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Title: Mark Twain's Letters — Volume 3 (1876-1885)
Author: Twain, Mark
Language: English
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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.

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MARK TWAIN’S LETTERS 1876-1885


VOLUME III.

By Mark Twain


ARRANGED WITH COMMENT BY ALBERT BIGELOW PAINE



XVI. LETTERS, 1876, CHIEFLY TO W. D. HOWELLS. LITERATURE AND POLITICS.
PLANNING A PLAY WITH BRET HARTE.

     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
     consideration.


*****



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
                                        MARK


     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
                                             MARK.


     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
     out.


*****



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
crucifixion.

(Is that spelt right?--somehow it doesn’t look right.)

With our very kindest regards to the whole family.

                                   Yrs ever,
                                        MARK.


     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
help.

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
                                   MARK.

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
     brilliant.

     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!

                         Affectionately,
                                        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
     work.

     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
                                             MARK


     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,
                                                  MARK.


     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
candy.

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,
                                             MARK


     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


     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.



XVII. LETTERS, 1877. TO BERMUDA WITH TWICHELL. PROPOSITION TO TH. NAST.
THE WHITTIER DINNER.

     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,
                                             MARK.

     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
     excursion.


*****



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
                                                  MARK


     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
insult.

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,
                                        MARK.


     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
other.

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.

                                             MARK.


     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,
                                             MARK.


     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.”

                                   Yrs
                                        MARK.


*****



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,
possibly.

We unite in warm regards to you and yours.

                              Yrs ever,
                                        MARK.


     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
Niagara.

However, we convinced them; and then, instead of saying something, or
going on crying, they grew very still--words could not express it, I
suppose.

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
farm.

                                                       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
                                   MARK.


     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,
                                             MARK.

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
fun.

                    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
impossible?

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
paper.

                         Penitently yrs,
                                        MARK.


     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,
                                                  MARK.

     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.



XVIII. LETTERS FROM EUROPE, 1878-79. TRAMPING WITH TWICHELL. WRITING A
NEW TRAVEL BOOK. LIFE IN MUNICH.

     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.

                              Affly,
                                        SAM.


     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
     preservation.



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
me.

(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
April.)

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
reverence.

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.
                                   SAM.


     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
struggle.)

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.
                                        SAM.


     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
admiration.

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.

                                             MARK.

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.”

(Unfinished)


     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
them.

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
                                                  MARK.


     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
Heidelberg.

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.

                                             SAML.


                                   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.

                                             SAML.


                                        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.

                                          SAML.


     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
     month.

     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.

                                                  MARK.


     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.

                                                  Amen.

                                                       MARK.


     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
adopted.

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,

                                             MARK.


     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.

                                   Affly
                                        Your son
                                                  SAM.



XIX. LETTERS 1879. RETURN TO AMERICA. THE GREAT GRANT REUNION

     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
     Atlantic.

     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
                                                  MARK

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!

                                        MARK.

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
flock.

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,
                                                  MARK.


*****



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.

(Unfinished.)


     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
information.

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
                                                       MARK.


     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
“Gallic.”

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
                                   MARK.


     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
                                                       MARK.


     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.

GEN. WM. E. STRONG, CH’M, AND GENTLEMEN OF THE COMMITTEE:

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
weather.

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
Club.

I love you ever so much, my darling, and am hoping to get a word from
you yet.

                                   SAML.


     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.

                                             SAML.


     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

                                                  SAML.


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.



XX. LETTERS OF 1880, CHIEFLY TO HOWELLS. “THE PRINCE AND THE PAUPER.”
 MARK TWAIN MUGWUMP SOCIETY.

     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,
                                                       MARK.


     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
     rate.

     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
it.

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,
                                        MARK.


     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
                                        SAM.


     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
                                             MARK.


     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,
                              MARK.


     “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:

                    Jean
                    Mamma
                    Motley [a cat]
                    Fraulein [another]
                    Papa

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
head--

          “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!

                                                  MARK.


     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
it.

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
                              MARK.


     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
                                                  MARK.

     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
                                             SAM
$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,
                                             MARK.


     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.



XXI. LETTERS 1881, TO HOWELLS AND OTHERS. ASSISTING A YOUNG SCULPTOR.
LITERARY PLANS.

     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.

GEN. GARFIELD

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
too.

               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.

                              MARK.


     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
     story:


*****


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
both!”

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,
                                        MARK.


     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
     collection.

     “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
                                        MARK.

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
succumbs.

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,
                                   MARK.


     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
     times.


*****


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,
                                        SAML.


*****


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

                         SAML.


*****


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
business.

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.

                                        SAML.


     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
had!

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
victory.

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
                                   MARK.

Don’t answer--I spare the sick.



XXII. LETTERS, 1882, MAINLY TO HOWELLS. WASTED FURY. OLD SCENES
REVISITED. THE MISSISSIPPI BOOK.

     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
good.

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,
                                                  MARK.


     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.

Private.

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
you.

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
him.

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
there.

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
     meet.”

     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.

                                             SAML.


     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
     delivery.


*****


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
family.

                         Yours as ever,
                                   MARK.


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.



XXIII. LETTERS, 1883, TO HOWELLS AND OTHERS. A GUEST OF THE MARQUIS OF
LORNE. THE HISTORY GAME. A PLAY BY HOWELLS AND MARK TWAIN.

     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.


     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
     Canada.

     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
     form.


*****


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
                              MARK


*****


To Onion Clemens and family, in Keokuk, Id.:

                                        ELMIRA, July 22, ‘83.
Private.

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
lie.

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.
                         SAML.


     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
it.

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
want.

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

                         CLEMENSES.

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
criticism.

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.



XXIV. LETTERS, 1884, TO HOWELLS AND OTHERS. CABLE’S GREAT APRIL FOOL.
“HUCK FINN” IN PRESS. MARK TWAIN FOR CLEVELAND. CLEMENS AND CABLE.

     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
                              MARK.


     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
     postponed.

     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
     bosom.”

     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.

         LONG ISLAND FARMER, TO HIS FRIEND AND PILGRIM BROTHER,

                        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.

                         M.


     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
$15,000.

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
                                   MARK.


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
                                             MARK.


     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.



XXV. THE GREAT YEAR OF 1885. CLEMENS AND CABLE. PUBLICATION OF “HUCK
FINN.” THE GRANT MEMOIRS. MARK TWAIN AT FIFTY.

     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
                                        MARK.


     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
     author-publisher.


*****


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
     improving.


*****


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
gone.

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
                                                  MARK.


     “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
                                             MARK


     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
war.

                  .........................

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
liquor.”

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
people.”

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
Hartford.

                         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.

Private.

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,
                                             MARK.


     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
again.

               Yrs ever
                         MARK.


     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.”





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