Then she spoke of her plans--hers, mind you, for I never have
anything quite so definite as a plan. She proposes to stop a fortnight
in (confound the place, I’ve forgotten what it was,) then go and live in
Dresden till sometime in the summer; then retire to Switzerland for the
hottest season, then stay a while in Venice and put in the winter
in Munich. This program subject to modifications according to
circumstances. She said something about some little by-trips here and
there, but they didn’t stick in my memory because the idea didn’t charm

(They have just telephoned me from the Courant office that Bayard Taylor
and family have taken rooms in our ship, the Holsatia, for the 11th

Do come, if you possibly can!--and remember and don’t forget to avoid
letting Mrs. Clemens find out I lost her letter. Just answer her the
same as if you had got it.

                              Sincerely yours
                                             S. L. CLEMENS.

     The Howellses came, as invited, for a final reunion before the
     breaking up.  This was in the early half of March; the Clemenses
     were to sail on the 11th of the following month.

     Orion Clemens, meantime, had conceived a new literary idea and was
     piling in his MS. as fast as possible to get his brother’s judgment
     on it before the sailing-date.  It was not a very good time to send
     MS., but Mark Twain seems to have read it and given it some
     consideration.  “The Journey in Heaven,” of his own, which he
     mentions, was the story published so many years later under the
     title of “Captain Stormfield’s Visit to Heaven.”  He had began it in
     1868, on his voyage to San Francisco, it having been suggested by
     conversations with Capt.  Ned Wakeman, of one of the Pacific
     steamers.  Wakeman also appears in ‘Roughing It,’ Chap.  L, as Capt.
     Ned Blakely, and again in one of the “Rambling Notes of an Idle
     Excursion,” as “Captain Hurricane Jones.”


To Orion Clemens, in Keokuk:

                                             HARTFORD, Mch.  23, 1878.

MY DEAR BRO.,--Every man must learn his trade--not pick it up.
God requires that he learn it by slow and painful processes. The
apprentice-hand, in black-smithing, in medicine, in literature, in
everything, is a thing that can’t be hidden. It always shows.

But happily there is a market for apprentice work, else the “Innocents
Abroad” would have had no sale. Happily, too, there’s a wider market for
some sorts of apprentice literature than there is for the very best of
journey-work. This work of yours is exceedingly crude, but I am free to
say it is less crude than I expected it to be, and considerably better
work than I believed you could do, it is too crude to offer to any
prominent periodical, so I shall speak to the N. Y. Weekly people. To
publish it there will be to bury it. Why could not same good genius have
sent me to the N. Y. Weekly with my apprentice sketches?

You should not publish it in book form at all--for this reason: it is
only an imitation of Verne--it is not a burlesque. But I think it may be
regarded as proof that Verne cannot be burlesqued.

In accompanying notes I have suggested that you vastly modify the first
visit to hell, and leave out the second visit altogether. Nobody
would, or ought to print those things. You are not advanced enough in
literature to venture upon a matter requiring so much practice. Let me
show you what a man has got to go through:

Nine years ago I mapped out my “Journey in Heaven.” I discussed it with
literary friends whom I could trust to keep it to themselves.

I gave it a deal of thought, from time to time. After a year or more
I wrote it up. It was not a success. Five years ago I wrote it again,
altering the plan. That MS is at my elbow now. It was a considerable
improvement on the first attempt, but still it wouldn’t do--last year
and year before I talked frequently with Howells about the subject, and
he kept urging me to do it again.

So I thought and thought, at odd moments and at last I struck what I
considered to be the right plan! Mind I have never altered the ideas,
from the first--the plan was the difficulty. When Howells was here last,
I laid before him the whole story without referring to my MS and he
said: “You have got it sure this time. But drop the idea of making mere
magazine stuff of it. Don’t waste it. Print it by itself--publish it
first in England--ask Dean Stanley to endorse it, which will draw some
of the teeth of the religious press, and then reprint in America.” I
doubt my ability to get Dean Stanley to do anything of the sort, but I
shall do the rest--and this is all a secret which you must not divulge.

Now look here--I have tried, all these years, to think of some way of
“doing” hell too--and have always had to give it up. Hell, in my book,
will not occupy five pages of MS I judge--it will be only covert hints,
I suppose, and quickly dropped, I may end by not even referring to it.

And mind you, in my opinion you will find that you can’t write up hell
so it will stand printing. Neither Howells nor I believe in hell or the
divinity of the Savior, but no matter, the Savior is none the less a
sacred Personage, and a man should have no desire or disposition to
refer to him lightly, profanely, or otherwise than with the profoundest

The only safe thing is not to introduce him, or refer to him at all,
I suspect. I have entirely rewritten one book 3 (perhaps 4.) times,
changing the plan every time--1200 pages of MS. wasted and burned--and
shall tackle it again, one of these years and maybe succeed at last.
Therefore you need not expect to get your book right the first time.
Go to work and revamp or rewrite it. God only exhibits his thunder and
lightning at intervals, and so they always command attention. These are
God’s adjectives. You thunder and lightning too much; the reader ceases
to get under the bed, by and by.

Mr. Perkins will send you and Ma your checks when we are gone. But don’t
write him, ever, except a single line in case he forgets the checks--for
the man is driven to death with work.

I see you are half promising yourself a monthly return for your book. In
my experience, previously counted chickens never do hatch. How many
of mine I have counted! and never a one of them but failed! It is much
better to hedge disappointment by not counting.--Unexpected money is a
delight. The same sum is a bitterness when you expected more.

My time in America is growing mighty short. Perhaps we can manage in
this way: Imprimis, if the N. Y. Weekly people know that you are my
brother, they will turn that fact into an advertisement--a thing of
value to them, but not to you and me. This must be prevented. I will
write them a note to say you have a friend near Keokuk, Charles S.
Miller, who has a MS for sale which you think is a pretty clever
travesty on Verne; and if they want it they might write to him in your
care. Then if any correspondence ensues between you and them, let Mollie
write for you and sign your name--your own hand writing representing
Miller’s. Keep yourself out of sight till you make a strike on your own
merits there is no other way to get a fair verdict upon your merits.

Later-I’ve written the note to Smith, and with nothing in it which he
can use as an advertisement. I’m called--Good bye-love to you both.

We leave here next Wednesday for Elmira: we leave there Apl. 9 or
10--and sail 11th

                         Yr Bro.

     In the letter that follows the mention of Annie and Sam refers, of
     course, to the children of Mrs. Moffett, who had been, Pamela
     Clemens.  They were grown now, and Annie Moffett was married to
     Charles L.  Webster, who later was to become Mark Twain’s business
     partner.  The Moffetts and Websters were living in Fredonia at this
     time, and Clemens had been to pay them a good-by visit.  The Taylor
     dinner mentioned was a farewell banquet given to Bayard Taylor, who
     had been appointed Minister to Germany, and was to sail on the ship
     with Mark Twain.  Mark Twain’s mother was visiting in Fredonia when
     this letter was written.


To Mrs. Jane Clemens, in Fredonia:

                                                  Apr.  7, ‘78.

MY DEAR MOTHER,--I have told Livy all about Annie’s beautiful house, and
about Sam and Charley, and about Charley’s ingenious manufactures and
his strong manhood and good promise, and how glad I am that he and Annie
married. And I have told her about Annie’s excellent house-keeping, also
about the great Bacon conflict; (I told you it was a hundred to one
that neither Livy nor the European powers had heard of that desolating

And I have told her how beautiful you are in your age and how bright
your mind is with its old-time brightness, and how she and the children
would enjoy you. And I have told her how singularly young Pamela is
looking, and what a fine large fellow Sam is, and how ill the lingering
syllable “my” to his name fits his port and figure.

Well, Pamela, after thinking it over for a day or so, I came near
inquiring about a state-room in our ship for Sam, to please you, but my
wiser former resolution came back to me. It is not for his good that he
have friends in the ship. His conduct in the Bacon business shows that
he will develop rapidly into a manly man as soon as he is cast loose
from your apron strings.

You don’t teach him to push ahead and do and dare things for himself,
but you do just the reverse. You are assisted in your damaging work by
the tyrannous ways of a village--villagers watch each other and so
make cowards of each other. After Sam shall have voyaged to Europe by
himself, and rubbed against the world and taken and returned its cuffs,
do you think he will hesitate to escort a guest into any whisky-mill in
Fredonia when he himself has no sinful business to transact there?
No, he will smile at the idea. If he avoids this courtesy now from
principle, of course I find no fault with it at all--only if he thinks
it is principle he may be mistaken; a close examination may show it is
only a bowing to the tyranny of public opinion.

I only say it may--I cannot venture to say it will. Hartford is not a
large place, but it is broader than to have ways of that sort. Three
or four weeks ago, at a Moody and Sankey meeting, the preacher read a
letter from somebody “exposing” the fact that a prominent clergyman had
gone from one of those meetings, bought a bottle of lager beer and drank
it on the premises (a drug store.)

A tempest of indignation swept the town. Our clergymen and everybody
else said the “culprit” had not only done an innocent thing, but had
done it in an open, manly way, and it was nobody’s right or business to
find fault with it. Perhaps this dangerous latitude comes of the fact
that we never have any temperance “rot” going on in Hartford.

I find here a letter from Orion, submitting some new matter in his story
for criticism. When you write him, please tell him to do the best he can
and bang away. I can do nothing further in this matter, for I have but
3 days left in which to settle a deal of important business and answer a
bushel and a half of letters. I am very nearly tired to death.

I was so jaded and worn, at the Taylor dinner, that I found I could not
remember 3 sentences of the speech I had memorized, and therefore got
up and said so and excused myself from speaking. I arrived here at 3
o’clock this morning. I think the next 3 days will finish me. The idea
of sitting down to a job of literary criticism is simply ludicrous.

A young lady passenger in our ship has been placed under Livy’s charge.
Livy couldn’t easily get out of it, and did not want to, on her own
account, but fully expected I would make trouble when I heard of it. But
I didn’t. A girl can’t well travel alone, so I offered no objection.
She leaves us at Hamburg. So I’ve got 6 people in my care, now--which is
just 6 too many for a man of my unexecutive capacity. I expect nothing
else but to lose some of them overboard.

We send our loving good-byes to all the household and hope to see you
again after a spell.

                         Affly Yrs.

     There are no other American letters of this period.  The Clemens
     party, which included Miss Clara Spaulding, of Elmira, sailed as
     planned, on the Holsatia, April 11, 1878.  As before stated, Bayard
     Taylor was on the ship; also Murat Halstead and family.  On the eve
     of departure, Clemens sent to Howells this farewell word:

     “And that reminds me, ungrateful dog that I am, that I owe as much
     to your training as the rude country job-printer owes to the city
     boss who takes him in hand and teaches him the right way to handle
     his art.  I was talking to Mrs. Clemens about this the other day,
     and grieving because I never mentioned it to you, thereby seeming to
     ignore it, or to be unaware of it.  Nothing that has passed under
     your eye needs any revision before going into a volume, while all my
     other stuff does need so much.”
     A characteristic tribute, and from the heart.

     The first European letter came from Frankfort, a rest on their way
     to Heidelberg.


To W. D. Howells, in Boston:

                                   FRANKFORT ON THE MAIN, May 4, 1878.

MY DEAR HOWELLS,--I only propose to write a single line to say we are
still around. Ah, I have such a deep, grateful, unutterable sense of
being “out of it all.” I think I foretaste some of the advantages of
being dead. Some of the joy of it. I don’t read any newspapers or care
for them. When people tell me England has declared war, I drop the
subject, feeling that it is none of my business; when they tell me Mrs.
Tilton has confessed and Mr. B. denied, I say both of them have done
that before, therefore let the worn stub of the Plymouth white-wash
brush be brought out once more, and let the faithful spit on their hands
and get to work again regardless of me--for I am out of it all.

We had 2 almost devilish weeks at sea (and I tell you Bayard Taylor is a
really lovable man--which you already knew) then we staid a week in the
beautiful, the very beautiful city of Hamburg; and since then we have
been fooling along, 4 hours per day by rail, with a courier, spending
the other 20 in hotels whose enormous bedchambers and private parlors
are an overpowering marvel to me: Day before yesterday, in Cassel, we
had a love of a bedroom, 31 feet long, and a parlor with 2 sofas, 12
chairs, a writing desk and 4 tables scattered around, here and there in
it. Made of red silk, too, by George.

The times and times I wish you were along! You could throw some fun into
the journey; whereas I go on, day by day, in a smileless state of solemn

What a paradise this is! What clean clothes, what good faces, what
tranquil contentment, what prosperity, what genuine freedom, what superb
government. And I am so happy, for I am responsible for none of it. I am
only here to enjoy. How charmed I am when I overhear a German word which
I understand. With love from us 2 to you 2.


P. S. We are not taking six days to go from Hamburg to Heidelberg
because we prefer it. Quite on the contrary. Mrs. Clemens picked up
a dreadful cold and sore throat on board ship and still keeps them
in stock--so she could only travel 4 hours a day. She wanted to dive
straight through, but I had different notions about the wisdom of it. I
found that 4 hours a day was the best she could do. Before I forget
it, our permanent address is Care Messrs. Koester & Co., Backers,
Heidelberg. We go there tomorrow.

Poor Susy! From the day we reached German soil, we have required Rosa to
speak German to the children--which they hate with all their souls. The
other morning in Hanover, Susy came to us (from Rosa, in the nursery)
and said, in halting syllables, “Papa, vie viel uhr ist es?”--then
turned with pathos in her big eyes, and said, “Mamma, I wish Rosa was
made in English.”

     Frankfort was a brief halting-place, their destination being
     Heidelberg.  They were presently located there in the beautiful
     Schloss hotel, which overlooks the old castle with its forest
     setting, the flowing Neckar, and the distant valley of the Rhine.
     Clemens, who had discovered the location, and loved it, toward the
     end of May reported to Howells his felicities.


Fragment of a letter to W. D. Howells, in Boston:

                                   SCHLOSS-HOTEL HEIDELBERG,

                                   Sunday, a. m., May 26, 1878.

MY DEAR HOWELLS,--....divinely located. From this airy porch among the
shining groves we look down upon Heidelberg Castle, and upon the swift
Neckar, and the town, and out over the wide green level of the
Rhine valley--a marvelous prospect. We are in a Cul-de-sac formed of
hill-ranges and river; we are on the side of a steep mountain; the river
at our feet is walled, on its other side, (yes, on both sides,) by a
steep and wooded mountain-range which rises abruptly aloft from the
water’s edge; portions of these mountains are densely wooded; the
plain of the Rhine, seen through the mouth of this pocket, has many and
peculiar charms for the eye.

Our bedroom has two great glass bird-cages (enclosed balconies) one
looking toward the Rhine valley and sunset, the other looking up
the Neckar cul-de-sac, and naturally we spend nearly all our time in
these--when one is sunny the other is shady. We have tables and chairs
in them; we do our reading, writing, studying, smoking and suppering in

The view from these bird-cages is my despair. The pictures change from
one enchanting aspect to another in ceaseless procession, never keeping
one form half an hour, and never taking on an unlovely one.

And then Heidelberg on a dark night! It is massed, away down there,
almost right under us, you know, and stretches off toward the valley.
Its curved and interlacing streets are a cobweb, beaded thick with
lights--a wonderful thing to see; then the rows of lights on the arched
bridges, and their glinting reflections in the water; and away at the
far end, the Eisenbahnhof, with its twenty solid acres of glittering
gas-jets, a huge garden, as one may say, whose every plant is a flame.

These balconies are the darlingest things. I have spent all the morning
in this north one. Counting big and little, it has 256 panes of glass
in it; so one is in effect right out in the free sunshine, and yet
sheltered from wind and rain--and likewise doored and curtained from
whatever may be going on in the bedroom. It must have been a noble
genius who devised this hotel. Lord, how blessed is the repose, the
tranquillity of this place! Only two sounds; the happy clamor of the
birds in the groves, and the muffled music of the Neckar, tumbling over
the opposing dykes. It is no hardship to lie awake awhile, nights, for
this subdued roar has exactly the sound of a steady rain beating upon
a roof. It is so healing to the spirit; and it bears up the thread of
one’s imaginings as the accompaniment bears up a song.

While Livy and Miss Spaulding have been writing at this table, I have
sat tilted back, near by, with a pipe and the last Atlantic, and read
Charley Warner’s article with prodigious enjoyment. I think it is
exquisite. I think it must be the roundest and broadest and completest
short essay he has ever written. It is clear, and compact, and
charmingly done.

The hotel grounds join and communicate with the Castle grounds; so we
and the children loaf in the winding paths of those leafy vastnesses a
great deal, and drink beer and listen to excellent music.

When we first came to this hotel, a couple of weeks ago, I pointed to a
house across the river, and said I meant to rent the centre room on
the 3d floor for a work-room. Jokingly we got to speaking of it as my
office; and amused ourselves with watching “my people” daily in their
small grounds and trying to make out what we could of their dress, &c.,
without a glass. Well, I loafed along there one day and found on that
house the only sign of the kind on that side of the river: “Moblirte
Wohnung zu Vermiethen!” I went in and rented that very room which I
had long ago selected. There was only one other room in the whole
double-house unrented.

(It occurs to me that I made a great mistake in not thinking to deliver
a very bad German speech, every other sentence pieced out with English,
at the Bayard Taylor banquet in New York. I think I could have made it
one of the features of the occasion.)--[He used this plan at a gathering
of the American students in Heidelberg, on July 4th, with great effect;
so his idea was not wasted.]

We left Hartford before the end of March, and I have been idle ever
since. I have waited for a call to go to work--I knew it would come.
Well, it began to come a week ago; my note-book comes out more and more
frequently every day since; 3 days ago I concluded to move my manuscript
over to my den. Now the call is loud and decided at last. So tomorrow I
shall begin regular, steady work, and stick to it till middle of July or
1st August, when I look for Twichell; we will then walk about Germany 2
or 3 weeks, and then I’ll go to work again--(perhaps in Munich.)

We both send a power of love to the Howellses, and we do wish you were
here. Are you in the new house? Tell us about it.

                                             Yrs Ever

     There has been no former mention in the letters of the coming of
     Twichell; yet this had been a part of the European plan.  Mark Twain
     had invited his walking companion to make a tramp with him through
     Europe, as his guest.  Material for the new book would grow faster
     with Twichell as a companion; and these two in spite of their widely
     opposed views concerning Providence and the general scheme of
     creation, were wholly congenial comrades.  Twichell, in Hartford,
     expecting to receive the final summons to start, wrote: “Oh, my! do
     you realize, Mark, what a symposium it is to be?  I do.  To begin
     with, I am thoroughly tired, and the rest will be worth everything.
     To walk with you and talk with you for weeks together--why, it’s my
     dream of luxury.”
     August 1st brought Twichell, and the friends set out without delay
     on a tramp through the Black Forest, making short excursions at
     first, but presently extending them in the direction of Switzerland.
     Mrs. Clemens and the others remained in Heidelberg, to follow at
     their leisure.  To Mrs. Clemens her husband sent frequent reports of
     their wanderings.  It will be seen that their tramp did not confine
     itself to pedestrianism, though they did, in fact, walk a great
     deal, and Mark Twain in a note to his mother declared, “I loathe all
     travel, except on foot.”  The reports to Mrs. Clemens follow:


Letters to Mrs. Clemens, in Heidelberg:

                              ALLERHEILIGEN  Aug. 5, 1878   8:30 p.m.

Livy darling, we had a rattling good time to-day, but we came very near
being left at Baden-Baden, for instead of waiting in the waiting-room,
we sat down on the platform to wait where the trains come in from the
other direction. We sat there full ten minutes--and then all of a sudden
it occurred to me that that was not the right place.

On the train the principal of the big English school at Nauheim (of
which Mr. Scheiding was a teacher), introduced himself to me, and then
he mapped out our day for us (for today and tomorrow) and also drew a
map and gave us directions how to proceed through Switzerland. He had
his entire school with him, taking them on a prodigious trip through
Switzerland--tickets for the round trip ten dollars apiece. He has
done this annually for 10 years. We took a post carriage from Aachen to
Otterhofen for 7 marks--stopped at the “Pflug” to drink beer, and
saw that pretty girl again at a distance. Her father, mother, and two
brothers received me like an ancient customer and sat down and talked
as long as I had any German left. The big room was full of red-vested
farmers (the Gemeindrath of the district, with the Burgermeister at
the head,) drinking beer and talking public business. They had held
an election and chosen a new member and had been drinking beer at his
expense for several hours. (It was intensely Black-foresty.)

There was an Australian there (a student from Stuttgart or somewhere,)
and Joe told him who I was and he laid himself out to make our course
plain, for us--so I am certain we can’t get lost between here and

We walked the carriage road till we came to that place where one sees
the foot path on the other side of the ravine, then we crossed over and
took that. For a good while we were in a dense forest and judged we were
lost, but met a native women who said we were all right. We fooled along
and got there at 6 p.m.--ate supper, then followed down the ravine to
the foot of the falls, then struck into a blind path to see where it
would go, and just about dark we fetched up at the Devil’s Pulpit on top
of the hills. Then home. And now to bed, pretty sleepy. Joe sends love
and I send a thousand times as much, my darling.

                                                  S. L. C.

                                                  HOTEL GENNIN.

Livy darling, we had a lovely day jogged right along, with a good horse
and sensible driver--the last two hours right behind an open carriage
filled with a pleasant German family--old gentleman and 3 pretty
daughters. At table d’hote tonight, 3 dishes were enough for me, and
then I bored along tediously through the bill of fare, with a back-ache,
not daring to get up and bow to the German family and leave. I meant to
sit it through and make them get up and do the bowing; but at last Joe
took pity on me and said he would get up and drop them a curtsy and
put me out of my misery. I was grateful. He got up and delivered
a succession of frank and hearty bows, accompanying them with an
atmosphere of good-fellowship which would have made even an English
family surrender. Of course the Germans responded--then I got right up
and they had to respond to my salaams, too. So “that was done.”
We walked up a gorge and saw a tumbling waterfall which was nothing to
Giessbach, but it made me resolve to drop you a line and urge you to go
and see Giessbach illuminated. Don’t fail--but take a long day’s rest,
first. I love you, sweetheart.


                                   OVER THE GEMMI PASS.

                                   4.30 p.m.  Saturday, Aug. 24, 1878.

Livy darling, Joe and I have had a most noble day. Started to climb (on
foot) at 8.30 this morning among the grandest peaks! Every half hour
carried us back a month in the season. We left them harvesting 2d crop
of hay. At 9 we were in July and found ripe strawberries; at 9.30 we
were in June and gathered flowers belonging to that month; at 10 we were
in May and gathered a flower which appeared in Heidelberg the 17th of
that month; also forget-me-nots, which disappeared from Heidelberg about
mid-May; at 11.30 we were in April (by the flowers;) at noon we had rain
and hail mixed, and wind and enveloping fogs, and considered it
March; at 12.30 we had snowbanks above us and snowbanks below us, and
considered it February. Not good February, though, because in the midst
of the wild desolation the forget-me-not still bloomed, lovely as ever.

What a flower garden the Gemmi Pass is! After I had got my hands full
Joe made me a paper bag, which I pinned to my lapel and filled with
choice specimens. I gathered no flowers which I had ever gathered before
except 4 or 5 kinds. We took it leisurely and I picked all I wanted to.
I mailed my harvest to you a while ago. Don’t send it to Mrs. Brooks
until you have looked it over, flower by flower. It will pay.

Among the clouds and everlasting snows I found a brave and bright
little forget-me-not growing in the very midst of a smashed and tumbled
stone-debris, just as cheerful as if the barren and awful domes and
ramparts that towered around were the blessed walls of heaven. I thought
how Lilly Warner would be touched by such a gracious surprise, if she,
instead of I, had seen it. So I plucked it, and have mailed it to her
with a note.

Our walk was 7 hours--the last 2 down a path as steep as a ladder,
almost, cut in the face of a mighty precipice. People are not allowed to
ride down it. This part of the day’s work taxed our knees, I tell you.
We have been loafing about this village (Leukerbad) for an hour, now
we stay here over Sunday. Not tired at all. (Joe’s hat fell over the
precipice--so he came here bareheaded.) I love you, my darling.


                                        ST. NICHOLAS, Aug. 26th, ‘78.

Livy darling, we came through a-whooping today, 6 hours tramp up steep
hills and down steep hills, in mud and water shoe-deep, and in a steady
pouring rain which never moderated a moment. I was as chipper and
fresh as a lark all the way and arrived without the slightest sense of
fatigue. But we were soaked and my shoes full of water, so we ate at
once, stripped and went to bed for 2 1/2 hours while our traps were
thoroughly dried, and our boots greased in addition. Then we put our
clothes on hot and went to table d’hote.

Made some nice English friends and shall see them at Zermatt tomorrow.

Gathered a small bouquet of new flowers, but they got spoiled. I sent
you a safety-match box full of flowers last night from Leukerbad.

I have just telegraphed you to wire the family news to me at Riffel
tomorrow. I do hope you are all well and having as jolly a time as
we are, for I love you, sweetheart, and also, in a measure, the
Bays.--[Little Susy’s word for “babies.”]--Give my love to Clara
Spaulding and also to the cubs.


     This, as far as it goes, is a truer and better account of the
     excursion than Mark Twain gave in the book that he wrote later.  A
     Tramp Abroad has a quality of burlesque in it, which did not belong
     to the journey at all, but was invented to satisfy the craving for
     what the public conceived to be Mark Twain’s humor.  The serious
     portions of the book are much more pleasing--more like himself.
     The entire journey, as will be seen, lasted one week more than a

     Twichell also made his reports home, some of which give us
     interesting pictures of his walking partner.  In one place he wrote:
     “Mark is a queer fellow.  There is nothing he so delights in as a
     swift, strong stream.  You can hardly get him to leave one when once
     he is within the influence of its fascinations.”
     Twichell tells how at Kandersteg they were out together one evening
     where a brook comes plunging down from Gasternthal and how he pushed
     in a drift to see it go racing along the current.  “When I got back
     to the path Mark was running down stream after it as hard as he
     could go, throwing up his hands and shouting in the wildest ecstasy,
     and when a piece went over a fall and emerged to view in the foam
     below he would jump up and down and yell.  He said afterward that he
     had not been so excited in three months.”
     In other places Twichell refers to his companion’s consideration for
     the feeling of others, and for animals.  “When we are driving, his
     concern is all about the horse.  He can’t bear to see the whip used,
     or to see a horse pull hard.”
After the walk over Gemmi Pass he wrote: “Mark to-day was immensely
absorbed in flowers. He scrambled around and gathered a great variety,
and manifested the intensest pleasure in them. He crowded a pocket of
his note-book with his specimens, and wanted more room.”
Whereupon Twichell got out his needle and thread and some stiff paper he
had and contrived the little paper bag to hang to the front of his vest.

The tramp really ended at Lausanne, where Clemens joined his party,
but a short excursion to Chillon and Chamonix followed, the travelers
finally separating at Geneva, Twichell to set out for home by way of
England, Clemens to remain and try to write the story of their travels.
He hurried a good-by letter after his comrade:


To Rev. J. H. Twichell:

                                                       (No date)

DEAR OLD JOE,--It is actually all over! I was so low-spirited at the
station yesterday, and this morning, when I woke, I couldn’t seem to
accept the dismal truth that you were really gone, and the pleasant
tramping and talking at an end. Ah, my boy! it has been such a rich
holiday to me, and I feel under such deep and honest obligations to you
for coming. I am putting out of my mind all memory of the times when
I misbehaved toward you and hurt you: I am resolved to consider it
forgiven, and to store up and remember only the charming hours of the
journeys and the times when I was not unworthy to be with you and share
a companionship which to me stands first after Livy’s. It is justifiable
to do this; for why should I let my small infirmities of disposition
live and grovel among my mental pictures of the eternal sublimities of
the Alps?

Livy can’t accept or endure the fact that you are gone. But you are,
and we cannot get around it. So take our love with you, and bear it also
over the sea to Harmony, and God bless you both.


     From Switzerland the Clemens party worked down into Italy,
     sight-seeing, a diversion in which Mark Twain found little enough of
     interest.  He had seen most of the sights ten years before, when his
     mind was fresh.  He unburdened himself to Twichell and to Howells,
     after a period of suffering.


To J. H. Twichell, in Hartford:

                                                  ROME, Nov. 3, ‘78.

DEAR JOE,--.....I have received your several letters, and we have
prodigiously enjoyed them. How I do admire a man who can sit down and
whale away with a pen just the same as if it was fishing--or something
else as full of pleasure and as void of labor. I can’t do it; else, in
common decency, I would when I write to you. Joe, if I can make a book
out of the matter gathered in your company over here, the book is safe;
but I don’t think I have gathered any matter before or since your visit
worth writing up. I do wish you were in Rome to do my sightseeing for
me. Rome interests me as much as East Hartford could, and no more. That
is, the Rome which the average tourist feels an interest in; but there
are other things here which stir me enough to make life worth living.
Livy and Clara Spaulding are having a royal time worshiping the old
Masters, and I as good a time gritting my ineffectual teeth over them.

A friend waits for me. A power of love to you all.



     In his letter to Howells he said: “I wish I could give those sharp
     satires on European life which you mention, but of course a man
     can’t write successful satire except he be in a calm, judicial
     good-humor; whereas I hate travel, and I hate hotels, and I hate the
     opera, and I hate the old masters.  In truth, I don’t ever seem to
     be in a good-enough humor with anything to satirize it.  No, I want
     to stand up before it and curse it and foam at the mouth, or take a
     club and pound it to rags and pulp.  I have got in two or three
     chapters about Wagner’s operas, and managed to do it without showing
     temper, but the strain of another such effort would burst me!”
     From Italy the Clemens party went to Munich, where they had arranged
     in advance for winter quarters.  Clemens claims, in his report of
     the matter to Howells, that he took the party through without the
     aid of a courier, though thirty years later, in some comment which
     he set down on being shown the letter, he wrote concerning this
     paragraph: “Probably a lie.”  He wrote, also, that they acquired a
     great affection for Fraulein Dahlweiner: “Acquired it at once and it
     outlasted the winter we spent in her house.”


To W. D. Howells, in Boston:

                                   No 1a, Karlstrasse, 2e Stock.

                                   Care Fraulein Dahlweiner.

                                   MUNICH, Nov. 17, 1878.

MY DEAR HOWELLS,--We arrived here night before last, pretty well fagged:
an 8-hour pull from Rome to Florence; a rest there of a day and two
nights; then 5 1/2 hours to Bologna; one night’s rest; then from noon
to 10:30 p.m. carried us to Trent, in the Austrian Tyrol, where the
confounded hotel had not received our message, and so at that miserable
hour, in that snowy region, the tribe had to shiver together in fireless
rooms while beds were prepared and warmed, then up at 6 in the morning
and a noble view of snow-peaks glittering in the rich light of a full
moon while the hotel-devils lazily deranged a breakfast for us in the
dreary gloom of blinking candles; then a solid 12 hours pull through the
loveliest snow ranges and snow-draped forest--and at 7 p.m. we hauled
up, in drizzle and fog, at the domicile which had been engaged for
us ten months before. Munich did seem the horriblest place, the most
desolate place, the most unendurable place!--and the rooms were so
small, the conveniences so meagre, and the porcelain stoves so grim,
ghastly, dismal, intolerable! So Livy and Clara (Spaulding) sat down
forlorn, and cried, and I retired to a private, place to pray. By and by
we all retired to our narrow German beds; and when Livy and I finished
talking across the room, it was all decided that we would rest 24 hours
then pay whatever damages were required, and straightway fly to the
south of France.

But you see, that was simply fatigue. Next morning the tribe fell in
love with the rooms, with the weather, with Munich, and head over heels
in love with Fraulein Dahlweiner. We got a larger parlor--an ample
one--threw two communicating bedrooms into one, for the children, and
now we are entirely comfortable. The only apprehension, at present, is
that the climate may not be just right for the children, in which case
we shall have to go to France, but it will be with the sincerest regret.

Now I brought the tribe through from Rome, myself. We never had so
little trouble before. The next time anybody has a courier to put out to
nurse, I shall not be in the market.

Last night the forlornities had all disappeared; so we gathered around
the lamp, after supper, with our beer and my pipe, and in a condition
of grateful snugness tackled the new magazines. I read your new story
aloud, amid thunders of applause, and we all agreed that Captain Jenness
and the old man with the accordion-hat are lovely people and most
skillfully drawn--and that cabin-boy, too, we like. Of course we are all
glad the girl is gone to Venice--for there is no place like Venice. Now
I easily understand that the old man couldn’t go, because you have a
purpose in sending Lyddy by herself: but you could send the old man over
in another ship, and we particularly want him along. Suppose you don’t
need him there? What of that? Can’t you let him feed the doves?
Can’t you let him fall in the canal occasionally? Can’t you let his
good-natured purse be a daily prey to guides and beggar-boys? Can’t you
let him find peace and rest and fellowship under Pere Jacopo’s kindly
wing? (However, you are writing the book, not I--still, I am one of the
people you are writing it for, you understand.) I only want to insist,
in a friendly way, that the old man shall shed his sweet influence
frequently upon the page--that is all.

The first time we called at the convent, Pere Jacopo was absent; the
next (Just at this moment Miss Spaulding spoke up and said something
about Pere Jacopo--there is more in this acting of one mind upon another
than people think) time, he was there, and gave us preserved rose-leaves
to eat, and talked about you, and Mrs. Howells, and Winnie, and brought
out his photographs, and showed us a picture of “the library of your
new house,” but not so--it was the study in your Cambridge house. He
was very sweet and good. He called on us next day; the day after that
we left Venice, after a pleasant sojourn Of 3 or 4 weeks. He expects to
spend this winter in Munich and will see us often, he said.

Pretty soon, I am going to write something, and when I finish it I shall
know whether to put it to itself or in the “Contributors’ Club.” That
“Contributors’ Club” was a most happy idea. By the way, I think that the
man who wrote the paragraph beginning at the bottom of page 643 has
said a mighty sound and sensible thing. I wish his suggestion could be

It is lovely of you to keep that old pipe in such a place of honor.

While it occurs to me, I must tell you Susie’s last. She is sorely
badgered with dreams; and her stock dream is that she is being eaten
up by bears. She is a grave and thoughtful child, as you will remember.
Last night she had the usual dream. This morning she stood apart (after
telling it,) for some time, looking vacantly at the floor, and absorbed
in meditation. At last she looked up, and with the pathos of one who
feels he has not been dealt by with even-handed fairness, said “But
Mamma, the trouble is, that I am never the bear, but always the person.”
It would not have occurred to me that there might be an advantage, even
in a dream, in occasionally being the eater, instead of always the party
eaten, but I easily perceived that her point was well taken.

I’m sending to Heidelberg for your letter and Winnie’s, and I do hope
they haven’t been lost.

My wife and I send love to you all.

                                   Yrs ever,


     The Howells story, running at this time in the Atlantic, and so much
     enjoyed by the Clemens party, was “The Lady of the Aroostook.”  The
     suggestions made for enlarging the part of the “old man” are
     eminently characteristic.

     Mark Twain’s forty-third birthday came in Munich, and in his letter
     conveying this fact to his mother we get a brief added outline of
     the daily life in that old Bavarian city.  Certainly, it would seem
     to have been a quieter and more profitable existence than he had
     known amid the confusion of things left behind in, America.


To Mrs. Jane Clemens and Mrs. Moffett, in America:

                                             No. 1a Karlstrasse,

                                             Dec. 1, MUNICH.  1878.

MY DEAR MOTHER AND SISTER,--I broke the back of life yesterday and
started down-hill toward old age. This fact has not produced any effect
upon me that I can detect.

I suppose we are located here for the winter. I have a pleasant
work-room a mile from here where I do my writing. The walk to and from
that place gives me what exercise I need, and all I take. We staid three
weeks in Venice, a week in Florence, a fortnight in Rome, and arrived
here a couple of weeks ago. Livy and Miss Spaulding are studying drawing
and German, and the children have a German day-governess. I cannot see
but that the children speak German as well as they do English.

Susie often translates Livy’s orders to the servants. I cannot work and
study German at the same time: so I have dropped the latter, and do not
even read the language, except in the morning paper to get the news.

We have all pretty good health, latterly, and have seldom had to call
the doctor. The children have been in the open air pretty constantly for
months now. In Venice they were on the water in the gondola most of
the time, and were great friends with our gondolier; and in Rome and
Florence they had long daily tramps, for Rosa is a famous hand to smell
out the sights of a strange place. Here they wander less extensively.

The family all join in love to you all and to Orion and Mollie.

                                        Your son


     Life went on very well in Munich.  Each day the family fell
     more in love with Fraulein Dahlweiner and her house.

     Mark Twain, however, did not settle down to his work
     readily.  His “pleasant work-room” provided exercise, but no
     inspiration.  When he discovered he could not find his Swiss
     note-book he was ready to give up his travel-writing
     altogether.  In the letter that follows we find him much
     less enthusiastic concerning his own performances than over
     the story by Howells, which he was following in the

     The “detective” chapter mentioned in this letter was not
     included in ‘A Tramp Abroad.’  It was published separately,
     as ‘The Stolen White Elephant’ in a volume bearing that
     title.  The play, which he had now found “dreadfully witless
     and flat,” was no other than “Simon Wheeler, Detective,”
      which he had once regarded so highly.  The “Stewart”
      referred to was the millionaire merchant, A. T. Stewart,
     whose body was stolen in the expectation of reward.


To W. D. Howells, in Boston:

                                        MUNICH, Jan. 21, (1879)

MY DEAR HOWELLS,--It’s no use, your letter miscarried in some way and
is lost. The consul has made a thorough search and says he has not been
able to trace it. It is unaccountable, for all the letters I did not
want arrived without a single grateful failure. Well, I have read-up,
now, as far as you have got, that is, to where there’s a storm at sea
approaching,--and we three think you are clear, out-Howellsing Howells.
If your literature has not struck perfection now we are not able to see
what is lacking. It is all such truth--truth to the life; every where
your pen falls it leaves a photograph. I did imagine that everything had
been said about life at sea that could be said, but no matter, it
was all a failure and lies, nothing but lies with a thin varnish of
fact,--only you have stated it as it absolutely is. And only you see
people and their ways, and their insides and outsides as they are, and
make them talk as they do talk. I think you are the very greatest artist
in these tremendous mysteries that ever lived. There doesn’t seem to be
anything that can be concealed from your awful all-seeing eye. It must
be a cheerful thing for one to live with you and be aware that you are
going up and down in him like another conscience all the time. Possibly
you will not be a fully accepted classic until you have been dead a
hundred years,--it is the fate of the Shakespeares and of all genuine
prophets,--but then your books will be as common as Bibles, I believe.
You’re not a weed, but an oak; not a summer-house, but a cathedral. In
that day I shall still be in the Cyclopedias, too, thus: “Mark Twain;
history and occupation unknown--but he was personally acquainted with
Howells.” There--I could sing your praises all day, and feel and believe
every bit of it.

My book is half finished; I wish to heaven it was done. I have given up
writing a detective novel--can’t write a novel, for I lack the faculty;
but when the detectives were nosing around after Stewart’s loud
remains, I threw a chapter into my present book in which I have very
extravagantly burlesqued the detective business--if it is possible to
burlesque that business extravagantly. You know I was going to send you
that detective play, so that you could re-write it. Well I didn’t do it
because I couldn’t find a single idea in it that could be useful to you.
It was dreadfully witless and flat. I knew it would sadden you and unfit
you for work.

I have always been sorry we threw up that play embodying Orion which you
began. It was a mistake to do that. Do keep that MS and tackle it again.
It will work out all right; you will see. I don’t believe that that
character exists in literature in so well-developed a condition as it
exists in Orion’s person. Now won’t you put Orion in a story? Then he
will go handsomely into a play afterwards. How deliciously you could
paint him--it would make fascinating reading--the sort that makes
a reader laugh and cry at the same time, for Orion is as good and
ridiculous a soul as ever was.

Ah, to think of Bayard Taylor! It is too sad to talk about. I was so
glad there was not a single sting and so many good praiseful words in
the Atlantic’s criticism of Deukalion.

                                   Love to you all
                                             Yrs Ever

We remain here till middle of March.

     In ‘A Tramp Abroad’ there is an incident in which the author
     describes himself as hunting for a lost sock in the dark, in a vast
     hotel bedroom at Heilbronn.  The account of the real incident, as
     written to Twichell, seems even more amusing.

     The “Yarn About the Limburger Cheese and the Box of Guns,” like “The
     Stolen White Elephant,” did not find place in the travel-book, but
     was published in the same volume with the elephant story, added to
     the rambling notes of “An Idle Excursion.”
     With the discovery of the Swiss note-book, work with Mark Twain was
     going better.  His letter reflects his enthusiasm.


To Rev. J. H. Twichell, in Hartford:

                                                  MUNICH, Jan 26 ‘79.

DEAR OLD JOE,--Sunday. Your delicious letter arrived exactly at the
right time. It was laid by my plate as I was finishing breakfast at 12
noon. Livy and Clara, (Spaulding) arrived from church 5 minutes later; I
took a pipe and spread myself out on the sofa, and Livy sat by and read,
and I warmed to that butcher the moment he began to swear. There is
more than one way of praying, and I like the butcher’s way because the
petitioner is so apt to be in earnest. I was peculiarly alive to his
performance just at this time, for another reason, to wit: Last night I
awoke at 3 this morning, and after raging to my self for 2 interminable
hours, I gave it up. I rose, assumed a catlike stealthiness, to keep
from waking Livy, and proceeded to dress in the pitch dark. Slowly but
surely I got on garment after garment--all down to one sock; I had one
slipper on and the other in my hand. Well, on my hands and knees I crept
softly around, pawing and feeling and scooping along the carpet, and
among chair-legs for that missing sock; I kept that up; and still kept
it up and kept it up. At first I only said to myself, “Blame that sock,”
 but that soon ceased to answer; my expletives grew steadily stronger and
stronger,--and at last, when I found I was lost, I had to sit flat down
on the floor and take hold of something to keep from lifting the roof
off with the profane explosion that was trying to get out of me. I could
see the dim blur of the window, but of course it was in the wrong
place and could give me no information as to where I was. But I had
one comfort--I had not waked Livy; I believed I could find that sock in
silence if the night lasted long enough. So I started again and softly
pawed all over the place,--and sure enough at the end of half an hour I
laid my hand on the missing article. I rose joyfully up and butted the
wash-bowl and pitcher off the stand and simply raised----so to speak.
Livy screamed, then said, “Who is that? what is the matter?” I said
“There ain’t anything the matter--I’m hunting for my sock.” She said,
“Are you hunting for it with a club?”
I went in the parlor and lit the lamp, and gradually the fury subsided
and the ridiculous features of the thing began to suggest themselves.
So I lay on the sofa, with note-book and pencil, and transferred the
adventure to our big room in the hotel at Heilbronn, and got it on paper
a good deal to my satisfaction.

I found the Swiss note-book, some time ago. When it was first lost I
was glad of it, for I was getting an idea that I had lost my faculty of
writing sketches of travel; therefore the loss of that note-book would
render the writing of this one simply impossible, and let me gracefully
out; I was about to write to Bliss and propose some other book, when the
confounded thing turned up, and down went my heart into my boots. But
there was now no excuse, so I went solidly to work--tore up a great part
of the MS written in Heidelberg,--wrote and tore up,--continued to write
and tear up,--and at last, reward of patient and noble persistence, my
pen got the old swing again!

Since then I’m glad Providence knew better what to do with the Swiss
note-book than I did, for I like my work, now, exceedingly, and often
turn out over 30 MS pages a day and then quit sorry that Heaven makes
the days so short.

One of my discouragements had been the belief that my interest in this
tour had been so slender that I couldn’t gouge matter enough out of it
to make a book. What a mistake. I’ve got 900 pages written (not a word
in it about the sea voyage) yet I stepped my foot out of Heidelberg for
the first time yesterday,--and then only to take our party of four
on our first pedestrian tour--to Heilbronn. I’ve got them dressed
elaborately in walking costume--knapsacks, canteens, field-glasses,
leather leggings, patent walking shoes, muslin folds around their hats,
with long tails hanging down behind, sun umbrellas, and Alpenstocks.
They go all the way to Wimpfen by rail-thence to Heilbronn in a chance
vegetable cart drawn by a donkey and a cow; I shall fetch them home on
a raft; and if other people shall perceive that that was no pedestrian
excursion, they themselves shall not be conscious of it.--This trip will
take 100 pages or more,--oh, goodness knows how many! for the mood is
everything, not the material, and I already seem to see 300 pages rising
before me on that trip. Then, I propose to leave Heidelberg for good.
Don’t you see, the book (1800 MS pages,) may really be finished before I
ever get to Switzerland?

But there’s one thing; I want to tell Frank Bliss and his father to be
charitable toward me in,--that is, let me tear up all the MS I want to,
and give me time to write more. I shan’t waste the time--I haven’t the
slightest desire to loaf, but a consuming desire to work, ever since I
got back my swing. And you see this book is either going to be compared
with the Innocents Abroad, or contrasted with it, to my disadvantage.
I think I can make a book that will be no dead corpse of a thing and I
mean to do my level best to accomplish that.

My crude plans are crystalizing. As the thing stands now, I went to
Europe for three purposes. The first you know, and must keep secret,
even from the Blisses; the second is to study Art; and the third to
acquire a critical knowledge of the German language. My MS already shows
that the two latter objects are accomplished. It shows that I am moving
about as an Artist and a Philologist, and unaware that there is any
immodesty in assuming these titles. Having three definite objects has
had the effect of seeming to enlarge my domain and give me the freedom
of a loose costume. It is three strings to my bow, too.

Well, your butcher is magnificent. He won’t stay out of my mind.--I keep
trying to think of some way of getting your account of him into my book
without his being offended--and yet confound him there isn’t anything
you have said which he would see any offense in,--I’m only thinking of
his friends--they are the parties who busy themselves with seeing things
for people. But I’m bound to have him in. I’m putting in the yarn about
the Limburger cheese and the box of guns, too--mighty glad Howells
declined it. It seems to gather richness and flavor with age. I have
very nearly killed several companies with that narrative,--the American
Artists Club, here, for instance, and Smith and wife and Miss Griffith
(they were here in this house a week or two.) I’ve got other chapters
that pretty nearly destroyed the same parties, too.

O, Switzerland! the further it recedes into the enriching haze of time,
the more intolerably delicious the charm of it and the cheer of it
and the glory and majesty and solemnity and pathos of it grow. Those
mountains had a soul; they thought; they spoke,--one couldn’t hear it
with the ears of the body, but what a voice it was!--and how real.
Deep down in my memory it is sounding yet. Alp calleth unto Alp!--that
stately old Scriptural wording is the right one for God’s Alps and God’s
ocean. How puny we were in that awful presence--and how painless it was
to be so; how fitting and right it seemed, and how stingless was the
sense of our unspeakable insignificance. And Lord how pervading were
the repose and peace and blessedness that poured out of the heart of the
invisible Great Spirit of the Mountains.

Now what is it? There are mountains and mountains and mountains in this
world--but only these take you by the heart-strings. I wonder what the
secret of it is. Well, time and time again it has seemed to me that
I must drop everything and flee to Switzerland once more. It is a
longing--a deep, strong, tugging longing--that is the word. We must go
again, Joe.--October days, let us get up at dawn and breakfast at the
tower. I should like that first rate.

Livy and all of us send deluges of love to you and Harmony and all the
children. I dreamed last night that I woke up in the library at home and
your children were frolicing around me and Julia was sitting in my lap;
you and Harmony and both families of Warners had finished their welcomes
and were filing out through the conservatory door, wrecking Patrick’s
flower pots with their dress skirts as they went. Peace and plenty abide
with you all!


I want the Blisses to know their part of this letter, if possible. They
will see that my delay was not from choice.

     Following the life of Mark Twain, whether through his letters or
     along the sequence of detailed occurrence, we are never more than a
     little while, or a little distance, from his brother Orion.  In one
     form or another Orion is ever present, his inquiries, his proposals,
     his suggestions, his plans for improving his own fortunes, command
     our attention.  He was one of the most human creatures that ever
     lived; indeed, his humanity excluded every form of artificiality
     --everything that needs to be acquired.  Talented, trusting,
     child-like, carried away by the impulse of the moment, despite a
     keen sense of humor he was never able to see that his latest plan
     or project was not bound to succeed.  Mark Twain loved him, pitied
     him--also enjoyed him, especially with Howells.  Orion’s new plan
     to lecture in the interest of religion found its way to Munich,
     with the following result:


To W. D. Howells, in Boston:

                                        MUNICH, Feb. 9.  (1879)

MY DEAR HOWELLS,--I have just received this letter from Orion--take care
of it, for it is worth preserving. I got as far as 9 pages in my answer
to it, when Mrs. Clemens shut down on it, and said it was cruel, and
made me send the money and simply wish his lecture success. I said
I couldn’t lose my 9 pages--so she said send them to you. But I will
acknowledge that I thought I was writing a very kind letter.

Now just look at this letter of Orion’s. Did you ever see the
grotesquely absurd and the heart-breakingly pathetic more closely joined
together? Mrs. Clemens said “Raise his monthly pension.” So I wrote to
Perkins to raise it a trifle.

Now only think of it! He still has 100 pages to write on his lecture,
yet in one inking of his pen he has already swooped around the United
States and invested the result!

You must put him in a book or a play right away. You are the only man
capable of doing it. You might die at any moment, and your very greatest
work would be lost to the world. I could write Orion’s simple biography,
and make it effective, too, by merely stating the bald facts--and this I
will do if he dies before I do; but you must put him into romance. This
was the understanding you and I had the day I sailed.

Observe Orion’s career--that is, a little of it: (1) He has belonged
to as many as five different religious denominations; last March
he withdrew from the deaconship in a Congregational Church and the
Superintendency of its Sunday School, in a speech in which he said that
for many months (it runs in my mind that he said 13 years,) he had been
a confirmed infidel, and so felt it to be his duty to retire from the

2. After being a republican for years, he wanted me to buy him a
democratic newspaper. A few days before the Presidential election,
he came out in a speech and publicly went over to the democrats; he
prudently “hedged” by voting for 6 state republicans, also.

The new convert was made one of the secretaries of the democratic
meeting, and placed in the list of speakers. He wrote me jubilantly of
what a ten-strike he was going to make with that speech. All right--but
think of his innocent and pathetic candor in writing me something like
this, a week later:

“I was more diffident than I had expected to be, and this was increased
by the silence with which I was received when I came forward; so I
seemed unable to get the fire into my speech which I had calculated
upon, and presently they began to get up and go out; and in a few
minutes they all rose up and went away.”
How could a man uncover such a sore as that and show it to another? Not
a word of complaint, you see--only a patient, sad surprise.

3. His next project was to write a burlesque upon Paradise Lost.

4. Then, learning that the Times was paying Harte $100 a column for
stories, he concluded to write some for the same price. I read his first
one and persuaded him not to write any more.

5. Then he read proof on the N. Y. Eve. Post at $10 a week and meekly
observed that the foreman swore at him and ordered him around “like a
steamboat mate.”
6. Being discharged from that post, he wanted to try agriculture--was
sure he could make a fortune out of a chicken farm. I gave him $900
and he went to a ten-house village a miles above Keokuk on the river
bank--this place was a railway station. He soon asked for money to buy a
horse and light wagon,--because the trains did not run at church time on
Sunday and his wife found it rather far to walk.

For a long time I answered demands for “loans” and by next mail
always received his check for the interest due me to date. In the most
guileless way he let it leak out that he did not underestimate the value
of his custom to me, since it was not likely that any other customer of
mine paid his interest quarterly, and this enabled me to use my capital
twice in 6 months instead of only once. But alas, when the debt at last
reached $1800 or $2500 (I have forgotten which) the interest ate too
formidably into his borrowings, and so he quietly ceased to pay it or
speak of it. At the end of two years I found that the chicken farm had
long ago been abandoned, and he had moved into Keokuk. Later in one of
his casual moments, he observed that there was no money in fattening a
chicken on 65 cents worth of corn and then selling it for 50.

7. Finally, if I would lend him $500 a year for two years, (this was 4
or 5 years ago,) he knew he could make a success as a lawyer, and would
prove it. This is the pension which we have just increased to $600. The
first year his legal business brought him $5. It also brought him an
unremunerative case where some villains were trying to chouse some negro
orphans out of $700. He still has this case. He has waggled it around
through various courts and made some booming speeches on it. The negro
children have grown up and married off, now, I believe, and their
litigated town-lot has been dug up and carted off by somebody--but Orion
still infests the courts with his documents and makes the welkin ring
with his venerable case. The second year, he didn’t make anything. The
third he made $6, and I made Bliss put a case in his hands--about half
an hour’s work. Orion charged $50 for it--Bliss paid him $15. Thus four
or five years of slaving has brought him $26, but this will doubtless
be increased when he gets done lecturing and buys that “law library.”
 Meantime his office rent has been $60 a year, and he has stuck to that
lair day by day as patiently as a spider.

8. Then he by and by conceived the idea of lecturing around America as
“Mark Twain’s Brother”--that to be on the bills. Subject of proposed
lecture, “On the Formation of Character.”
9. I protested, and he got on his warpaint, couched his lance, and ran
a bold tilt against total abstinence and the Red Ribbon fanatics. It
raised a fine row among the virtuous Keokukians.

10. I wrote to encourage him in his good work, but I had let a mail
intervene; so by the time my letter reached him he was already winning
laurels as a Red Ribbon Howler.

11. Afterward he took a rabid part in a prayer-meeting epidemic; dropped
that to travesty Jules Verne; dropped that, in the middle of the last
chapter, last March, to digest the matter of an infidel book which he
proposed to write; and now he comes to the surface to rescue our “noble
and beautiful religion” from the sacrilegious talons of Bob Ingersoll.

Now come! Don’t fool away this treasure which Providence has laid at
your feet, but take it up and use it. One can let his imagination run
riot in portraying Orion, for there is nothing so extravagant as to be
out of character with him.

Well-good-bye, and a short life and a merry one be yours. Poor old
Methusaleh, how did he manage to stand it so long?

                                        Yrs ever,


To Orion Clemens Unsent and inclosed with the foregoing,
to W. D. Howells:

                                             MUNICH, Feb. 9, (1879)

MY DEAR BRO.,--Yours has just arrived. I enclose a draft on Hartford for
$25. You will have abandoned the project you wanted it for, by the time
it arrives,--but no matter, apply it to your newer and present
project, whatever it is. You see I have an ineradicable faith in
your unsteadfastness,--but mind you, I didn’t invent that faith, you
conferred it on me yourself. But fire away, fire away! I don’t see why
a changeable man shouldn’t get as much enjoyment out of his changes,
and transformations and transfigurations as a steadfast man gets out
of standing still and pegging at the same old monotonous thing all the
time. That is to say, I don’t see why a kaleidoscope shouldn’t enjoy
itself as much as a telescope, nor a grindstone have as good a time as
a whetstone, nor a barometer as good a time as a yardstick. I don’t
feel like girding at you any more about fickleness of purpose, because I
recognize and realize at last that it is incurable; but before I learned
to accept this truth, each new weekly project of yours possessed the
power of throwing me into the most exhausting and helpless convulsions
of profanity. But fire away, now! Your magic has lost its might. I am
able to view your inspirations dispassionately and judicially, now, and
say “This one or that one or the other one is not up to your average
flight, or is above it, or below it.”
And so, without passion, or prejudice, or bias of any kind, I sit in
judgment upon your lecture project, and say it was up to your average,
it was indeed above it, for it had possibilities in it, and even
practical ones. While I was not sorry you abandoned it, I should not be
sorry if you had stuck to it and given it a trial. But on the whole you
did the wise thing to lay it aside, I think, because a lecture is a most
easy thing to fail in; and at your time of life, and in your own town,
such a failure would make a deep and cruel wound in your heart and in
your pride. It was decidedly unwise in you to think for a moment of
coming before a community who knew you, with such a course of lectures;
because Keokuk is not unaware that you have been a Swedenborgian, a
Presbyterian, a Congregationalist, and a Methodist (on probation), and
that just a year ago you were an infidel. If Keokuk had gone to your
lecture course, it would have gone to be amused, not instructed, for
when a man is known to have no settled convictions of his own he can’t
convince other people. They would have gone to be amused and that would
have been a deep humiliation to you. It could have been safe for you
to appear only where you were unknown--then many of your hearers would
think you were in earnest. And they would be right. You are in earnest
while your convictions are new. But taking it by and large, you probably
did best to discard that project altogether. But I leave you to judge of
that, for you are the worst judge I know of.


     That Mark Twain in many ways was hardly less child-like than his
     brother is now and again revealed in his letters.  He was of
     steadfast purpose, and he possessed the driving power which Orion
     Clemens lacked; but the importance to him of some of the smaller
     matters of life, as shown in a letter like the following, bespeaks a
     certain simplicity of nature which he never outgrew:


To Rev. J. H. Twichell, in Hartford:

                                             MUNICH, Feb. 24. (1879)

DEAR OLD JOE,--It was a mighty good letter, Joe--and that idea of yours
is a rattling good one. But I have not sot down here to answer
your letter,--for it is down at my study,--but only to impart some

For a months I had not shaved without crying. I’d spend 3/4 of an hour
whetting away on my hand--no use, couldn’t get an edge. Tried a razor
strop-same result. So I sat down and put in an hour thinking out the
mystery. Then it seemed plain--to wit: my hand can’t give a razor an
edge, it can only smooth and refine an edge that has already been given.
I judge that a razor fresh from the hone is this shape V--the long point
being the continuation of the edge--and that after much use the shape is
this V--the attenuated edge all worn off and gone. By George I knew
that was the explanation. And I knew that a freshly honed and freshly
strapped razor won’t cut, but after strapping on the hand as a final
operation, it will cut.--So I sent out for an oil-stone; none to be
had, but messenger brought back a little piece of rock the size of a
Safety-match box--(it was bought in a shoemaker’s shop) bad flaw in
middle of it, too, but I put 4 drops of fine Olive oil on it, picked out
the razor marked “Thursday” because it was never any account and would
be no loss if I spoiled it--gave it a brisk and reckless honing for 10
minutes, then tried it on a hair--it wouldn’t cut. Then I trotted it
through a vigorous 20-minute course on a razor-strap and tried it on
a hair-it wouldn’t cut--tried it on my face--it made me cry--gave it
a 5-minute stropping on my hand, and my land, what an edge she had!
We thought we knew what sharp razors were when we were tramping in
Switzerland, but it was a mistake--they were dull beside this old
Thursday razor of mine--which I mean to name Thursday October Christian,
in gratitude. I took my whetstone, and in 20 minutes I put two more of
my razors in splendid condition--but I leave them in the box--I never
use any but Thursday O. C., and shan’t till its edge is gone--and then
I’ll know how to restore it without any delay.

We all go to Paris next Thursday--address, Monroe & Co., Bankers.

                                   With love
                                             Ys Ever

     In Paris they found pleasant quarters at the Hotel Normandy, but it
     was a chilly, rainy spring, and the travelers gained a rather poor
     impression of the French capital.  Mark Twain’s work did not go
     well, at first, because of the noises of the street.  But then he
     found a quieter corner in the hotel and made better progress.  In a
     brief note to Aldrich he said: “I sleep like a lamb and write like a
     lion--I mean the kind of a lion that writes--if any such.”  He
     expected to finish the book in six weeks; that is to say, before
     returning to America.  He was looking after its illustrations
     himself, and a letter to Frank Bliss, of The American Publishing
     Company, refers to the frontpiece, which, from time to time, has
     caused question as to its origin.  To Bliss he says: “It is a thing
     which I manufactured by pasting a popular comic picture into the
     middle of a celebrated Biblical one--shall attribute it to Titian.
     It needs to be engraved by a master.”
     The weather continued bad in France and they left there in July to
     find it little better in England.  They had planned a journey to
     Scotland to visit Doctor Brown, whose health was not very good.  In
     after years Mark Twain blamed himself harshly for not making the
     trip, which he declared would have meant so much to Mrs. Clemens.
     He had forgotten by that time the real reasons for not going--the
     continued storms and uncertainty of trains (which made it barely
     possible for them to reach Liverpool in time for their
     sailing-date), and with characteristic self-reproach vowed that
     only perversity and obstinacy on his part had prevented the journey
     to Scotland.  From Liverpool, on the eve of sailing, he sent Doctor
     Brown a good-by word.


To Dr. John Brown, in Edinburgh:

                              WASHINGTON HOTEL, LIME STREET, LIVERPOOL.

                                                       Aug.  (1879)

MY DEAR MR. BROWN,--During all the 15 months we have been spending on
the continent, we have been promising ourselves a sight of you as our
latest and most prized delight in a foreign land--but our hope has
failed, our plan has miscarried. One obstruction after another intruded
itself, and our short sojourn of three or four weeks on English soil was
thus frittered gradually away, and we were at last obliged to give up
the idea of seeing you at all. It is a great disappointment, for we
wanted to show you how much “Megalopis” has grown (she is 7 now) and
what a fine creature her sister is, and how prettily they both speak
German. There are six persons in my party, and they are as difficult
to cart around as nearly any other menagerie would be. My wife and Miss
Spaulding are along, and you may imagine how they take to heart this
failure of our long promised Edinburgh trip. We never even wrote you,
because we were always so sure, from day to day, that our affairs
would finally so shape themselves as to let us get to Scotland. But
no,--everything went wrong we had only flying trips here and there in
place of the leisurely ones which we had planned.

We arrived in Liverpool an hour ago very tired, and have halted at
this hotel (by the advice of misguided friends)--and if my instinct
and experience are worth anything, it is the very worst hotel on earth,
without any exception. We shall move to another hotel early in the
morning to spend to-morrow. We sail for America next day in the
We all join in the sincerest love to you, and in the kindest remembrance
to “Jock”--[Son of Doctor Brown.]--and your sister.

                              Truly yours,
                                   S. L. CLEMENS.

     It was September 3, 1879, that Mark Twain returned to America by the
     steamer Gallic.  In the seventeen months of his absence he had taken
     on a “traveled look” and had added gray hairs.  A New York paper
     said of his arrival that he looked older than when he went to
     Germany, and that his hair had turned quite gray.

     Mark Twain had not finished his book of travel in Paris--in fact,
     it seemed to him far from complete--and he settled down rather
     grimly to work on it at Quarry Farm.  When, after a few days no word
     of greeting came from Howells, Clemens wrote to ask if he were dead
     or only sleeping.  Howells hastily sent a line to say that he had
     been sleeping “The sleep of a torpid conscience.  I will feign that
     I did not know where to write you; but I love you and all of yours,
     and I am tremendously glad that you are home again.  When and where
     shall we meet?  Have you come home with your pockets full of
     Atlantic papers?”  Clemens, toiling away at his book, was, as usual,
     not without the prospect of other plans.  Orion, as literary
     material, never failed to excite him.


To W. D. Howells, in Boston:

                                             ELMIRA, Sept. 15, 1879.

MY DEAR HOWELLS,--When and where? Here on the farm would be an elegant
place to meet, but of course you cannot come so far. So we will say
Hartford or Belmont, about the beginning of November. The date of our
return to Hartford is uncertain, but will be three or four weeks hence,
I judge. I hope to finish my book here before migrating.

I think maybe I’ve got some Atlantic stuff in my head, but there’s none
in MS, I believe.

Say--a friend of mine wants to write a play with me, I to furnish the
broad-comedy cuss. I don’t know anything about his ability, but his
letter serves to remind me of our old projects. If you haven’t used
Orion or Old Wakeman, don’t you think you and I can get together and
grind out a play with one of those fellows in it? Orion is a field
which grows richer and richer the more he mulches it with each new
top-dressing of religion or other guano. Drop me an immediate line about
this, won’t you? I imagine I see Orion on the stage, always gentle,
always melancholy, always changing his politics and religion, and trying
to reform the world, always inventing something, and losing a limb by
a new kind of explosion at the end of each of the four acts. Poor old
chap, he is good material. I can imagine his wife or his sweetheart
reluctantly adopting each of his new religious in turn, just in time to
see him waltz into the next one and leave her isolated once more.

(Mem. Orion’s wife has followed him into the outer darkness, after 30
years’ rabid membership in the Presbyterian Church.)

Well, with the sincerest and most abounding love to you and yours, from
all this family, I am,

                         Yrs ever

     The idea of the play interested Howells, but he had twinges of
     conscience in the matter of using Orion as material.  He wrote:
     “More than once I have taken the skeleton of that comedy of ours and
     viewed it with tears..... I really have a compunction or two about
     helping to put your brother into drama.  You can say that he is your
     brother, to do what you like with him, but the alien hand might
     inflict an incurable hurt on his tender heart.”
     As a matter of fact, Orion Clemens had a keen appreciation of his
     own shortcomings, and would have enjoyed himself in a play as much
     as any observer of it.  Indeed, it is more than likely that he would
     have been pleased at the thought of such distinguished
     dramatization.  From the next letter one might almost conclude that
     he had received a hint of this plan, and was bent upon supplying
     rich material.


To W. D. Howells, in Boston:

                                                  ELMIRA, Oct. 9 ‘79.

MY DEAR HOWELLS,--Since my return, the mail facilities have enabled
Orion to keep me informed as to his intentions. Twenty-eight days ago
it was his purpose to complete a work aimed at religion, the preface
to which he had already written. Afterward he began to sell off
his furniture, with the idea of hurrying to Leadville and tackling
silver-mining--threw up his law den and took in his sign. Then he
wrote to Chicago and St. Louis newspapers asking for a situation as
“paragrapher”--enclosing a taste of his quality in the shape of two
stanzas of “humorous rhymes.” By a later mail on the same day he applied
to New York and Hartford insurance companies for copying to do.

However, it would take too long to detail all his projects. They
comprise a removal to south-west Missouri; application for a reporter’s
berth on a Keokuk paper; application for a compositor’s berth on a St.
Louis paper; a re-hanging of his attorney’s sign, “though it only creaks
and catches no flies;” but last night’s letter informs me that he has
retackled the religious question, hired a distant den to write in,
applied to my mother for $50 to re-buy his furniture, which has advanced
in value since the sale--purposes buying $25 worth of books necessary to
his labors which he had previously been borrowing, and his first chapter
is already on its way to me for my decision as to whether it has enough
ungodliness in it or not. Poor Orion!

Your letter struck me while I was meditating a project to beguile you,
and John Hay and Joe Twichell, into a descent upon Chicago which I
dream of making, to witness the re-union of the great Commanders of the
Western Army Corps on the 9th of next month. My sluggish soul needs
a fierce upstirring, and if it would not get it when Grant enters the
meeting place I must doubtless “lay” for the final resurrection. Can you
and Hay go? At the same time, confound it, I doubt if I can go myself,
for this book isn’t done yet. But I would give a heap to be there. I
mean to heave some holiness into the Hartford primaries when I go back;
and if there was a solitary office in the land which majestic ignorance
and incapacity, coupled with purity of heart, could fill, I would run
for it. This naturally reminds me of Bret Harte--but let him pass.

We propose to leave here for New York Oct. 21, reaching Hartford 24th or
25th. If, upon reflection, you Howellses find, you can stop over here
on your way, I wish you would do it, and telegraph me. Getting pretty
hungry to see you. I had an idea that this was your shortest way home,
but like as not my geography is crippled again--it usually is.

                                             Yrs ever

     The “Reunion of the Great Commanders,” mentioned in the foregoing,
     was a welcome to General Grant after his journey around the world.
     Grant’s trip had been one continuous ovation--a triumphal march.
     In ‘79 most of his old commanders were still alive, and they had
     planned to assemble in Chicago to do him honor.  A Presidential year
     was coming on, but if there was anything political in the project
     there were no surface indications.  Mark Twain, once a Confederate
     soldier, had long since been completely “desouthernized”--at least
     to the point where he felt that the sight of old comrades paying
     tribute to the Union commander would stir his blood as perhaps it
     had not been stirred, even in that earlier time, when that same
     commander had chased him through the Missouri swamps.  Grant,
     indeed, had long since become a hero to Mark Twain, though it is
     highly unlikely that Clemens favored the idea of a third term.  Some
     days following the preceding letter an invitation came for him to be
     present at the Chicago reunion; but by this time he had decided not
     to go.  The letter he wrote has been preserved.


To Gen. William E. Strong, in Chicago:

                                   FARMINGTON AVENUE, HARTFORD.

                                   Oct. 28, 1879.


I have been hoping during several weeks that it might be my good
fortune to receive an invitation to be present on that great occasion in
Chicago; but now that my desire is accomplished my business matters have
so shaped themselves as to bar me from being so far from home in the
first half of November. It is with supreme regret that I lost this
chance, for I have not had a thorough stirring up for some years, and
I judged that if I could be in the banqueting hall and see and hear
the veterans of the Army of the Tennessee at the moment that their old
commander entered the room, or rose in his place to speak, my system
would get the kind of upheaval it needs. General Grant’s progress across
the continent is of the marvelous nature of the returning Napoleon’s
progress from Grenoble to Paris; and as the crowning spectacle in the
one case was the meeting with the Old Guard, so, likewise, the crowning
spectacle in the other will be our great captain’s meeting with his Old
Guard--and that is the very climax which I wanted to witness.

Besides, I wanted to see the General again, any way, and renew the
acquaintance. He would remember me, because I was the person who did
not ask him for an office. However, I consume your time, and also
wander from the point--which is, to thank you for the courtesy of your
invitation, and yield up my seat at the table to some other guest who
may possibly grace it better, but will certainly not appreciate its
privileges more, than I should.

                              With great respect,

                                   I am, Gentlemen,

                              Very truly yours,

                                        S. L. CLEMENS.

Private:--I beg to apologize for my delay, gentlemen, but the card of
invitation went to Elmira, N. Y. and hence has only just now reached me.

     This letter was not sent.  He reconsidered and sent an acceptance,
     agreeing to speak, as the committee had requested.  Certainly there
     was something picturesque in the idea of the Missouri private who
     had been chased for a rainy fortnight through the swamps of Ralls
     County being selected now to join in welcome to his ancient enemy.

     The great reunion was to be something more than a mere banquet.  It
     would continue for several days, with processions, great
     assemblages, and much oratory.

     Mark Twain arrived in Chicago in good season to see it all.  Three
     letters to Mrs. Clemens intimately present his experiences: his
     enthusiastic enjoyment and his own personal triumph.

     The first was probably written after the morning of his arrival.
     The Doctor Jackson in it was Dr. A. Reeves Jackson, the
     guide-dismaying “Doctor” of Innocents Abroad.


To Mrs. Clemens, in Hartford:

                                   PALMER HOUSE, CHICAGO, Nov. 11.

Livy darling, I am getting a trifle leg-weary. Dr. Jackson called and
dragged me out of bed at noon, yesterday, and then went off. I went down
stairs and was introduced to some scores of people, and among them an
elderly German gentleman named Raster, who said his wife owed her life
to me--hurt in Chicago fire and lay menaced with death a long time, but
the Innocents Abroad kept her mind in a cheerful attitude, and so, with
the doctor’s help for the body she pulled through.... They drove me to
Dr. Jackson’s and I had an hour’s visit with Mrs. Jackson. Started to
walk down Michigan Avenue, got a few steps on my way and met an erect,
soldierly looking young gentleman who offered his hand; said, “Mr.
Clemens, I believe--I wish to introduce myself--you were pointed out to
me yesterday as I was driving down street--my name is Grant.”
“Col. Fred Grant?”
“Yes. My house is not ten steps away, and I would like you to come and
have a talk and a pipe, and let me introduce my wife.”
So we turned back and entered the house next to Jackson’s and talked
something more than an hour and smoked many pipes and had a sociable
good time. His wife is very gentle and intelligent and pretty, and they
have a cunning little girl nearly as big as Bay but only three years
old. They wanted me to come in and spend an evening, after the banquet,
with them and Gen. Grant, after this grand pow-wow is over, but I said I
was going home Friday. Then they asked me to come Friday afternoon, when
they and the general will receive a few friends, and I said I would.
Col. Grant said he and Gen. Sherman used the Innocents Abroad as their
guide book when they were on their travels.

I stepped in next door and took Dr. Jackson to the hotel and we played
billiards from 7 to 11.30 P.M. and then went to a beer-mill to meet some
twenty Chicago journalists--talked, sang songs and made speeches till
6 o’clock this morning. Nobody got in the least degree “under the
influence,” and we had a pleasant time. Read awhile in bed, slept till
11, shaved, went to breakfast at noon, and by mistake got into the
servants’ hall. I remained there and breakfasted with twenty or thirty
male and female servants, though I had a table to myself.

A temporary structure, clothed and canopied with flags, has been erected
at the hotel front, and connected with the second-story windows of
a drawing-room. It was for Gen. Grant to stand on and review the
procession. Sixteen persons, besides reporters, had tickets for this
place, and a seventeenth was issued for me. I was there, looking down
on the packed and struggling crowd when Gen. Grant came forward and
was saluted by the cheers of the multitude and the waving of ladies’ 
handkerchiefs--for the windows and roofs of all neighboring buildings
were massed full of life. Gen. Grant bowed to the people two or three
times, then approached my side of the platform and the mayor pulled me
forward and introduced me. It was dreadfully conspicuous. The General
said a word or so--I replied, and then said, “But I’ll step back,
General, I don’t want to interrupt your speech.”
“But I’m not going to make any--stay where you are--I’ll get you to make
it for me.”
General Sherman came on the platform wearing the uniform of a full
General, and you should have heard the cheers. Gen. Logan was going to
introduce me, but I didn’t want any more conspicuousness.

When the head of the procession passed it was grand to see Sheridan, in
his military cloak and his plumed chapeau, sitting as erect and rigid
as a statue on his immense black horse--by far the most martial figure I
ever saw. And the crowd roared again.

It was chilly, and Gen. Deems lent me his overcoat until night. He came
a few minutes ago--5.45 P.M., and got it, but brought Gen. Willard, who
lent me his for the rest of my stay, and will get another for himself
when he goes home to dinner. Mine is much too heavy for this warm

I have a seat on the stage at Haverley’s Theatre, tonight, where the
Army of the Tennessee will receive Gen. Grant, and where Gen. Sherman
will make a speech. At midnight I am to attend a meeting of the Owl

I love you ever so much, my darling, and am hoping to get a word from
you yet.


     Following the procession, which he describes, came the grand
     ceremonies of welcome at Haverley’s Theatre.  The next letter is
     written the following morning, or at least soiree time the following
     day, after a night of ratification.


To Mrs. Clemens, in Hartford:

                                        CHICAGO, Nov. 12, ‘79.

Livy darling, it was a great time. There were perhaps thirty people on
the stage of the theatre, and I think I never sat elbow-to-elbow with so
many historic names before. Grant, Sherman, Sheridan, Schofield, Pope,
Logan, Augur, and so on. What an iron man Grant is! He sat facing the
house, with his right leg crossed over his left and his right boot-sole
tilted up at an angle, and his left hand and arm reposing on the arm of
his chair--you note that position? Well, when glowing references were
made to other grandees on the stage, those grandees always showed
a trifle of nervous consciousness--and as these references came
frequently, the nervous change of position and attitude were also
frequent. But Grant!--he was under a tremendous and ceaseless
bombardment of praise and gratulation, but as true as I’m sitting here
he never moved a muscle of his body for a single instant, during 30
minutes! You could have played him on a stranger for an effigy.
Perhaps he never would have moved, but at last a speaker made such
a particularly ripping and blood-stirring remark about him that the
audience rose and roared and yelled and stamped and clapped an entire
minute--Grant sitting as serene as ever--when Gen. Sherman stepped to
him, laid his hand affectionately on his shoulder, bent respectfully
down and whispered in his ear. Gen. Grant got up and bowed, and the
storm of applause swelled into a hurricane. He sat down, took about the
same position and froze to it till by and by there was another of those
deafening and protracted roars, when Sherman made him get up and bow
again. He broke up his attitude once more--the extent of something more
than a hair’s breadth--to indicate me to Sherman when the house was
keeping up a determined and persistent call for me, and poor bewildered
Sherman, (who did not know me), was peering abroad over the packed
audience for me, not knowing I was only three feet from him and most
conspicuously located, (Gen. Sherman was Chairman.)

One of the most illustrious individuals on that stage was “Ole Abe,”
 the historic war eagle. He stood on his perch--the old savage-eyed
rascal--three or four feet behind Gen. Sherman, and as he had been
in nearly every battle that was mentioned by the orators his soul was
probably stirred pretty often, though he was too proud to let on.

Read Logan’s bosh, and try to imagine a burly and magnificent Indian, in
General’s uniform, striking a heroic attitude and getting that stuff off
in the style of a declaiming school-boy.

Please put the enclosed scraps in the drawer and I will scrap-book them.

I only staid at the Owl Club till 3 this morning and drank little or
nothing. Went to sleep without whisky. Ich liebe dish.


     But it is in the third letter that we get the climax.  On the same
     day he wrote a letter to Howells, which, in part, is very similar in
     substance and need not be included here.

     A paragraph, however, must not be omitted.

     “Imagine what it was like to see a bullet-shredded old battle-flag
     reverently unfolded to the gaze of a thousand middle-aged soldiers,
     most of whom hadn’t seen it since they saw it advancing over
     victorious fields, when they were in their prime.  And imagine what
     it was like when Grant, their first commander, stepped into view
     while they were still going mad over the flag, and then right in the
     midst of it all somebody struck up, ‘When we were marching through
     Georgia.’  Well, you should have heard the thousand voices lift that
     chorus and seen the tears stream down.  If I live a hundred years I
     shan’t ever forget these things, nor be able to talk about them....
     Grand times, my boy, grand times!”
     At the great banquet Mark Twain’s speech had been put last on the
     program, to hold the house.  He had been invited to respond to the
     toast of “The Ladies,” but had replied that he had already responded
     to that toast more than once.  There was one class of the community,
     he said, commonly overlooked on these occasions--the babies--he
     would respond to that toast.  In his letter to Howells he had not
     been willing to speak freely of his personal triumph, but to Mrs.
     Clemens he must tell it all, and with that child-like ingenuousness
     which never failed him to his last day.


To Mrs. Clemens, in Hartford:

                                             CHICAGO, Nov. 14 ‘79.

A little after 5 in the morning.

I’ve just come to my room, Livy darling, I guess this was the memorable
night of my life. By George, I never was so stirred since I was born. I
heard four speeches which I can never forget. One by Emory Storrs,
one by Gen. Vilas (O, wasn’t it wonderful!) one by Gen. Logan (mighty
stirring), one by somebody whose name escapes me, and one by that
splendid old soul, Col. Bob Ingersoll,--oh, it was just the supremest
combination of English words that was ever put together since the world
began. My soul, how handsome he looked, as he stood on that table, in
the midst of those 500 shouting men, and poured the molten silver from
his lips! Lord, what an organ is human speech when it is played by a
master! All these speeches may look dull in print, but how the lightning
glared around them when they were uttered, and how the crowd roared in
response! It was a great night, a memorable night. I am so richly repaid
for my journey--and how I did wish with all my whole heart that you were
there to be lifted into the very seventh heaven of enthusiasm, as I was.
The army songs, the military music, the crashing applause--Lord bless
me, it was unspeakable.

Out of compliment they placed me last in the list--No. 15--I was to
“hold the crowd”--and bless my life I was in awful terror when No.
14. rose, at a o’clock this morning and killed all the enthusiasm
by delivering the flattest, insipidest, silliest of all responses to
“Woman” that ever a weary multitude listened to. Then Gen. Sherman
(Chairman) announced my toast, and the crowd gave me a good round of
applause as I mounted on top of the dinner table, but it was only on
account of my name, nothing more--they were all tired and wretched. They
let my first sentence go in silence, till I paused and added “we stand
on common ground”--then they burst forth like a hurricane and I saw that
I had them! From that time on, I stopped at the end of each sentence,
and let the tornado of applause and laughter sweep around me--and when I
closed with “And if the child is but the prophecy of the man, there are
mighty few who will doubt that he succeeded,” I say it who oughtn’t to
say it, the house came down with a crash. For two hours and a half, now,
I’ve been shaking hands and listening to congratulations. Gen. Sherman
said, “Lord bless you, my boy, I don’t know how you do it--it’s a secret
that’s beyond me--but it was great--give me your hand again.”
And do you know, Gen. Grant sat through fourteen speeches like a graven
image, but I fetched him! I broke him up, utterly! He told me he laughed
till the tears came and every bone in his body ached. (And do you know,
the biggest part of the success of the speech lay in the fact that the
audience saw that for once in his life he had been knocked out of his
iron serenity.)

Bless your soul, ‘twas immense. I never was so proud in my life. Lots
and lots of people--hundreds I might say--told me my speech was
the triumph of the evening--which was a lie. Ladies, Tom, Dick and
Harry--even the policemen--captured me in the halls and shook hands,
and scores of army officers said “We shall always be grateful to you for
coming.” General Pope came to bunt me up--I was afraid to speak to him
on that theatre stage last night, thinking it might be presumptuous to
tackle a man so high up in military history. Gen. Schofield, and other
historic men, paid their compliments. Sheridan was ill and could not
come, but I’m to go with a General of his staff and see him before I go
to Col. Grant’s. Gen. Augur--well, I’ve talked with them all, received
invitations from them all--from people living everywhere--and as I said
before, it’s a memorable night. I wouldn’t have missed it for anything
in the world.

But my sakes, you should have heard Ingersoll’s speech on that table!
Half an hour ago he ran across me in the crowded halls and put his
arms about me and said “Mark, if I live a hundred years, I’ll always be
grateful for your speech--Lord what a supreme thing it was.” But I told
him it wasn’t any use to talk, he had walked off with the honors of that
occasion by something of a majority. Bully boy is Ingersoll--traveled
with him in the cars the other day, and you can make up your mind we had
a good time.

Of course I forgot to go and pay for my hotel car and so secure it, but
the army officers told me an hour ago to rest easy, they would go at
once, at this unholy hour of the night and compel the railways to do
their duty by me, and said “You don’t need to request the Army of the
Tennessee to do your desires--you can command its services.”
Well, I bummed around that banquet hall from 8 in the evening till 2 in
the morning, talking with people and listening to speeches, and I never
ate a single bite or took a sup of anything but ice water, so if I seem
excited now, it is the intoxication of supreme enthusiasm. By George, it
was a grand night, a historical night.

And now it is a quarter past 6 A.M.--so good bye and God bless you and
the Bays,--[Family word for babies]--my darlings


Show it to Joe if you want to--I saw some of his friends here.

Mark Twain’s admiration for Robert Ingersoll was very great, and we may
believe that he was deeply impressed by the Chicago speech, when we find
him, a few days later, writing to Ingersoll for a perfect copy to read
to a young girls’ club in Hartford. Ingersoll sent the speech, also some
of his books, and the next letter is Mark Twain’s acknowledgment.


To Col. Robert G. Ingersoll:

                                             HARTFORD, Dec. 14.

MY DEAR INGERSOLL,--Thank you most heartily for the books--I am
devouring them--they have found a hungry place, and they content it and
satisfy it to a miracle. I wish I could hear you speak these splendid
chapters before a great audience--to read them by myself and hear
the boom of the applause only in the ear of my imagination, leaves a
something wanting--and there is also a still greater lack, your manner,
and voice, and presence.

The Chicago speech arrived an hour too late, but I was all right anyway,
for I found that my memory had been able to correct all the errors. I
read it to the Saturday Club (of young girls) and told them to remember
that it was doubtful if its superior existed in our language.

                              Truly Yours,
                                   S. L. CLEMENS.

     The reader may remember Mark Twain’s Whittier dinner speech of 1877,
     and its disastrous effects.  Now, in 1879, there was to be another
     Atlantic gathering: a breakfast to Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes, to
     which Clemens was invited.  He was not eager to accept; it would
     naturally recall memories of two years before, but being urged by
     both Howells and Warner, he agreed to attend if they would permit
     him to speak.  Mark Twain never lacked courage and he wanted to
     redeem himself.  To Howells he wrote:


To W. D. Howells, in Boston:

                                             HARTFORD, Nov. 28, 1879.

MY DEAR HOWELLS,--If anybody talks, there, I shall claim the right to
say a word myself, and be heard among the very earliest--else it would
be confoundedly awkward for me--and for the rest, too. But you may read
what I say, beforehand, and strike out whatever you choose.

Of course I thought it wisest not to be there at all; but Warner took
the opposite view, and most strenuously.

Speaking of Johnny’s conclusion to become an outlaw, reminds me of
Susie’s newest and very earnest longing--to have crooked teeth and
glasses--“like Mamma.”
I would like to look into a child’s head, once, and see what its
processes are.

                    Yrs ever,
                         S. L. CLEMENS.

     The matter turned out well.  Clemens, once more introduced by
     Howells--this time conservatively, it may be said--delivered a
     delicate and fitting tribute to Doctor Holmes, full of graceful
     humor and grateful acknowledgment, the kind of speech he should have
     given at the Whittier dinner of two years before.  No reference was
     made to his former disaster, and this time he came away covered with
     glory, and fully restored in his self-respect.


     The book of travel,--[A Tramp Abroad.]--which Mark Twain had
     hoped to finish in Paris, and later in Elmira, for some
     reason would not come to an end.  In December, in Hartford,
     he was still working on it, and he would seem to have
     finished it, at last, rather by a decree than by any natural
     process of authorship.  This was early in January, 1880.  To
     Howells he reports his difficulties, and his drastic method
     of ending them.


To W. D. Howells, in Boston:

                                        HARTFORD, Jan. 8, ‘80.

MY DEAR HOWELLS,--Am waiting for Patrick to come with the carriage. Mrs.
Clemens and I are starting (without the children) to stay indefinitely
in Elmira. The wear and tear of settling the house broke her down,
and she has been growing weaker and weaker for a fortnight. All
that time--in fact ever since I saw you--I have been fighting a
life-and-death battle with this infernal book and hoping to get done
some day. I required 300 pages of MS, and I have written near 600 since
I saw you--and tore it all up except 288. This I was about to tear up
yesterday and begin again, when Mrs. Perkins came up to the billiard
room and said, “You will never get any woman to do the thing necessary
to save her life by mere persuasion; you see you have wasted your words
for three weeks; it is time to use force; she must have a change; take
her home and leave the children here.”
I said, “If there is one death that is painfuller than another, may I
get it if I don’t do that thing.”
So I took the 288 pages to Bliss and told him that was the very last
line I should ever write on this book. (A book which required 2600 pages
of MS, and I have written nearer four thousand, first and last.)

I am as soary (and flighty) as a rocket, to-day, with the unutterable
joy of getting that Old Man of the Sea off my back, where he has been
roosting for more than a year and a half. Next time I make a contract
before writing the book, may I suffer the righteous penalty and be
burnt, like the injudicious believer.

I am mighty glad you are done your book (this is from a man who, above
all others, feels how much that sentence means) and am also mighty glad
you have begun the next (this is also from a man who knows the felicity
of that, and means straightway to enjoy it.) The Undiscovered starts off
delightfully--I have read it aloud to Mrs. C. and we vastly enjoyed it.

Well, time’s about up--must drop a line to Aldrich.

                                             Yrs ever,

     In a letter which Mark Twain wrote to his brother Orion at this
     period we get the first hint of a venture which was to play an
     increasingly important part in the Hartford home and fortunes during
     the next ten or a dozen years.  This was the type-setting machine
     investment, which, in the end, all but wrecked Mark Twain’s
     finances.  There is but a brief mention of it in the letter to
     Orion, and the letter itself is not worth preserving, but as
     references to the “machine” appear with increasing frequency, it
     seems proper to record here its first mention.  In the same letter
     he suggests to his brother that he undertake an absolutely truthful
     autobiography, a confession in which nothing is to be withheld.  He
     cites the value of Casanova’s memories, and the confessions of
     Rousseau.  Of course, any literary suggestion from “Brother Sam” was
     gospel to Orion, who began at once piling up manuscript at a great

     Meantime, Mark Twain himself, having got ‘A Tramp Abroad’ on the
     presses, was at work with enthusiasm on a story begun nearly three
     years before at Quarry Farm-a story for children-its name, as he
     called it then, “The Little Prince and The Little Pauper.”  He was
     presently writing to Howells his delight in the new work.


To W. D. Howells, in Boston:

                                        HARTFORD, Mch. 11, ‘80.

MY DEAR HOWELLS,--... I take so much pleasure in my story that I am loth
to hurry, not wanting to get it done. Did I ever tell you the plot
of it? It begins at 9 a.m., Jan. 27, 1547, seventeen and a half hours
before Henry VIII’s death, by the swapping of clothes and place, between
the prince of Wales and a pauper boy of the same age and countenance
(and half as much learning and still more genius and imagination) and
after that, the rightful small King has a rough time among tramps and
ruffians in the country parts of Kent, whilst the small bogus King has a
gilded and worshipped and dreary and restrained and cussed time of it on
the throne--and this all goes on for three weeks--till the midst of the
coronation grandeurs in Westminster Abbey, Feb. 20, when the ragged true
King forces his way in but cannot prove his genuineness--until the bogus
King, by a remembered incident of the first day is able to prove it for
him--whereupon clothes are changed and the coronation proceeds under the
new and rightful conditions.

My idea is to afford a realizing sense of the exceeding severity of the
laws of that day by inflicting some of their penalties upon the King
himself and allowing him a chance to see the rest of them applied
to others--all of which is to account for certain mildnesses which
distinguished Edward VI’s reign from those that preceded and followed

Imagine this fact--I have even fascinated Mrs. Clemens with this yarn
for youth. My stuff generally gets considerable damning with faint
praise out of her, but this time it is all the other way. She is become
the horseleech’s daughter and my mill doesn’t grind fast enough to suit
her. This is no mean triumph, my dear sir.

Last night, for the first time in ages, we went to the theatre--to see
Yorick’s Love. The magnificence of it is beyond praise. The language
is so beautiful, the passion so fine, the plot so ingenious, the whole
thing so stirring, so charming, so pathetic! But I will clip from the
Courant--it says it right.

And what a good company it is, and how like live people they all acted!
The “thee’s” and the “thou’s” had a pleasant sound, since it is the
language of the Prince and the Pauper. You’ve done the country a service
in that admirable work....

                              Yrs Ever,

     The play, “Yorick’s Love,” mentioned in this letter, was one which
     Howells had done for Lawrence Barrett.

     Onion Clemens, meantime, was forwarding his manuscript, and for once
     seems to have won his brother’s approval, so much so that Mark Twain
     was willing, indeed anxious, that Howells should run the
     “autobiography” in the Atlantic.  We may imagine how Onion prized
     the words of commendation which follow:


To Orion Clemens:

                                                       May 6, ‘80.

MY DEAR BROTHER,--It is a model autobiography.

Continue to develop your character in the same gradual inconspicuous and
apparently unconscious way. The reader, up to this time, may have his
doubts, perhaps, but he can’t say decidedly, “This writer is not such
a simpleton as he has been letting on to be.” Keep him in that state of
mind. If, when you shall have finished, the reader shall say, “The man
is an ass, but I really don’t know whether he knows it or not,” your
work will be a triumph.

Stop re-writing. I saw places in your last batch where re-writing had
done formidable injury. Do not try to find those places, else you will
mar them further by trying to better them. It is perilous to revise a
book while it is under way. All of us have injured our books in that
foolish way.

Keep in mind what I told you--when you recollect something which
belonged in an earlier chapter, do not go back, but jam it in where you
are. Discursiveness does not hurt an autobiography in the least.

I have penciled the MS here and there, but have not needed to make any
criticisms or to knock out anything.

The elder Bliss has heart disease badly, and thenceforth his life hangs
upon a thread.

                                   Yr Bro

     But Howells could not bring himself to print so frank a confession
     as Orion had been willing to make.  “It wrung my heart,” he said,
     “and I felt haggard after I had finished it.  The writer’s soul is
     laid bare; it is shocking.”  Howells added that the best touches in
     it were those which made one acquainted with the writer’s brother;
     that is to say, Mark Twain, and that these would prove valuable
     material hereafter--a true prophecy, for Mark Twain’s early
     biography would have lacked most of its vital incident, and at least
     half of its background, without those faithful chapters, fortunately
     preserved.  Had Onion continued, as he began, the work might have
     proved an important contribution to literature, but he went trailing
     off into by-paths of theology and discussion where the interest was
     lost.  There were, perhaps, as many as two thousand pages of it,
     which few could undertake to read.

     Mark Twain’s mind was always busy with plans and inventions, many of
     them of serious intent, some semi-serious, others of a purely
     whimsical character.  Once he proposed a “Modest Club,” of which the
     first and main qualification for membership was modesty.  “At
     present,” he wrote, “I am the only member; and as the modesty
     required must be of a quite aggravated type, the enterprise did seem
     for a time doomed to stop dead still with myself, for lack of
     further material; but upon reflection I have come to the conclusion
     that you are eligible.  Therefore, I have held a meeting and voted
     to offer you the distinction of membership.  I do not know that we
     can find any others, though I have had some thought of Hay, Warner,
     Twichell, Aldrich, Osgood, Fields, Higginson, and a few more
     --together with Mrs. Howells, Mrs. Clemens, and certain others
     of the sex.”
     Howells replied that the only reason he had for not joining the
     Modest Club was that he was too modest--too modest to confess his
     modesty.  “If I could get over this difficulty I should like to
     join, for I approve highly of the Club and its object....  It ought
     to be given an annual dinner at the public expense.  If you think I
     am not too modest you may put my name down and I will try to think
     the same of you.  Mrs. Howells applauded the notion of the club from
     the very first.  She said that she knew one thing: that she was
     modest enough, anyway.  Her manner of saying it implied that the
     other persons you had named were not, and created a painful
     impression in my mind.  I have sent your letter and the rules to
     Hay, but I doubt his modesty.  He will think he has a right to
     belong to it as much as you or I; whereas, other people ought only
     to be admitted on sufferance.”
     Our next letter to Howells is, in the main, pure foolery, but we get
     in it a hint what was to become in time one of Mask Twain’s
     strongest interests, the matter of copyright.  He had both a
     personal and general interest in the subject.  His own books were
     constantly pirated in Canada, and the rights of foreign authors were
     not respected in America.  We have already seen how he had drawn a
     petition which Holmes, Lowell, Longfellow, and others were to sign,
     and while nothing had come of this plan he had never ceased to
     formulate others.  Yet he hesitated when he found that the proposed
     protection was likely to work a hardship to readers of the poorer
     class.  Once he wrote: “My notions have mightily changed lately....
     I can buy a lot of the copyright classics, in paper, at from three
     to thirty cents apiece.  These things must find their way into the
     very kitchens and hovels of the country.....  And even if the treaty
     will kill Canadian piracy, and thus save me an average of $5,000 a
     year, I am down on it anyway, and I’d like cussed well to write an
     article opposing the treaty.”


To W. D. Howells, in Belmont, Mass.:

                                             Thursday, June 6th, 1880.

MY DEAR HOWELLS,--There you stick, at Belmont, and now I’m going to
Washington for a few days; and of course, between you and Providence
that visit is going to get mixed, and you’ll have been here and gone
again just about the time I get back. Bother it all, I wanted to
astonish you with a chapter or two from Orion’s latest book--not the
seventeen which he has begun in the last four months, but the one which
he began last week.

Last night, when I went to bed, Mrs. Clemens said, “George didn’t take
the cat down to the cellar--Rosa says he has left it shut up in the
conservatory.” So I went down to attend to Abner (the cat.) About 3 in
the morning Mrs. C. woke me and said, “I do believe I hear that cat
in the drawing-room--what did you do with him?” I answered up with the
confidence of a man who has managed to do the right thing for once, and
said “I opened the conservatory doors, took the library off the alarm,
and spread everything open, so that there wasn’t any obstruction between
him and the cellar.” Language wasn’t capable of conveying this woman’s
disgust. But the sense of what she said, was, “He couldn’t have done any
harm in the conservatory--so you must go and make the entire house free
to him and the burglars, imagining that he will prefer the coal-bins to
the drawing-room. If you had had Mr. Howells to help you, I should have
admired but not been astonished, because I should know that together
you would be equal to it; but how you managed to contrive such a stately
blunder all by yourself, is what I cannot understand.”
So, you see, even she knows how to appreciate our gifts.

Brisk times here.--Saturday, these things happened: Our neighbor
Chas. Smith was stricken with heart disease, and came near joining the
majority; my publisher, Bliss, ditto, ditto; a neighbor’s child died;
neighbor Whitmore’s sixth child added to his five other cases of
measles; neighbor Niles sent for, and responded; Susie Warner down,
abed; Mrs. George Warner threatened with death during several hours; her
son Frank, whilst imitating the marvels in Barnum’s circus bills, thrown
from his aged horse and brought home insensible: Warner’s friend Max
Yortzburgh, shot in the back by a locomotive and broken into 32 distinct
pieces and his life threatened; and Mrs. Clemens, after writing all
these cheerful things to Clara Spaulding, taken at midnight, and if the
doctor had not been pretty prompt the contemplated Clemens would have
called before his apartments were ready.

However, everybody is all right, now, except Yortzburg, and he is
mending--that is, he is being mended. I knocked off, during these
stirring times, and don’t intend to go to work again till we go away
for the Summer, 3 or 6 weeks hence. So I am writing to you not because
I have anything to say, but because you don’t have to answer and I need
something to do this afternoon.....

I have a letter from a Congressman this morning, and he says Congress
couldn’t be persuaded to bother about Canadian pirates at a time
like this when all legislation must have a political and Presidential
bearing, else Congress won’t look at it. So have changed my mind and my
course; I go north, to kill a pirate. I must procure repose some way,
else I cannot get down to work again.

Pray offer my most sincere and respectful approval to the President--is
approval the proper word? I find it is the one I most value here in the
household and seldomest get.

With our affection to you both.

                                   Yrs ever

     It was always dangerous to send strangers with letters of
     introduction to Mark Twain.  They were so apt to arrive at the wrong
     time, or to find him in the wrong mood.  Howells was willing to risk
     it, and that the result was only amusing instead of tragic is the
     best proof of their friendship.


To W. D. Howells, in Belmont, Mass.:

                                                       June 9, ‘80.

Well, old practical joker, the corpse of Mr. X----has been here, and
I have bedded it and fed it, and put down my work during 24 hours
and tried my level best to make it do something, or say something, or
appreciate something--but no, it was worse than Lazarus. A kind-hearted,
well-meaning corpse was the Boston young man, but lawsy bless me,
horribly dull company. Now, old man, unless you have great confidence in
Mr. X’s judgment, you ought to make him submit his article to you before
he prints it. For only think how true I was to you: Every hour that he
was here I was saying, gloatingly, “O G-- d--- you, when you are in bed
and your light out, I will fix you” (meaning to kill him)...., but then
the thought would follow--“No, Howells sent him--he shall be spared, he
shall be respected he shall travel hell-wards by his own route.”
Breakfast is frozen by this time, and Mrs. Clemens correspondingly hot.
Good bye.

                    Yrs ever,

     “I did not expect you to ask that man to live with you,” Howells
     answered.  “What I was afraid of was that you would turn him out of
     doors, on sight, and so I tried to put in a good word for him.
     After this when I want you to board people, I’ll ask you.  I am
     sorry for your suffering.  I suppose I have mostly lost my smell for
     bores; but yours is preternaturally keen.  I shall begin to be
     afraid I bore you.  (How does that make you feel?)”
     In a letter to Twichell--a remarkable letter--when baby Jean Clemens
     was about a month old, we get a happy hint of conditions at Quarry
     Farm, and in the background a glimpse of Mark Twain’s unfailing
     tragic reflection.


To Rev. Twichell, in Hartford:

                                             QUARRY FARM, Aug. 29 [’80].

DEAR OLD JOE,--Concerning Jean Clemens, if anybody said he “didn’t see
no pints about that frog that’s any better’n any other frog,” I
should think he was convicting himself of being a pretty poor sort of
observer.... I will not go into details; it is not necessary; you will
soon be in Hartford, where I have already hired a hall; the admission
fee will be but a trifle.

It is curious to note the change in the stock-quotation of the Affection
Board brought about by throwing this new security on the market. Four
weeks ago the children still put Mamma at the head of the list right
along, where she had always been. But now:

                    Motley [a cat]
                    Fraulein [another]

That is the way it stands, now Mamma is become No. 2; I have dropped
from No. 4., and am become No. 5. Some time ago it used to be nip and
tuck between me and the cats, but after the cats “developed” I didn’t
stand any more show.

I’ve got a swollen ear; so I take advantage of it to lie abed most of
the day, and read and smoke and scribble and have a good time. Last
evening Livy said with deep concern, “O dear, I believe an abscess is
forming in your ear.”
I responded as the poet would have done if he had had a cold in the

          “Tis said that abscess conquers love,
          But O believe it not.”
This made a coolness.

Been reading Daniel Webster’s Private Correspondence. Have read a
hundred of his diffuse, conceited, “eloquent,” bathotic (or bathostic)
letters written in that dim (no, vanished) Past when he was a student;
and Lord, to think that this boy who is so real to me now, and so
booming with fresh young blood and bountiful life, and sappy cynicisms
about girls, has since climbed the Alps of fame and stood against the
sun one brief tremendous moment with the world’s eyes upon him, and
then--f-z-t-! where is he? Why the only long thing, the only real thing
about the whole shadowy business is the sense of the lagging dull and
hoary lapse of time that has drifted by since then; a vast empty level,
it seems, with a formless spectre glimpsed fitfully through the smoke
and mist that lie along its remote verge.

Well, we are all getting along here first-rate; Livy gains strength
daily, and sits up a deal; the baby is five weeks old and--but no more
of this; somebody may be reading this letter 80 years hence. And so, my
friend (you pitying snob, I mean, who are holding this yellow paper in
your hand in 1960,) save yourself the trouble of looking further; I know
how pathetically trivial our small concerns will seem to you, and I
will not let your eye profane them. No, I keep my news; you keep your
compassion. Suffice it you to know, scoffer and ribald, that the little
child is old and blind, now, and once more toothless; and the rest of us
are shadows, these many, many years. Yes, and your time cometh!


     At the Farm that year Mark Twain was working on The Prince and the
     Pauper, and, according to a letter to Aldrich, brought it to an end
     September 19th.  It is a pleasant letter, worth preserving.  The
     book by Aldrich here mentioned was ‘The Stillwater Tragedy.’ 


To T. B. Aldrich, in Ponkapog, Mass.:

                                             ELMIRA, Sept. 15, ‘80.

MY DEAR ALDRICH,--Thank you ever so much for the book--I had already
finished it, and prodigiously enjoyed it, in the periodical of the
notorious Howells, but it hits Mrs. Clemens just right, for she is
having a reading holiday, now, for the first time in same months; so
between-times, when the new baby is asleep and strengthening up for
another attempt to take possession of this place, she is going to read
it. Her strong friendship for you makes her think she is going to like

I finished a story yesterday, myself. I counted up and found it between
sixty and eighty thousand words--about the size of your book. It is for
boys and girls--been at work at it several years, off and on.

I hope Howells is enjoying his journey to the Pacific. He wrote me that
you and Osgood were going, also, but I doubted it, believing he was in
liquor when he wrote it. In my opinion, this universal applause over
his book is going to land that man in a Retreat inside of two months. I
notice the papers say mighty fine things about your book, too. You ought
to try to get into the same establishment with Howells. But applause
does not affect me--I am always calm--this is because I am used to it.

Well, good-bye, my boy, and good luck to you. Mrs. Clemens asks me to
send her warmest regards to you and Mrs. Aldrich--which I do, and add
those of

                    Yrs ever

     While Mark Twain was a journalist in San Francisco, there was a
     middle-aged man named Soule, who had a desk near him on the Morning
     Call.  Soule was in those days highly considered as a poet by his
     associates, most of whom were younger and less gracefully poetic.
     But Soule’s gift had never been an important one.  Now, in his old
     age, he found his fame still local, and he yearned for wider
     recognition.  He wished to have a volume of poems issued by a
     publisher of recognized standing.  Because Mark Twain had been one
     of Soule’s admirers and a warm friend in the old days, it was
     natural that Soule should turn to him now, and equally natural that
     Clemens should turn to Howells.


To W. D. Howells, in Boston:

                                        Sunday, Oct.  2 ‘80.

MY DEAR HOWELLS,--Here’s a letter which I wrote you to San Francisco the
second time you didn’t go there.... I told Soule he needn’t write you,
but simply send the MS. to you. O dear, dear, it is dreadful to be an
unrecognized poet. How wise it was in Charles Warren Stoddard to take in
his sign and go for some other calling while still young.

I’m laying for that Encyclopedical Scotchman--and he’ll need to lock the
door behind him, when he comes in; otherwise when he hears my proposed
tariff his skin will probably crawl away with him. He is accustomed
to seeing the publisher impoverish the author--that spectacle must
be getting stale to him--if he contracts with the undersigned he will
experience a change in that programme that will make the enamel peel off
his teeth for very surprise--and joy. No, that last is what Mrs. Clemens
thinks--but it’s not so. The proposed work is growing, mightily, in my
estimation, day by day; and I’m not going to throw it away for any mere
trifle. If I make a contract with the canny Scot, I will then tell him
the plan which you and I have devised (that of taking in the humor of
all countries)--otherwise I’ll keep it to myself, I think. Why should we
assist our fellowman for mere love of God?

                                             Yrs ever

     One wishes that Howells might have found value enough in the verses
     of Frank Soule to recommend them to Osgood.  To Clemens he wrote:
     “You have touched me in regard to him, and I will deal gently with
     his poetry.  Poor old fellow!  I can imagine him, and how he must
     have to struggle not to be hard or sour.”
     The verdict, however, was inevitable.  Soule’s graceful verses
     proved to be not poetry at all.  No publisher of standing could
     afford to give them his imprint.

     The “Encyclopedical Scotchman” mentioned in the preceding letter was
     the publisher Gebbie, who had a plan to engage Howells and Clemens
     to prepare some sort of anthology of the world’s literature.  The
     idea came to nothing, though the other plan mentioned--for a library
     of humor--in time grew into a book.

     Mark Twain’s contracts with Bliss for the publication of his books
     on the subscription plan had been made on a royalty basis, beginning
     with 5 per cent. on ‘The Innocents Abroad’ increasing to 7 per
     cent. on ‘Roughing It,’ and to 10 per cent. on later books.  Bliss
     had held that these later percentages fairly represented one half
     the profits.  Clemens, however, had never been fully satisfied, and
     his brother Onion had more than once urged him to demand a specific
     contract on the half-profit basis.  The agreement for the
     publication of ‘A Tramp Abroad’ was made on these terms.  Bliss died
     before Clemens received his first statement of sales.  Whatever may
     have been the facts under earlier conditions, the statement proved
     to Mark Twain’s satisfaction; at least, that the half-profit
     arrangement was to his advantage.  It produced another result; it
     gave Samuel Clemens an excuse to place his brother Onion in a
     position of independence.


To Onion Clemens, in Keokuk, Iowa:

                                             Sunday, Oct 24 ‘80.

MY DEAR BRO.,--Bliss is dead. The aspect of the balance-sheet is
enlightening. It reveals the fact, through my present contract, (which
is for half the profits on the book above actual cost of paper, printing
and binding,) that I have lost considerably by all this nonsense--sixty
thousand dollars, I should say--and if Bliss were alive I would stay
with the concern and get it all back; for on each new book I would
require a portion of that back pay; but as it is (this in the very
strictest confidence,) I shall probably go to a new publisher 6 or 8
months hence, for I am afraid Frank, with his poor health, will lack
push and drive.

Out of the suspicions you bred in me years ago, has grown this
result,--to wit, that I shall within the twelvemonth get $40,000 out of
this “Tramp” instead Of $20,000. Twenty thousand dollars, after taxes
and other expenses are stripped away, is worth to the investor about $75
a month--so I shall tell Mr. Perkins to make your check that amount per
month, hereafter, while our income is able to afford it. This ends the
loan business; and hereafter you can reflect that you are living not on
borrowed money but on money which you have squarely earned, and which
has no taint or savor of charity about it--and you can also reflect
that the money you have been receiving of me all these years is interest
charged against the heavy bill which the next publisher will have to
stand who gets a book of mine.

Jean got the stockings and is much obliged; Mollie wants to know whom
she most resembles, but I can’t tell; she has blue eyes and brown hair,
and three chins, and is very fat and happy; and at one time or another
she has resembled all the different Clemenses and Langdons, in turn,
that have ever lived.

Livy is too much beaten out with the baby, nights, to write, these
times; and I don’t know of anything urgent to say, except that a basket
full of letters has accumulated in the 7 days that I have been whooping
and cursing over a cold in the head--and I must attack the pile this
very minute.

                         With love from us
                                        Y aff
$25 enclosed.

     On the completion of The Prince and Pauper story, Clemens had
     naturally sent it to Howells for consideration.  Howells wrote:
     “I have read the two P’s and I like it immensely, it begins well and
     it ends well.”  He pointed out some things that might be changed or
     omitted, and added: “It is such a book as I would expect from you,
     knowing what a bottom of fury there is to your fun.”  Clemens had
     thought somewhat of publishing the story anonymously, in the fear
     that it would not be accepted seriously over his own signature.

     The “bull story” referred to in the next letter is the one later
     used in the Joan of Arc book, the story told Joan by “Uncle Laxart,”
      how he rode a bull to a funeral.


To W. D. Howells, in Boston:

                                                  Xmas Eve, 1880.

MY DEAR HOWELLS,--I was prodigiously delighted with what you said
about the book--so, on the whole, I’ve concluded to publish intrepidly,
instead of concealing the authorship. I shall leave out that bull story.

I wish you had gone to New York. The company was small, and we had a
first-rate time. Smith’s an enjoyable fellow. I liked Barrett, too. And
the oysters were as good as the rest of the company. It was worth going
there to learn how to cook them.

Next day I attended to business--which was, to introduce Twichell to
Gen. Grant and procure a private talk in the interest of the Chinese
Educational Mission here in the U. S. Well, it was very funny. Joe had
been sitting up nights building facts and arguments together into a
mighty and unassailable array and had studied them out and got them by
heart--all with the trembling half-hearted hope of getting Grant to add
his signature to a sort of petition to the Viceroy of China; but Grant
took in the whole situation in a jiffy, and before Joe had more
than fairly got started, the old man said: “I’ll write the Viceroy a
Letter--a separate letter--and bring strong reasons to bear upon him; I
know him well, and what I say will have weight with him; I will attend
to it right away. No, no thanks--I shall be glad to do it--it will be a
labor of love.”
So all Joe’s laborious hours were for naught! It was as if he had come
to borrow a dollar, and been offered a thousand before he could unfold
his case....

But it’s getting dark. Merry Christmas to all of you.

                                   Yrs Ever,

     The Chinese Educational Mission, mentioned in the foregoing, was a
     thriving Hartford institution, projected eight years before by a
     Yale graduate named Yung Wing.  The mission was now threatened, and
     Yung Wing, knowing the high honor in which General Grant was held in
     China, believed that through him it might be saved.  Twichell, of
     course, was deeply concerned and naturally overjoyed at Grant’s
     interest.  A day or two following the return to Hartford, Clemens
     received a letter from General Grant, in which he wrote: “Li Hung
     Chang is the most powerful and most influential Chinaman in his
     country.  He professed great friendship for me when I was there, and
     I have had assurances of the same thing since.  I hope, if he is
     strong enough with his government, that the decision to withdraw the
     Chinese students from this country may be changed.”
     But perhaps Li Hung Chang was experiencing one of his partial
     eclipses just then, or possibly he was not interested, for the
     Hartford Mission did not survive.


     With all of Mark Twain’s admiration for Grant, he had
     opposed him as a third-term President and approved of the
     nomination of Garfield.  He had made speeches for Garfield
     during the campaign just ended, and had been otherwise
     active in his support.  Upon Garfield’s election, however,
     he felt himself entitled to no special favor, and the single
     request which he preferred at length could hardly be classed
     as, personal, though made for a “personal friend.”


To President-elect James A. Garfield, in Washington:

                                             HARTFORD, Jany. 12, ‘81.


DEAR SIR,--Several times since your election persons wanting office have
asked me “to use my influence” with you in their behalf.

To word it in that way was such a pleasant compliment to me that I
never complied. I could not without exposing the fact that I hadn’t any
influence with you and that was a thing I had no mind to do.

It seems to me that it is better to have a good man’s flattering
estimate of my influence--and to keep it--than to fool it away with
trying to get him an office. But when my brother--on my wife’s side--Mr.
Charles J. Langdon--late of the Chicago Convention--desires me to speak
a word for Mr. Fred Douglass, I am not asked “to use my influence”
 consequently I am not risking anything. So I am writing this as a simple
citizen. I am not drawing on my fund of influence at all. A simple
citizen may express a desire with all propriety, in the matter of a
recommendation to office, and so I beg permission to hope that you will
retain Mr. Douglass in his present office of Marshall of the District of
Columbia, if such a course will not clash with your own preferences or
with the expediencies and interest of your administration. I offer this
petition with peculiar pleasure and strong desire, because I so honor
this man’s high and blemishless character and so admire his brave, long
crusade for the liberties and elevation of his race.

He is a personal friend of mine, but that is nothing to the point, his
history would move me to say these things without that, and I feel them

               With great respect
                         I am, General,
                                   Yours truly,
                                        S. L. CLEMENS.

     Clemens would go out of his way any time to grant favor to the
     colored race.  His childhood associations were partly accountable
     for this, but he also felt that the white man owed the negro a debt
     for generations of enforced bondage.  He would lecture any time in a
     colored church, when he would as likely as not refuse point-blank to
     speak for a white congregation.  Once, in Elmira, he received a
     request, poorly and none too politely phrased, to speak for one of
     the churches.  He was annoyed and about to send a brief refusal,
     when Mrs. Clemens, who was present, said:

     “I think I know that church, and if so this preacher is a colored
     man; he does not know how to write a polished letter--how should
     he?”  Her husband’s manner changed so suddenly that she added:
     “I will give you a motto, and it will be useful to you if you will
     adopt it: Consider every man colored until he is proved white.”


To W. D. Howells, in Boston:

                                             HARTFORD, Feb.  27, 1881.

MY DEAR HOWELLS,--I go to West Point with Twichell tomorrow, but shall
be back Tuesday or Wednesday; and then just as soon thereafter as you
and Mrs. Howells and Winny can come you will find us ready and most glad
to see you--and the longer you can stay the gladder we shall be. I am
not going to have a thing to do, but you shall work if you want to. On
the evening of March 10th, I am going to read to the colored folk in the
African Church here (no whites admitted except such as I bring with me),
and a choir of colored folk will sing jubilee songs. I count on a
good time, and shall hope to have you folks there, and Livy. I read in
Twichell’s chapel Friday night and had a most rattling high time--but
the thing that went best of all was Uncle Remus’s Tar Baby. I mean
to try that on my dusky audience. They’ve all heard that tale from
childhood--at least the older members have.

I arrived home in time to make a most noble blunder--invited Charley
Warner here (in Livy’s name) to dinner with the Gerhardts, and told him
Livy had invited his wife by letter and by word of mouth also. I don’t
know where I got these impressions, but I came home feeling as one does
who realizes that he has done a neat thing for once and left no flaws or
loop-holes. Well, Livy said she had never told me to invite Charley
and she hadn’t dreamed of inviting Susy, and moreover there wasn’t
any dinner, but just one lean duck. But Susy Warner’s intuitions were
correct--so she choked off Charley, and staid home herself--we waited
dinner an hour and you ought to have seen that duck when he was done
drying in the oven.


     Clemens and his wife were always privately assisting worthy and
     ambitious young people along the way of achievement.  Young actors
     were helped through dramatic schools; young men and women were
     assisted through college and to travel abroad.  Among others Clemens
     paid the way of two colored students, one through a Southern
     institution and another through the Yale law school.

     The mention of the name of Gerhardt in the preceding letter
     introduces the most important, or at least the most extensive, of
     these benefactions.  The following letter gives the beginning of the


To W. D. Howells, in Boston:

Private and Confidential.

                                        HARTFORD, Feb. 21, 1881.

MY DEAR HOWELLS,--Well, here is our romance.

It happened in this way. One morning, a month ago--no, three
weeks--Livy, and Clara Spaulding and I were at breakfast, at 10 A.M.,
and I was in an irritable mood, for the barber was up stairs waiting
and his hot water getting cold, when the colored George returned from
answering the bell and said: “There’s a lady in the drawing-room wants
to see you.” “A book agent!” says I, with heat. “I won’t see her; I will
die in my tracks, first.”
Then I got up with a soul full of rage, and went in there and bent
scowling over that person, and began a succession of rude and raspy
questions--and without even offering to sit down.

Not even the defendant’s youth and beauty and (seeming) timidity were
able to modify my savagery, for a time--and meantime question and answer
were going on. She had risen to her feet with the first question; and
there she stood, with her pretty face bent floorward whilst I inquired,
but always with her honest eyes looking me in the face when it came her
turn to answer.

And this was her tale, and her plea-diffidently stated, but
straight-forwardly; and bravely, and most winningly simply and
earnestly: I put it in my own fashion, for I do not remember her words:

Mr. Karl Gerhardt, who works in Pratt & Whitney’s machine shops, has
made a statue in clay, and would I be so kind as to come and look at it,
and tell him if there is any promise in it? He has none to go to, and he
would be so glad.

“O, dear me,” I said, “I don’t know anything about art--there’s nothing
I could tell him.”
But she went on, just as earnestly and as simply as before, with her
plea--and so she did after repeated rebuffs; and dull as I am, even
I began by and by to admire this brave and gentle persistence, and to
perceive how her heart of hearts was in this thing, and how she couldn’t
give it up, but must carry her point. So at last I wavered, and
promised in general terms that I would come down the first day that fell
idle--and as I conducted her to the door, I tamed more and more,
and said I would come during the very next week--“We shall be so
glad--but--but, would you please come early in the week?--the statue
is just finished and we are so anxious--and--and--we did hope you could
come this week--and”--well, I came down another peg, and said I would
come Monday, as sure as death; and before I got to the dining room
remorse was doing its work and I was saying to myself, “Damnation, how
can a man be such a hound? why didn’t I go with her now?” Yes, and how
mean I should have felt if I had known that out of her poverty she had
hired a hack and brought it along to convey me. But luckily for what was
left of my peace of mind, I didn’t know that.

Well, it appears that from here she went to Charley Warner’s. There was
a better light, there, and the eloquence of her face had a better chance
to do its office. Warner fought, as I had done; and he was in the midst
of an article and very busy; but no matter, she won him completely.
He laid aside his MS and said, “Come, let us go and see your father’s
statue. That is--is he your father?” “No, he is my husband.” So this
child was married, you see.

This was a Saturday. Next day Warner came to dinner and said “Go!--go
tomorrow--don’t fail.” He was in love with the girl, and with her
husband too, and said he believed there was merit in the statue. Pretty
crude work, maybe, but merit in it.

Patrick and I hunted up the place, next day; the girl saw us driving up,
and flew down the stairs and received me. Her quarters were the second
story of a little wooden house--another family on the ground floor. The
husband was at the machine shop, the wife kept no servant, she was there
alone. She had a little parlor, with a chair or two and a sofa; and the
artist-husband’s hand was visible in a couple of plaster busts, one of
the wife, and another of a neighbor’s child; visible also in a couple of
water colors of flowers and birds; an ambitious unfinished portrait
of his wife in oils: some paint decorations on the pine mantel; and an
excellent human ear, done in some plastic material at 16.

Then we went into the kitchen, and the girl flew around, with
enthusiasm, and snatched rag after rag from a tall something in the
corner, and presently there stood the clay statue, life size--a graceful
girlish creature, nude to the waist, and holding up a single garment
with one hand the expression attempted being a modified scare--she was
interrupted when about to enter the bath.

Then this young wife posed herself alongside the image and so
remained--a thing I didn’t understand. But presently I did--then I said:

“O, it’s you!”
“Yes,” she said, “I was the model. He has no model but me. I have stood
for this many and many an hour--and you can’t think how it does tire
one! But I don’t mind it. He works all day at the shop; and then, nights
and Sundays he works on his statue as long as I can keep up.”
She got a big chisel, to use as a lever, and between us we managed to
twist the pedestal round and round, so as to afford a view of the statue
from all points. Well, sir, it was perfectly charming, this girl’s
innocence and purity---exhibiting her naked self, as it were, to a
stranger and alone, and never once dreaming that there was the slightest
indelicacy about the matter. And so there wasn’t; but it will be many
along day before I run across another woman who can do the like and show
no trace of self-consciousness.

Well, then we sat down, and I took a smoke, and she told me all about
her people in Massachusetts--her father is a physician and it is an old
and respectable family--(I am able to believe anything she says.) And
she told me how “Karl” is 26 years old; and how he has had passionate
longings all his life toward art, but has always been poor and obliged
to struggle for his daily bread; and how he felt sure that if he could
only have one or two lessons in--

“Lessons? Hasn’t he had any lessons?”
No. He had never had a lesson.

And presently it was dinner time and “Karl” arrived--a slender young
fellow with a marvelous head and a noble eye--and he was as simple and
natural, and as beautiful in spirit as his wife was. But she had to do
the talking--mainly--there was too much thought behind his cavernous
eyes for glib speech.

I went home enchanted. Told Livy and Clara Spaulding all about the
paradise down yonder where those two enthusiasts are happy with a
yearly expense of $350. Livy and Clara went there next day and came away
enchanted. A few nights later the Gerhardts kept their promise and came
here for the evening. It was billiard night and I had company and so
was not down; but Livy and Clara became more charmed with these children
than ever.

Warner and I planned to get somebody to criticise the statue whose
judgment would be worth something. So I laid for Champney, and after two
failures I captured him and took him around, and he said “this statue
is full of faults--but it has merits enough in it to make up for
them”--whereat the young wife danced around as delighted as a child.
When we came away, Champney said, “I did not want to say too much there,
but the truth is, it seems to me an extraordinary performance for an
untrained hand. You ask if there is promise enough there to justify
the Hartford folk in going to an expense of training this young man. I
should say, yes, decidedly; but still, to make everything safe, you had
better get the judgment of a sculptor.”
Warner was in New York. I wrote him, and he said he would fetch up
Ward--which he did. Yesterday they went to the Gerhardts and spent two
hours, and Ward came away bewitched with those people and marveling
at the winning innocence of the young wife, who dropped naturally into
model-attitude beside the statue (which is stark naked from head to
heel, now--G. had removed the drapery, fearing Ward would think he was
afraid to try legs and hips) just as she has always done before.

Livy and I had two long talks with Ward yesterday evening. He spoke
strongly. He said, “if any stranger had told me that this apprentice did
not model that thing from plaster casts, I would not have believed it.”
 He said “it is full of crudities, but it is full of genius, too. It is
such a statue as the man of average talent would achieve after two
years training in the schools. And the boldness of the fellow, in going
straight to nature! He is an apprentice--his work shows that, all over;
but the stuff is in him, sure. Hartford must send him to Paris--two
years; then if the promise holds good, keep him there three more--and
warn him to study, study, work, work, and keep his name out of the
papers, and neither ask for orders nor accept them when offered.”
Well, you see, that’s all we wanted. After Ward was gone Livy came out
with the thing that was in her mind. She said, “Go privately and start
the Gerhardts off to Paris, and say nothing about it to any one else.”
So I tramped down this morning in the snow-storm--and there was a
stirring time. They will sail a week or ten days from now.

As I was starting out at the front door, with Gerhardt beside me and
the young wife dancing and jubilating behind, this latter cried out
impulsively, “Tell Mrs. Clemens I want to hug her--I want to hug you
I gave them my old French book and they were going to tackle the
language, straight off.

Now this letter is a secret--keep it quiet--I don’t think Livy would
mind my telling you these things, but then she might, you know, for she
is a queer girl.

                              Yrs ever,

     Champney was J. Wells Champney, a portrait-painter of distinction;
     Ward was the sculptor, J. Q. A. Ward.

     The Gerhardts were presently off to Paris, well provided with means
     to make their dreams reality; in due time the letters will report
     them again.

     The Uncle Remus tales of Joel Chandler Harris gave Mark Twain great
     pleasure.  He frequently read them aloud, not only at home but in
     public.  Finally, he wrote Harris, expressing his warm appreciation,
     and mentioning one of the negro stories of his own childhood, “The
     Golden Arm,” which he urged Harris to look up and add to his

     “You have pinned a proud feather in Uncle-Remus’s cap,” replied
     Harris.  “I do not know what higher honor he could have than to
     appear before the Hartford public arm in arm with Mark Twain.”
     He disclaimed any originality for the stories, adding, “I understand
     that my relations toward Uncle Remus are similar to those that exist
     between an almanac maker and the calendar.”  He had not heard the
     “Golden Arm” story and asked for the outlines; also for some
     publishing advice, out of Mark Twain’s long experience.


To Joel Chandler Harris, in Atlanta:

                                             ELMIRA, N.Y., Aug. 10.

MY DEAR MR. HARRIS,--You can argue yourself into the delusion that the
principle of life is in the stories themselves and not in their setting;
but you will save labor by stopping with that solitary convert, for he
is the only intelligent one you will bag. In reality the stories
are only alligator pears--one merely eats them for the sake of the
salad-dressing. Uncle Remus is most deftly drawn, and is a lovable and
delightful creation; he, and the little boy, and their relations with
each other, are high and fine literature, and worthy to live, for their
own sakes; and certainly the stories are not to be credited with them.
But enough of this; I seem to be proving to the man that made the
multiplication table that twice one are two.

I have been thinking, yesterday and to-day (plenty of chance to think,
as I am abed with lumbago at our little summering farm among the
solitudes of the Mountaintops,) and I have concluded that I can answer
one of your questions with full confidence--thus: Make it a subscription
book. Mighty few books that come strictly under the head of literature
will sell by subscription; but if Uncle Remus won’t, the gift of
prophecy has departed out of me. When a book will sell by subscription,
it will sell two or three times as many copies as it would in the trade;
and the profit is bulkier because the retail price is greater.....

You didn’t ask me for a subscription-publisher. If you had, I should
have recommended Osgood to you. He inaugurates his subscription
department with my new book in the fall.....

Now the doctor has been here and tried to interrupt my yarn about “The
Golden Arm,” but I’ve got through, anyway.

Of course I tell it in the negro dialect--that is necessary; but I have
not written it so, for I can’t spell it in your matchless way. It is
marvelous the way you and Cable spell the negro and creole dialects.

Two grand features are lost in print: the weird wailing, the rising and
falling cadences of the wind, so easily mimicked with one’s mouth; and
the impressive pauses and eloquent silences, and subdued utterances,
toward the end of the yarn (which chain the attention of the children
hand and foot, and they sit with parted lips and breathless, to be
wrenched limb from limb with the sudden and appalling “You got it”).

Old Uncle Dan’l, a slave of my uncle’s’ aged 60, used to tell us
children yarns every night by the kitchen fire (no other light;) and the
last yarn demanded, every night, was this one. By this time there was
but a ghastly blaze or two flickering about the back-log. We would
huddle close about the old man, and begin to shudder with the first
familiar words; and under the spell of his impressive delivery we always
fell a prey to that climax at the end when the rigid black shape in the
twilight sprang at us with a shout.

When you come to glance at the tale you will recollect it--it is as
common and familiar as the Tar Baby. Work up the atmosphere with your
customary skill and it will “go” in print.

Lumbago seems to make a body garrulous--but you’ll forgive it.

                                   Truly yours
                                        S. L. CLEMENS

     The “Golden Arm” story was one that Clemens often used in his public
     readings, and was very effective as he gave it.

     In his sketch, “How to Tell a Story,” it appears about as he used to
     tell it.  Harris, receiving the outlines of the old Missouri tale,
     presently announced that he had dug up its Georgia relative, an
     interesting variant, as we gather from Mark Twain’s reply.


To Joel Chandler Harris, in Atlanta:

                                             HARTFORD, ‘81.

MY DEAR MR. HARRIS,--I was very sure you would run across that Story
somewhere, and am glad you have. A Drummond light--no, I mean a Brush
light--is thrown upon the negro estimate of values by his willingness
to risk his soul and his mighty peace forever for the sake of a silver
sev’m-punce. And this form of the story seems rather nearer the true
field-hand standard than that achieved by my Florida, Mo., negroes with
their sumptuous arm of solid gold.

I judge you haven’t received my new book yet--however, you will in a day
or two. Meantime you must not take it ill if I drop Osgood a hint about
your proposed story of slave life.....

When you come north I wish you would drop me a line and then follow
it in person and give me a day or two at our house in Hartford. If you
will, I will snatch Osgood down from Boston, and you won’t have to go
there at all unless you want to. Please to bear this strictly in mind,
and don’t forget it.

                         Sincerely yours
                                   S. L. CLEMENS.

     Charles Warren Stoddard, to whom the next letter is written, was one
     of the old California literary crowd, a graceful writer of verse and
     prose, never quite arriving at the success believed by his friends
     to be his due.  He was a gentle, irresponsible soul, well loved by
     all who knew him, and always, by one or another, provided against
     want.  The reader may remember that during Mark Twain’s great
     lecture engagement in London, winter of 1873-74, Stoddard lived with
     him, acting as his secretary.  At a later period in his life he
     lived for several years with the great telephone magnate, Theodore
     N. Vail.  At the time of this letter, Stoddard had decided that in
     the warm light and comfort of the Sandwich Islands he could survive
     on his literary earnings.


To Charles Warren Stoddard, in the Sandwich Islands:

                                             HARTFORD, Oct. 26 ‘81.

MY DEAR CHARLIE,--Now what have I ever done to you that you should not
only slide off to Heaven before you have earned a right to go, but must
add the gratuitous villainy of informing me of it?...

The house is full of carpenters and decorators; whereas, what we really
need here, is an incendiary. If the house would only burn down, we would
pack up the cubs and fly to the isles of the blest, and shut ourselves
up in the healing solitudes of the crater of Haleakala and get a good
rest; for the mails do not intrude there, nor yet the telephone and the
telegraph. And after resting, we would come down the mountain a piece
and board with a godly, breech-clouted native, and eat poi and dirt and
give thanks to whom all thanks belong, for these privileges, and never
house-keep any more.

I think my wife would be twice as strong as she is, but for this wearing
and wearying slavery of house-keeping. However, she thinks she must
submit to it for the sake of the children; whereas, I have always had
a tenderness for parents too, so, for her sake and mine, I sigh for the
incendiary. When the evening comes and the gas is lit and the wear and
tear of life ceases, we want to keep house always; but next morning we
wish, once more, that we were free and irresponsible boarders.

Work?--one can’t you know, to any purpose. I don’t really get anything
done worth speaking of, except during the three or four months that we
are away in the Summer. I wish the Summer were seven years long. I
keep three or four books on the stocks all the time, but I seldom add a
satisfactory chapter to one of them at home. Yes, and it is all because
my time is taken up with answering the letters of strangers. It can’t
be done through a short hand amanuensis--I’ve tried that--it wouldn’t
work--I couldn’t learn to dictate. What does possess strangers to write
so many letters? I never could find that out. However, I suppose I did
it myself when I was a stranger. But I will never do it again.

Maybe you think I am not happy? the very thing that gravels me is that
I am. I don’t want to be happy when I can’t work; I am resolved that
hereafter I won’t be. What I have always longed for, was the privilege
of living forever away up on one of those mountains in the Sandwich
Islands overlooking the sea.

                              Yours ever

That magazine article of yours was mighty good: up to your very best I
think. I enclose a book review written by Howells.


To W. D. Howells, in Boston:

                                             HARTFORD, Oct. 26 ‘81.

MY DEAR HOWELLS,--I am delighted with your review, and so is Mrs.
Clemens. What you have said, there, will convince anybody that reads it;
a body cannot help being convinced by it. That is the kind of a review
to have; the doubtful man; even the prejudiced man, is persuaded and

What a queer blunder that was, about the baronet. I can’t quite see how
I ever made it. There was an opulent abundance of things I didn’t know;
and consequently no need to trench upon the vest-pocketful of things I
did know, to get material for a blunder.

Charley Warren Stoddard has gone to the Sandwich Islands permanently.
Lucky devil. It is the only supremely delightful place on earth. It does
seem that the more advantage a body doesn’t earn, here, the more of them
God throws at his head. This fellow’s postal card has set the vision of
those gracious islands before my mind, again, with not a leaf withered,
nor a rainbow vanished, nor a sun-flash missing from the waves, and now
it will be months, I reckon, before I can drive it away again. It is
beautiful company, but it makes one restless and dissatisfied.

With love and thanks,

                         Yrs ever,

     The review mentioned in this letter was of The Prince and the
     Pauper.  What the queer “blunder” about the baronet was, the present
     writer confesses he does not know; but perhaps a careful reader
     could find it, at least in the early edition; very likely it was
     corrected without loss of time.

     Clemens now and then found it necessary to pay a visit to Canada in
     the effort to protect his copyright.  He usually had a grand time on
     these trips, being lavishly entertained by the Canadian literary
     fraternity.  In November, 1881, he made one of these journeys in the
     interest of The Prince and the Pauper, this time with Osgood, who
     was now his publisher.  In letters written home we get a hint of his
     diversions.  The Monsieur Frechette mentioned was a Canadian poet of
     considerable distinction.  “Clara” was Miss Clara Spaulding, of
     Elmira, who had accompanied Mr. and Mrs. Clemens to Europe in 1873,
     and again in 1878.  Later she became Mrs. John B. Staachfield, of
     New York City.  Her name has already appeared in these letters many


To Mrs. Clemens, in Hartford:

                                             MONTREAL, Nov. 28 ‘81.

Livy darling, you and Clara ought to have been at breakfast in the great
dining room this morning. English female faces, distinctive English
costumes, strange and marvelous English gaits--and yet such honest,
honorable, clean-souled countenances, just as these English women almost
always have, you know. Right away--

But they’ve come to take me to the top of Mount Royal, it being a cold,
dry, sunny, magnificent day. Going in a sleigh.

                         Yours lovingly,


To Mrs. Clemens, in Hartford:

                                   MONTREAL, Sunday, November 27, 1881.

Livy dear, a mouse kept me awake last night till 3 or 4 o’clock--so I am
lying abed this morning. I would not give sixpence to be out yonder in
the storm, although it is only snow.

[The above paragraph is written in the form of a rebus illustrated with
various sketches.]

There--that’s for the children--was not sure that they could read
writing; especially jean, who is strangely ignorant in some things.

I can not only look out upon the beautiful snow-storm, past the vigorous
blaze of my fire; and upon the snow-veiled buildings which I have
sketched; and upon the churchward drifting umbrellas; and upon the
buffalo-clad cabmen stamping their feet and thrashing their arms on the
corner yonder: but I also look out upon the spot where the first white
men stood, in the neighborhood of four hundred years ago, admiring the
mighty stretch of leafy solitudes, and being admired and marveled at by
an eager multitude of naked savages. The discoverer of this region, and
namer of it, Jacques Cartier, has a square named for him in the city. I
wish you were here; you would enjoy your birthday, I think.

I hoped for a letter, and thought I had one when the mail was handed in,
a minute ago, but it was only that note from Sylvester Baxter. You must
write--do you hear?--or I will be remiss myself.

Give my love and a kiss to the children, and ask them to give you my
love and a kiss from



To Mrs. Clemens, in Hartford:

                                             QUEBEC, Sunday.  ‘81.

Livy darling, I received a letter from Monsieur Frechette this morning,
in which certain citizens of Montreal tendered me a public dinner next
Thursday, and by Osgood’s advice I accepted it. I would have accepted
anyway, and very cheerfully but for the delay of two days--for I was
purposing to go to Boston Tuesday and home Wednesday; whereas, now I go
to Boston Friday and home Saturday. I have to go by Boston on account of

We drove about the steep hills and narrow, crooked streets of this
old town during three hours, yesterday, in a sleigh, in a driving
snow-storm. The people here don’t mind snow; they were all out, plodding
around on their affairs--especially the children, who were wallowing
around everywhere, like snow images, and having a mighty good time.
I wish I could describe the winter costume of the young girls, but I
can’t. It is grave and simple, but graceful and pretty--the top of it is
a brimless fur cap. Maybe it is the costume that makes pretty girls seem
so monotonously plenty here. It was a kind of relief to strike a homely
face occasionally.

You descend into some of the streets by long, deep stairways; and in the
strong moonlight, last night, these were very picturesque. I did wish
you were here to see these things. You couldn’t by any possibility sleep
in these beds, though, or enjoy the food.

Good night, sweetheart, and give my respects to the cubs.


     It had been hoped that W. D. Howells would join the Canadian
     excursion, but Howells was not very well that autumn.  He wrote that
     he had been in bed five weeks, “most of the time recovering; so you
     see how bad I must have been to begin with.  But now I am out of any
     first-class pain; I have a good appetite, and I am as abusive and
     peremptory as Guiteau.”  Clemens, returning to Hartford, wrote him a
     letter that explains itself.


To W. D. Howells, in Boston:

                                             HARTFORD, Dec. 16 ‘81.

MY DEAR HOWELLS,--It was a sharp disappointment--your inability to
connect, on the Canadian raid. What a gaudy good time we should have

Disappointed, again, when I got back to Boston; for I was promising
myself half an hour’s look at you, in Belmont; but your note to Osgood
showed that that could not be allowed out yet.

The Atlantic arrived an hour ago, and your faultless and delicious
Police Report brought that blamed Joe Twichell powerfully before me.
There’s a man who can tell such things himself (by word of mouth,) and
has as sure an eye for detecting a thing that is before his eyes, as
any man in the world, perhaps--then why in the nation doesn’t he report
himself with a pen?

One of those drenching days last week, he slopped down town with his
cubs, and visited a poor little beggarly shed where were a dwarf, a fat
woman, and a giant of honest eight feet, on exhibition behind tawdry
show-canvases, but with nobody to exhibit to. The giant had a broom, and
was cleaning up and fixing around, diligently. Joe conceived the idea of
getting some talk out of him. Now that never would have occurred to me.
So he dropped in under the man’s elbow, dogged him patiently around,
prodding him with questions and getting irritated snarls in return which
would have finished me early--but at last one of Joe’s random shafts
drove the centre of that giant’s sympathies somehow, and fetched him.
The fountains of his great deep were broken up, and he rained a flood of
personal history that was unspeakably entertaining.

Among other things it turned out that he had been a Turkish (native)
colonel, and had fought all through the Crimean war--and so, for the
first time, Joe got a picture of the Charge of the Six Hundred that made
him see the living spectacle, the flash of flag and tongue-flame, the
rolling smoke, and hear the booming of the guns; and for the first time
also, he heard the reasons for that wild charge delivered from the mouth
of a master, and realized that nobody had “blundered,” but that a cold,
logical, military brain had perceived this one and sole way to win
an already lost battle, and so gave the command and did achieve the

And mind you Joe was able to come up here, days afterwards, and
reproduce that giant’s picturesque and admirable history. But dern him,
he can’t write it--which is all wrong, and not as it should be.

And he has gone and raked up the MS autobiography (written in 1848,)
of Mrs. Phebe Brown, (author of “I Love to Steal a While Away,”) who
educated Yung Wing in her family when he was a little boy; and I came
near not getting to bed at all, last night, on account of the lurid
fascinations of it. Why in the nation it has never got into print, I
can’t understand.

But, by jings! the postman will be here in a minute; so, congratulations
upon your mending health, and gratitude that it is mending; and love to
you all.

                              Yrs Ever

Don’t answer--I spare the sick.


     A man of Mark Twain’s profession and prominence must necessarily be
     the subject of much newspaper comment.  Jest, compliment, criticism
     --none of these things disturbed him, as a rule.  He was pleased
     that his books should receive favorable notices by men whose opinion
     he respected, but he was not grieved by adverse expressions.  Jests
     at his expense, if well written, usually amused him; cheap jokes
     only made him sad; but sarcasms and innuendoes were likely to enrage
     him, particularly if he believed them prompted by malice.  Perhaps
     among all the letters he ever wrote, there is none more
     characteristic than this confession of violence and eagerness for
     reprisal, followed by his acknowledgment of error and a manifest
     appreciation of his own weakness.  It should be said that Mark Twain
     and Whitelaw Reid were generally very good friends, and perhaps for
     the moment this fact seemed to magnify the offense.


To W. D. Howells, in Boston:

                                        HARTFORD, Jan.  28 ‘82.

MY DEAR HOWELLS,--Nobody knows better than I, that there are times when
swearing cannot meet the emergency. How sharply I feel that, at this
moment. Not a single profane word has issued from my lips this mornin--I
have not even had the impulse to swear, so wholly ineffectual would
swearing have manifestly been, in the circumstances. But I will tell you
about it.

About three weeks ago, a sensitive friend, approaching his revelation
cautiously, intimated that the N. Y. Tribune was engaged in a kind of
crusade against me. This seemed a higher compliment than I deserved; but
no matter, it made me very angry. I asked many questions, and gathered,
in substance, this: Since Reid’s return from Europe, the Tribune
had been flinging sneers and brutalities at me with such persistent
frequency “as to attract general remark.” I was an angered--which is
just as good an expression, I take it, as an hungered. Next, I learned
that Osgood, among the rest of the “general,” was worrying over these
constant and pitiless attacks. Next came the testimony of another
friend, that the attacks were not merely “frequent,” but “almost daily.”
 Reflect upon that: “Almost daily” insults, for two months on a stretch.
What would you have done?

As for me, I did the thing which was the natural thing for me to do,
that is, I set about contriving a plan to accomplish one or the other
of two things: 1. Force a peace; or 2. Get revenge. When I got my plan
finished, it pleased me marvelously. It was in six or seven sections,
each section to be used in its turn and by itself; the assault to begin
at once with No. 1, and the rest to follow, one after the other, to keep
the communication open while I wrote my biography of Reid. I meant to
wind up with this latter great work, and then dismiss the subject for

Well, ever since then I have worked day and night making notes and
collecting and classifying material. I’ve got collectors at work in
England. I went to New York and sat three hours taking evidence while
a stenographer set it down. As my labors grew, so also grew my
fascination. Malice and malignity faded out of me--or maybe I drove them
out of me, knowing that a malignant book would hurt nobody but the fool
who wrote it. I got thoroughly in love with this work; for I saw that
I was going to write a book which the very devils and angels themselves
would delight to read, and which would draw disapproval from nobody
but the hero of it, (and Mrs. Clemens, who was bitter against the whole
thing.) One part of my plan was so delicious that I had to try my hand
on it right away, just for the luxury of it. I set about it, and sure
enough it panned out to admiration. I wrote that chapter most carefully,
and I couldn’t find a fault with it. (It was not for the biography--no,
it belonged to an immediate and deadlier project.)

Well, five days ago, this thought came into my mind (from Mrs.
Clemens’s): “Wouldn’t it be well to make sure that the attacks have been
‘almost daily’?--and to also make sure that their number and character
will justify me in doing what I am proposing to do?”
I at once set a man to work in New York to seek out and copy every
unpleasant reference which had been made to me in the Tribune from Nov.
1st to date. On my own part I began to watch the current numbers, for I
had subscribed for the paper.

The result arrived from my New York man this morning. O, what a pitiable
wreck of high hopes! The “almost daily” assaults, for two months,
consist of--1. Adverse criticism of P. & P. from an enraged idiot in the
London Atheneum; 2. Paragraph from some indignant Englishman in the Pall
Mall Gazette who pays me the vast compliment of gravely rebuking some
imaginary ass who has set me up in the neighborhood of Rabelais; 3.
A remark of the Tribune’s about the Montreal dinner, touched with an
almost invisible satire; 4. A remark of the Tribune’s about refusal
of Canadian copyright, not complimentary, but not necessarily
malicious--and of course adverse criticism which is not malicious is a
thing which none but fools irritate themselves about.

There--that is the prodigious bugaboo, in its entirety! Can you
conceive of a man’s getting himself into a sweat over so diminutive a
provocation? I am sure I can’t. What the devil can those friends of mine
have been thinking about, to spread these 3 or 4 harmless things out
into two months of daily sneers and affronts? The whole offense, boiled
down, amounts to just this: one uncourteous remark of the Tribune about
my book--not me between Nov. 1 and Dec. 20; and a couple of foreign
criticisms (of my writings, not me,) between Nov. 1 and Jan. 26! If I
can’t stand that amount of friction, I certainly need reconstruction.
Further boiled down, this vast outpouring of malice amounts to simply
this: one jest from the Tribune (one can make nothing more serious than
that out of it.) One jest--and that is all; for the foreign criticisms
do not count, they being matters of news, and proper for publication in
anybody’s newspaper.

And to offset that one jest, the Tribune paid me one compliment Dec. 23,
by publishing my note declining the New York New England dinner, while
merely (in the same breath,) mentioning that similar letters were read
from General Sherman and other men whom we all know to be persons of
real consequence.

Well, my mountain has brought forth its mouse, and a sufficiently small
mouse it is, God knows. And my three weeks’ hard work have got to go
into the ignominious pigeon-hole. Confound it, I could have earned ten
thousand dollars with infinitely less trouble. However, I shouldn’t
have done it, for I am too lazy, now, in my sere and yellow leaf, to be
willing to work for anything but love..... I kind of envy you people who
are permitted for your righteousness’ sake to dwell in a boarding house;
not that I should always want to live in one, but I should like
the change occasionally from this housekeeping slavery to that wild
independence. A life of don’t-care-a-damn in a boarding house is what
I have asked for in many a secret prayer. I shall come by and by and
require of you what you have offered me there.

                                        Yours ever,

     Howells, who had already known something of the gathering storm,
     replied: “Your letter was an immense relief to me, for although I
     had an abiding faith that you would get sick of your enterprise,
     I wasn’t easy until I knew that you had given it up.”
     Joel Chandler Harris appears again in the letters of this period.
     Twichell, during a trip South about this time, had called on Harris
     with some sort of proposition or suggestion from Clemens that Harris
     appear with him in public, and tell, or read, the Remus stories from
     the platform.  But Harris was abnormally diffident.  Clemens later
     pronounced him “the shyest full-grown man” he had ever met, and the
     word which Twichell brought home evidently did not encourage the
     platform idea.


To Joel Chandler Harris, in Atlanta:

                                             HARTFORD, Apl. 2, ‘82.


MY DEAR MR. HARRIS,--Jo Twichell brought me your note and told me of
his talk with you. He said you didn’t believe you would ever be able to
muster a sufficiency of reckless daring to make you comfortable and at
ease before an audience. Well, I have thought out a device whereby I
believe we can get around that difficulty. I will explain when I see

Jo says you want to go to Canada within a month or six weeks--I forget
just exactly what he did say; but he intimated the trip could be delayed
a while, if necessary. If this is so, suppose you meet Osgood and me in
New Orleans early in May--say somewhere between the 1st and 6th?

It will be well worth your while to do this, because the author who
goes to Canada unposted, will not know what course to pursue [to secure
copyright] when he gets there; he will find himself in a hopeless
confusion as to what is the correct thing to do. Now Osgood is the only
man in America, who can lay out your course for you and tell you exactly
what to do. Therefore, you just come to New Orleans and have a talk with

Our idea is to strike across lots and reach St. Louis the 20th of
April--thence we propose to drift southward, stopping at some town a few
hours or a night, every day, and making notes.

To escape the interviewers, I shall follow my usual course and use a
fictitious name (C. L. Samuel, of New York.) I don’t know what Osgood’s
name will be, but he can’t use his own.

If you see your way to meet us in New Orleans, drop me a line, now, and
as we approach that city I will telegraph you what day we shall arrive

I would go to Atlanta if I could, but shan’t be able. We shall go back
up the river to St. Paul, and thence by rail X-lots home.

(I am making this letter so dreadfully private and confidential because
my movements must be kept secret, else I shan’t be able to pick up the
kind of book-material I want.)

If you are diffident, I suspect that you ought to let Osgood be your
magazine-agent. He makes those people pay three or four times as much as
an article is worth, whereas I never had the cheek to make them pay more
than double.

                              Yrs Sincerely
                                        S. L. CLEMENS.

     “My backwardness is an affliction,” wrote Harris.....  “The ordeal
     of appearing on the stage would be a terrible one, but my experience
     is that when a diffident man does become familiar with his
     surroundings he has more impudence than his neighbors.  Extremes
     He was sorely tempted, but his courage became as water at the
     thought of footlights and assembled listeners.  Once in New York he
     appears to have been caught unawares at a Tile Club dinner and made
     to tell a story, but his agony was such that at the prospect of a
     similar ordeal in Boston he avoided that city and headed straight
     for Georgia and safety.

     The New Orleans excursion with Osgood, as planned by Clemens, proved
     a great success.  The little party took the steamer Gold Dust from
     St. Louis down river toward New Orleans.  Clemens was quickly
     recognized, of course, and his assumed name laid aside.  The author
     of “Uncle Remus” made the trip to New Orleans.  George W. Cable was
     there at the time, and we may believe that in the company of Mark
     Twain and Osgood those Southern authors passed two or three
     delightful days.  Clemens also met his old teacher Bixby in New
     Orleans, and came back up the river with him, spending most of his
     time in the pilot-house, as in the old days.  It was a glorious
     trip, and, reaching St. Louis, he continued it northward, stopping
     off at Hannibal and Quincy.’ 


To Mrs. Clemens, in Hartford:

                                        QUINCY, ILL.  May 17, ‘82.

Livy darling, I am desperately homesick. But I have promised Osgood, and
must stick it out; otherwise I would take the train at once and break
for home.

I have spent three delightful days in Hannibal, loitering around all day
long, examining the old localities and talking with the grey-heads who
were boys and girls with me 30 or 40 years ago. It has been a moving
time. I spent my nights with John and Helen Garth, three miles from
town, in their spacious and beautiful house. They were children with me,
and afterwards schoolmates. Now they have a daughter 19 or 20 years old.
Spent an hour, yesterday, with A. W. Lamb, who was not married when I
saw him last. He married a young lady whom I knew. And now I have been
talking with their grown-up sons and daughters. Lieutenant Hickman, the
spruce young handsomely-uniformed volunteer of 1846, called on me--a
grisly elephantine patriarch of 65 now, his grace all vanished.

That world which I knew in its blossoming youth is old and bowed and
melancholy, now; its soft cheeks are leathery and wrinkled, the fire is
gone out in its eyes, and the spring from its step. It will be dust
and ashes when I come again. I have been clasping hands with the
moribund--and usually they said, “It is for the last time.”
Now I am under way again, upon this hideous trip to St. Paul, with a
heart brimming full of thoughts and images of you and Susie and Bay and
the peerless Jean. And so good night, my love.


     Clemens’s trip had been saddened by learning, in New Orleans, the
     news of the death of Dr. John Brown, of Edinburgh.  To Doctor
     Brown’s son, whom he had known as “Jock,” he wrote immediately on
     his return to Hartford.


To Mr. John Brown, in Edinburgh

                                        HARTFORD, June 1, 1882.

MY DEAR MR. BROWN,--I was three thousand miles from home, at breakfast
in New Orleans, when the damp morning paper revealed the sorrowful
news among the cable dispatches. There was no place in America, however
remote, or however rich, or poor or high or humble where words of
mourning for your father were not uttered that morning, for his works
had made him known and loved all over the land. To Mrs. Clemens and me,
the loss is personal; and our grief the grief one feels for one who
was peculiarly near and dear. Mrs. Clemens has never ceased to express
regret that we came away from England the last time without going to see
him, and often we have since projected a voyage across the Atlantic for
the sole purpose of taking him by the hand and looking into his kind
eyes once more before he should be called to his rest.

We both thank you greatly for the Edinburgh papers which you sent. My
wife and I join in affectionate remembrances and greetings to yourself
and your aunt, and in the sincere tender of our sympathies.

                              Faithfully yours,
                                        S. L. CLEMENS.

Our Susie is still “Megalops.” He gave her that name:

Can you spare a photograph of your father? We have none but the one
taken in a group with ourselves.

     William Dean Howells, at the age of forty-five, reached what many
     still regard his highest point of achievement in American realism.
     His novel, The Rise of Silas Lapham, which was running as a Century
     serial during the summer of 1882, attracted wide attention, and upon
     its issue in book form took first place among his published novels.
     Mark Twain, to the end of his life, loved all that Howells wrote.
     Once, long afterward, he said: “Most authors give us glimpses of a
     radiant moon, but Howells’s moon shines and sails all night long.”
      When the instalments of The Rise of Silas Lapham began to appear, he
     overflowed in adjectives, the sincerity of which we need not doubt,
     in view of his quite open criticisms of the author’s reading


To W. D. Howells, in Belmont, Mass.:

MY DEAR HOWELLS,--I am in a state of wild enthusiasm over this
July instalment of your story. It’s perfectly dazzling--it’s
masterly--incomparable. Yet I heard you read it--without losing my
balance. Well, the difference between your reading and your writing
is-remarkable. I mean, in the effects produced and the impression left
behind. Why, the one is to the other as is one of Joe Twichell’s yarns
repeated by a somnambulist. Goodness gracious, you read me a chapter,
and it is a gentle, pearly dawn, with a sprinkle of faint stars in it;
but by and by I strike it in print, and shout to myself, “God bless us,
how has that pallid former spectacle been turned into these gorgeous
sunset splendors!”
Well, I don’t care how much you read your truck to me, you can’t
permanently damage it for me that way. It is always perfectly fresh and
dazzling when I come on it in the magazine. Of course I recognize the
form of it as being familiar--but that is all. That is, I remember it as
pyrotechnic figures which you set up before me, dead and cold, but
ready for the match--and now I see them touched off and all ablaze with
blinding fires. You can read, if you want to, but you don’t read worth
a damn. I know you can read, because your readings of Cable and your
repeatings of the German doctor’s remarks prove that.

That’s the best drunk scene--because the truest--that I ever read. There
are touches in it that I never saw any writer take note of before. And
they are set before the reader with amazing accuracy. How very drunk,
and how recently drunk, and how altogether admirably drunk you must have
been to enable you to contrive that masterpiece!

Why I didn’t notice that that religious interview between Marcia and
Mrs. Halleck was so deliciously humorous when you read it to me--but
dear me, it’s just too lovely for anything. (Wrote Clark to collar it
for the “Library.”)

Hang it, I know where the mystery is, now; when you are reading, you
glide right along, and I don’t get a chance to let the things soak home;
but when I catch it in the magazine, I give a page 20 or 30 minutes in
which to gently and thoroughly filter into me. Your humor is so very
subtle, and elusive--(well, often it’s just a vanishing breath of
perfume which a body isn’t certain he smelt till he stops and takes
another smell) whereas you can smell other...

(Remainder obliterated.)

     Among Mark Twain’s old schoolmates in Hannibal was little Helen
     Kercheval, for whom in those early days he had a very tender spot
     indeed.  But she married another schoolmate, John Garth, who in time
     became a banker, highly respected and a great influence.  John and
     Helen Garth have already been mentioned in the letter of May 17th.


To John Garth, in Hannibal:

                                             HARTFORD, July 3 ‘82.

DEAR JOHN,--Your letter of June 19 arrived just one day after we ought
to have been in Elmira, N. Y. for the summer: but at the last moment the
baby was seized with scarlet fever. I had to telegraph and countermand
the order for special sleeping car; and in fact we all had to fly around
in a lively way and undo the patient preparations of weeks--rehabilitate
the dismantled house, unpack the trunks, and so on. A couple of days
later, the eldest child was taken down with so fierce a fever that
she was soon delirious--not scarlet fever, however. Next, I myself was
stretched on the bed with three diseases at once, and all of them fatal.
But I never did care for fatal diseases if I could only have privacy and
room to express myself concerning them.

We gave early warning, and of course nobody has entered the house in
all this time but one or two reckless old bachelors--and they probably
wanted to carry the disease to the children of former flames of theirs.
The house is still in quarantine and must remain so for a week or two
yet--at which time we are hoping to leave for Elmira.

                    Always your friend
                                   S. L. CLEMENS.

     By the end of summer Howells was in Europe, and Clemens, in Elmira,
     was trying to finish his Mississippi book, which was giving him a
     great deal of trouble.  It was usually so with his non-fiction
     books; his interest in them was not cumulative; he was prone to grow
     weary of them, while the menace of his publisher’s contract was
     maddening.  Howells’s letters, meant to be comforting, or at least
     entertaining, did not always contribute to his peace of mind.  The
     Library of American Humor which they had planned was an added
     burden.  Before sailing, Howells had written: “Do you suppose you
     can do your share of the reading at Elmira, while you are writing at
     the Mississippi book?”
     In a letter from London, Howells writes of the good times he is
     having over there with Osgood, Hutton, John Hay, Aldrich, and Alma
     Tadema, excursioning to Oxford, feasting, especially “at the Mitre
     Tavern, where they let you choose your dinner from the joints
     hanging from the rafter, and have passages that you lose yourself in
     every time you try to go to your room....  Couldn’t you and Mrs.
     Clemens step over for a little while?...  We have seen lots of
     nice people and have been most pleasantly made of; but I would
     rather have you smoke in my face, and talk for half a day just for
     pleasure, than to go to the best house or club in London.”  The
     reader will gather that this could not be entirely soothing to a man
     shackled by a contract and a book that refused to come to an end.


To W. D. Howells, in London:

                                        HARTFORD, CONN.  Oct 30, 1882.

MY DEAR HOWELLS,--I do not expect to find you, so I shan’t spend many
words on you to wind up in the perdition of some European dead-letter
office. I only just want to say that the closing installments of the
story are prodigious. All along I was afraid it would be impossible for
you to keep up so splendidly to the end; but you were only, I see now,
striking eleven. It is in these last chapters that you struck twelve. Go
on and write; you can write good books yet, but you can never match
this one. And speaking of the book, I inclose something which has been
happening here lately.

We have only just arrived at home, and I have not seen Clark on our
matters. I cannot see him or any one else, until I get my book finished.
The weather turned cold, and we had to rush home, while I still lacked
thirty thousand words. I had been sick and got delayed. I am going to
write all day and two thirds of the night, until the thing is done, or
break down at it. The spur and burden of the contract are intolerable to
me. I can endure the irritation of it no longer. I went to work at
nine o’clock yesterday morning, and went to bed an hour after midnight.
Result of the day, (mainly stolen from books, tho’ credit given,) 9500
words, so I reduced my burden by one third in one day. It was five days
work in one. I have nothing more to borrow or steal; the rest must all
be written. It is ten days work, and unless something breaks, it will be
finished in five. We all send love to you and Mrs. Howells, and all the

                         Yours as ever,

Again, from Villeneuve, on lake Geneva, Howells wrote urging him this
time to spend the winter with them in Florence, where they would write
their great American Comedy of ‘Orme’s Motor,’ “which is to enrich us
beyond the dreams of avarice.... We could have a lot of fun writing it,
and you could go home with some of the good old Etruscan malaria in your
bones, instead of the wretched pinch-beck Hartford article that you are
suffering from now.... it’s a great opportunity for you. Besides, nobody
over there likes you half as well as I do.”
It should be added that ‘Orme’s Motor’ was the provisional title that
Clemens and Howells had selected for their comedy, which was to be
built, in some measure, at least, around the character, or rather from
the peculiarities, of Orion Clemens. The Cable mentioned in Mark Twain’s
reply is, of course, George W. Cable, who only a little while before had
come up from New Orleans to conquer the North with his wonderful tales
and readings.


To W. D. Howells, in Switzerland:

                                             HARTFORD, Nov.  4th, 1882.

MY DEAR HOWELLS,--Yes, it would be profitable for me to do that,
because with your society to help me, I should swiftly finish this now
apparently interminable book. But I cannot come, because I am not Boss
here, and nothing but dynamite can move Mrs. Clemens away from home in
the winter season.

I never had such a fight over a book in my life before. And the
foolishest part of the whole business is, that I started Osgood to
editing it before I had finished writing it. As a consequence, large
areas of it are condemned here and there and yonder, and I have the
burden of these unfilled gaps harassing me and the thought of the broken
continuity of the work, while I am at the same time trying to build the
last quarter of the book. However, at last I have said with sufficient
positiveness that I will finish the book at no particular date; that I
will not hurry it; that I will not hurry myself; that I will take things
easy and comfortably, write when I choose to write, leave it alone when
I so prefer. The printers must wait, the artists, the canvassers, and
all the rest. I have got everything at a dead standstill, and that is
where it ought to be, and that is where it must remain; to follow any
other policy would be to make the book worse than it already is. I ought
to have finished it before showing to anybody, and then sent it across
the ocean to you to be edited, as usual; for you seem to be a great
many shades happier than you deserve to be, and if I had thought of this
thing earlier, I would have acted upon it and taken the tuck somewhat
out of your joyousness.

In the same mail with your letter, arrived the enclosed from Orme the
motor man. You will observe that he has an office. I will explain that
this is a law office and I think it probably does him as much good to
have a law office without anything to do in it, as it would another
man to have one with an active business attached. You see he is on the
electric light lay now. Going to light the city and allow me to take all
the stock if I want to. And he will manage it free of charge. It never
would occur to this simple soul how much less costly it would be to me,
to hire him on a good salary not to manage it. Do you observe the same
old eagerness, the same old hurry, springing from the fear that if he
does not move with the utmost swiftness, that colossal opportunity
will escape him? Now just fancy this same frantic plunging after vast
opportunities, going on week after week with this same man, during fifty
entire years, and he has not yet learned, in the slightest degree, that
there isn’t any occasion to hurry; that his vast opportunity will always
wait; and that whether it waits or flies, he certainly will never catch
it. This immortal hopefulness, fortified by its immortal and unteachable
misjudgment, is the immortal feature of this character, for a play;
and we will write that play. We should be fools else. That staccato
postscript reads as if some new and mighty business were imminent, for
it is slung on the paper telegraphically, all the small words left
out. I am afraid something newer and bigger than the electric light is
swinging across his orbit. Save this letter for an inspiration. I have
got a hundred more.

Cable has been here, creating worshipers on all hands. He is a marvelous
talker on a deep subject. I do not see how even Spencer could unwind
a thought more smoothly or orderly, and do it in a cleaner, clearer,
crisper English. He astounded Twichell with his faculty. You know
when it comes down to moral honesty, limpid innocence, and utterly
blemishless piety, the Apostles were mere policemen to Cable; so with
this in mind you must imagine him at a midnight dinner in Boston the
other night, where we gathered around the board of the Summerset Club;
Osgood, full, Boyle O’Reilly, full, Fairchild responsively loaded, and
Aldrich and myself possessing the floor, and properly fortified. Cable
told Mrs. Clemens when he returned here, that he seemed to have been
entertaining himself with horses, and had a dreamy idea that he must
have gone to Boston in a cattle-car. It was a very large time. He called
it an orgy. And no doubt it was, viewed from his standpoint.

I wish I were in Switzerland, and I wish we could go to Florence; but we
have to leave these delights to you; there is no helping it. We all join
in love to you and all the family.

                                   Yours as ever


     Mark Twain, in due season, finished the Mississippi book and placed
     it in Osgood’s hands for publication.  It was a sort of partnership
     arrangement in which Clemens was to furnish the money to make the
     book, and pay Osgood a percentage for handling it.  It was, in fact,
     the beginning of Mark Twain’s adventures as a publisher.

     Howells was not as happy in Florence as he had hoped to be.  The
     social life there overwhelmed him.  In February he wrote: “Our two
     months in Florence have been the most ridiculous time that ever even
     half-witted people passed.  We have spent them in chasing round
     after people for whom we cared nothing, and being chased by them.
     My story isn’t finished yet, and what part of it is done bears the
     fatal marks of haste and distraction.  Of course, I haven’t put pen
     to paper yet on the play.  I wring my hands and beat my breast when
     I think of how these weeks have been wasted; and how I have been
     forced to waste them by the infernal social circumstances from which
     I couldn’t escape.”
     Clemens, now free from the burden of his own book, was light of
     heart and full of ideas and news; also of sympathy and appreciation.
     Howells’s story of this time was “A Woman’s Reason.”  Governor
     Jewell, of this letter, was Marshall Jewell, Governor of Connecticut
     from 1871 to 1873.  Later, he was Minister to Russia, and in 1874
     was United States Postmaster-General.


To W. D. Howells, in Florence:

                                        HARTFORD, March 1st, 1883.

MY DEAR HOWELLS,--We got ourselves ground up in that same mill, once,
in London, and another time in Paris. It is a kind of foretaste of hell.
There is no way to avoid it except by the method which you have now
chosen. One must live secretly and cut himself utterly off from the
human race, or life in Europe becomes an unbearable burden and work
an impossibility. I learned something last night, and maybe it may
reconcile me to go to Europe again sometime. I attended one of the
astonishingly popular lectures of a man by the name of Stoddard, who
exhibits interesting stereopticon pictures and then knocks the interest
all out of them with his comments upon them. But all the world go there
to look and listen, and are apparently well satisfied. And they ought to
be fully satisfied, if the lecturer would only keep still, or die in the
first act. But he described how retired tradesmen and farmers in Holland
load a lazy scow with the family and the household effects, and then
loaf along the waterways of the low countries all the summer long,
paying no visits, receiving none, and just lazying a heavenly life out
in their own private unpestered society, and doing their literary work,
if they have any, wholly uninterrupted. If you had hired such a boat and
sent for us we should have a couple of satisfactory books ready for
the press now with no marks of interruption, vexatious wearinesses, and
other hellishnesses visible upon them anywhere. We shall have to do this
another time. We have lost an opportunity for the present. Do you forget
that Heaven is packed with a multitude of all nations and that these
people are all on the most familiar how-the-hell-are-you footing with
Talmage swinging around the circle to all eternity hugging the saints
and patriarchs and archangels, and forcing you to do the same unless you
choose to make yourself an object of remark if you refrain? Then why do
you try to get to Heaven? Be warned in time.

We have all read your two opening numbers in the Century, and consider
them almost beyond praise. I hear no dissent from this verdict. I did
not know there was an untouched personage in American life, but I had
forgotten the auctioneer. You have photographed him accurately.

I have been an utterly free person for a month or two; and I do not
believe I ever so greatly appreciated and enjoyed--and realized the
absence of the chains of slavery as I do this time. Usually my first
waking thought in the morning is, “I have nothing to do to-day, I belong
to nobody, I have ceased from being a slave.” Of course the highest
pleasure to be got out of freedom, and having nothing to do, is labor.
Therefore I labor. But I take my time about it. I work one hour or four
as happens to suit my mind, and quit when I please. And so these days
are days of entire enjoyment. I told Clark the other day, to jog along
comfortable and not get in a sweat. I said I believed you would not be
able to enjoy editing that library over there, where you have your
own legitimate work to do and be pestered to death by society besides;
therefore I thought if he got it ready for you against your return, that
that would be best and pleasantest.

You remember Governor Jewell, and the night he told about Russia, down
in the library. He was taken with a cold about three weeks ago, and I
stepped over one evening, proposing to beguile an idle hour for him
with a yarn or two, but was received at the door with whispers, and the
information that he was dying. His case had been dangerous during that
day only and he died that night, two hours after I left. His taking
off was a prodigious surprise, and his death has been most widely and
sincerely regretted. Win. E. Dodge, the father-in-law of one of Jewell’s
daughters, dropped suddenly dead the day before Jewell died, but Jewell
died without knowing that. Jewell’s widow went down to New York, to
Dodge’s house, the day after Jewell’s funeral, and was to return here
day before yesterday, and she did--in a coffin. She fell dead, of
heart disease, while her trunks were being packed for her return home.
Florence Strong, one of Jewell’s daughters, who lives in Detroit,
started East on an urgent telegram, but missed a connection somewhere,
and did not arrive here in time to see her father alive. She was his
favorite child, and they had always been like lovers together. He always
sent her a box of fresh flowers once a week to the day of his death; a
custom which he never suspended even when he was in Russia. Mrs. Strong
had only just reached her Western home again when she was summoned to
Hartford to attend her mother’s funeral.

I have had the impulse to write you several times. I shall try to
remember better henceforth.

With sincerest regards to all of you,

                                   Yours as ever,

     Mark Twain made another trip to Canada in the interest of copyright
     --this time to protect the Mississippi book.  When his journey was
     announced by the press, the Marquis of Lorne telegraphed an
     invitation inviting him to be his guest at Rideau Hall, in Ottawa.
     Clemens accepted, of course, and was handsomely entertained by the
     daughter of Queen Victoria and her husband, then Governor-General of

     On his return to Hartford he found that Osgood had issued a curious
     little book, for which Clemens had prepared an introduction.  It was
     an absurd volume, though originally issued with serious intent, its
     title being The New Guide of the Conversation in Portuguese and
     English.’--[The New Guide of the Conversation in Portuguese and
     English, by Pedro Caxolino, with an introduction by Mark Twain.
     Osgood, Boston, 1883. ]--Evidently the “New Guide” was prepared by
     some simple Portuguese soul with but slight knowledge of English
     beyond that which could be obtained from a dictionary, and his
     literal translation of English idioms are often startling, as, for
     instance, this one, taken at random:

     “A little learneds are happies enough for to may to satisfy their
     fancies on the literature.”
     Mark Twain thought this quaint book might amuse his royal hostess,
     and forwarded a copy in what he considered to be the safe and proper


To Col. De Winton, in Ottawa, Canada:

                                             HARTFORD, June 4, ‘83.

DEAR COLONEL DE WINTON,--I very much want to send a little book to her
Royal Highness--the famous Portuguese phrase book; but I do not know the
etiquette of the matter, and I would not wittingly infringe any rule of
propriety. It is a book which I perfectly well know will amuse her “some
at most” if she has not seen it before, and will still amuse her “some
at least,” even if she has inspected it a hundred times already. So
I will send the book to you, and you who know all about the proper
observances will protect me from indiscretion, in case of need, by
putting the said book in the fire, and remaining as dumb as I generally
was when I was up there. I do not rebind the thing, because that would
look as if I thought it worth keeping, whereas it is only worth glancing
at and casting aside.

Will you please present my compliments to Mrs. De Winton and Mrs.
Mackenzie?--and I beg to make my sincere compliments to you, also, for
your infinite kindnesses to me. I did have a delightful time up there,
most certainly.

                    Truly yours
                              S. L. CLEMENS.

P. S. Although the introduction dates a year back, the book is only just
now issued. A good long delay.

                                        S. L. C.

     Howells, writing from Venice, in April, manifested special interest
     in the play project: “Something that would run like Scheherazade,
     for a thousand and one nights,” so perhaps his book was going
     better.  He proposed that they devote the month of October to the
     work, and inclosed a letter from Mallory, who owned not only a
     religious paper, The Churchman, but also the Madison Square Theater,
     and was anxious for a Howells play.  Twenty years before Howells had
     been Consul to Venice, and he wrote, now: “The idea of my being here
     is benumbing and silencing.  I feel like the Wandering Jew, or the
     ghost of the Cardiff giant.”
     He returned to America in July.  Clemens sent him word of welcome,
     with glowing reports of his own undertakings.  The story on which he
     was piling up MS. was The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, begun
     seven years before at Quarry Farm.  He had no great faith in it
     then, and though he had taken it up again in 1880, his interest had
     not lasted to its conclusion.  This time, however, he was in the
     proper spirit, and the story would be finished.


To W. D. Howells, in Boston:

                                        ELMIRA, July 20, ‘83.

MY DEAR HOWELLS,--We are desperately glad you and your gang are home
again--may you never travel again, till you go aloft or alow. Charley
Clark has gone to the other side for a run--will be back in August. He
has been sick, and needed the trip very much.

Mrs. Clemens had a long and wasting spell of sickness last Spring,
but she is pulling up, now. The children are booming, and my health is
ridiculous, it’s so robust, notwithstanding the newspaper misreports.

I haven’t piled up MS so in years as I have done since we came here to
the farm three weeks and a half ago. Why, it’s like old times, to step
right into the study, damp from the breakfast table, and sail right in
and sail right on, the whole day long, without thought of running short
of stuff or words.

I wrote 4000 words to-day and I touch 3000 and upwards pretty often, and
don’t fall below 1600 any working day. And when I get fagged out, I lie
abed a couple of days and read and smoke, and then go it again for 6 or
7 days. I have finished one small book, and am away along in a big 433
one that I half-finished two or three years ago. I expect to complete it
in a month or six weeks or two months more. And I shall like it, whether
anybody else does or not.

It’s a kind of companion to Tom Sawyer. There’s a raft episode from it
in second or third chapter of life on the Mississippi.....

I’m booming, these days--got health and spirits to waste--got an
overplus; and if I were at home, we would write a play. But we must do
it anyhow by and by.

We stay here till Sep. 10; then maybe a week at Indian Neck for sea air,
then home.

We are powerful glad you are all back; and send love according.

                         Yrs Ever


To Onion Clemens and family, in Keokuk, Id.:

                                        ELMIRA, July 22, ‘83.

DEAR MA AND ORION AND MOLLIE,--I don’t know that I have anything new
to report, except that Livy is still gaining, and all the rest of us
flourishing. I haven’t had such booming working-days for many years. I
am piling up manuscript in a really astonishing way. I believe I shall
complete, in two months, a book which I have been fooling over for 7
years. This summer it is no more trouble to me to write than it is to

Day before yesterday I felt slightly warned to knock off work for one
day. So I did it, and took the open air. Then I struck an idea for the
instruction of the children, and went to work and carried it out. It
took me all day. I measured off 817 feet of the road-way in our farm
grounds, with a foot-rule, and then divided it up among the English
reigns, from the Conqueror down to 1883, allowing one foot to the year.
I whittled out a basket of little pegs and drove one in the ground at
the beginning of each reign, and gave it that King’s name--thus:

I measured all the reigns exactly as many feet to the reign as there
were years in it. You can look out over the grounds and see the little
pegs from the front door--some of them close together, like Richard II,
Richard Cromwell, James II, &c., and some prodigiously wide apart, like
Henry III, Edward III, George III, &c. It gives the children a realizing
sense of the length or brevity of a reign. Shall invent a violent game
to go with it.

And in bed, last night, I invented a way to play it indoors--in a
far more voluminous way, as to multiplicity of dates and events--on a
cribbage board.

   Hello, supper’s ready.
          Love to all.
                    Good bye.

     Onion Clemens would naturally get excited over the idea of the game
     and its commercial possibilities.  Not more so than his brother,
     however, who presently employed him to arrange a quantity of
     historical data which the game was to teach.  For a season, indeed,
     interest in the game became a sort of midsummer madness which
     pervaded the two households, at Keokuk and at Quarry Farm.  Howells
     wrote his approval of the idea of “learning history by the running
     foot,” which was a pun, even if unintentional, for in its out-door
     form it was a game of speed as well as knowledge.

     Howells adds that he has noticed that the newspapers are exploiting
     Mark Twain’s new invention of a history game, and we shall presently
     see how this happened.

     Also, in this letter, Howells speaks of an English nobleman to whom
     he has given a letter of introduction.  “He seemed a simple, quiet,
     gentlemanly man, with a good taste in literature, which he evinced
     by going about with my books in his pockets, and talking of yours.”


To W. D. Howells, in Boston:

MY DEAR HOWELLS,--How odd it seems, to sit down to write a letter with
the feeling that you’ve got time to do it. But I’m done work, for this
season, and so have got time. I’ve done two seasons’ work in one, and
haven’t anything left to do, now, but revise. I’ve written eight or nine
hundred MS pages in such a brief space of time that I mustn’t name the
number of days; I shouldn’t believe it myself, and of course couldn’t
expect you to. I used to restrict myself to 4 or 5 hours a day and 5
days in the week, but this time I’ve wrought from breakfast till 5.15
p.m. six days in the week; and once or twice I smouched a Sunday when
the boss wasn’t looking. Nothing is half so good as literature hooked on
Sunday, on the sly.

I wrote you and Twichell on the same night, about the game, and was
appalled to get a note from him saying he was going to print part of my
letter, and was going to do it before I could get a chance to forbid it.
I telegraphed him, but was of course too late.

If you haven’t ever tried to invent an indoor historical game, don’t.
I’ve got the thing at last so it will work, I guess, but I don’t want
any more tasks of that kind. When I wrote you, I thought I had it;
whereas I was only merely entering upon the initiatory difficulties of
it. I might have known it wouldn’t be an easy job, or somebody would
have invented a decent historical game long ago--a thing which nobody
had done. I think I’ve got it in pretty fair shape--so I have caveated

Earl of Onston--is that it? All right, we shall be very glad to receive
them and get acquainted with them. And much obliged to you, too. There’s
plenty of worse people than the nobilities. I went up and spent a week
with the Marquis and the Princess Louise, and had as good a time as I

I’m powerful glad you are all back again; and we will come up there if
our little tribe will give us the necessary furlough; and if we can’t
get it, you folks must come to us and give us an extension of time. We
get home Sept. 11.

Hello, I think I see Waring coming!

Good-by-letter from Clark, which explains for him.

Love to you all from the


No--it wasn’t Waring. I wonder what the devil has become of that man. He
was to spend to-day with us, and the day’s most gone, now.

We are enjoying your story with our usual unspeakableness; and I’m right
glad you threw in the shipwreck and the mystery--I like it. Mrs. Crane
thinks it’s the best story you’ve written yet. We--but we always think
the last one is the best. And why shouldn’t it be? Practice helps.

P. S. I thought I had sent all our loves to all of you, but Mrs. Clemens
says I haven’t. Damn it, a body can’t think of everything; but a
woman thinks you can. I better seal this, now--else there’ll be more

I perceive I haven’t got the love in, yet. Well, we do send the love of
all the family to all the Howellses.

                                        S. L. C.

     There had been some delay and postponement in the matter of
     the play which Howells and Clemens agreed to write.  They
     did not put in the entire month of October as they had
     planned, but they did put in a portion of that month, the
     latter half, working out their old idea. In the end it
     became a revival of Colonel Sellers, or rather a caricature
     of that gentle hearted old visionary.  Clemens had always
     complained that the actor Raymond had never brought out the
     finer shades of Colonel Sellers’s character, but Raymond in
     his worst performance never belied his original as did
     Howells and Clemens in his dramatic revival.  These two,
     working together, let their imaginations run riot with
     disastrous results.  The reader can judge something of this
     himself, from The American Claimant the book which Mark
     Twain would later build from the play.

     But at this time they thought it a great triumph.  They had
     “cracked their sides” laughing over its construction, as
     Howells once said, and they thought the world would do the
     same over its performance.  They decided to offer it to
     Raymond, but rather haughtily, indifferently, because any
     number of other actors would be waiting for it.

     But this was a miscalculation.  Raymond now turned the
     tables.  Though favorable to the idea of a new play, he
     declared this one did not present his old Sellers at all,
     but a lunatic.  In the end he returned the MS. with a brief
     note.  Attempts had already been made to interest other
     actors, and  would continue for some time.


     Mark Twain had a lingering attack of the dramatic fever that
     winter. He made a play of the Prince and Pauper, which
     Howells pronounced “too thin and slight and not half long
     enough.”  He made another of Tom Sawyer, and probably
     destroyed it, for no trace of the MS. exists to-day. Howells
     could not join in these ventures, for he was otherwise
     occupied and had sickness in his household.


To W. D. Howells, in Boston:

                                                  Jan.  7, ‘84.

MY DEAR HOWELLS,--“O my goodn’s”, as Jean says. You have now encountered
at last the heaviest calamity that can befall an author. The scarlet
fever, once domesticated, is a permanent member of the family. Money may
desert you, friends forsake you, enemies grow indifferent to you, but
the scarlet fever will be true to you, through thick and thin, till
you be all saved or damned, down to the last one. I say these things to
cheer you.

The bare suggestion of scarlet fever in the family makes me shudder; I
believe I would almost rather have Osgood publish a book for me.

You folks have our most sincere sympathy. Oh, the intrusion of this
hideous disease is an unspeakable disaster.

My billiard table is stacked up with books relating to the Sandwich
Islands: the walls axe upholstered with scraps of paper penciled with
notes drawn from them. I have saturated myself with knowledge of that
unimaginably beautiful land and that most strange and fascinating
people. And I have begun a story. Its hidden motive will illustrate a
but-little considered fact in human nature; that the religious folly
you are born in you will die in, no matter what apparently reasonabler
religious folly may seem to have taken its place meanwhile, and
abolished and obliterated it. I start Bill Ragsdale at 12 years of age,
and the heroine at 4, in the midst of the ancient idolatrous system,
with its picturesque and amazing customs and superstitions, 3 months
before the arrival of the missionaries and the erection of a shallow
Christianity upon the ruins of the old paganism. Then these two will
become educated Christians, and highly civilized.

And then I will jump 15 years, and do Ragsdale’s leper business. When
we came to dramatize, we can draw a deal of matter from the story, all
ready to our hand.

                    Yrs Ever

     He never finished the Sandwich Islands story which he and Howells
     were to dramatize later.  His head filled up with other projects,
     such as publishing plans, reading-tours, and the like.  The
     type-setting machine does not appear in the letters of this period,
     but it was an important factor, nevertheless.  It was costing
     several thousand dollars a month for construction and becoming
     a heavy drain on Mark Twain’s finances.  It was necessary to
     recuperate, and the anxiety for a profitable play, or some other
     adventure that would bring a quick and generous return, grew out
     of this need.

     Clemens had established Charles L. Webster, his nephew by marriage,
     in a New York office, as selling agent for the Mississippi book and
     for his plays.  He was also planning to let Webster publish the new
     book, Huck Finn.

     George W. Cable had proven his ability as a reader, and Clemens saw
     possibilities in a reading combination, which was first planned to
     include Aldrich, and Howells, and a private car.

     But Aldrich and Howells did not warm to the idea, and the car was
     eliminated from the plan.  Cable came to visit Clemens in Hartford,
     and was taken with the mumps, so that the reading-trip was

     The fortunes of the Sellers play were most uncertain and becoming
     daily more doubtful.  In February, Howells wrote: “If you have got
     any comfort in regard to our play I wish you would heave it into my
     Cable recovered in time, and out of gratitude planned a great
     April-fool surprise for his host.  He was a systematic man, and did
     it in his usual thorough way.  He sent a “private and confidential”
      suggestion to a hundred and fifty of Mark Twain’s friends and
     admirers, nearly all distinguished literary men.  The suggestion
     was that each one of them should send a request for Mark Twain’s
     autograph, timing it so that it would arrive on the 1st of April.
     All seemed to have responded.  Mark Twain’s writing-table on April
     Fool morning was heaped with letters, asking in every ridiculous
     fashion for his “valuable autograph.”  The one from Aldrich was a
     fair sample.  He wrote: “I am making a collection of autographs of
     our distinguished writers, and having read one of your works,
     Gabriel Convoy, I would like to add your name to the list.”
     Of course, the joke in this was that Gabriel Convoy was by Bret
     Harte, who by this time was thoroughly detested by Mark Twain.  The
     first one or two of the letters puzzled the victim; then he
     comprehended the size and character of the joke and entered into it
     thoroughly.  One of the letters was from Bloodgood H. Cutter, the
     “Poet Lariat” of Innocents Abroad.  Cutter, of course, wrote in
     “poetry,” that is to say, doggerel.  Mark Twain’s April Fool was a
     most pleasant one.


Rhymed letter by Bloodgood H. Cutter to Mark Twain:

                                             LITTLE NECK, LONG ISLAND.


                        SAMUEL L.  CLEMENS, ESQ.

   Friends, suggest in each one’s behalf
   To write, and ask your autograph.
   To refuse that, I will not do,
   After the long voyage had with you.
   That was a memorable time You wrote in prose, I wrote in Rhyme To
   describe the wonders of each place, And the queer customs of each race.

   That is in my memory yet
   For while I live I’ll not forget.
   I often think of that affair
   And the many that were with us there.

   As your friends think it for the best
   I ask your Autograph with the rest,
   Hoping you will it to me send
   ‘Twill please and cheer your dear old friend:

                    Yours truly,

                              BLOODGOOD H.  CUTTER.


To W. D. Howells, in Boston:

                                             HARTFORD, Apl 8, ‘84.

MY DEAR HOWELLS, It took my breath away, and I haven’t recovered it yet,
entirely--I mean the generosity of your proposal to read the proofs of
Huck Finn.

Now if you mean it, old man--if you are in earnest--proceed, in God’s
name, and be by me forever blest. I cannot conceive of a rational man
deliberately piling such an atrocious job upon himself; but if there is
such a man and you be that man, why then pile it on. It will cost me a
pang every time I think of it, but this anguish will be eingebusst to
me in the joy and comfort I shall get out of the not having to read
the verfluchtete proofs myself. But if you have repented of your
augenblichlicher Tobsucht and got back to calm cold reason again,
I won’t hold you to it unless I find I have got you down in writing
somewhere. Herr, I would not read the proof of one of my books for any
fair and reasonable sum whatever, if I could get out of it.

The proof-reading on the P & P cost me the last rags of my religion.


     Howells had written that he would be glad to help out in the
     reading of the proofs of Huck Finn, which book Webster by
     this time had in hand. Replying to Clemens’s eager and
     grateful acceptance now, he wrote: “It is all perfectly true
     about the generosity, unless I am going to read your proofs
     from one of the shabby motives which I always find at the
     bottom of my soul if I examine it.”  A characteristic
     utterance, though we may be permitted to believe that his
     shabby motives were fewer and less shabby than those of
     mankind in general.

     The proofs which Howells was reading pleased him mightily.
     Once, during the summer, he wrote: “if I had written half as
     good a book as Huck Finn I shouldn’t ask anything better
     than to read the proofs; even as it is, I don’t, so send
     them on; they will always find me somewhere.”
     This was the summer of the Blaine-Cleveland campaign.  Mark
     Twain, in company with many other leading men, had
     mugwumped, and was supporting Cleveland.  From the next
     letter we gather something of the aspects of that memorable
     campaign, which was one of scandal and vituperation.  We
     learn, too, that the young sculptor, Karl Gerhardt, having
     completed a three years’ study in Paris, had returned to
     America a qualified artist.


To W. D. Howells, in Boston:

                                                  ELMIRA, Aug.  21, ‘84.

MY DEAR HOWELLS,--This presidential campaign is too delicious for
anything. Isn’t human nature the most consummate sham and lie that was
ever invented? Isn’t man a creature to be ashamed of in pretty much all
his aspects? Man, “know thyself “--and then thou wilt despise thyself,
to a dead moral certainty. Take three quite good specimens--Hawley,
Warner, and Charley Clark. Even I do not loathe Blaine more than they
do; yet Hawley is howling for Blaine, Warner and Clark are eating their
daily crow in the paper for him, and all three will vote for him. O
Stultification, where is thy sting, O slave where is thy hickory!

I suppose you heard how a marble monument for which St. Gaudens
was pecuniarily responsible, burned down in Hartford the other day,
uninsured--for who in the world would ever think of insuring a marble
shaft in a cemetery against a fire?--and left St. Gauden out of pocket

It was a bad day for artists. Gerhardt finished my bust that day, and
the work was pronounced admirable by all the kin and friends; but in
putting it in plaster (or rather taking it out) next day it got ruined.
It was four or five weeks hard work gone to the dogs. The news flew, and
everybody on the farm flocked to the arbor and grouped themselves about
the wreck in a profound and moving silence--the farm-help, the
colored servants, the German nurse, the children, everybody--a silence
interrupted at wide intervals by absent-minded ejaculations wising from
unconscious breasts as the whole size of the disaster gradually worked
its way home to the realization of one spirit after another.

Some burst out with one thing, some another; the German nurse put up
her hands and said, “Oh, Schade! oh, schrecklich!” But Gerhardt said
nothing; or almost that. He couldn’t word it, I suppose. But he went to
work, and by dark had everything thoroughly well under way for a fresh
start in the morning; and in three days’ time had built a new bust which
was a trifle better than the old one--and to-morrow we shall put the
finishing touches on it, and it will be about as good a one as nearly
anybody can make.

                         Yrs Ever

If you run across anybody who wants a bust, be sure and recommend
Gerhardt on my say-so.

     But Howells was determinedly for Blaine.  “I shall vote for
     Blaine,” he replied.  “I do not believe he is guilty of the
     things they accuse him of, and I know they are not proved
     against him.  As for Cleveland, his private life may be no
     worse than that of most men, but as an enemy of that
     contemptible, hypocritical, lop-sided morality which says a
     woman shall suffer all the shame of unchastity and man none,
     I want to see him destroyed politically by his past.  The
     men who defend him would take their wives to the White House
     if he were president, but if he married his concubine--‘made
     her an honest woman’ they would not go near him.  I can’t
     stand that.”
     Certainly this was sound logic, in that day, at least.  But
     it left Clemens far from satisfied.


To W. D. Howells, in Boston:

                                             ELMIRA, Sept. 17, ‘84.

MY DEAR HOWELLS,--Somehow I can’t seem to rest quiet under the idea of
your voting for Blaine. I believe you said something about the country
and the party. Certainly allegiance to these is well; but as certainly
a man’s first duty is to his own conscience and honor--the party or the
country come second to that, and never first. I don’t ask you to vote at
all--I only urge you to not soil yourself by voting for Blaine.

When you wrote before, you were able to say the charges against him were
not proven. But you know now that they are proven, and it seems to
me that that bars you and all other honest and honorable men (who are
independently situated) from voting for him.

It is not necessary to vote for Cleveland; the only necessary thing
to do, as I understand it, is that a man shall keep himself clean, (by
withholding his vote for an improper man) even though the party and the
country go to destruction in consequence. It is not parties that make or
save countries or that build them to greatness--it is clean men, clean
ordinary citizens, rank and file, the masses. Clean masses are not made
by individuals standing back till the rest become clean.

As I said before, I think a man’s first duty is to his own honor; not to
his country and not to his party. Don’t be offended; I mean no offence.
I am not so concerned about the rest of the nation, but--well, good-bye.

                                   Ys Ever

     There does not appear to be any further discussion of the matter
     between Howells and Clemens.  Their letters for a time contained no
     suggestion of politics.

     Perhaps Mark Twain’s own political conscience was not entirely clear
     in his repudiation of his party; at least we may believe from his
     next letter that his Cleveland enthusiasm was qualified by a
     willingness to support a Republican who would command his admiration
     and honor.  The idea of an eleventh-hour nomination was rather
     startling, whatever its motive.


To Mr. Pierce, in Boston:

                                             HARTFORD, Oct.  22, ‘84.

MY DEAR MR. PIERCE,--You know, as well as I do, that the reason the
majority of republicans are going to vote for Blaine is because they
feel that they cannot help themselves. Do not you believe that if
Mr. Edmunds would consent to run for President, on the Independent
ticket--even at this late day--he might be elected?

Well, if he wouldn’t consent, but should even strenuously protest
and say he wouldn’t serve if elected, isn’t it still wise and fair to
nominate him and vote for him? since his protest would relieve him from
all responsibility; and he couldn’t surely find fault with people for
forcing a compliment upon him. And do not you believe that his name thus
compulsorily placed at the head of the Independent column would work
absolutely certain defeat to Blain and save the country’s honor?

Politicians often carry a victory by springing some disgraceful and
rascally mine under the feet of the adversary at the eleventh hour;
would it not be wholesome to vary this thing for once and spring as
formidable a mine of a better sort under the enemy’s works?

If Edmunds’s name were put up, I would vote for him in the teeth of all
the protesting and blaspheming he could do in a month; and there are
lots of others who would do likewise.

If this notion is not a foolish and wicked one, won’t you just consult
with some chief Independents, and see if they won’t call a sudden
convention and whoop the thing through? To nominate Edmunds the 1st of
November, would be soon enough, wouldn’t it?

With kindest regards to you and the Aldriches,

                                   Yr Truly
                                             S. L. CLEMENS.

     Clemens and Cable set out on their reading-tour in November.
     They were a curiously-assorted pair: Cable was of orthodox
     religion, exact as to habits, neat, prim, all that Clemens
     was not.  In the beginning Cable undertook to read the Bible
     aloud to Clemens each evening, but this part of the day’s
     program was presently omitted by request.  If they spent
     Sunday in a town, Cable was up bright and early visiting the
     various churches and Sunday-schools, while Mark Twain
     remained at the hotel, in bed, reading or asleep.


     The year 1885 was in some respects the most important, certainly the
     most pleasantly exciting, in Mark Twain’s life.  It was the year in
     which he entered fully into the publishing business and launched one
     of the most spectacular of all publishing adventures, The Personal
     Memoirs of General U. S. Grant.  Clemens had not intended to do
     general publishing when he arranged with Webster to become
     sales-agent for the Mississippi book, and later general agent for
     Huck Finn’s adventures; he had intended only to handle his own
     books, because he was pretty thoroughly dissatisfied with other
     publishing arrangements.  Even the Library of Humor, which Howells,
     with Clark, of the Courant, had put together for him, he left with
     Osgood until that publisher failed, during the spring of 1885.
     Certainly he never dreamed of undertaking anything of the
     proportions of the Grant book.

     He had always believed that Grant could make a book.  More than
     once, when they had met, he had urged the General to prepare his
     memoirs for publication.  Howells, in his ‘My Mark Twain’, tells of
     going with Clemens to see Grant, then a member of the ill-fated firm
     of Grant and Ward, and how they lunched on beans, bacon and coffee
     brought in from a near-by restaurant.  It was while they were eating
     this soldier fare that Clemens--very likely abetted by Howells
     --especially urged the great commander to prepare his memoirs.  But
     Grant had become a financier, as he believed, and the prospect of
     literary earnings, however large, did not appeal to him.
     Furthermore, he was convinced that he was without literary ability
     and that a book by him would prove a failure.

     But then, by and by, came a failure more disastrous than anything he
     had foreseen--the downfall of his firm through the Napoleonic
     rascality of Ward.  General Grant was utterly ruined; he was left
     without income and apparently without the means of earning one.  It
     was the period when the great War Series was appeasing in the
     Century Magazine.  General Grant, hard-pressed, was induced by the
     editors to prepare one or more articles, and, finding that he could
     write them, became interested in the idea of a book.  It is
     unnecessary to repeat here the story of how the publication of this
     important work passed into the hands of Mark Twain; that is to say,
     the firm of Charles L. Webster & Co., the details having been fully
     given elsewhere.--[See Mark Twain: A Biography, chap.  cliv.]--

     We will now return for the moment to other matters, as reported in
     order by the letters.  Clemens and Cable had continued their
     reading-tour into Canada, and in February found themselves in
     Montreal.  Here they were invited by the Toque Bleue Snow-shoe Club
     to join in one of their weekly excursions across Mt. Royal.  They
     could not go, and the reasons given by Mark Twain are not without
     interest.  The letter is to Mr. George Iles, author of Flame,
     Electricity, and the Camera, and many other useful works.


To George Iles, far the Toque Blew Snow-shoe Club, Montreal:

                                   DETROIT, February 12, 1885.

                                   Midnight, P.S.

MY DEAR ILES,--I got your other telegram a while ago, and answered it,
explaining that I get only a couple of hours in the middle of the day
for social life. I know it doesn’t seem rational that a man should have
to lie abed all day in order to be rested and equipped for talking an
hour at night, and yet in my case and Cable’s it is so. Unless I get
a great deal of rest, a ghastly dulness settles down upon me on the
platform, and turns my performance into work, and hard work, whereas it
ought always to be pastime, recreation, solid enjoyment. Usually it is
just this latter, but that is because I take my rest faithfully, and
prepare myself to do my duty by my audience.

I am the obliged and appreciative servant of my brethren of the
Snow-shoe Club, and nothing in the world would delight me more than to
come to their house without naming time or terms on my own part--but
you see how it is. My cast iron duty is to my audience--it leaves me no
liberty and no option.

With kindest regards to the Club, and to you,

               I am Sincerely yours

                              S. L. CLEMENS.

     In the next letter we reach the end of the Clemens-Cable venture and
     get a characteristic summing up of Mark Twain’s general attitude
     toward the companion of his travels.  It must be read only in the
     clear realization of Mark Twain’s attitude toward orthodoxy, and his
     habit of humor.  Cable was as rigidly orthodox as Mark Twain was
     revolutionary.  The two were never anything but the best of friends.


To W. D. Howells, in Boston:

                                        PHILADA.  Feb. 27, ‘85.

MY DEAR HOWELLS,--To-night in Baltimore, to-morrow afternoon and night
in Washington, and my four-months platform campaign is ended at last.
It has been a curious experience. It has taught me that Cable’s gifts of
mind are greater and higher than I had suspected. But--

That “But” is pointing toward his religion. You will never, never
know, never divine, guess, imagine, how loathsome a thing the Christian
religion can be made until you come to know and study Cable daily and
hourly. Mind you, I like him; he is pleasant company; I rage and swear
at him sometimes, but we do not quarrel; we get along mighty happily
together; but in him and his person I have learned to hate all
religions. He has taught me to abhor and detest the Sabbath-day and hunt
up new and troublesome ways to dishonor it.

Nat Goodwin was on the train yesterday. He plays in Washington all the
coming week. He is very anxious to get our Sellers play and play it
under changed names. I said the only thing I could do would be to write
to you. Well, I’ve done it.

                              Ys Ever

     Clemens and Webster were often at the house of General Grant during
     these early days of 1885, and it must have been Webster who was
     present with Clemens on the great occasion described in the
     following telegram.  It was on the last day and hour of President
     Arthur’s administration that the bill was passed which placed
     Ulysses S. Grant as full General with full pay on the retired list,
     and it is said that the congressional clock was set back in order
     that this enactment might become a law before the administration
     changed.  General Grant had by this time developed cancer and was
     already in feeble health.


Telegram to Mrs. Clemens, in Hartford:

                                             NEW YORK, Mar. 4, 1885.

To MRS. S. L. CLEMENS, We were at General Grant’s at noon and a telegram
arrived that the last act of the expiring congress late this morning
retired him with full General’s rank and accompanying emoluments. The
effect upon him was like raising the dead. We were present when the
telegram was put in his hand.

                              S. L. CLEMENS.

     Something has been mentioned before of Mark Twain’s investments and
     the generally unprofitable habit of them.  He had a trusting nature,
     and was usually willing to invest money on any plausible
     recommendation.  He was one of thousands such, and being a person of
     distinction he now and then received letters of inquiry, complaint,
     or condolence.  A minister wrote him that he had bought some stocks
     recommended by a Hartford banker and advertised in a religious
     paper.  He added, “After I made that purchase they wrote me that you
     had just bought a hundred shares and that you were a ‘shrewd’ man.”
      The writer closed by asking for further information.  He received
     it, as follows:


To the Rev. J----, in Baltimore:

                                             WASHINGTON, Mch.  2,’85.

MY DEAR SIR,--I take my earliest opportunity to answer your favor of
Feb. B---- was premature in calling me a “shrewd man.” I wasn’t one at
that time, but am one now--that is, I am at least too shrewd to ever
again invest in anything put on the market by B----. I know nothing
whatever about the Bank Note Co., and never did know anything about it.
B---- sold me about $4,000 or $5,000 worth of the stock at $110, and I
own it yet. He sold me $10,000 worth of another rose-tinted stock about
the same time. I have got that yet, also. I judge that a peculiarity of
B----‘s stocks is that they are of the staying kind. I think you should
have asked somebody else whether I was a shrewd man or not for two
reasons: the stock was advertised in a religious paper, a circumstance
which was very suspicious; and the compliment came to you from a man who
was interested to make a purchaser of you. I am afraid you deserve your
loss. A financial scheme advertised in any religious paper is a thing
which any living person ought to know enough to avoid; and when the
factor is added that M. runs that religious paper, a dead person ought
to know enough to avoid it.

                              Very Truly Yours
                                        S. L. CLEMENS.

     The story of Huck Finn was having a wide success.  Webster handled
     it skillfully, and the sales were large.  In almost every quarter
     its welcome was enthusiastic.  Here and there, however, could be
     found an exception; Huck’s morals were not always approved of by
     library reading-committees.  The first instance of this kind was
     reported from Concord; and would seem not to have depressed the


To Chas. L. Webster, in New York:

                                                       Mch 18, ‘85.

DEAR CHARLEY,--The Committee of the Public Library of Concord, Mass,
have given us a rattling tip-top puff which will go into every paper in
the country. They have expelled Huck from their library as “trash and
suitable only for the slums.” That will sell 25,000 copies for us sure.

                                        S. L. C.

     Perhaps the Concord Free Trade Club had some idea of making amends
     to Mark Twain for the slight put upon his book by their librarians,
     for immediately after the Huck Finn incident they notified him of
     his election to honorary membership.

     Those were the days of “authors’ readings,” and Clemens and Howells
     not infrequently assisted at these functions, usually given as
     benefits of one kind or another.  From the next letter, written
     following an entertainment given for the Longfellow memorial, we
     gather that Mark Twain’s opinion of Howells’s reading was steadily


To W. D. Howells, in Boston:

                                             HARTFORD, May 5, ‘85.

MY DEAR HOWELLS,--.... Who taught you to read? Observation and thought,
I guess. And practice at the Tavern Club?--yes; and that was the best
teaching of all:

Well, you sent even your daintiest and most delicate and fleeting points
home to that audience--absolute proof of good reading. But you couldn’t
read worth a damn a few years ago. I do not say this to flatter. It is
true I looked around for you when I was leaving, but you had already

Alas, Osgood has failed at last. It was easy to see that he was on the
very verge of it a year ago, and it was also easy to see that he
was still on the verge of it a month or two ago; but I continued to
hope--but not expect that he would pull through. The Library of Humor is
at his dwelling house, and he will hand it to you whenever you want it.

To save it from any possibility of getting mixed up in the failure,
perhaps you had better send down and get it. I told him, the other day,
that an order of any kind from you would be his sufficient warrant for
its delivery to you.

In two days General Grant has dictated 50 pages of foolscap, and thus
the Wilderness and Appomattox stand for all time in his own words. This
makes the second volume of his book as valuable as the first.

He looks mighty well, these latter days.

                                        Yrs Ever

     “I am exceedingly glad,” wrote Howells, “that you approve of my
     reading, for it gives me some hope that I may do something on the
     platform next winter....  but I would never read within a hundred
     miles of you, if I could help it.  You simply straddled down to the
     footlights and took that house up in the hollow of your hand and
     tickled it.”


To W. D. Howells, in Boston:

                                        ELMIRA, July 21, 1885.

MY DEAR HOWELLS,--You are really my only author; I am restricted to you,
I wouldn’t give a damn for the rest.

I bored through Middlemarch during the past week, with its labored
and tedious analyses of feelings and motives, its paltry and tiresome
people, its unexciting and uninteresting story, and its frequent
blinding flashes of single-sentence poetry, philosophy, wit, and what
not, and nearly died from the overwork. I wouldn’t read another of those
books for a farm. I did try to read one other--Daniel Deronda. I dragged
through three chapters, losing flesh all the time, and then was honest
enough to quit, and confess to myself that I haven’t any romance
literature appetite, as far as I can see, except for your books.

But what I started to say, was, that I have just read Part II of Indian
Summer, and to my mind there isn’t a waste line in it, or one that could
be improved. I read it yesterday, ending with that opinion; and read it
again to-day, ending with the same opinion emphasized. I haven’t read
Part I yet, because that number must have reached Hartford after we
left; but we are going to send down town for a copy, and when it comes I
am to read both parts aloud to the family. It is a beautiful story, and
makes a body laugh all the time, and cry inside, and feel so old and so
forlorn; and gives him gracious glimpses of his lost youth that fill
him with a measureless regret, and build up in him a cloudy sense of his
having been a prince, once, in some enchanted far-off land, and of being
an exile now, and desolate--and Lord, no chance ever to get back
there again! That is the thing that hurts. Well, you have done it with
marvelous facility and you make all the motives and feelings perfectly
clear without analyzing the guts out of them, the way George Eliot does.
I can’t stand George Eliot and Hawthorne and those people; I see what
they are at a hundred years before they get to it and they just tire me
to death. And as for “The Bostonians,” I would rather be damned to John
Bunyan’s heaven than read that.

                                   Yrs Ever

     It is as easy to understand Mark Twain’s enjoyment of Indian Summer
     as his revolt against Daniel Deronda and The Bostonians.  He cared
     little for writing that did not convey its purpose in the simplest
     and most direct terms.  It is interesting to note that in thanking
     Clemens for his compliment Howells wrote: “What people cannot see is
     that I analyze as little as possible; they go on talking about the
     analytical school, which I am supposed to belong to, and I want to
     thank you for using your eyes.....  Did you ever read De Foe’s
     ‘Roxana’?  If not, then read it, not merely for some of the deepest
     insights into the lying, suffering, sinning, well-meaning human
     soul, but for the best and most natural English that a book was ever
     written in.”
     General Grant worked steadily on his book, dictating when he could,
     making brief notes on slips of paper when he could no longer speak.
     Clemens visited him at Mt. McGregor and brought the dying soldier
     the comforting news that enough of his books were already sold to
     provide generously for his family, and that the sales would
     aggregate at least twice as much by the end of the year.

     This was some time in July.  On the 23d of that month General Grant
     died.  Immediately there was a newspaper discussion as to the most
     suitable place for the great chieftain to lie.  Mark Twain’s
     contribution to this debate, though in the form of an open letter,
     seems worthy of preservation here.


To the New York “Sun,” on the proper place for Grant’s Tomb:

To THE EDITOR OP’ THE SUN:--SIR,--The newspaper atmosphere is charged
with objections to New York as a place of sepulchre for General Grant,
and the objectors are strenuous that Washington is the right place. They
offer good reasons--good temporary reasons--for both of these positions.

But it seems to me that temporary reasons are not mete for the occasion.
We need to consider posterity rather than our own generation. We should
select a grave which will not merely be in the right place now, but will
still be in the right place 500 years from now.

How does Washington promise as to that? You have only to hit it in one
place to kill it. Some day the west will be numerically strong enough to
move the seat of government; her past attempts are a fair warning that
when the day comes she will do it. Then the city of Washington will lose
its consequence and pass out of the public view and public talk. It
is quite within the possibilities that, a century hence, people would
wonder and say, “How did your predecessors come to bury their great dead
in this deserted place?”
But as long as American civilisation lasts New York will last. I cannot
but think she has been well and wisely chosen as the guardian of a grave
which is destined to become almost the most conspicuous in the world’s
history. Twenty centuries from now New York will still be New York,
still a vast city, and the most notable object in it will still be the
tomb and monument of General Grant.

I observe that the common and strongest objection to New York is that
she is not “national ground.” Let us give ourselves no uneasiness about
that. Wherever General Grant’s body lies, that is national ground.

                                        S. L. CLEMENS.
ELMIRA, July 27.

     The letter that follows is very long, but it seems too important and
     too interesting to be omitted in any part.  General Grant’s early
     indulgence in liquors had long been a matter of wide, though not
     very definite, knowledge.  Every one had heard how Lincoln, on being
     told that Grant drank, remarked something to the effect that he
     would like to know what kind of whisky Grant used so that he might
     get some of it for his other generals.  Henry Ward Beecher, selected
     to deliver a eulogy on the dead soldier, and doubtless wishing
     neither to ignore the matter nor to make too much of it, naturally
     turned for information to the publisher of Grant’s own memoirs,
     hoping from an advance copy to obtain light.


To Henry Ward Beecher, Brooklyn:

                                        ELMIRA, N. Y.  Sept. 11, ‘85.

MY DEAR MR. BEECHER,--My nephew Webster is in Europe making contracts
for the Memoirs. Before he sailed he came to me with a writing, directed
to the printers and binders, to this effect:

“Honor no order for a sight or copy of the Memoirs while I am absent,
even though it be signed by Mr. Clemens himself.”
I gave my permission. There were weighty reasons why I should not only
give my permission, but hold it a matter of honor to not dissolve the
order or modify it at any time. So I did all of that--said the order
should stand undisturbed to the end. If a principal could dissolve his
promise as innocently as he can dissolve his written order unguarded by
his promise, I would send you a copy of the Memoirs instantly. I did not
foresee you, or I would have made an exception.


My idea gained from army men, is that the drunkenness (and sometimes
pretty reckless spreeing, nights,) ceased before he came East to be Lt.
General. (Refer especially to Gen. Wm. B. Franklin--[If you could see
Franklin and talk with him--then he would unbosom,]) It was while Grant
was still in the West that Mr. Lincoln said he wished he could find out
what brand of whisky that fellow used, so he could furnish it to some
of the other generals. Franklin saw Grant tumble from his horse drunk,
while reviewing troops in New Orleans. The fall gave him a good deal of
a hurt. He was then on the point of leaving for the Chattanooga
region. I naturally put “that and that together” when I read Gen. O. O.
Howards’s article in the Christian Union, three or four weeks ago--where
he mentions that the new General arrived lame from a recent accident.
(See that article.) And why not write Howard?

Franklin spoke positively of the frequent spreeing. In camp--in time of


Captain Grant was frequently threatened by the Commandant of his Oregon
post with a report to the War Department of his conduct unless he
modified his intemperance. The report would mean dismissal from the
service. At last the report had to be made out; and then, so greatly
was the captain beloved, that he was privately informed, and was thus
enabled to rush his resignation to Washington ahead of the report. Did
the report go, nevertheless? I don’t know. If it did, it is in the War
Department now, possibly, and seeable. I got all this from a regular
army man, but I can’t name him to save me.

The only time General Grant ever mentioned liquor to me was about last
April or possibly May. He said:

“If I could only build up my strength! The doctors urge whisky and
champagne; but I can’t take them; I can’t abide the taste of any kind of
Had he made a conquest so complete that even the taste of liquor was
become an offense? Or was he so sore over what had been said about his
habit that he wanted to persuade others and likewise himself that he
hadn’t even ever had any taste for it? It sounded like the latter, but
that’s no evidence.

He told me in the fall of ‘84 that there was something the matter with
his throat, and that at the suggestion of his physicians he had reduced
his smoking to one cigar a day. Then he added, in a casual fashion, that
he didn’t care for that one, and seldom smoked it.

I could understand that feeling. He had set out to conquer not the habit
but the inclination--the desire. He had gone at the root, not the trunk.
It’s the perfect way and the only true way (I speak from experience.)
How I do hate those enemies of the human race who go around enslaving
God’s free people with pledges--to quit drinking instead of to quit
wanting to drink.

But Sherman and Van Vliet know everything concerning Grant; and if you
tell them how you want to use the facts, both of them will testify.
Regular army men have no concealments about each other; and yet they
make their awful statements without shade or color or malice with a
frankness and a child-like naivety, indeed, which is enchanting-and
stupefying. West Point seems to teach them that, among other priceless
things not to be got in any other college in this world. If we talked
about our guild-mates as I have heard Sherman, Grant, Van Vliet and
others talk about theirs--mates with whom they were on the best possible
terms--we could never expect them to speak to us again.


I am reminded, now, of another matter. The day of the funeral I sat an
hour over a single drink and several cigars with Van Vliet and Sherman
and Senator Sherman; and among other things Gen. Sherman said, with
impatient scorn:

“The idea of all this nonsense about Grant not being able to stand rude
language and indelicate stories! Why Grant was full of humor, and full
of the appreciation of it. I have sat with him by the hour listening to
Jim Nye’s yarns, and I reckon you know the style of Jim Nye’s histories,
Clemens. It makes me sick--that newspaper nonsense. Grant was no
namby-pamby fool, he was a man--all over--rounded and complete.”
I wish I had thought of it! I would have said to General Grant: “Put
the drunkenness in the Memoirs--and the repentance and reform. Trust the
But I will wager there is not a hint in the book. He was sore, there. As
much of the book as I have read gives no hint, as far as I recollect.

The sick-room brought out the points of Gen. Grant’s character--some of
them particularly, to wit:

His patience; his indestructible equability of temper; his exceeding
gentleness, kindness, forbearance, lovingness, charity; his loyalty:
to friends, to convictions, to promises, half-promises, infinitesimal
fractions and shadows of promises; (There was a requirement of him which
I considered an atrocity, an injustice, an outrage; I wanted to implore
him to repudiate it; Fred Grant said, “Save your labor, I know him; he
is in doubt as to whether he made that half-promise or not--and, he
will give the thing the benefit of the doubt; he will fulfill that
half-promise or kill himself trying;” Fred Grant was right--he did
fulfill it;) his aggravatingly trustful nature; his genuineness,
simplicity, modesty, diffidence, self-depreciation, poverty in the
quality of vanity-and, in no contradiction of this last, his simple
pleasure in the flowers and general ruck sent to him by Tom, Dick and
Harry from everywhere--a pleasure that suggested a perennial surprise
that he should be the object of so much fine attention--he was the most
lovable great child in the world; (I mentioned his loyalty: you remember
Harrison, the colored body-servant? the whole family hated him, but
that did not make any difference, the General always stood at his
back, wouldn’t allow him to be scolded; always excused his failures and
deficiencies with the one unvarying formula, “We are responsible
for these things in his race--it is not fair to visit our fault upon
them--let him alone;” so they did let him alone, under compulsion, until
the great heart that was his shield was taken away; then--well they
simply couldn’t stand him, and so they were excusable for determining
to discharge him--a thing which they mortally hated to do, and by lucky
accident were saved from the necessity of doing;) his toughness as
a bargainer when doing business for other people or for his country
(witness his “terms” at Donelson, Vicksburg, etc.; Fred Grant told me
his father wound up an estate for the widow and orphans of a friend in
St. Louis--it took several years; at the end every complication had been
straightened out, and the property put upon a prosperous basis; great
sums had passed through his hands, and when he handed over the papers
there were vouchers to show what had been done with every penny) and his
trusting, easy, unexacting fashion when doing business for himself (at
that same time he was paying out money in driblets to a man who was
running his farm for him--and in his first Presidency he paid every one
of those driblets again (total, $3,000 F. said,) for he hadn’t a scrap
of paper to show that he had ever paid them before; in his dealings with
me he would not listen to terms which would place my money at risk and
leave him protected--the thought plainly gave him pain, and he put it
from him, waved it off with his hands, as one does accounts of crushings
and mutilations--wouldn’t listen, changed the subject;) and his
fortitude! He was under, sentence of death last spring; he sat thinking,
musing, several days--nobody knows what about; then he pulled himself
together and set to work to finish that book, a colossal task for a
dying man. Presently his hand gave out; fate seemed to have got him
checkmated. Dictation was suggested. No, he never could do that; had
never tried it; too old to learn, now. By and by--if he could only do
Appomattox-well. So he sent for a stenographer, and dictated 9,000 words
at a single sitting!--never pausing, never hesitating for a word, never
repeating--and in the written-out copy he made hardly a correction. He
dictated again, every two or three days--the intervals were intervals
of exhaustion and slow recuperation--and at last he was able to tell me
that he had written more matter than could be got into the book. I then
enlarged the book--had to. Then he lost his voice. He was not quite done
yet, however:--there was no end of little plums and spices to be stuck
in, here and there; and this work he patiently continued, a few lines a
day, with pad and pencil, till far into July, at Mt. McGregor. One day
he put his pencil aside, and said he was done--there was nothing more to
do. If I had been there I could have foretold the shock that struck the
world three days later.

Well, I’ve written all this, and it doesn’t seem to amount to anything.
But I do want to help, if I only could. I will enclose some scraps from
my Autobiography--scraps about General Grant--they may be of some trifle
of use, and they may not--they at least verify known traits of his
character. My Autobiography is pretty freely dictated, but my idea is to
jack-plane it a little before I die, some day or other; I mean the rude
construction and rotten grammar. It is the only dictating I ever did,
and it was most troublesome and awkward work. You may return it to

                         Sincerely Yours
                                        S. L. CLEMENS.

     The old long-deferred Library of Humor came up again for discussion,
     when in the fall of 1885 Howells associated himself with Harper &
     Brothers.  Howells’s contract provided that his name was not to
     appear on any book not published by the Harper firm.  He wrote,
     therefore, offering to sell out his interest in the enterprise for
     two thousand dollars, in addition to the five hundred which he had
     already received--an amount considered to be less than he was to
     have received as joint author and compiler.  Mark Twain’s answer
     pretty fully covers the details of this undertaking.


To W. D. Howells, in Boston:

                                        HARTFORD, Oct. 18, 1885.


MY DEAR HOWELLS,--I reckon it would ruin the book that is, make it
necessary to pigeon-hole it and leave it unpublished. I couldn’t publish
it without a very responsible name to support my own on the title page,
because it has so much of my own matter in it. I bought Osgood’s rights
for $3,000 cash, I have paid Clark $800 and owe him $700 more, which
must of course be paid whether I publish or not. Yet I fully
recognize that I have no sort of moral right to let that ancient and
procrastinated contract hamper you in any way, and I most certainly
won’t. So, it is my decision,--after thinking over and rejecting the
idea of trying to buy permission of the Harpers for $2,500 to use your
name, (a proposition which they would hate to refuse to a man in a
perplexed position, and yet would naturally have to refuse it,) to
pigeon-hole the “Library”: not destroy it, but merely pigeon-hole it and
wait a few years and see what new notion Providence will take concerning
it. He will not desert us now, after putting in four licks to our one on
this book all this time. It really seems in a sense discourteous not to
call it “Providence’s Library of Humor.”
Now that deal is all settled, the next question is, do you need and must
you require that $2,000 now? Since last March, you know, I am carrying a
mighty load, solitary and alone--General Grant’s book--and must carry it
till the first volume is 30 days old (Jan. 1st) before the relief money
will begin to flow in. From now till the first of January every dollar
is as valuable to me as it could be to a famishing tramp. If you can
wait till then--I mean without discomfort, without inconvenience--it
will be a large accommodation to me; but I will not allow you to do this
favor if it will discommode you. So, speak right out, frankly, and
if you need the money I will go out on the highway and get it, using
violence, if necessary.

Mind, I am not in financial difficulties, and am not going to be. I am
merely a starving beggar standing outside the door of plenty--obstructed
by a Yale time-lock which is set for Jan. 1st. I can stand it, and
stand it perfectly well; but the days do seem to fool along considerable
slower than they used to.

I am mighty glad you are with the Harpers. I have noticed that good men
in their employ go there to stay.

                              Yours ever,

     In the next letter we begin to get some idea of the size of Mark
     Twain’s first publishing venture, and a brief summary of results may
     not be out of place here.

     The Grant Life was issued in two volumes.  In the early months of
     the year when the agents’ canvass was just beginning, Mark Twain,
     with what seems now almost clairvoyant vision, prophesied a sale of
     three hundred thousand sets.  The actual sales ran somewhat more
     than this number.  On February 27, 1886, Charles L. Webster & Co.
     paid to Mrs. Grant the largest single royalty check in the history
     of book-publishing.  The amount of it was two hundred thousand
     dollars.  Subsequent checks increased the aggregate return to
     considerably more than double this figure.  In a memorandum made by
     Clemens in the midst of the canvass he wrote.

     “During 100 consecutive days the sales (i. e., subscriptions) of
     General Grant’s book averaged 3,000 sets (6,000 single volumes) per
     day: Roughly stated, Mrs. Grant’s income during all that time was
     $5,000 a day.”


To W. D. Howells, in Boston:

                                             HOTEL NORMANDIE

                                             NEW YORK, Dec. 2, ‘85.

MY DEAR HOWELLS,--I told Webster, this afternoon, to send you that
$2,000; but he is in such a rush, these first days of publication, that
he may possibly forget it; so I write lest I forget it too. Remind me,
if he should forget. When I postponed you lately, I did it because I
thought I should be cramped for money until January, but that has turned
out to be an error, so I hasten to cut short the postponement.

I judge by the newspapers that you are in Auburndale, but I don’t know
it officially.

I’ve got the first volume launched safely; consequently, half of the
suspense is over, and I am that much nearer the goal. We’ve bound
and shipped 200,000 books; and by the 10th shall finish and ship the
remaining 125,000 of the first edition. I got nervous and came down to
help hump-up the binderies; and I mean to stay here pretty much all the
time till the first days of March, when the second volume will issue.
Shan’t have so much trouble, this time, though, if we get to press
pretty soon, because we can get more binderies then than are to be
had in front of the holidays. One lives and learns. I find it takes 7
binderies four months to bind 325,000 books.

This is a good book to publish. I heard a canvasser say, yesterday, that
while delivering eleven books he took 7 new subscriptions. But we shall
be in a hell of a fix if that goes on--it will “ball up” the binderies

               Yrs ever

     November 30th that year was Mark Twain’s fiftieth birthday, an event
     noticed by the newspapers generally, and especially observed by many
     of his friends.  Warner, Stockton and many others sent letters;
     Andrew Lang contributed a fine poem; also Oliver Wendell.  Holmes
     --the latter by special request of Miss Gilder--for the Critic.
     These attentions came as a sort of crowning happiness at the end of
     a golden year.  At no time in his life were Mark Twain’s fortunes
     and prospects brighter; he had a beautiful family and a perfect
     home. Also, he had great prosperity.  The reading-tour with Cable
     had been a fine success.  His latest book, The Adventures of
     Huckleberry Finn, had added largely to his fame and income.
     The publication of the Grant Memoirs had been a dazzling triumph.
     Mark Twain had become recognized, not only as America’s most
     distinguished author, but as its most envied publisher.  And now,
     with his fiftieth birthday, had come this laurel from Holmes, last
     of the Brahmins, to add a touch of glory to all the rest.  We feel
     his exaltation in his note of acknowledgment.


To Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes, in Boston:

DEAR MR. HOLMES,--I shall never be able to tell you the half of how
proud you have made me. If I could you would say you were nearly paid
for the trouble you took. And then the family: If I can convey the
electrical surprise and gratitude and exaltation of the wife and the
children last night, when they happened upon that Critic where I had,
with artful artlessness, spread it open and retired out of view to see
what would happen--well, it was great and fine and beautiful to see, and
made me feel as the victor feels when the shouting hosts march by;
and if you also could have seen it you would have said the account was
squared. For I have brought them up in your company, as in the company
of a warm and friendly and beneficent but far-distant sun; and so, for
you to do this thing was for the sun to send down out of the skies the
miracle of a special ray and transfigure me before their faces. I knew
what that poem would be to them; I knew it would raise me up to remote
and shining heights in their eyes, to very fellowship with the chambered
Nautilus itself, and that from that fellowship they could never more
dissociate me while they should live; and so I made sure to be by when
the surprise should come.

Charles Dudley Warner is charmed with the poem for its own felicitous
sake; and so indeed am I, but more because it has drawn the sting of my
fiftieth year; taken away the pain of it, the grief of it, the somehow
shame of it, and made me glad and proud it happened.

        With reverence and affection,
                         Sincerely yours,
                                   S. L. CLEMENS.

     Holmes wrote with his own hand: “Did Miss Gilder tell you I had
     twenty-three letters spread out for answer when her suggestion came
     about your anniversary?  I stopped my correspondence and made my
     letters wait until the lines were done.”



By Mark Twain



     When Clemens had been platforming with Cable and returned to
     Hartford for his Christmas vacation, the Warner and Clemens families
     had joined in preparing for him a surprise performance of The Prince
     and the Pauper.  The Clemens household was always given to
     theatricals, and it was about this time that scenery and a stage
     were prepared--mainly by the sculptor Gerhardt--for these home
     performances, after which productions of The Prince and the Pauper
     were given with considerable regularity to audiences consisting of
     parents and invited friends.  The subject is a fascinating one, but
     it has been dwelt upon elsewhere.--[In Mark Twain: A on***n,
     chaps.  cliii and clx.]--We get a glimpse of one of these occasions
     as well as of Mark Twain’s financial progress in the next brief


To W. D. Howells; in Boston:

                                             Jan.  3, ‘86.

MY DEAR HOWELLS,--The date set for the Prince and Pauper play is ten
days hence--Jan. 13. I hope you and Pilla can take a train that arrives
here during the day; the one that leaves Boston toward the end of the
afternoon would be a trifle late; the performance would have already
begun when you reached the house.

I’m out of the woods. On the last day of the year I had paid out
$182,000 on the Grant book and it was totally free from debt.

                                              Yrs ever


     Mark Twain’s mother was a woman of sturdy character and with a keen
     sense of humor and tender sympathies.  Her husband, John Marshall
     Clemens, had been a man of high moral character, honored by all who
     knew him, respected and apparently loved by his wife.  No one would
     ever have supposed that during all her years of marriage, and almost
     to her death, she carried a secret romance that would only be told
     at last in the weary disappointment of old age.  It is a curious
     story, and it came to light in this curious way:


To W. D. Howells, in Boston:

                                        HARTFORD, May 19, ‘86.

MY DEAR HOWELLS,--..... Here’s a secret. A most curious and pathetic
romance, which has just come to light. Read these things, but don’t
mention them. Last fall, my old mother--then 82--took a notion to attend
a convention of old settlers of the Mississippi Valley in an Iowa town.
My brother’s wife was astonished; and represented to her the hardships
and fatigues of such a trip, and said my mother might possibly not even
survive them; and said there could be no possible interest for her in
such a meeting and such a crowd. But my mother insisted, and persisted;
and finally gained her point. They started; and all the way my mother
was young again with excitement, interest, eagerness, anticipation. They
reached the town and the hotel. My mother strode with the same eagerness
in her eye and her step, to the counter, and said:

“Is Dr. Barrett of St. Louis, here?”
“No. He was here, but he returned to St. Louis this morning.”
“Will he come again?”
My mother turned away, the fire all gone from her, and said, “Let us go
They went straight back to Keokuk. My mother sat silent and thinking
for many days--a thing which had never happened before. Then one day she

“I will tell you a secret. When I was eighteen, a young medical student
named Barrett lived in Columbia (Ky.) eighteen miles away; and he used
to ride over to see me. This continued for some time. I loved him with
my whole heart, and I knew that he felt the same toward me, though no
words had been spoken. He was too bashful to speak--he could not do it.
Everybody supposed we were engaged--took it for granted we were--but we
were not. By and by there was to be a party in a neighboring town, and
he wrote my uncle telling him his feelings, and asking him to drive me
over in his buggy and let him (Barrett) drive me back, so that he might
have that opportunity to propose. My uncle should have done as he was
asked, without explaining anything to me; but instead, he read me the
letter; and then, of course, I could not go--and did not. He (Barrett)
left the country presently, and I, to stop the clacking tongues, and to
show him that I did not care, married, in a pet. In all these sixty-four
years I have not seen him since. I saw in a paper that he was going to
attend that Old Settlers’ Convention. Only three hours before we reached
that hotel, he had been standing there!”
Since then, her memory is wholly faded out and gone; and now she writes
letters to the school-mates who had been dead forty years, and wonders
why they neglect her and do not answer.

Think of her carrying that pathetic burden in her old heart sixty-four
years, and no human being ever suspecting it!

                              Yrs ever,


     We do not get the idea from this letter that those two long
     ago sweethearts quarreled, but Mark Twain once spoke of
     their having done so, and there may have been a
     disagreement, assuming that there was a subsequent meeting.
     It does not matter, now.  In speaking of it, Mark Twain once
     said: “It is as pathetic a romance as any that has crossed
     the field of my personal experience in a long lifetime.”--
     [When Mark Twain: A Biography was written this letter had
     not come to light, and the matter was stated there in
     accordance with Mark Twain’s latest memory of it.]

     Howells wrote: “After all, how poor and hackneyed all the
     inventions are compared with the simple and stately facts.
     Who could have imagined such a heart-break as that?  Yet it
     went along with the fulfillment of everyday duty and made no
     more noise than a grave under foot.  I doubt if fiction will
     ever get the knack of such things.”
     Jane Clemens now lived with her son Orion and his wife, in
     Keokuk, where she was more contented than elsewhere.  In
     these later days her memory had become erratic, her
     realization of events about her uncertain, but there were
     times when she was quite her former self, remembering
     clearly and talking with her old-time gaiety of spirit.
     Mark Twain frequently sent her playful letters to amuse her,
     letters full of such boyish gaiety as had amused her long
     years before.  The one that follows is a fair example.  It
     was written after a visit which Clemens and his family had
     paid to Keokuk.


To Jane Clemens, in Keokuk:

                                             ELMIRA, Aug. 7, ‘86.

DEAR MA,--I heard that Molly and Orion and Pamela had been sick, but I
see by your letter that they are much better now, or nearly well. When
we visited you a month ago, it seemed to us that your Keokuk weather
was pretty hot; Jean and Clara sat up in bed at Mrs. McElroy’s and cried
about it, and so did I; but I judge by your letter that it has cooled
down, now, so that a person is comparatively comfortable, with his skin
off. Well it did need cooling; I remember that I burnt a hole in my
shirt, there, with some ice cream that fell on it; and Miss Jenkins told
me they never used a stove, but cooked their meals on a marble-topped
table in the drawing-room, just with the natural heat. If anybody else
had told me, I would not have believed it. I was told by the Bishop of
Keokuk that he did not allow crying at funerals, because it scalded the
furniture. If Miss Jenkins had told me that, I would have believed it.
This reminds me that you speak of Dr. Jenkins and his family as if they
were strangers to me. Indeed they are not. Don’t you suppose I remember
gratefully how tender the doctor was with Jean when she hurt her arm,
and how quickly he got the pain out of the hurt, whereas I supposed it
was going to last at least an hour? No, I don’t forget some things as
easily as I do others.

Yes, it was pretty hot weather. Now here, when a person is going to die,
he is always in a sweat about where he is going to; but in Keokuk of
course they don’t care, because they are fixed for everything. It has
set me reflecting, it has taught me a lesson. By and by, when my health
fails, I am going to put all my affairs in order, and bid good-bye to my
friends here, and kill all the people I don’t like, and go out to Keokuk
and prepare for death.

They are all well in this family, and we all send love.

                                   Affly Your Son

     The ways of city officials and corporations are often past
     understanding, and Mark Twain sometimes found it necessary to write
     picturesque letters of protest.  The following to a Hartford
     lighting company is a fair example of these documents.


To a gas and electric-lighting company, in Hartford:

GENTLEMEN,--There are but two places in our whole street where lights
could be of any value, by any accident, and you have measured and
appointed your intervals so ingeniously as to leave each of those places
in the centre of a couple of hundred yards of solid darkness. When I
noticed that you were setting one of your lights in such a way that I
could almost see how to get into my gate at night, I suspected that it
was a piece of carelessness on the part of the workmen, and would be
corrected as soon as you should go around inspecting and find it out.
My judgment was right; it is always right, when you axe concerned. For
fifteen years, in spite of my prayers and tears, you persistently kept
a gas lamp exactly half way between my gates, so that I couldn’t find
either of them after dark; and then furnished such execrable gas that I
had to hang a danger signal on the lamp post to keep teams from running
into it, nights. Now I suppose your present idea is, to leave us a
little more in the dark.

Don’t mind us--out our way; we possess but one vote apiece, and no
rights which you are in any way bound to respect. Please take your
electric light and go to--but never mind, it is not for me to suggest;
you will probably find the way; and any way you can reasonably count on
divine assistance if you lose your bearings.

                                   S. L. CLEMENS.

     [Etext Editor’s Note: Twain wrote another note to Hartford Gas and
     Electric, which he may not have mailed and which Paine does not
     include in these volumes:

     “Gentleman:--Someday you are going to move me almost to the point
     of irritation with your God-damned chuckle headed fashion of
     turning off your God-damned gas without giving notice to your
     God-damned parishioners--and you did it again last night--”

     Frequently Clemens did not send letters of this sort after they were
     written.  Sometimes he realized the uselessness of such protest,
     sometimes the mere writing of them had furnished the necessary
     relief, and he put, the letter away, or into the wastebasket, and
     wrote something more temperate, or nothing at all.  A few such
     letters here follow.

     Clemens was all the time receiving application from people who
     wished him to recommend one article or another; books, plays,
     tobacco, and what not.  They were generally persistent people,
     unable to accept a polite or kindly denial.  Once he set down some
     remarks on this particular phase of correspondence.  He wrote:


No doubt Mr. Edison has been offered a large interest in many and many
an electrical project, for the use of his name to float it withal.
And no doubt all men who have achieved for their names, in any line of
activity whatever, a sure market value, have been familiar with this
sort of solicitation. Reputation is a hall-mark: it can remove doubt
from pure silver, and it can also make the plated article pass for pure.

And so, people without a hall-mark of their own are always trying to get
the loan of somebody else’s.

As a rule, that kind of a person sees only one side of the case. He sees
that his invention or his painting or his book is--apparently--a trifle
better than you yourself can do, therefore why shouldn’t you be willing
to put your hall-mark on it? You will be giving the purchaser his full
money’s worth; so who is hurt, and where is the harm? Besides, are you
not helping a struggling fellow-craftsman, and is it not your duty to do

That side is plenty clear enough to him, but he can’t and won’t see the
other side, to-wit: that you are a rascal if you put your hall-mark upon
a thing which you did not produce yourself, howsoever good it may be.
How simple that is; and yet there are not two applicants in a hundred
who can, be made to see it.

When one receives an application of this sort, his first emotion is
an indignant sense of insult; his first deed is the penning of a sharp
answer. He blames nobody but that other person. That person is a very
base being; he must be; he would degrade himself for money, otherwise it
would not occur to him that you would do such a thing. But all the
same, that application has done its work, and taken you down in your own
estimation. You recognize that everybody hasn’t as high an opinion
of you as you have of yourself; and in spite of you there ensues an
interval during which you are not, in your own estimation as fine a bird
as you were before.

However, being old and experienced, you do not mail your sharp letter,
but leave it lying a day. That saves you. For by that time you have
begun to reflect that you are a person who deals in exaggerations--and
exaggerations are lies. You meant yours to be playful, and thought you
made them unmistakably so. But you couldn’t make them playfulnesses to a
man who has no sense of the playful and can see nothing but the serious
side of things. You rattle on quite playfully, and with measureless
extravagance, about how you wept at the tomb of Adam; and all in good
time you find to your astonishment that no end of people took you at
your word and believed you. And presently they find out that you were
not in earnest. They have been deceived; therefore, (as they argue--and
there is a sort of argument in it,) you are a deceiver. If you will
deceive in one way, why shouldn’t you in another? So they apply for the
use of your trade-mark. You are amazed and affronted. You retort that
you are not that kind of person. Then they are amazed and affronted; and
wonder “since when?”
By this time you have got your bearings. You realize that perhaps there
is a little blame on both sides. You are in the right frame, now. So
you write a letter void of offense, declining. You mail this one; you
pigeon-hole the other.

That is, being old and experienced, you do, but early in your career,
you don’t: you mail the first one.


An enthusiast who had a new system of musical notation, wrote to me and
suggested that a magazine article from me, contrasting the absurdities
of the old system with the simplicities of his new one, would be sure to
make a “rousing hit.” He shouted and shouted over the marvels wrought by
his system, and quoted the handsome compliments which had been paid it
by famous musical people; but he forgot to tell me what his notation was
like, or what its simplicities consisted in. So I could not have written
the article if I had wanted to--which I didn’t; because I hate strangers
with axes to grind. I wrote him a courteous note explaining how busy I
was--I always explain how busy I am--and casually drooped this remark:

“I judge the X-X notation to be a rational mode of representing music,
in place of the prevailing fashion, which was the invention of an
Next mail he asked permission to print that meaningless remark. I
answered, no--courteously, but still, no; explaining that I could not
afford to be placed in the attitude of trying to influence people with a
mere worthless guess. What a scorcher I got, next mail! Such irony! such
sarcasm, such caustic praise of my superhonorable loyalty to the public!
And withal, such compassion for my stupidity, too, in not being able to
understand my own language. I cannot remember the words of this letter
broadside, but there was about a page used up in turning this idea round
and round and exposing it in different lights.

                             Unmailed Answer:

DEAR SIR,--What is the trouble with you? If it is your viscera, you
cannot have them taken out and reorganized a moment too soon. I mean,
if they are inside. But if you are composed of them, that is another
matter. Is it your brain? But it could not be your brain. Possibly it is
your skull: you want to look out for that. Some people, when they get an
idea, it pries the structure apart. Your system of notation has got in
there, and couldn’t find room, without a doubt that is what the trouble
is. Your skull was not made to put ideas in, it was made to throw
potatoes at.

                         Yours Truly.

                              Mailed Answer:

DEAR SIR,--Come, come--take a walk; you disturb the children.

                         Yours Truly.

There was a day, now happily nearly over, when certain newspapers made a
practice of inviting men distinguished in any walk of life to give their
time and effort without charge to express themselves on some subject of
the day, or perhaps they were asked to send their favorite passages in
prose or verse, with the reasons why. Such symposiums were “features”
 that cost the newspapers only the writing of a number of letters,
stationery, and postage. To one such invitation Mark Twain wrote two
replies. They follow herewith:

                             Unmailed Answer:

DEAR SIR,--I have received your proposition--which you have imitated
from a pauper London periodical which had previously imitated the idea
of this sort of mendicancy from seventh-rate American journalism, where
it originated as a variation of the inexpensive “interview.”
Why do you buy Associated Press dispatches? To make your paper the
more salable, you answer. But why don’t you try to beg them? Why do
you discriminate? I can sell my stuff; why should I give it to you? Why
don’t you ask me for a shirt? What is the difference between asking me
for the worth of a shirt and asking me for the shirt itself? Perhaps you
didn’t know you were begging. I would not use that argument--it makes
the user a fool. The passage of poetry--or prose, if you will--which
has taken deepest root in my thought, and which I oftenest return to and
dwell upon with keenest no matter what, is this: That the proper place
for journalists who solicit literary charity is on the street corner
with their hats in their hands.

                              Mailed Answer:

DEAR SIR,--Your favor of recent date is received, but I am obliged by
press of work to decline.

     The manager of a traveling theatrical company wrote that he had
     taken the liberty of dramatizing Tom Sawyer, and would like also the
     use of the author’s name--the idea being to convey to the public
     that it was a Mark Twain play.  In return for this slight favor the
     manager sent an invitation for Mark Twain to come and see the play
     --to be present on the opening night, as it were, at his (the
     manager’s) expense.  He added that if the play should be a go in the
     cities there might be some “arrangement” of profits.  Apparently
     these inducements did not appeal to Mark Twain.  The long unmailed
     reply is the more interesting, but probably the briefer one that
     follows it was quite as effective.

                             Unmailed Answer:

                                             HARTFORD, Sept. 8, ‘87.

DEAR SIR,--And so it has got around to you, at last; and you also have
“taken the liberty.” You are No. 1365. When 1364 sweeter and better
people, including the author, have “tried” to dramatize Tom Sawyer and
did not arrive, what sort of show do you suppose you stand? That is a
book, dear sir, which cannot be dramatized. One might as well try to
dramatize any other hymn. Tom Sawyer is simply a hymn, put into prose
form to give it a worldly air.

Why the pale doubt that flitteth dim and nebulous athwart the forecastle
of your third sentence? Have no fears. Your piece will be a Go. It will
go out the back door on the first night. They’ve all done it--the
1364. So will 1365. Not one of us ever thought of the simple device
of half-soling himself with a stove-lid. Ah, what suffering a little
hindsight would have saved us. Treasure this hint.

How kind of you to invite me to the funeral. Go to; I have attended a
thousand of them. I have seen Tom Sawyer’s remains in all the different
kinds of dramatic shrouds there are. You cannot start anything fresh.
Are you serious when you propose to pay my expence--if that is the
Susquehannian way of spelling it? And can you be aware that I charge a
hundred dollars a mile when I travel for pleasure? Do you realize that
it is 432 miles to Susquehanna? Would it be handy for you to send me
the $43,200 first, so I could be counting it as I come along; because
railroading is pretty dreary to a sensitive nature when there’s nothing
sordid to buck at for Zeitvertreib.

Now as I understand it, dear and magnanimous 1365, you are going to
recreate Tom Sawyer dramatically, and then do me the compliment to put
me in the bills as father of this shady offspring. Sir, do you know that
this kind of a compliment has destroyed people before now? Listen.

Twenty-four years ago, I was strangely handsome. The remains of it are
still visible through the rifts of time. I was so handsome that human
activities ceased as if spellbound when I came in view, and even
inanimate things stopped to look--like locomotives, and district
messenger boys and so-on. In San Francisco, in the rainy season I was
often mistaken for fair weather. Upon one occasion I was traveling in
the Sonora region, and stopped for an hour’s nooning, to rest my
horse and myself. All the town came out to look. The tribes of Indians
gathered to look. A Piute squaw named her baby for me,--a voluntary
compliment which pleased me greatly. Other attentions were paid me.
Last of all arrived the president and faculty of Sonora University
and offered me the post of Professor of Moral Culture and the Dogmatic
Humanities; which I accepted gratefully, and entered at once upon my
duties. But my name had pleased the Indians, and in the deadly kindness
of their hearts they went on naming their babies after me. I tried to
stop it, but the Indians could not understand why I should object to so
manifest a compliment. The thing grew and grew and spread and spread
and became exceedingly embarrassing. The University stood it a couple of
years; but then for the sake of the college they felt obliged to call
a halt, although I had the sympathy of the whole faculty. The president
himself said to me, “I am as sorry as I can be for you, and would still
hold out if there were any hope ahead; but you see how it is: there are
a hundred and thirty-two of them already, and fourteen precincts to
hear from. The circumstance has brought your name into most wide and
unfortunate renown. It causes much comment--I believe that that is
not an over-statement. Some of this comment is palliative, but some of
it--by patrons at a distance, who only know the statistics without
the explanation,--is offensive, and in some cases even violent. Nine
students have been called home. The trustees of the college have been
growing more and more uneasy all these last months--steadily along with
the implacable increase in your census--and I will not conceal from you
that more than once they have touched upon the expediency of a change in
the Professorship of Moral Culture. The coarsely sarcastic editorial
in yesterday’s Alta, headed Give the Moral Acrobat a Rest--has brought
things to a crisis, and I am charged with the unpleasant duty of
receiving your resignation.”
I know you only mean me a kindness, dear 1365, but it is a most deadly
mistake. Please do not name your Injun for me. Truly Yours.

                              Mailed Answer:

                                        NEW YORK, Sept. 8.  1887.

DEAR SIR,--Necessarily I cannot assent to so strange a proposition. And
I think it but fair to warn you that if you put the piece on the stage,
you must take the legal consequences.

                         Yours respectfully,

                                   S. L. CLEMENS.

     Before the days of international copyright no American author’s
     books were pirated more freely by Canadian publishers than those of
     Mark Twain.  It was always a sore point with him that these books,
     cheaply printed, found their way into the United States, and were
     sold in competition with his better editions.  The law on the
     subject seemed to be rather hazy, and its various interpretations
     exasperating.  In the next unmailed letter Mark Twain relieves
     himself to a misguided official.  The letter is worth reading today,
     if for no other reason, to show the absurdity of copyright
     conditions which prevailed at that time.

          Unmailed Letter to H. C. Christiancy, on book Piracy:

                                             HARTFORD, Dec. 18, ‘87.


DEAR SIR,--As I understand it, the position of the U. S. Government is
this: If a person be captured on the border with counterfeit bonds
in his hands--bonds of the N. Y. Central Railway, for instance--the
procedure in his case shall be as follows:

1. If the N. Y. C. have not previously filed in the several police
offices along the border, proof of ownership of the originals of the
bonds, the government officials must collect a duty on the counterfeits,
and then let them go ahead and circulate in this country.

2. But if there is proof already on file, then the N. Y. C. may pay the
duty and take the counterfeits.

But in no case will the United States consent to go without its share of
the swag. It is delicious. The biggest and proudest government on earth
turned sneak-thief; collecting pennies on stolen property, and pocketing
them with a greasy and libidinous leer; going into partnership with
foreign thieves to rob its own children; and when the child escapes the
foreigner, descending to the abysmal baseness of hanging on and
robbing the infant all alone by itself! Dear sir, this is not any more
respectable than for a father to collect toll on the forced prostitution
of his own daughter; in fact it is the same thing. Upon these terms,
what is a U. S. custom house but a “fence?” That is all it is: a
legalized trader in stolen goods.

And this nasty law, this filthy law, this unspeakable law calls itself
a “regulation for the protection of owners of copyright!” Can sarcasm go
further than that? In what way does it protect them? Inspiration itself
could not furnish a rational answer to that question. Whom does
it protect, then? Nobody, as far as I can see, but the foreign
thief--sometimes--and his fellow-footpad the U. S. government, all the
time. What could the Central Company do with the counterfeit bonds after
it had bought them of the star spangled banner Master-thief? Sell
them at a dollar apiece and fetch down the market for the genuine
hundred-dollar bond? What could I do with that 20-cent copy of “Roughing
It” which the United States has collared on the border and is waiting
to release to me for cash in case I am willing to come down to its
moral level and help rob myself? Sell it at ten or fifteen cents--duty
added--and destroy the market for the original $3,50 book? Who ever did
invent that law? I would like to know the name of that immortal jackass.

Dear sir, I appreciate your courtesy in stretching your authority in the
desire to do me a kindness, and I sincerely thank you for it. But I have
no use for that book; and if I were even starving for it I would not pay
duty on in either to get it or suppress it. No doubt there are ways in
which I might consent to go into partnership with thieves and fences,
but this is not one of them. This one revolts the remains of my
self-respect; turns my stomach. I think I could companion with a
highwayman who carried a shot-gun and took many risks; yes, I think
I should like that if I were younger; but to go in with a big rich
government that robs paupers, and the widows and orphans of paupers and
takes no risk--why the thought just gags me.

Oh, no, I shall never pay any duties on pirated books of mine. I am much
too respectable for that--yet awhile. But here--one thing that grovels
me is this: as far as I can discover--while freely granting that the U.
S. copyright laws are far and away the most idiotic that exist anywhere
on the face of the earth--they don’t authorize the government to admit
pirated books into this country, toll or no toll. And so I think that
that regulation is the invention of one of those people--as a rule,
early stricken of God, intellectually--the departmental interpreters
of the laws, in Washington. They can always be depended on to take any
reasonably good law and interpret the common sense all out of it.
They can be depended on, every time, to defeat a good law, and make it
inoperative--yes, and utterly grotesque, too, mere matter for laughter
and derision. Take some of the decisions of the Post-office Department,
for instance--though I do not mean to suggest that that asylum is any
worse than the others for the breeding and nourishing of incredible
lunatics--I merely instance it because it happens to be the first to
come into my mind. Take that case of a few years ago where the P. M.
General suddenly issued an edict requiring you to add the name of the
State after Boston, New York, Chicago, &c, in your superscriptions,
on pain of having your letter stopped and forwarded to the dead-letter
office; yes, and I believe he required the county, too. He made one
little concession in favor of New York: you could say “New York City,”
 and stop there; but if you left off the “city,” you must add “N. Y.” to
your “New York.” Why, it threw the business of the whole country into
chaos and brought commerce almost to a stand-still. Now think of that!
When that man goes to--to--well, wherever he is going to--we shan’t want
the microscopic details of his address. I guess we can find him.

Well, as I was saying, I believe that this whole paltry and ridiculous
swindle is a pure creation of one of those cabbages that used to be at
the head of one of those Retreats down there--Departments, you know--and
that you will find it so, if you will look into it. And moreover--but
land, I reckon we are both tired by this time.

                              Truly Yours,
                                             MARK TWAIN.


We have seen in the preceding chapter how unknown aspirants in one field
or another were always seeking to benefit by Mark Twain’s reputation.
Once he remarked, “The symbol of the human race ought to be an ax; every
human being has one concealed about him somewhere.” He declared when
a stranger called on him, or wrote to him, in nine cases out of ten he
could distinguish the gleam of the ax almost immediately. The following
letter is closely related to those of the foregoing chapter, only that
this one was mailed--not once, but many times, in some form adapted to
the specific applicant. It does not matter to whom it was originally
written, the name would not be recognized.


To Mrs. T. Concerning unearned credentials, etc.

                                                  HARTFORD, 1887.

MY DEAR MADAM,--It is an idea which many people have had, but it is of
no value. I have seen it tried out many and many a time. I have seen
a lady lecturer urged and urged upon the public in a lavishly
complimentary document signed by Longfellow, Whittier, Holmes and some
others of supreme celebrity, but--there was nothing in her and she
failed. If there had been any great merit in her she never would have
needed those men’s help and (at her rather mature age,) would never have
consented to ask for it.

There is an unwritten law about human successes, and your sister must
bow to that law, she must submit to its requirements. In brief this law

     1.  No occupation without an apprenticeship.

     2.  No pay to the apprentice.

This law stands right in the way of the subaltern who wants to be a
General before he has smelt powder; and it stands (and should stand) in
everybody’s way who applies for pay or position before he has served
his apprenticeship and proved himself. Your sister’s course is perfectly
plain. Let her enclose this letter to Maj. J. B. Pond, and offer to
lecture a year for $10 a week and her expenses, the contract to
be annullable by him at any time, after a month’s notice, but not
annullable by her at all. The second year, he to have her services, if
he wants them, at a trifle under the best price offered her by anybody

She can learn her trade in those two years, and then be entitled to
remuneration--but she can not learn it in any less time than that,
unless she is a human miracle.

Try it, and do not be afraid. It is the fair and right thing. If she
wins, she will win squarely and righteously, and never have to blush.

                                   Truly yours,
                                             S. L. CLEMENS.

     Howells wrote, in February, offering to get a publisher to take the
     Library of Humor off Mark Twain’s hands.  Howells had been paid
     twenty-six hundred dollars for the work on it, and his conscience
     hurt him when he reflected that the book might never be used.  In
     this letter he also refers to one of the disastrous inventions in
     which Clemens had invested--a method of casting brass dies for
     stamping book-covers and wall-paper.  Howells’s purpose was to
     introduce something of the matter into his next story.  Mark Twain’s
     reply gives us a light on this particular invention.

                                             HARTFORD, Feb. 15, ‘87.

DEAR HOWELLS,--I was in New York five days ago, and Webster mentioned
the Library, and proposed to publish it a year or a year and half hence.
I have written him your proposition to-day. (The Library is part of the
property of the C. L. W. & Co. firm.)

I don’t remember what that technical phrase was, but I think you will
find it in any Cyclopedia under the head of “Brass.” The thing I best
remember is, that the self-styled “inventor” had a very ingenious way
of keeping me from seeing him apply his invention: the first appointment
was spoiled by his burning down the man’s shop in which it was to be
done, the night before; the second was spoiled by his burning down his
own shop the night before. He unquestionably did both of these things.
He really had no invention; the whole project was a blackmailing
swindle, and cost me several thousand dollars.

The slip you sent me from the May “Study” has delighted Mrs. Clemens and
me to the marrow. To think that thing might be possible to many; but to
be brave enough to say it is possible to you only, I certainly
believe. The longer I live the clearer I perceive how unmatchable, how
unapproachable, a compliment one pays when he says of a man “he has the
courage (to utter) his convictions.” Haven’t you had reviewers talk Alps
to you, and then print potato hills?

I haven’t as good an opinion of my work as you hold of it, but I’ve
always done what I could to secure and enlarge my good opinion of it.
I’ve always said to myself, “Everybody reads it and that’s something--it
surely isn’t pernicious, or the most acceptable people would get pretty
tired of it.” And when a critic said by implication that it wasn’t
high and fine, through the remark “High and fine literature is wine” I
retorted (confidentially, to myself,) “yes, high and fine literature is
wine, and mine is only water; but everybody likes water.”
You didn’t tell me to return that proof-slip, so I have pasted it into
my private scrap-book. None will see it there. With a thousand thanks.

                              Ys Ever

     Our next letter is an unmailed answer, but it does not belong with
     the others, having been withheld for reasons of quite a different
     sort.  Jeanette Gilder, then of the Critic, was one of Mark Twain’s
     valued friends.  In the comment which he made, when it was shown to
     him twenty-two years later, he tells us why he thinks this letter
     was not sent.  The name, “Rest-and-be-Thankful,” was the official
     title given to the summer place at Elmira, but it was more often
     known as “Quarry.”


To Jeannette Gilder (not mailed):

                                                  HARTFORD, May 14, ‘87.

MY DEAR MISS GILDER,--We shall spend the summer at the same old
place-the remote farm called “Rest-and-be-Thankful,” on top of the hills
three miles from Elmira, N. Y. Your other question is harder to answer.
It is my habit to keep four or five books in process of erection all the
time, and every summer add a few courses of bricks to two or three of
them; but I cannot forecast which of the two or three it is going to be.
It takes seven years to complete a book by this method, but still it is
a good method: gives the public a rest. I have been accused of “rushing
into print” prematurely, moved thereto by greediness for money; but in
truth I have never done that. Do you care for trifles of information?
(Well, then, “Tom Sawyer” and “The Prince and the Pauper” were each
on the stocks two or three years, and “Old Times on the Mississippi”
 eight.) One of my unfinished books has been on the stocks sixteen years;
another seventeen. This latter book could have been finished in a day,
at any time during the past five years. But as in the first of these two
narratives all the action takes place in Noah’s ark, and as in the other
the action takes place in heaven, there seemed to be no hurry, and so I
have not hurried. Tales of stirring adventure in those localities do
not need to be rushed to publication lest they get stale by waiting. In
twenty-one years, with all my time at my free disposal I have written
and completed only eleven books, whereas with half the labor that
a journalist does I could have written sixty in that time. I do not
greatly mind being accused of a proclivity for rushing into print, but
at the same time I don’t believe that the charge is really well founded.
Suppose I did write eleven books, have you nothing to be grateful for?
Go to---remember the forty-nine which I didn’t write.

                              Truly Yours
                                        S. L. CLEMENS.

                  Notes (added twenty-two years later):

Stormfield, April 30, 1909. It seems the letter was not sent. I probably
feared she might print it, and I couldn’t find a way to say so without
running a risk of hurting her. No one would hurt Jeannette Gilder
purposely, and no one would want to run the risk of doing it
unintentionally. She is my neighbor, six miles away, now, and I must ask
her about this ancient letter.

I note with pride and pleasure that I told no untruths in my unsent
answer. I still have the habit of keeping unfinished books lying around
years and years, waiting. I have four or five novels on hand at present
in a half-finished condition, and it is more than three years since I
have looked at any of them. I have no intention of finishing them. I
could complete all of them in less than a year, if the impulse should
come powerfully upon me: Long, long ago money-necessity furnished that
impulse once, (“Following the Equator”), but mere desire for money has
never furnished it, so far as I remember. Not even money-necessity was
able to overcome me on a couple of occasions when perhaps I ought to
have allowed it to succeed. While I was a bankrupt and in debt two
offers were made me for weekly literary contributions to continue during
a year, and they would have made a debtless man of me, but I declined
them, with my wife’s full approval, for I had known of no instance where
a man had pumped himself out once a week and failed to run “emptyings”
 before the year was finished.

As to that “Noah’s Ark” book, I began it in Edinburgh in 1873;--[This is
not quite correct. The “Noah’s Ark” book was begun in Buffalo in
1870.] I don’t know where the manuscript is now. It was a Diary, which
professed to be the work of Shem, but wasn’t. I began it again several
months ago, but only for recreation; I hadn’t any intention of carrying
it to a finish--or even to the end of the first chapter, in fact.

As to the book whose action “takes place in Heaven.” That was a
small thing, (“Captain Stormfield’s Visit to Heaven.”) It lay in my
pigeon-holes 40 years, then I took it out and printed it in Harper’s
Monthly last year.

                         S. L. C.

In the next letter we get a pretty and peaceful picture of
“Rest-and-be-Thankful.” These were Mark Twain’s balmy days. The
financial drain of the type-machine was heavy but not yet exhausting,
and the prospect of vast returns from it seemed to grow brighter
each day. His publishing business, though less profitable, was still
prosperous, his family life was ideal. How gratefully, then, he could
enter into the peace of that “perfect day.”


To Mrs. Orion Clemens, in Keokuk, Ia.:

                                   ON THE HILL NEAR ELMIRA, July 10, ‘87.

DEAR MOLLIE,--This is a superb Sunday for weather--very cloudy, and the
thermometer as low as 65. The city in the valley is purple with shade,
as seen from up here at the study. The Cranes are reading and loafing
in the canvas-curtained summer-house 50 yards away on a higher (the
highest) point; the cats are loafing over at “Ellerslie” which is the
children’s estate and dwellinghouse in their own private grounds (by
deed from Susie Crane) a hundred yards from the study, amongst the
clover and young oaks and willows. Livy is down at the house, but
I shall now go and bring her up to the Cranes to help us occupy the
lounges and hammocks--whence a great panorama of distant hill and
valley and city is seeable. The children have gone on a lark through the
neighboring hills and woods. It is a perfect day indeed.

                         With love to you all.

Two days after this letter was written we get a hint of what was the
beginning of business trouble--that is to say, of the failing health of
Charles L. Webster. Webster was ambitious, nervous, and not robust. He
had overworked and was paying the penalty. His trouble was neurasthenia,
and he was presently obliged to retire altogether from the business. The
“Sam and Mary” mentioned were Samuel Moffet and his wife.


To Mrs. Pamela Moffett, in Fredonia, N. Y.

                                                  ELMIRA, July 12, ‘87

MY DEAR SISTER,--I had no idea that Charley’s case was so serious. I
knew it was bad, and persistent, but I was not aware of the full size of
the matter.

I have just been writing to a friend in Hartford’ who treated what
I imagine was a similar case surgically last fall, and produced a
permanent cure. If this is a like case, Charley must go to him.

If relief fails there, he must take the required rest, whether the
business can stand it or not.

It is most pleasant to hear such prosperous accounts of Sam and Mary, I
do not see how Sam could well be more advantageously fixed. He can grow
up with that paper, and achieve a successful life.

It is not all holiday here with Susie and Clara this time. They have to
put in some little time every day on their studies. Jean thinks she is
studying too, but I don’t know what it is unless it is the horses;
she spends the day under their heels in the stables--and that is but a
continuation of her Hartford system of culture.

With love from us all to you all.


Mark Twain had a few books that he read regularly every year or two.
Among these were ‘Pepys’s Diary’, Suetonius’s ‘Lives of the Twelve
Caesars’, and Thomas Carlyle’s ‘French Revolution’. He had a passion for
history, biography, and personal memoirs of any sort. In his early life
he had cared very little for poetry, but along in the middle eighties
he somehow acquired a taste for Browning and became absorbed in it. A
Browning club assembled as often as once a week at the Clemens home in
Hartford to listen to his readings of the master. He was an impressive
reader, and he carefully prepared himself for these occasions,
indicating by graduated underscorings, the exact values he wished to
give to words and phrases. Those were memorable gatherings, and they
must have continued through at least two winters. It is one of the
puzzling phases of Mark Twain’s character that, notwithstanding his
passion for direct and lucid expression, he should have found pleasure
in the poems of Robert Browning.


To W. D. Howells, in Boston:

                                             ELMIRA, Aug.  22, ‘87.

MY DEAR HOWELLS,--How stunning are the changes which age makes in a man
while he sleeps. When I finished Carlyle’s French Revolution in 1871,
I was a Girondin; every time I have read it since, I have read it
differently being influenced and changed, little by little, by life and
environment (and Taine and St. Simon): and now I lay the book down
once more, and recognize that I am a Sansculotte!--And not a pale,
characterless Sansculotte, but a Marat. Carlyle teaches no such gospel
so the change is in me--in my vision of the evidences.

People pretend that the Bible means the same to them at 50 that it did
at all former milestones in their journey. I wonder how they can lie so.
It comes of practice, no doubt. They would not say that of Dickens’s or
Scott’s books. Nothing remains the same. When a man goes back to look at
the house of his childhood, it has always shrunk: there is no instance
of such a house being as big as the picture in memory and imagination
call for. Shrunk how? Why, to its correct dimensions: the house hasn’t
altered; this is the first time it has been in focus.

Well, that’s loss. To have house and Bible shrink so, under the
disillusioning corrected angle, is loss-for a moment. But there are
compensations. You tilt the tube skyward and bring planets and comets
and corona flames a hundred and fifty thousand miles high into the
field. Which I see you have done, and found Tolstoi. I haven’t got him
in focus yet, but I’ve got Browning....

                                   Ys Ever

     Mention has been made already of Mark Twain’s tendency to
     absentmindedness.  He was always forgetting engagements, or getting
     them wrong.  Once he hurried to an afternoon party, and finding the
     mistress of the house alone, sat down and talked to her comfortably
     for an hour or two, not remembering his errand at all.  It was only
     when he reached home that he learned that the party had taken place
     the week before.  It was always dangerous for him to make
     engagements, and he never seemed to profit by sorrowful experience.
     We, however, may profit now by one of his amusing apologies.


To Mrs. Grover Cleveland, in Washington:

                                             HARTFORD, Nov.  6, 1887.

MY DEAR MADAM,--I do not know how it is in the White House, but in this
house of ours whenever the minor half of the administration tries to run
itself without the help of the major half it gets aground. Last night
when I was offered the opportunity to assist you in the throwing open
the Warner brothers superb benefaction in Bridgeport to those fortunate
women, I naturally appreciated the honor done me, and promptly seized my
chance. I had an engagement, but the circumstances washed it out of
my mind. If I had only laid the matter before the major half of the
administration on the spot, there would have been no blunder; but
I never thought of that. So when I did lay it before her, later, I
realized once more that it will not do for the literary fraction of a
combination to try to manage affairs which properly belong in the office
of the business bulk of it. I suppose the President often acts just like
that: goes and makes an impossible promise, and you never find it out
until it is next to impossible to break it up and set things
straight again. Well, that is just our way, exactly-one half of the
administration always busy getting the family into trouble, and the
other half busy getting it out again. And so we do seem to be all pretty
much alike, after all. The fact is, I had forgotten that we were to have
a dinner party on that Bridgeport date--I thought it was the next day:
which is a good deal of an improvement for me, because I am more used
to being behind a day or two than ahead. But that is just the difference
between one end of this kind of an administration and the other end of
it, as you have noticed, yourself--the other end does not forget these
things. Just so with a funeral; if it is the man’s funeral, he is most
always there, of course--but that is no credit to him, he wouldn’t be
there if you depended on him to remember about it; whereas, if on the
other hand--but I seem to have got off from my line of argument somehow;
never mind about the funeral. Of course I am not meaning to say
anything against funerals--that is, as occasions--mere occasions--for as
diversions I don’t think they amount to much But as I was saying--if you
are not busy I will look back and see what it was I was saying.

I don’t seem to find the place; but anyway she was as sorry as ever
anybody could be that I could not go to Bridgeport, but there was
no help for it. And I, I have been not only sorry but very sincerely
ashamed of having made an engagement to go without first making sure
that I could keep it, and I do not know how to apologize enough for my
heedless breach of good manners.

                    With the sincerest respect,
                                        S. L. CLEMENS.

     Samuel Clemens was one of the very few authors to copyright a book
     in England before the enactment of the international copyright law.
     As early as 1872 he copyrighted ‘Roughing It’ in England, and
     piratical publishers there respected his rights.  Finally, in 1887,
     the inland revenue office assessed him with income tax, which he
     very willingly paid, instructing his London publishers, Chatto &
     Windus, to pay on the full amount he had received from them.  But
     when the receipt for his taxes came it was nearly a yard square with
     due postage of considerable amount.  Then he wrote:


To Mr. Chatto, of Chatto & Windus, in London:

                                             HARTFORD, Dec. 5, ‘87.

MY DEAR CHATTO,--Look here, I don’t mind paying the tax, but don’t you
let the Inland Revenue Office send me any more receipts for it, for the
postage is something perfectly demoralizing. If they feel obliged to
print a receipt on a horse-blanket, why don’t they hire a ship and send
it over at their own expense?

Wasn’t it good that they caught me out with an old book instead of a new
one? The tax on a new book would bankrupt a body. It was my purpose to
go to England next May and stay the rest of the year, but I’ve found
that tax office out just in time. My new book would issue in March,
and they would tax the sale in both countries. Come, we must get up a
compromise somehow. You go and work in on the good side of those revenue
people and get them to take the profits and give me the tax. Then I will
come over and we will divide the swag and have a good time.

I wish you to thank Mr. Christmas for me; but we won’t resist. The
country that allows me copyright has a right to tax me.

                              Sincerely Yours
                                        S. L. CLEMENS.

     Another English tax assessment came that year, based on the report
     that it was understood that he was going to become an English
     resident, and had leased Buckenham Hall, Norwich, for a year.
     Clemens wrote his publishers: “I will explain that all that about
     Buckenham Hall was an English newspaper’s mistake.  I was not in
     England, and if I had been I wouldn’t have been at Buckenham Hall,
     anyway, but at Buckingham Palace, or I would have endeavored to find
     out the reason why.”  Clemens made literature out of this tax
     experience.  He wrote an open letter to Her Majesty Queen Victoria.
     Such a letter has no place in this collection.  It was published in
     the “Drawer” of Harper’s Magazine, December, 1887, and is now
     included in the uniform edition of his works under the title of,
     “A Petition to the Queen of England.”
     From the following letter, written at the end of the year, we gather
     that the type-setter costs were beginning to make a difference in
     the Clemens economies.


To Mrs. Moffett, in Fredonia:

                                             HARTFORD, Dec. 18, ‘87.

DEAR PAMELA,--will you take this $15 and buy some candy or some other
trifle for yourself and Sam and his wife to remember that we remember
you, by?

If we weren’t a little crowded this year by the typesetter, I’d send a
check large enough to buy a family Bible or some other useful thing like
that. However we go on and on, but the type-setter goes on forever--at
$3,000 a month; which is much more satisfactory than was the case the
first seventeen months, when the bill only averaged $2,000, and promised
to take a thousand years. We’ll be through, now, in 3 or 4 months, I
reckon, and then the strain will let up and we can breathe freely once
more, whether success ensues or failure.

Even with a type-setter on hand we ought not to be in the least
scrimped--but it would take a long letter to explain why and who is to

All the family send love to all of you and best Christmas wishes for
your prosperity.



     Mark Twain received his first college degree when he was made Master
     of Arts by Yale, in June, 1888.  Editor of the Courant, Charles H.
     Clarke, was selected to notify him of his new title.  Clarke was an
     old friend to whom Clemens could write familiarly.


To Charles H. Clarke, in Hartford:

                                                  ELMIRA, July 2, ‘88.

MY DEAR CHARLES,--Thanks for your thanks, and for your initiation
intentions. I shall be ready for you. I feel mighty proud of that
degree; in fact, I could squeeze the truth a little closer and say vain
of it. And why shouldn’t I be?--I am the only literary animal of my
particular subspecies who has ever been given a degree by any College in
any age of the world, as far as I know.

                                   Sincerely Yours
                                             S. L. Clemens M. A.

                Reply: Charles H. Clarke to S. L Clemens:

MY DEAR FRIEND, You are “the only literary animal of your particular
subspecies” in existence and you’ve no cause for humility in the fact.
Yale has done herself at least as much credit as she has done you, and
“Don’t you forget it.”
                              C. H. C.

     With the exception of his brief return to the river in 1882.  Mark
     Twain had been twenty-seven years away from pilots and piloting.
     Nevertheless, he always kept a tender place in his heart for the old
     times and for old river comrades.  Major “Jack” Downing had been a
     Mississippi pilot of early days, but had long since retired from the
     river to a comfortable life ashore, in an Ohio town.  Clemens had
     not heard from him for years when a letter came which invited the
     following answer.


To Major “Jack” Downing, in Middleport Ohio:

                                        ELMIRA, N. Y.[no month] 1888.

DEAR MAJOR,--And has it come to this that the dead rise up and speak?
For I supposed that you were dead, it has been so long since I heard
your name.

And how young you’ve grown! I was a mere boy when I knew you on the
river, where you had been piloting for 35 years, and now you are only a
year and a half older than I am! I mean to go to Hot Springs myself and
get 30 or 40 years knocked off my age. It’s manifestly the place that
Ponce de Leon was striking for, but the poor fellow lost the trail.

Possibly I may see you, for I shall be in St. Louis a day or two in
November. I propose to go down the river and “note the changes” once
more before I make the long crossing, and perhaps you can come there.
Will you? I want to see all the boys that are left alive.

And so Grant Marsh, too, is flourishing yet? A mighty good fellow, and
smart too. When we were taking that wood flat down to the Chambers,
which was aground, I soon saw that I was a perfect lubber at piloting
such a thing. I saw that I could never hit the Chambers with it, so
I resigned in Marsh’s favor, and he accomplished the task to my
admiration. We should all have gone to the mischief if I had remained in
authority. I always had good judgement, more judgement than talent, in

No; the nom de plume did not originate in that way. Capt. Sellers used
the signature, “Mark Twain,” himself, when he used to write up the
antiquities in the way of river reminiscences for the New Orleans
Picayune. He hated me for burlesquing them in an article in the True
Delta; so four years later when he died, I robbed the corpse--that is
I confiscated the nom de plume. I have published this vital fact 3,000
times now. But no matter, it is good practice; it is about the only fact
that I can tell the same way every time. Very glad, indeed, to hear from
you Major, and shall be gladder still to see you in November.

                              Truly yours,
                                        S. L. CLEMENS.

     He did not make the journey down the river planned for that year.
     He had always hoped to make another steamboat trip with Bixby, but
     one thing and another interfered and he did not go again.

     Authors were always sending their books to Mark Twain to read, and
     no busy man was ever more kindly disposed toward such offerings,
     more generously considerate of the senders.  Louis Pendleton was a
     young unknown writer in 1888, but Clemens took time to read his
     story carefully, and to write to him about it a letter that cost
     precious time, thought, and effort.  It must have rejoiced the young
     man’s heart to receive a letter like that, from one whom all young
     authors held supreme.


To Louis Pendleton, in Georgia:

                                        ELMIRA, N. Y., Aug. 4, ‘88.

MY DEAR SIR,--I found your letter an hour ago among some others which
had lain forgotten a couple of weeks, and I at once stole time enough to
read Ariadne. Stole is the right word, for the summer “Vacation” is
the only chance I get for work; so, no minute subtracted from work is
borrowed, it is stolen. But this time I do not repent. As a rule,
people don’t send me books which I can thank them for, and so I
say nothing--which looks uncourteous. But I thank you. Ariadne is a
beautiful and satisfying story; and true, too--which is the best part of
a story; or indeed of any other thing. Even liars have to admit that,
if they are intelligent liars; I mean in their private [the word
conscientious written but erased] intervals. (I struck that word out
because a man’s private thought can never be a lie; what he thinks, is
to him the truth, always; what he speaks--but these be platitudes.)

If you want me to pick some flaws--very well--but I do it unwillingly.
I notice one thing--which one may notice also in my books, and in all
books whether written by man or God: trifling carelessness of statement
or Expression. If I think that you meant that she took the lizard from
the water which she had drawn from the well, it is evidence--it is
almost proof--that your words were not as clear as they should have
been. True, it is only a trifling thing; but so is mist on a mirror. I
would have hung the pail on Ariadne’s arm. You did not deceive me when
you said that she carried it under her arm, for I knew she didn’t; still
it was not your right to mar my enjoyment of the graceful picture. If
the pail had been a portfolio, I wouldn’t be making these remarks. The
engraver of a fine picture revises, and revises, and revises--and then
revises, and revises, and revises; and then repeats. And always
the charm of that picture grows, under his hand. It was good enough
before--told its story, and was beautiful. True: and a lovely girl is
lovely, with freckles; but she isn’t at her level best with them.

This is not hypercriticism; you have had training enough to know that.

So much concerning exactness of statement. In that other not-small
matter--selection of the exact single word--you are hard to catch.
Still, I should hold that Mrs. Walker considered that there was no
occasion for concealment; that “motive” implied a deeper mental search
than she expended on the matter; that it doesn’t reflect the attitude of
her mind with precision. Is this hypercriticism? I shan’t dispute it.
I only say, that if Mrs. Walker didn’t go so far as to have a motive,
I had to suggest that when a word is so near the right one that a body
can’t quite tell whether it is or isn’t, it’s good politics to strike it
out and go for the Thesaurus. That’s all. Motive may stand; but you have
allowed a snake to scream, and I will not concede that that was the best

I do not apologize for saying these things, for they are not said in the
speck-hunting spirit, but in the spirit of want-to-help-if-I-can. They
would be useful to me if said to me once a month, they may be useful to
you, said once.

I save the other stories for my real vacation--which is nine months
long, to my sorrow. I thank you again.

                              Truly Yours
                                             S. L. CLEMENS.

     In the next letter we get a sidelight on the type-setting machine,
     the Frankenstein monster that was draining their substance and
     holding out false hopes of relief and golden return.  The program
     here outlined was one that would continue for several years yet,
     with the end always in sight, but never quite attained.


To Orion Clemens, in Keokuk, Ia.:

                                                       Oct. 3, ‘88.


Saturday 29th, by a closely calculated estimate, there were 85 days’ 
work to do on the machine.

We can use 4 men, but not constantly. If they could work constantly it
would complete the machine in 21 days, of course. They will all be
on hand and under wages, and each will get in all the work there is
opportunity for, but by how much they can reduce the 85 days toward the
21 days, nobody can tell.


To-day I pay Pratt & Whitney $10,000. This squares back indebtedness and
everything to date. They began about May or April or March 1886--along
there somewhere, and have always kept from a dozen to two dozen
master-hands on the machine.

That outgo is done; 4 men for a month or two will close up that leak
and caulk it. Work on the patents is also kind of drawing toward a

Love to you both. All well here.

And give our love to Ma if she can get the idea.


     Mark Twain that year was working pretty steadily on ‘The Yankee at
     King Arthur’s Court’, a book which he had begun two years before.
     He had published nothing since the Huck Finn story, and his company
     was badly in need of a new book by an author of distinction.  Also
     it was highly desirable to earn money for himself; wherefore he set
     to work to finish the Yankee story.  He had worked pretty steadily
     that summer in his Elmira study, but on his return to Hartford found
     a good deal of confusion in the house, so went over to Twichell’s,
     where carpenter work was in progress.  He seems to have worked there
     successfully, though what improvement of conditions he found in that
     numerous, lively household, over those at home it would be difficult
     to say.


To Theodore W. Crane, at Quarry Farm, Elmira, N. Y.

                                                  Friday, Oct.,5, ‘88.

DEAR THEO,--I am here in Twichell’s house at work, with the noise of the
children and an army of carpenters to help. Of course they don’t help,
but neither do they hinder. It’s like a boiler-factory for racket, and
in nailing a wooden ceiling onto the room under me the hammering tickles
my feet amazingly sometimes, and jars my table a good deal; but I never
am conscious of the racket at all, and I move my feet into position of
relief without knowing when I do it. I began here Monday morning, and
have done eighty pages since. I was so tired last night that I thought I
would lie abed and rest, to-day; but I couldn’t resist. I mean to try to
knock off tomorrow, but it’s doubtful if I do. I want to finish the day
the machine finishes, and a week ago the closest calculations for that
indicated Oct. 22--but experience teaches me that their calculations
will miss fire, as usual.

The other day the children were projecting a purchase, Livy and I to
furnish the money--a dollar and a half. Jean discouraged the idea. She
said: “We haven’t got any money. Children, if you would think, you would
remember the machine isn’t done.”
It’s billiards to-night. I wish you were here.

                    With love to you both
                                             S. L. C.

P. S. I got it all wrong. It wasn’t the children, it was Marie. She
wanted a box of blacking, for the children’s shoes. Jean reproved
her--and said:

“Why, Marie, you mustn’t ask for things now. The machine isn’t done.”
                                             S. L. C.

     The letter that follows is to another of his old pilot friends, one
     who was also a schoolmate, Will Bowen, of Hannibal.  There is today
     no means of knowing the occasion upon which this letter was written,
     but it does not matter; it is the letter itself that is of chief


To Will Bowen, in Hannibal, Mo.:

                                             HARTFORD, Nov 4, ‘88.

DEAR WILL,--I received your letter yesterday evening, just as I was
starting out of town to attend a wedding, and so my mind was privately
busy, all the evening, in the midst of the maelstrom of chat and chaff
and laughter, with the sort of reflections which create themselves,
examine themselves, and continue themselves, unaffected by
surroundings--unaffected, that is understood, by the surroundings, but
not uninfluenced by them. Here was the near presence of the two supreme
events of life: marriage, which is the beginning of life, and death
which is the end of it. I found myself seeking chances to shirk into
corners where I might think, undisturbed; and the most I got out of my
thought, was this: both marriage and death ought to be welcome: the one
promises happiness, doubtless the other assures it. A long procession of
people filed through my mind--people whom you and I knew so many years
ago--so many centuries ago, it seems like-and these ancient dead marched
to the soft marriage music of a band concealed in some remote room of
the house; and the contented music and the dreaming shades seemed in
right accord with each other, and fitting. Nobody else knew that a
procession of the dead was passing though this noisy swarm of the
living, but there it was, and to me there was nothing uncanny about it;
Rio, they were welcome faces to me. I would have liked to bring up
every creature we knew in those days--even the dumb animals--it would be
bathing in the fabled Fountain of Youth.

We all feel your deep trouble with you; and we would hope, if we might,
but your words deny us that privilege. To die one’s self is a thing
that must be easy, and of light consequence, but to lose a part of one’s
self--well, we know how deep that pang goes, we who have suffered that
disaster, received that wound which cannot heal.

                              Sincerely your friend
                                             S. L. CLEMENS.

     His next is of quite a different nature.  Evidently the typesetting
     conditions had alarmed Orion, and he was undertaking some economies
     with a view of retrenchment.  Orion was always reducing economy to
     science.  Once, at an earlier date, he recorded that he had figured
     his personal living expenses down to sixty cents a week, but
     inasmuch as he was then, by his own confession, unable to earn the
     sixty cents, this particular economy was wasted.  Orion was a trial,
     certainly, and the explosion that follows was not without excuse.
     Furthermore, it was not as bad as it sounds.  Mark Twain’s rages
     always had an element of humor in them, a fact which no one more
     than Orion himself would appreciate.  He preserved this letter,
     quietly noting on the envelope, “Letter from Sam, about ma’s nurse.”

                Letter to Orion Clemens, in Keokuk, Iowa:

                                                       NOV. 29, ‘88.

Jesus Christ!--It is perilous to write such a man. You can go crazy on
less material than anybody that ever lived. What in hell has produced
all these maniacal imaginings? You told me you had hired an attendant
for ma. Now hire one instantly, and stop this nonsense of wearing
Mollie and yourself out trying to do that nursing yourselves. Hire the
attendant, and tell me her cost so that I can instruct Webster & Co. to
add it every month to what they already send. Don’t fool away any more
time about this. And don’t write me any more damned rot about “storms,”
 and inability to pay trivial sums of money and--and--hell and damnation!
You see I’ve read only the first page of your letter; I wouldn’t read
the rest for a million dollars.


P. S. Don’t imagine that I have lost my temper, because I swear. I swear
all day, but I do not lose my temper. And don’t imagine that I am on my
way to the poorhouse, for I am not; or that I am uneasy, for I am not;
or that I am uncomfortable or unhappy--for I never am. I don’t know what
it is to be unhappy or uneasy; and I am not going to try to learn how,
at this late day.


     Few men were ever interviewed oftener than Mark Twain, yet he never
     welcomed interviewers and was seldom satisfied with them.  “What I
     say in an interview loses it character in print,” he often remarked,
     “all its life and personality.  The reporter realizes this himself,
     and tries to improve upon me, but he doesn’t help matters any.”
     Edward W. Bok, before he became editor of the Ladies Home Journal,
     was conducting a weekly syndicate column under the title of “Bok’s
     Literary Leaves.”  It usually consisted of news and gossip of
     writers, comment, etc., literary odds and ends, and occasional
     interviews with distinguished authors.  He went up to Hartford one
     day to interview Mark Twain.  The result seemed satisfactory to Bok,
     but wishing to be certain that it would be satisfactory to Clemens,
     he sent him a copy for approval.  The interview was not returned;
     in the place of it came a letter-not altogether disappointing, as
     the reader may believe.


To Edward W. Bok, in New York:

MY DEAR MR. BOK,--No, no. It is like most interviews, pure twaddle and

For several quite plain and simple reasons, an “interview” must, as a
rule, be an absurdity, and chiefly for this reason--It is an attempt to
use a boat on land or a wagon on water, to speak figuratively. Spoken
speech is one thing, written speech is quite another. Print is the
proper vehicle for the latter, but it isn’t for the former. The moment
“talk” is put into print you recognize that it is not what it was when
you heard it; you perceive that an immense something has disappeared
from it. That is its soul. You have nothing but a dead carcass left
on your hands. Color, play of feature, the varying modulations of the
voice, the laugh, the smile, the informing inflections, everything that
gave that body warmth, grace, friendliness and charm and commended it to
your affections--or, at least, to your tolerance--is gone and nothing is
left but a pallid, stiff and repulsive cadaver.

Such is “talk” almost invariably, as you see it lying in state in an
“interview”. The interviewer seldom tries to tell one how a thing was
said; he merely puts in the naked remark and stops there. When one
writes for print his methods are very different. He follows forms which
have but little resemblance to conversation, but they make the reader
understand what the writer is trying to convey. And when the writer is
making a story and finds it necessary to report some of the talk of his
characters observe how cautiously and anxiously he goes at that risky
and difficult thing. “If he had dared to say that thing in my presence,”
 said Alfred, “taking a mock heroic attitude, and casting an arch glance
upon the company, blood would have flowed.”
“If he had dared to say that thing in my presence,” said Hawkwood,
with that in his eye which caused more than one heart in that guilty
assemblage to quake, “blood would have flowed.”
“If he had dared to say that thing in my presence,” said the paltry
blusterer, with valor on his tongue and pallor on his lips, “blood would
have flowed.”
So painfully aware is the novelist that naked talk in print conveys no
meaning that he loads, and often overloads, almost every utterance
of his characters with explanations and interpretations. It is a loud
confession that print is a poor vehicle for “talk”; it is a recognition
that uninterpreted talk in print would result in confusion to the
reader, not instruction.

Now, in your interview, you have certainly been most accurate; you have
set down the sentences I uttered as I said them. But you have not a word
of explanation; what my manner was at several points is not indicated.
Therefore, no reader can possibly know where I was in earnest and
where I was joking; or whether I was joking altogether or in earnest
altogether. Such a report of a conversation has no value. It can
convey many meanings to the reader, but never the right one. To add
interpretations which would convey the right meaning is a something
which would require--what? An art so high and fine and difficult that no
possessor of it would ever be allowed to waste it on interviews.

No; spare the reader, and spare me; leave the whole interview out; it
is rubbish. I wouldn’t talk in my sleep if I couldn’t talk better than

If you wish to print anything print this letter; it may have some
value, for it may explain to a reader here and there why it is that in
interviews, as a rule, men seem to talk like anybody but themselves.

                         Very sincerely yours,
                                             MARK TWAIN.


In January, 1889, Clemens believed, after his long seven years of
waiting, fruition had come in the matter of the type machine. Paige,
the inventor, seemed at last to have given it its finishing touches.
The mechanical marvel that had cost so much time, mental stress, and
a fortune in money, stood complete, responsive to the human will and
touch--the latest, and one of the greatest, wonders of the world. To
George Standring, a London printer and publisher, Clemens wrote: “The
machine is finished!” and added, “This is by far the most marvelous
invention ever contrived by man. And it is not a thing of rags and
patches; it is made of massive steel, and will last a century.”
In his fever of enthusiasm on that day when he had actually seen it in
operation, he wrote a number of exuberant letters. They were more or
less duplicates, but as the one to his brother is of fuller detail and
more intimate than the others, it has been selected for preservation


To Orion Clemens, in Keokuk:

                                             HARTFORD, Jan. 5, ‘89.

DEAR ORION,--At 12.20 this afternoon a line of movable types was
spaced and justified by machinery, for the first time in
the history of the world! And I was there to see. It was done
automatically--instantly--perfectly. This is indeed the first line of
movable types that ever was perfectly spaced and perfectly justified on
this earth.

This was the last function that remained to be tested--and so by long
odds the most amazing and extraordinary invention ever born of the brain
of man stands completed and perfect. Livy is down stairs celebrating.

But it’s a cunning devil, is that machine!--and knows more than any man
that ever lived. You shall see. We made the test in this way. We set up
a lot of random letters in a stick--three-fourths of a line; then filled
out the line with quads representing 14 spaces, each space to be 35/1000
of an inch thick. Then we threw aside the quads and put the letters into
the machine and formed them into 15 two-letter words, leaving the words
separated by two-inch vacancies. Then we started up the machine slowly,
by hand, and fastened our eyes on the space-selecting pins. The first
pin-block projected its third pin as the first word came traveling along
the race-way; second block did the same; but the third block projected
its second pin!

“Oh, hell! stop the machine--something wrong--it’s going to set a
30/1000 space!”
General consternation. “A foreign substance has got into the spacing
plates.” This from the head mathematician.

“Yes, that is the trouble,” assented the foreman.

Paige examined. “No--look in, and you can see that there’s nothing of
the kind.” Further examination. “Now I know what it is--what it must be:
one of those plates projects and binds. It’s too bad--the first test is
a failure.” A pause. “Well, boys, no use to cry. Get to work--take the
machine down.--No--Hold on! don’t touch a thing! Go right ahead! We are
fools, the machine isn’t. The machine knows what it’s about. There is
a speck of dirt on one of those types, and the machine is putting in a
thinner space to allow for it!”
That was just it. The machine went right ahead, spaced the line,
justified it to a hair, and shoved it into the galley complete and
perfect! We took it out and examined it with a glass. You could not tell
by your eye that the third space was thinner than the others, but the
glass and the calipers showed the difference. Paige had always said
that the machine would measure invisible particles of dirt and allow for
them, but even he had forgotten that vast fact for the moment.

All the witnesses made written record of the immense historical
birth--the first justification of a line of movable type by
machinery--and also set down the hour and the minute. Nobody had
drank anything, and yet everybody seemed drunk. Well-dizzy, stupefied,

All the other wonderful inventions of the human brain sink pretty
nearly into commonplace contrasted with this awful mechanical miracle.
Telephones, telegraphs, locomotives, cotton gins, sewing machines,
Babbage calculators, jacquard looms, perfecting presses, Arkwright’s
frames--all mere toys, simplicities! The Paige Compositor marches alone
and far in the lead of human inventions.

In two or three weeks we shall work the stiffness out of her joints and
have her performing as smoothly and softly as human muscles, and then we
shall speak out the big secret and let the world come and gaze.

Return me this letter when you have read it.


     Judge of the elation which such a letter would produce in Keokuk!
     Yet it was no greater than that which existed in Hartford--for a

     Then further delays.  Before the machine got “the stiffness out of
     her joints” that “cunning devil” manifested a tendency to break the
     types, and Paige, who was never happier than when he was pulling
     things to pieces and making improvements, had the type-setter apart
     again and the day of complete triumph was postponed.

     There was sadness at the Elmira farm that spring.  Theodore Crane,
     who had long been in poor health, seemed to grow daily worse.  In
     February he had paid a visit to Hartford and saw the machine in
     operation, but by the end of May his condition was very serious.
     Remembering his keen sense of humor, Clemens reported to him
     cheering and amusing incidents.


To Mrs. Theodore Crane. in Elmira, N. Y.:

                                             HARTFORD, May 28, ‘89.

Susie dear, I want you to tell this to Theodore. You know how
absent-minded Twichell is, and how desolate his face is when he is
in that frame. At such times, he passes the word with a friend on the
street and is not aware of the meeting at all. Twice in a week, our
Clara had this latter experience with him within the past month. But
the second instance was too much for her, and she woke him up, in his
tracks, with a reproach. She said:

“Uncle Joe, why do you always look as if you were just going down into
the grave, when you meet a person on the street?”--and then went on
to reveal to him the funereal spectacle which he presented on such
occasions. Well, she has met Twichell three times since then, and would
swim the Connecticut to avoid meeting him the fourth. As soon as he
sights her, no matter how public the place nor how far off she is,
he makes a bound into the air, heaves arms and legs into all sorts
of frantic gestures of delight, and so comes prancing, skipping and
pirouetting for her like a drunken Indian entering heaven.

With a full invoice of love from us all to you and Theodore.

                                                  S. L. C.

     The reference in the next to the “closing sentence” in a letter
     written by Howells to Clemens about this time, refers to a
     heart-broken utterance of the former concerning his daughter
     Winnie, who had died some time before.  She had been a gentle
     talented girl, but never of robust health.  Her death had followed
     a long period of gradual decline.


To W. D. Howells, in Boston:

                                             HARTFORD, Judy 13, ‘89.

DEAR HOWELLS,--I came on from Elmira a day or two ago, where I left
a house of mourning. Mr. Crane died, after ten months of pain and two
whole days of dying, at the farm on the hill, the 3rd inst: A man who
had always hoped for a swift death. Mrs. Crane and Mrs. Clemens and the
children were in a gloom which brought back to me the days of nineteen
years ago, when Mr. Langdon died. It is heart-breaking to see Mrs.
Crane. Many a time, in the past ten days, the sight of her has reminded
me, with a pang, of the desolation which uttered itself in the closing
sentence of your last letter to me. I do see that there is an argument
against suicide: the grief of the worshipers left behind; the awful
famine in their hearts, these are too costly terms for the release.

I shall be here ten days yet, and all alone: nobody in the house but the
servants. Can’t Mrs. Howells spare you to me? Can’t you come and
stay with me? The house is cool and pleasant; your work will not be
interrupted; we will keep to ourselves and let the rest of the world do
the same; you can have your choice of three bedrooms, and you will find
the Children’s schoolroom (which was built for my study,) the perfection
of a retired and silent den for work. There isn’t a fly or a mosquito on
the estate. Come--say you will.

With kindest regards to Mrs. Howells, and Pilla and John,

                                   Yours Ever

Howells was more hopeful. He wrote: “I read something in a strange book,
The Physical Theory of Another Life, that consoles a little; namely, we
see and feel the power of Deity in such fullness that we ought to infer
the infinite justice and Goodness which we do not see or feel.” And a
few days later, he wrote: “I would rather see and talk with you than any
other man in the world outside my own blood.”
A Connecticut Yankee at King Arthur’s Court was brought to an end that
year and given to the artist and printer. Dan Beard was selected for the
drawings, and was given a free hand, as the next letter shows.


To Fred J. Hall, Manager Charles L. Webster & Co.:

[Charles L. Webster, owing to poor health, had by this time retired from
the firm.]

                                                  ELMIRA, July 20, ‘89.

DEAR MR. HALL,--Upon reflection--thus: tell Beard to obey his own
inspiration, and when he sees a picture in his mind put that picture on
paper, be it humorous or be it serious. I want his genius to be wholly
unhampered, I shan’t have fears as to the result. They will be better
pictures than if I mixed in and tried to give him points on his own

Send this note and he’ll understand.

                                             S. L. C.

     Clemens had made a good choice in selecting Beard for the
     illustrations.  He was well qualified for the work, and being of a
     socialistic turn of mind put his whole soul into it.  When the
     drawings were completed, Clemens wrote: “Hold me under permanent
     obligations.  What luck it was to find you!  There are hundreds of
     artists that could illustrate any other book of mine, but there was
     only one who could illustrate this one.  Yes, it was a fortunate
     hour that I went netting for lightning bugs and caught a meteor.
     Live forever!”
     Clemens, of course, was anxious for Howells to read The Yankee, and
     Mrs. Clemens particularly so.  Her eyes were giving her trouble that
     summer, so that she could not read the MS. for herself, and she had
     grave doubts as to some of its chapters.  It may be said here that
     the book to-day might have been better if Mrs. Clemens had been able
     to read it.  Howells was a peerless critic, but the revolutionary
     subject-matter of the book so delighted him that he was perhaps
     somewhat blinded to its literary defects.  However, this is
     premature.  Howells did not at once see the story.  He had promised
     to come to Hartford, but wrote that trivial matters had made his
     visit impossible.  From the next letter we get the situation at this
     time.  The “Mr. Church” mentioned was Frederick S. Church, the
     well-known artist.


To W. D. Howells, in Boston:

                                             ELMIRA, July 24, ‘89.

DEAR HOWELLS,--I, too, was as sorry as I could be; yes, and desperately
disappointed. I even did a heroic thing: shipped my book off to New York
lest I should forget hospitality and embitter your visit with it. Not
that I think you wouldn’t like to read it, for I think you would;
but not on a holiday that’s not the time. I see how you were
situated--another familiarity of Providence and wholly wanton
intrusion--and of course we could not help ourselves. Well, just
think of it: a while ago, while Providence’s attention was absorbed in
disordering some time-tables so as to break up a trip of mine to Mr.
Church’s on the Hudson, that Johnstown dam got loose. I swear I was
afraid to pray, for fear I should laugh. Well, I’m not going to despair;
we’ll manage a meet yet.

I expect to go to Hartford again in August and maybe remain till I have
to come back here and fetch the family. And, along there in August, some
time, you let on that you are going to Mexico, and I will let on that I
am going to Spitzbergen, and then under cover of this clever stratagem
we will glide from the trains at Worcester and have a time. I have
noticed that Providence is indifferent about Mexico and Spitzbergen.

                                   Ys Ever

     Possibly Mark Twain was not particularly anxious that Howells should
     see his MS., fearing that he might lay a ruthless hand on some of
     his more violent fulminations and wild fancies.  However this may
     be, further postponement was soon at an end.  Mrs. Clemens’s eyes
     troubled her and would not permit her to read, so she requested that
     the Yankee be passed upon by soberminded critics, such as Howells
     and Edmund Clarence Stedman.  Howells wrote that even if he hadn’t
     wanted to read the book for its own sake, or for the author’s sake,
     he would still want to do it for Mrs. Clemens’s.  Whereupon the
     proofs were started in his direction.


To W. D. Howells, in Boston:

                                             ELMIRA, Aug.  24, ‘89.

DEAR HOWELLS,--If you should be moved to speak of my book in the Study,
I shall be glad and proud--and the sooner it gets in, the better for the
book; though I don’t suppose you can get it in earlier than the November
number--why, no, you can’t get it in till a month later than that. Well,
anyway I don’t think I’ll send out any other press copy--except perhaps
to Stedman. I’m not writing for those parties who miscall themselves
critics, and I don’t care to have them paw the book at all. It’s my
swan-song, my retirement from literature permanently, and I wish to pass
to the cemetery unclodded.

I judge that the proofs have begun to reach you about this time, as I
had some (though not revises,) this morning. I’m sure I’m going to be
charmed with Beard’s pictures. Observe his nice take-off of Middle-Age
art-dinner-table scene.

                              Ys sincerely

     Howells’s approval of the Yankee came almost in the form of exultant
     shouts, one after reading each batch of proof.  First he wrote:
     “It’s charming, original, wonderful! good in fancy and sound to the
     core in morals.”  And again, “It’s a mighty great book, and it makes
     my heart burn with wrath.  It seems God did not forget to put a soul
     into you.  He shuts most literary men off with a brain, merely.”
      Then, a few days later: “The book is glorious--simply noble; what
     masses of virgin truth never touched in print before!” and, finally,
     “Last night I read your last chapter.  As Stedman says of the whole
     book, it’s titanic.”


To W. D. Howells, in Boston:

                                             HARTFORD, Sept.  22, ‘89.

DEAR HOWELLS,--It is immensely good of you to grind through that stuff
for me; but it gives peace to Mrs. Clemens’s soul; and I am as grateful
to you as a body can be. I am glad you approve of what I say about the
French Revolution. Few people will. It is odd that even to this day
Americans still observe that immortal benefaction through English and
other monarchical eyes, and have no shred of an opinion about it that
they didn’t get at second-hand.

Next to the 4th of July and its results, it was the noblest and the
holiest thing and the most precious that ever happened in this earth.
And its gracious work is not done yet--not anywhere in the remote
neighborhood of it.

Don’t trouble to send me all the proofs; send me the pages with your
corrections on them, and waste-basket the rest. We issue the book Dec.
10; consequently a notice that appears Dec. 20 will be just in good

I am waiting to see your Study set a fashion in criticism. When that
happens--as please God it must--consider that if you lived three
centuries you couldn’t do a more valuable work for this country, or a

As a rule a critic’s dissent merely enrages, and so does no good; but
by the new art which you use, your dissent must be as welcome as your
approval, and as valuable. I do not know what the secret of it is,
unless it is your attitude--man courteously reasoning with man and
brother, in place of the worn and wearisome critical attitude of all
this long time--superior being lecturing a boy.

Well, my book is written--let it go. But if it were only to write over
again there wouldn’t be so many things left out. They burn in me; and
they keep multiplying and multiplying; but now they can’t ever be said.
And besides, they would require a library--and a pen warmed up in hell.

                                        Ys Ever

     The type-setting machine began to loom large in the background.
     Clemens believed it perfected by this time.  Paige had got it
     together again and it was running steadily--or approximately so
     --setting type at a marvelous speed and with perfect accuracy.  In
     time an expert operator would be able to set as high as eight
     thousand ems per hour, or about ten times as much as a good
     compositor could set and distribute by hand.  Those who saw it were
     convinced--most of them--that the type-setting problem was solved by
     this great mechanical miracle.  If there were any who doubted, it
     was because of its marvelously minute accuracy which the others only
     admired.  Such accuracy, it was sometimes whispered, required
     absolutely perfect adjustment, and what would happen when the great
     inventor--“the poet in steel,” as Clemens once called him--was no
     longer at hand to supervise and to correct the slightest variation.
     But no such breath of doubt came to Mark Twain; he believed the
     machine as reliable as a constellation.

     But now there was need of capital to manufacture and market the
     wonder.  Clemens, casting about in his mind, remembered Senator
     Jones, of Nevada, a man of great wealth, and his old friend, Joe
     Goodman, of Nevada, in whom Jones had unlimited confidence.  He
     wrote to Goodman, and in this letter we get a pretty full exposition
     of the whole matter as it stood in the fall of 1889.  We note in
     this communication that Clemens says that he has been at the machine
     three years and seven months, but this was only the period during
     which he had spent the regular monthly sum of three thousand
     dollars.  His interest in the invention had begun as far back as


To Joseph T. Goodman, in Nevada:

                                        Private.  HARTFORD, Oct. 7, ‘89.

DEAR JOE,--I had a letter from Aleck Badlam day before yesterday, and
in answering him I mentioned a matter which I asked him to consider
a secret except to you and John McComb,--[This is Col. McComb, of
the Alta-California, who had sent Mark Twain on the Quaker City
excursion]--as I am not ready yet to get into the newspapers.

I have come near writing you about this matter several times, but it
wasn’t ripe, and I waited. It is ripe, now. It is a type-setting machine
which I undertook to build for the inventor (for a consideration). I
have been at it three years and seven months without losing a day, at a
cost of $3,000 a month, and in so private a way that Hartford has known
nothing about it. Indeed only a dozen men have known of the matter. I
have reported progress from time to time to the proprietors of the N. Y.
Sun, Herald, Times, World, Harper Brothers and John F. Trow; also to the
proprietors of the Boston Herald and the Boston Globe. Three years ago I
asked all these people to squelch their frantic desire to load up their
offices with the Mergenthaler (N. Y. Tribune) machine, and wait for mine
and then choose between the two. They have waited--with no very gaudy
patience--but still they have waited; and I could prove to them to-day
that they have not lost anything by it. But I reserve the proof for the
present--except in the case of the N. Y. Herald; I sent an invitation
there the other day--a courtesy due a paper which ordered $240,000 worth
of our machines long ago when it was still in a crude condition. The
Herald has ordered its foreman to come up here next Thursday; but that
is the only invitation which will go out for some time yet.

The machine was finished several weeks ago, and has been running ever
since in the machine shop. It is a magnificent creature of steel, all of
Pratt & Whitney’s super-best workmanship, and as nicely adjusted and as
accurate as a watch. In construction it is as elaborate and complex
as that machine which it ranks next to, by every right--Man--and in
performance it is as simple and sure.

Anybody can set type on it who can read--and can do it after only 15
minutes’ instruction. The operator does not need to leave his seat at
the keyboard; for the reason that he is not required to do anything
but strike the keys and set type--merely one function; the spacing,
justifying, emptying into the galley, and distributing of dead matter is
all done by the machine without anybody’s help--four functions.

The ease with which a cub can learn is surprising. Day before yesterday
I saw our newest cub set, perfectly space and perfectly justify 2,150
ems of solid nonpareil in an hour and distribute the like amount in the
same hour--and six hours previously he had never seen the machine or
its keyboard. It was a good hour’s work for 3-year veterans on the other
type-setting machines to do. We have 3 cubs. The dean of the trio is a
school youth of 18. Yesterday morning he had been an apprentice on the
machine 16 working days (8-hour days); and we speeded him to see what he
could do in an hour. In the hour he set 5,900 ems solid nonpareil, and
the machine perfectly spaced and justified it, and of course distributed
the like amount in the same hour. Considering that a good fair
compositor sets 700 and distributes 700 in the one hour, this boy did
the work of about 8 x a compositors in that hour. This fact sends all
other type-setting machines a thousand miles to the rear, and the best
of them will never be heard of again after we publicly exhibit in New

We shall put on 3 more cubs. We have one school boy and two compositors,
now,--and we think of putting on a type writer, a stenographer, and
perhaps a shoemaker, to show that no special gifts or training are
required with this machine. We shall train these beginners two or three
months--or until some one of them gets up to 7,000 an hour--then we will
show up in New York and run the machine 24 hours a day 7 days in the
week, for several months--to prove that this is a machine which will
never get out of order or cause delay, and can stand anything an anvil
can stand. You know there is no other typesetting machine that can
run two hours on a stretch without causing trouble and delay with its
incurable caprices.

We own the whole field--every inch of it--and nothing can dislodge us.

Now then, above is my preachment, and here follows the reason and
purpose of it. I want you to run over here, roost over the machine a
week and satisfy yourself, and then go to John P. Jones or to whom you
please, and sell me a hundred thousand dollars’ worth of this property
and take ten per cent in cash or the “property” for your trouble--the
latter, if you are wise, because the price I ask is a long way short of
the value.

What I call “property” is this. A small part of my ownership consists of
a royalty of $500 on every machine marketed under the American patents.
My selling-terms are, a permanent royalty of one dollar on every
American-marketed machine for a thousand dollars cash to me in hand
paid. We shan’t market any fewer than 5,000 machines in 15 years--a
return of fifteen thousand dollars for one thousand. A royalty is better
than stock, in one way--it must be paid, every six months, rain or
shine; it is a debt, and must be paid before dividends are declared. By
and by, when we become a stock company I shall buy these royalties back
for stock if I can get them for anything like reasonable terms.

I have never borrowed a penny to use on the machine, and never sold a
penny’s worth of the property until the machine was entirely finished
and proven by the severest tests to be what she started out to
be--perfect, permanent, and occupying the position, as regards all
kindred machines, which the City of Paris occupies as regards the
canvas-backs of the mercantile marine.

It is my purpose to sell two hundred dollars of my royalties at the
above price during the next two months and keep the other $300.

Mrs. Clemens begs Mrs. Goodman to come with you, and asks pardon for
not writing the message herself--which would be a pathetically-welcome
spectacle to me; for I have been her amanuensis for 8 months, now, since
her eyes failed her. Yours as always


     While this letter with its amazing contents is on its way to
     astonish Joe Goodman, we will consider one of quite a different,
     but equally characteristic sort.  We may assume that Mark Twain’s
     sister Pamela had been visiting him in Hartford and was now making
     a visit in Keokuk.


To Mrs. Moffett, in Keokuk:

                                             HARTFORD, Oct 9, ‘89.

DEAR PAMELA,--An hour after you left I was suddenly struck with a
realizing sense of the utter chuckle-headedness of that notion of mine:
to send your trunk after you. Land! it was idiotic. None but a lunatic
would, separate himself from his baggage.

Well, I am soulfully glad the baggage fetcher saved me from consummating
my insane inspiration. I met him on the street in the afternoon and paid
him again. I shall pay him several times more, as opportunity offers.

I declined the invitation to banquet with the visiting South American
Congress, in a polite note explaining that I had to go to New York
today. I conveyed the note privately to Patrick; he got the envelope
soiled, and asked Livy to put on a clean one. That is why I am going to
the banquet; also why I have disinvited the boys I thought I was going
to punch billiards with, upstairs to-night.

Patrick is one of the injudiciousest people I ever struck. And I am the

                         Your Brother

     The Yankee was now ready for publication, and advance sheets were
     already in the reviewers’ hands.  Just at this moment the Brazilian
     monarchy crumbled, and Clemens was moved to write Sylvester Baxter,
     of the Boston Herald, a letter which is of special interest in its
     prophecy of the new day, the dawn of which was even nearer than he

DEAR MR. BAXTER, Another throne has gone down, and I swim in oceans of
satisfaction. I wish I might live fifty years longer; I believe I should
see the thrones of Europe selling at auction for old iron. I believe I
should really see the end of what is surely the grotesquest of all the
swindles ever invented by man-monarchy. It is enough to make a graven
image laugh, to see apparently rational people, away down here in this
wholesome and merciless slaughter-day for shams, still mouthing empty
reverence for those moss-backed frauds and scoundrelisms, hereditary
kingship and so-called “nobility.” It is enough to make the monarchs
and nobles themselves laugh--and in private they do; there can be no
question about that. I think there is only one funnier thing, and
that is the spectacle of these bastard Americans--these Hamersleys
and Huntingtons and such--offering cash, encumbered by themselves,
for rotten carcases and stolen titles. When our great brethren the
disenslaved Brazilians frame their Declaration of Independence, I
hope they will insert this missing link: “We hold these truths to
be self-evident: that all monarchs are usurpers, and descendants of
usurpers; for the reason that no throne was ever set up in this world by
the will, freely exercised, of the only body possessing the legitimate
right to set it up--the numerical mass of the nation.”
You already have the advance sheets of my forthcoming book in your
hands. If you will turn to about the five hundredth page, you will
find a state paper of my Connecticut Yankee in which he announces
the dissolution of King Arthur’s monarchy and proclaims the English
Republic. Compare it with the state paper which announces the downfall
of the Brazilian monarchy and proclaims the Republic of the United
States of Brazil, and stand by to defend the Yankee from plagiarism.
There is merely a resemblance of ideas, nothing more. The Yankee’s
proclamation was already in print a week ago. This is merely one of
those odd coincidences which are always turning up. Come, protect
the Yank from that cheapest and easiest of all charges--plagiarism.
Otherwise, you see, he will have to protect himself by charging
approximate and indefinite plagiarism upon the official servants of our
majestic twin down yonder, and then there might be war, or some similar

Have you noticed the rumor that the Portuguese throne is unsteady, and
that the Portuguese slaves are getting restive? Also, that the head
slave-driver of Europe, Alexander III, has so reduced his usual monthly
order for chains that the Russian foundries are running on only half
time now? Also that other rumor that English nobility acquired an added
stench the other day--and had to ship it to India and the continent
because there wasn’t any more room for it at home? Things are working.
By and by there is going to be an emigration, may be. Of course we shall
make no preparation; we never do. In a few years from now we shall have
nothing but played-out kings and dukes on the police, and driving the
horse-cars, and whitewashing fences, and in fact overcrowding all the
avenues of unskilled labor; and then we shall wish, when it is too late,
that we had taken common and reasonable precautions and drowned them at
Castle Garden.

     There followed at this time a number of letters to Goodman, but as
     there is much of a sameness in them, we need not print them all.
     Clemens, in fact, kept the mails warm with letters bulging with
     schemes for capitalization, and promising vast wealth to all
     concerned.  When the letters did not go fast enough he sent
     telegrams.  In one of the letters Goodman is promised “five hundred
     thousand dollars out of the profits before we get anything
     ourselves.”  One thing we gather from these letters is that Paige
     has taken the machine apart again, never satisfied with its
     perfection, or perhaps getting a hint that certain of its
     perfections were not permanent.  A letter at the end of November
     seems worth preserving here.


To Joseph T. Goodman, in California:

                                             HARTFORD, Nov. 29, ‘89.

DEAR JOE, Things are getting into better and more flexible shape every
day. Papers are now being drawn which will greatly simplify the raising
of capital; I shall be in supreme command; it will not be necessary for
the capitalist to arrive at terms with anybody but me. I don’t want to
dicker with anybody but Jones. I know him; that is to say, I want to
dicker with you, and through you with Jones. Try to see if you can’t be
here by the 15th of January.

The machine was as perfect as a watch when we took her apart the other
day; but when she goes together again the 15th of January we expect her
to be perfecter than a watch.

Joe, I want you to sell some royalties to the boys out there, if you
can, for I want to be financially strong when we go to New York. You
know the machine, and you appreciate its future enormous career better
than any man I know. At the lowest conceivable estimate (2,000 machines
a year,) we shall sell 34,000 in the life of the patent--17 years.

All the family send love to you--and they mean it, or they wouldn’t say

                              Yours ever

     The Yankee had come from the press, and Howells had praised it in
     the “Editor’s Study” in Harper’s Magazine.  He had given it his
     highest commendation, and it seems that his opinion of it did not
     change with time.  “Of all fanciful schemes of fiction it pleases me
     most,” he in one place declared, and again referred to it as
     “a greatly imagined and symmetrically developed tale.”
     In more than one letter to Goodman, Clemens had urged him to come
     East without delay.  “Take the train, Joe, and come along,” he wrote
     early in December.  And we judge from the following that Joe had
     decided to come.


To W. D. Howells, in Boston:

                                             HARTFORD, Dec. 23, ‘89.

DEAR HOWELLS,--The magazine came last night, and the Study notice is
just great. The satisfaction it affords us could not be more prodigious
if the book deserved every word of it; and maybe it does; I hope it
does, though of course I can’t realize it and believe it. But I am your
grateful servant, anyway and always.

I am going to read to the Cadets at West Point Jan. 11. I go from here
to New York the 9th, and up to the Point the 11th. Can’t you go with me?
It’s great fun. I’m going to read the passages in the “Yankee” in which
the Yankee’s West Point cadets figure--and shall covertly work in
a lecture on aristocracy to those boys. I am to be the guest of the
Superintendent, but if you will go I will shake him and we will go to
the hotel. He is a splendid fellow, and I know him well enough to take
that liberty.

And won’t you give me a day or two’s visit toward the end of January?
For two reasons: the machine will be at work again by that time, and we
want to hear the rest of the dream-story; Mrs. Clemens keeps speaking
about it and hankering for it. And we can have Joe Goodman on hand again
by that time, and I want you to get to know him thoroughly. It’s well
worth it. I am going to run up and stay over night with you as soon as I
can get a chance.

We are in the full rush of the holidays now, and an awful rush it is,
too. You ought to have been here the other day, to make that day perfect
and complete. All alone I managed to inflict agonies on Mrs. Clemens,
whereas I was expecting nothing but praises. I made a party call the day
after the party--and called the lady down from breakfast to receive
it. I then left there and called on a new bride, who received me in her
dressing-gown; and as things went pretty well, I stayed to luncheon.
The error here was, that the appointed reception-hour was 3 in the
afternoon, and not at the bride’s house but at her aunt’s in another
part of the town. However, as I meant well, none of these disasters
distressed me.

                         Yrs ever

     The Yankee did not find a very hearty welcome in England.  English
     readers did not fancy any burlesque of their Arthurian tales, or
     American strictures on their institutions.  Mark Twain’s publishers
     had feared this, and asked that the story be especially edited for
     the English edition.  Clemens, however, would not listen to any
     suggestions of the sort.


To Messrs. Chatto & Windus, in London, Eng.:

GENTLEMEN,--Concerning The Yankee, I have already revised the story
twice; and it has been read critically by W. D. Howells and Edmund
Clarence Stedman, and my wife has caused me to strike out several
passages that have been brought to her attention, and to soften others.
Furthermore, I have read chapters of the book in public where Englishmen
were present and have profited by their suggestions.

Now, mind you, I have taken all this pains because I wanted to say a
Yankee mechanic’s say against monarchy and its several natural props,
and yet make a book which you would be willing to print exactly as it
comes to you, without altering a word.

We are spoken of (by Englishmen) as a thin-skinned people. It is you who
are thin-skinned. An Englishman may write with the most brutal frankness
about any man or institution among us and we republish him without
dreaming of altering a line or a word. But England cannot stand
that kind of a book written about herself. It is England that is
thin-skinned. It causeth me to smile when I read the modifications of my
language which have been made in my English editions to fit them for the
sensitive English palate.

Now, as I say, I have taken laborious pains to so trim this book of
offense that you might not lack the nerve to print it just as it stands.
I am going to get the proofs to you just as early as I can. I want you
to read it carefully. If you can publish it without altering a single
word, go ahead. Otherwise, please hand it to J. R. Osgood in time for
him to have it published at my expense.

This is important, for the reason that the book was not written for
America; it was written for England. So many Englishmen have done their
sincerest best to teach us something for our betterment that it seems
to me high time that some of us should substantially recognize the good
intent by trying to pry up the English nation to a little higher level
of manhood in turn.

                    Very truly yours,
                              S. L. CLEMENS.

The English nation, at least a considerable portion of it, did not wish
to be “pried up to a higher level of manhood” by a Connecticut Yankee.
The papers pretty generally denounced the book as coarse; in fact, a
vulgar travesty. Some of the critics concluded that England, after all,
had made a mistake in admiring Mark Twain. Clemens stood this for a time
and then seems to have decided that something should be done. One of the
foremost of English critics was his friend and admirer; he would state
the case to him fully and invite his assistance.


To Andrew Lang, in London:

[First page missing.]


They vote but do not print. The head tells you pretty promptly whether
the food is satisfactory or not; and everybody hears, and thinks the
whole man has spoken. It is a delusion. Only his taste and his smell
have been heard from--important, both, in a way, but these do not build
up the man; and preserve his life and fortify it.

The little child is permitted to label its drawings “This is a cow this
is a horse,” and so on. This protects the child. It saves it from
the sorrow and wrong of hearing its cows and its horses criticized as
kangaroos and work benches. A man who is white-washing a fence is doing
a useful thing, so also is the man who is adorning a rich man’s house
with costly frescoes; and all of us are sane enough to judge these
performances by standards proper to each. Now, then, to be fair, an
author ought to be allowed to put upon his book an explanatory line:
“This is written for the Head;” “This is written for the Belly and the
Members.” And the critic ought to hold himself in honor bound to put
away f