Mark Twain Day by Day
An Annotated Chronology
Of the Life of Samuel L. Clemens
Volume Two (1886-1896)
Mark Twain Day by Day
© 2009 David H Fears
All rights reserved.
Printed in the United States of America
First Edition, volume two, first print run
ISBN # 0-9714868-3-2
ISBN13 : 978-0-9714868-3-6
Library of Congress Control Number: 2007927972
Published by Horizon Micro Publishing, LLC.
Books available through Amazon or directly from the publisher:
Horizon Micro Publishing, LLC
P.O. Box 266
Banks, OR 97106
Thanks to my wife, Kimberley for her love and support. Special thanks to Thomas A. Tenney for his continual support, anecdotes, materials, and advice. Special thanks to JoDee Benussi for sharing mountains of paper and extra books, for her continual patience while comparing entries and her exacting editing skills. Ms. Benussi has been a valuable and critical resource to this work. A good, snarky editor is a prize, especially one who nudges you where you don’t wish to go. If she had been paid what she is worth, I would be bankrupt. Thanks also to the folks at the Mark Twain Project, especially Robert Hirst, who really does possess quite a good sense of humor, and who gave freely of his time, advice, and opinions, as well as permissions for use of MTP material, and putting up with all my questions and suggestions. Holger Kersten has graciously given his time to translate German and French letters. Thanks also for help and contributions made by the following: Ron Hohenhaus (Down Under), Robert Slotta, Robert Monroe, Martin Zehr, Wayne Gannaway, Thomas Reigstad, Carol Beals for permission from the James S. Copley Library, La Jolla, Ca., and Debby Applegate, the 2007 Pulitzer prize winner for Henry Ward Beecher’s biography. A personal thanks also to Duncan Carter at Portland State University for his friendship and encouragement even though he favors Dickens over Twain, as well as David W. Robinson for his steadfast faith in my ability in the face of much evidence to the contrary, and especially his fearless navigation of Maui backroads in search of evidence of a young Mark Twain.
Who makes any struggle worthwhile
What a wee little part of a person’s life are his acts and his words! His real life is led in his head, and is known to none but himself. All day long, and every day, the mill of his brain is grinding, and his thoughts, not those other things, are his history. His acts and his words are merely the visible, thin crust of his world, with its scattered snow summits and its vacant wastes of water — and they are so trifling a part of his bulk! a mere skin enveloping it. The mass of him is hidden — it and its volcanic fires that toss and boil, and never rest, night nor day. These are his life, and they are not written, and cannot be written. Every day would make a whole book of eighty thousand words — three hundred and sixty-five books a year. Biographies are but the clothes and buttons of the man — the biography of the man himself cannot be written.
“David H. Fears’s log of Samuel Clemens’ life is often downright interesting in itself for Twainians. Furthermore, they will get a heightened sense of the whirligig he somehow shaped into an ongoing presence—his now well-known business activities, his tireless socializing, his dealings with plumbers, and his paying bills for groceries (including pilsener beer and cigars, of course). As for Mark Twain authors, Fears will help resolve some cruxes while setting up others unsuspected until now. I’m envious that my generation didn’t have this resource when we were starting out.” – LOUIS J. BUDD – Professor Emeritus at Duke University, author of Mark Twain: Social Philosopher
“More fascinating and far better documented than any existing biography of Mark Twain, this study provides a window into every waking—and for that matter, sleeping—moment of Twain’s hyperactive life. Many scholars before David Fears had contemplated undertaking this staggeringly daunting but incredibly useful project….All students of Mark Twain should give heartfelt thanks for this masterful accomplishment. Fears interweaves even Twain’s most quotidian activities into a textured fabric, threading helpful explanations where needed. This book now qualifies as the single most essential reference work in Mark Twain scholarship. We will be indebted to David Fears forever.” – ALAN GRIBBEN – Author of Mark Twain’s Library: A Reconstruction
“Mr. Fears must be fearless! To undertake such an immense project certainly requires courage. Going day-by-day in Twain’s life gives valuable information regarding Twain’s multi-faceted literary, business, and speculative career. Despite the short length of the quotations the flavor of Twain is there: his attention to household matters, his caring role as husband and father, his experience with publishers, the wide-ranging friendships and his biting wit. Fears’ volumes will be a major contribution to Mark Twain Studies.” – HOWARD G. BAETZHOLD – Author of Mark Twain & John Bull
“In these pages there is a rich record of the life, works, and Twain’s family and friends.” – THOMAS A. TENNEY, author of Mark Twain A Reference Guide; editor of The Mark Twain Journal.
The scope of Volume II has been expanded, even as Mark Twain’s life expanded in activity and complexity after 1885. What has emerged in the years since this work began is what one scholar has called “The Ultimate Mark Twain Reference Work.” The focus remains on history: these volumes attempt to lay out the historical record in a chronological format, including all significant as well as seemingly insignificant writings, events, persons, and clutter that comprised the life of Samuel Langhorne Clemens. Even before his death, there was a flood of study, much of it focusing on the literary, whether process, product, or criticism. Since his demise there has been a veritable tsunami of analysis, plumbing between the lines of nearly every piece written. This is not to say that historical study of Mark Twain has been absent, as the great and enduring work of the Mark Twain Project proves, but that any general survey reveals an imbalance, and gaps or hard to find places in the historical record. I have nothing against literary study or analysis. Twain comes to us first and foremost as the great American writer. But to anyone who has looked beyond that image, even in a surface way, he is much more. So, it is not my purpose to editorialize or wax eloquent about the “meaning” of his writings or even the major events of his life — others have done, and are doing it, and will continue to do so quite adequately, even to deep discussions of motivations for his fictional characters.
Pressing forward in time, material and documentation on Mark Twain seem to increase exponentially. There are fewer gaps of days when no information is found. Readers of Vol. I may notice a change in this aspect of the work, one suggested early on by several scholars — that is, a listing of all dates, even when no information is found. Doing so takes a bit more space, but benefits the study by showing all citations in a somewhat better perspective and reflecting important gaps. This was not practical for Vol. I. Readers may annotate empty dates should they wish to do so.
As in Vol. I, the letters form the backbone of this work, and these are expanded here. In Vol. II nearly all incoming letters for the period have been reviewed, and are paraphrased, quoted or at least given a one or two line summary. This was not done in Vol. I. It must be stated that a few catalog errors were noted and corrected, such as letters to Whitmore showing in the MTP catalog as letters to SLC. More important figures, such as William Dean Howells, or Joe Goodman are quoted when useful. This is my bias. Whenever Sam annotated the letter or envelope, effort was made to include these (although many catalogued as “annotated” give nothing more than Sam writing the sender’s name on the envelope); also given is the origin of the incoming letter, if it is clear from the file. Inclusion of available incoming letters affords a clearer perspective, since the majority (I would estimate three-quarters) of Sam’s letters are responses. Such a method clarifies many issues, and certainly has pinpointed a few more dates, though it may also have introduced errors as well, from assumptions made which look reasonable, but which may not hold water upon further stomping around in the sources. Careful stomping, that is. The value of the letters, both incoming and outgoing, cannot be underestimated — they are the “skeleton” upon which the many other sources can be applied. Unpublished notebooks have also been used to great benefit. No one source is infallible, not even primary ones. Letters are at times misdated by the sender, or have omissions which can be perplexing. Newspaper accounts can also contain egregious errors, as many reporters seemed unable to correctly report such details as Sam’s middle initial, or reported his presence at some event when he did not go. Diaries can be later recollections, and Sam’s famous memory is often faulty. Still, having both sides of discussion on an issue in Sam’s life is certainly more accurate. And, though this work may indeed be viewed as “a different sort of biography,” it is first and foremost a historical record, hopefully readable to the average intelligent person, and hopefully as accurate as possible.
Since Sam’s letters after 1880 are taken mostly from preliminary transcripts generously provided by Robert Hirst and the Mark Twain Project, I have tried to correct obvious errors within those transcripts, having been advised that it is a slow boat that churns through the murky waters from the holographic to the fully and professionally edited transcript with notations, which are lacking after 1876 at this time. All errors made in the use of these transcripts are my own. Those who follow after me will undoubtedly correct all disguised errors. For incoming letters in holographic form, not yet transcribed, I have omitted my many curse words used in trying to decipher them. At times, I hoisted the white flag and moved on, noting only that the writer needed a better quill.
The Addenda & Errata for Volume I is added to the back of this volume II, which serves to emphasize there have been and will continue to be errors to fix, additions and deletions to make — that these volumes are far from the final word. Readers should check these emendations when referencing Volume I. There will no doubt be a similar addition to Volume III for Vol. II. Each volume is separately indexed. And while a cumulative index might be helpful, the many pages this would require would of necessity take from pages for content. As it is, 1,200 page books tax both the muscles and the mind.
Whenever possible, I have used terms such as “possibly,” “likely,” “evidently,” or “almost certainly” when coming to conclusions about certain letters and notes, attempting to be neutral and presenting all points of interest or view. In some cases, such as Sam’s intention to tell “L” about his scheme to buy the remains of Christopher Columbus and bring them to New York or Washington, I have made certain assumptions about Sam’s awareness. I judge the “L” to be for William Mackay Laffan rather than for Livy, who most certainly would have frowned upon such a harebrained idea. Facts relevant, and my assumptions are always included under “Notes:” for a given entry.
Also added and appropriately placed in dates are non-extant but “connected” letters — that is, letters referred to as received or sent in existing letters. These have not been included in past catalogs of letters, either the MTP catalog nor the Union Catalog of Letters to and from SLC. When “connecting” many of the incoming letters to Sam’s replies, it is evident that some initiating letters to Sam are not listed in the incoming of MTP and thus are lost (or are out there in private hands, surfacing literally every week, so I’m told.) I have tried to note when such implicit incoming letters are not listed in the MTP files, though a few may not be so designated.
What is NOT in this volume are references to each and every interview, review, or newspaper article in countless publications — those sources exploded in number during the 1880’s and 90’s as Mark Twain became a true American icon — a “constructed” American icon, if you will, his name was used in a wide range of articles and advertisements. No work can include all of these in a comprehensive way, but many of the interviews and literary references may be found in such works as Tenney’s A Reference Guide, or in Budd and Scharnhort’s collections of interviews (see Works Cited.) What is presented here of these types of materials is a representative sampling, both from primary and secondary sources. As to websites, I have often found errors, omissions, and a sorry lack of sources; due to the ephemeral and fast-evolving nature of the Internet, I have avoided when practical the quoting of these websites, especially where there is a print source duplicating the item. With respect to auction sites that display past sales of primary materials, the URL is given, or at least the identification number of the item and the date of my discovery online and/or the date of sale. I have noted when at the MTP that many of these items have been printed out for reference there. Also, a representative number of “family letters” are included but not all.
I do not claim an infallible or complete record for this work. I welcome properly cited correction or addition — even from Satan himself (not Sam’s cat, mother of “Sin,” but the pitchfork man). This work has paid me with smiles daily, and some good laughter as well, and so a few stray comments of my own whimsy have, here and there, crept in. I have tried not to editorialize, save for when I was damned impressed or provoked. To the academic purists who sniff at calling Mr. Clemens “Sam,” — I plead guilty. If Sam was right, that there is no humor in heaven, and quite a few academics will sport halos, though I hold fast to the hope that he was at least partly mistaken in this. I confess to having escaped academia myself, among other miraculous cures.
We will never have the complete, correct record without flaw, but then, neither was the man or his life we study complete without flaw. Perhaps it is his very duality, the myriad of aspects at odds in his thought and life which make him so very human, and which drive our curiosity to know more, which ultimately leads to self-discovery. Onward to Volume III. David H Fears 2009
† With this volume the dagger designates this editor’s estimate of date or place. These may ultimately be confirmed or revised by future researchers, and are solely this editor’s calculation or opinion. There may also be many sections where estimates are made from several sources and the dagger not used.
‡ – The double dagger designates in-text corrections made after the first print run; these are also listed in Addenda & Errata sections at the front of each volume after the first print run.
Dates: I have followed the conventions used by the University of California Press on the volumes of Mark Twain’s Letters, except I offer the day of the week, which in some cases is helpful. To wit:
October 5 Thursday – Sources indicate this is a confirmed date, or a deduced date from events or
other evidence. Firm dates come before conjectured or circa dates and date ranges.
October 3? Tuesday –
The question mark indicates a conjecture of October 3. Conjecture dates are listed separately following firm dates.
June 24–29 Saturday –
A span of dates joined by a dash indicates a less specific conjecture: the date or dates of composition are thought to fall within this span. Day of the week is ascribed to the last date in the span. The last date in a period is noted by its day of the week. Such entries are listed separately.
June 24 to 29 Saturday – Not a conjecture, but an assertion that some event ran from June 24 through June 29. Such date ranges are listed separately.
May 2 and 3 Friday –
Not a conjecture, but an assertion that the event or activity occurred at least in part on both days. Such inclusive dates are listed separately.
May 1 Friday ca. –
A conjecture of an approximate date, month, year or season. Similar to May 1st? but with less specificity. May also be specified as “on or before,” or “on or after.” Circa dates are listed separately.
Items for which only a month is known, or for magazine-type publications issued for a given month.
Items for which a year is known, but not a month or date.
Note: Dates are arranged in order; spans of dates and single dates are sorted by the first date in a span. Conjectured dates are usually separate from known or consensus dates. Thus there are separate entries for May 1 Friday, and May 1? Friday; May 17 Thursday would follow May 12–20 Sunday. Occasionally entries are labeled “Mid-month” or “End of Month” or “Early Spring,” etc. Confirmed dates are listed first.
Where unsigned articles have been ascribed to Sam Clemens by major researchers, I have followed their lead but specified, “attributed.” “Sam” when shown without surname is used throughout to mean Mark Twain/ Samuel L. Clemens; likewise “Livy” designates Olivia Louise Clemens; “Susy” has been chosen for Olivia Susan Clemens over the spelling “Susie,” which is seen in earlier references to her. “Jane Clemens” is used for Sam’s mother, “Pamela” or “Pamela Moffett” for his sister, “Orion” for his brother. For certain dominant people in Sam’s life, or dominant within certain periods, last names only are given: Howells, Twichell, Cable, etc. Middle names are usually omitted, in favor of a middle initial; some middle initials are omitted, when reference is clearly to one person, such as Hjalmar Boyesen. “Frank” is often given for “Francis”; “Joe” for Joseph, when the person was a familiar figure in Sam’s life, such as Joe Twichell, Frank Bliss, etc.
MLA formatting is followed for in-text and Works Cited, with exceptions made for MT “standard” abbreviations such as MTBus or MTLTP (see abbreviations), and follow the MT Project’s conventions when possible. Use of [brackets] for in-text citations, as well as editor’s inserts within quoted text. (Where letters use square brackets, parentheses are substituted.) Preference has been given where possible to accessible texts — in other words, if a letter may be found in Paine’s volumes, MTLL, MTLTP, etc., as well as at the MTP, the citation is shown for a published source over the MTP source, or, the more accessible source. In a few cases more than one source is given.
Some exceptions are made to standard MT scholarly convention, such as MTL with volume numbers used for the U. of Calif. volumes, whereas this abbreviation in the past was used for Paine’s volumes of letters, which I cite as MTLP, in the few cases I use them. A few other conventions are modified, such as LM instead of LoM for Life on the Mississippi. See Abbreviations.
Nearly every date given requires a citation, though some are calculated from sources. Because both primary and secondary sources are used, errors and omissions may have been introduced. Hopefully, more study of primary sources will amend such shortcomings.
R – This symbol was used in Vol. I for incoming letters not reviewed.
The few opinions on events or interpretation of an entry follow all citation designators as well as extra information following “Note”; These remarks are offered as simply one man’s view, and every effort has been made to keep them short and pithy, without obstacle to the meaning of the listing. Of course, I hold title to many more opinions than the few exposed here. Admittedly, a work of this scope carries errors and inconsistencies. That’s what future appendixes, supplements and editions are for. Ultimately, I hope for online status for the whole work.
Misc: Bold Entries, Italics, Strike-outs, Quotations, use of sic:
All references to dates are bold, save for those within quotes. Also bold are first mentions of persons and places (including lecture halls, etc.) within each date entry. Subjects and titles are not in bold. Indented are letter, newspaper excerpts (boxed) and longer commentaries from biographers and scholars. This aids ease of reading, finding one’s place and appearance. Italics are used when the primary source uses underlines, except for newspaper reports using underlines. They are also used for all inscriptions noted, especially those in books given as gifts. When Sam Clemens uses strikeouts to convey his real or additional meaning, those are usually retained — all other strikeouts, thought to be drafting strikeouts, are not included. Due to all the variant spellings of the day, use of vernacular, and the many misspellings by some writers, the use of sic has been limited to a few instances. Maddenly, some surnames were spelled in more than one way. Choice here was made to stick with one, trying to follow the MTP’s examples.
Corrected sources and method used; the “not in” listings:
Inevitably, sources contain errors. When an error is perceived it is sometimes, but not always, reported. This is not to point any blame or to discredit any source or author, but merely to report findings. Prejudice is given to contemporary works, with Internet sources taking a much lower priority. Apologies to egos aside, the errors, omissions and oddities should be reported.
Also, some notable material is missing from standard works. Whenever possible these are pointed out, as in “Not in Gribben,” or “Not in Scharnhorst,” to save the reader/researcher effort in tracing back material. When errors were found in the MTP catalogue, such as letters to Livy or Whitmore that were catalogued as to SLC, these are left out or noted. The MTP catalogue misleads when it lists a letter from a person for a company — one particular listing found was a letter from a man FOR the U.S. Senate. Upon review it was discovered the man was a clerk in Washington using Senate letterhead to write asking for Sam’s autograph — hardly a letter FOR the Senate. In every such case the language in this work has been changed to, for example, “John Doe wrote on US Senate letterhead asking for Sam’s autograph for his daughter,” etc. Also, many listings from the Charles Webster & Co., which are nothing more than monthly financial reports of several types, often without corresponding letters, have been catalogued by the MTP under the month of the report. These have been placed in the following month here, as they could not have been sent until the month closed — thus, March 1889’s monthly report is placed as being sent in April, 1889. In all such cases a strict chronology is attempted. Is this an error on the MTP’s part? No, but merely a different way to categorize these entries. Likewise, when a pack of Daily Reports was sent, the MTP dates these as a range of dates and places them at the first date. We place them at the last date and note the range within that entry, since they could not have been mailed earlier.
A.D. Autobiographical dictations, MTP.
AC The American Claimant
ALR American Literary Review
BAMT The Bible According to Mark Twain. Baetzhold, Howard G. and McCullough, Joseph B., eds. New York: Touchstone, 1995.
CY Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court
ET&S 1: 2: Early Tales & Sketches. Vol. 1, 1851-1864. Vol. 2, 1864-1865. Edited by
Edgar M. Branch and Robert H. Hirst. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1979-81.
FE Following the Equator
GA The Gilded Age
IA Innocents Abroad
JA Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc
LAL Library of American Literature
LLMT The Love Letters of Mark Twain. Edited by Dixon Wecter. New York: Harper & Bros 1949
LM Life on the Mississippi
LWMT A Lifetime With Mark Twain. Edited by Mary Lawton. New York: Harcourt, Brace & Co., 1925.
MMT My Mark Twain, by William Dean Howells. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1910.
MTA Mark Twain’s Autobiography. Edited by Albert Paine. 2 vols. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1924.
MTB Mark Twain A Biography, by Albert Paine, 4 vols. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1912.
MTE Mark Twain in Eruption, Edited by Bernard DeVoto. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1922.
MTHHR Mark Twain’s Correspondence with Henry Huttleston Rogers 1893-1909. Edited by Lewis Leary. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1969.
MTHL 1: 2: Mark Twain-Howells Letters: The Correspondence of Samuel L. Clemens and William Dean Howells. Edited by Henry Nash Smith and William M. Gibson. 2 vols. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1960.
MTJ Mark Twain Journal. Edited by Thomas A. Tenney.
MTL 1: – 6: Mark Twain’s Letters. Volumes 1-6. 1853-1875. Edited by Edgar M. Branch, et al. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988-2002.
MTLE 1: – 5: Mark Twain’s Letters, Electronic Volumes 1-5. 1876-1880. Mark Twain Project.
MTLP 1: – 2: Mark Twain’s Letters. 2 vols. Edited by Albert Bigelow Paine. New York: Harper & Bros 1917.
MTLTP Mark Twain’s Letters to His Publishers, 1867-1894. Edited by Hamlin Hill. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1967.
MTMF Mark Twain to Mrs. Fairbanks. Edited by Dixon Wecter. San Marino, Calif.: Huntington Library, 1949.
MTP Mark Twain Papers, Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.
MTPO Mark Twain Project Online (as of late 2007)
MT & GWC Mark Twain and George W. Cable, by Alan Turner.
MTNJ 1: – 3: Mark Twain’s Notebooks & Journals. Volumes 1 – 3. 1855-1891. Edited by Frederick Anderson, et al. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1979.
MTS&B Mark Twain’s Satires & Burlesques. Franklin R. Rogers, ed. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1967.
NB TS Sam’s unpublished notebooks, given with a TS (transcription page #)
PW Pudd’nhead Wilson
P&P The Prince and the Pauper
S&MT Susy and Mark Twain, by Edith Colgate Salsbury, Harper & Row, 1965.
TS The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
TSA Tom Sawyer Abroad
TSD Tom Sawyer, Detective
ViU Barrett Collection, University of Virginia
Note: Additions and corrections since the first print run in April, 2009. New material and corrections of old material are ongoing. This work is never “finished.” I wish to provide up to date information with each book sold. – D.H. Fears
Spelling correction throughout: – Katharine I. Harrison, not “Katherine.” (applied in this print run.)
March to May, 1886 – Sam wrote a sketch unpublished until 2009: “The Snow-Shovelers” [Who Is Mark Twain? xxiv]. See also MTNJ 3: 232&n18, 358&n186, 369&n217.
March 4, 1886 addition – Harnsberger writes of an incident with Clara Clemens, determined by events mentioned to be this day:
The girls suffered many discomforts because of their impressibility. Clara had extra-sensory perception. In her fifth year she began to be troubled by the recurring vision of an old woman in a hideous plaid dress. At first, she imagined the woman in a boat with two other women, floating up near the ceiling of her hotel room in London. Later, the woman appeared alone, looking through windows, and making other solitary appearances. For seven years, this apparition persisted, causing distress and fear and sometimes leaving the girl with a sense of impending disaster. …
When Clara complained about the terrifying old woman her mother took her to a doctor, who prescribed “plenty of fresh air and exercise” to dispel her visions.
Later, Clara saw the woman again and felt the premonition of another death. As she sat down to dinner, she said to her parents: “Mrs. Hawley is dying.” Inasmuch as the General Joseph Hawleys were their friends, the Clemenses felt certain they would have heard such news, and they refused to believe Clara’s startling announcement. Three hours later, a messenger delivered tidings of Mrs. Hawley’s sudden death .
Note: Harriet Ward Hawley died at 6:30 p.m. Mar. 3, 1886 in Washington, D.C. [Hartford Courant, Mar. 6, 1886 p.2 “The Funeral at Washington”]. Word of her death probably would not have reached Hartford until the next day, or Mar. 4.
September 28, 1886 addition – Sam wrote to Mrs. Parker (not further identified) dating it only Sept. 28. It may have been 1887, but this year seems more likely, given the load of war books at this time with Webster & Co.
Dear Mr. Parker: / No, I don’t like to read MS books; they make me swear. And I can’t publish a story—or other work—because we are full of military literature for several years yet. / I greet you again with pleasure; you were a good audience all by yourself. / Truly Yours / SL Clemens [Boham’s auction Nov. 23, 2004; sale 13058, Lot 5136].
Note: This may be Mrs. Edwin Pond Parker or, less likely the wife of Prof. Joseph Parker, who spoke in Hartford on Oct. 13, 1887, since Sam had clearly talked with the woman before this letter.
November, 1886 addition – eBay Item number: 110375489327 seen in April, 2009 reveals an excerpt titled, “The Pony Express,” by Mark Twain (listing not in Tenney) in The Empire State Philatelist. A Monthly Magazine for Stamp Collectors, Vol. 2, No. 11 published in NYC by T.C. Watkins & Co. The article is in fact an excerpt from RI, whether authorized or not is unclear.
September, 1887 – Sam wrote a sketch unpublished until 2009: “An Incident” [Who Is Mark Twain? xxiv].
September 11, 1887 addition – “An Incident”
Sunday morning, September 11, 1887, in Elmira, N.Y., I got the largest and gratefulest compliment that was ever paid me. I walked down to State street at 9.30, with the idea of getting shaved. I was strolling along in the middle of Church street, musing, dreaming; I was in a silent Sabbath solitude. Just as I turned into State, I looked up and saw a mighty fire-boy ten or twelve steps in front of me, creeping warily in my direction, with intent eye, and fingering the lock of a gun which was concealed behind him, all but the end of the barrel, which stuck up into view back of his shoulder. My instant thought was, “he is a lunatic out gunning for men, and I cannot escape.” he stopped, bent his body a little, and brought his gun to the front, cocked. There was no time to consider impulses; I acted upon the first one that offered. I walked straight to him, with a beating heart, and asked him to let me look at his weapon. To my joy, he handed it to me without a word. I turned it about, this way and that, praising, examining, asking question after question, to keep his attention diverted from murderous ideas until somebody should come by. He answered right along, and soon I caught a blessed sound: I understood him to say he was out hunting cats. He added, “There they are, yonder;” and turned and pointed. I saw four sorry-looking cats crossing the street in procession some forty steps away. I forgot my own troubles for a moment, to venture a pleas for the cats; but before I could get it out, he interrupted with the remark that those were our “engine-house cats,” and went on to say that they were not afraid of doges or any other creature, and followed him around every morning while he shot their breakfast—English sparrows. He called, “Come Dick!” and Dick came, and so did the rest. Aha!—so far from being a madman, he was saner, you see, than the average of our race; for he had a warm spot in him for cats. When a man loves cats, I am his friend and comrade, without further introduction. So I dropped the barber-shop scheme, and Hercules and I went promenading up and down the Sunday stillnesses, talking, and watching for sparrows, while the four cats followed in patient procession behind. I made so many intelligent observations about cats, that I grew in the estimation of Hercules, right along—that was plain to see; but at last in an unlucky moment I dimmed and spoiled this effect by letting out the fact that I was a poor shot and had no improvable talent in that line. I saw in a flash the damage I had done myself, and hastened to switch off onto something else and try to get back my lost ground. I praised the gun again, and asked where I could get one like it. The address given was unfamiliar to me but I said,—
“I can manage it, though; for Mr. Langdon or Mr. Crane will know.”
Hercules came to a sudden stop; ordered arms; leaned on his gun, and began to inspect me with a face all kindled with interest. He said:
“Do you live up on the East Hill with Mr. Crane, summers?”
“No! But is—is it you?”
I said yes, and he broke all out into welcoming smiles, and put out his hand and said heartily:
“Well, here I’ve been poking round and round with you and never once—Look here, when a man’s done what you’ve done, he don’t need to give a damn whether he can shoot or not!”
What an immense compliment it was!—that “Is it you?” No need to mention names—there aren’t two of you in the world! It was as if he had said, “In my heedlessness I took you for a child’s toy-balloon drifting past my face—and Great Scott, it’s the moon!”
A consciously exaggerated compliment is an offence; but no amount of exaggeration can hurt a compliment if the payer of it doesn’t know he is exaggerating. In fact, if he can superbly seem unconscious, he may depend upon it that even that will answer. There is the instance of that minister of Napoleon’s who arrived late at the council board at a time when six kings were idling around Paris waiting for a chance to solicit concessions and relaxings of one sort or another. The emperor’s brow darkened and he delivered a thunder-blast at the procrastinating minister; who replied with apparently unstudied simplicity—
“Sire, at any other court I had not been late. I hurried as I could, by my way was obstructed by the concourse of tributary kings!”
The brow of the master of the world unclouded. I know how good he felt.
Note: SLC’s previously unpublished piece, “An Incident,” is now collected in Who is Mark Twain? (2009), pp. 165-8. As per Robert Hirst this snatch “of pure autobiography” (p. xvii) is dated as “September 1887” (p. xxvi). But specifically it is identified as Sept. 11.
March 19, 1888 addition – Livy arrived in Washington, D.C. accompanied by Charles Dudley Warner and wife [Boewe 20: Washington Post, Mar. 20, 1888 Society page]. Note: It is not known whether she also attended the Mar. 26 Terry/Irving farewell banquet.
March 26, 1888 addition/correction – The farewell banquet for Ellen Terry and Henry Irving which Fatout mistakenly reported as Apr. 27, was this date [NY Times, Mar. 28, 1888 p.4 “Mr Daly’s Irving Supper”].
From a private letter (Apr. 7, 1888) of General William Tecumseh Shermanor sale by Grey Parrot Gallery on AbeBooks.com (April 2009), on the Delmonico banquet for Henry Irving and Ellen Terry:
I continue in my accustomed life at the 5th Avenue Hotel, dining out almost nightly…Daly gave Irving & Terry a superb banquet at Delmonicos the eve of their departure, and after the preliminaries turned the command over to me. We kept it up till 5 am, Ada Rehan my right neighbor, Irving on my left—the tablewas round, accommodating about 80 guests, with a mass of flowers arranged in a grand star, the English & American flags mrking the points—besides the special guests we had the usual stand-bys Chauncey Depew, Horace Porter, Mark Twain, Wallack, Lewis, Dan Dougherty &c &c. Your imagination must fill up the picture.
June to September, 1888 addition – Sam wrote a sketch unpublished until 2009: “The American Press” [Who Is Mark Twain? xxiv].
September 11, 1888 addition – Sam’s Browning reading was given at the home of Clara Spaulding Stanchfield (Mrs. John B. Stanchfield). Sharlow found a review of the reading in a society column for Saturday Tidings (Elmira) of Sept. 15, 1888:
One of the most delightful entertainments that possibly could be given is marked to the credit of Mr. and Mrs. J.B. Stanchfield by the many people who were invited to their home on Main street last Tuesday evening [Sept. 11]. Readings by Mr. Samuel L. Clemens was the announcement which assured the guests of an evening of still greater enjoyment than the conversations with friends and conventional forms of entertainment which a clever and charming hostess can make so attractive. Probably no one who knows Mr. Clemens by sight ever passes him on the street without nudging his companion, if he has one, or whispering to himself, if he is alone, “There is Mark Twain.”
Great is the fascination that noted men possess for common humanity, which is individualized only once in ten years by the census takers, and if Mark Twain is fascinating on the street words fail to describe the delight of hearing him read in a parlor. His interpretation of Tuesday evening would have thoroughly discouraged the poet, for Mr. Clemens demonstrated the fact that Browning could be understood without Prof. Corson’s aid. In selections from “Uncle Remus” Mr. Clemens’ negro dialect is so perfect that the darkness may be felt, and his display of dramatic ability leads “Pierre” to wonder why he does not “create the title role” in the play which he is said to be writing…. The informal reception before and after the readings was an opportunity for animated conversation, and the partaking of ices and cakes. The entire entertainment was one which cannot soon be forgotten by Mrs. Stanchfield’s guests. Mr. Clemens’ daughters, Misses Susan and Clara, were both present at Mrs. Stanchfield’s, and as a matter of passing interest it might be pardonable to state that Miss Clara is named for Mrs. Stanchfield who has been, since girlhood, the intimate friend of Mrs. Clemens. / Pierre. [Sharlow, “Mark Twain Reads Browning Again: A Discovery in the Langdon-Crane Family Library at Quarry Farm” Mark Twain Journal 28:2 (Fall 1990) p.24-29].
November 4, 1888 addition – In Hartford, Sam wrote to Marcel Schwob on a monographed card.
My Dear Sir: / You seem to think me the author of the original of this singularly unpleasant production. But I assure you [that] you have been deceived. I do commit crimes but they are not of this grade. / Very Truly Yours SL Clemens [Sotheby’s auction; June 19, 2003; sale 7915, Lot 64].
January 9, 1889 addition – In Sam’s letter to Johnston this date, he referred to a letter he wrote to Henry Perkins Goddard (1842-1916). Zon gives us an excerpt of this “not as yet cataloged” letter in which Sam remarks:
“There I must be on my good behavior and try to be entertaining, but at your club I can smoke in peace and say to you men, ‘Talk, hang you! I’ll listen’” .
August 15 to 31, 1889 – Sam wrote a sketch unpublished until 2009: [“Professor Mahaffy on Equality”] [Who Is Mark Twain? xxiv]. Note: the title was assigned by the MTP.
December 3, 1889 addition – The gentleman Sam and Bowen were writing about was W.D. Meares of Christchurch, N.Z. See Will Bowen’s answer Dec. 10.
February 2, 1890 correction – The poem Sam wrote Elsie Leslie that she later put with this date, the same as for the inscription in CY, was actually written on Mar. 5, 1890, so must have been sent later [MTP Fragment DV 152].
March 5, 1890 addition – Sam wrote “Ode to Elsie Leslie” on this date [MTP Fragments DV 152].
June 18 or June 24, 1890 addition – Sam headed this letter to Mrs. John P. Jones (Senator): “At the Factory / Hartford / Wednesday p.m.” These dates are calculated.
My Dear Mrs. Jones:
I tried to go through form Washington to Hartford at one stretch because we had guests at home & it didn’t seem fair to leave Mrs. Clemens without a lieutenant; so I took the 9:40 a.m. train—& botched the whole business; for I missed the Hartford train by 10 minutes & had to stay over in New York.
I have to thank you for a most delightful day—though Mr. Goodman speaks of our invasion as a “call” in his modest Pacific Coast way. And once he called it a visit; where any honest jury would call it — visitation. However, what I am…
…Maybe a little vacation will not set her back overmuch in her studies, & I greatly want to show her off before our children…I suppose you do not know that she put on the gloves with Mr. Goodman in the Cryptograph matter after dinner, & scored two points to his one. I have not seen so neat & satisfactory a battle in a long time. / If the Senator…were here now, he would see my machine doing wonders….
[Bonham’s auction June 27, 2006; Sale 14011, lot 3114]. Note: From this letter it’s clear that upon Sam’s return from Washington, he stayed over in N.Y. one night. Likely too he had an engagement to meet Mrs. Jones that he was unable to make. Sam and Goodman left N.Y. from Washington on June 13. After their return Goodman wrote from N.Y. to Sam on June 22. Their return from Washington was then sometime between Monday, June 16 (in which case the above letter was written on June 18), and June 22 (in which case the above letter was written June 24).
June 21, 1890 – Sam and Joe Goodman had returned from their trip to Washington by this date with Joe stopping in N.Y. and Clemens returning to Hartford. See: June 18 or June 24, 1890 addition.
October 12, 1890 addition – In Hartford, Sam answered Miss Alice Kingsbury’s request to lecture:
“I reformed six years ago & I have not infested the platform since. I should’nt know how to read or speak now,” He thanked for her offer of hospitality, and sent “kindest regards” to her parents, and mentioned that “Business has carried me from place to place”, and talked about his daughters (“Susy & Clara were very little folk when you knew them. And Now Susy’s in college! It takes my breath away to think of it…”) [Bonham’s auction June 24, 2008; Sale 16202, Lot 112]. Note: The Kingsbury’s were acquaintances of the Clemenses in Hartford in the 1870s. F.J. Kingsbury was Alice’s father.
July 28, 1891 addition – In Aix-les-Bains, France Sam wrote to Samuel S. McClure:
I want to introduce to you in the way of business Dr. William Wakefield, one of the principal physicians of this place in the hope that you might need his pen, which is a practiced one [Sotheby’s auction June 19, 2003, Sale NO7915, lot 46].
February 26 and 27, 1894 – See addenda for Mar. 3, 1894.
March 3, 1894 addition – The function Sam was to read for has been identified. On Feb. 26 and 27 Sam shared the platform with James Whitcomb Riley and Douglass Sherley. Boewe writes:
Sleet and snow and strong winds hit New York City with such force that the Madison Square Garden Concert Hall was sparsely filled on 26 February, the first night of the advertised Twain-Riley performance. The New York Times reviewer, referring to a Twain who “loitered through several of his back numbers,” gave grudging approval, noting that the audience “was convulsed with determined merriment.” Riley, as usual, was praised for his skill, but Sherley got scant mention. After the Tuesday 27 February performance, to compensate for the bad weather, a third engagement was added, netting Mark Twain another $250 when he appeared with the duo at Chickering Hall on Saturday evening, 3 March. Twain left for Europe the next day, but by then Riley was too ill to move into Twain’s now-vacant room at the Players’ Club [“On Stage and Off with James Whitcomb Riley and Mark Twain,” Traces 7.4 (Fall, 1995: 22-3]. Note: Boewe makes one error here—Sam did not sail on Mar. 4 but on Mar. 7.
May to July, 1895 – Sam wrote a sketch unpublished until 2009: [“Frank Fuller and My First New York Lecture”] [Who Is Mark Twain? xxiii]. Note: name of the piece was assigned by the MTP.
July 2, 1895 note: – For an interesting backstory on the “Wager Stones” see “Letters from Clara Stanchfield” in The Twainian 26.3 (May-June 1967 p.1-3), which includes Clara’s letter to Paine of May 28, 1911, recounting her presence at the discussion on immortality between Sam and Mrs. Thomas K. Beecher.
June 28, 1896 & July 1, 1896 correction – Harriet Beecher Stowe died on the latter date, the former reported was “an exaggeration”—apologies offered for this attempt to rush her along.
In the peace of a quiet home, with her two daughters, Eliza and Harriet, her sister, Mrs. Isabella Beecher Hooker, and her devoted nurse, Mrs. Arms, at her bedside, Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe passed away yesterday at noon. [Hartford Courant, July 2 1896 “Death of Mrs. Stowe” p.6].
– last Sept. 22, 2009
Mark Twain Day By Day – Volume II
Business Takes Over – An Author Without a Publisher – Riches for Mrs. Grant
Susy is Fourteen, God I’m Old! – More Paige Quicksand
Steaming across the Great Lakes – Sweltering Keokuk – Wanamaker Woes
Governor’s Island Sneak-Peek – Stanley Visits, Lectures – More Books by Dead Soldiers
1886 – This year marked a low point in Sam’s literary career. Except for sporadic work on Connecticut Yankee, a few papers for the Monday Evening Club, and a trivial sketch or two, commercial activities sapped Sam’s creative energies. Here are some undated events during the year:
In Hartford Sam inscribed LM to Herbert E. Hill: I shall be very glad to read the story of the heroes of Cedar Hill…[MTP].
Also in Hartford Sam wrote a dinner invitation to Joe Twichell and sent a copy of Grant’s Memoirs.
Livy sent me to see if Harmony would lend you to us for dinner Wednesday evening. I was to explain to Harmony that this shabby invitation of only one-half of the firm is not dictated by desire, but necessity, there being a vacant male seat but no vacancy in the female line…[MTP].
Also in Hartford, Sam wrote a letter titled “Unmailed Answer” to an unidentified person who had sought his influence in obtaining a consulship. Never one to easily loosen a grudge, Sam was evidently upset about this person writing an uncomplimentary article in the Jamestown, N.Y. Journal on his lecture in that city. Sam called Bishop, the owner of that paper, a “pious half-human polecat” and a “sanctimonious buzzard.” Then he really got going to the requester:
And you want a consulship. What do you want with a consulship? What you want is a rope. I will send you one. I have never approached a public servant in my life to ask for a place for myself or for anybody else, as far back as I can remember; & do you suppose I will break my record for you? The thing for you is a burial permit. You have only to speak; I will see that you get it. Attend the funeral, too, boss it all, if desired; & bury you at the crossroads with a stake through your back. You want a consulship, you blatherskite! You make me tired [MTP].
A sixteen-page biography of Mark Twain, in pamphlet form, 1 ½ by 2 ½ inches, author unknown, was published this year. One copy went with each package of Duke’s Mixture Smoking Tobacco [The Twainian Mar. 1944 p.6].
In 1886 John East started a cave guide service in Hannibal and opened McDowell’s Cave of Sam’s boyhood to public tours. This made the cave the first “show cave” of Missouri, and it has been open to the public continuously. The tours were made with lanterns until the cave got electric light in 1939. http://www.showcaves.com/isteri/usa/showcaves/MarkTwain.html
American Literature, 1607-1885 by Charles F. Richardson was printed in two volumes. Mark Twain got a brief mention:
“The reigning favorites of the day are Frank R. Stockton, Joel Chandler Harris, the various newspaper jokers, and ‘Mark Twain’” [Tenney 16].
Records of an Active Life, by Heman Dyer (1886) describes Sam’s May 1867 visit to the New York Bible House, and Sam’s testament to Rev. Franklin Rising’s influence among Nevada miners (p.315) [Tenney, ALR supplement to the Reference Guide (Autumn, 1978) 165]. See May 1867.
Sam’s article, “Taming the Bicycle,” based on his and Twichell’s 1884 adventures with the conveyance was written “around 1886” according to Budd [Collected 1021], and published posthumously in What is Man? And Other Essays, Paine, ed., p.285-96.
Sam P. Davis, published “The Typographical Howitzer” in Short Stories. This is a hilarious sketch about Mark Twain and Dan De Quille fighting off hostile Indians with a cannon loaded with typefaces. It is reprinted in the esteemed Lawrence I. Berkove’s The Sagebrush Anthology (2006). Davis also wrote a history of Nevada.
Marshall P. Wilder’s The People I’ve Smiled With: Recollections of a Merry Little Life includes notes of Mark Twain. On p.137 Wilder says he told Twain that no good stories were mere chestnuts, “and Mark drawled out, ‘I agree with you, my boy; and if you’re not right about it, why do people go to minstrel shows? They do go, you know; nothing can keep them away; I go myself, and roar hardest at the jokes I was brought up on as a boy.’” On p. 190 mentions in passing a conversation between Twain and the actor James Lewis, and on p. 194-9 publishes text of Twain’s speech at Daly’s Theatre, at the 100th night dinner of The Taming of the Shrew [Tenney, ALR supplement to the Reference Guide (Autumn, 1981) 162].
January – Sam began serious work on Connecticut Yankee during the month, reading excerpts to his family in February.
January 1 Friday – In Hartford Sam sent a note to Anna Abrams, “With the compliments of the season” [MTP].
January 2 Saturday – Jervis Langdon, Jr. wrote to Sam and Livy, thanking them both for The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, which he thought “a very beautiful book….The story seems as interesting and funny as the pictures” [MTP].
William J. Hamersley wrote that they “had better decide pretty soon – whether or not we want to see a type setter charter…” he also wished a happy New Year [MTP].
January 3 Sunday – In Hartford Sam sent a short note to Charles Hopkins Clark of the Hartford Courant, and an ally on the “Library of Humor” project, wishing him “Happy New Year’s!” and observing about past communications on the “Library” book:
You perceive that nothing — in Howells’s opinion — is necessary but a selection from his own humor; then the book will be finished [MTP].
Sam also wrote two paragraphs to Howells, confirming Jan. 13, a Wednesday, as the date for another home production of P&P. In his previous letter on Dec. 26, 1885, Sam urged Howells to come that day, as the prior day they’d be practicing. See also Howells’ to Sam, Dec. 30, 1885. Howells would bring his daughter, Pilla (Mildred). To this letter, Sam added a note about his book production and debt:
I’m out of the woods. On the last day of the year I had paid out $182,000 on the Grant book & it was totally free from debt [MTP
Sam also wrote to Charles Webster of plans to “be down” (to New York) on Tuesday, Jan. 5 on his way to Baltimore. Sam planned on going with William M. Laffan of the NY Sun to view the developments of the Mergenthaler Linotype machine. Laffan postponed the trip, however, though he examined the machine and wrote Sam on Jan. 25 [MTNJ 3: 215n94]. Sam also suggested a canvass of the Library of Humor in the spring or end of summer, “& thus get it out of the way before it gets to be out of date and worthless…” He felt it might at least be of use to hold their current bunch of canvassers until one of their more promising books came out, such as the Pope’s biography or Grant’s letters to his wife. He ended noting that Livy recommended paying off “that $100,000 of borrowed money…without waiting for it [the note] to mature” [MTP]. Note: Sam often claimed such decisions came from Livy, or overstated her suggestion as command. Whether this was accurate or not isn’t always clear.
Charles Webster also wrote (typed) a letter to Sam about Major Pond disclosing “some parties” had called upon Henry Ward Beecher “and placed a check of not very small dimensions upon his desk.” Pond did not say how much the check was for, and Webster didn’t “love Beecher any more than” Sam, but loved “his money just as well,” and wanted to tie him up and “switch off War books if we can” [MTP].
Lizzie Ferayir wrote what Sam annotated as a “begging letter” for her rent money [MTP].
January 4 Monday – Frank B. Darby, Sam’s Elmira dentist, wrote and sent Sam some artwork. He answered Darby’s letter on Jan. 10. Note: Extracts of Darby’s reminiscences of the 1840s to 1895 in Elmira can be found online: www.rootsweb.com/~nychenan/raft-rr2.htm and also in some modern reprints of Mildred Cochrane’s A History of the Town of Greene, Chenango County, New York.
In Hartford Sam wrote a two-page letter to James B. Pond. Sam had caught a cold after eating Welsh rarebit with Pond, who was also sick (date uncertain, but it’s possible Pond visited over the holidays). Still irritated by his dealings with George W. Cable, Sam wrote about a future reading in Concord that Cable evidently would only offer Apr. 1 for:
If I had only been at home, I never would have allowed these people to invite Cable; it was the infernalist mistake that was ever made; I could have told them they’d get a slap in the face from him. Thank God, April 1st is too early — it wouldn’t give them time to make their preparations. Now just you stick to April 1, & that will defeat the project. Then we’ll supply Cable’s place with one of those boy pianists of New York, & some violinning by Olla, (I’ll pay these extras myself,) & I’ll do the reading, & the thing will go [MTP]. Sam added that “but for Mrs. Clemens’s restraining hand,” he’d refuse to read with Cable. [See also Jan. 15 to Pond].
William Mackay Laffan for the N.Y. Sun wrote that he could not go to Baltimore this week, but would go any day but Wednesday of the following week. “I will take the precautions requisite to see the machine [Mergenthaler] and to see it under conditions suitable to our point of view” [MTP].
January 5 Tuesday – H. Harris for Star Lecture Course wrote to Sam asking, “Can I say anything to you that will induce you to make an appearance in Phila this coming season under the auspices of ‘The Star Course’”? Harris had an opening on Feb. 28, “just two years since your last appearance here.” He referred to a performance with George W. Cable. He was “ready to pay a good price.” Note: Harris made two mistakes — he addressed the note to New Haven and mentioned Cable [MTP].
Jane Clemens and Orion Clemens wrote to Sam, Jane beginning and Orion finishing the letter when Jane got tired. She rambled about surviving everyone save a few cousins. “I am just about as well off in one place as another,” she wrote. “If I live till next June I will be 83 years old.” Orion wrote:
Ma was out to dinner New Year and the day after. Went in a hack (or hacks, rather) – probably benefited her. What excellent work little Jean did! …. The other children’s letters were interesting. Hope they will write again. O.C. [MTP].
January 6 Wednesday – Witness to the worldwide notoriety and love for Mark Twain is this article printed in the North Otago Times in New Zealand:
In a letter received by Mr. J.L. Dow, M.L.A., of Melbourne, from Mr. James B. Pond, of New York, Mark Twain’s business manager for his lecturing engagements, some particulars are giving in connection with General Grant’s book. Mr. Pond says: “I was out on the road all summer with Miss Clara Louise Kellogg and a concert company. Was gone four months. Had a great time, and returned renewed in health and pocket. I have tried to find a more first rate attraction that would be good enough to take to Australia. I very much want to make the tour, but not unless I could have an attraction that would satisfy your best people. Mark Twain is getting rich so fast that I fear it is a fruitless effort attempting to get him to go so far. He says he is lazy. He is the smartest lazy man I ever saw, and accomplishes the most remarkable results of any person I know. He and General Grant were great friends. When Grant became embarrassed Mark asked him to write a book, and assured him that he would make it profitable for him. Grant at first scouted the idea, but Mark kept at him and got him at it, and then came the ‘Century Magazine’ people. They got one or two articles, but with the understanding that they were to be part of the forthcoming book. The publishers began to come when it was known Grant was writing a book.” [Note: Clara Louise Kellogg (1842-1916) J.L Dow was John Lamont Dow who would meet the Clemenses in their 1895 world tour in Australia].
Pond went on to detail Sam’s bonus offer to Grant, the subsequent sales, as well as the “Fifty-nine thousand volumes of ‘Huckleberry Finn’ sold last spring. Note: It is interesting that even at this early date, nine years before Sam’s tour down-under, Pond was writing of a tour to Australia with Mark Twain.
January 7 Thursday – William D. Howells wrote Sam a postcard, confirming he and his daughter would leave Boston at 3 p.m. Jan. 13 and reach the Clemens’ house at 7 [MTHL 2:550].
Charles Webster wrote that he’d been confined to the house for two days. He didn’t like the idea of canvassing and publishing the Library of Humor “in the summer simply to hold agents. It is too good a book to sacrifice in that manner.” He felt the book would never be out of date; it could wait, but “this War literature will have its day” [MTP].
January 8 Friday – Richard Watson Gilder for Century Magazine wrote to Sam enclosing two letters objecting to Sam’s recent Century contributions. Gilder challenged Sam:
While Christmas still lingers in your memory, write new for the Century (to be used next year) a Christmas story or sketch which will be so human, so beautiful, as to melt the hearts even of the Philistines. [MTP]. Note: Gilder’s replies to the irritated readers granted Sam could be “coarse” but he defended the value of his sketches, “of decided force and worth,” and that Mark Twain “believes in the best things.”
January 9 Saturday – The Clemens children were rehearsing for their performance of the P&P play. Sam wanted to see Clara’s part, the Lady Jane Grey, given more lines in her scene with the Pauper, played by Margaret (Daisy) Warner. From Daisy’s diary (with her charming spellings):
Saturday forenoon when we were rehersing for the next Wednesday’s performance, Mr. Clemens went up to his billiard room and wrote this adition to our Lady Jane Grey scene which was so very short before, it being only that which is in the book. Then Mama [Lilly Warner] sat right down and coppied it off from Mr. Clemen’s, when he brought it down stairs. Then I took it home, learned my part and went over in the evening and rehersed it [Salsbury 216].
Henry M. Alexander for Alexander & Green wrote to Sam, “the balance on deposit to the credit of Webster & Co., to day is a little over One hundred and eighty thousand dollars. No debts except the notes” [MTP].
Charles Webster wrote he’d been “confined to bed three days” unable to do any business, but was “just got to the office for the first time.” He verified $180,000 in the bank and ordered the Mount Morris Bank to pay $50,000 on the notes as soon as possible, not liking to have so much cash on hand. [MTP]. Note: $100,000 was owed, but Mrs. Grant’s share of $250,000 was due “within six weeks.”
January 10 Sunday – In Hartford Sam wrote a short note of thanks to Dr. Frank B. Darby, his dentist in Elmira, for sending an “addition” to his “works of art” on Jan. 4.
They are pinned up, in the billiard room & their exceeding ister ingenuity fetches out lots of applause [MTP]. Note: see July 2-10, 1884 entry for time spent in Darby’s dentist chair.
Sam also wrote a two-liner note to James B. Pond, urging him to “give my old friend a date, & do it dam quick” [MTP]. Note: the old friend was Augustus P. Chamberlaine, who was begging for a date for Cable. (See Jan 15 to Pond.)
Sam also wrote a short note to Charles Webster, saying he was sorry to hear Webster was sick; that he’d written Dunham “about the notes” (notes due for production of Grant’s Memoirs) and that “Proofs have just come,” probably for volume two of the same [MTP]. Note: On Oct. 21, 1885 Sam borrowed $100,000 from Samuel G. Dunham, director of the Dunham Hosiery Co. of Hartford, not to be confused with Samuel C. Dunham, Hartford attorney and billiards buddy.
January 11 Monday – The American Publishing Company wrote Sam a check drawn on the First National Bank of Hartford for $646.68 for literary royalties [MTP].
January 12 Tuesday – Orion Clemens wrote to Sam, bemoaning in burlesque the fact that he’d not received the monthly stipend for himself and their Ma for the month:
Is he too busy? Can it be possible that he has after all let the books go without first receiving the money? If so, we are all on the ragged edge of hell. O, my poor grocer! My unhappy butcher! My sainted landlady! The devil has got us all! Affectionately, [MTP].
C.E. Grier, a Charlotte, N.C. attorney, wrote, “Notwithstanding your declining [not extant] to read my MS I am very glad I wrote.” Grier invited Sam to his home should he ever “have the misfortune” to visit Charlotte [MTP].
Emma Knickerbocker of Wayne, Michigan wrote asking for “a few lines” for the town book club. Sam wrote “Shameless” on the envelope [MTP].
January 13 Wednesday – In Hartford Sam responded to a plan sent by Charles Webster, probably on Jan. 9, about paying dividends, notes, and the funds due Mrs. Grant, or 70% of the royalties for Grant’s Memoirs. Sam felt Webster’s plan as he understood it amounted to borrowing to pay dividends; that it would be best to pay off the notes first and reserve 30% of what was left in cash, paying the balance to Mrs. Grant [MTP].
In the evening, sometime after 7, a third production of the children’s play, The Prince and the Pauper was given at the Clemens’ Hartford residence for William Dean Howells (who arrived late due to “broken down trains” [MTHL 2: 550n1]) and a multitude of Hartford friends. This was one of several plays the children put on, the first being the surprise for Sam at the Warner’s on his Christmas break from the “Twins of Genius” tour on Dec. 19, 1884. An encore show was given on Apr. 22, 1885. See entries. Note: In Sam’s Dec. 10-13(?) letter to Webster, he’d asked for eight copies of “acting Macbeths — pamphlets.” The family had considered putting on Hamlet, but changed this to Macbeth, then to another production of P&P [MTNJ 3: 206n73]. Susy listed the parts played:
Pauper Margaret [“Daisy”] Warner
Prince Susy Clemens
Princess Elizabeth H[armony] Twichell
Lady Jane Grey Clara Clemens
Miles Hendon Mr. S. L. Clemens
Lord Hertford Fanny Freese
St. Jhon Susie Twichell
Archbishop Mr. G. H. Warner
Page and crown bearer Burton T[wichell]
Guard Mr. A. W. Foote
Court Gentleman David Twichell
The Coronation March was played…the third time by Mrs. C.D. Warner [Salsbury 216-7].
Clarence C. Buel for Century Magazine wrote, enclosing a printed advertisement for the Universal Tinker Co., which inspected homes weekly for a fee, saving “time lost in chasing Plumbers, Painters, Gas Fitters, etc.” The flyer contained a poem; in the margin Sam wrote, “From my article signed XYZ in ‘Century’ for Dec. 1885” Buel wrote, “Have you invented a new profession, writer & our Universal Tinker, that has been wanted since the garden of Eden got rusty and hard to open [?]” [MTP].
Francis Wayland, dean of Yale Law School, wrote thanking Sam for a $75 check given for Negro student Warner T. McGuinn [MTP].
January 14 Thursday – In Hartford Sam wrote a short note to Charles Webster, acknowledging receipt of $480 from the Slote Co. and $646.68 from American Publishing Co. He PS’d that Webster had not sent the monthly checks to Keokuk for his mother and brother.
Charles Webster wrote that Sam misunderstood — he did not “propose to pay Mrs. Grant more than is due her.” He didn’t dare to pay more than $50,000 down on the notes until sure of more cash coming in. He also bore bad news, good news:
We had a fire yesterday morning that burned up 1016 Grant Half Morocco books 300 Huck Finns 15000 frontspiece vol 2 and some other stuff. Everything was fully insured [MTP].
January 15 Friday – In Hartford Sam wrote to James B. Pond reminding, “Chamberlaine’s letter distinctly begged me to implore you to give him a date for Cable.” Sam didn’t have to fill in for Cable should he be unable to attend, and wouldn’t go to Concord, Mass. for the reading “in any circumstances.” Note: Mr. & Mrs. Augustus P. Chamberlaine were friends of Ralph Waldo Emerson. The Clemens met them in Venice in 1878 [MTNJ 2:220n10].
Sam also responded to Professor Francis Wayland’s Jan. 13 letter:
You catch my idea exactly, I am greatly obliged [MTP]. Note: it was Sam’s plan for McGuinn to receive the money for his support in small amounts. Wayland understood.
Henry M. Alexander for Alexander & Green wrote to Sam.
It seems to me wise that you should come to some conclusion in regard to the partnership matter upon which we conferred….I think you had better telegram me yes or no [MTNJ 3:219n105].
Note: Jesse Grant had offered his parents’ letters for publication in return for a partnership in Webster & Co. (See Dec. 20, 1885 to Webster.)
January 16 Saturday – Howells ended his visit this day or the next, and wrote thanks on Jan. 18 from Auburndale, Mass. [MTHL 2: 550].
Worden & Co., Wall Street brokers, wrote acknowledging Sam’s return of a $50 check to C. Depew, for a dividend to be shared [MTP]. Note: Chauncey Depew.
January 17 Sunday – In Hartford Sam wrote to George Henry Himes (1844-1940), about old Hannibal fellow printers Urban E. Hicks, Thomas P. (Pet) McMurray, and Wales R. McCormick. He thanked Himes for sending a text (unspecified) and mentioned he was to speak at the printers’ dinner in New York.
We led such a rushing life in Virginia City, & made such an innumerable host of acquaintances, that that existence is all a foggy confusion in my mind, & I cannot name twenty people of that day & district with certainty; but in Hannibal, thirty-five years ago, the new acquaintances averaged only about one a year…I remember Urban E. [Hicks] vividly & pleasantly…if I could see Hicks here I would receive him with a barbeque & a torchlight procession, & put the entire house at his disposal [MTP].
Note: Himes migrated with his parents in 1853 (the same year young Sam Clemens left Hannibal) to the Puget Sound country near Olympia, Wash. He was loudly proud of his pioneering background and often claimed to have walked from Illinois to Washington. Like Sam, he became a printer at a young age, working at age seventeen for the Washington Standard. In 1864 he signed on with the Portland Oregonian and became a pioneer book publisher in Oregon. He wrote an extraordinary diary of 60 volumes covering a period of over 80 years starting with 1858. His lasting achievement was the establishment of the Oregon Historical Society in 1898. Himes lived to the ripe age of 95.
Sam also sent a letter to an unidentified bookseller asking for a copy of French Meisterschaft. This book may have inspired Sam’s Jan. 1888 comedy in three acts, Meisterschaft.
Courtlandt Palmer wrote inviting Sam to appear on Tuesday, May 4 at the Nineteenth Century Club in N.Y. to speak on the subject of American humor. Sam wrote on the envelope: “Distinctly no sir!” [MTP].
January 18 Monday – Sam went to New York, where he spoke at the Typothetae Dinner at Delmonico’s. From Fatout:
“Mark Twain, a former jour printer, was in congenial company with members of the Typothetae, an association of master printers who celebrated annually on the birthday of Benjamin Franklin, patron of all printers. On one such occasion, at Keokuk, Iowa, in 1856, young Sam Clemens made his first speech. At the 1886 dinner in New York, the organization honored its distinguished forebear by displaying an oil portrait of Franklin and a model, in sugar, of the Franklin hand press. Of two speeches Mark Twain prepared for the Typothetae, he delivered ‘The Compositor’…” [MT Speaking 200].
The chairman’s historical reminiscences of Gutenburg have caused me to fall into reminiscences, for I myself am something of an antiquity. All things change in the procession of the years, and it may be that I am among strangers. It may be that the printer of today is not the printer of thirty-five years ago. I was no stranger to him. I knew him well. I built his fire for him in the cold winter mornings; I brought his water from the village pump; I swept out his office; I picked up his type from under his stand…I wetted down the paper Saturdays, I turned it Sundays — for this was a country weekly; I rolled, I washed the rollers, I washed the forms, I folded the papers, I carried them around at dawn Thursday mornings. The carrier was then an object of interest to all the dogs in town. If I had saved up all the bites I ever received, I could keep M. Pasteur busy for a year [200-201].
From Louis Budd’s updates: “A Supplement to ‘A Chronology’ in MARK TWAIN SPEAKING” published in Essays in Arts and Sciences, Vol. XXIX, October 2000, p.57-68: See a possibly better text in American Bookmaker 2 (Feb. 1886), p.55-6. Interestingly, the Boston Daily Globe, p.5 Jan. 19, 1886 ran a notice of the meeting and offered a few more details:
Mark Twain for the “Comps.”
NEW YORK, January 18. — The annual dinner of the Typothetea Association, an organization of printers and publishers, was held this evening at Delmonico’s. Covers were laid for 100 persons. After coffee, Hon. Isaac Bailey responded to the toast “Benjamin Franklin,” Mark Twain responded to “The Compositor,” and the toast “Boston” was responded to by ex-Governor Rice of Massachusetts. Colonel McClure responded for “Philadelphia,” and Will Carleton to “The Journeyman Printers.”
William Dean Howells wrote thanks for his “delightful little visit.” He wrote about Sam’s reminiscence of Nevada being cut off by an unscheduled appearance of James W. Paige and William J. Hamersley on the typesetting machine.
I still grieve over the loss of your conclusions about Daggett and Mackley [Mackay or Mackey] which the Type Setter Committee cut off. But I hope some time to get ‘em. That notion of yours about the Hartford man waking up in King Arthur’s time is capital. There is a great chance in it. I wish I had a magazine, to prod you with, and keep you up to all those good literary intentions [MTHL 2: 550].
Note: Rollin M. Daggett had been on the staff of the Virginia City Enterprise; John Mackay was one of the silver barons of the Comstock Lode. There is a tone in Howells’ letter that reveals his concern about business interests crowding out Sam’s writing.
E.S. White for Chamberlin, White & Mills, Hartford attorneys wrote about Mr. Fox and the ceiling dispute. Livy “must be mistaken in her impressions as Mr. Fox says he knows nothing of [illegible word] settlement of this a/c which belongs to the old firm.” Sam wrote on the envelope: “The last about that ceiling 1886”[MTP].
January 19 Tuesday
January 20 Wednesday – The Hartford Courant ran “The Typothete,” on pages 1-2, quoting Sam’s New York speech of Jan. 18 at Delmonico’s.
One of the festive events in New York city Monday evening was the yearly Delmonico dinner of the Typotheter. This peculiar and rather awe-inspiring word is alleged to be Greek and so signify being interpreted, gentlemen, who have accumulated wealth by hiring other gentlemen to stick type for them.
Sam wrote to J.W. Atterbury (1841?-1921), one of the town founders of Madison, Mo., and at this time a member of the state legislature who would go on to become a longtime banker in Madison. Atterbury had invited Sam to a celebration in Madison of the founding of the Hannibal to St. Joseph Railroad that Sam’s father helped to initiate in 1846 (see Wecter 110). Atterbury included information about John Marshall Clemens that Sam found “astonishing” — that he’d been a pioneering railroad man.
I knew he interested himself in Salt River navigation, but this railroad matter is entirely new to me. I recal the names of nearly all those commissioners: they salute my ear as out of a vanished world & a forgotten time.
Sam declined to attend, seeing travel as “an insuperable barrier.” Note: If Sam were ignorant of his father’s activity promoting the St. Joseph to Hannibal railroad (Sam was only ten), surely Orion knew of it. In his 1882 trip up the Mississippi, Sam noted the death of the steamboat traffic in favor of the railroads; this confession may explain why he didn’t see then the irony of his father’s efforts coming to fruition and eclipsing the river life he loved so much. See online:
Sam also responded by mail to a now lost invitation by Harry Edwards (1830-1891), called in his obituary “the inestimable comedian,” and “never called Henry,” though Sam always did.
But dear me, you don’t mention any date, & my movements are desperately uncertain. I’d like it first rate, for I jump to the conclusion that reporters are not admitted — but — O, hang it I don’t suppose I could manage it; something always interferes with my purposes & desires in these busy days….But I thank you & Mr. Wallack….
Note: Lester Wallack (1820-1888), original name: John Johnstone Wallack, actor, playwright, and manager of the Wallack Theatre Co., the training stage of nearly every major American stage performer of the 19th century.
Sam also answered Courtlandt Palmer’s Jan. 17 letter to pin down a date for a speech. Palmer was a “wealthy New York lawyer and resident of Stonington, Connecticut” who wrote on June 21, 1885 asking Sam to speak at the Nineteenth Century Club during the winter on the subject of American Humor [MTNJ 3: 162n121]. See June 27, 1885 entry for Sam’s acceptance. This letter was Sam’s final abandonment of the idea.
I am not the man for it; I am not capable; I should botch it…I am going to keep in the safe background [MTP].
Sam again wrote a short note prodding James B. Pond; that Chamberlaine was “in earnest,” and needed a yes or no about getting Cable or someone else for the Concord, Mass. Gathering [MTP]. See Jan. 10 & 15 entries.
A new contract for the typesetter was negotiated during January and February, which dug Sam in deeper, and put a ceiling on his investment for the desired improvements at $30,000. However, no upper limit was given for his overall investment — a serious error that Franklin G. Whitmore cautioned against, warning that such a clause might bankrupt Sam. See Jan. 21 for an amendment.
From Sam’s notebook:
Meeting of Hamersley, Paige & Clemens in my billiard-room, Jan 20 ’86 pm. Paige says “Every expense connected with making the model machine cannot reach $30,000 — can’t possibly go over it.” This includes every possible cost of wages, drawings, building the machine, taking out all the patents, &c. [MTNJ 3:219].
Paine writes of Paige:
“Paige was a small, bright-eyed, alert, smartly dressed man, with a crystal-clear mind, but a dreamer and a visionary. Clemens says of him: ‘He is a poet; a most great and genuine poet, whose sublime creations are written in steel’” [MTB 904].
L.. Hoffman writes : “During Howells’ visit, James Paige and William Hamersley interrupted Sam with an unscheduled meeting to discuss their new plan for the typesetter. The machine could have gone to market then and had the field to itself, since no other mechanical typesetter could match Paige’s invention for accuracy or speed. Paige, however, had ideas for improvements — a small motor and an automatic justifier — and he and Hamersley wanted Sam to underwrite this work in exchange for greater ownership of the machine.” Kaplan puts that “greater ownership at 50 per cent, and also pins the meeting to Jan. 20 . Note: this meeting was a continuation of one, sometime between Jan. 13 and 17, during Howells’ visit (referred to in Howells’ Jan. 18 from Auburndale, Mass.) See MTHL 2: 551n3.
January 21 Thursday – An amendment to the co-partnership agreement for Webster & Co. Was added. It gave Charles Webster the right to withdraw more of his share of the profits (save on Grant’s Memoirs), raised his salary to $3,000, and put the interest rate on Sam’s capital invested down to six percent from eight [MTLTP 170]. Note: the source does not say, but presumably the amended “No. 2” contract was signed this day.
Francis Wayland wrote again about Warner T. McGuinn — he’d given him $40 of the $75 Sam sent and was “keeping him sharply up to his work — the ‘scheme’ is working to a charm” [MTP].
Charles Webster sent the new contract agreed upon to Sam and “attached a copy of the old one and call it ‘Schedule A’”….This contract meets my views and yours as we talked it over” [MTP].
January 22 Friday – James B. Pond wrote to Sam; he’d been on the road with Clara Louise Kellogg and was trying unsuccessfully to get a commitment from George W. Cable for a reading in Concord, Mass. Pond confessed that Sam’s “letter could be read both ways, or at least I read it so” [MTP]. See Jan. 20 entry.
January 23 Saturday – Ambrose Bierce’s short article in The Wasp (San Francisco) was a sneering discussion of Sam’s Jan. 18 speech at the Typothetae Dinner. Bierce felt Sam had lost his humor: “foremost among those desecrators of the tomb of Mark the Jester is Mark the Money-worm….”his last atrocious desecration” was the speech as reported by the Associated Press. “They should…have called it an epitaph, an affidavit, an indisputable proof that Samuel Clemens, Esquire, of Hartford, Connecticut was masquerading in the motley of Mark Twain…and that S. Clemens, Esq., was making a mighty poor fist of it” [Tenney, ALR supplement to the Reference Guide (Autumn, 1981) 162].
January 24 Sunday – William C. Prime wrote to Sam from New York, asking when Sam might be in town to discuss the McClellan book. Prime was representing General George B. McClellan’s widow for publishing the General’s memoirs. [MTP]. Note: Prime also wrote Dec. 31, 1885.
In 1908, Sam dictated this about Prime, who was James Hammond Trumbull’s brother-in law:
Prime was a gushing pietist; religion was his daily tipple; he was always under the influence. Seldom actually & solidly drunk with holiness, but always on the verge of it, always dizzy, boozy, twaddlesome. But there was another & a pleasanter side to him: when he wasn’t praying for himself, when he wasn’t praising God intemperately, he was damning to the nethermost hell three or four men whom he hated with his whole heart, and imploring the Throne of Grace to keep them alive so that he could go on hating & damning them & be happy. Chiefest of these was Mr. Lincoln’s great Secretary of War, Edmund M. Stanton [AD Oct. 31, 1908, MTP].
January 25 Monday – William Mackay Laffan for the N.Y. Sun. Wrote warning that he’d seen the Baltimore (Mergenthaler) machine set type on Saturday Jan 23:
…every daily in this town will be set up by that machine inside of twelve months….This is confidential; but you’d better haul in your tents and [illegible] like hell [MTP].
January 26 Tuesday – In New York, headed to Washington the next day, Sam sent his love to the “chil’n” in a letter to Livy.
Livy dear, the contracts are signed & delivered, & everything is satisfactory.
I spent an hour or so at Mrs. Grant’s, & she was full of cheerful talk about old times & the General. There were 60 candles burning in a cake, for this is her birthday. She & Mrs. Jesse Grant & the Colonel’s wife visited the tomb to-day & carried flowers there [MTP].
January 27 Wednesday – Sam left New York in the morning and traveled by train to Washington. He intended to stay at the Ebbitt House.
January 28 Thursday – In Washington, D.C., Sam spoke before the U.S. Senate Committee, His “Remarks on Copyright” can be found in Fatout’s Mark Twain Speaking, p.206-9. Fatout prefaces:
“When the Authors Copyright League and the Publishers Copyright League joined forces to exert pressure on Congress, Mark Twain, together with members of both Leagues, appeared before a senate committee in 1886. His remarks were rather inconclusive, perhaps because he was unsure of his role or because he did not entirely favor the bill under consideration, drafted by Senator Hawley. At any rate, the Hawley bill became the eleventh copyright measure in forty years that failed to reach the floor, all being killed in committee. An acceptable bill was finally passed, however, in the last hour of the last day of the Fifty-first Congress, March 1891.”
Sam had lunch with Joseph R. Hawley, who he always called “General.” Afterward he went to Mrs. Hawley’s reception, where he saw Mrs. Robert Allen.
Sam then wrote to Livy and sent the love of Mrs. Hawley and Mrs. Allen, and also told of General Logan’s reception, “where there was a prodigious crowd.”
I staid there an hour & a half; & got home at 6.30, & stumbled on Gen. Franklin & General Hancock; & Whitmore & I are occupying their parlor until they shall return from an engagement at 8 oclock, when we are to have some whist. Whitmore attended the Hawley reception with me, but remained in the hack at Gen. Logan’s, & thereby missed seeing a brilliant gang of people. I’d have given a great deal to have you at those two receptions….I do wish you would come here with me & spend a week. You would be charmed [MTP].
Note: General John A. Logan (1826-1886) of Illinois helped to establish Memorial Day as a holiday in 1868. He was a volunteer on the Union side in the Civil War, and elected to the Senate in 1871 and 1874; and was James G. Blaine’s running mate in 1884. He died on Dec. 26, 1886.
In the home of John M. Hay, Sam met Henry Adams (1838-1918), American novelist, journalist, and historian. Adams was the grandson of John Quincy Adams, and son of Charles Francis Adams, Sr.
In “The Mutual Awareness of Mark Twain and Henry Adams” by Charles Vandersee (1968), this meeting is seen as significant. Gribben writes, “Unfortunately Vandersee then tries to depict this single conversation as the basis for Twain’s using a fictional Henry Adams to represent an unhappy man in “What Is Man?” Gribben states that Sam simply “had a lifelong affinity for the name ‘Adam’….Not every literary character’s name is pregnant with hidden meanings” .
At 8:30 in the evening, Sam wrote Livy about the day’s events:
Livy darling, it was a very interesting séance this morning, but tomorrow’s will be still more so, because Mr. Lowell will be present. I can be useful; so I promised to remain & be present again to-morrow.
The New York Times, p.5, announced that Mrs. Grant would receive a huge check within the month.
A HANDSOME CHECK FOR MRS. GRANT
The sale of the “Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant” have reached 325,000 sets in this country, and Charles L. Webster & Co., the publishers, are making preparations for a demand of 400,000 sets. Nine thousand canvassers have been employed, 200 of whom have had New York City and Brooklyn for their field. The sets cost from $7 in cloth to $25 in tree calf, and there have been only 100 refusals out of 325,000 subscriptions. The sale in the South is very moderate, but in the West it is enormous. The publishers have imported a large number of copies of the work in German, and they find a ready sale. As to the sale of the work abroad, it is impossible to speak at present, for booksellers’ reports are only made semi-annually. It is now positively announced that the second volume will appear on the 10th of March. The publishers stated yesterday that a check for a sum between $225,000 and $250,000 would be given to Mrs. Grant within the next 30 days.
January 28 or 29 Friday – In Washington, D.C. Sam was interviewed briefly by George Alfred Townsend (1841-1914), a correspondent for the Cincinnati Enquirer who wrote under the byline of “Gath.” The interview ran in the paper shortly thereafter and was reprinted Feb. 26 in the Bismark (N.D.) Daily Tribune:
“GATH’S” CHAT WITH MARK TWAIN
Grant’s Book — Success in the Publishing Business — Autobiographical.
The day the copyright people came to Washington to talk before one of the committees I sat down for a few minutes at a table with Mark Twain, and I asked him if it was true that Mrs. Grant had received $250,000 from the memoirs of her husband. Said he, “It is not due her for about a month, but she will get more than that.”
“Good,” said Senator Hawley.
Said I: “Mr. Clemens, you are as great a publisher as you were an author. Sir Walter Scott failed as a publisher, but you make money.”
“Yes,” said Mark Twain, “I own nine-tenths of the capital in the publishing-house which has issued Grant’s book. It has a remarkable sale. But I received not long ago $52,000 for my profits on one of my own books, ‘Huckleberry Finn,’ the last book I produced.”
Said I: “I understood you to say that there was no money in books except the pleasure of writing them.”
“Oh, no,” said Clemens; “I did not say that. I said that the only way to make a successful book was to write it with no other avarice than the pleasure of doing it, and then it might be a great success; whereas, if written for money it generally fails.”
I looked at Mark Twain with a mild interest. Eighteen years ago I first met him in this city, before he was married, when he was writing a few letters to the newspapers for $25 apiece. He had just returned from his trip to Europe and foreign lands, and boarded in a plain house in Washington, and was embarrassed to get possession of the letters which he had published, which his newspaper employers had copyrighted and were indisposed to give him. He got the letters at last and issued his book, and he met about the same time his wife. He is now gray, but hale-looking, but can be quite entertaining when he desires.
While we were talking John P. Jones passed through the room, the Nevada senator. “I must see Jones,” said Clemens, “for he and I were old chums out in Nevada when he was superintendent of a mine there, and had not come to greatness.”
Something was said about the monument to Gen. Grant, and a statue of him. Mark Twain remarked: “There could have been no statue made of Gen. Grant except within the last five or six years of his life. His face had not assumed the lines and the fullness of expression until after 1880. Then you began to see a portrait there, signs of experience, tones of expression and the effects of the world and great events upon a man.”
January 29 Friday – As Fatout points out, Sam was somewhat ambivalent about the Hawley Bill but when pressed on the matter before the Senate Committee on Patents on the second day of testimony, he said:
I do consider that those persons who are called “pirates,” and for whom General Hawley has said a kind word, which seemed to me entirely proper, were made pirates by the collusion of the United States Government, which made them pirates and thieves. I do not wish to cast any reflection upon the members of this committee, because you gentlemen were not here at the time that was done. You probably would never have done it. But Congress, if anybody, is to blame for their action. It is not dishonesty. They have that right, and they have been working under that right a long time, publishing what is called “pirated books.” They have invested their money in that way, and they did it in the confidence that they would be supported and no injustice done them.
Sam then shifted to what he did want — that is, a bill that would not injure anyone connected with book production but one that would protect authors.
…I echo what General Hawley said. I cannot see any objection to the insertion of a clause which shall require that the books of a foreign author when copyrighted here shall be printed on this soil [MT Speaking 208].
Note: Carter  points out that Sam had become “especially interested” in the problems of the American Labor movement while writing A Connecticut Yankee, and that in 1886 he wrote an article about the Knights of Labor which was never published. In this article, Sam identified “a foreman of a printing office,” one James Welsh, President of Philadelphia’s Typographical Union, No. 2. Welsh pushed for a copyright bill which would require all foreign books to be printed in the U.S. “Welsh did not make the speech attributed to him in the article, but he did claim the support of the ‘4,000,000 to 5,000,000’ members of the Knights of Labor and ‘the sympathies of the industries of the entire world.’ Actually the Knights had only about 725,000 members, but since the union was at the peak of its power in 1886 it is not surprising that Twain accepted the somewhat grandiloquent claims of Mr. Welsh.” (See Mar. 22 entry, where Sam read the article to the Monday Evening Club.) The Washington Post ran a page 1 article, “International Copyrights,” quoting and summarizing Sam’s testimony.
William C. Prime wrote to Sam from New York, thanking him for his “telegram rec’d at 7.30 this evening.” Prime wrote he’d call on Sam at the Hotel Normandie at 10:15 the next morning. This suggests Sam returned from Washington on Jan. 29 and spent the night at the Normandie [MTP].
January 30 Saturday – Sam was at the Hotel Normandie in New York [Prime’s Jan. 29].
The copyright issue and bills in the U.S. Congress also resonated overseas. The London Pall Mall Gazette carried an article, “THE AMERICANS AND INTERNATIONAL COPYRIGHT” on p.7:
Mr. Samuel Clemens (“Mark Twain”) said that he would do nothing to jeopardize Mr. Hawley’s bill, but he doubted his ability to pass it on its rigid simplicity. He said some persons were called “pirates.” But since they were pirates by collusion with the American Government, which made them pirates, they had a right to be pirates. They had been working under that right for a long time, publishing pirated books, and had invested their money in the confidence that they would be supported, and that no injustice would be done them. He feared Mr. Hawley’s bill would work great injustice to them. He would like a printing clause put in the bill. Authors were less concerned pecuniarily than were a lot of other people — publishers, printers, binders, &c. He saw no objection to the inserting of a clause requiring foreigners’ books when “copyrighted” in America to be printed there. Mr. Clemens described the method of obtaining English copyright. He had for years received a larger royalty in England than in America. The royalty paid in England on General Grant’s book was the largest paid on any book in any country in any age of the world. The royalties paid in France and Germany were also exceedingly large. These came as a result of the convention with England.
George H. Himes of Portland Oregon fame wrote a long, colorful letter to Sam upon his reply. Himes told of their mutual acquaintance, Urban E. Hicks from the first meeting with Himes in 1853, five miles east of Olympia, Wash. Himes then added some autobiographical information and a funny story about serving Joaquin Miller some bitters he thought was a cocktail, containing brandy, gill alcohol, cayenne pepper, gum myrrh, and lobelia, “the old recipe for which decoction was given me by an old Wabasher in 1864, as a dead shot for ague” [MTP]. See Jan. 17 entry.
January 31 Sunday – From the Hotel Normandie in New York City, Sam wrote a short letter to William C. Prime, who was representing General George B. McClellan’s widow for publishing the General’s memoirs. Charles L. Webster & Co. Published McClellan’s Own Story in 1887. Sam suggested another meeting and asked Prime to name the time and place, as he wanted to explain “concerning the subscription-publishing system, its advantages to the author, etc.” [MTP].
February – An agreement was reached with James W. Paige and William J. Hamersley stimulated by their Jan. 20 meeting with Sam in Elmira. Sam would undertake additional capitalization input in exchange for half ownership in the Paige typesetter. Kaplan writes:
“Two weeks later [from Jan. 20], he formally took over the new venture and hoisted all the gaudy banners of his expectations. If money was needed, he reminded himself, Andrew Carnegie was the man; he planned to see Thomas Edison. Bigger schemes of capitalization filled his head: by autumn he was thinking of a $5,000,000 stock issue; the next year, as his hopes and needs grew, it became $10,000,000” [286-7].
Longman’s Magazine p.445-6 carrried “a conventional ode honoring Mark Twain on his 50th birthday” [Tenney 16]. This was a brief conventional piece; a head note praises HF and Sam’s Western writing, but complains that “when he gets among pictures and holy places perhaps we all feel that he is rather an awful being” [Tenney, ALR supplement to the Reference Guide (Autumn 1979) 182].
The February issue of The Century Magazine carried a long article of “Open Letter” under the feature “Topics of the Time,” which included a full column-long letter by Mark Twain. Sam concluded:
We do get cheap books through the absence of International Copyright; and any who will consider the matter thoughtfully will arrive at the conclusion that these cheap books are the costliest purchase that ever a nation made. / Mark Twain.
February 1 Monday – Back in Hartford Sam wrote to Charles Webster, advising him to try and put publishing General Grant’s letters to Mrs. Grant off for a year. He wrote that Livy suggested it and they’d talked it over.
The public curiosity could be sharply whetted up, by that time; but now the Memoirs supply the public appetite for Grant-material. [¶] If Mrs. Grant would prefer that they come out this coming Xmas, it shall be as she wishes — for her book & General McClellan’s would run along well together. [¶] I think you had better make the contract for the letters, & at the same time ask her her preference in the matter of date of issue.
Sam stuck in a little burr after his signature:
I send this to the house because you leave letters lying around so, at the office, Charles [MTP].
February 2 Tuesday – In Hartford Sam wrote to an unidentified man who evidently had asked him to write more opinion of copyright law:
I had very little to say, & I said it in the current Century & before the committee…And anyway, writing miscellaneous[s] articles is a thing which I disenjoy [MTP].
February 3 Wednesday – In Hartford Sam received a visit by Professor Francis Wayland (1826-1904), dean of the law school at Yale. In a letter to Julia D. Grant (Mrs. Ulysses S. Grant) Sam quoted Wayland about the Grant Memoirs:
“It is great & fine literature, & deeply fascinating; I read it aloud to my wife, & we were like children with candy — saving it up, & isterine it, & making it last as long as possible, & full of regret when it was all gone.”
Minutes after Wayland left, Sam wrote Mrs. Grant. He added, “Pity the General did not live to hear some of these things.” He also confirmed that certain trophies she was concerned about were safe at the U.S. Treasury. He had confirmed it at General John A. Logan’s while in Washington. [MTP]. Note: Wayland was the son of a famous father by the same name, clergyman and educator Francis Wayland (1796-1865), and overseer of the first graduate law course in America.
Anna Hoit Bumstead of Atlanta, Ga. Wrote to Sam proposing a fund for the widow of Edmund Asa Ware, clergyman and founder of Atlanta University, who died in 1885. Sam wrote on the envelope “Sent $25 & promised to send the same sum every year, if reminded annually” [MTP].
February 4 Thursday
February 5 Friday – Orion Clemens wrote Sam, acknowledging receipt of $155 check, from which he gave $5 to “Puss” Quarles and deposited $50 into his mother’s account. He’d heard from Theodore W. Crane that the Clemens family was well and from Ed F. Brownell that the papers contained word of the quarter million given to Mrs. Grant, “so I suppose everything is all right; but can’t the children write to us once a month, or, better still, once a week, in German or English or even in Jean’s hieroglyphics?” [MTP].
February 6 Saturday – Sam signed a contract with James Paige, agreeing to pay him $7,000 annual salary, and undertake up to $30,000 in improvements to the typesetter, with no overall ceiling on his investment responsibilities. He was also obligated to raise capital for the machine and to promote it upon completion. In exchange, Sam would gain a larger share of the profits. Hamersley, for money already invested and for legal advice, was let in for ten per cent. Powers writes:
His business agent, Franklin G. Whitmore, an old Hartford billiards-playing pal, was appalled, and warned Clemens that he was courting bankruptcy. Clemens assured Whitmore that he knew what he was doing. Paige tinkered happily on, with the serenity of one who has secured a lifetime research grant [MT A Life 506].
Paine writes of what the Paige machine would soon become:
What the Tennessee land had been to John and Jane Clemens and their children, the machine had now become to Samuel Clemens and his family. “When the machine is finished everything will be all right again” afforded the comfort of that long-ago sentence, “When the Tennessee land is sold” [MTB 908].
William Tecumseh Sherman wrote from St. Louis to Sam explaining “that letter written hastily.” A better editor than this one might be able to read Sherman’s handwriting, but the ending reads:
I do not mistrust Scott, but I do Fry — I have furnished the North American Review the copies of the correspondence which Scott furnished me. After the damage was done. / With respect as always / Your Friend [MTP]. Note: General James Barnet Fry (1827-1894) was a West Pointer; he served at Harper’s Ferry capturing John Brown and on Gen. McDowell’s staff during the war and authored a few books on the military.
From Susy Clemens’ diary:
We have just had our third “Prince and Pauper” and we have had more fun acting it than ever before, the programme was the same except that Papa lengthened the “Lady Jane Grey Scene” in which Clara was the Lady Jane Grey. He also added a little to the interview between the prince and pauper, by putting in a little scene behind the scenes to represent their talking while changing clothes [Papa 174].
February 7 Sunday – In Hartford Sam wrote to Lilian Aldrich for the ailing Livy, declining an invitation to visit. Not only was Livy laid up, but also daughter Clara, who found tobogganing a dangerous sport:
Clara & her toboggan ran into a tree, & the former got the worst sprained ankle in history. It is thought she must keep her bed several weeks.
From Susy Clemens’ diary entry of Mar. 14:
Clara sprained her ankle, a little while ago, by running into a tree, when coasting, and while she was unable to walk with it she played solatair with cards a great deal. While Clara was sick and papa saw her play solatair so much, he got very much interested in the game, and finally began to play it himself a little, then Jean took it up, and at last mamma, even played it occasionally; Jean’s and papa’s love for it isteri increased, and now Jean brings the cards every night to the table and papa and mamma help her play, and before dinner is at an end, papa has gotten a I pack of cards, and is playing alone, with great interest, mamma and Clara next are made subject to the contagious solatair, and there are four solatarians at the table; while you hear nothing but “Fill up the place” etc. It is dreadful! After supper Clara goes into the library, and gets a little red mahogany table, and placing it under the gas fixture seats herself and begins to play again, then papa follows with another table of the same description, and they play solatair till bedtime [Papa 204-5].
Sam and Livy sent their “kindest regards to the aged poet,” Thomas Bailey Aldrich [MTP]. Note: Lilian was not one of Sam’s favorite people, so it’s likely that this reply, written for Livy, signifies she was not doing well. The Clemens children, and no doubt Mildred “Pilla” Howells during her visit for the P&P play, ran toboggans (Sam bought in Canada the winter before) down the steep hill behind their house to the river. The exact date of Clara’s injury is unclear, but probably this first week in February, after the 3rd. [The New York Times, Feb. 3 p.4 reported: increasing cloudiness, with snow or rain, a slight rise, followed by falling temperature, and decidedly colder weather]. The average daily temperature for the State of Conn. in January was 18 degrees [Hartford Courant, Feb. 4 p.2 “Metrological Report for January, 1886”].
From Susy Clemens’ diary:
Feb. 7th 86. Jean who is just five years old, has learned the part of the lady Jane Grey by hearing us rehearse, and she can act it quite well making up for the words she cant get straight, by adding great emphasis to the ones she knows.
Feb 7th I overheard papa telling Jean a story this morning, it amused me very much it was a story of Such great variety, and indeed papa has practise in telling stories of variety as Jean is achild of variety and original ideas, and papa is too, (I mean such a man) so half of the story he devotes to his own fancy, (if Jean allows) the other half to Jeans; I heard only a part of the story this morning, so I asked Jean to tell it to me afterwards so she did…. Here is another story, of papa’s, told to me by Jean.
A Tiger in the Jungle
Once there was a tiger lying in a jungle on a very hot day, he heard a cow in front of him “Moo, — “Moo” Moo” He got up and said and said he would have a real nice breakfast. But he couldn’t catch the cow and he heard a little calf, so he stopped trying to catch the cow and ran after the calf, pretty soon he heard a cat “meaw” — “meau,” still nearer him than the calf, so he chased the cat, then he heard a dog, — “Bow, wow,” so he ran after the dog then he heard a rooster “Cuck-adoodle doo,” — then he ran after the rooster, round, and round, and round, the rooster seemed nearer, and nearer, but still he couldn’t get it, at last he fell down dead, from tiredness. He had been running after his own tail [Papa 183-5].
February 8 Monday – In Hartford Sam wrote two notes to Charles Webster. The first concerned Jesse Grant’s desire to buy into Webster & Co. Sam valued the firm at a half-million dollars. He would entertain a visit and an offer from Grant “toward the end of February (for Clara will not be out of bed before that.)” The second short note asked what sum had been paid to Julia D. Grant (Mrs. Grant). Sam had seen various sums mentioned in the newspapers, “clear up to $275,000” [MTP].
Orion Clemens wrote that he’d been reading the Grant Memoirs to Ma, and had reached the Vicksburg section. “Wonderfully absorbingly interesting.” Ma was well and was taking a hack to church this evening to hear a singing evangelist. He also had written Ella Hunter Lampton, a cousin of Ma’s [MTP].
William Beattie (Val Vernon) wrote to Sam from Peterboro, Ont. About his attempts at publication and other literary matters, and included several poems. Sam wrote on the envelope, “Merde!”[MTP].
February 9 Tuesday – General Winfield Scott Hancock (1824-1886) died of an infected carbuncle, complicated by diabetes. Sam noted in his letter to Webster the following day that General Grant seldom mentioned Sherman, Sheridan, or Hancock in his Memoirs without adding a compliment. Hancock was an 1844 West Point graduate, and much distinguished in the Civil War. He ran on the Democratic ticket and lost to Garfield in the 1880 presidential election in the closest popular vote for the office in history. Hancock had an identical twin brother. Grant wrote of Hancock:
Hancock stands the most conspicuous figure of all the general officers who did not exercise a separate command. He commanded a corps longer than any other one, and his name was never mentioned as having committed in battle a blunder for which he was responsible. He was a man of very conspicuous personal appearance…. His genial disposition made him friends, and his personal courage and his presence with his command in the thickest of the fight won for him the confidence of troops serving under him. No matter how hard the fight, the 2d corps always felt that their commander was looking after them [Personal Memoirs: II 539-40].
R.H. Pennington wrote to Sam from Wilmington, Del. This was a “begging letter,” asking for money to buy a sewing machine. Sam wrote on the envelope: “Southern begging-letter” [MTP].
February 10 Wednesday – In Hartford Sam wrote to Charles Webster, suggesting mentions in Grant’s Memoirs, volume two, of General Hancock be culled out. He wanted to let a New York Tribune reporter know that the excerpts could be had by sending for them. Volume two was now in production, and Sam was promoting, in light of Hancock’s death the previous day [MTP].
The London Pall Mall Gazette, p.14 ran “MARK TWAIN AS A PRINTER,” a quoting of Sam’s Jan. 18, 1886 New York speech at the Typothetae Dinner at Delmonico’s.
Charles Webster wrote to Sam but did not mention Mrs. Grant’s check. He said the profits for the year would be “much more than the interest on $500000 for many years to come and the books in prospect look bright.”
We have a fine thing and either of us would be very foolish to part with our interest. We can certainly get along together, but it might be unpleasant to take in an outside party. The most dangerous thing in this world excepting selecting a partner for life is the selection of a business partner. … The second volume is all stereotyped except the index which will be in a day or so [MTP].
February 11 Thursday – In Hartford Sam wrote a one-liner in German to Franklin G. Whitmore.
Dank’ schön! Es wird herein zehn Thaler sich befindet. Ihr achtŭngsvollen [MTP].
February 12 Friday – Susy Clemens wrote of misgivings about her father’s neglect of his own writing:
Mamma and I have both been very much troubled of late because papa, since he has been publishing Gen. Grant’s book, has seemed to forget his own books and work entirely, and the other evening as papa and I were isterine up and down the library he told me that he didn’t expect to write but one more book, and then he was ready to give up work altogether, die or do anything, he said that he had written more than he had ever expected to, and the only book that he had been pertickularly anxious to write was one locked up in the safe, down stairs, not yet published [Papa 187].
Note: The unfinished book Susy referred to was the long-neglected “Captain Stormfield’s Visit to Heaven.” It’s likely that it remained unfinished due to Sam’s sense that a public revelation of his private views on religion even through parody might tarnish his image, and thus cost overall book sales.
Susy also wrote that “Papa has written a new version of ‘There is a happy land’,” a Sunday school song published in 1843 by Andrew Young (1807-1889). Sam wrote beside Susy’s announcement, “No, it was Billy Rice’s new version. Got it at his nigger-show. — S.L.C.” [Papa 191; Gribben 793].
Charles Webster wrote to Sam about negotiations with Mrs. George McClellan’s agent, William C. Prime.
I have had a talk with Mr. Prime this morning and I told him we were strong in the opinion that one volume was the proper form for the book. He acquiesced if we could get 700 pp in one volume. I told him we could at $3.75, the same price as Blaine’s, so that is decided [MTLTP 197n2]. Note: The reference is to James G. Blaine’s Twenty Years of Congress: From Lincoln to Garfield.
February 13 Saturday – In Hartford working away at Connecticut Yankee, Sam wrote to Charles Webster, instructing him to have the manuscript typed up that became McClellan’s Own Story in 1887 for William C. Prime. Sam’s pen was hot on the new story and he didn’t want to lose even a day going to New York on business. He thought Prime would understand.
For the first time in a long while, I am so situated that I can’t well leave home. I have begun a book, whose scene is laid far back in the twilight of tradition; I have saturated myself with the atmosphere of the day & the subject, & got myself into the swing of the work. If I peg away for some weeks without a break, I am safe; if I stop now for a day, I am unsafe, & may never get started right again…[Note: it was unusual for Sam to make such a commitment to writing while in Hartford. See Emerson, p.170 for some explanation].
Sam also said Clara Clemens was progressing from her badly sprained ankle, but was weak [MTP].
Sam also wrote a short note declining an invitation by Sara Thomson Kinney, wife of John C. Kinney, assistant editor on the Hartford Courant. Mrs. Kinney was for 30 years president of the Connecticut Indian Association with over 100 local women, including Harriet Beecher Stowe and other Nook Farm neighbors. Sam was not enthusiastic about charities benefiting Indians, though he reluctantly, so it seems, was added to Sara Kinney’s May 9, 1885 letter by twelve well-known Hartford men praising the work of the Indian Association. Sam also attended the May 15, 1885 lecture by Chauncey Depew, an event sponsored for the benefit of the Indian Association. Here Sam deftly turns aside an invitation for more support of some kind (her request is lost):
Dear Mrs. Kinney,
I have sworn off, in all sincerity; if this were not really and truly the case, I would say yes, at once, to your proposal. The Injun has lost a friend; but it was so ordained [MTP; Driscoll 7-23].
Note: The “friend” lost was Sam himself, who in 1884 and 1885 was composing Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer Among the Indians. Driscoll’s article is an in-depth and scholarly treatment of Sam’s ambivalence toward Indians, especially in his Hartford years.
February 14 Sunday
February 15 Monday – The Revue des Deux Mondes ran a review of LM by Eugène Forgues. LM was summarized and quoted at length. Sam Clemens was discussed as a writer and defended against accusations of poor taste and vulgarity. The article acknowledged that Sam’s works had not been too successful in France [Tenney 16].
Jane Clemens, Orion and Mollie Clemens wrote to Sam. Ma wrote of the weather (sunny) and receiving Sam’s letter the day before. She spoke of Clara learning a lesson not to “rush through life two [sic] fast,” and if she could see Livy she “could tell many things I can’t write.” She expected Pamela to come when the weather was better and Sam Moffett couldn’t visit as he couldn’t leave his busy office. Orion showed concern for Clara Clemens, hoped she wouldn’t be lame from her tobogganing accident; that a specialist might help. A doctor had called on Ma for itching ankles. Orion also wrote of a fall down stairs by C.F. Davis with resulting broken bones. Likewise Al Patterson suffered a similar fall with a broken leg. Mollie wrote asking how Clara was and looked forward to a visit in the summer [MTP].
Charles Webster wrote a one-page proposition to Sam on LM: that the Co. pay him fifty cents a piece for the dead stock. Webster asked for “your conclusions” [MTP].
February 16 Tuesday – In Hartford Sam wrote to the Portland Oregonian editor, George H. Himes, about his old Hannibal printer co-worker, Urban E. Hicks, who evidently had moved around quite a lot and was living in the Portland area.
…Hicks was the last man I should have expected to exhibit so much restless activity. Wales McCormick & John Hamilton were the boys one would have expected that of…
When our children are grown — that will be some years yet — my wife & I are going everywhere; & then we shall come to Portland & take you at your word.
You have another friend of mine there — Lieut. C.E.S. Wood, late of the Commandant’s staff at West Point — a choice man, & an able & artistic amateur printer, too [MTP]. (Editorial emphasis).
Note: C.E.S. Wood was the man who secretly printed 50 copies of 1601 on a West Point press. McCormick was Sam’s fellow printer in Hannibal; Hamilton a pilot friend (MTP’s subject file lists a John N. Hamilton, no years of birth/death; see www.marktwainproject.org letter notes with letter Sam to Elizabeth W. Smith, “Aunt Betsey,” Oct. 13? 1859). Sam and Livy did go through Portland in 1895 on his world tour. (In 1971 this editor heard of that visit, and now you’re reading this volume.)
February 17 Wednesday – Alfred P. Burbank (1846-1894) wrote on Lotos Club stationery to Sam seeking permission to perform the Sellers as Scientist play written with Howells. Burbank was a professional elocutionist described as “tall, lithe, slender, and naturally inclined to action” [Proceedings by National Speech Art Assoc., 1893 p.208; MTLTP 197n1]. See Mar. 19 to Webster for Sam’s answer.
Franklin G. Whitmore wrote on Charles Webster’s Feb. 15 letter: “Proposition accepted by Mr. Clemens Feby 17th –1886” [MTP].
February 18 Thursday
February 19 Friday – Charles Webster wrote that the $100,000 notes were all paid and that no money was now owed; the firm had $260,000 in the bank and money coming in daily, with $50,000 in receivables he hoped they’d collect by the end of the month [MTP].
February 20 Saturday – Thomas Fitch wrote to Sam, sending a manuscript of a play written by his wife, Anna Mariska Fitch, a novelist who Sam described as:
…an able romanticist of the ineffable school — I know no other name to apply to a school whose heroes are all dainty and all perfect [RI, Ch. LI].
See Aug. 2, 1863 for reference on Thomas Fitch. He asked Sam to:
…send it to some theatrical manager or personage, with such endorsement of it as will secure its being read [for] with an introduction from you it will at least gain a favorable inspection [MTNJ 3: 231n11]. Note: Sam passed the play on to Laurence Hutton who panned it; then to William H. Gillette.
February 21 Sunday – From Susy’s biography of her father, Papa:
Yesterday evening [Feb. 21] papa read to us the beginning of his new book, in manuscript, and we enjoyed it very much, it was founded on a New Englanders visit to England in the time of King Arthur and his round table [191-2].
February 22 Monday – In Hartford Sam read some pages of CY to Livy and daughter Susy [Powers, MT A Life 506].
Sam and Livy began a letter to Karl Gerhardt, who was trying to unload a bust of Henry Ward Beecher for what he owed the stonecutter, $250. Livy began the letter saying that Sam did not feel he could take it, but perhaps some of Beecher’s friends might. She suggested Henry W. Sage of Ithica, N.Y., Dean Sage’s father. Sam added a PS the next day [MTP]. Note: H.W. Sage was a member of Beecher’s church.
February 23 Tuesday – Sam’s PS added to the letter to Karl Gerhardt written by Livy the day before:
Here is a letter from Pond which may possibly solve the difficulty. You may write him, for me, & say I would do almost anything for him except go on the infernal platform again. I loathe it with a deathless loathing, & God knows that is the plain unexaggerated truth. And yet I will choke down this loathing & appear in his Galaxy for ten minutes gratis & pay my own expenses, on one condition, & one only: to wit: that he sell the Beecher bust for $500 (or any price he pleases, so that you get $500…). He can sell it to H.W. Sage or Mrs. Beach [the rumored adulteress with Beecher!], or some of those people without much trouble [MTP].
Showing that he did not fully trust Pond at this point, Sam insisted that Gerhardt had to show him the money, not merely a promise to pay, before he would join the “Galaxy” (a lecture/reading promotion of Pond’s at the time). Sam added that he said this to Gerhardt “privately” and that he would not commit to more than ten minutes. Note: Sam still had the bust in 1891 [Scharnhorst, p.136].
Sam also wrote to President Grover Cleveland, enclosing a newspaper clipping of “A DISGRACE TO CIVILIZATION,” a report of a Silver City, New Mexico bounty on Apache scalps. Such an offer would make nearly any Indian “a victim to the cupidity of reckless cowboys or outlaw frontiermen” [MTP].
Clarence C. Buel for Century Magazine wrote Sam a short note congratulating him on the “new book, but how will it be good for us unless you let us have a slice of it?” Buel asked if they might say Sam wrote the “Universal Tinker” in an editorial note quoting the Kansas circular (see Aug. 6 entry) [MTP].
February 24 Wednesday – From Susy Clemens’ diary:
Clara’s reputation as a baby was always a fine one, mine exactly the contrary. One often related story conscerning her braveness as a baby and her own isteri of this quality of her, is this. Clara and I often got slivers in our hands and when mamma took them out with a much dreaded needle, Clara was always very brave, and I very cowardly. One day Clara got one of these slivers in her hand, a very bad one, and while mamma was taking it out, Clara stood perfectly still without even wincing; I saw how brave she was and turning to mamma said “Mamma isn’t she a brave little thing! presently mamma had to give the little hand quite a dig with the needle and noticing how perfectly quiet Clara was about it she exclaimed, Why Clara! You are a brave little thing! Clara responded “No bodys braver but God!” [Papa 193].
February 25 Thursday – In Hartford Sam wrote to Laurence Hutton with a duplicate to William M. Laffan. Lawrence Barrett would appear in a Hartford play Mar. 3 and 4, and Sam wrote they were trying to get him to stay with the family — would Hutton and Laffan come and spend those two days with them also? [MTP]. Note: See Susy’s diary Mar. 14 entry. Barrett revived the Italian romantic verse tragedy Francesca Da Rimini for three seasons, some 30 years after its first production; it was called “one of the most remarkable events in the history of the American stage” [Literary Criticism of English and American Authors vol. 7, ed. Charles Moulton 1904 p.766].
February 26 Friday – In Hartford Sam responded to the Feb. 23 letter from Clarence C. Buel of the Century Magazine.
When I get this book done [CY], I think a chapter or two of it will read very well in the Century [MTP].
The Bismark (North Dakota) Daily Tribune reprinted on p.4 the earlier February interview from the Cincinnati Enquirer [Schmidt]. See February, early entry.
Charles Webster wrote to Sam, explaining why he paid Mrs. Grant $200,000 instead of waiting as Sam had wanted to pay her a lump sum of $500,000 (which was considered possible):
I dislike to carry so large a bank account, so I have decided to give Mrs. Grant a check on account for $200,000….I do not for a moment think there is any danger with either of our banks here still such a thing is possible and…the safest way is to pay now. This will be over double the largest amtt. [sic] ever paid an author in one check so we should be satisfied with the record [MTNJ 3: 312n37]. Note: Sam later claimed Webster “sneaked” in making this payment when he only owned a tenth interest, which again shows that Webster, not Sam, presented the check .
Karl Gerhardt, in Hartford, wrote to Sam and addressing the two-page note to Sam and Livy.
I have written to Mr. Pond. Your offer is too generous. The frame for the Heroic Nathan is completed. I commence with clay Mar. 1. My studio is in Cheney Building room 6 — 2nd flight. Mrs Jesse Grant writes Josie, that Mr Grant will propose my name to the committee when formed for the $250,000 Washington Grant Monument [MTP].
February 27 Saturday – Julia D. Grant was presented with a check drawn on the U.S. National Bank, New York for $200,000. Charles Webster wrote Sam on Feb 26 that he’d decided to pay her that amount, so Webster did the honors, not Sam, as some have reported (Perry, p 233, for instance — see prior entry). The actual check no. 353 was inspected at the MTP. (See Oct. 11 entry.)
Coincidentally, this was the anniversary of the signing of the contract for Grant’s Memoirs. In a letter to Cyrus West Field (1819-1892) American financier and head of Atlantic Telegraph Co., Webster wrote, “It seems fitting to me on the anniversary of the signing of that contract to pay to Mrs. Grant the check which you know about, and it will accordingly be handed her this morning” [MTP].
Webster announced this payment in a personal letter to Field, who was also a personal friend of General Grant. Field published the fact in this day’s issue of the New York Mail and Express, no doubt further upsetting Sam, who probably heard about the newspaper account before hearing it from Webster [MTNJ 3: 313n37].
Lawrence Barrett wrote from New York to Sam and Livy accepting their “kind offer” of a visit, but doubted his wife could come due to a “sick girl.” He would reach Hartford late Wednesday, Mar. 3 [MTP].
From Susy Clemens’ diary:
Last summer while we were in Elmira an article came out in the “Christian Union” by name “What ought he have done” treating of the government of children, or rather giving an account of a fathers battle with his little baby boy….And when papa heard that she [Livy] had read it he went to work and secretly wrote his opinion of what the father ought to have done. He told aunt Susy Clar and I about it but mamma was not to see it or hear any thing about it till it came out….The article was a beautiful tribute to mamma and every word in it true; But still in writing about mamma he partly forgot that the article was going to be published I think, and expressed himself more fully than he would do the second time he wrote it…[Papa 194-7].
February 28 Sunday
March 1 Monday – The official publication for Volume II of Grant’s Memoirs, by Charles L. Webster & Co. Note: volume II contains an errata page for errors in volume I.
“Though the full order of 300,000 copies of Volume II was not ready because of last-minute alterations, the publication date of March 1, 1886, was not officially changed. In all, over 300,000 sets were sold.” [From the Library of America’s website: http://www.loa.org/volume.jsp?RequestID=46§ion=notes].
Orion Clemens wrote to Sam, acknowledging the monthly $155 check. They were “anxious” about Clara’s recovery; Ma had the same itching and soreness on her ankles [MTP].
March 2 Tuesday – John Russell Young wrote a two-line note from the Lotos Club to Sam that he’d be in Hartford on Thursday [MTP]. Note: Young at this time was again working for the New York Herald as their European correspondent. His handwriting was extremely small.
Sam wrote to Col. George E. Waring (1833-1898), enclosing two copies of Ambulinia (or, Samuel Watson Royston’s The Enemy Conquered — see Gribben 593) [Mar 7 from Waring]. Note: Waring was a personal friend of Horace Greeley and the vice-president of the Independent Republican Club of Newport, R.I.
March 3 Wednesday – In New York Karl Gerhardt wrote to Sam about costs of the bronze Nathan Hale and pedestal and extras. He paraphrased James B. Pond as saying copies of the Beecher bust would sell for $1,000 each [MTP]. Lawrence Barrett arrived in Hartford to perform in a play and visited Sam during the day (see Feb. 27 entry).
‡ – Harriet Ward Hawley (Mrs. Joseph Hawley) died in Washington, D.C. See addenda for Mar. 4.
March 4 Thursday –Orion Clemens wrote to Sam about $100 sent to their Ma:
I told her you had sent her $100, and now she might get her lower teeth. But she said no. She has a badly fitting metal set, for which she lately paid $15, and the idea of so soon paying $20 to a better dentist for a rubber set is not to be entertained, though she mostly carries her lower teeth in her pocket.
Mollie Clemens included a letter with Orion’s, telling about their mother’s ups and downs:
Twas charming to hear that Clara was getting over her accident so well. … [MTP] Sam wrote on the envelope, probably about Ma, “Very Funny.”
March 5 Friday
March 7 Sunday –George E. Waring wrote to Sam, returning one copy of Ambulinia, or Samuel Watson Royston’s The Enemy Conquered (see Gribben 593) [MTP].
March 8 Monday – In Hartford Sam wrote to Kate Field, answering her Mar. 6 letter about a book disclaiming Mormonism and polygamy.
The Mormon religion is a religion: the negative vote of all of the rest of the globe could not break down that fact; and so I shall probably always go on thinking that the attitude of our Congress and nation toward it is merely good trivial stuff to make fun of. [¶] Am I a friend of the Mormon religion? No. I would like to see it extirpated, but always by fair means, not these Congressional rascalities. If you can destroy it with a book, — by arguments and facts, not brute force, — you will do a good and wholesome work. And I should be very far from unwilling to publish such a book in case my business decks were clear. They are not clear now, however, and it is hard to tell when they will be.
Sam added that his book (Library of Humor) was finished but he was now “an author without a publisher” due to “other people’s more important books.”
I think I could write a good moral fable about an author who turned publisher in order to get a better show, and got shut up entirely [MTP: transcribed: Lilian Whiting, Kate Field: Record, 1990 p 448].
The New York Times, p.3, “Literary Notes,” announced a delay from the scheduled Mar. 10 release date for Volume II of Grant’s Memoirs due to:
The second volume of Gen. Grant’s memoirs will not be ready until about April 1. The delay has been made necessary in order to give time for the preparation of an index.
March 9 Tuesday –Richard Watson Gilder wrote to Sam: “Let’s have that little paper on the Knights of Labor! Please.” Sam wrote on the envelope: “Gilder wants ‘Knights’ Welch 86” [MTP]. Note: Gilder was the editor-in-chief of Century Magazine. See Mar. 22.
March 10 Wednesday –Mary Mason Fairbanks wrote to Sam of “financial disaster,” of being forced to lose their Cleveland home, of her son leaving for New York and of her “almost” losing heart sometimes. Her letter discloses a recent visit to the Clemens’ home, dates not specified [MTP].
March 11 Thursday –Laurence Hutton wrote from N.Y. to Sam of Anna Fitch’s play, thinking that “something might be made of it.” The Hutton’s had visited Hartford recently:
We enjoyed our visit greatly, & are the better for it….Eleanor wrote to Mrs Clemens to say how pleasant was our stay in Hartford. Osgood looked in on us a night or two ago. The very idea of going to London to remain indefinitely has made him homesick. Next time you have $500 to pay for an index give me a show. I will hold “Items” to await your orders” [MTP].
March 12 Friday – This from the New York Times p.3:
THE POPE’S AUTOBIOGRAPHY
MEMOIRS OF LEO XIII TO BE ISSUED
SOME TIME IN 1887
The memoirs of Pope Leo XIII are now being prepared in the Vatican, under the direct supervision of his Holiness, and will be issued some time in 1887 by Charles L. Webster & Co., the publishers of Gen. Grant’s book. The firm have secured the contract for publishing the Pope’s autobiography in every country in the world where there is a demand for such literature. It is being written in Latin, and the work of translation in Italian and English is already under way, and is kept as close to the original work of preparation as possible. Speaking of this new venture of his house, Mr. Charles L. Webster said yesterday:
“The book will be a genuine autobiography of the Pope, although of course not literally written by him. The ruler of the Catholic world cannot spend his time in scribbling, but he is dictating a portion of the book, and a great deal of the material has been written by his own hand, in the shape of diaries, memoranda, &c.”
March 13 Saturday – Orion Clemens wrote to Sam (Mollie added her letter on Mar. 17). He wrote about returning a check and of their mother’s finances, which were adequate. He wrote of Jane’s love of singing and dancing “(not ballet dancing). If there are no minstrels in heaven she will leave.” Mollie began a letter she finished on Mar. 17, mostly of Ma:
She goes wandering back to her childhood. She talks often of going back to Columbia — has almost entirely forgotten having lived in Hannibal, St. Louis, or Fredonia. The other night staid up a long time thinking you were here and she did not know where she was to sleep as you were here to occupy her bed. And it is next to impossible to get one of these ideas out of her mind [MTP].
Kate Field wrote to Sam, enclosing a glowing newspaper squib about her Mormon and Dickens lectures, the paper unidentified. Pressing her case for Webster & Co. To publish her history of Mormonism, she wrote:
Now, oblige me by reading enclosed pamphlet and then you’ll know what I’m driving at; and don’t think I went to Utah to study up for a crusade. The going there was pure accident. Please ask your wife with my compliments whether there is any charity she is interested in that would care to have me give my Mormon lectures [MTP]. Note: Sam never cared much for female platform speakers.
March 14 Sunday – Mollie Clemens finished her Mar. 13 letter to Sam.
Sunday P.M. Ma was quite weak this A.M. Could not come down to breakfast. Seemed afraid we would send for the Dr. But before noon she was better dressed in her velvet and came down to dinner. We were sitting in the parlor reading a half hour ago. She looked up and asked what time we were going home [MTP].
From Susy Clemens’ diary:
Mr. Laurence Barrette and Mr. and Mrs. Hutton were here a little while ago, and we had a very interesting visit from them. Papa said Mr. Barette never had acted so well before when he had seen him, as he did the first night he was staying with us [Papa 202].
March 15 Monday
March 16 Tuesday – In Hartford Sam wrote to Charles Warren Stoddard, praising his latest work, The Lepers of Molokai (1885), which described the efforts of Joseph Damien de Veuster (1840-1889), known as “Father Damien” [MTP; Gribben 667]. Due to health problems, Stoddard had recently resigned his position as chair of English literature at the University of Notre Dame.
It is your best piece of work; & well nigh faultlessly done. And what a sublime hero is your priest the good father. His heroism is surpassed by that of Bill Ragsdale only…but Rasdale had nothing to gain by his sacrifice…a thing compared to which Christ’s sacrifice was poor [MTP]. See Nov. 21, 1883 entry for more on Ragsdale, a half-caste interpreter; Sam never finished “a serious work” about Ragsdale.
Jesse M. Leathers, wasting away of consumption in the National Soldiers Home in Virginia, wrote to Sam. He blamed “Too much bad whiskey and outdoor speaking” while running for Congress in New York City. This is a long, eight-page letter asking for about $150 in order to move from the Soldiers Home where the food would not allow him to regain his weight, from 100 to his normal 160 lbs. Sam wrote on the envelope, “From the American ‘Earl of Durham’ – No Answer” [MTP]. Note: postmarked Mar. 18 in Va. & Mar 19, N.Y.
March 17 Wednesday – In Washington, D.C., William Dean Howells wrote to Sam. The Howells family was there for Winny Howells’ health. He enclosed a newspaper clipping, now lost, “presumably about a revivalist preacher” [MTHL 2: 551n1].
Here is a man in this paper letting himself loose on the neighbors in a way that I thought you’d like to see. Please keep it for me.
Mrs. Clemens said something about a visit. Would it be too hard on you if we stopped over between trains on our journey home in April? .
Note: Howells did not visit Hartford until the weekend of May 1-2 [MTNJ 3: 230n8].
Since Sam’s last (1882) visit to West Point, Major General Wesley Merritt had replaced Oliver O. Howard as superintendent. Merritt wrote to Sam asking if he would come again to the Point.
There is a great desire on the part of the Corps of Cadets and the Army people stationed at the Post to have you lecture at West Point. Can you gratify the wish? [¶] If you could aim for the 20 or 27 or the 3rd of April it would be satisfactory [Leon 65, 233].
William B. Franklin wrote a short note of thanks to Sam for his $25 contribution to the widow, Mrs. Hancock [MTP].
Maria Rowley of Dallas, Texas wrote to Sam in behalf of her literary club, “The Standard.” Should Sam ever visit Dallas, would he visit them? She hated to ask a favor, but “one more ought not to count” [MTP].
Orion and Mollie Clemens finished their Mar. 13 to Sam and Livy [MTP].
March 18 Thursday
March 19 Friday – Susy Clemens’ fourteenth birthday. From Susy Clemens’ diary entry of Mar. 23:
The other day was my birthday, and I had a little birthday parting in the evening and papa acted some very funny Charades, with Mr. Gherhardt, Mr. Jesse Grant (who had come up from New York and was spending the evening with us), — and Mr. Frank Warner. — One of them was “on his knees” honys-sneeze.
There were a good many other funny ones, all, of which I don’t remember.
Mr. Grant was very pleasant, and began playing the charades in the most delightful way [Papa 210].
Note: This segment was published in the North American Review of June 7, 1907 [MTNJ 3: 222n117; Salsbury 221].
In Hartford Sam wrote to Howells in Washington, answering his note of Mar. 17. He agreed to any day in April except 2-4 and wanted them to stay a few days, not a few hours between trains.
I have nearly about decided to go to West Point & read to the Cadets Saturday Apl 3d. ….
Susie is fourteen to-day! Lord, but I do feel old!
Come, all & every one of you, ye will be most welcome. Then we will talk. I perceive I can’t write; I am trying a new fountain pen — the “Yale” — & am weak from loss of profanity [MTP].
Sam also wrote to Charles Webster on four business matters. He didn’t think it “good policy” to allow anybody (in this case, Alfred P. Burbank) to perform Sellers as Scientist, which he felt might bring them “under a fire of newspaper criticism this year.” The books in the pipeline, Pope Leo XIII’s, and the late General George McClellan’s, were too valuable to risk.
Burbank is a personal friend and a first rate fellow, but I won’t allow that play to be played this year or next, upon ANY terms.
Sam also asked if the $10,000 had been paid to William C. Prime for McClellan’s book. He suggested issuing that book on Dec. 1 and beginning the canvass for the Pope’s book on the same date.
PS. Jesse Grant is to call on me at the Normandie at 9 or 10 A.M., Wednesday, March 24. It will be necessary that I see you first and take your opinion on the propositions. So look in a little before 9, he can wait till I have talked with you [MTLTP 196].
Note: Sam wanted to take Webster’s temperature on allowing Jesse Grant into the firm. See Webster’s Mar. 20 reply.
Jere F. Arringdale of Atlanta wrote to Sam wanting to buy “Mark Twain’s Address to the Mormons.” She was with the Temperance Advocate and solicited items for publication. Sam wrote on the envelope: “Nonsense” [MTP].
Sam’s reply (not listed in the MTP outgoing letters) to General Wesley Merritt at West Point probably was sent this day or the next, as Merritt wrote again on Mar. 22 about the “good prospects” for Sam coming. Evidently this was not an unequivocal acceptance. See Mar. 30 from Merritt.
March 20 Saturday – Charles Webster wrote to Sam, firmly against allowing a reduced share of Webster & Co. To allow Jesse Grant into the firm:
I would go very slow about taking in new partners. I don’t want to part with any of my interest but if you wish to sell any of yours I have no objection to the Grant boys, but they should have nothing to say about the conduct of the business [MTNJ 3: 220n111].
Note: MTLTP p.197n 4 suggests the Grant family may have received an additional 12 per cent royalty on sales “from the General Agency,” above the 70 percent.
Webster also informed Sam of the contract for the late General George McClellan’s book:
I have signed the contract with Mrs McClellan and Dr Prime and have the manuscript in the safe. I have paid $5000.00 of the $10,000 which they are to have…. I can easily get the book ready to canvass by September…. I also expect to run the Pope’s book at the same time if I get manuscript in time. They will be worked by an entirely different class of agents and will not conflict with each other [MTLTP 197n2-3].
March 21 Sunday – From Susy Clemens’ diary:
Sunday — Here is another of papa’s stories told to me by Jean:
“The Generous Fender”
Once there was a night — and a pair of tongs and a shuvel came into the library with the other tongs and shovels, and pulled out the anc-anifertent fender, from the fire-place, and began to kick it because they didn’t like it, but the fender was good; but they went on kicking till the fender was full of dents and spoiled. The people of the house had gone out to a party and staid away all night So the tongs and shovels kicked the poor fender till they were tired, and then put it back in its place
Here Jean stopped, she had forgotten the rest of the story, and I could in no way persuade her to go on [Papa 209].
March 22 Monday – Sam presented a paper titled “Knights of Labor — The New Dynasty” to the Monday Evening Club. This was Sam’s tenth presentation to the Club since his election in 1873 [Monday Evening Club]. See Budd, Collected p.883-90. Also listed in Camfield, isterin. It wasn’t published until 1957, edited by Bernard DeVoto, in the New England Quarterly, XXX p.383-88.
Baetzhold writes of the significance of Sam’s interest in the Knights of Labor as it affected his change in midstream on the writing of CY:
“…during these years Clemens developed a new sympathy for equalitarian democracy. The breakdown of his earlier mistrust stemmed partly from his interest in the activities of the Knights of Labor in 1886. Intrigued by the group’s potentialities for improving conditions for the masses, he had treated the Monday Evening Club meeting of March 22, 1886, to a flowery eulogy that hailed the workers as ‘The New Dynasty.’ Admitting that power inevitably resulted in oppression, he argued that because this dynasty would be concerned with the nation’s good rather than the selfish interests of a small clique, it need not be feared. Rather, it would form a permanent defense ‘against the Socialist, the Communist, the anarchist, the tramp, and the selfish agitator for “reformes,”’ and ‘against all like forms of political disease, pollution and death’” [John Bull 108]. Note: Baetzhold quotes Carter here, and points out, “comments of that speech Clemens would transfer almost verbatim to the Yankee a year and a half later.” See Jan. 29 entry.
General Wesley Merritt at West Point wrote he was “delighted that the prospects of your coming are good. You will find many friends and admirers here.” Arrangements could be made later for Twichell to accompany Sam [Leon 234].
March 23 Tuesday – Sam went New York for a meeting Charles Webster and Jesse Grant at the Normandie Hotel the next morning [Mar. 19 to Webster, MTP; N.Y. Times, Mar. 24 p.2 “Personal Intelligence”]. Other business and/or pleasure was on his docket, as he spent three days in the City. This trip may be the occasion which Susy referred to in her unfinished biography of her father. If so, Livy was with Sam, and Miss Ella J. Corey (a childhood friend of Livy’s) stayed with the Clemens children [Salsbury 221].
The New York Times, p.8, “Lives of Distinguished Men,” announced a second delay in the release of Volume II of Grant’s Memoirs, this time until May 1.
March 24 Wednesday – At the Normandie Hotel in New York, Sam met in the morning with Charles Webster; later with Jesse Grant who was negotiating to gain part ownership in Webster & Co. [Mar. 19 to Webster].
The editors of Domestic Monthly, “Illustrated Magazine of Fashion, Literature and the Fine Arts” (for young women) wrote to Sam seeking input to the question, “What personal qualities in a wife are most necessary to the promotion of happiness in married life?” — a short note would do. Sam wrote on the envelope, “Symposium-beggar” [MTP].
March 25 Thursday – Sam continued his business stop in New York City.
A typesetting tournament began in Philadelphia on Mar. 16. Sam made an entry in his notebook on this day’s results for Joseph McCann of the New York Herald, and William C. Barnes of the New York World [MTNJ 3: 223]. See Mar. 27 entry for results.
Stephen A. Hubbard for the Hartford Courant wrote to Sam, asking if he’d be at the sale of pews from the Asylum Hill Congregational Church next Tuesday evening [Mar. 30]. Could they sell the pew he’d used for the last year, at a fixed price of $150? The funds would go to benefit Joe Twichell, who struggled by on a salary, drawn in advance of “$375 or so.” Hubbard spoke in confidence. Sam wrote on the envelope: “Yes — take the pew. 2. Count us in” [MTP].
C.B. [R?] Plummer, lecturer wrote to Sam from Lowell, Mass. A message Plummer sent had gone awry, the messenger mistaking a “7” for a “9” and leaving Plummer’s note at the wrong house. Plummer wrote he’d visited Hartford for the first time in 31 years.
I watched my chance and took a walk out on Farmington Av. And found you out. I only felt a marked wane in the joyous anticipation I had of meeting you and exchanging Alkilies and sage remarks. By invitation of your Ferguson who recognized me — he said you had my photo — I stepp’d in and rested a few minutes before traveling W:. to E:. again in search of further light in Spondulicksasity. I saw your darling little ones who came in with whom I supposed to be their teachers while I was resting The little one had the nerve to come by my invitation and give me her little hand and shyly lisp her name to me. Most children require about 30 d. to become familiar with the dips, spins and angles of my features before they dare do it. Well we may meet after all [MTP]. Note: Plummer also mentions arguing with Joe Goodman just after Sam’s lecture in Virginia City.
March 26 Friday – In New York, Sam wrote on Webster & Co. Letterhead to Mrs. Henry G. Allen. [MTP: Paraphrased from Charles Hamilton catalogs, Jan. 21, 1982, No. 143 Item 54].
The outside of your kind letter had such a business-like aspect that I handed it (without opening it) to a clerk to be answered. But there are some things which even the ablest clerk can’t do & this turned out to be one of them…”[MTP]
Jane Clemens and Orion Clemens wrote to Sam of family doings. Sam wrote on the envelope, “Poor old Ma, asking in haste for news about people who have been dead 40, 50, & 60 years” [MTP].
Sam and Livy returned to Hartford. Susy’s biography of Sam puts the time expected home, and relates Sam’s play to engage a game on the Sabbath.
March 26. Mamma and Papa have been in New York for two or three days, and Miss Corey has been staying with us. They are coming home today at two o’clock.
Papa has just begun to play chess, and he is very fond of it, so he has engaged to play with Mrs. Charles Warner every morning from 10 to 12, he came down to supper / dinner last night, full of this pleasant prospect, but evidently with something on his mind. Finally he said to Mamma in an isterine tone, Susy Warner and I have a plan.
“Well” mamma said “What now, I wonder.” Papa said that “Susy Warner” and he were going to name the chess men after some of the old bible heroes, and then play chess on Sunday [Papa 211].
March 27 Saturday – In Hartford Sam wrote to Charles Webster about complaints against the Hartford canvasser of his books who lived in Thompsonville — “canvassing invisible.” And about Frederick Grant:
I don’t quite know what kind of an offer I can make…but I am keeping the thing in my slow mind, & when it crystallized I will report [MTP].
The note of acceptance to speak at West Point mentioned in Mar. 30 from General Merritt, suggests it was sent about this day. It is not listed in the MTP outgoing letters.
A compositor for the Cincinnati Enquirer, Mr. Duguid, won the typesetting tournament in Philadelphia, edging out McCann of the New York Herald [N.Y. Times, Mar. 28, 1886, p.2].
March 28 Sunday – Orion Clemens wrote acknowledging receipt the day before of check, “$100 for me, $50 for Ma, and $5 for Puss [Quarles].” Ma had taken them to the theater twice, total cost $8.25; he collected $8 interest for Ma; he supposed Pamela Moffett had left S.F. the day before; he added a PS: “I wrote forthwith to the Cincinnati woman,” whose identity is not given [MTP].
March 29 Monday
March 30 Tuesday – In the evening Sam attended the Asylum Hill Congregational Church benefit for Joe Twichell, which included the sale of pews. Sam’s pew was also for sale at $150. See Mar. 25 from Hubbard.
General Wesley Merritt for West Point wrote to Sam:
Your note is just received [probably sent Mar. 27]. I am very glad you are coming. Mrs. Merritt and I will be delighted to have you and the Rev. Mr. Twitchell [sic] as our guests during your stay, and will let you do as you please as to hours of “coming in” and returning. Our quarters are always open. [¶] There are stages at the stations for all trains and you can drive at once to my quarters [Leon 234-5].
Urban E. Hicks wrote from Portland Oregon, where he was a compositor, to Sam. He thanked him for the,
…two handsomely bound books — Huck Finn and P. and P. The grace of the present is appreciated not only for their intrinsic worth, but all the more highly because it comes from the author, an old time boyhood acquaintance.
Hicks praised both books but thought HF suited his “case the closer.” Hicks wrote that his “heart swelled with pride when I read the Dedication” (inscribed by Sam). Hicks recalled many names from Paris and Hannibal, Mo., remembering Sam as being more in Paris, though his memory admittedly was “baldheaded and dim” [MTP]. Note: anyone studying the early days of Hannibal needs to study the people named in this letter. John Marshall Clemens and family left Paris when Sam was a four-year-old.
March 31 Wednesday
April – Sam wrote a sketch named “Luck” about a military officer whose stupidity results in success and fame. It was not published until 1891 in Harper’s Monthly Magazine [MTNJ 3: 226]. From the Mark Twain Encyclopedia, Craig Albin contributor:
“Twain claimed he did not invent this story but rather heard it from a clergyman who had once been an instructor at the officer’s military school and who had been an eyewitness to the officer’s remarkable rise…. ‘Luck’ is a minor work that reveals, with typical Twainian insight, the ironic and sometimes humorous role played by chance in the lives and reputations of the famous” .
April 1 Thursday
April 2 Friday – Pamela Moffett arrived in Keokuk for a visit. She wrote, “Orion looks somewhat older but Ma and Mollie look about the same” [MTP; Moffett to her son, Apr. 2].
April 3 Saturday – Sam and Joe Twichell traveled to New York City and on to West Point.
Sam read at the Military Academy, West Point, New York. See Leon, p 158-95 for “The Awful German Language,” “An American Party,” and “Jumping Frog” segments Sam used. Leon includes several accounts of Sam’s time at the Point (p 67-9) including a dispatch by a correspondent to the Army and Navy Journal dated Apr. 7 and printed Apr. 10:
Everyone on the post who could possibly do so went to the mess hall last Saturday evening to hear Mark Twain. The platform for the speaker was on the side of the hall, and the seats for the listeners were arranged in a semi-circle. The cadets were evidently in good humor, for when the head waiter of the mess went on the platform to arrange the table, he was greeted with tumultuous applause, which caused a number of officers who were in the mess parlor to hurry into the room, thinking that the lecture had begun.
When Mr. Clemens entered the hall at 8 o’clock he was warmly greeted. He was escorted to the platform by Prof. Postlethwaite and Lieut. O.J. Brown. After music the lecture was introduced and gave a selection from Huckleberry Finn, illustrating Huck’s interview with the escaped slave regarding the wisdom of Solomon [chapter 14]. The chapter on German Genders was very funny. Meeting an American girl in a foreign restaurant [“An American Party”] and Cure for Stammering were next given. The evening’s entertainment was ended with the Jumping Frog. The good hits were all generously and vigorously applauded, and it is safe to say that no lecturer ever had a more appreciative audience.
From Twichell’s journal:
…read in the evening in the Mess Hall to the Cadets and general garrison for an hour-and-a-half with as great success as on the occasion of our previous visit [Feb. 28, 1881] [Yale, copy at MTP].
From one cadet’s account:
He read from Huckleberry Finn in the mess hall, and I think not only the entire corps but all the officers and their families were present. Prof. Postlethwaite, our Chaplain, presided, and we never before had seen this dignified Chaplain lose complete control of himself, just as the whole audience did in its outbursts of laughter…Literally, my sides were so lame from laughter that I did not get over the pain of it for several days…[Leon 67-8].
“This visit of 3 April 1886 is noteworthy for another reason. Charles Swift Riché (USMA 1886) recalled in “A Brief History of the Class” that Mark Twain, as usual, visited informally in the barracks after his address in the mess hall. …He entertained cadets in the room of a fellow Missourian, Cadet First Captain John J. Pershing (1860-1948) .” Note: “Blackjack” Pershing led the A.E.F forces in WWI, including this editor’s grandfather. (Editorial emphasis.)
Sam and Joe Twichell spent the night at West Point.
The London Pall Mall Gazette on page five ran “GOOD ADVICE FROM MARK TWAIN,” which contained Sam’s 1870 essay, “A General Reply,” which had run in the Galaxy and the Buffalo Express. It was testament to Sam’s universal fame by this time that such pieces would be printed again. Perhaps the introduction to the article says it best:
Mark Twain is so universally known as a humorist that it is only very few who know that upon certain subjects, such as the Sandwich Islands and the Mississippi, the genial American is also a serious authority. But even among his distinctively humorous writings, here and there will be found as much good solid sense as in any works professedly written to educate and not to amuse.
Bradley & Hubbard Mfg. Co. of Meridian, Conn. wrote to Sam about being stuck for some 60 Grant busts left over from the 100 ordered by William N. Woodruff with Karl Gerhardt. The letter states that Woodruff represented that Webster & Co. Would pay for the bronzes. Upon being ignored by the company, he wrote to Sam [MTP]. Note: Woodruff was a machinist at Pratt & Whitney, responsible for the terra cotta busts of Grant, who evidently also ordered them in metal.
April 4 Sunday – Sam and Twichell went to New York City and “spent part of that afternoon…in the barber shop” at the Murray Hill Hotel [Sam to Howells Apr. 12], without knowing Howells would arrive at the hotel the next day, Apr. 5 [MTHL 2: 553n1].
Sam and Twichell probably returned to Hartford in the afternoon or evening.
April 5 Monday – The Howellses arrived in New York and checked into the Murray Hill Hotel [NY Times, Apr. 6, 1886 p.2 “Personal Intelligence”; MTHL 2: 553n1].
April 6 Tuesday – In Hartford Sam wrote one line to Charles Webster asking if he’d seen “that furniture man” for Livy about a sofa [MTP]. The sofa was purchased from Mr. Burghardt, at 389 Bowery in New York [MTNJ 3: 227n2]. Note: No matter of business or personal task was too small to delegate to Webster. A double-bind often arose due to Sam’s conflicting orders, which would change with his mood or outlook or worry — don’t bother him with details; fully account what was going on.
Sam also wrote to his brother (not extant), as shown by Orion’s Apr. 11 reply [MTP].
Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote a correspondence card to Sam, referring a Miss Larned, who wrote children’s stories. She asked Sam to help the woman get “an opening into some magazine or paper for the young.” Sam’s notebook: “See Gilder about Miss Larned” [MTNJ 3:235&n27]. Note: Gilder was Richard Watson Gilder, editor of the Century.
Thomas A. Davis, pastor of the Kirkwood Street African M.E. Church of Dover, Delaware wrote to Sam, enclosing an article about the church in the Boston Advocate. Davis pled for the “race …just released from bondage and situated different from Colored Men in the North” [MTP]. Note: Sam sent a check as evidenced by Davis’ Apr. 8 telegram.
April 7 Wednesday – On this day or the next, Sam telegrammed Howells at the Murray Hill Hotel in New York. Howells had been at the hotel since Apr. 5 [MTHL 2: 553n1]. Sam’s telegram is not extant. See Apr. 11 Howells to Sam.
April 8 Thursday –Thomas A. Davis telegraphed Sam, “Our claim sent by letter to you and answer favorably,” or, thank you Mr. Clemens [MTP]. See Apr. 6 entry.
April 9 Friday – In Hartford Sam wrote to Henry (Harry) Edwards:
I am to talk to a club of young ladies here the next morning on a weighty philosophical subject….I thank you and Mr. Wallack [Lester Wallack, actor, theater owner] sincerely for the invitation, and am very sorry to miss the dinner and the social good time; but engagements to the sex take precedence of all other kinds of debauchery [MTP: paraphrase: Anderson Auction Co. catalog, Nov. 22, 1922, No. 1685]. Note: On Jan. 20 Sam turned down another invitation from Harry (Edwards’ obituary claimed he was never called Henry, though Sam always addressed him as such).
April 10 Saturday – In Hartford Sam wrote to Lou W. Benjamin, sister to William Wright (Dan De Quille). He was responding to a letter not extant.
Come — & if you are as good as Dan, you can sit by our fire as long as you want to. However, I suppose they don’t put two like Dan in one family. To do that, would be to cheapen miracle [MTP].
April 11 Sunday – At the Murray Hill Hotel in New York, William Dean Howells wrote to Sam.
I got the last of your telegrams and the only one last night. We all want to stop over with you on our way home, but we don’t know when the people are going out of our house, or when we shall get in. Will you let me write you again about the visit, reserving the right to say no to me if it isn’t convenient for you when we propose coming?
I’ve got a lot of things to talk over [MTHL 2: 552-3]. Note: Howells did not visit Hartford until May 1-2.
Orion Clemens wrote to Sam (Orion to Frank L. Wing Apr. 9 enclosed).
My Dear Brother:
Yours of 6th received. We are delighted that you will come in June, and bring all the family.
Pamela expects to go Thursday to Quincy. … Ma treated us to a domestic concert the other night, and we will take us to the Devil’s Auction Tuesday night if well enough. I think you are doing wonders to get the second volume of Grant out by the first of May [MTP]. Note: Orion’s letter to Frank L. Wing of Apr. 9 discussed the Tennessee lands that John Marshall purchased; a map was included.
T.B. Mott, West Point cadet, class of ’86, wrote a several page letter of thanks for Sam’s recent visit and talk at the Point [MTP].
April 12 Monday – In Hartford Sam responded to Howells’ Apr. 11 letter:
Good — it’s all right. We were afraid you had escaped to Boston….Well, I shall be down Friday evening, & will look in on you Saturday morning, & we will arrange to visit there [MTHL 2: 553].
Sam also mentioned he’d spent part of the afternoon with Twichell at the Murray Hill Hotel on “yesterday week,” or on Sunday, Apr. 4, which would have been on their return trip from West Point.
Sam also wrote a one-liner to Webster: “never mind about that sofa.” Sam had procured the address of the furniture man [MTP].
April 13 Tuesday – Howells, still in New York, wrote a short note to Sam, responding to his Apr. 12 letter about coming down to see him on Saturday.
We leave this hotel today, for a visit in N. Jersey, but I’ll run in to see you Friday [MTHL 2: 554]
Howells’ Jersey visit was to Elinor Howells’ younger sister, Mrs. Augustus D. Shepard [n2].
Francis Hopkinson Smith wrote to Sam from N.Y., inviting him to a get together for “a few hungry spirits, including Howells, in honor of Edwin A. Abbey. “The gorge begins at 7 P.M. April 22d Thursday at my house….Please say yes” [MTNJ 3: 231n12]. Note: Sam said yes, though he split his evening with another gathering.
April 14 Wednesday – In Hartford Sam wrote to Charles Webster, asking him to “stir up” the American Publishing Co., which had not sent Sam his April statement [MTP].
Prudence Crandall Philleo (1803-1890) in Elk Falls, Kansas, wrote to Sam to thank him for his past kindness to her:
It is only lately that I ascertained that you were the person that offered to reinstate me in my home that I bought in the long ago in the town of Canterbury, Conn. It is a matter of great surprise that any one could be so kind to an old woman like me…. Would it be too much for me to ask you to give me a volume of the same [Innocents Abroad] that I may be able to finish the book and loan it to others who are not able to purchase it [MTP]. Sam wrote on the envelope, “Prudence Crandall, who made the great fight for the Negro 50 years ago.”
Note: Prudence Crandall was an educator, emancipator, and human rights advocate who established a school for black females at Canterbury, Conn. in 1833. She was arrested for violating the “Black Law,” and though cleared, was forced to close the school in the face of harassment and mob action. She then moved to Illinois with her husband, who died in 1874. In 1886 the Conn. legislature, supported by Samuel Clemens and others, granted her an annual annuity of $400. She bought a home in Elk Falls where she passed in 1890. A 1987 letter from biographer Susan Strane in the MTP file states that the widow Prudence Crandall Philleo was “living in greatly reduced circumstances in Kansas in 1885,” and that her brother, with whom she’d lived for a decade had also recently died. Stephen Hubbard of the Hartford Courant came to the cause of her support and alerted Sam among others. She was granted a pension of $400 a year until her death in January, 1890.
James Redpath wrote from N.Y to Sam, refusing what he saw as charity. Pond had written Redpath that Sam was “troubled about an entirely unintentional error” and so left Pond the money for Redpath to draw on. Redpath would consider the money as a loan, however, if Sam agreed [MTP].
April 15 Thursday – Moncure D. Conway wrote to Sam:
We are going to have a good time receiving Howells at our “Authors’ Club” next Thursday [Apr 22]. Can’t you come? … I hope you’ll be able to come Thursday, or the day before, — and we should be delighted if Mrs. Clemens can come (I have a good billiard table by the way) [MTP].
April 16 Friday – Sam, Livy and “a couple of friends,” went to New York City for the weekend [MTHL 2: 554n3].
April 17 Saturday – In New York City, Sam and Howells met to arrange Howells’ visit to Hartford, which did not occur until May 1-2 weekend. In the evening the Clemens party took in The Mikado, the first American run of the D’Oyly Carte Mikado, at the Fifth Avenue Theatre [MTHL 2: 554n3 from an entry in Susy’s unfinished biography dated Apr. 18, 1886]. Gribben quotes Susy:
mama and papa Clara and Daisy [Margaret Warner] have gone to New York to see the “Mikado” .
It’s likely that they spent a second evening in the City, returning home on Monday, Apr. 19, as Sunday travel for them was rare.
April 18 Sunday – From Susy Clemens’ diary:
Mamma and papa Clara and Daisy have gone to New York to see the “Mikado.” They are coming home tonight at half past seven [Papa 212].
According to Susy’s Apr. 19 entry, a game of croquet was played in the evening, with Aunt Clara Spaulding and Susy besting Sam and Clara Clemens [Papa 215].
April 19 Monday – Pamela Moffett wrote to Sam from Quincy, Ill. on her way to New York. She was spending “a few days” in Quincy after having stayed with Orion and Mollie for two weeks. She asked Sam not to say anything about what Orion owed her, “in case of Ma’s death,” as she wanted to contribute her share toward taking care of Ma.
Orion does take most devoted care of her, and the task is growing more and more difficult, owing to her peculiar mental condition. She is constantly threatening to leave there, but there is no place in the world, where she would be as well satisfied as she is there [MTP]. Note: Orion and Mollie’s letters to Sam throughout this period are full of Ma’s erratic behavior.
Charles Webster wrote to Sam about papers sent for review and return. The Webster baby’s eye was “safe” after a near injury; the sofa was ordered and Sam should be getting it this week; he “just received another letter from Mrs. White from Rome full of the same fulsome taffy as the last, so you see they are all right” [MTP]. (Whitford to Webster Apr. 19 enclosed.)
From Susy Clemens’ diary:
Yes the Mind Cure does seem to be working wonderfully. papa who has been using glasses now, for more than a year, has laid them off entirely. And my nearsightedness is realy getting better. It seems marvelous! When Jean has a stomack ache, Clara and I have tried to divert her, by telling her to lie on her side and try Mind Cure. The novelty of it, has made her willing to try it, and then Clara and I would exclaim about how wonderful it was it was getting better! and she would think it realy was finallyk, and stop crying, to our delight.
The other night papa read us a little article, which he had just written entitled “Luck,” it was very good we thought.
The stories of prevailing interest, which Papa tells us is “Jim and the strainin rag” and “Whoop says I” Jim and the strainin rag is simply a discription of a little scene way out west, but he tells it in such a funny way, that it is captivating [Papa 214].
April 20 Tuesday – † In Hartford Sam wrote two notes to Charles Webster. In the first included several business matters plus a sentiment of encouragement that “the little fellow’s eye is going to be saved” (Webster’s son.) Sam had read Henry M. Alexander’s letter (of Alexander & Green about giving an answer to Jesse Grant joining Webster & Co.) and would stop in and discuss it “day after tomorrow noon (Thursday).” Note: The MTP lists this as Apr. 22, which was Thursday, the day Sam went to New York to speak at the Author’s Club. Therefore, this letter is assigned a date of Apr. 20, Tuesday.
In the second note Sam wanted copies of six of his books sent to Prudence Crandall Philleo of Elk Falls, Kansas. Sam referred to her as “Connecticut’s heroine,” a title formally installed by the 1995 Connecticut legislature.
Jane Clemens wrote to Sam about not getting out much and not liking Keokuk much; and about her relations and friends, most of whom were long gone. Sam wrote on the envelope, “Longing after the school-mates of 70 years ago” [MTP].
F. Siemens Von Osterman in Dresden, Germany wrote asking if he might translate TA, LM, P&P. He provided Sam with a few references and the name of his publisher [MTP].
April 21 Wednesday – In Hartford Sam answered Moncure D. Conway’s letter of Apr. 15. Conway had invited Sam to the Author’s Club in New York City for Apr. 22; Sam hoped to be there but Livy couldn’t leave home so he was non-committal:
I shall get to the Author’s Club if I can, that evening, but by previous appointment I begin the evening at another dissipated place. I wonder where the whiskey will give out first [MTP].
Sam also responded to an inquiry to publish from handicapped Bruce W. Munro, who, five years before, as a 21-year-old in Toronto, had written Sam for advice on writing (see Oct. 21, 1881 entry). Sam answered that Webster & Co. Was “utterly overwhelmed with work,” and forwarded Munro’s questions to Webster, asking him or his clerk to provide answers for the “worthy young fellow & a cripple”:
…answer his questions for him — about the cost of plates, &c. The cripples we have with us always — give them a show [MTP].
Thomas Fitch wrote on Tacoma Land Co. stationery to Sam. Fitch was “ever so much obliged for the trouble” Sam went to in referring his wife’s play and hoped “that Mr. Gillette will find something in it for him in which event it’s production is pretty sure. You give no opinion of your own (in charity I suppose)” [MTP]. Note: William H. Gillette was involved in a possible production of Anna Fitch’s play.
April 22 Thursday – Sam went to New York and likely met with Charles Webster and Henry M. Alexander as mentioned in his first letter to Webster on Apr. 20. Sam and Howells split their evening between Hopkinson Smith’s gathering at 7 P.M. and the Author’s Club, Gilsey House, where Sam gave a reading: “Our Children and Great Discoveries” [Fatout, MT Speaking 210-211] Budd in Collected: See a differing summary in “Our New York Letter,” Literary World (Boston), 17 (May 1886) 152; Sam may have spoken twice, once impromptu.
Major General Wesley Merritt for West Point Academy wrote Sam his thanks for his recent visit and talk at the Point, and hoped that Sam’s promise to return in May would not “constitute a patch of pavement for a nameless place” [MTP].
April 23 Friday – Note: It is not clear when Sam returned to Hartford. Howells would come up from N.Y. on May 1, perhaps Sam with him. Yet no letters home from N.Y for this period are extant. At the earliest Sam returned this day; at the latest May 1.
April 24 Saturday
April 25 Sunday
April 26 Monday
April 27 Tuesday
April 28 Wednesday – Sam signed another “Articles of Copartnership,” (“No. 4”) making Frederick J. Hall a co-partner (junior partner) in Webster & Co. [MTLTP 171; MTNJ 3: 224].
April 29 Thursday – Henrietta C. Cosgrove (Mrs. Aruna Phelps Cosgrove), Joplin, Mo. writer, philanthropist, political worker (1849 – ) responded to Sam’s letter about her interview with his mother.
“I would give more for the teachings of one good old mother like yours that a whole pack of such [temperance] reformers….With thanks for your letter which I shall prize and preserve because it is from the same hand which wrote the books whose perusal has given me many of the happiest hours I have ever known…” Sam wrote on the envelope, “Very Pleasant” [MTP]. Note: See also Apr.11, 1885.
April 30 Friday
May 1 Saturday – William Dean Howells arrived at the Clemens home with daughter Mildred (Pilla) to stay the weekend [MTNJ 3: 230n8]. Note: the Hartford Courant May 3, p.2 under “City Briefs” reported: “Mr. W.D. Howells spent Sunday in Hartford with Mr. S.L. Clemens.”
After a delay of nearly two months, Volume II of Grant’s Memoirs was released this date [N.Y. Times, p.3, Mar. 23, 1886, “Lives of Distinguished Men”].
May 1-4 Tuesday – After months of negotiating, the Vatican agreed to Bernard O’Reilly writing and Webster & Co. Publishing the life of the reigning Pope Leo XIII. [Twichell’s Journal, Yale, copy at MTP; LLMT 247; See May 5 to Livy].
May 2 Sunday – Alfred P. Burbank was at the Clemens home to discuss production of Colonel Sellers as Scientist with Sam and Howells [MTHL 2: 564n1]. Susy recorded that at supper “papa and Mr. Howells began to talk about the Jews” [Salsbury 223]. Howells and daughter completed their visit with the Clemens family, and may have left in the evening or the next morning.
Fred K. Ebersold for Chicago Police Headquarters wrote to Sam, thanking him for his recent “contribution for relief of families of police officers, killed or injured in the discharge of duty.” $10 [MTP].
Unidentified person (Mrs. Somerville?) wrote from the Arlington House, city illegible (but Wash. D.C. likely). This person knew Sam, asking how his cough was. “I have wondered more than once as to what you addressed the church today!” The writer recommended two books for Sam’s children [MTP].
May 3 Monday – In Hartford Sam wrote to William Dean Howells, to coordinate a trip to work on the new Sellers play. Taking Susy to Boston as planned, a week from this day was out, since Livy said Susy would miss too much schooling. So, Sam intended to go “up Monday alone — unless you can come down here that day [May 10].” He wanted such a visit on his part to be “private & let nobody know till the work is finished.” In a humorous vein, Sam added:
We missed a chicken out of the ice-chest, but thank God it was after you left. (Aldrich would say the obvious thing: “Yes, you missed it after he left.”) [MTP].
Sam also wrote to James B. Pond in New York, saying the typesetter projects might require him to go to Europe on short notice, and not to put him in any program for the next few months. Sam hoped to stop by to see Pond on Wednesday (May 5) if other engagements didn’t interfere [MTP].
Todd (no further name given, as only a fragment survives) wrote to Sam from Stonington, Conn. “My dear Sir, When I remember how my dear father Dr. Todd of Pittsfield, Mass. Was almost driven to dispair [sic] by the silly…” (the rest of the letter is lost) [MTP from Autobiographical Dictation, 28 Dec. 1906].
May 4 Tuesday
William Dean Howells would be much affected by the Haymarket riot (there was actually no riot), which Goodman and Dawson in their biography of Howells write, “marked the culmination of two decades of social conflict and resulted in a trial that gripped the entire country” .
“From the outset, Howells followed reports of the Haymarket story and the trial. His version, which anticipated the findings of later historians, ran contrary to almost every contemporary editorial and every assumption about justice in the national press. He did not consider the process supervised by Judge Joseph Easton Gary a trial at all. As he saw it, Gary selected his own biased jury, silenced or overruled an able defense team, and found consistently for the prosecution….Howells pitied the defendants as victims of a judicial system gone awry” [278-9].
In Boston, Howells wrote to Sam, responding to his May 3 letter, to firm up the day of his arrival to work on the Sellers as Scientist play.
We can be as private here as pie (that’s Mrs. Howells’s comparative for everything) and I shall be glad to see you, understanding of course that it doesn’t cut off the Susy visit later. What time Monday shall you arrive? Why not Sunday? But perhaps Monday is best. I find I’ve got a copy of the 3d Act, but you’d better bring another if you can [MTHL 2: 555-6].
John Fiske wrote to Sam that “at last” he had things arranged to lecture in Hartford on May 14, 18, and 20, hoping he had “not lost his visit…through this unfortunate delay.” He’d written to “Mrs. Bartholomew that if she wishes to divide me with you as before proposed, I shall be very happy to be made the subject of such division” [MTP].
May 5 Wednesday – Answering a promise to return in May, Sam and Twichell once again went to West Point Military Academy by way of New York City, where Sam ate a “corn-beef-&-cabbage dinner” at the Murray Hill Hotel.
…it gave me an indigestion & is trying to lodge a cold with me. Joe lost his overcoat in New York…[MTP: May 6 to Livy].
Sam also probably met with James B. Pond as intended, though he didn’t mention it. He must also have conferred with Charles Webster, because he wrote good news to Livy about “her costly sofa”:
You can order 1000 such sofas now, if you want to — the future bank account will foot the bill & never miss it. The Pope’s book is ours, & we’ll sell a fleet load of copies…Can’t write any more till to-morrow, at West Point — whither we are bound now [LLMT 247].
Note: Sam had great hopes for the biography of Pope Leo XIII. MTP shows this letter as Unknown location; Sam headed it “On the cars,” so it was posted at West Point or somewhere along the way. Sam’s encouragement about the sofa resulted in being told in N.Y. that a contract for the Pope’s book was signed.
The pair arrived at West Point that evening and had a “lovely visit with the General [Merritt] and his wife.” This trip was a somewhat less formal visit. Leon observes:
“No evidence has been found in archival sources to indicate which stories he might have told, if any. There is evidence from Merritt that he encouraged Mark Twain to visit informally with the cadets, assuring him in a letter of 30 March 1886 that he would ‘let you do as you please as to hours of “coming in” and returning. Our quarters are always open.’ Apparently the cadets wanted to demonstrate their skills in various infantry, artillery, and cavalry drills in Mark Twain’s honor” .
In Boston, William Dean Howells wrote again to Sam about the third act of Sellers as Scientist. He’d reviewed the whole play and concluded:
…I must say I think it will fail. It is a lunatic whom we’ve pictured and while a lunatic in one act might amuse, I’m afraid that in three he would simply bore. I suspect that the play hasn’t success in it, on that account, which is the point that Raymond made against it; he wouldn’t have given it up if that were not fatal. The real motive — the claimant business — isn’t developed; and there is nothing in the play but the idea of Sellers’ character, and a lot of comic situations. That is the way I feel about it now, after having firmly, furiously believed in it. Neither of us needs the money it might make, very badly, though we should like it, and it won’t make us any reputation, even if it succeeds [MTHL 2: 556]. Note: Clearly Sam disagreed, for he made the trip to Boston anyway.
May 6 Thursday – Sam was at West Point, New York. Fatout shows him giving readings without specifying particulars [MT Speaking 657]. The pair rose at 6:30 AM and watched the guard-mount, then had breakfast. Afterward they toured some of the sections of the Academy. Sam wrote to Livy:
This morning the cadets all know us, so we are quite at home. I love you my darling. I must start along. [MTP].
From Susy Clemens’ diary:
Papa has contrived a new way for us to remember dates. We are to bring to breakfast every morning a date, without fail, and now they are to be dates from English historie [Papa 223]. Note: Susy continues to relate the pegs driven in the driveway at Quarry Farm two summers before.
Edward W. Lummis of Worchester College, Oxford England wrote a sixteen-stanza poem, each last line ending in “Mark Twain,” his clever way of asking for a free copy of White Elephant or at least Sam’s autograph (Lummis’ card enclosed) [MTP]. See May 17 for Sam’s answer.
May 7 Friday – Before leaving West Point, Sam telegrammed Howells, asking him to answer at Hartford whether he should arrive in Boston the next day or on Sunday, May 9 [MTHL 2:557]. Twichell’s journal fixes their visit as May 5-7. Howells sent a telegram to Sam asking him to come Saturday, May 8 and bring Susy. Sam wrote of it in his May 10 to Livy, and said it “never reached our house at all, I suppose,” which infers that Sam was back in Hartford on this day. He expected to go to Boston on Monday, May 10 as planned, and did not get the word to come sooner. See May 3 entry. Sam and Joe Twichell left West Point and returned to Hartford.
May 8 Saturday – Sam’s notebook lists an address for Edward “Ned” House in New York City, and a date of “May 8 or 10.” House could no longer walk. Whitelaw Reid described him as “the nearest to a living death of any case I have ever seen, and is most pitiful” [MTNJ 3: 234n26]. The source claims Sam visited House several times when in New York during the spring. In a Feb. 5 1890 letter to Dean Sage outlining House’s misdeeds, Sam gave May 10, 1886 as the date House arrived in New York from Japan.
W.G. Irish wrote to Sam from Bromsgrove, England. Sam wrote on the envelope, “English begging-letter” [MTP].
May 9 Sunday – In Boston, Howells wrote to Sam, confused by the delay in telegraphs. Which day was Sam coming? He related the telegrams from West Point, his reply to Hartford, etc. At this point Howells wasn’t sure when Sam would arrive. Sam wouldn’t have seen this letter until he returned home. On the play, Howells was still pessimistic:
If it’s going forward, I want to go carefully over the MS and shed Seller’s lunacy all I can…As it stands I believe the thing will fail, and it would be a disgrace to have it succeed. We ought to go over the MS together, and then I ought to have at least a week to work on [MTHL 2: 557].
According to his May 10 to Livy, Sam probably arrived at the Vendome Hotel in Boston on the evening of May 9, then went to see Howells the next day.
May 10 Monday – In Boston Sam went to the Howells’ residence, and after an hour talk with him, they came up with a plan for improving the Sellers as Scientist play and worked on it. He wrote Livy:
Livy, darling, I came up with Mr. Bartholomew all the way, & had a very pleasant trip. Stopped at the Vandome, [Vendome Hotel] & came over here an hour ago, where I’m not sure I was either welcome or expected. I haven’t seen any of the family yet but Howells & an accidental fleeting glimpse of Winnie in undress uniform….I love you, sweetheart — & those others [MTP]. Note: The Bartholomews lived on Capitol Avenue in Hartford. Mrs. Bartholomew started an embroidery club that Susy and Clara Clemens took part in [Salsbury 232].
L.. Hoffman writes:
“After a furious rewriting session, Sam left for New York determined to sign a contract for the play to open on May 24 at Daniel Frohman’s Lyceum Theatre. Howells took that time to reconsider the wisdom of mounting” the play .
One likely chronology here is from MTHL 2: 557-8n5:
“…he and Howells worked on the play Sunday evening and possibly Monday morning; and that Clemens took the MS back to Hartford with him Monday afternoon and to New York on Tuesday.” Note: the problem with this itinerary is that his letter above puts his arrival at Howells’ home on this day, Monday, not Sunday evening. Since Howells had given great thought to possible improvements, they may have completed the work in a few hours on this day. An all-nighter may have been recalled years later.
The two men agreed to let Alfred P. Burbank have the play. Sam returned to Hartford. In 1910
William Dean Howells wrote of his struggle the night that Sam left:
…the cold fit came upon me, and “in visions of the night, in slumberings upon the bed,” ghastly forms of failure appalled me, and when I rose in the morning I wrote him:…”Here is a play which every manager has put out-of-doors and which every actor known to us has refused, and now we go and give it to an elocutioner [Burbank]. We are fools.” …So hard does the faith of the unsuccessful dramatist in his work die! [MMT 26].
May 11 Tuesday – Sam went to New York with the modified Sellers as Scientist manuscript. Sam telegraphed Howells, probably to inform him of the meeting the next day with Burbank and Sam’s attorneys to finalize the agreement for the play (telegram not extant).
Meanwhile, in Boston, Howells wrote to Sam c/o Webster & Co., with the instruction on the envelope, “Find him and deliver immediately. W.D. Howells.” The letter did not reach Sam in New York, but was forwarded to Hartford [MTHL 2: 558 notes]. Sam wrote on the envelope, “Says give it to Burbank to read in public” [MTP]. Howells wrote:
L.. Withdraw the play absolutely, as you have a right to do, on the ground that it needs revision which we can’t now give it; making what terms you can with the manager.
II. Then, if Burbank feels himself compromised or injured by the withdrawal, promise to give it to him, after we’ve gone over it, to read next winter. He can do that well, and as a special card in his own line, he can probably get more out of it than he could as an actor without the chances of failure .
May 12 Wednesday – In New York at the offices of Webster & Co. A meeting was held reaching an agreement with Alfred P. Burbank. In attendance was a representative from Alexander & Green, attorneys; and Charles Webster, Frederick J. Hall (now a member of the firm), and Frank M. Scott (bookkeeper later convicted of embezzlement). Burbank secured Daniel Frohman’s Lyceum Theatre for two weeks beginning May 24. Meanwhile Howells telegrammed Burbank at the Lotos Club to cancel the play. Powers explains Sam was “Embarrassed at finding himself undercut by his partner in such an open way” [MT, A Life 508]. Sam finally discovered Howells’ intent and compromised a solution that involved canceling the agreement with Burbank, in exchange for payment of one week’s theater rent, or $1,000. He then telegrammed Howells, the “dispatch” referred to in Howells’ next letter:
…your blessed dispatch has come, and I must write to you. I don’t know how I’ve kept alive since you left; and I wouldn’t voluntarily undergo the anguish of the last week for any consideration…Now I want to know the damage, so that I may send you my share, for the folly was mine as much as yours, and I must pay for it too, in money as well as misery [MTHL 2: 558-9].
William Graham wrote from Boston to Sam. Graham spoke of being in Cairo, Egypt (some three and four years before) and seeing “Far Away Moses” who had a copy of IA “which he showed with pride as containing his likeness” [MTP]. Note: “Far Away Moses” was the celebrated Turkish guide described in IA Ch. XXXV and pictured on p.382 [Oxford facsimile ed.]. Sam wrote that they called all the guides “Ferguson.” See also MTNJ 1: 447n133 for a shop named after the guide.
May 13 Thursday – Back in Hartford in a rare show of ill-will to Howells, Sam vented, beginning a letter which he added to on May 15 and 17:
No, no, sir — I’m not going to let you shoulder a solitary ounce of the “folly” onto me! Observe:
L.. It was I who had written Webster that no terms in the world would induce me, etc., etc; it was you who said “Why not let Burbank have it?”
2. It was you who had made up your mind, Monday morning, that the business engagements of twelve hours before were a mistake & must be throttled; you still had 48 hours in which to say “You are to meet Burbank Wednesday noon — squelch this whole thing before the hourly breeding vested rights in it shall make the squelching a costly undertaking.” But you didn’t say it. You let me sit there in Webster’s office…in the legal & expensive background, & go through the profound unwisdom of tying myself to an actor with a gold thread, & tying the actor to a Hebrew manager [Frohman] with a log-chain, by contracts which you had already, two days before, privately, decided against.
There — what I’m jumping on top of, & taking by the neck, hair & ears in this schadenfreudig way, is your gentle, & even Christlike concession that “the folly was mine as much as yours.” No, my boy, I pile it all onto you; every ounce of it [MTHL 2: 559-60]. See May 15 and 17 entries for additions.
In his 1911 reminiscence, Memories of a Manager, Daniel Frohman told the story from his perspective:
The play I refer to was one he wrote in conjunction with W.D. Howells, called The American Claimant, which was to be produced at the Lyceum in 1886 by A.P. Burbank, a popular lecture platform entertainer. Having read the play, I rented the Lyceum for a few weeks, before my regular season, to Mr. Clemens. The piece was full of humor. The hero was an inventor [Sellers as a Scientist]. One of his inventions was a fire-extinguisher. With this machine he makes his first entrance on the stage, and with it almost sets fire to the apartment. Rehearsals showed that the work was not likely to prove successful, and after some litigious correspondence between Mr. Clemens and myself I arranged to accept a suitable solatium for the time the withdrawal of the piece left vacant [50-51].
Pamela Moffett arrived at the Clemens home after a N.Y. visit with her daughter, Annie Moffett Webster and Charles Webster from Apr. 24. She would stay until May 20 [MTNJ 3: 236n33].
May 14 Friday – Alfred P. Burbank wrote to Sam on Lotos Club stationery advising that Frank Mayo “comes into the Lyceum May 24th on ½ gross receipts.” He thought they might “recoup” some of their expenses on the aborted Sellers play [MTP].
Karl Gerhardt wrote that the Beecher bust was “receiving its just deserts [sic] in way of flattering criticism from the New York papers” [MTP].
Sam inscribed on the flyleaf of vol. 2 of a special presentation copy of Grant’s Memoirs: This set belongs to the set given me by Mrs. U.S. Grant S.L.C. May 14, 1886 [Christie’s, Lot 103 Sale 1720 Nov. 26, 2006; avail. Online]. Note: the set had a special binding of tree calf with morocco slipcase. It was also inscribed by Mrs. Grant (Julia D. Grant): For / Mr. S.L. Clemens / with the compliments of / Julia D. Grant / New York / Dec. 25th 1885.
May 15 Saturday – Sam added to his May 13 scorcher to Howells:
Been interrupted for a day or two. [Probably by Pamela’s visit]
Mrs. Clemens has condemned this letter to the stove — “because it might make Mr. Howells feel bad.” Might make him feel bad! Have I in sweat & travail wrought 12 carefully-contrived pages to make him feel bad, & now there’s a bloody doubt flung at it? Let me accept the truth: I am grown old, my literary cunning has departed from me. I purposed to shrivel you up; & the verdict is as above.
However, I don’t care; I couldn’t have enjoyed it more than a couple of minutes, if I had succeeded. Therein lies the defect of revenge: it’s all in the anticipation; the thing itself is a pain, not a pleasure; at least the pain is the biggest end of it. See May 17 entry.
Boston Literary World ran an interview with Sam titled, “Table Talk” [Scharnhorst, Interviews 87].
If common report is correct, Mark Twain is much better satisfied by his career as a publisher than by his literary success. When asked recently if he would contribute to any magazines this year he said: “No, no. No sum of money however flattering could induce me to swerve from a resolution I have made to enjoy a solid old-fashioned loaf this summer, after which I will visit my country home at Elmira for the balance of the season. Besides there is more money in being a publisher. At any rate that is my experience, and if I perform any more literary work in the future it will be only to ‘keep my hand in.’”
Emily Dickinson (1830-1886) died in Boston at age 55. All but a dozen or so of her poems were published after her death. See Oct. 1891 entry and Gribben 193.
May 16 Sunday – In Boston, Howells had expected more details on the compromise. He’d not yet received the scorcher letter from Sam, heaping all the blame on him.
I suppose you got my note of Wednesday [May 12] acknowledging your dispatch. I’ve been expecting a letter giving some details of the way you found out of our hobble. I don’t feel content to let you bear the brunt of the whole thing. Do write [MTHL 2: 563] Note: Sam did write!
Sam responded to a request (now lost) from Joseph B. Gilder in New York for Sam to list the romances and poetry that he felt folks should read. Gilder and sister Jeannette L. Gilder founded Critic magazine in 1881. They were siblings of Richard Watson Gilder of the Century.
If it be a confession, then let me confess — to wit:
1.All the romance which I have read in twenty years would not over-crowd a couple of crown octavo volumes; 2. All the poetry …could be put between the lids of one octavo. I do not read anything but history & biography…my testimony would not be valuable [MTP].
William Graham wrote from Boston to Sam of missing him by three days on his last trip to Beantown. Again he invited Sam to stop by his studio on his next visit. Sam wrote on the envelope, “Graham the Venetian artist” [MTP].
May 17 Monday – In Hartford Sam finished and mailed his scorcher to Howells, begun on May 13 and added to on May 15.
We are the lessees of the theatre for a week, beginning May 24, for that $1000; Frank Mayo has taken it, at half gross receipts. That may reduce the $1000 a trifle, but I don’t expect it [MTHL 2: 562].
Note: Howells recalled the amount as being reduced to $700. Powers writes that Sam was “in the throes of his dry period,” and Howells “was a little beaten down from some vitriolic reaction to his first three ‘Editor’s Study’ columns in Harper’s, mostly from newspaper reviewers shocked by his enthusiasm for the Russian realist Tolstoy and his unvarnished contempt for romanticism” [MT A Life, 507]. After it all, the two men remained friends.
Sam also responded to May 6 compliments in verse from Edward W. Lummis, an English poet and translator:
If I too were a poet, I would acknowledge your pleasant compliments in verse; but I am not, so am forced to say my thanks in ruder form of prose — which is like answering the gracious salutation of a bugle with a fog-horn [MTP].
May 18 Tuesday – Having received Sam’s angry letter, Howells responded:
Your indictment is perfect, but the trodden work remembers details that escape the recollection of the boot-heel.
Howells related how he’d advised Sam to give up on the play on May 2, after Burbank had left the Clemens house unenthusiastic. And he quoted Sam’s words back to him that “there were 9 chances out of ten that it would fail.”
L.. Well, this experience is good, but it almost killed me. The nervous strain of that awful Monday [May 10 after Sam left Boston] is something I haven’t got over yet. It’s perfectly lurid, the retrospect.
Please don’t acknowledge the enclosure [check for $500]. I’m keeping it a secret between me and my Maker. That is, I don’t want my Wife to know it. Yours ever, W.D. Howells [MTHL 2: 564].
In a second letter to Sam, Howells thought he’d been “stupid” about the matter of his check and his wife, and referred to a passage in his novel The Minister’s Charge, when the Rev. Mr. Sewell, “smiled to think how much easier it was to make one’s peace with one’s God than with one’s wife.”
My mind is beginning to act more promptly than it did in regard to the play; but it still acts wrong first [MTHL 2: 565].
General William B. Franklin sent Sam a circular dated May 5 at West Point to the Graduates of the Military Academy, which announced the next annual meeting of the Association of Graduates in the chapel at 3 P.M., Thursday, June 10, 1886, the hop on June 11 and closing exercises on June 12 [MTP].
May 19 Wednesday – In Hartford Sam responded to William Dean Howells’ of May 18. Sam’s tone was much more conciliatory and resigned.
Confound it, isn’t there any way to load you up with remorse so that it will stay? I never saw such an obstinate subject. However, you’ve done your full share of suffering, & I give you absolution….I can’t bear to use that article you sent me [the check for $500], it goes so against the grain. I must wait at least twelve days [the check was postdated]. I must try to invent some way to render it unnecessary altogether.
Sam then related a “most curious & pathetic romance,” about his mother’s long-lost lover, and her revelation to Sam through her daughter Pamela Moffett, who visited the Clemenses from May 13-20. The story goes that Jane Clemens had prevailed in her wish to travel to a Tri-State Old Settlers Association reunion in Keokuk in late Sept., 1885; the object of her journey to see Dr. Richard Barrett, who had been Jane’s lover and intended betrothed. Due to Barrett’s loose lips of his intention to propose to Jane, she refused to go on a buggy trip, and shortly thereafter married John Marshall Clemens for spite. After 64 years, Jane found that she’d missed Barrett by three hours at the reunion, and promptly returned home. Sam added:
Since then, her memory is wholly faded out & gone; & now she writes letters to the school-mates who have been dead forty years, & wonders why they neglect her & do not answer. Think of her carrying that pathetic burden in her old heart sixty-four years, & no human being ever suspecting it! MTHL 2: 566-8]. Note: Richard Barrett actually died in 1860 in Iowa. The story was filtered through Jane’s memory of distant events, and through the retelling within the family, so details may be suspect.
Prudence Crandall Philleo wrote to Sam thanking him for his “dear photographed countenance.” Sam wrote on the envelope, “The Connecticut anti-slavery heroine of 53 years ago — Prudence Crandall” [MTP].
May 20 Thursday – Pamela Moffett ended her visit at the Clemenses, and returned to New York where she again stayed with her daughter Annie Webster and her son-in-law, Charles Webster until mid-June [MTNJ 3:236n33].
May 21 Friday – Charles J. Langdon wrote his sister Livy, mostly about business matters and the “encouraging outlook” financially [MTP].
May 22 Saturday – In Hartford Sam wrote to L.W. Bartlett for Putnam Phalanx, a Hartford military organization that had conferred a life honorary membership upon him. The Hartford Courant ran the full text of the letter on June 3, p.3 under “The Putnam Phalanx” article.
Hartford, May 22, 1886
Mr. L.W. Bartlett, Secretary.
Dear Sir: The honor done me by the Putnam Phalanx in conferring upon me a life membership in their distinguished body is a recognition of my military record which is peculiarly grateful to my feelings, and I beg leave to return through you my best thanks for the compliment.
In my opinion your organization is not complete; the rest of the Phalanx can always be depended upon in time of war, and I shall never fail you in time of peace. With great respect I am yours truly, S.L. Clemens [Note: See also June 17, 1887; MTNJ 3: 294n230.]
William B. Franklin invited Sam to the West Point Graduate Association dinner, enclosing a letter from the secretary of that group [MTP].
May 23 Sunday – In Boston, Howells responded to Sam’s May 19 letter:
I never read a more pathetic story than that you tell me of your mother. After all how poor and hackneyed all the inventions are, compared with the simple and stately facts! Who could have imagined such a heartbreak as that? Yet it went along with the fulfillment of duty, and made no more noise than a grave underfoot. I doubt if fiction will ever get the knack of such things. How could it represent them? [MTHL 2: 569].
Note: Howells realized that even stark literary realism could not exceed truth’s “stranger than fiction” occurrences. He was at work on a new story, April Hopes, which would run in Harper’s Feb-Nov 1887, and already regretting his obligation to produce the “Editor’s Study” articles for that magazine.
George E. Waring wrote from Boston of changed plans — he’d intended to come the next week with his assistant Chapman and give Sam an estimate for “changing your [illegible word — charts?] but had to suddenly to Canada. Waring wanted to send his assistant for the estimate, as he was “intelligent and knows his business” [MTP]. Note: This may have to do with drawings for the typesetter.
May 24 Monday – Richard W. Gilder for Century Magazine wrote to Sam as “editor of the Century magazine” about “Lehman’s paper” having “strict attention in this office” though he didn’t know if it could be “made to suit all the editors of ‘The Century’,” naming Howells, Stedman, Roswell Smith, Johnson, Buel, etc. — in other words past contributors. It seems a light-hearted spoof of a letter [MTP].
May 25 Tuesday – In Hartford Sam telegrammed Charles Webster, asking for a discount on “that sixty-dollar book that Orion wants,” and directing it be shipped without deducting his monthly stipend [MTP]. On the reverse of the telegraph form: “Check as usual. 155 — / P.H. Ghendun — 10000” which suggests the book was a bit more expensive than thought. The normal check at this time was $155 — $5 for Puss Quarles, $50 for Ma, and $100 for Orion and Mollie. The title of the book is not known, but may have related to Orion’s work on the history-memory game.
Sam probably made a one day trip to New York and stopped to see Edward H. House. Sam’s letter of May 26 so implies, and starts with “As soon as I got him last night” [May 25] and ends with apologies for a “long visit” to House. MTNJ 3: 239n43 places this “second May 1886 visit” in the last week of this month. His notebook’s to-do list, together for this time:
Inquire of Gilder how he liked the Ode.
Go to House — & Charley’s [Webster].
Then to Mrs. Grant’s.
Then to Mr. Dana’s. — 25 — 60th ? Cor. Madison ave. [Charles A. Dana of the NY Sun].
Ask F.G. [Fred Grant] about horses.
Go & see Laffan.
See Battle of the Monitors.
Note: This last item was a panorama at Madison Ave. and 59th Street put up in Jan.1886 through the summer. The painting covered 20,000 square feet of canvas depicting the 1862 battle between the Merrimac and the Monitor. All in all, a pretty busy short visit to the City.
May 26 Wednesday – In Hartford Sam wrote a longish letter to Edward H. House, relating a supposed conversation with Livy about Koto being unable to visit, and Livy’s supposed anger over a future visit Koto promised to the Goldthwaiths. The conversation was full of swearing, but Sam added this disclaimer:
I have not reported merely the spoken words of our conversation, but also those which were uttered secretly in the heart. The soul of a conversation seldom comes forth to the air in articulate words.
Sam also wrote that his “long visit” to House put “far too heavy a tax” upon him. Note: the Goldthwaits were English descendants of Thomas Goldthwaite, an early settler in Salem, Mass. The 1886 Geer’s City Directory for Hartford lists “Misses Charlotte and Jane Goldthwait” (no “e”) boarding at 203 Sigourney.
Henry M. Alden for Harper & Brothers wrote a letter of introduction to Sam for Mrs. Zadel B. Gustafson, a visiting female correspondent for the London Pall Mall Gazette [MTP]. See June 5 entry from Zadel.
Orion Clemens wrote acknowledging receipt of an extra $100 from Sam. The family was looking forward to the Clemenses visit. Ma went with Orion and Mollie to Burlington the day before on a steamboat, and was well today [MTP].
J.S. Lombard wrote a postcard to Sam from Boston that he’d “received from Mr. Thompson One Watercolor to frame” and would ship when completed [MTP].
May 27 Thursday
May 28 Friday – Orion Clemens wrote acknowledging a draft from Webster & Co. For $155 — $5 for “Puss” Quarles, $50 for Ma, and $100 for himself. “Ma is going 3 blocks to the opera-house to-night to a home-children’s performance. Prefers walking; saves hack-hire” [MTP].
Frederick J. Hall wrote thanking Sam for the advancement in position and salary [MTP].
John M. Hay wrote that he was “off for Cleveland tomorrow” and had “made other arrangements,” “and thus vanishes into the [illegible word] my chance of a $200,000 check with your equally valuable signature” [MTP]. Note: Hay and John G. Nicolay, private secretaries to Abraham Lincoln, worked for fifteen years on Abraham Lincoln: A History (1890), which was serialized by the Century magazine from 1886 to 1890; the pair received $50,000 for the rights — an unprecedented amount for a magazine to pay. Interestingly, this is the only work of Hay’s that is not listed in Sam’s library [Gribben 301-2].
William Dean Howells also wrote to Sam (not in MTHL).
Now that my letter is irrevocably yours into the letter box, I’m afraid my version of Mr. Scott’s [?] joke of the superior ease of making one’s peace with one’s God as compared with one’s wife, may put…difficulty in your say about the check. You mustn’t let it; that’s all. I thought it was funny; now I see it’s stupid [MTP].
May 29 Saturday
May 30 Sunday — In Theatre Magazine on this date appeared the following:
Mark Twain is a humorist, as everybody knows. But everybody does not know what a clever, sagacious, hard-headed man of business he is. He will soon be one of the richest publishers in America, and he seldom makes a blunder in trade. It may be taken for granted, therefore, that, when he gave Mr. Daniel Frohman $ 1,000 not to produce his new play, The American Claimant (written in collaboration with Mr. Howells), he displayed extraordianary forethought. He came to the conclusion that, since he could not stand his own play, the public would not be likely to stand it [Encore by Daniel Frohman 1937 Lee Furman, Inc. N.Y. p.107-8].
May 31 Monday – Koto House wrote from N.Y. to Sam “(for Mrs. Clemens),” explaining her delays since receiving a telegram from Livy, which invited her to visit before the family left for Elmira. Koto suggested Saturday next (June 5), though was unsure if that would even be possible, though thought it “probable”. There was “a question” between Livy and Miss Goldthwaith (either Charlotte or Jane), who had invited Koto first [MTP]. Note: Koto visited the Clemenses shortly thereafter; the day of her visit is not certain, as she returned to New York on June 5 [Sam to House, June 5].
June – Sam’s notebook (for approximately June): Get “The Midge” by HC Bunner [MTNJ 3:240; Gribben 111]. Note: Henry Cuyler Bunner’s (1855-1896) sentimental novel (1886).
Closely following the above notebook entry is a reminder to: “Review ‘Luxilla’ that hogwash novel from the South” [MTNJ 3: 240]. Also on this page of the cited text, Sam wrote, “Bring down Tolstoi,” which the footnote implies would have been Tolstoi’s My Religion (1884). Howells, in his new “Editor’s Study,” had praised “Tolstoi’s commitment to truth and realism” [n51].
Note: Luxilla (1885) was by George Ernest Miller, a novel of a subterranean kingdom of thieves, spirits and a dwarf sorcerer. (Sounds like Harry Potter 120 years ahead of its time.)
June 1 Tuesday
June 2 Wednesday – In Hartford the Putnam Phalanx met and elected new members. Sam had previously been voted an Honorary Life Member along with Henry C. Robinson, Gen. Joseph R. Hawley, and 26 others. The Hartford Courant ran “The Putnam Phalanx” p.3, June 3 listing the “Active Committee” and the honoraries. Sam’s letter of May 22 was read aloud. He may have been in attendance.
Sam wrote a short note to Andrew Chatto, referring him to an unnamed, “enclosed applicant” (possibly F. Siemens Von Osterman in Dresden, Germany) who had written regarding translations of Sam’s books in Europe. Sam reminded Chatto that:
All authority over translations of my books in Europe is vested in your firm [MTP].
Sam also wrote to Orion Clemens about the upcoming trip he and the family would make to Keokuk.
To avoid the awful railway journey, we shall try the Lake route. We sail from Buffalo in the “India,” June 22, for Duluth….It is said that the food & accommodations are poor, but I doubt if they are poorer than what we several times endured on the Atlantic ten or twelve years ago.
We go from Duluth to St Paul by rail, & then to Keokuk by steamboat. Altogether it is a 7 or 8-day journey, I suppose.
Sam wrote that Livy insisted on them staying at a boarding house across the street, since there would be six of them (including a governess), but that they would share meals with Orion and Mollie. Sam expected to leave Hartford for Elmira on June 15.
Sam also wrote to Alfred P. Burbank, letter not extant [June 3 from Burbank].
Sam wrote chk # 3252 from Bissell & Co. Bank to Lord’s C&D Office for 1.00 [MTP]
June 3 Thursday – In Boston, Howells wrote Sam, asking him to keep the $500 check and send him one for $150, instead of returning it. $350 was Howells’ net share of the loss after Sam was able to sub-let the Lyceum Theatre. (See May 12 entry.) He enclosed a clipping of a speech given by General John A. Logan at a Decoration Day ceremony at Grant’s Tomb in New York. Howells offered, “Meantime, if you want to see another kind of fool [besides himself], just read this frantic speech” [MTHL 2: 570]. Note 1 claims Sam, in a letter now lost, returned the check.
Alfred P. Burbank wrote from Springfield, Mass.: “Yours of 2nd inst. At hand. I will take the 9: 25 A.M. train from here on Sat. (June 5) and arriving at Hartford will come out at once to your house bringing Mrs. with me.” Burbank enclosed the card of Uriah Welch who asked where Sam would be on July 4th next. On the envelope Sam wrote, “Tell Welch shall [be] West 4th July” [MTP].
June 4 Friday – In Hartford Sam responded to Howells’ letter of the previous day, agreeing to the suggestion about the check. As for the Sellers as Scientist play (which became The American Claimant in 1887), Sam wrote:
I am being persecuted by all the unknown comedians between hell & Halifax; they all want our piece. I hope you get your share of the applications.
Sam related hearing General John A. Logan speak once, when every one of 3,000 people save General Grant reflected the torture. As for Grant, Sam wrote:
…the effect upon his outside was as null as if he had been a petrification [MTP].
Koto House had been visiting at the Clemens’ residence. On this evening she “had a large audience of random visitors…and told them about Japanese customs” [Sam to House June 5]. Note: A. Hoffman writes, “people suspected that the relationship [between House and Koto] was not quite filial” . No other reference or citation supporting this suggestion could be found.
June 5 Saturday – Alfred P. Burbank and wife arrived at the Clemens home for what was probably an overnight visit [June 3 from Burbank].
At 5 p.m., Sam wrote to Edward H. House after Koto House had returned to New York.
Koto is gone — & freighted as usual, with everybody’s hearts. She conquered right & left — Chas. Warner, Miss Price, Mamie Perkins, the Goldthwaites, Miss Corey — everybody; & Jean & the children — which goes without saying [MTP].
Sam also wrote to an unidentified person (photographer) to order a “big half life-size” photograph taken of him “about a year & a half ago” for Livy. Sam asked it be sent with the bill [MTP].
Mrs. Zadel B. Gustafson, poet, journalist, suffragist and world traveler, wrote from Newtonville, Mass. seeking an interview for the London Pall Mall Gazette. Gustafson was a special correspondent for that paper. [MTNJ 3: 229n6]. See May 26 entry from Alden.
June 6 Sunday – In Hartford Sam wrote to Charles Webster about book publishing matters and royalties, comparing royalties to the overall worth of books already taken for memoirs of General George McClellan and General Philip H. Sheridan (1831-1888). Sam suggested offering General Adam Badeau a ten per cent royalty for his “gossipy and entertaining” book, “Grant in Peace.” Sam informed that they would sail from Buffalo for Keokuk by way of the Great Lakes, the same day that Charles and Annie Webster were to sail for Europe, on their way to an audience with Pope Leo XIII [MTLTP 198].
Sam began a letter to an unidentified person about the foul-smelling reservoir water. He finished it the next day.
June 7 Monday – In Hartford Sam finished his letter about the foul-smelling tap water. He complained of holding his nose while brushing his teeth. He enclosed a clipping from page two of the Hartford Courant for June 5, 1886, citing tastings by some committee denying that the water had a fishy smell.
Dr Jarvis says the water in the reservoirs is pure & that the trouble is rotten fish in the pipes…Says a good flushing would immediately cure the trouble; but the W.C. [Water Commissioner] is afraid that would reduce his water too much; hence he brings out 60 asses to drink pure water & thus prove to 42,000 that they are not holding their noses when they wash [MTP].
June 8 Tuesday – Clara Clemens’ twelfth birthday. Margaret (“Daisy”) Warner gave her a box of cologne. Warner wrote to her father (George) on May 27 asking him to buy the cologne when he was in New York [MTP].
June 9 Wednesday
June 10 Thursday
June 11 Friday – In Hartford Sam wrote to Charles Webster, telling him to:
See that you go for Wannamaker [sic] — otherwise I will go down there & rise up in his Sunday School & give him hell, in front of his whole 3000 pupils [MTP]
Note: John Wanamaker (1838-1922), Philadelphia retailer and Postmaster General for Presbyterian Benjamin Harrison, was selling General Grant’s Memoirs below cost for advertising reasons. Wanamaker’s Bethany Presbyterian Church Sunday school was one of the largest in America. He is considered the father of modern advertising, but clearly Sam was not impressed. Wanamaker’s Dept. Store, considered the first department store in Philadelphia, claimed many firsts — the first department store with electrical illumination (1878), first store with a telephone (1879), first store to install pneumatic tubes to transport cash and documents (1880), and the first store with an elevator (1884).
June 12 Saturday
June 13 Sunday – In Hartford Sam wrote to John Hay of his plans to travel west and of the poor condition of Edward H. House [June 19 from Hay].
June 14 Monday – In Hartford Sam wrote a short note of thanks to Walter Lee Brown for “a most valuable idea” he felt would be useful to him [MTP]. Note: Just what the idea was is not given. Brown edited the first scholarly treatment of any James Fenimore Cooper work, noting variations between the original manuscript and the various published texts of his 1843 article in Autobiography of a Pocket-Handkerchief (Evanston, IL: The Golden-Booke Press, 1897)
June 15 Tuesday – The Clemens family and governess Rosa Hay (a party of six) left Hartford for Elmira and spent the night at the [Sam to Orion June 2] Gedney House at 40th Street and Broadway in New York [Hotel stationery on Sam to Whitmore this date; Salsbury 230].
In New York City Sam wrote to Franklin G. Whitmore, whom he often addressed as “Brer Whitmo.” He’d left behind his “big field-glass” and needed it especially on the lake leg of the journey. He asked Whitmore to express ship it to him in Elmira, though Sam wasn’t sure if it was in the billiard room and didn’t recall seeing it lately [MTP].
June 16 Wednesday – The Clemens family spent the day in New York City; Sam most likely met with Frederick J. Hall and the Webster & Co. Staff, probably discussing Webster’s impending trip to Italy, the Pope book, and other matters. It was Sam’s usual plan when traveling to and from Elmira with Livy, to allow her a day’s rest in New York. Since 1876 Sam rented a special “hotel” car for the trip with his family from the Erie, Lackawanna Railroad.
Sam’s notebook: “Take children to Monitor fight,” meaning the panorama he’d seen on May 25 (see entry). Also noted were these Bissell & Co. Checks, not among those canceled at the MTP. [3: 242].
Sypher & Co
Vantine & Co.
N.Y. Dept Store
H.M. Smith & Co.
Agents for Wirt pens
June 17 Thursday – The Clemens family left New York and took the ten-hour train ride to Elmira, where Sam wrote a letter to Charles Webster about the Pope’s biography. Sam detailed what he felt a presentation copy of Leo XIII’s book should look like, feel like, and cost — a book bound in:
…pure solid gold lids…as thick as a tree-calf cover; have Tiffany design it, make it & chase & engrave it. The gold in it would weigh a couple of pounds, perhaps, & cost $500. Altogether the volume would cost ten or twelve hundred dollars; & when placed on exhibition in Tiffany’s window, all New York & all strangers visiting New York would flock to see it; the illustrated papers would make pictures of it & descriptions of it would appear in all languages…
Sam added that no, the gold would cost closer to $3,000 which was “all the better…Can’t get so much advertising so cheaply in any other way” [MTP].
June 18 Friday
June 19 Saturday – John M. Hay wrote from Cleveland, Ohio to Sam: “I find your letter of the 13th on arriving at home from a visit to my mother in Illinois.” Hay hoped to see Sam on his “trip westward,” and promised to go see Edward H. House when next in N.Y. “I am grieved to hear he is in such ill care. He is one of the men still left in this sad dusty world worth talking with” [MTP]. Note: the letter was forwarded from Hartford to Keokuk.
June 20 Sunday – In Elmira Sam wrote to Franklin G. Whitmore about three boxes of cigars, 150 total, which would be sufficient for the family’s five-day stay in Keokuk [MTP, from Anderson Auction Co. Mar.3, 1924 item 97]. Note: With Webster sailing to Europe, Sam relied on Whitmore for such details.
June 21 Monday – The Clemens family and governess Rosa Hay left Elmira and traveled by rail to Rochester, where they probably dined with Daniel William Powers (1818-1897) and family, and may have spent the night there, continuing on to Buffalo the next day (See July 12 to Whitmore). Powers was an eastern financier and the owner of a fabulous art collection. Sam had a last opportunity to discuss the Paige typesetter business with Powers [MTNJ 3: 243n61]. Note: The entire trip was approximately 1,500 miles, by rail and steamer.
The family also may have paid a visit to the Charles M. Underhill family (See July 17 to Underhill).
Moncure Conway wrote from Brooklyn to Sam:
I have finished a novel which I began seven years ago, and instead of offering it to my usual — not invaluable publisher, Holt, have a notion that it would bring more money if issued by your company [MTP]. Note: the tale was titled, “Pine and Palen,” about two Harvard law students, Bostonian and Virginian, who clashed over the Civil War, “with happy results” [MTP].
Charles Webster responded to Sam’s gift idea of a gold-lid copy of Pope Leo’s biography. Webster was soon to leave to negotiate the Pope’s book, and wrote, “over 30,000 of McClellan’s book guaranteed and over 100,000 of the Pope’s guaranteed.” He planned on being in Liverpool on July 1 or 2. “We hope you have a pleasant Western trip. You sail I believe on the same day we do? We sail on the 23rd on the “City of Rome” [MTP].
June 22 Tuesday – The Clemens party sailed from Buffalo in the steamer India headed for Duluth, Minn. At the western edge of Lake Superior. The captain of the India was Edward Mooney [MTNJ 3: 243n62]. Sam jotted in his notebook to send Mooney a copy of IA. They would pass Cleveland and Detroit, steam up into Lake Huron, through the Soo Lock at Sault Ste. Marie (built in 1855 and operated toll-free by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers since 1881), and across Lake Superior to Duluth. From there they would go by rail to St. Paul and then by steamboat to Keokuk. Note: It may or may not be significant that no notes on this trip are found in Sam’s notebook; also that Keokuk is only a mere 45 miles from Sam’s boyhood stomping grounds, Hannibal, yet there was no mention or effort to go there.
Chatto & Windus wrote to Sam, “We shall complete our annual stocktaking next month and will send you our accounts of sales of your books and remittance for royalties.” The Illustrated edition of HF had been a slow seller in England, they wrote, and so were republishing it “popular form,” or a cheaper edition. They also supplied progress on a German translation and new authorization to F. Siemens Von Osterman of Berlin (whose letter Sam had sent a few days before) [MTP].
June 23 Wednesday – The Clemens family were aboard the steamer India. Meanwhile, using USA Passport No.6854, Charles L. Webster accompanied by his wife, Annie Moffett Webster, sailed for Europe on the City of Rome [Samuel L. Clemens Papers in the McKinney Family Papers, Archives and Special Collections Library, Vassar College Libraries; Webster to Sam June 21].
June 24 Thursday – The Clemens family were aboard the steamer India.
Richard L. Ogden wrote from Newport, R.I. to Sam enclosing a letter from General James Barnet Fry to Ogden dated June 18. Fry wrote of knowing Sam in San Francisco. He wanted a short paper from Sam “giving his views upon war in general.” A newspaper squib from the Evening Post, “Personal” was attached to Fry’s one-page letter telling of the Clemens family’s leaving Hartford to Elmira for the summer. Ogden pointed out that Fry had recently been General Hancock’s Adjutant [MTP].
June 25 Friday – The Clemens family were aboard the steamer India.
June 26 Saturday – The Clemens family were aboard the steamer India. Note: According to the interview in St. Paul, Sam claimed the trip across the lakes was five days.
From Susy Clemens’ diary:
June 26, 86 We are all of us on our way to Keokuk to see Grandma Clemens, who is very feeble and wants to see us and pertickularly Jean who is her name sake. We are going by way of the lakes, as papa thought that would be the most comfortable way [Papa 225].
June 27 Sunday – The Clemens family reached Duluth, Minn. About this day.
June 28 Monday – The Clemens family traveled by rail from Duluth to St. Paul, Minn. About this day. The St. Paul and Minneapolis Pioneer Press interviewed Sam (See June 30 entry). Note: Kaplan writes Sam was dressed “in alligator slippers, a light-gray suit, and a pearl-colored high hat” .
June 29 Tuesday – According to the interview with the St. Paul newspaper (printed June 30), the Clemens family was in St. Paul and staying at the Ryan Hotel.
Franklin G. Whitmore wrote from Hartford, sending a handwritten statement for June on the Paige typesetter expenses, including note of a check to be paid on July 3, 1886 for $1,796.32. The notation of the check was added at the bottom of the last page [MTP].
June 30 Wednesday – The Clemens family boarded a Mississippi steamboat for the final leg of their journey to Keokuk, about 500 miles [Scharnhorst, Interviews 88]. (Sam had estimated it “a 7 or 8-day journey” from Elmira to Keokuk; it took eight days).
At St. Paul they took a steamboat down the Mississippi to Keokuk where they heard the leadsman call out “Mark Twain!” Clara reacted by telling her father, “Papa, I have hunted all over the boat for you. Don’t you know they are calling for you?” . Note, Paine puts this to “that first evening on the river. Soon after nightfall” [MTB 3: 843].
In Keokuk, the Clemens children and Rosa stayed nearby at the McElroys, due to lack of room at Orion and Mollie’s [Salsbury 230]. In a letter on Aug. 7, Sam wrote to his mother that it was so hot that “Jean & Clara sat up in bed at Mrs. McElroy’s & cried about it & so did I.”
The St. Paul and Minneapolis Daily Pioneer Press printed a brief interview with Sam on p.7 titled, “Mark Twain Abroad”; Sam commented on modern journalism. The Minneapolis Tribune also ran a brief interview with Sam, “Mark Twain in St. Paul” on page 3. The Clemens family was on its way to Keokuk; Sam noted his habit of working on several manuscripts intermittently [Budd, “Interviews” 5; Scharnhorst, Interviews 87-8].
White plug hat, gray, bushy hair, gray moustache, gray suit of clothes and an Arkansas corn cob pipe in his mouth, from which came the wreathing curls of smoke — that was Mark Twain (Samuel L. Clemens) as he stood in the Ryan hotel office last evening, asking to have a cot placed in one of the suite of rooms that he and his family occupied. Said Mr. Clemens to a Pioneer Press reporter:
“Glad to meet you (puff). I and my family are on their way to Keokuk (puff), Iowa, to visit my mother, and we have chose the lake route as the most pleasant by which to reach there (puff). The benefit of coming by the lakes was that I got no news. I was (puff) five days in the heart of the United States, and did not see a newspaper. It was refreshing. That’s what people take seas (puff) voyages for. To get away from the news; and when the New York Herald (puff) proposed to establish ocean life and news bureaus a thrill (puff) of horror went through the minds of many people, because the (puff) news would then go with them on their voyage.” Commenting on modern journalism, and its rapid progress, he said: “The metropolitan journalism of my day is the village journalism of today.”
Edith Anna Somerville wrote from Drishane, Skibbereen, County Cork, Ireland and sent Sam a copy of her Mark Twain Birthday Book (London: Remington and Co., 1885). The book was a selection of his quotes in a calendar format. Her note was forwarded from Hartford to Elmira and was waiting for Sam on his return from Keokuk [MTNJ 3: 244n64].
July 1 Thursday – William J. Hamersley wrote to Sam from Hartford about the London exhibition of typesetters at the American Exhibition, costs for space, etc. The event would open May 2, 1887 and continue for six months. Patents needed, foreign and domestic, would need to be secured beforehand.
Franklin G. Whitmore wrote Sam that he’d been to Boston to see the Stickney typesetter and did not “consider it perfect as yet.” Also, he’d ordered 500 cigars to be sent to Elmira [MTP].
Southern N.E. Telephone Co. billed $15; paid after July 20; signed N.H. Stevens, forwarded to Elmira postmarked July 20 [MTP].
July 2 Friday – H.R. Thompson of the Stickney Machine Co. Wrote from Boston to Franklin G. Whitmore, apologizing for the failure of their machine to “do its work every time,” and that they’d located the problem. Furthermore, Thompson offered to sell “an undivided one-fourth interest” in the machine [MTP].
July 3 Saturday – Since the fourth fell on a Sunday, the town of Keokuk held the festivities on Saturday the third. From early morning people began arriving in the town. It was a clear, sunny, and hot day. Public buildings were decorated with buntings and ribbons. After a morning parade down Main Street, a carriage was sent for Sam to take him and Orion to Rand Park. Sam wore a white duck suit with a tall white hat, which caused a stir in the crowd as he passed to the platform. The carriage then went to bring the rest of the Clemens family. The second regiment band played “Robin Adair,” after which the Rev. R.C. McIllwain offered a prayer. The band then played a second number. Orion then read the Declaration of Independence, a true honor for him. He did so in a “clear and distinct manner.”
Then the Honorable Thomas Hedge Jr. Of Burlington spoke for a half-hour. The audience was appreciative and had anticipated the return of Samuel L. Clemens, who had once been a resident in their town, only 45 miles or so from Hannibal. He was introduced next to loud applause.
Ladies and gentlemen: I little thought that when the boys woke me with their noise this morning that I should be called upon to add to their noise. But I promise not to keep you long. You have heard all there is to hear on the subject, the evidence is all in and all I have to do is to sum up the evidence and deliver the verdict. You have heard the declaration of independence with its majestic ending, which is worthy to live forever, which has been hurled at the bones of a fossilized monarch, old King George the III, who has been dead these many years, and which will continue to be hurled at him annually as long as this republic lives. You have heard the history of the nation from the first to the last — from the beginning of the revolutionary was, past the days of its great general, Grant, told in eloquent language by the orator of the day. All I have to do is to add the verdict, which is all that can be added, and that is, “It is a successful day.” I thank the officers of the day that I am enabled to once more stand face to face with the citizens that I met thirty years ago, when I was a citizen of Iowa, and also those of a later generation. In the address to-day, I have not heard much mention made of the progress of these last few years — of the telegraph, telephone, phonograph, and other great inventions. A poet has said, “Better fifty years of England than all the cycles of Cathay,” but I say “Better this decade than the 900 years of Methuselah.” There is more done in one year now than Methuselah ever saw in all his life. He was probably asleep all those 900 years. When I was here thirty years ago there were 3,000 people here and they drank 3,000 barrels of whisky a day, and they drank it in public then. I know that the man who makes the last speech on an occasion like this has the best of the other speakers, as he has the last word to say, which falls like a balm on the audience — though this audience has not been bored to-day — and though I can’t say that last word, I will do the next best thing I can, and that is to sit down [Schmidt, from Keokuk Weekly Constitution, July 7, 1886].
“The first time the Clemens brothers had appeared on a platform was in Keokuk, and on the third of July, 1886 they so appeared for the last time, also in Keokuk” .
The Keokuk Weekly Constitution, also remarked:
Mr. Clemens’s remarks were frequently interrupted by laughter at his inimitable manner and the drollery of his utterance, and he closed amid laughter and applause.
The Keokuk Military band then gave a serenade, “Pleasant dreams,” after which the audience was dismissed with the benediction by Rev. T. H. Cleland, pastor of the First Westminster Presbyterian church.
At the conclusion of the exercise at the park, many people returned to Main street, where the climbing of the greased pole, wheelbarrow and sack races and lap race took place, and where some paper balloons were sent up.
The day’s entertainment closed with a pyrotechnic display at Rand park at night, which was witnessed by a large concourse of people.
See Fanning 203-4
Meanwhile, in New York, the Tribune first set a part of the day’s paper with the Mergenthaler typesetting machine [Kaplan 287].
July 4 Sunday – From Susy Clemens’ diary, comes the final entry of the biography of her father, interrupted in mid-sentence. Sam would later remark how this sentence suggested his dead daughter was merely away, would return to finish:
July 4. We have arrived in Keokuk after a very pleasant [Papa 225].
July 5 Monday – In Keokuk, Iowa Sam wrote to Franklin G. Whitmore (who had written June 29), giving him power of attorney to act in a matter of “the music scheme.” Sam informed him that they were leaving Keokuk on July 7 [MTP].
July 6 Tuesday
July 7 Wednesday – The Clemens party left Keokuk [July 5 to Whitmore] and traveled to Rock Island, Ill. Or Clinton, Iowa where they caught a train to Chicago. Sam’s only entry in his notebook on the trip was the following:
9.30 am & 12.30 noon — trains from Clinton to Chicago. If you don’t get a train at Rock Isl, go on to Clinton, (Revere House.) Note: The Clemens family likely took a steamboat from Keokuk to either Rock Island or Clinton.
July 8 Thursday – The Clemens family and Rosa Hay stayed in Chicago for two days at the Richelieu Hotel. This is probably the day Sam was interviewed by the Chicago Tribune. On July 15 Sam would write his sister, Pamela Moffett, about seeing the Moffetts in Chicago, probably nieces of the late William A. Moffett:
But on any terms I was glad we caught the Moffetts; for they are all lovely; & the purity & probity in those girls’ faces is as clear-cut as the mint-stamp on gold coin; & their character in all ways is easily recognizable as twenty-two carats fine [MTP; July 15 to Pamela Moffett].
July 9 Friday † – The Clemens party boarded an eastbound train from Chicago. In his July 15 to his sister, Sam wrote of the accommodations:
We came home very comfortably indeed. The Chicago railroad men came to see me, & advised against a special car; & they were right; it was not needed. I took the stateroom (because I wanted to smoke in it,) & 4 sections. Everybody had a lower berth but me; & all had abundance of room & air; & the expense from Chicago to Elmira was less by $240 than it would have been if we had taken a special car [marktwainproject.org].
The Chicago Tribune ran an interview reprinted in the Washington Post on July 13, 1886, which is the source of the following text.
L.. — —
AMUSING THE CHILDREN.
THUS DOES MARK TWAIN KILL TIME WHILE IN CHICAGO.
He Approves of the Upper Mississippi — A River Without Islands Is as Unattractive as a Woman Without Hair.
Mark Twain, traveling incog. Under the name of “S. L. Clemens, one wife, three children, one maid,” was at the Richelieu Hotel yesterday, says the Chicago Tribune of Saturday. He leaned on the stone steps in front of the hotel, smoking a putative cigar. Mark Twain’s literary fame is so great that it has somewhat cast into the shade his abilities as a smoker. He smokes like an artist. He holds the cigar between his finger and thumb and contemplates it in a dreamy fashion. Then he raises it slowly to his lips, draws gently, and closes his eyes. After a judicious interval he removes the cigar, and the smoke rolls out under his long mustache with all the grace of a first dancer drifting on the stage. Then he opens his eyes. Mark Twain looks as little like himself as it is possible for a man to look. He wore a gray suit, a tall white hat and a wide white tie such as New York brokers affect. His long, drooping mustache, his well-curled hair and somewhat profuse jewelry made one think of a successful horseman or the manager of a popular burlesque.
But no one ever had such a satisfactory drawl. It established the fact that he was Mark Twain beyond all possibility of quibbling. A woman could “do up” her hair twice while he is pronouncing the word Mississippi. He lingers over it, plays with it, handles it as a young mother does her first baby.
“We came in last night,” he said, pulling at the left side of his mustache. “Mrs. Clemens is not very well; neither am I. I have been amusing the children. I have taken them to a panorama. I understand there are three others near here. I will take them there too. I want to satiate them with battles — it may amuse them.” Three little girls, composed of three red gowns, three red parasols and six blue stockings stood on the steps and grinned.
“Run up and tell mamma what a jolly time you’ve had, and I’ll think of something else to amuse you.”
When the three little girls had disappeared Mr. Clemens sighed. “Did you ever try to amuse three little girls at the same time?” he asked, after a pause; “it requires genius. I wonder whether they would like to bathe in the lake?” he continued, with sudden animation, hardly pausing five minutes between each work; “it might amuse them.”
“Are you on your vacation trip, Mr. Clemens?”
“No; I have just returned from a visit to my mother at Keokuk, Ia. She is eighty-three years old and I had not been home for over a year. We came from Buffalo to Duluth by a lake steamer and then from St. Paul down the river to Keokuk. Neither in this country nor in any other have I seen such interesting scenery as that along the Upper Mississippi. One finds all that the Hudson affords — bluffs and wooded highlands — and a great deal in addition. Between St. Paul and the mouth of the Illinois River there are over four hundred islands, strung out in every possible shape. A river without islands is like a woman without hair. She may be good and pure, but one doesn’t fall in love with her very often. Did you ever fall in love with a bald-headed woman?” The reporter admitted that he had drawn the line there.
“I never did either,” continued Mr. Clemens meditatively, “at least I think I never did. There is no place for loafing more satisfactory than the pilothouse of a Mississippi steamboat. It amuses the children to see the pilot monkey with the wheel. Traveling by boat is the best way to travel unless on can stay at home. On a lake or river boat one is thoroughly cut off from letters and papers and the tax-collector as though he were amid sea. Moreover, one doesn’t have the discomforts of seafaring. It is very unpleasant to look at sea-sick people — at least so my friends said the last time I crossed.
“It might amuse the children, though,” suggested the reporter.
“I hadn’t thought of that,” replied Mr. Clemens, “but perhaps it might. The lake seems rather rough to-day. I wonder whether one could get a boat, a little boat that would bob considerable. Yes, it might amuse the children.”
“But at such a sacrifice.”
“You are not a parent?” replied Mr. Clemens. The reporter admitted his guilt.
“It is strange,” continued Mr. Clemens, in momentary forgetfulness of the children, “how little has been written about the Upper Mississippi. The river below St. Louis has been described time and again, and it is the least interesting part. One can sit on the pilot-house for a few hours and watch the low shores, the ungainly trees and the democratic buzzards, and then one might as well go to bed. One has seen everything there is to see. Along the Upper Mississippi every hour brings something new. There are crowds of odd islands, bluffs, prairies, hills, woods and villages — everything one could desire to amuse the children. Few people every think of going there, however. Dickens, Corbett, Mother Trollope and the other discriminating English people who ‘wrote up’ the country before 1842 had hardly an idea that such a stretch of river scenery existed. Their successors have followed in their footsteps, and as we form our opinions of our country from what other people say of us, of course we ignore the finest part of the Mississippi.”
It might be incidentally remarked it were worth going fifty miles on foot, if one couldn’t get a pass, to hear Mr. Clemens unravel the word Mississippi.
“I suppose we will go East to-morrow,” he added, “but I don’t know. Mrs. Clemens makes all the plans. Women enjoy that, you know. Of course we never carry any of them out, but that doesn’t alter the fact that the plans are thoroughly enjoyable ones. We will pass the summer at Elmira.”
“Will you do any work this summer?”
“Yes; I shall probably amuse the children.”
“But write — ”
“Oh, yes; I see. Well, I am a private citizen now and have no immediate intention of turning author. I shall probably set to work on something or other, however. Most of my work is done in the summer.”
At this moment the three little girls in the three red gowns and six blue stocking appeared, and Mr. Clemens resumed the shape of an amusement bureau. [Note: Corbett was Griffith Owen Corbett; “Mother Trollope” was Frances Trollope, mother of Anthony and Thomas Trollope, novelists.
July 10 Saturday – The Clemens party arrived back in Elmira (See July 12 to Whitmore), the return trip all by rail taking two days, far less than the meandering by steamer across the Great Lakes and down the Mississippi on the outbound legs.
Meanwhile, in Rome at 5 PM, Pope Leo XIII blessed a rosary that was a gift for the Clemens family, carried back by the Websters after their audience with the Pope [MTNJ 3: 261&n115].
July 11 Sunday
July 12 Monday – In Elmira at Quarry Farm, Sam wrote to Franklin G. Whitmore, his business agent and longtime friend, covering a variety of personal and business matters. The 500 cigars Whitmore sent had arrived; he was glad to hear that William Whitmore, Franklin’s son, was compositing record numbers of ems per hour; Sam agreed Franklin should sell the American Exchange Co. stock at par; Whitmore’s answer to the “Stickney-machine people” was “first-rate — go ahead”; Sam enclosed $3,000 for Bissell’s bank.
We are here on top of the always-cool hill, after four or five days & nights of hell-sweltering weather in Keokuk. But barring those few days, we had the pleasantest & completest pleasure trip a family ever took. We left here June 21 & got back day before yesterday — 10th [MTP]. Note: It was to be an idyllic and restful summer at the Farm:
Sam also wrote to Frederick J. Hall, now on the staff at Webster & Co. A book by “Dr. Fulton” [possibly Robert Lardin Fulton 1847-1920, author of Epic of the Overland (1924), a story of the building of the transcontinental railroad; or, John Fulton’s The Beautiful Land. Palestine, As it Was and As It Now Is, etc. (1891)] could not be published in the coming winter due to obligations made for Pope Leo XIII’s book and General George McClellan’s book. Hall should communicate that with Fulton or Charles A. Dana, of the New York Tribune. Sam added that his “copartnership agreement” with Webster did not allow him to take on books without Webster’s consent. Sam also asked if another check had been sent to Julia D. Grant. He wanted a list of the gift-copies sent of Grant’s book with details and didn’t think the second volume had reached many of them. Note: During Webster’s absence, Hall was handling some personal tasks for the Clemens family. Between Hall in N.Y. and Whitmore in Hartford, many details might be attended to.
I ordered my coachman, Patrick McAleer, to draw on you to pay for a pair of horses, but I doubt if he gets them.
Sam also wrote a short note to Chatto & Windus, his English publisher, responding to their June 22:
It was a blessed day that I struck the idea of heaving the translators onto your shoulders. You know how to sugar-coat them & make them feel good.
He liked their idea of a cheap English edition of HF. He expected to travel to England next May [MTLTP 198-9].
Sam also responded to Moncure Conway’s June 21 letter that they could not take on any more books, since they were now under contract for six books and they could only handle one or two a year. Webster & Co. Was so stacked up they couldn’t publish Sam’s Library of Humor, which would have to “remain ready for a long time” [MTP]. Note: this work was published in 1888.
Sam also sent thanks to Miss Jay H. Gibson, from Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York, who had sent Sam a longish poem clipping newspaper article [MTP].
Webster & Co. Wrote a short, typed note informing Sam that they’d received a cable from Charles Webster in Rome: “I had a long private interview with Pope Leo XIII to-day.” Sam wrote on the letter,
In England a “long private interview” with the Queen would make him a nine-days’ lion of colossal proportions, & a public pet. The Pope holds the wider sovereignty [MTP].
July 13 Tuesday
July 14 Wednesday – In Elmira Sam wrote a short note to Frederick J. Hall. Howells had sent Sam a page from Publishers’ Weekly (XXX, 37-8, July 10, 1886) highlighting a legal opinion by a Federal judge (Hammond) in Memphis involving that a bookseller could not sell books directly to buyers in violation of the original subscription plan of the copyright owner (the book in question was James G. Blaine’s Twenty Years of Congress.) This article led Sam to conclude that a suit against “that pious son of a dog” John Wanamaker of Philadelphia would stop his practices and perhaps win damages. Wanamaker had been selling Grant’s Memoirs under the subscription price. Give the case to Alexander & Green, Sam wrote, “& if they approve, let the attack begin” [MTP; MTHL 2: 572n1; MTLTP 200n1].
Sam wrote to General James Barnet Fry and accepted an invitation to read before the Military Service Institution of the U.S. at Governor’s Island, New York on Nov. 11 at 8 P.M. In his notebook he listed General Theophilus F. Rodenbaugh (sometimes seen as Rodenbough), Secretary and General James B. Fry, invitation committee. The organization was made up of about 1,200 current and ex-officers who donated their time for the welfare and entertainment of old soldiers [MTNJ 3: 244n65]. Note: the source merely gives the acceptance for this date; no letter to Fry for this date is extant; written acceptance is assumed.
July, mid – The J.D. Slee family of Buffalo visited the Clemens family sometime in mid-month, as referred to by Sam in July 17 to Underhill [MTP].
July 15 Thursday – In Elmira Sam wrote to his sister, Pamela Moffett. He told of almost missing seeing the Moffetts in Chicago and of the comfortable rail trip home. He added a paragraph to soothe Pamela’s sensitive nature:
I love you, & I am sorry for every time I have ever hurt you; but God Almighty knows I should keep on hurting you just the same, if I were around; for I am built so, being made merely in the image of God, but not otherwise resembling him enough to be mistaken for him by anybody but a very nearsighted person [MTP]. Note: Sam loved to tease his mother, and even his brother, but the lack of such teasing in his letters to Pamela shows he was aware of her sensitive nature; there probably had been some recent remarks, which prompted this apology.
Sam also wrote to Karl Gerhardt, advising him about the Israel Putnam Monument Commission for a awarding a contract for an equestrian statue of the colonial soldier. Sam referred to Robinson (probably Henry C. Robinson), the statue and the fact that statuary committees seldom award a job on time. Hattie Gerhardt also had appealed to Sam to speak to Robinson but Sam felt he’d said all he could [MTP; MTNJ 3: 253n84].
Sam also wrote to William Dean Howells, obliged for the legal decision sent.
I have sent it to my lawyers, with instructions to find in it a chance to go hammer-&-tongs for that unco-pious better-mouthed Sunday school-slabbering sneak-thief John Wannemaker [Wanamaker], now of Philadelphia, presently of hell.
Sam also noted he’d just received a cablegram from Webster who’d had a “long private interview” with the Pope [MTP].
Sam also wrote to Edith Anna Somerville (1858-1949), who had sent him a copy of her Mark Twain Birthday Book (See June 30 entry). The book was still in Hartford but her note of June 30 was forwarded to Elmira and waiting upon Sam’s return from Keokuk. The calendar-book would prove disappointing [MTNJ 3: 244n64]. Somerville would soon (1886) undertake her first collaborative literary effort with second cousin Violet Martin (1862-1915). Martin wrote under the pen name “Martin Ross,” and the pair met this year. They would write The Irish Cousin in 1889, and go on to a long collaborative relationship, which many suspected was lesbian as well as literary. Somerville was perhaps as good an artist (she studied art in Paris in 1884) as she was a writer, also a suffragist and an avid sportswoman who illustrated children’s books. Sam referred to her book, sent to Hartford; he had a “high curiosity to see it, for you have accomplished what I once failed in.” which was a reference to his aborted work on a calendar for L. Prang & Co (see Feb. 29, 1884 entry) [MTP].
Sam also answered the letter of an unidentified female autograph seeker, who Sam showed great sympathy for (“afflicted as you have been”). Explaining that their recent trip to Keokuk held “social exactions & interruptions” that “were incessant, for we were visiting my mother & she has many friends” [MTP].
Sam also wrote a one-liner to Franklin G. Whitmore sending a $435 check for deposit relating to his scrapbook account [MTP].
Frederick J. Hall wrote advising that Sam’s share of the Grant profits was $63,142.87 and he would issue a check in whatever amount was desired [MTLTP 200n4].
William Hamersley also wrote to Sam, a follow up letter on the 1887 typesetter exhibition in London [MTP].
Franklin G. Whitmore wrote a two-page letter from Hartford: the weather was “hot & musky.” Sam’s “letter of the 12th inst. Duly recd! Many thanks for mine. I have deposited the check for $3000 to your [account] at Geo. P. Bissell & Co.” Whitmore also offered stock prices, and would write the Stickney Machine Co. [MTP].
July 16 Friday – In Elmira Sam responded to Frederick J. Hall’s letter of July 15; Sam didn’t need any money until the end of the year, but was concerned about the stability of banks, and feared that “a bank might break on us,” so wanted extra money not needed in Webster & Co., put in Treasury bonds or in a deposit vault. Sam named Mary Fairbanks, Mrs. Jervis Langdon and Susan L. Crane as not having yet received Volume II of Grant’s Memoirs. Sam wanted Hall to watch the N.Y. Sun to see if Father O’Reilly reported on Webster’s interview with the Pope, as he recognized fully the advertising value to the upcoming book [MTLTP 200-1].
Sam also wrote a short letter to Edward H. House, telling of their return from the long trip to Keokuk and mentioning a “strange language invented” by Susy Clemens and Daisy (Margaret) Warner. Livy had intended to write to Koto and insert a letter written by the two girls.
I wanted to see if you couldn’t dig out the key of the language & translate the screed. I am maintaining that you will succeed — therefore don’t disappoint me. We can’t make head or tail of it ourselves — but we haven’t any talent that way. Susie & Daisy write it & talk it with facility. It looks idiotic on paper, but has a flowing & musical sound when spoken. It strikes me as a most infernally ingenious & original achievement, & a kind of a proud thing to happen in the family [MTP].
Frederick J. Hall typed a letter from Webster & Co. To Sam regarding the Philadelphia magnate Wanamaker, and their attempts to find out where he was getting the Grant books he was selling cheaper than subscription prices. The matter would go to court. Daniel Whitford, Sam’s N.Y. attorney, was off to Philadelphia to confer with sales agents Rawle & Smith [MTP].
July 17 Saturday – In Elmira Sam wrote a short note to Charles M. Underhill, responding that they would visit the Clemenses in Hartford “by & by, & let us get even on you,” which suggests a visit had been recently made to the Underhill family, and a visit would be expected after the summer in Elmira. Sam added a note about having a recent visit from the Slee family [MTP]. Note: Underhill, a Buffalo resident, was a partner and “Western Manager” for the J. Langdon & Co., thus was well acquainted with John D. Slee. The visit that Underhill now “owed” was probably due to a visit by the Clemenses in Buffalo before sailing on the Great Lakes. No incoming from Underhill prior to this note is listed, yet Sam’s note suggests one, so it must be lost.
Sam also wrote to George H. Warner, again responding to correspondence not extant. Sam thanked him for his efforts to secure some land (unspecified) but Sam felt it was $1,500 too high, and so would wait. Warner had also facilitated a rug sent to Elmira. Sam referred to another rug George had noted was available:
If that $36-rug is as wide as this one, & 7½ or 8 feet long, please order it sent to the same address here. It is wanted for a sofa [MTP].
Sam also wrote to Franklin G. Whitmore about the typesetter, American Exchange stock and American Bank Note stock. On the Paige machine:
My idea is to have the type-setter going constantly in New York, every day & all day long; & have all the matter preserved, so that nobody can find fault with the test [MTP].
July 18 Sunday – General James Barnet Fry wrote from Newport, R.I., having received Sam’s of July 14 agreeing to speak before General Fry’s association of soldiers at Governor’s Island, N.Y. in the fall. The secretary would inform Sam of the time [MTP].
July 19 Monday – Daniel Whitford, attorney with Alexander & Green, advised Frederick J. Hall against withdrawing “any considerable currency from the Banks and” placing “it in Safe Deposit Vaults” [MTLTP 201n1]. This had been Sam’s and Hall’s plan to avoid a possible bank failure.
T.F. Rodenbaugh, secretary for Military Service Institution wrote to Sam asking if Nov. 11 at 8 p.m. would be convenient for his lecture at Governor’s Island.
Charles Webster wrote a thirteen-page letter on large (“boiler iron”) paper from Como, Italy to Sam concerning Pope Leo XIII’s biography. He wrote he’d succeeded and wrote what was acceptable for the title page of the book.
Franklin G. Whitmore wrote about misc. expenses and H.W. Beadle, patent lawyer, who asked for $200 on Aug. 1 and for $100 more on Sept. 1. “He says he has spent so much time and money in getting out his appeal.” Whitmore didn’t know what to say to him, and added, “He will probably be employed by Paige in your interest for at least six months [or] longer” [MTP].
July 20 Tuesday – Frederick J. Hall wrote to Sam that the firm had $248,000 in the U.S. National and Mount Morris banks, and $186,000 in receivables. The plan had been to take some of the cash from the banks and keep it in safe deposit vaults [MTLTP 201n1]. (See July 19 entry.) Hall also wrote
Both the Sun and the Tribune mention the fact that Mr. Webster had a private audience with the Pope, but they do not give any particulars. Would it not be well to let the matter rest until we are ready to bring out the prospectus of the Pope, and then get it noticed in the papers, giving full particulars [MTLTP 201n3]. Note: On July 16, Sam had urged Hall to get Webster’s private audience with the Pope in the newspapers.
July 21 Wednesday – In Elmira Sam gave a reading at the New York State Reformatory for men: His chosen texts were: “German,” “Whistling,” “Trying Situation,” “King Sollermun” [Fatout, MT Speaking 657]. Sam’s notebook lists these readings with an estimated time of “1 hour & 15 min.” [MTNJ 3: 245]. From Budd’s update: For a first-hand account see The Summary, 4 (July 25, 1886) the in-house weekly [Schmidt].
On the legal front, Sam was going after Wanamaker, the “pious son of a dog”:
GEN. GRANT’S BOOK IN COURT.
PHILADELPHIA, July 21. — Counsel for Charles L. Webster, of New-York, and Samuel L. Clemens, of Connecticut, the owners of the copyright of Gen. Grant’s Memoirs, applied to Judge Butler, in the United States Circuit Court, to-day for a preliminary injunction to restrain a dealer of this city [John Wanamaker & Co.] from selling the book, on the ground that it is a subscription book and not sold in the book trade. The court will hear the argument Aug. 3 [NY Times, July 22, 1886 p.3].
In Elmira Sam responded to Frederick J. Hall’s July 21. Hall was now in the firm of Webster & Co. After discussing presentation copies of Grant’s Memoirs Volume II that needed to be sent, Sam agreed that news of Webster’s visit to the Pope should be coordinated with the opening of canvassing. It seems that more dealers than Wanamaker of Philadelphia were selling the Memoirs at cut-rate prices:
Macy has Grant books for sale cheap. We must assault him, next [MTLTP 202].
July 22 Thursday – In Elmira Sam wrote to Charles Dudley Warner, praising one of his works, unspecified. It may have been his novel, Their Pilgrimage (1886). Sam gushed over the work:
It’s got everything in it: pervasive & continuous interest, charming humor, flashing wit, noble scenery-painting, a perennially-bubbling happy life & the reader right in it & part of it, & love-passages that break up the most callous self-possession with their truth & strength & tenderness & beauty [MTP].
John Hopson Jr. of The Hopson & Chapin Mfg. Co. of New London, Conn. wrote to Sam in Hartford about improving his furnace system by a hot water circulation system. Franklin G. Whitmore forwarded the letter to Sam in Elmira. Sometime after this date Sam replied to Whitmore:
Treat him kindly if he calls on you. I’ve told him my furnace was born bad & can’t be improved; but he may argue with you, if he wants to.
John M. Hay wrote a short note from Cleveland about Whitelaw Reid seeing Edward H. House before receiving Hay’s letter.
I do not know why I shall get away — my wife threatens to take me East before long. I am very busy and not very well. You have, I suppose, never an ache or a pain [MTP]. Note: Hay’s letters were usually playful.
July 23 Friday – Pamela Moffett wrote from Keokuk, Iowa to Sam. This is a long letter, some seventeen small page sides, mostly about her finances and how she and her son, Samuel Moffett were doing okay. She added praise for Livy and the children:
To say the people here thought Livy charming, does not give an idea of the intense admiration they express for her. They idolize Mark Twain. They admire all the children. I am glad you like the Moffetts. Please do not think any more about having hurt my feelings — it is not worth remembering [MTP].
Webster & Co. Wrote another letter to Sam about the Wanamaker lawsuit:
The point of the case seems to be this: To prove that the person from whom Mr. Wannamaker purchased the books had no right to sell to him. This, of course, we can do, as our contracts with both General Agents and special agents were such that it gave them no right to sell to any trade man [MTP].
July 24 Saturday
July 25 Sunday – Charles Dudley Warner wrote that Sam’s note, “made me blush with pleasure, which is saying a great deal for such an old stoger. Nothing that has happened in connection with the serial has been so welcome to me as your opinion.” Sam wrote on the envelope, “A value letter from Chas Dudley Warner” [MTP]. The serial may have been Warner’s novel, Their Pilgrimage (1886).
Mrs. Zadel B. Gustafson responded from Middleton, Conn. to Sam’s suggestion that he bring her to Elmira for the interview she needed for the London Pall Mall Gazette (see June 5 entry). Gustafson suggested that she might,
…make a brief flitting to Hartford….as that is your real home it must be to you, as its shell is to the tortoise….and you could show me over the house & rummage among your treasures & souvenirs & tell me all about them & all that you willingly could about yourself….and we can go out & get a quiet cup of tea when the visit is done [MTNJ 3: 229n6].
July 26 Monday – Jean Clemens’ sixth birthday.
In Elmira Sam had received a letter (not extant) from Koto House. Livy had forgotten to send measurements (for a dress?) and Sam apologized for her. “We are hoping the dress will get here in time, to-day.” Sam remarked on the universal characteristics of teenagers:
Susy is rather gushy, but I suppose it’s the natural thing for 14-year-olders. They seem to run a good deal to italics & double adjectives; & even then they appear to think they have but coldly expressed themselves [MTP].
Sam also wrote a short note to Franklin G. Whitmore, again about Whitmore’s son Will setting copy in preparation for operating the Paige typesetter [MTP]. (See MTNJ 3: 250n76.)
July 27 Tuesday – The New York Times, p.6, ran a humorous story of Mark Twain and a swindle by a plumber.
DOCTOR, PLUMBER, AND TWAIN.
Hartford Letter to the Boston Saturday Globe.
By the way, I must tell you a story of a contretemps which proved a rather serious joke to that arch jester, Mark Twain. It has never been put into print, I think, but comes from the best authority to me. Every one has heard of that house on Farmington-avenue, in Hartford, which is so peculiar and picturesque that tourists go to see it aside from the interest attaching to the home of an American author. It is called a combination of Mark Twain and Queen Anne architecture, and is a most attractive and comfortable domicile. Some years ago, when Mr. Clemens was absent for several months from home, Mrs. Clemens, who is a lady of quiet tastes and a devoted mother, thought she perceived that her little girls were ailing. Filled with quick alarm, she sent for the family physician, who, a prominent practitioner, had a large-sized bee in his bonnet, which was named “sewer gas.” He told the lady that her darlings were doubtless suffering from malarial troubles, induced by imperfect drainage, and that the plumbing of the house was probably defective or out of repair. She was much alarmed and in a sad quandary in her husband’s absence, the more so as she knew he had taken great pains to secure perfect sanitation in the household arrangements. Sending for a plumber, of course the rival of the man who had put in the pipes, she asked him to make an examination. The good man was horror-stricken at the condition in which he said he found things. He condemned the whole system, and was given the contract to tear out and replace the plumbing and make secure the safety of the inmates of the house. Of course the expense was enormous, but the doctor said it was justifiable, and the plumber was righteously indignant at the man who originally did the job. About the time the change was completed Clemens arrived home and the wife flew to his arms with an account of their narrow escape from illness and perhaps death. It was then that the funny man arose in his wrath, and the manner in which he cursed sewer gas, doctor, and plumber was said to have been an education in the comprehensive possibilities of the English language. The fact was, that in order to avoid possible danger, he had made his house to drain into the river that passes below his grounds, the pipes were not connected to any sewer, and the really fine work of the best plumber in town had been torn out and far poorer work put in, to ease the fond fears of a loving mother, carry out the whim of a too scientific physician, and add some $1,500 to the pile of a rapacious plumber.
Thomas W. Knox wrote to Sam from New York on Lotos Club stationery. Knox had “just called” on Edward H. House, who told him that “two or three weeks ago” Sam had likened Knox’s manner at the Club “to that of the bounding iceberg. Now, as I haven’t the shadow of the embryo of the smallest scintilla of a reason for the least decline of the thermometer towards you, your suspicions are baseless.” [MTP].
July 28 Wednesday – In Elmira Sam wrote to Franklin G. Whitmore, after receiving news that a competitor typesetter, the Thorne machine (ironically, manufactured in Hartford), had failed. Sam enclosed August checks received. He wanted to keep Paige’s salary separate from other accounts [MTP]. Note: competitor machines included the Thorne, Stickney, Rogers, and the Mergenthaler, which would ultimately win out.
July 29 Thursday – Sam wrote to Thomas W. Knox (letter not extant) inviting him for a drink [Referred to by Knox on Aug. 2].
William H. Gillette wrote to Sam about the long-running play, The Professor, in which he played the title role of Professor Hopkins, and Sam’s “remaining deficit” on the work. Gillette expressed that he’d hoped to “do some dramatic work with” him “or assist…in some way in that line…” [MTP]. Note: Sam fronted Gillette the money to produce the play back in 1880 (see Jan. 9, 1880 entry).
Edward H. House wrote an apologetic and jocular letter to Livy [MTP].
Julius G. Rathbun, Hartford pharmacist, wrote to Sam thanking him for a check for $25 for an unspecified club. Rathbun mentions Ned Bunce in the letter [MTP].
Webster & Co. Typed a short note to Sam advising that they’d received new insurance policies for $70,000 and a bill, which was paid, for $387.75. The amount was corrected in writing to $70,500 [MTP].
July 30 Friday – Sam took the ten-hour train trip to New York City, where he checked into a hotel, took a bath, and wrote to Livy.
I have a note from Laffan [of the NY Sun] asking me to go down [Lawrence, NY on Long Island] & stay over Sunday with him.
Met George Warner in the lobby of the hotel, but only stopped to shake hands with him. [Note: Laffan had a summer residence in Lawrence: NY Times obit Apr. 25, 1912 p.10].
Sam wrote of thinking “of you people all along, to-day, naturally enough,” and pictured the domestic scene in his letter [LLMT 248].
Orion, Mollie, and Jane Clemens were poisoned by some bad cream while on an outing in Bluff Park, near Keokuk. Orion and Mollie wrote about the episode in letters of Aug. 1, postmarked Aug. 2 (see entries). The Keokuk Gate City, Aug. 1 ran an article “Sudden Illness,” and “A Number of Excursionists Suffering from the Effects of Drinking Poisoned Milk,” mentioning Orion, Mollie and “Mrs. Clemens, mother of Mark Twain” [The Twainian, Jan.-Feb. 1981 p4].
July 31 Saturday – Frederick J. Hall wrote to Sam (Webster, in Rome, to Hall July 15 enclosed), asking if he should open a new account with the American Exchange National Bank, as Daniel Whitford had advised. He added, “Everything is going smoothly at the office” [MTP].
Franklin G. Whitmore wrote that Sam’s Thursday checks had been received; he also enclosed one check as requested. The rest of the letter relates to payments due Paige and Pratt & Whitney, and of his son William Whitmore’s em-rate for the typesetter, plus $1,500 needed to fix the Clemens furnace [MTP].
August – English author William Smith sent Sam an inscribed copy of Morley: Ancient and Modern, London (1886): To S.L. Clemens, Esq./with the Author’s kind regards/Morley, Aug. 1866 [Gribben 650]. (See Oct. 18 to Smith).
August 1 Sunday – In Lawrence, New York (Long Island), Sam wrote to Livy of his time with the Laffans in their residence:
Livy darling, I am having a divine time here, & am exceedingly glad I came. Have spent an hour & a half in the sea at noon, & we are all going again at 4 pm & finish the day in the water…We undress & dress, at home, then walk down street 300 yards; then wade a ¼ of a mile between two sandbars, & there you are! — splendid beach [MTP].
While staying at the Laffan’s Sam met a Mrs. Ratcliffe and Miss Edith whom he mentioned in a thank you note to Georgiana R. Laffan (Mrs. William Mackay Laffan) on Aug. 6.
Sam’s presence on Long Island may have stimulated an article in the Brooklyn Eagle on this day, page 7, “ONE OF MARK TWAIN’S EARLY EXPERIENCES,” which re-told the tale of Sam discharge from the San Francisco Call. This version may have been related by Sam, or it may be a reprint from the Call as noted. Was it a coincidence that Sam was in that part of New York the same day this ran? In part:
“The fact is, you have come to the conclusion that I am not the kind of man you want.”
“Well, if you will have it,” said Barnes, “you are not. You are the laziest, most shiftless, goof for nothing specimen I ever saw around a newspaper office. I have tried for six months to get some hard work out of you and failed, and I have come to the conclusion that it is useless to keep you any longer.”
“Barnes, replied Twain, in his most placid manner, “you are not as smart a man as I thought you were. You have been six months in finding that out, and I knew it the day I came to work. Give us an order on the office for three days’ pay and I git.” — San Francisco Call.
Orion Clemens wrote a short note to his niece Susy Clemens; it was included in the envelope with a letter to Sam and family postmarked Aug. 2. See entry.
August 2 Monday – In New York City, about to leave for Philadelphia, Sam, at the offices of Webster & Co., 42 East 14th on Union Square, wrote to Livy:
Livy darling, I have 8 minutes before leaving for Philadelphia. It was decided by the lawyers that it would be altogether best for me to go to the trial, so of course I go. I telegraphed & also wrote the lady in Middletown [Conn.] my circumstances & that my stay in Philada would probably be several days.
I shall not go to Hartford, but if I find a note from her in Phila appointing a meeting there, all right. Note: Sam referred to Zadel Barnes Gustafson, who had suggested a meeting in Hartford (See July 25 entry).
Sam wrote of visiting Edward H. House and Koto at the Gedney House [Broadway at 40th St.]; that Edward was in “pretty fair condition” and Koto “as sweet as ever” [MTP]. Note: Sam was on his way to the Philadelphia hearing on the Wanamaker injunction request. Alexander & Green represented Webster & Co. Sam went to Philadelphia.
Thomas W. Knox wrote to Sam from New York on Lotos Club stationery. “Yours of 29th rec’d &t the invitation to drink accepted. I’ll take a cigar for mine as I’m off my drink. Reformation sanitary, not moral.” Knox wrote sympathetically of Edward House and sending men to see him [MTP].
Orion and Mollie Clemens wrote to Sam and family, each including a letter in the same envelope postmarked Aug. 2. Orion’s short note to Susy was dated Aug. 1.
The other day I sent by express to your papa your pen, Clara’s book, some fans and a handkerchief. I waited to send all together.
I enclose some more accounts of our weather. You will see that it was uncommonly ferocious, even for us.
We are all drooping, yesterday and today on account of being poisoned on an excursion. My appetite has not returned. The appetites of the others are not much better; Ma’s appears to be best of all. Affectionately, Your Uncle, Orion. Your Aunt Pamela looks very hollow-eyed. I hear they gave her and me pure brandy to drink. [The Twainian, Jan-Feb 1981 p4].
Mollie’s longer letter detailed the poison milk excursion episode, whereby Orion, Mollie, Pamela, Ma and others along on an excursion were poisoned [Ibid.] Note Sam’s reply to these letters on Aug 6.
August 3 Tuesday – In Philadelphia, Sam attended a hearing before Judge Butler in U.S. Circuit court. Sam’s New York attorneys, Alexander & Green, argued that a preliminary injunction should be issued to restrain John Wanamaker & Co. of Philadelphia from selling Grant’s Memoirs, on the ground that it was a subscription book and not sold in the book trade [NY Times, Jul 22, 1886 p.3 “Gen. Grant’s Book in Court.”]. Wanamaker’s attorneys argued that Webster & Co.’s contracts with general agents made them purchases, so that buying from such agents was defensible. This was a loophole that might be closed on the next subscription book [Aug. 6 to Webster]. Note: the judge ruled on Aug. 9.
The Philadelphia Daily News, p.3, ran Sam’s comments after the court session, which shed some light on the legal strategy [Scharnhorst, Interviews 90-1].
Twain in Court
…While talking to a Daily News reporter afterward Mr. Clemens, with his white high hat on the back of his head and his hands in the pockets of his light sack coat, twisted himself into all manner of shapes and in his familiar drawl and twang gave his opinion of the case.
“It has been settled,” he said, “that publishers have a right to sell books as they please, and in this case it is not a question only of whether Mr. Wanamaker shall be allowed to sell a few dozen books or not. We want to know just how binding the contracts with our agents are. If the present contract is not strong enough we’ll have one casted, don’t you see? It will be worth the powder to us, and other publishers will know just where they stand after we get through with it.”
Mr. Clemens took his hands from his pockets long enough to light a cigar and run his fingers through his bushy mixed gray hair and said: “Philadelphia is a nice, quiet city, but I must get out of it. I’ll go back to Gowen and ask him to tell me how I can get a through train to Elmira.” [Note: Franklin B. Gowen (1836-1889, former president of the Phila.& Reading R.R.
August 4 Wednesday – Sam did not stay in Philadelphia as he’d anticipated, since the ruling would not come for several days. He went to Hartford for an interview with Mrs. Zadel Barnes Gustafson for the London Pall Mall Gazette, then returned to New York [MTNJ 3: 229n6; Aug. 6 to Mollie]. Note: No interview appeared in the Gazette.
August 5 Thursday – Sam returned to Elmira (probably this day) from New York, a ten-hour trip.
August 6 Friday – Back in Elmira Sam wrote to Mollie Clemens, responding to her Aug. 2 letter which detailed Orion, Pamela, Ma and herself being poisoned by bad milk while on an excursion:
Dear Molly —
What a terrific adventure! We are all glad it was no words, though goodness knows it was plenty bad enough….
I am just back from a week’s absence in New York, Hartford & Philadelphia. All hands are well, here, & send love [MTP].
Sam also wrote a letter of thanks to Georgiana R. Laffan (Mrs. William Mackay Laffan) for the “most luxurious good time” he had at their Lawrence, N.Y. Summer residence [MTP].
Sam also wrote to Frederick J. Hall, enclosing a letter by James Grant Wilson (1832-1914), American soldier, editor and author, founder of the Chicago Record, a journal of art and literature.. (Sam spelled it “Willson.”) He directed Hall to get a photo of himself at Sarony’s and send it to Willson. He also told Hall to send the first and second volumes of Grant’s Memoirs to Station-agent Collins at the Hartford RR station. Sam also enclosed a “squib” which he was about to send to Laffan of the NY Sun, but decided to pass it through Whitford to Laffan. Sam expressed hope that Wanamaker would sue him for libel in New York. A news article in Philadelphia quoted Wanamaker that Sam had fallen asleep in court. Sam’s answer he wished printed in the Sun:
I did not go to sleep in the court room: I fainted. It happened in this way. One of Mr. John Wanamaker’s clerks was talking to me, & I said, “You ought to know that man’s character well. You look like a man accustomed to low wages & hunger. Now in view of the fact that he has been picking Mrs. Grant’s pocket in the intervals of keeping Sunday school, is there really any kind of property that he wouldn’t take, in case he wasn’t being watched?”
The man answered with a grave judicial impressiveness which imparted indescribable weight to the words he uttered. Laying his hand softly upon my shoulder, he looked me in the eye & said: “Dear sir & friend, if John Wanamaker had been around just after the crucifixion, I should not have been oppressed with these life-long doubts as to what went with the body.” That is how it happened [MTP].
Sam also responded to Charles Webster’s letter from Europe, and said reading it made Livy want to go abroad. In response to Webster’s tale of meeting the Pope, Sam wrote about meeting the Emperor of Russia during his Quaker City excursion.
…but in the presence of the head of two or three hundred million subjects, whose empire girdles the globe, & whose commands find obedience somewhere in all the lands & among all the peoples of the earth, I should be impressed to a degree which would tie my tongue & make me temporarily unentertaining — yes, & uncomfortable. But I should like to swap courtesies with the cardinals & archbishops first rate. They are nearer my size. I could have a good time with them [MTP].
In relating his time and the case in Philadelphia, he mentioned Franklin B. Gowen, who suggested a clause to plug a loophole in subscription agent contracts.
Note: Gowen was an attorney and president of the Philadelphia & Reading RR in the 1870s and 80s. He was identified with undercover infiltration of the Molly Maguires, a secret Catholic society of mine workers; died by gunshot wound under suspicious circumstances — suicide or murder?]., who died of a gunshot wound that was never judged suicide or homicide.
Sam also wrote (not extant) to William H. Gillette in New York, apparently being his gracious self about the “debt” that Gillette felt he owed for his start on the stage. Sam saw this as an “investment” in Gillette, not as a debt [referenced in Gillette’s Aug. 9].
John R. Brown of Kansas City had started a business called, “The Universal Tinker Co.” Based upon Sam’s idea of regular home inspections and combining a wide range of needed house repairs. He wrote and thanked Sam for his idea, and enclosed an advertising card: “Combines all Branches of Work under One Management — Carpenters, Masons, Plumbers, Gass Fitters, Painters, Paper Hangers, Kalsominers, Cabinet Makers, Glaziers and others” [MTP].
August 7 Saturday – In Elmira Sam responded to his mother’s recent letter. He was glad that Orion and Mollie and Pamela were no longer sick. He remembered the weather there on their visit.
Yes, it was pretty hot weather. Now here, when a person is going to die, he is always in a sweat about where he is going to; but in Keokuk of course they don’t care, because they are fixed for anything. It has set me reflecting, it has taught me a lesson. By & by, when my health fails, I am going to put all my affairs in order, & bid good-bye to my friends here, & kill all the people I don’t like, & go out to Keokuk & prepare for death [MTP]. Note: Sam loved to engage in this sort of serious teasing with his mother.
Sam also remembered the way a Dr. Jenkins of Keokuk took care of Jean Clemens when she hurt her arm, and tall tales Miss Jenkins told so well they were believable, such as her claim that it was so hot there she didn’t use a stove, but just cooked on a marble table with natural heat.
Sam also responded to a letter (not extant) from William Dean Howells. Evidently, Sam had referred a piece to Howells for publication by George Iles (Montreal author and editor), who had used the pen name, “G. Grist.” Sam felt it was “a good squib” but didn’t know whether it as “suitable or not.” Sam conveyed that he was in an “odd position for a valuable author,” in that he had other books to publish ahead of his own and if he should write a book, felt he wouldn’t be able to publish it for ten years; that if he went to another publishing house it would reflect his lack of confidence in Webster & Co. About his recent trip to New York and Philadelphia and Hartford Sam wrote:
had a hand-shake with Mrs. Howells &
S — (that reminds me that I
called Pilla Susie). If I had met them an hour earlier I would have gone
to Boston for a day. So it was lucky: You’d have lost a day [MTP]. Note:
it’s not clear where Sam saw Elinor and Mildred Howells,
but medical specialists were being consulted for Winnie’s condition, and New
York seems most likely.
Sam also sent a short note to George Iles, who had sent him a funny piece (not extant) for his opinion.
It is good, without question, & I’ve sent it to Howells with the suggestion that he find place for it in our Library of Humor if he has not yet closed & coopered-up that work for the press. It pillories a sin which is not called up for punishment often enough [MTP].
Sam’s notebook recorded a score of 35 to 16 for C. against T.W. (Clemens vs. Theodore W. Crane). This is listed as perhaps a “popular parlor game during summers at Quarry Farm” [MTNJ 3: 229].
August 8 Sunday
August 9 Monday – In Philadelphia, the court denied an injunction against John Wanamaker & Co.
AN INJUNCTION REFUSED.
PHILADELPHIA, Aug. 9. — Judge Butler, in the United States District Court, rendered a decision today in the application of Samuel L. Clemens (Mark Twain) in behalf of C.L. Webster & Co., of Hartford, Conn., for a preliminary injunction to restrain sale of copies of Gen. Grant’s personal memoirs in this city by John Wanamaker & Co. In his opinion Judge Butler says: “If this case was substantially identical with the publishing company against Smith, recently decided by the Circuit Court for Ohio, we would esteem it our duty to follow the ruling in that case and grant the writ. It is not, however. In some material respects the cases are clearly distinguishable. The one before us seems to resemble Clemens against Estes, 22 Fed. Rep., 899 in which the writ was refused. As the question must be further considered on final hearing, when the facts may be more fully developed, it would be unwise to discuss it at this time. After full consideration the complainant’s rights, as disclosed by the affidavits and accompanying papers, are not deemed sufficiently clear to warrant the preliminary write asked for” [NY Times, Aug 10, 1886 p.1]. Note: The decision may have been influenced by the known sales to trade outlets by Webster & Co. [MTNJ 3: 251n77].
Sam’s notebook: struck the idea of renting on a basis of dividing with the lessee the saving on each 1000 ems set — every 1000 recorded by the machine to count as 1250 — (because the machine sets solid & the lessee must do his own leading.) [MTNJ 3: 251].
The Washington Post, p.1 also ran a 56-word article, “Mark Twain Defeated”:
PHILADELPHIA, Pa.. Aug. 9. — Judge Butler, in the United States District Court, to-day denied the application of Samuel L. Clemens (Mark Twain) in behalf of C.L. Webster & Company, of Hartford, Conn., for a preliminary injunction to restrain sale of copies of U.S. Grant’s Personal Memoirs in this city by John Wannamaker. [sic]
William H. Gillette wrote again from New York on Madison Square Theatre stationery.
Your letter of August 6 is just at hand. I appreciate your kindness deeply — and did before. The “investment” was certainly what gave me a start, although the Mallorys did manage in some way to get everything else connected with it. But the start was of greater value….
Gillette was not comfortable leaving the matter where it was, with Sam not getting anything from his “investment” [MTP].
August 10 Tuesday – Sam’s notebook recorded a score of 38 to 16 for C. against T.W. (Clemens vs. Theodore W. Crane). This is listed as perhaps a “popular parlor game during summers at Quarry Farm” [MTNJ 3: 229].
His notebook also contains an observation with this date about the New York Tribune’s Mergenthaler Linotype machine:
All is set with brand-new matrices, every projection & hair-line clean-cut & handsome. Bran-new dress. For the first time, the alignment is good — almost good enough for book-work (except 4 or 5 first lines). Now let’s see how long the letters will remain perfect & the alignment good [MTNJ 3: 247].
Beech Creek RR per George F. Baer sent Sam a form letter about the purchase of the company. Sam was entitled to receive for 148 shares of common stock, $7,400; for 52 shares preferred, $2,600; and for 10 Coupon Bonds, $10,000 — amounts to be paid upon surrender of the stock certificates. The company had been purchased [MTP].
August 11 Wednesday – In Elmira Sam wrote a longish letter to Edward H. House, who had informed him (not extant) that someone named Rooker had raved about the Tribune’s typesetter (Mergenthaler), that was now used daily in production of that paper. Sam was saving Tribune editorials “day by day” to see how long the type matrices lasted. After restating the case for the Paige machine, he wrote:
It is manifest that the Tribune machine is a most ingenious & capable marvel of mechanism; & so is a racehorse; but he can’t run no competition with a railroad.
About Livy’s estimation of House he wrote:
Why, hang it, man, I’m always trying to undermine Mrs. Clemens’s good opinion of you, but I have grown tired of it at last & given it up. It doesn’t undermine worth a cent. She made some extravagant remark about you last night, & I said “I wish it would ever occur to you to say such a thing about me.” She said, “It would, if you ever deserved it” [MTP].
Sam also wrote to Andrew Chatto, asking what the pay rate was for the “London great dailies” for typesetting per 1000 ems. Sam divulged he was “building a type-setting machine,” which he thought would be done by spring, and added:
This is not the one which is now making such a stir in New York: that one casts each line, in solid type-metal, as it sets it; but mine uses the ordinary movable type. I have been at work at this thing four years, & have spent many shekels on it. And she’s a daisy, I tell you! [MTP].
Sam’s notebook recorded a score of 38 to 38 for C. against T.W. (Clemens vs. Theodore W. Crane). This is listed as perhaps a “popular parlor game during summers at Quarry Farm” [MTNJ 3: 229].
Franklin G. Whitmore wrote that he paid James W. Paige’s salary the day before of $583.33. He conveyed Paige’s “discovery” of the breaking down of the matrices by the typesetting machine at the N.Y. Tribune office, which Whitmore wrote “will prove a costly” machine “for newspaper work” [MTP].
August 12 Thursday – Sam’s notebook recorded a score of 42 to 16 for C. against T.W. (Clemens vs. Theodore W. Crane). This is listed as perhaps a “popular parlor game during summers at Quarry Farm” [MTNJ 3: 229].
George Standring (1855-1924), at that time editor of the London monthly, Republican Chronicle, about to be changed to the Radical in Sept. 1886, wrote to Sam that he was sending a copy of his book, People’s History of the English Aristocracy, which became an important source-book for CY. [Note: See Aug. 25 entry where Sam thanks Standring “in advance for the book”]. Standring was also a printer, and son of a successful toy manufacturer. He became a freethinker whose main interests were political, and he gave most of his time to advocating republicanism, which attempted to bring together all laws “to attack the Church, the Financial Interest, Intemperance, the Land Laws, and the present distribution of power.” His main thesis was that England’s salvation rested in forming a republic and doing away with the monarchy [Royle 5-6; MTP; MTNJ 3: 260n110]. Sam may have met Standring earlier in London, however no record could be found; Baetzhold offers,
“Clemens’ acquaintance with Standring seems to have begun early in 1886 with a note of thanks for the complimentary review of Mark Twain’s life and works which the Englishman had contributed to the Progressive magazine as part of a series on American humorists. Thereafter the two exchanged letters occasionally, with Standring sometimes sending The Republican and copies of other articles that he thought might be of interest. The pair met personally at least once, for Standring’s letter of December 5, 1905, congratulating Clemens on his seventieth birthday, recalls a pleasant visit at Dollis Hill in 1901” [John Bull 111].
Note: Baetzhold also writes that Sam wrote Standring “sometime during the summer of 1886 after reading and being intrigued by The People’s History in serial publication in the Republican. No such a letter was found, although Baetzhold writes that Sam offered a “complete set of his own books in exchange for a copy of the entire work, The People’s History,” which he offers “crystallized” Sam’s desire to give new directions to CY .
August 13 Friday – Sam’s notebook recorded a score of 48 to 14 for C. against T.W. (Clemens vs. Theodore W. Crane). This is listed as perhaps a “popular parlor game during summers at Quarry Farm” [MTNJ 3: 229].
Charles J. Langdon wrote to Sam about the delivery of the Beech Creek stock certificates [MTP].
August 14 Saturday – Sam’s notebook recorded a score of 48 to 25 for C. against T.W. (Clemens vs. Theodore W. Crane). This is listed as perhaps a “popular parlor game during summers at Quarry Farm” [MTNJ 3: 229]. Poor Crane lost on each day.
August 15 Sunday
August 16 Monday – In Elmira Sam wrote to James W. Paige about settling the “vexed question of how many ems per hour is good average work.” Sam suggested a contest at the Hartford Courant, prized paid by him for composing a paragraph of 500 ems. Sam estimated the best man might do the work in 30 minutes, with the rest of the compositors around 40 minutes [MTP]. Sam needed to know how much money a newspaper would save by buying the Paige typesetter.
August 17 Tuesday – In Elmira Sam wrote to Frederick J. Hall about the book business. Sam confirmed, “I have written the General” (Philip Sheridan, whose Personal Memoirs Webster & Co. Would publish in 1888) with marketing strengths of Webster & Co. He also asked if Mrs. General Hancock was preparing a book for Webster & Co., and if they had a contract with her [MTLTP 202-3]. Kaplan writes of the many books in the works during this time:
“The list was by and large a mishmash of undistinguished books by or about famous people, frank attempts at celebrity publishing on the pattern of the Grant book: King David Kalakaua’s collection of Hawaiian legends; memoirs by Sherman, Sheridan, and McClellan; The Genesis of the Civil War, by Major General Samuel Wylie Crawford, who was at Sumter when the shooting began; Elizabeth Bacon Custer’s book about General George Armstrong Custer and Almira Hancock’s book about General Winfield Scott Hancock, the hero of Gettysburg; Sunset Cox’s Diversions of a Diplomat in Turkey; and two books which epitomize the firm’s style and fortunes — Father Bernard O’Reilly’s Life of Pope Leo XIII (‘the greatest book of the age,’ Webster and Company trumpeted, written with the Pope’s ‘Encouragement, Approbation, and Blessing’) and Henry Ward Beecher’s Autobiography” . (Editorial emphasis on names.)
Sam also wrote to Franklin G. Whitmore, all about typesetting by hand and Whitmore’s son Will, who was progressing in speed. Sam offered $300 as a bonus for Will to meet certain goals [MTP]. Note: from MTNJ 3: 250n76:
“By training an inexperienced youth to use the typesetter, Clemens probably hoped to prove the claim he made to Edward H. House in a letter of 11 August 1886: ‘Our machine is a mechanical miracle; when a body sees it work, he says “it’s poetry;” & yet it is so simple & sure, that a cross-sweeper can put down his brook & set type on it.’”
August 18 Wednesday – Sam and Henry C. Robinson and other stock holders “turned over the Water Closet concern to Mr. Day, to have & to hold, for better or worse…” [Aug. 19 to Hall]. Note: the company referred to may be the Beech Creek RR.
Frederick J. Hall answered Sam’s Aug. 17 letter about Mrs. Almira Hancock:
We have no agreement with Mrs. Hancock, as the affair was not in definite enough shape to make one [MTLTP 203n2] Note: Reminiscences of Winfield Scott Hancock was published by Webster & Co.
D.[?] T. MacGowan wrote from Shanghai, China, mis-addressing the letter to Sam at New Haven. He wrote about discovering “square bamboo” suitable for walking sticks and may have included one. Sam wrote on the envelope, “Send to Prof. Baird (New Haven?) for cane” [MTP].
August 19 Thursday – In Elmira Sam wrote to Frederick J. Hall. He was still analyzing newspapers and em counts; he asked Hall to send him “the name and address of every daily newspaper in the U.S. and Canada that contains fully 2 pages of new matter daily.” Sam also wanted a list of compositor’s unions in the U.S. — where located and number of members. He suggested Hall put the job in “the hands of some advertising agency — Rockwell’s or some other” [MTLTP 203-4].
Sam also wrote to Franklin G. Whitmore of the unloading of stock in the “Water Closet concern” the day before. He also asked, “Do we own that Texas land yet? Maybe there’s oil in it…Look it up & see” [MTP]. Note: See Oct. 27, Nov. 25, Dec. 30, 1882 entries about the Archer County, Texas land.
Franklin G. Whitmore wrote from Hartford that Sam’s “magnanimous offer to my son William greatly pleased him, & he tested himself yesterday — he set 4,200 ems in an hour.” On the matter of Sam’s Hartford furnace, Whitmore doubted that hot water could heat a house well, but steam could [MTP].
August 20 Friday – In Elmira Sam wrote to longtime family friend, Clara L. Spaulding, who had obviously written to him (not extant) concerning some disagreement; she was about to be married. Sam offered wisdom about words spoken in argument, how to keep peace, and quoted from the Rubáiyát, by Omar Khayam:
“A moment’s Halt’ — a momentary taste/Of Being, at the well amid the waste”…etc.
No member shall be called to account for words spoken in debate
The secret of eternal peace in the family lies concealed in that golden commandment! All conversations are but debates, whether they get utterance in a capitol or a cabin; & in them one is always apt to say more than he meant to say. And whenever he does that, just let him alone; don’t call him to account — he will do that himself, every time. …
There isn’t time — so brief is life — for bickerings, apologies, heart-burnings, callings to account. There is only time for loving — & but an instant, so to speak, for that…” [MTP].
August 21 Saturday – In Elmira Sam wrote one line that he would keep a confidence for this unidentified person [MTP].
Sam’s notebook: Proposed that we overcome the 2-line-letter difficulty by having the 2-line letters cast in exact fractions of an em; set quads in their place & stick the letters in the galley, afterward./ Within the past few days the Tribune has ceased from using its first set of matrices; it was quite time, for they were worn out. The first I heard of that machine setting Tribune matter was last isterin — or maybe a month earlier — it was still in Baltimore then. Got it from Laffan, but there was never evidence in the Tribune itself until one month ago (July 23.) Now whether they wore out that set in 8 months or 1 month, the fact remains: it’s a costly luxury to its employer. / The Trib introduced 2 new sets lately — the first about the first of this month — the other a week or two later [MTNJ 3: 251].
Note: Much of Sam’s energy, imagination and hopes during this period rested with the developing Paige typesetter and its competitors, especially the Mergenthaler Linotype machine, now in trial at the New York Tribune. But while the Paige was continually tinkered with, the others were being used.
The Hartford Courant reported on Aug. 21, p.1 “The Soldiers’ Monument” that S.L. Clemens was appointed to the Invitations Committee at a citizen’s meeting the night before (Aug. 20). Sam may or may or may not have agreed, but was in Elmira.
August 22 Sunday – The Boston Daily Globe ran “Mark Twain As A Wheelman,” p.8, Aug. 23, 1886 about his struggles on the bicycle.
HARTFORD, August 22. — Samuel L. Clemens, better known as Mark Twain, undertook to ride a bicycle at about the same time that his pastor began, and his not happy in the sport. The teacher of Mr. Clemens during the first weeks of his wheeling tells this story of him:
Mr. Clemens objected to assuming a costume suitable to the exercise, and one day started out to ride wearing a long linen duster over his clothes. His teacher gently suggested that it might be inconvenient. Mr. Clemens thought not. The young man feared a fall, but Mark Twain said that he would risk it. They had not gone four rods from home, however, when he began to revile the napping thing, and in less that ten minutes the skirt was caught upon the wheel and carried up into the Y of the machine, and instantly the author of “Innocents Abroad” lay upon his face in the dirt, with the machine chattering about his ears. His companion alighted and ran to help him. The scope and volume of vituperation that smoked up through the spokes of that wheel are said to be unrepeatable by persons less gifted in the language than the victim. He was rescued from the machine, and crawling to his feet said with stilled fury, “Wait a minute.” Taking his knife from his pocket, the amateur wheelman opened it and with fierce determination cut the superfluous length from the linen coat until it took on the semblance of a butcher’s short frock, and then remounting his machine with the assistance of his trainer, he said, “Now I’ll buy a Norfolk jacket, as I should have done before.” Which he did. But he has never entirely conquered the skittish wheel.
August 23 Monday – In Elmira Sam wrote to Franklin G. Whitmore, whose last letter to Sam was written Aug. 19. Sam enclosed a $10 check for , and also “the September checks” which probably were for bills, or for family, since Webster was not in the country. In order to secure the test he’d suggested for typesetting averages at the Hartford Courant, Sam suggested Whitmore confide in Mr. Stephen A. Hubbard there but with the admonition that no one else should know the reason for the test [MTP]. Note: Hubbard was a close personal friend and confidant of Joseph R. Hawley.
August 24 Tuesday – Sam was elected “Corresponding Member for Life” of the Scottish Society of Literature and Art, and given a plaque bearing this date [Scott 132].
August 25 Wednesday – In Elmira Sam wrote to Frederick J. Hall. He didn’t care whether a Mr. Horace King was good or not — he gave Hall his power of attorney to unload all interests in Kaolatype to King [MTLTP 204-5]. Note: Sam’s losses from Kaolatype, an engraving process, amounted to $50,000 [A. Hoffman 302]. Horace King of Thompsonville, Conn. had applied to buy the rights for the process. The sale was still under consideration in mid-November [MTNJ 3: 265n129]. The sale did not take place [MTLTP 205n1].
Sam also wrote to George Standring responding to his Aug. 12 letter. He asked Standring for information about typesetting compositors in London, similar to what he had sought in the U.S. — what was paid for composition per 100 ems in the various London papers and book-printers, also in Liverpool, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dublin, Paris & Berlin? Sam was thinking worldwide sales for the Paige, and needed such information to adapt marketing efforts. He thanked Standring “in advance for the book,” (People’s History of the English Aristocracy (1887), which became an important source-book for CY) and closed by plugging his new “Wirt” fountain pen, which didn’t seem to dry out even when “left open by the week.”
The day of the “stylographic” is done — it must retire to its proper place among the obsolete inventions [MTP]. Note: See Nov. 24, 1889 entry for a book by Standring, which Sam wanted Webster & Co. To publish. See also Gribben 656.
August 26 Thursday – Frederick J. Hall wrote Sam about the job of gathering statistics from newspapers:
I have visited nearly all the large Agencies, but they will not undertake the job; however, I think I have some one now who will put it through successfully. Will let you know positively in a few days. They all say it is a very difficult piece of work, and rather out of their line. Rowell refuses to undertake it at any price.
Hall also announced that he’d made a deal with a “responsible party” for the Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee region with a guarantee of 10,000 books sold of the Pope’s biography [MTP].
Andrew Chatto wrote, updating progress on the sales of books in England [MTP].
August 27 Friday
August 28 Saturday – In Elmira Sam wrote to Frederick J. Hall. Sam continued to work soliciting ems per hour information from newspapers, and directed Hall to make up a form to send to various papers. He suggested they obtain an advertising agency, which would allow the use of their name without them having to do the work. He was after country dailies now, not the big newspapers. He wanted to gauge the size of the entire market for his typesetting machine:
Please take a glance (by office boy) at your Newspaper Directory & tell me the aggregate number of dailies in the U.S., big cities & all [MTLTP 205-6].
Sam also wrote to Franklin G. Whitmore. Only the envelope survives [MTP].
Orion Clemens wrote to Sam acknowledging and thanking for the $155 check, dispersed as usual. Orion was working on Mark Twain’s Memory Builder (history game) information. Illness by Orion and Mollie had been put to “decomposed milk,” and a clipping from a Chicago newspaper about such poisoning was enclosed. Mollie received a “pleasant letter from Susie yesterday.” Ma had been to the theater twice during the past week and last Thursday to a brass band concert in the park [MTP].
Charles A. Neff wrote to Sam from Newport, R.I., sending an unspecified book which he thought was not “so elaborate a monument to the author’s absurdity as ‘English As She Is Spoke,’ but” which ranked “in some respects with ‘Ambulinia’… Neff had all of Sam’s books save IA, and could not afford to buy it, asking if Sam might “feel disposed to send…a copy.” On the envelope Sam wrote, “Answer when get home” [MTP].
August 29 Sunday
August 30 Monday
August 31 Tuesday – From Sam’s notebook, a startling plan. One wonders what reaction this idea brought.
Aug. 31, 1886. Revealed to L my project of buying the remains of Christopher Columbus & placing them in the base of the Statue of Liberty Enlightening the World, in New York harbor. No — rotunda of the Capitol at Washington [MTNJ 3: 252&n81]. Note: Someone, presumably Paine, wrote “ivy” next to the “L” assuming it was Livy, but it might have referred to Laffan — see note in source. It seems to be a far-fetched and rather tasteless matter to have approached Livy with — certainly Sam would have known she would have nixed it. Laffan seems more likely.
Franklin G. Whitmore sent a list of recent expenses totaling $20.93. On the envelope Sam wrote, “Send a check” [MTP].
August 31–September 3 Friday – Sam’s notebook between the above Sept. 1 entry and one dated Sept 3, made several references to cats at Quarry Farm: Sour Mash, Golden Rod, Zoroaster Morning Glory Staunchfield; also a quote of one of the Clemens’ girls about a dog named Shep: “He is a very nice dog — in his manners”.
Golden Rod. He’s got the prettiest face — & & — the nicest manners of all the cats.
September – Sam’s notebook mentions Calvin Ellis Stowe (1802-1886) and his 1867 work, Origin and History of the Books of the Bible, etc. Stowe claimed that no facsimile of the New Testament had ever been taken from the Vatican Bible; Sam thought it might be a “good thing if we could get a scrap for the Pope’s life” [Gribben 669].
September 1 Wednesday – In Elmira Sam wrote a five-page letter to Edward H. House:
Clara Spaulding is to be married tomorrow evening, and I have contributed, among our other bridal presents, a dollar’s worth of horse-car tickets and a poem.
The poem was, “S’KIK! G’lang” and also sent to Clara Spaulding on this day with a short letter:
As an all too pale reflection of the fondness & esteem which I bear you, & have borne these many years, I beg to lay among the costlier tokens of others’ affection this loving though humble and squalid poem. [Note: the poem was published in The Twainian, May-June 1963].
Sam also wrote to Franklin G. Whitmore, who wrote on Aug. 31 with some averages of ems per hour based on the Courant exercises. Sam agreed to a bill to A. Marwick Jr. & Co., Apogthecaries, Hartford. He announced the family would leave Elmira for Hartford Sept. 20 [MTP].
Susan E. Dickinson wrote to Sam from Pittston, Penn. asking for a contribution and enclosing a newspaper clipping about Negro preacher Thomas A. Davis, whom Sam had already helped out, which is the import of what he wrote on her envelope [MTP].
In the MTP financials file for 1886 there is a hand-written ledger page and envelope with a Sept. 1, 1886 postmark and Sam’s handwriting, “Tot expenses type-setter through Sept. 1 $14,500.”
Expenses on Type Setter for Six Months from [rest torn off at top but March 1886 would be six months]
Labor, office materials &c
Font of Type
Pratt & Whitney
H.W. Beadle & Co. & Labor [Atty.s]
Salary to J.W. Paige.
Expenses under Old Contract 1885 &
Balanced Feby 6th
September 2 Thursday – Clara Spaulding (“Aunt Clara”) wed John Barry Stanchfield (1855-1921) an attorney. They lived in New York City and Islip, Long Island. They would have two children, Alice Spaulding Stanchfield and John B. Stanchfield, Jr. [Salsbury 433]. The ceremony took place at the house of Harry C. Spaulding, Main Street, Elmira at 8:00 p.m., Thomas K. Beecher of Park Church officiating. Witnesses listed: Edward P. Rapelys, Alice S. Rapelys, Sarah Young, Ellen Sawyer, S. L. Clemens, Olivia L. Clemens, Clara Clemens, Susy Clemens, Susan L. Crane, Margaret Warner.
See online source: http://www.rootsweb.com/~srgp/marriage/1854beecher.htm
September 3 Friday – In Elmira Sam wrote a short note to Frederick J. Hall about the report of compositors including all the daily newspapers [MTP].
Sam also wrote a short note to Charles Webster, writing at the top, “Give to Charley first thing when he comes.” Webster was on his way back to New York. This note said that Hall couldn’t tell the Kaolatype buyer (Horace King) how much territory was included [MTP].
Sam also wrote to Franklin G. Whitmore in Hartford, Sam’s business agent. He thanked him for the statement of his accounts to Sept. 1 and asked that Whitmore tear up the list of Livy’s securities he’d sent, as she’d decided to leave those in the hands of her brother, Charles Langdon, which Sam felt was “good judgment” [MTP].
Sam’s notebook: Through Mr. Hall, have offered Bromfield $325 for the whole work, including the dailies of N.Y. city [MTNJ 3: 253]. Note: P.B. Bromfield, advertising agency, to secure compositor data of U.S. daily newspapers.
Frederick J. Hall wrote to Sam about the possibility of publishing an expose by George Washington Walling, retired New York police superintendent.
We have just been offered a book which is likely to attract attention. It is written by Ex-Superintendent Walling of the New York Police and Detective force…. In this book, he gives the inside of a great many celebrated cases; for instance: The complete history of Stewart’s body….the Nathan Murder case. It was to have been published by a firm in the City here…but one of the members…brought it here, and said that some of the statements were so strong, that they were afraid it would raise a storm [MTLTP 207n1-2].
September 3–September 14 Tuesday – Sam’s notebook between these entry dates:
Diana of the Xroads — by George Meredith.
Prince Otto, by author of Kidnapped. [Robert Louis Stevenson]
Pay the bill at Fitch’s.
John Bodewin’s Testimony by Mary Hallock Foote. — (if they’ve got it.) — Don’t send for it.
Notes: Sam was probably buying Diana of the Crossways (1885) by Meredith for Livy. Paine writes:
“It was at a time when George Meredith was a reigning literary favorite. There was a Meredith cult as distinct as that of Browning….Mrs. Clemens and her associates were caught in the Meredith movement and read Diana of the Crossways and the Egoist with reverential appreciation. [¶] The Meredith epidemic did not touch Mark Twain. He read but few novels at most, and skilful as was the artistry of the English favorite, he found his characters artificialities — ingeniously contrived puppets rather than human beings….overrated by their creator. Diana of the Crossways was read aloud, and, listening now and then, he was likely to say:”
It doesn’t seem to me that Diana lives up to her reputation. The author keeps telling us how smart she is, how brilliant, but I never seem to hear her say anything smart or brilliant. Read me some of Diana’s smart utterances [MTB 847].
Clara Clemens remembered that when Meredith’s work was read aloud at Quarry Farm, Sam commented that he was too wordy [MFMT 61].
Foote’s work was a romantic novel of the Arkansas silver-mining region in the 1870s (1886). See Gribben 235.
Sam also wrote a note to: Send Molly [Clemens] for Mr. S[totts, her father] $100 Jan 1 ’87, & the same every 4 months thereafter [MTNJ 3: 254].
Note: The amounts were for medical expenses. Mollie’s father, William Stotts, would die in St. Joseph’s Hospital, Keokuk, on June 13, 1888 at age 88. This source describes Stotts as “a pioneer, public official, and popular resident of Keokuk” [n88].
September 4 Saturday – In Elmira Sam wrote to Frederick J. Hall about the George Washington Walling book (see Sept. 3 entry). Sam wanted Webster & Co. To publish the book and suggested a twenty-cents per volume sold royalty, rather than a lump-sum purchase. Sam was also concerned about a libel suit in publishing the book, and advised that their attorney Daniel Whitford “read & mark the worst of the libelous passages for expunging.” If those terms were unacceptable the firm could wait for Webster’s return [MTLTP 206]. Note: Whitford had been a Fredonia lawyer, now with the prestigious New York firm of Alexander & Green, Webster & Co.’s attorneys. “Webster evidently disapproved, for Recollections of a New York Chief of Police was published in 1887 by the Caxton Book Concern, the publisher originally interested in it” [MTNJ 3: 256-7n97]. (Editorial emphasis.)
Franklin G. Whitmore wrote to Sam: “Yours of the 1st inst. With enclosures rec’d.” Expenses on the type-setter for the month of August were $869.55; half month Pratt & Whitney’s bill, $937.10; patents $349.40, totaling $2,156.05 [MTP].
September 5 Sunday
September 6 Monday – Frederick J. Hall wrote, advising, “the gentlemen who were negotiating Superintendent Walling’s book have agreed to wait until Mr. Webster’s return.” There was no objection by the Grant’s to Webster & Co. Publishing Adam Badeau’s book on Grant, but put off a definite yes to Badeau till Webster’s return. Hall had offered $300 to Mr. P.B. Bromfield to survey newspapers and would raise it $25 should he balk [MTP].
September 7 Tuesday – In Elmira Sam wrote a short note to Franklin G. Whitmore in Hartford, sending funds he wished safe-deposited, with notes to Bissell & Co., his Hartford banker [MTP].
The Israel Putnam Monument Commission awarded the contract for an equestrian statue of the colonial soldier to Karl Gerhardt. This came after months of deliberation [MTNJ 3: 253n84].
J. Chester for Lincoln University wrote to Sam:
You may remember that when I saw you, I raised the query, “If the young man whom your money educates would decide to preach, what then?” You replied “If he had grit & gumption, let him do what he thinks the Lord wants him to do”
Chester announced the young man (specified in a later letter as Willis) had graduated among the first in his class of 45 and wanted to study theology. Would Sam still help him? On the envelope Sam wrote, “From a clerical fraud” [MTP]. See Sept. 10 to Chester.
Susan E. Dickinson wrote thanking Sam for his “generous response” for Miss Sade E. Bond and herself, his recent response not extant [MTP].
Franklin G. Whitmore wrote that “all hands are having a vacation this week” at Haynes Street, which they needed greatly. “We can afford the time since as we are considerably ahead,” and the men had worked hard on the typesetter all summer [MTP].
September 8 Wednesday – In Elmira Sam wrote to J.M.G. Wood (on the letter addressed to Jack G. Wood, Aurite City, La. Sam’s letter is obviously a response to one received (not extant), an invitation to read:
I wish I could but I can’t. I never venture to read when I am writing anything, lest I get my attention diverted from my work, & have a long, hard pull of it getting back into the swing again.
Sam answered the writer’s questions about the value of publishing first in a magazine then in book form, and said this about the “slush pile” of submissions to editors, something which may no longer be a truism:
It [an article submission] will get honest attention; for there is one thing that does not happen in this world, the popular superstition to the contrary notwithstanding: it does not happen that an unknown author’s MS is cast aside uncarefully examined by the editors of a great magazine. It would not be “business.” As Mr. Gilder said to me once, “If the Brazilian miner scorned to ransack the ruck-heap, he wouldn’t ever find any diamonds” [MTP].
Note: This was likely not John George Wood (1827-1889), famous British naturalist and writer, who lectured in Boston and spent some time in the U.S. Benussi offers that a J.M.G. Wood published two volumes A Case of Jealousy: A Comedy in Two Acts, and A 10,000 wager, Farce in Two Acts — and later also others; sometimes he is identified at I.M.G.
Bacheller & Co., the first American newspaper syndicate, wrote to Sam asking if he would,
…write a short article suitable for publication Christmas Day for our syndicate of newspapers….Anything you might feel disposed to write on any conceivable subject even if it were very short we would be glad to get” [MTNJ 3: 264n127]. (See Sam’s answer Sept. 15).
Addison Irving Bacheller (1859-1950) was a New York journalist and writer who founded the first modern newspaper syndicate in the U.S., bringing English writers such as Conrad, Doyle, and Kipling to American readers. Webster & Co. Would publish his The Master of Silence: A Romance (1892).
September 9 Thursday – Life Magazine, which began as a humor periodical, ran a center spread cartoon captioned “Literature at Low Tide,” characterizing several American authors as carnival barkers. In the foreground, dispensing laughing gas through a hose, Mark Twain takes a coin from Buster Brown who takes in the gas.
September 10 Friday – In Elmira Sam wrote to J. Chester, and headed the letter “Private.” This is a response to Chester’s Sept. 8 letter for Lincoln University. Since 1882 he had contributed to the support of several Negro students at Lincoln. When a student, Willis, decided to stay on for graduate studies, Sam chose to cut his support. To Chester, Sam denied having made a certain remark or in any way obstructed the student from choosing his own way:
Of course I made no stipulation that would hamper my student in the slightest degree in choosing a profession — I would rather starve a man than curtail his liberty in any way. No, I merely hoped he would make choice of some useful occupation; he has disappointed me, & I feel no further interest in him. The very language of your letter betrays the fact that you understood me better than you have now reported me. You are conscious of having — by silence — violated a trust; & your merit is that you are ashamed of it [MTP; MTNJ 3: 255n93]. Note: the latter source holds that Sam regarded Chester as a “humbug” a “clerical fraud,” and a “bilk.”
Sam also wrote to Olive Logan Sikes (1839-1909), American actress, author, journalist and lecturer, and forwarded her question to Webster & Co., to answer, since he did “not take a practical part in the management of the business” [MTPO]. Note: Olive’s second husband, William Wirt Sikes, died in 1883. She remarried James O’Neill in 1892. See June 12, 1871 for what Sam thought of Olive Logan. Better yet, here’s an entry from MTA p.157-160:
There were two women who should have been house-emptiers — Olive Logan and Kate Field — but during a season or two they were not. They charged $100, and were recognized house-fillers for certainly two years. After that they were capable emptiers and were presently shelved. Kate Field had made a wide, spasmodic notoriety in 1867 by some letters which she sent from Boston by telegraph to the Tribune about Dickens’s readings there in the beginning of his triumphant American tour. The letters were a frenzy of praise — praise which approached idolatry — and this was the right and welcome key to strike, for the country was itself in a frenzy of enthusiasm about Dickens. Then the idea of telegraphing a newspaper letter was new and astonishing, and the wonder of it was in every one’s mouth. Kate Field became a celebrity at once. By and by she went on the platform; but two or three years had elapsed and her subject — Dickens — had now lost its freshness and its interest. For a while people went to see her, because of her name; but her lecture was poor and her delivery repellently artificial; consequently, when the country’s desire to look at her had been appeased, the platform forsook her.
She was a good creature, and the acquisition of a perishable and fleeting notoriety was the disaster of her life. To her it was infinitely precious, and she tried hard, in various ways, during more than a quarter of a century, to keep a semblance of life in it, but her efforts were but moderately successful. She died in the Sandwich Islands, regretted by her friends and forgotten of the world.
Olive Logan’s notoriety grew out of — only the initiated knew what. Apparently it was a manufactured notoriety, not an earned one. She did write and publish little things in newspapers and obscure periodicals, but there was no talent in them, and nothing resembling it. In a century they would not have made her known. Her name was really built up out of newspaper paragraphs set afloat by her husband, who was a small-salaried minor journalist. During a year or two this kind of paragraphing was persistent; one could seldom pick up a newspaper without encountering it.
is said that Olive Logan has taken a cottage at Nahant, and will spend the
Olive Logan has set her face decidedly against the adoption of the short skirt for afternoon wear.
The report that Olive Logan will spend the coming winter in Paris is premature. She has not yet made up her mind.
Olive Logan was present at Wallack’s on Saturday evening, and was outspoken in her approval of the new piece.
Olive Logan has so far recovered from her alarming illness that if she continues to improve her physicians will cease from issuing bulletins to-morrow.
The result of this daily advertising was very curious. Olive Logan’s name was as familiar to the simple public as was that of any celebrity of the time, and people talked with interest about her doings and movements and gravely discussed her opinions. Now and then an ignorant person from the backwoods would proceed to inform himself, and then there were surprises in store for all concerned:
“Who is Olive Logan?”
The listeners were astonished to find that they couldn’t answer the question. It had never occurred to them to inquire into the matter.
“What has she done?”
The listeners were dumb again. They didn’t know. They hadn’t inquired.
“Well, then, how does she come to be celebrated ?”
“Oh, it’s about something, I don’t know what. I never inquired, but I supposed everybody knew.”
For entertainment I often asked these questions myself, of people who were glibly talking about that celebrity and her doings and sayings. The questioned were surprised to find that they had been taking this fame wholly on trust and had no idea who Olive Logan was or what she had done — if anything.
On the strength of this oddly created notoriety Olive Logan went on the platform, and for at least two seasons the United States flocked to the lecture halls to look at her. She was merely a name and some rich and costly clothes, and neither of these properties had any lasting quality, though for a while they were able to command a fee of $100 a night. She dropped out of the memories of men a quarter of a century ago.
Karl Gerhardt wrote Sam seeking advice about using the Putnam Commission success to “influence a pending assignment” [MTNJ 3: 253n84].
Richard C. Drum, adjutant general of the U.S. Army, wrote to Sam apologizing for delay in answering Sam’s request for Drum to verify his letter had reached General Philip Sheridan. Drum wrote there had been sickness in his family, causing the delay. Sam sought a meeting with Sheridan to contract for publication the General’s memoirs [MTNJ 3: 257n98].
September 11 Saturday – In Elmira Sam wrote to Frederick J. Hall, asking again when Webster would arrive back from his trip to Europe. Sam submitted a proposed reply to someone who had asked why Webster & Co. Needed data about compositor production. Sam’s answer: for Hall to give to the person who had implied invasion of privacy the explanation that the owner of the firm was interested in “a printing invention” and needed such data to determine the size of the market [MTLTP 207].
Sade E. Bond wrote thanking Sam for his help. “Miss Dickinson informed me of your second great kindness to me, and I wish to say that I gratefully appreciate what you have done…” [MTP]. Note: Miss Bond had been the recipient of money from Sam at the request of Dickinson.
September 12 Sunday
September 13 Monday – Jane Clemens wrote a rambling two-page letter for Sam & Family about not knowing what to write, of wanting to leave Keokuk, of dead relatives and of her daughter “Mela” (Pamela) being there for a visit on her way to see her son Samuel. Jane signed the letter, “An Old Citizen” [MTP].
Frederick J. Hall wrote to Sam of progress and several details at the Webster & Co.
We have written Mr. Pascoe as you directed; also Mrs. Sikes. I heard from Mr. Webster yesterday; he does not say when he will return; he is having very great success abroad [MTP]. Note: Pascoe was head of the Typographical Union.
European publishers were lining up in Europe and prospects were rosy. Hall on his own turned down a book from a Mr. Stevens of Philadelphia, who’d lost his wife and daughter on a yacht disaster. Hall wanted to “be on hand” when the Clemens family passed through New York, and asked for the date and hotel they’d use.
Gertrude Van Wickham wrote from Cleveland to Sam asking if he had had any “canine friend” she might hear about, as she was writing an article for the child’s magazine, St. Nicholas [MTP].
September 14 Tuesday – In Elmira Sam wrote to Andrew Chatto, who had sent a statement and notes for deposit, as well as a pamphlet of compositors’ prices. Sam noted that the English (as now) always seemed to make their own systems that don’t always translate across the Atlantic:
…I seem to discover a most curious thing: that over there you measure type by the 1000 ENS instead of ems, & have done so all this century. I can’t see how we came to change [MTP].
Sam also dropped a one-liner to Franklin G. Whitmore that the Clemens family would leave Elmira on Friday, Sept. 17 and reach Hartford ten days later, on Sept. 27 [MTP].
Sam also wrote again to J. Chester of Lincoln University. A version of his letter is in his notebook:
Rev. J. Chester:
Your confession received. The Arab proverb says: When a man deceives me once, it is his fault; when he deceives me twice, it is mine. When you play your confidence game on me again (Buco-steerer for “Christ.” [ )] It’s safer [3: 255].
John A. Morrison, visiting Hartford from Durban, Port Natal, S. Africa, wrote a complimentary letter to Sam about his works:
I can assure you your writing has wiled away many a weary hour in my home in South Africa. Have read your works over and over again and I never fail to catch my friends when I read them the “Particulars of the Great Beef Contract” “My First Watch” or how “Tom Sawyer” had his granny’s fence whitewashed [MTP].
Franklin G. Whitmore wrote agreeing with Sam on the risks regarding “speculating on margins — what ruin and poverty inevitably follow this form of gambling.” He disagreed with Sam that “all men will embezzle sure when the pinch comes.” He also wrote of an unpaid note concerning Karl Gerhardt and Col. William N. Woodruff for $1,500, which was to be paid from orders for Gerhardt’s statues. Whitmore ended by saying he would “be very glad to see you…next week” and hoped the travel day would be pleasant [MTP].
September 15 Wednesday – In Elmira Sam wrote a few lines to Bacheller & Co.
Wrote that I had a sermon. Would wait a month & if it then could still bear my own inspection, would forward it [MTP]. Note: this “sermon” was “Concerning a Reformed Pledge: A New-Year Sermon.”
Sam also wrote to Franklin G. Whitmore. Only the envelope survives [MTP].
September 16 Thursday – In Elmira at Quarry Farm, Sam wrote to an unidentified person.
There are some who do not lie; & they are proof that it is possible for one to get rid of the habit of talking in his sleep [MTP]. Note: Sam wrote a PS that he thought the remark was plain but that “three persons of average intelligence” couldn’t understand it even after explaining it.
Sam also wrote to Franklin G. Whitmore:
Please pick me out 500 of those same cigars, & send 450 to the house [Hartford], & the other 50 to the Murray Hill hotel, New York, which is our address for the next 10 days [MTP].
September 17 Friday, before – Sam wrote in his notebook plans for a one-day outing to Springlake Beach, New Jersey during the ten-day stop in New York after the family’s return from Keokuk [MTNJ 3: 256n94]. No evidence of the considered side-trip was found, though there certainly was time for such a side-trip and Frank M. Scott’s letter of Sept. 18 hints the trip may have been made Sept. 18-19, or over the weekend.
September 17 Friday – The Clemens family left Elmira for a ten day stay in New York City [Sept. 14 to Whitmore]. It had been “an unimaginably delightful summer,” though not productive for Sam’s literary efforts. They stayed at the Murray Hill Hotel [Sept. 16 to Whitmore].
L.. Hoffman on their time spent in New York:
“On the way back to Hartford, the family stopped in New York for a week, meeting Charley and Annie Webster on their triumphant return from Rome, where they had enjoyed an audience with Pope Leo XIII and obtained his imprimatur for the biography of him. Sam tried to reestablish warm relations with Charley, but during this visit he did not waste much time with him; the family had other interests to pursue in the city. The prospective fortune the company would make from the biography of the pope encouraged Sam to allow himself considerable freedom with money. Livy wanted some new furniture and other objects for the house, since her mother planned to spend the winter in Hartford. Clara, who had inherited her mother’s crooked teeth, began a $400 course of treatment with Dr. J.N. Farrar, the world’s leading orthodontic authority. The girls’ affection for animals created a special fervor for the work of Henry Bergh, whose Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals successfully had campaigned to protect the city’s dray horses. Sam took the girls to the organization’s headquarters” [336-7]. (Editorial emphasis; See MTNJ 3: 258n103 for Farrar.)
Note: attached to an entry in Sam’s notebook: J. Wells Taylor / Bergh Society. “No information has been discovered about Clemens’ business at the New York office of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Henry Bergh, the society’s founder, was still its president at this time. J. Wells Taylor has not been identified” [MTNJ 3: 256n95] [Perhaps Hoffman discovered facts not cited.]
Sam’s notebook entry after the stay at Quarry Farm lists Sam’s additional obligation to Theodore W. Crane for the family’s summer expenses at $57.85.
Farm: Estimated the family (6 persons) in bulk at $40 per week, & the pony at $3. (Add $50 to the whole to cover possible overlookings [MTNJ 3: 257]. Note: page 296 shows calculations of 13 weeks @ $40 = 520 plus $40 for the pony, and $40 added, totaling $600.
Orion Clemens wrote about “poking along in Henry III.” The letter was sent to Elmira and forwarded to the Murray Hill Hotel in New York [MTP].
September 18 Saturday – Webster & Co., per Frank M. Scott wrote of Frederick J. Hall being “obliged to go West in regard to the account of R.T. Root, he owing us some $36,000.” Whitford felt Hall should go see Root. Scott wrote of trying to catch Sam at the Normandie Hotel, then the Gedney House and finally the Murray Hill, where Sam had just left for Hartford and home. Other good news: Webster had closed with a publisher in Brussells, and the McClellan book was selling nicely [MTP].
Scott’s letter contradicts a N.Y. stay of more than one day. It may be that the Clemens party had left N.Y. for a one-day outing Springlake Beach, N.J as suggested in Sam’s notebook just before Sept. 17. Thus Scott, if he was being truthful, assumed they’d left for Hartford. (Frank M. Scott would later prove to be an embezzler.)
September 19 Sunday – The Chicago Tribune, p.12, ran an interview of Sam by Edwin J. Park, “A Day with Mark Twain / The Genial Humorist at His Summer Home.” Budd summarizes: “Many small details on Quarry Farm setting; SLC has done no writing there during past summer” [“Interviews” 5]. See this entire interview in Scharnhorst, p 91-4.) Note: This also ran in the Boston Daily Globe on Sept. 20, p.8, as “Mark Twain’s Workshop,” along with engravings of Quarry Farm, Mark Twain, Sam’s daughters, and the inside of his shop.
September 20 Monday – Charles Webster wrote from London to his Uncle Sam. His business was complete in Europe; he’d “made contracts with the best firms in each of the following countries: Italy, Spain, France, Germany, Holland and England.” Webster & Co. Was to receive 20% of the retail price of the Pope book, the firms to translate and publish at their expense. He announced they would sail on the City of Rome Sept. 30, the first passage he could make [MTP].
September 20 Monday ca. – Karl Gerhardt wrote to Sam asking his advice about allowing a Mr. Cleveland to go to California on his behalf to secure from the Lick estate of $160,000 monies for statuary “illustrating the History & growth of California.” (Chapman to Gerhardt Sept. 10 enclosed) [MTP].
September 21 Tuesday
September 22 Wednesday – John M. Hay wrote to Sam from Cleveland asking that a McClellan book be sent him C.O.D., if after Oct. 10 to Washington, D.C. He promised not to show the book to anyone until agents began to deliver them. “I must read McClellan’s own story before finishing the chapters concerning him” [MTP]. Note: Hay and John G. Nicolay, private secretaries to Abraham Lincoln, worked for fifteen years on Abraham Lincoln: A History (1890) — it is this work that concerned Hay.
September 23 Thursday – E.R. Paillon wrote from Booneville, Mo. asking for help in securing a complete set of books by Missouri authors. “I write to all Mo. Authors, I don’t expect to hear from you, know you too well by reputation, but your [sic] ‘on the list’.” Sam wrote on the envelope, “Fellow born in a cow-lot, probably. No answer” [MTP].
September 24 Friday – Dr. John Nutting Farrar, the Clemens family orthodontist of New York wrote asking about a case Sam had mentioned while there. The doctor also wrote “I shall be able soon to report on your daughter’s case” (Clara). Sam wrote on the envelope, “Send him that squib” [MTP]. Clara had seen the orthodontist during their week’s stay in N.Y.
Karl Gerhardt wrote to Sam with good news — “The Dr.Wells statue Pedestal Commission have just awarded contract for erecting said pedestal on Bushnell Park — to me — Price for same, $1,900” [MTP].
September 25 Saturday † – James Redpath wrote to Sam enclosing a Sept. 20 letter from Donn Piatt. Redpath wanted to know where to send Piatt’s book for evaluation [MTP].
September 26 Sunday – Sam’s notebook: the Tribune contains a page of leaded minion done on a machine. So they’ve at least 2 sizes of matrices, whether they’ve 2 machines or not [MTNJ 3: 259].
September 27 Monday – By this day the Clemens family were back in Hartford after a ten-day stay in New York. Sam responded to James Redpath, who wrote Sept 23-5 offering Donn Piatt’s book for publication. Redpath was now editor of the North American Review. Sam referred to Webster’s trip to see the Pope; they were “loaded to the muzzle” with books to publish; both he and Webster must agree to take on a book [MTP; MTLTP 209n3].
Sam also wrote to Charles J. Langdon in New York, as evidenced by Langdon’s reply of Sept. 29.
Alfred J. Weyman of the Scottish Society of Literature and Art in Glasgow, Scotland wrote to Sam of his unanimous election as a “Corresponding member of the Society.” The purpose of the group was then general cultivation of literature, music, elocution, and art, and did not require feels or subscriptions of its members [MTNJ 3: 261n112]. Sam wrote Weyman’s name and organization in his notebook in Oct. of 1886, after receiving the letter, probably a reminder to send his thanks.
September 28 Tuesday – Samuel Sidney McClure (1857-1949) wrote from New York to Sam asking for “such facts as you would be willing to have published in the syndicate” relating to his early literary career. McClure was writing a paper showing how “a number of well known writers earned their first money by their pens.” Sam wrote on the envelope, “Puh!”[MTP].
Note: McClure was unemployed in 1884 when he started McClure’s Syndicate, which became in time America’s first profitable literary syndicate. He began by buying authors’ works for a price of around one hundred and fifty dollars and then selling rights to publish the works to newspapers across the country for five dollars apiece. His company lost money the first few years of operation, but eventually showed a modest profit. McClure’s Syndicate would change the America’s newspapers and fiction, by promoting such American writers as Mark Twain, William Dean Howells, Joel Chandler Harris, and Sarah Orne Jewett, which helped to lessen the old system of papers “stealing” from each other. Additionally McClure brought several English authors to American readers, including Robert Louis Stevenson, Rudyard Kipling, and Arthur Conan Doyle. McClure would establish McClure’s Magazine in 1893.
‡ – See Addenda, letter to Mrs. Parker.
September 29 Wednesday – Dr. John Nutting Farrar, New York orthodontist, wrote to Sam with an estimate of $350 to $400 for work to straighten Clara Clemens’ teeth. The doctor wrote that the work was “among the most difficult in the profession and must be done right or, no good” [MTNJ 3: 258n103; MTP]. Clara was examined by the doctor sometime between Sept 18 and 24.
Charles and Annie Webster sailed from London for home [MTLTP 207n1bottom].
Charles J. Langdon wrote on Gilsey House stationery, New York.
My Dear Sam! Yours 27th reaches me here. Mother’s note to Livy draws 5% interest….I don’t know where Livy can find as good an investment, certainly not in Govts. Julia goes into school tomorrow. The more we see of the school the better we like it [MTP].
Orion Clemens wrote acknowledging check from Webster & Co. For $155. This was another long letter about the strange behavior of their aged mother:
Saturday Ma came downstairs with [illegible word] and shawl on to go home at once, an enterprise from which she could not be turned. Mollie asked Mr. Marshall to walk around the block with her. On Sixth street she asserted boldly, unsupported by fact, that Col. Patterson had invited her to dinner, and she must go [MTP].
Frederick J. Hall wrote of Webster & Co. Developments. Charles Webster and wife were to sail this day; the McClellan book went to press the day before; he’d have a set of proofs sent to John Hay; he enclosed information secured by P.B. Bromfield, who’d sent out 1,289 circulars to secure information Sam wanted on newspaper dailies in the U.S. Altogether Bromfield had received 1,418 “satisfactory answers” (no explanation of why more answers than flyers sent). Hall had not heard from Mr. Pascoe of the Typographical Union since writing him the letter Sam had suggested [MTP].
Bissell & Co. Wrote to Sam about two bonds signed by W.G. Brown for $1,000 each upon which coupons were due on the first day of April and October. The owner was impatient for payment. Sam wrote on the top of the letter to Whitmore,
Brer W. –Have you overlooked these bonds? I do not remember them. SLC [MTP].
September 30 Thursday – In Hartford Sam wrote to Frederick J. Hall, employee of Webster & Co., asking that $6,000 be sent and charged to his account. Hall, who wrote Sept. 29, informed Sam that 418 satisfactory answers had been received from the 1289 circulars sent to daily newspapers asking for compositor rates. P.B. Bromfield was handling the task [MTLTP 208]. Note: MTNJ 3: 252 lists Bromfield, Newspaper Advertising, 21 Park Row, N.Y. and that Bromfield furnished about a third of the requests for information. Sam felt this was a “much better result than could have been prophecied [sic].”
October – Sam’s notebook: Eliz Cady Stanton & daughter gone to Europe to write “Woman’s Version of the Bible” [MTNJ 3: 261]
Note: Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815-1902), pioneer suffragist was the primary editor of the two-volume The Woman’s Bible (1895), “a controversial analysis of the Bible’s disparaging depiction of women. Her daughter, Harriot Stanton Blatch, a suffrage leader, was not among those who assisted as members of the work’s ‘Revising Committee’” [n113].
October 1 Friday
October 2 Saturday – The Brooklyn Eagle, in a page two article, “American Humor – From Artemus Ward to Max Adeler,” (citing the Cincinnati Enquirer) concluded that “American humor is becoming rather scarce.” Reflecting perhaps a popular belief that Sam’s slowing of literary output and immersion in business marked the end of his career as a humorist, the article offered:
Mark Twain is a real humorist and has given the world some amusing things, but he has finished his work. He has given the world his best and will never startle us with another “Jumping Frog” story, or make us shed tears with him over the grave of Adam.
The New York Times (Oct.3) on page one, carried an update on the Wanamaker lawsuit:
GEN. GRANT’S MEMOIRS.
WANAMAKER’S ANSWER TO THE SUIT
OF C.L. WEBSTER & CO.
PHILADELPHia, Oct. 2. — The answer of John Wanamaker, Thomas B. Wanamaker, and Robert C. Ogden to the suit brought by the publishing firm of Charles L. Webster & Co., growing out of the sale at Wanamaker’s of the personal memoirs of Gen. Grant, was filed to-day in the United States Circuit Court. A motion was argued before the court a short time ago to have the defendants restrained from selling the book over their counter upon the ground that it was only to be sold by subscription, but Judge Butler refused to grant the plaintiffs a preliminary injunction. The matter will again come up upon final hearing and the answer now filed appertains to that part of the suit. The defendants claim that since the litigation was begun they have ascertained that the books purchased by them were sold by the plaintiffs to their general agents, who sold them to Hill and Harvey, their sub-agents, from whom Joshua Barney, the party who sold them to the defendants, purchased them, and that the books were forwarded to the agents without regard to the number of subscriptions which had been taken. It is also stated that the books were not obtained by the defendants by wrongful collusion with any agent, but that they were bought from Mr. Barney with the assurance that he had a right to dispose of them. The defendants also claim to have information by which they expect to prove that the plaintiffs have been selling the book otherwise than by subscription, and ask that the proceedings instituted against them may be dismissed. The matter will be heard upon argument.
Sam wrote to Elizabeth E. Jenkins (Mrs. Edward Jenkins) on Suburban Street in New Haven, Conn., asking about tiling the wall next to the fireplace in the “new bedroom” [MTP]. Note: For Sam to undertake this task suggests Livy was again ailing.
Sometime later this day or thereafter, Sam and Livy went to New York City and stayed at the Murray Hill Hotel. They undoubtedly had Clara with them, as Sam’s notebook lists an Oct. 5 appointment with Dr. Farrar for her.
Frederick J. Hall wrote to Sam with news of William Hamersley’s progress — it looked like General Philip Sheridan “intended to place the book in our hands,” he wrote. Hamersley was at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas to confer with the General; Hall thought Hamersley would “probably start for Washington today.” Hall also wrote he’d telegraphed “thinking possibly you might want to telegraph him” [MTP].
October 3 Sunday
October 4 Monday
October 5 Tuesday – In New York, again at the Murray Hill Hotel, Sam wrote to Charles Webster, just returning (or about to return) from his trip to Europe.
Welcome home to you & Annie! I left the messages with Mr. Hall which concern business & are not serious enough to wait & say to you, so I take Livy home to-day. There was nothing important except that I hope you can go at once to Washington. It was my purpose to run down there & beg the General to put nothing in the magazines (which is a great injury to a book)…[MTP].
Note Webster’s writes “The General was probably Sheridan” [MTBus 366]. It may also have been General Samuel Wylie Crawford, since Webster & Co. Published his Genesis of the Civil War in 1887. Since Sam and Livy did not stay in New York long enough to personally welcome the Websters, it may be that they did not arrive until late that day or the following day. The Clemenses returned to Hartford either this evening or the next morning.
Sam’s notebook: Tues, Oct 5, 1.30 PM / Dr Farrar J.N. 1271 B’way [MTNJ 3: 259] Note: this was the orthodontist who was straightening Clara Clemens’ teeth.
October 6 Wednesday – In Hartford Sam responded to a letter from Orion Clemens.
Yes, buy Pamela’s ticket & glasses, & use the money in any other ways you please for her, & when the “fund” runs low notify me so that I can re-supply it.
I suppose Sam’s [Moffett} financial exploits distress Pamela, but they delight me….If Sam can be reduced to his shirt-tail, his success in life is assured; he will become a great editor, a man with a continental reputation…nothing in the world but poverty can save him — without it he is booked for failure [MTP].
Sam also wrote a short note of apology for taking so long to decline an invitation of some sort to Gertrude Van R. Wickham.
I beg a thousand pardons — it is all a busy procrastinator can do [MTP].
Francis Wayland Dean at Yale Law School wrote asking if Sam could help Negro student Warner T. McGuinn again for the current year, it would be “an excellent charity,” since he was “last year by examination considerably above the average of his class.” Sam wrote on the envelope, “Send W. $75” [MTP].
October 7 Thursday – In Hartford Sam wrote to Karl Gerhardt, encouraging him to “Go it!” in sculpting an Indian statue for some cause or contest.
Make a fine Injun — real Injun — You can accomplish it by studying that Photograph & reading 3 or 4 books which I will lend you if you look in [MTP].
October 8 Friday – In Hartford Sam wrote to Edward H. House. He planned on going to New York City with Livy on Tuesday, Oct. 12. He enclosed an invitation of some sort for Mr. McCarthy, as he didn’t know the man’s address, and asked House to get it to him.
Mrs. Clemens has walked over my prejudices in her usual roughshod fashion, & requires me to invite Mr. McCarthy. All right, I am but a private in this regiment; my office is to obey; & I do it [MTP].
Sam also wrote to Kate Staples, responding to her inquiries about his books and magazine articles.
Yes, the truth is, my books are simply autobiographies. I do not know that there is an incident in them which sets itself forth as having occurred in my personal experience which did not so occur [MTP]. Note: Staples is not further identified. Also, it’s well understood among Twain scholars that Sam’s memory might offer several versions of past occurrences.
Francis Wayland, Dean at Yale Law School wrote acknowledging Sam’s gift of $75 for “our colored ‘friend brother’” (Warner T. McGuinn) [MTP].
October 9 Saturday
October 10 Sunday – In Hartford Sam wrote to Charles Webster after receiving his telegram. Evidently, Webster was headed for Washington, to attend to the matter there with “the General” that concerned Sam (see Oct. 5 to Webster).
Livy & I are coming down Tuesday [Oct. 12], shopping, & if you are not in Washington I shall see you during that afternoon, as we shall arrive at noon [MTP].
Lewis Smith sent Sam a poem on three pages glued lengthwise to Bloodgood H. Cutter’s letter dated Oct. 10, 1866 “From a brother bard.” On the envelope Sam wrote “Poetic rot” [MTP].
October 11 Monday – The New York Times, Oct. 14, 1886 p.2 ran a facsimile of a check to Julia D. Grant for $150,000 drawn on the Mount Morris Bank and signed by Charles L. Webster on this date. Canceled check no. 169 is in the MTP.
This, with the preceding payment made on Feb. 28, 1886, brings the amount received by Mrs. Grant on account of the memoirs to $350,000. Of the sum uncollected she will be entitled to receive something over $100,000 additional. Volume I. of the book was published Dec. 1, 1885, and Volume II. May 10, 1886. [Note: the prior payment was made on Feb. 27, 1887, not Feb. 28]
The Times on p.2 under “Literary Notes” also ran this squib:
L.. The life of the Pope written by Dr. Bernard O’Reilly will appear in London and New-York in English, at Cologne in German, at Paris in French, at Barcelona in Spanish, at Turin in Italian, and at Amsterdam in Dutch all on the same day. The agents for Europe are Sampson Low & Co., and the firm of which Mark Twain is a member manage the venture.
Sam read a paper, “A Protest Against Taking the Pledge” at the Monday Evening Club, Hartford. [Fatout, MT Speaking 657]. MTNJ 3: 226 refers to this as “Concerning a Reformed Pledge: A New Year Sermon,” which Sam wrote in response to Irving Bacheller’s Sept. 8 request to publish in his syndicate of newspapers on Christmas Day. The above source explains,
“He also produced three papers which he read at meetings of the Hartford Monday Evening Club, one of them a version of a piece called “Concerning a Reformed Pledge: A New-Year Sermon.” A failure of literary judgment is apparent in Clemens’ repeated notebook references to this meandering and dreary work which he did not tire of showing around and which he tried unsuccessfully to publish.”
Orion Clemens began a letter to his brother he would finish Oct. 12:
I hauled Pamela your letter. She laughed and was pleased. I felt authorized to tell her that if she needed money, east or west, to let me know.
In the course of communication she repeated your advice to Sam about writing history. It encouraged me to send you a copy of work which I did last Friday and Saturday.
Ma, Mollie and I are suffering with severe colds. The doctor is trying to keep Ma’s from settling on her lungs [MTP].
Monday Evening Club delivered Sam a printed form postcard announcing a meeting at Henry C. Robinson’s home for Oct. 11 at 7:30. The Essayist: “Mr. Clemens: A Protest against ‘Taking the Pledge’” [MTP].
October 12 Tuesday – Sam and Livy went to New York City, where they spent an unknown number of days (See Oct. 10 to Webster); they were home by Oct. 18.
Orion finished his Oct. 11 to Sam. Ma had improved and was not confined to bed. “Davis is proud of his answer to the invitation. D.B. Hamill thought your visit here was an honor to the city” [MTP].
October 13 Wednesday
October 14 Thursday
October 15 Friday – J. Chester for Lincoln University, Negro Education in Cincinnati, Ohio, responded to Sam’s “Your confession received” note of Sept. 14, identifying Willis as the student who intended to study for the ministry:
What you mean by my “confession,” I do not understand. The “Arab proverb” is all right, but its application I don’t see [MTNJ 3: 255-6n93; MTP]. Sam wrote on the envelope, “From that bilk” [MTP].
October 16 Saturday – Sam’s notebook: Oct. 16, ’86, subscribed for $3,000 of Laffan’s telegraph stock [MTNJ 3: 262]. (See also Oct. 3, 1887 Laffan to Sam.)
Dora Wheeler wrote from N.Y. to Sam:
I have undertaken the work of painting the portraits of all the most prominent novelists & poets, this winter — for exhibition all over this country & in England, as well as publication in a magazine — & my very first act is to ask you if you will not please to head the list of American martyrs — & sacrifice yourself to the extent of four or five sittings for the benefit of your country [MTP]. (See Oct. 19 reply.)
October 17 Sunday
October 18 Monday – In Hartford Sam wrote to Edward H. House, who evidently missed seeing Sam on the prior Tuesday trip to New York and had written asking questions (no recent letter from House is extant).
O yes, there was a Tuesday, but it failed to connect — as I explained to you.
No, sir, Stoddard didn’t borrow “The Brahman’s Son” from your story.
Sam told House to get an 1884 book entitled Stray Leaves from Strange Literatures, by Laficadio Hearn, J.R. Osgood publisher, and compare a “Bhuddist tale called ‘Yamarajah’…” with Stoddard’s poem “line by line — & be astonished!” [MTP]. Note: the actual title is Stray Leaves from Strange Literature; Stories Reconstructed from the Anvari-Soheïli, Baitál-Pachísí, Mahabharata, Pantchatantra-Gulistan, Talmud, Kalewala, Etc. ; the Buddhist tale: “Yamaraja” [Gribben 303].
Sam also wrote to William Smith, English author who, in August sent him a copy of his book Morley: Ancient and Modern (1886). The book is a detailed history of Morley (an English town between Leeds and Dewsbury). Starting with a short history of Yorkshire it progresses through the Roman period, the Domesday book, Poll Tax List etc. It gives social conditions and village life of the early times, with information on the Farnely Wood plot and the Morley Wapentake with its courts. Detailed information both on living conditions and individual people is included, with information on their amusements, religion, churches, chapels and working conditions for the 19th century. (See Gribben 650.)
I hold myself under great obligation to you for “Morley,” which I am reading with absorbing interest, as opportunity allows me a spare quarter-hour. I was aware that the first American patent on Lucifer matches was taken out by a Hartford man (about 1835), & I now perceive that his predecessor (1829?) was a neighbor of yours. Here’s a touch that makes us kin, you see! We steal each other’s books, & patents, & one thing or another, & are ever so sociable & friendly [MTP].
Note: Lucifer matches were first sold under that name in 1829 by British chemist Samuel Jones. Demand was high and others soon followed his example. During 1832 a new friction match was introduced from the continent called the Congreve, using phosphorous and soon replaced the Lucifer. After about 1850 such matches were called “Strike Anywhere Matches.” Lucifer matches, like later varieties before safety matches in 1855, did not require a special striking strip for lighting. And, as we all know, Mark Twain was matchless.
Sam also told Smith about a history of Hartford and the county just published. Note: This was the two-volume Memorial History of Hartford County, Connecticut, edited by: James Hammond Trumbull LL.D. and published by Edward L. Osgood (1886.) According to Gribben the preface is dated June 1886. During this month Sam’s notebook contains an entry, “Hist Hartford.”
Sam also wrote to Annie Moffett Webster (Mrs. Charles Webster), asking if she and her husband would:
…take Ella Lampton off my hands? I have spent something over $300 on her in recent years, & have also given a small portion of time & “influence” toward trying to help her & Kate. I am tired of it. Tired of it merely because I can’t accomplish any real help…& therefore I would not know where to turn to find work for Kate.
Sam suggested that Charles Webster might approach Roswell Smith or Richard Watson Gilder of the Century to find a clerkship for Kate Lampton, Ella’s daughter. He also related the “stir” that the Pope’s rosary created in the household.
I would not take a thousand dollars for it — & I guess your aunt Livy’s price would run higher still. We have three excellent girls in the house, & I believe they value the telling their beads on that rosary than they would the handling government bonds that fell in their laps as a free gift [MTP]. Note: the Websters had brought back a rosary blessed by the Pope as a gift.
Annie E. Trumbull (1857-1949) wrote asking if the paper he gave on Oct. 11 to the Monday Evening Club could also be presented and discussed at the Saturday Morning Club (Young Ladies) on either Nov. 6 or Dec 4 [MTP].
October 19 Tuesday – In Hartford Sam wrote to William Dean Howells to introduce Miss Dora Wheeler, artist and daughter of family friend Candace Wheeler, decorator for Tiffany & Co. Dora wished to paint Howells’ portrait. Sam used his usual imperative with Howells:
She wants you to sit to her for a picture; & you will do it, & both of you will enjoy the operation; & if I might, I would dearly like to be there & partake [MTP].
Sam also wrote to his mother-in-law, Olivia Lewis Langdon, who was coming to Hartford for the winter.
Now, mother dear, we shall be ready for you any day after this week, & the sooner the satisfactorier. Livy has got a new boiler in, & it’s a great geyser-of-Yellowstone for liberality in the way of hot water. You can have hot water always, now, & all you want. Livy is hacking away at the house…Livy is now getting 25 hours’ work into the day, & if she could squeeze in another ¼-hour she would write you herself [MTP]. Note: Sam remarked they’d seen “Julie” and were charmed with her in her new circumstances, which probably refers to fifteen-year-old Julia Langdon, daughter of Charles J. Langdon. In Sam’s notebook, an entry to send Julia a gift of books [MTNJ 3:242n58].
Sam also replied to Dora Wheeler’s request of Oct. 16. She wanted Sam to help her gain a sitting for a portrait of William Dean Howells. Sam agreed but wanted her to come to Hartford first.
We are in a state of chaos just now, but near the middle of November we shall be straight again…I enclose a note to Howells, in which I have tried to follow your instructions; but if I have botched it, tell me & I’ll try again — & still again, till I get right [MTP].
October 20 Wednesday – In Hartford Sam wrote a short note to Elizabeth E. Jenkins. He’d forgotten about the $25 Livy borrowed from her. He enclosed a check [MTP]. Jenkins’ identity was not determined.
Jesse M. Leathers wrote from a hospital in New York. He’d missed connecting with Sam “about June 3” at the Murray Hill Hotel. He’d moved from the Soldiers National Home in Hampton, Va., and was now “quite feeble but still strong enough to undertake the journey to Southern California within the next 20 days, provided I can raise the money. This is certain death for me to remain here…” Leathers wanted to raise $500. Leathers signed, “Very Truly Yours, Cousin Jessie M. Leathers” [MTP].
October 21 Thursday – In Hartford Sam wrote to Rollin M. Daggett, his old friend from Virginia City days. Daggett had written earlier when Sam was in Elmira, advising that he was writing a book about the legends of Hawaiian natives with the help of David Kalakaua, the last king of the islands whom Sam met in 1866. Sam wrote that he’d passed Daggett’s letter to Webster “a day or two ago” while in New York.
…he said he would write you at once. I hope he has done so; though as he was just home from Rome and loaded down with work to be got agoing on the Pope’s book, he may have got delayed. But he will not forget. Well, I hope you will be sent to the Senate — for the good of the country and also that we may have a chance to see you and Mrs. Daggett again [MTP]. (See also Nov. 11, 1885 entry)
Sam also wrote to his mother-in-law, Olivia Lewis Langdon, whom he judged would arrive to spend the winter a week from this day (Oct. 28).
Mother dear, we have our Sunday clothes on, & so have the library, the hall & the drawing room theirs on, also — autumn leaves, these latter, same as Adam & Eve wore on company occasions a long time ago — & in three quarters of an hour 30 people will arrive to play whist. Livy & I have nothing to do but sit here with folded hands & wait till the guests come [MTP].
October 22 Friday – Charles Webster wrote from N.Y. that he’d sent two copies of Uncle Tom’s Cabin to Hartford for Harriet Beecher Stowe to inscribe. One of the books was for Julia Grant, the other for himself. (See Dec. 16 entry for a third book she inscribed.)
I think this is the first instance where I have bothered you on the autograph question, and it will be the last [MTNJ 3: 262].
October 23 Saturday – In Hartford Sam wrote a one-liner to Sarah Knowles Bolton (1841-1916), American writer and associate editor of the Boston “Congregationalist” (1878-81), saying that he was “called away from town ten days,” but he would be happy to see her on his return [MTP]. Bolton was working on Famous American Authors (1887), and wanted biographical information on Sam. Sam’s note is obviously a response to a letter from Bolton, not extant, which may have requested information and permission to publish it. Note: See Sam to Bolton Nov. 13; he agreed to her desire to include a section on Mark Twain if he could “see a proof first.” (Sam was actually gone only six days.) In July, 1887, Bolton wrote Sam for “Bolton’s Realistic Travels.”
Probably on this day or the next, Sam traveled from Hartford to Washington, D.C. He needed to meet with General Sheridan about his forthcoming book.
The Los Angeles Times, page 1, ran a 38-word squib, “Mark Twain’s Latest Joke” [Latimes.com].
October 24 Sunday – Sam was in Washington, D.C. He met with General Sheridan this day or the next.
Caroline B. Le Row wrote from Brooklyn with news that since Sam had not authorized her to do a calendar of his sayings, she and a friend did one of Henry Ward Beecher. “Cassell & Co. Will rejoice the public eye and heart with it next week….I mention this merely as proof that I bear no grudges and am as fond of you as ever.” On the envelope Sam wrote, “Thank her” [MTP].
October 25 Monday – Sam was in Washington, where he didn’t sleep well this night [Oct. 26 to Livy].
Charles J. Langdon wrote proposing to escort his mother to New York and the Gilsey House on Thursday, Nov. 4, and “deliver her to you Friday wherever you may be stopping.” Langdon would continue on with some friends “down the bay to meet Genl. Magee.” Note: General George J. Magee (1840-1897), owner of coal company active in railroad development.
An unidentified person sent Sam a six-page folder of a General Court-Martial in David’s Island, N.Y. Harbor, president Lt. Col. Alfred L. Hough tried Francis Wild on June 26, 1886. Wild did “Wilfully beat the bass-drum out of time at morning practice, compelling the band to stop playing” and “did, without just cause or provocation, call Sergeant Otto Lipprandt, Depot Detachment, General Service Recruits, a liar, a loafer, a perjurer, and a mean fellow. This at David’s Island on or about the 28th day of May, 1886.” Sam wrote on the envelope, “Queer charges against soldier” [MTP].
October 26 Tuesday – In Washington, General Philip H. Sheridan wrote a letter of introduction for Sam to Maj. Gen. J.M. Schofield. “You will find him a clever nice fellow and an interesting gentleman.” It was not discovered if Sam used the letter and met with Schofield [MTP].
Sam left Washington at about 3 or 4 P.M. and returned to New York. He wrote to Livy at 10 P.M.:
I have been to Washington, seen the General [Sheridan] & I guess it is all right. I am just in from the 6-hour night-trip & mighty tired & sleepy, because I slept badly last night.
Sam added he expected to be at the station in Hartford on Friday afternoon.
October 27 Wednesday – Sam was in New York, attending to business.
Dora Wheeler wrote from Cleveland, Sam’s letter having been forwarded from N.Y. “You are more than good to be willing to sit for me.” Dora intended to go to Hartford after Nov. 15. “Do you think Mr. Warner will let me do the same by him? Your letter to Mr Howells I know is alright — tho I have not yet seen it. I am very much obliged” [MTP].
October 28 Thursday – Sam was in New York, attending to business.
Kitton (1856-1904) wrote from London in
preparation of a book on impressions of Charles Dickens. “I have no record that
you ever knew Charles Dickens, or had even met him, but on the mere possibility
of your having done so during the great Novelist’s stay in America, I venture
to ask if you will kindly contribute a few lines to my forthcoming book….” Sam
wrote on the envelope, “
Can’t” then “Did”.
Louise D. Minnie wrote from New York thanking him for his “prompt, cheerful and unrestrained kindness.” Minnie thanked him “Even for the falls….How should they be mounted? In bas-relief or in alto-relief? I hope Sincerely though, that you have ere this procured entire relief” [MTP].
October 29 Friday – Sam returned to Hartford in the afternoon [Oct. 26 to Livy].
October 30 Saturday
October 31 Sunday
November, early – As evidenced by a notebook entry: (S & I meet the others in Webster’s office at 11.30), General Philip Sheridan signed a contract for Webster & Co., to publish his Personal Memoirs, which would be completed in 1888.
November – Sam’s notebook: Get John M. to furnish 3 or 4 M at 5 p/c a year & 3 or 4 percent of the whole profits. Note: John W. Mackay, silver baron for investing in the Paige typesetter [MTNJ 3: 263&n124].
Sam also reacted to Welsh protests this month against the Church of England tithes. These protests influenced his depictions of the clergy in CY. In his notebook he includes an anecdote about the farmer’s wife he would use in Ch. 20 of CY. Baetzhold cites the protests as one link in the chain of Sam’s “growing antagonism against England” [John Bull 108-10]. As he would increasingly do, Sam blamed God for much of earth’s problems and injustice:
Suppose God had levied this tax upon the incomes of the rich? How long would it have remained in force? A week? Try to imagine rich godly Englishmen paying from $10,000 to $800,000 a year to the church, & making no murmur, raising no hell about it. What a pity God didn’t levy the tax upon the rich alone. I would. However, he knew the rich couldn’t be forced to pay it & the poor could. With all his brutalities & stupidities & grotesqueries, that old Hebrew God always had a good business head. He always stopped talking shop (that is, piousness, sentiment, sweetness & light), & came right down to business whenever there was matter concerning shekels on hand. His commercial satisfaction in the clink of shekels runs all through his Book — that book whose “every word” he inspired, & whose ideas were all his own; among them the levying a one-tenth income tax upon paupers. We hear a great deal about the interior evidences of the “divine origin” of that Book. Yes; & yet the tithe-tax could have originated in hell if interior evidences go for anything [MTNJ 3: 266].
November 1 Monday
November 2 Tuesday – Sam had a visitor in Hartford — Sarah Knowles Bolton, a prolific American author of a “famous” series of books (Poor boys who became Famous, Girls who became Famous, Famous Men of Science, Famous American Statesmen, Famous English Statesmen, etc. (see Nov. 3 entry). She did not stay overnight.
W.A. Gramer for Pittsburg Times typed a short note requesting “the favor of a sentiment appropriate to Thanksgiving Day.” Sam wrote on the envelope, “No” [MTP].
November 3 Wednesday – In Hartford Sam wrote to Sarah Knowles Bolton:
Please keep the enclosed private, & do not let any one see it — for the reason that it has not been published yet; it will appear on Christmas day in a syndicate of 50 newspapers.
This proof-sheet came yesterday after you were gone. It may possibly be of some use to you. I will confess to you that I am very much vainer of this reform-invention of mine than I am of anything else I have ever done. It isn’t every reform-system that can stand innumerable tests during 17 years & come out winner every time [MTP].
Note: Bolton was writing Famous American Authors (1887); the “reform-system” and the proof-sheet referred to an unpublished piece written and revised during this fall, “Concerning a Reformed Pledge: A New-Year Sermon.” Sam had disdain for most pledges of reform, stemming from his boyhood days in Hannibal. It is likely Bolton was interested in his current writing as well as biographical information.
Irving Bacheller promised wide publication on Christmas day through his newspaper syndicate, but Bacheller would finally reject the piece [MTNJ 3: 264n127]. The note here quoted explains:
“Nevertheless, its excessive length as well as its general banality, evident in Clemens’ humorless insistence that one could ‘tire out’ an unhealthy desire by thinking of something else ‘& then it will not come back any more,’ apparently caused its rejection by Bacheller and others.” Note: these last two words imply that Sam tried to get the piece published elsewhere. In his notebook for early 1887, Sam made reference to “L” and “What went with my sermon?” meaning he’d tried Laffan of the N.Y. Sun after being rejected by Bacheller [MTNJ 3: 275&n164].
And, this from MTNJ 3: 254n89:
“Mark Twain hoped ‘to make as strong and earnest a protest as I can against pledges to cease from bad habits, & pledges to never begin bad habits,” arguing that such pledges were necessarily ineffective because of one’s ‘dumb yearning to shake himself free of his shackles & be a man again.’ The fragmentary notes in the following entry were for a discussion of curing profanity in the same piece.”
Also, in Sam’s notebook is an entry that further clarifies the 17-year figure:
17 years practice
I know that assaulting so small a trouble with so large a remedy to so apparently small a trouble was rather like hunting cats with artillery, but I will explain that my colds in the head were not of the regulation size; they were a kind of cyclone, & they blew ten days; they left nothing behind but wreckage & devastation. Moderate remedies had no effect on them [MTNJ 3: 255&n92].
In the evening, Sam again took a train to New York, and checked into the Murray Hill Hotel [Nov. 4 to Miss Samuel]. Sam may have made this trip for the signing of the contract with General Sheridan.
Charles J. Langdon sent Livy a statement of her account holding $2,672.10 [MTP]. Note: date corrected from Nov. 30.
November 4 Thursday – In New York, on Murray Hill Hotel stationery, Sam wrote to a Miss Samuel, answering her letter and request for a photograph of him.
I arrived in the city last night, & found your letter — whose very complimentary request I take pleasure in complying with [MTP]
November 5 Friday – General James Barnet Fry wrote from N.Y. to Sam:
We will be most happy to have you stay with us when you come to this city to read a paper before the Military Service Insti. on the 11th instant. We are a family of three, a dog, a woman, and a man. If children are necessary to your comfort you had better bring them, as I don’t know that I could even borrow one for the occasion [MTNJ 3: 265n130]. Note: This source says “Clemens probably refused this invitation, preferring to stay at the Murray Hill Hotel, where he intended to meet Livy’s mother.”
Note: After the Civil War, General Fry continued his military career until 1881 when he turned his talents to writing books about the army, including New York and the Conscription of 1863 (1885).
November 6 Saturday – Sam gave a reading before the Hartford Saturday Morning Club. The content of the reading is unknown [Fatout, MT Speaking 657].
Sam wrote to an unidentified person:
When the Lord finished the world, he pronounced it good. That is what I said about my first work, too. But Time, I tell you, Time takes the confidence out of these incautious early opinions. It is more than likely that He thinks about the world, now, petty much as I think about the “Innocents Abroad.” The fact is, there is a trifle too much water in both [MTP].
Sam also wrote to George E. Waring, Jr., personal friend of the late Horace Greeley, and vice president of the Newport, R.I. Republican Club, “was also a prominent consulting engineer for sanitary and agricultural drainage,” who had arranged some work on the Clemens’ home in the spring of 1886 [MTNJ 3: 265n128]. Waring had argued against nominating James G. Blaine in the 1884 election, and had also dabbled in literary writing. Sam confessed that Livy had “condemned” a letter he’d written to his “satisfaction.”
I will show it you when I strike you at the Murray Hill Thursday.
Mrs. Clemens says you & I must be at the Author’s Club without fail, Thursday night; & not to prosecute this case, but to stop other people from prosecuting it. [¶] Well, women can’t reason, but they have been provided with an instinct which comes within an ace of being as valuable as intelligence [MTP].
Note: A defense of James Russell Lowell, recent US minister to England, was at hand here. Julian Hawthorne had interviewed Lowell, who made “injudicious” remarks about English royalty and nobility. The Club was considering expelling Hawthorne, but did not take that action (see MTNJ 3: 266-7n132).
Sam’s notebook also added an opinion about the New York World/Hawthorne-Lowell flap:
He should have distinctly told him that what he said would be printed….The question for the Committee [Author’s Club] is mere that one: Did he plainly tell Lowell that what he said would be printed? Or did he merely intimate it in some darkling way, hoping it would not be understood.
William Mackay Laffan wrote from N.Y. responding to Sam’s request to visit, and answering a question Sam must have put to him about two gentlemen:
There is yet another solution: Both were Drunk and incapable! I cannot be there until late, very late on Thursday night by reason of having to dine with one of the Harpers at the Union League Club.
Will you dine with me on Friday? There will be a chap from London who is a past grand master of the art of Baleuistry[?]. He’s decidedly interesting [MTP]. On the envelope Sam wrote “Dine? / Hunt up the / tow bill.”
November 7 Sunday
November 8 Monday – In Hartford Sam wrote to Frederic G. Kitton, responding to his Oct. 28 request to contribute remarks to Kitton’s forthcoming book, Dickensiana:A Bibliography of the Literature Relating to Charles Dickens and His Writings (1886). Although writing other biographies, Kitton was noted for his work on Charles Dickens. At seventeen years of age he worked as an apprentice on the staff of the London Graphic. He was also a skilled etcher.
Sam felt unqualified to comment on Dickens, but offered this story about Henry C. Robinson, “who plays billiards at my house every Friday night,” and who had seen Dickens in his first trip to America in 1842. Relating a “vast meeting at the Cooper Institute in New York” in 1867 where it was revealed that Robinson had seen Dickens on his earlier visit Sam quoted Robinson,
…Robinson said impressively:
“The meeting was brief; & yet, fleeting as it was, I can never forget it. It was a beautiful day…I was passing by the City Hotel, in my ancient town of Hartford, when suddenly I stopped, as one that is paralyzed; for there, in the great bay window, alone — & meetly solitary in a greatness which could be no otherwise than companionless — sat one whom all the universe know — Dickens! Eagerly I pressed my face against the pane, & in one moment was lost, absorbed, enchanted. Presently I saw his lips begin to open: was he going to speak to me? — to me? I verily held my breath. And — gentlemen — he did speak to me!”
(Immense applause — thunders of applause — in the midst of which it was noticed that Robinson was blandly walking off the platform. Voices — “Hold on, hold on! — what the nation did he say?”)
“Well, he only said, ‘Go ‘way, little boy, go ‘way!’” [MTP; MTNJ 3: 302n9].
Charles Webster wrote good news to Sam:
The contract with General Sheridan is signed….The contract is on the half profit basis [MTLTP 203n1].
Richard W. Gilder for Century Magazine wrote a short note to Sam about an article in the magazine which he didn’t ask about. Gilder offered a copy [MTP].
November 9 Tuesday – Dora Wheeler wrote from N.Y. that she’d just returned from Cleveland and found his “most delightful note of introduction to Mr. Howells.” When could she come to begin Sam’s portrait? [MTP].
November 10 Wednesday – Sarah Knowles Bolton wrote from N.Y. to Sam. “Thank you for your temperance article. I enjoyed it immensely” [MTP]. Note: “Concerning a Reformed Pledge: A New-Year Sermon.”
Webster & Co. Per Frank M. Scott (Bradley to Webster & Co. Nov. 13 enclosed) sent Sam a bill from Bradley & Hubbard Mfg. Co. for 57 bronze busts of General Grant, amounting to $798, ordered by William N. Woodruff in the name of Webster & Co. Did Sam know about this or authorize it? Scott wrote that Webster did not know about it [MTP].
In the morning, Sam may have executed his new position as Reader for a Browning group. (See Nov. 16 to Fairbanks.)
November 11 Thursday – Sam read the first three chapters of his work-in-progress, which would become CY, at the Military Service Institution, Governors Island, New York: “Yankee Smith of Camelot” Published in Mark Twain Speaking, p.211-13. (See also July 14 entry.) Baetzhold writes that Sam read “all that was then written,” together with an “outline” of the protagonist’s adventures planned for the rest of the book, but that this outline was “far different from the final version” [John Bull, 104]. Read Baetzhold (Ch. 6) for an interesting and thorough account of elements influencing Sam’s changes from the outline with influential sources and resultant evolution in his thinking about the English.
…a large and enthusiastic audience heard Clemens read the first chapter and selected excerpts from “a still uncompleted book”: “the autobiography of Sir Robert Smith of Camelot, one of King Arthur’s knights, formerly a manufacturer of Hartford” [Hartford Courant, Nov. 13, 1886].
In the evening, Sam and George E. Waring, Jr. made an appearance at the Author’s Club (see Nov. 6 to Waring.) Sam stayed over in the city, probably at the Murray Hill Hotel.
From the New York World for Nov. 12, 1886:
MARK TWAIN’S NEW LECTURE.
A YANKEE’S ADVENTURES AT THE COURT OF KING ARTHUR
How He Felt When He Wished to Scratch and Could Not Because of His Armor — He Could Not Kill Giants but He Could Lie Better than Anybody Else. So He Became a Great Knight Till He Woke Up.
The regular monthly meeting of the Military Service Institution was held last evening in the museum building on Governor’s Island, at which Mr. Samuel L. Clemens (Mark Twain) read a learned essay on “The War Experiences of a Connecticut Yankee at King Arthur’s Court.” The acting Vice-President, Gen. James B. Fry, presided, and there was a very large attendance. Among those present were Gen. W. T. Sherman and his brother, Gen. J. M. Schofield, Gen. T. F. Rodenbough, Gen. W. W. Burns, Gen. Wm. D. Whipple, Gen. James Grant Wilson, Gen. J. J. Neilhan, Gen. D. McClure, Gen. H. C. King, Gen. O. L. Shepherd, Col. John Hamilton, Col. John H. Janewary, Col. A. A. Woodhull, Capt. Charles Morris, Capt. J. A. Fessenden, Major W. F. Randolph, Capt. V. Hasafd, Lieut. H. C. Carbaugh, Lieut. J. Reilly, Lieut. John Pitcher, Lieut. A. W. Vodges, Lieut. Frank Thorp and many ladies and gentlemen from this city.
When Mr. Clemens came forward to the reading-desk there was scant standing room in any part of the hall. He was received with much applause and at once announced the purpose of his lecture or talk as follows:
“LADIES AND GENTLEMEN: This fragment which by your courtesy I am to read here to-night is a story — a satire if you please — which I began to write some time ago and which is not finished; so what I propose to do under the circumstances is to read the first chapter just as it is and then in brief synopsis or outline tell the rest of it in bulk, do as the dying cowboy advised his spiritual adviser to do, ‘Just leave out the details and heave in the bottom facts.’ It would be impossible to tell much of the story in so short a time as we have and I will begin it just as it is written.”
Mr. Clemens then went on to say, reading from the first chapter of his forthcoming book, that in exploring Warwick Castle in England he met a stranger who interested him greatly. They became very good friends and one day the stranger said, “You know about the transmigration of souls; do you know about the transposition of epochs and bodies?” Mr. Clemens had not heard of it, and subsequently this stranger sent him a manuscript. Beginning the reading of the supposed manuscript, the lecturer read:
“’I am an American.’ Well, he did not look it. ‘I was born in Hartford, in the State of Connecticut. I am a Yankee of the Yankees. My father was a blacksmith, my uncle was a horse trader and I was both.’ This Yankee was struck in the head one day, and when he awoke he was sitting under an oak tree.” The narration goes on to say that there was a man clad in ancient armor from head to foot, and that this apparition said to him, “Will you joust?” “’I said,’” the narrative goes on, “’what are you giving me! Git along back to your circus or I’ll report you,’ but he went back a piece and then he came tilting at me and I saw he meant business and when he arrived where I was I was up in the tree.” (Great laughter.) Mr. Clemens continued the reading, which described how an arrangement was made by which the Yankee was induced to accompany the Knight, believing him first to be from some circus and later on an escaped lunatic.
Describing a woman encountered on the way, the narrative said: “Around her head was a wreath of red poppies, but as regards the rest of her clothing — well, there was not enough of it to talk about. (Great laughter.) She walked along by the circus man and did not pay the slightest attention to him-did not even seem to see him; but when her eye fell on me she seemed to be turned into an image of stone, and there she stood gazing with a sort of stupefied attention till we turned a corner and were lost to view. That she should be startled at me instead of the other man was too many for me. That she should seem to consider me a spectacle, totally overlooking her own merits in that respect, I thought curious.” (Laughter.)
Continuing, the manuscript stated that every one seemed to notice the narrator with great interest, while none paid the slightest attention to his conductor. The streets through which they passed were muddy and ill-kept, hogs rooted contentedly about and dogs were numerous. Finally a blare of music announced the approach of a gay cavalcade of Knights in armor, and this was followed by an ascent into a castle. With the asylum idea still uppermost the narrator asked an inmate if he belonged to the asylum, or if he was there only as a visitor. “And he said,” continued the narrator, “’Marry, marry,’ and I said, ‘That’ll do, I guess you’re an inmate.’ One gorgeously attired youth came to me and said, ‘I am a page.’ ‘Oh, go along,’ said I; ‘you ain’t big enough for a paragraph.’ (Laughter.) Finally he mentioned in a casual way that he was born in the beginning of 513. Said I, ‘Won’t you say it again and say it slow? What did you say?’ ‘513.’ Said I: ‘You don’t look it.’ And said I ‘Are you in your right mind?’ ‘Yes,’ said he. ‘And are all these people in their right minds?’ ‘Yes,’ said he, and said I, ‘Where am I’ and said he, ‘You are in King Arthur’s Court,’ and said I, ‘What year is it now?’ and said he, ‘526, the 13th of June,’ and said I, I shall never see my friends any more, for they won’t be born for more than a thousand years,’ and I seemed to believe the boy, although my reason didn’t.”
The above extract will show the nature of Mr. Clemens’s entertainment. Continuing, he said the page assured him, after the dinner of the Knights of the Round Table was over, he would be called in and exhibited by the one who had brought him there, who was the Seneschal of the Castle and the King’s foster-brother. Finally he was taken in, and then, in the most humorous style, he recounted the isterine stories which each Knight at the table narrated and the deeds of valor which he had performed. Finally, the Yankee becomes one of the Knights and is clothed in armor and sent to destroy a castle and kill an ogre which guards it and to set at liberty some sixty beautiful princesses. The description of how a man of the present time would be supposed to feel in a suit of armor was one of the most humorous things in Mr. Clemens’s paper. One portion of it was as follows: “God has so made us that there comes a time when we must scratch, and the more we want to scratch the more we would give $10,000 if we could scratch, and if that deprivation goes on there comes a time when we would give a million. First I wanted to scratch my head, then my arms, then my legs,” &c. He went on to describe how he had perspired inside the armor, and how on ascending the mountain he froze stiff inside of it, and was finally in a frozen state rubbed off the horse by the animal passing under a tree, and, the armor breaking, he was liberated. He then concluded that instead of seeking further for the castle and the one-eyed giant, he would go back and lie about it, and that this succeeded very well and he came to be recognized as a prime warrior among the Knights of the Round Table. Finally he returns to this country and finds that the Knights had turned themselves into a stock board, and seats at the Round Table are worth $30,000 apiece.
At the close of Mr. Clemens’s paper, of which this is but the faintest outline, on motion of Gen. Sherman a vote of thanks was given him.
[Railton: http://etext.lib.isterin.edu/railton//yankee/cycomp2.html; Note: Also ran in the Nov. 12, 1886 Boston Daily Globe, p.2 “Mark Twain’s Yankee”]
November 12 Friday – In the morning, Sam called on General James B. Fry, Mrs. Julia Grant, and William Mackay Laffan. He then met his mother-in-law, Olivia Lewis Langdon and returned with her to Hartford, where she spent the winter with the family [MTNJ 3: 264n125]. In his notebook is a reminder to: “Get spectacles,” and to meet with the above, then “Receive mother” at the hotel, “12.15. Friday.”
J.W. Schuckers, of the Printer Composing Machine Co., wrote to Sam from Belloville, New Jersey. His letter was enclosed in Sam’s Nov. 13 to Paige to arrange a meeting for the purpose of selling a spacing device. The New York law firm of Thomas Ewing and M.I. Southard represented Schuckers [MTP; MTNJ 3: 267n134].
The New York Sun printed an account of the Nov. 11 Governor’s Island reading, “Sir Robert Smith of Camelot.” The New York Herald article used the name, “Sir Bob Smith” [Tenney 15].
Dwight L. Moody for Mt. Hermon Boys’ School (Mt. Hermon, Mass.) wrote asking him to support half a student’s cost for one year, $100. Sam wrote on the envelope, “D.L. Moody the Revivalist / No sympathy with the movement” [MTP].
November 13 Saturday – In Hartford Sam wrote to Sarah Knowles Bolton, who suggested Sam see a “proof first,” of the section on Mark Twain for Famous American Authors (1887) [MTP].
Sam also wrote to James W. Paige, enclosing J.W. Schuckers’ Nov. 12. Schuckers wanted to meet Sam and Paige to interest them in his spacing device, which might work with the Paige typesetter.
On what date shall I ask him to come up here & meet you & Beadle & me? Return this, with answer, by my messenger, Patrick [McAleer]. Note: Chauncey M. Beadle, manager of J. Langdon & Co. He also played shortstop on the team Alerts (See July 2, 1887.)
Sam also wrote to James B. Pond, who evidently had written Nov. 10, unaware that Sam was to speak on Governor’s Island in New York harbor on Nov. 11. Sam shamed him for being a “well-posted man!” and not knowing of the appearance. He promised to “look in” on Pond “presently” [MTP].
Sam also wrote to Charles Webster agreeing not to “mention the book to any one.” This was probably the late Gen. George McClellan’s book, which is mentioned after Sam’s signature [MTP].
Sam also wrote to Dora Wheeler, artist daughter of Candace Wheeler. Dora had wished to sketch or paint Charles Dudley Warner, but Sam confessed his neighbor was “off on that long Southern tour,” away until Christmas.
Prithee come right along now, any time — but to our house, mind you, not the hotel. The hotels here are simply hellish….Now if you will name the happy day (How bookish that sounds) & the train, the boss or I, or both of us, will go to the station & fetch you. With our kindest regards to you & your mother [MTP].
The Hartford Courant ran an unsigned account of Sam’s Nov. 11 reading on Governor’s Island, “Sir Robert Smith of Camelot,” page one. This was reprinted from the Nov. 12 New York Sun [Tenney 15].
November 14 Sunday – The Brooklyn Eagle, page 7, ran an unfavorable review of Humorous Masterpieces, edited by Edward F. Mason, a three-volume work issued by G.P. Putnam’s Sons.
In the first place, a majority of the pieces published…are by no means entitled to be termed “masterpieces,” and a good many of them, except by a great stretch of the imagination, cannot be classed as humorous.” ….In the case of Mark Twain, however, he [Mason] has made no mistake for he is represented by “The Jumping Frog,” one of the most humorous pieces ever written.
J.W. Schuckers wrote from Newark, N.J. that he could go to Hartford “any day that you may fix,” but would need to hear the day before as even a telegram would not arrive in time for him to get into Grand Central Station before 11 a.m. “If I am not greatly mistaken I had some slight acquaintance with you nearly 30 years ago, when I was doing ‘local’ business on the Cleveland Leader, and Browne was on the Plain Dealer. If I am right in this I shall be glad to meet you for a double reason” [MTP].
November 15 Monday – Charles Webster wrote to Sam about a book they might publish:
Henry Clews wants us to publish a book written by him entitled “Twenty Eight Years in Wall St.,” being personal recollections of eminent capitalists [MTLTP 209n1]. (See Sam’s answer Nov. 17). Note: this was one of an “avalanche of offers” stemming from success of the Grant Memoirs.
Charles H. Clark wrote complimenting Sam on his “irresistibly funny” reading of segments that would become CY, which Clark had seen in the N.Y. papers. “It was a sensible talk in the way of protest against the infernal prosaic, practical, make-a-dollar nineteenth Century” [MTP].
November 16 Tuesday – In Hartford Sam wrote to the Clover Club that “engagements already entered into” prevented his attending their meeting [MTP]. Note: The Clover was a Philadelphia dancing club formed in 1881. It was famous for its distinguished guests and for its humorous way of entertaining them. Sam spoke there in 1885 (See Apr. 9, 1885 entry.)
Sam also wrote to Mary Mason Fairbanks, who had expressed concern that Sam’s work-in-progress, CY, would poke fun at revered historical characters “drawn by the master hand of old Malory.” Sam reassured her that he would leave them “unsmirched & unbelitted,” that he was “only after the life of that day, that is all; to picture it; to try to get into it; to see how it feels & seems.” He offered that he would:
…expect to write three chapters a year for thirty years…writing it for posterity only; my posterity; my great-grandchildren. It is to be my holiday amusement for six days every summer the rest of my life. Of course I do not expect to publish it; nor indeed any other book — though I fully expect to write one other book besides this one; two others, in fact, if one’s autobiography may be called a book — in fact mine will be near a library…[¶].
Sam would do more than three chapters a year — he would write sixteen chapters the next summer [Baetzhold, John Bull 107]. Sam also offered other news that would be a weekly joy/duty for him during the next few months:
Think of it! — I’ve been elected Reader to a Browning class. — I who have never of my own inclination, read a poem in my life. It consists of Livy, & Susie Warner, & Lilly Warner, & a New Haven lady & a Farmington lady, & meets in my billiard room every Wednesday morning. It is very enjoyable work; only it takes three days to prepare an hour’s reading. It takes me much longer to learn how to read a page of Browning than a page of Shakespeare. And mind you, I’m on the ABC only — his easy poems. The other day I took a glance at one of his mature pieces, to see how I am likely to fare when I get along over there. It was absolutely opaque! [MTP; MTMF 257-9]. Note: Sam’s description confirms at least one prior reading. He was in Hartford the prior two Wednesdays. His memory was faulty when he wrote Cordelia Welsh Foote on Dec. 2, 1887 that he’d been “Browning-reader forty-two weeks.” It was nearly one year.
Orion Clemens wrote to his brother. He was discouraged after writing a legal brief for a leading attorney to argue before the state supreme court, which the attorney incorporated into his own brief. Orion told of the visit “2 or 3 weeks ago” of Charles Webster and Daniel Whitford, and enclosed a “letter sheet envelope note” from Whitford about his brief. Ma went half-and-half with him on the hickory nuts sent to Sam this time; Ma still had some “remains of her cough” and the doctor was “prescribing for her itching on the ankle.”
Dr. Cleaver saw Mr. Stotts [Mollie’s father] at the hospital and says he is the happiest man he knows. I visit him every Sunday, and pay the sisters five dollars, which, but for your generosity, would have been a cramping business this month. …I see Will Montgomery Clemens is about to publish your life. I wonder if that is Susie? [MTP]. Sam wrote on the envelope, “I don’t know who Will Montgomery Clemens is.”
November 17 Wednesday – In Hartford in the morning, Sam received a letter from Richard Watson Gilder, which led him to write two letters to Charles Webster. In the first letter, Sam begins by referring to Henry Clews, prominent New York banker, who was shopping a book Twenty-Eight Years in Wall Street. Sam had not forgotten being caught short of funds while in Europe during the panic of Sept. 1873. Sam rarely forgot an injury, whether real or imagined. He told Webster:
…make perfectly conscienceless terms with him — terms which will absorb all the profits — & take his book. He choused me out of a good deal of money, 13 years ago as coolly as ever any other crime was committed in the world [MTLTP 208].
Note: see Sept. 24, 1873 entry and MTL 5: 441n3, which cites the NY Times that all of Clews’ obligations were paid in full.
Though Webster & Co. Was well stocked with up-coming books, Sam was high on publishing a book by George Washburn Smalley (1833-1916). At this time Smalley was the European correspondent for the New York Tribune, which, for Sam, meant dealing with Whitelaw Reid. Smalley would sail back to England the next day, and in 1891 would publish London Letters and Some Other Things, 2 volumes, New York: Harper & Bros [Gribben 647]. Sam wrote:
I should think a book on England from Smalley would sell. It would be exceedingly interesting — that I know. We couldn’t pay more than ¼ profits, or 7½ or 8 per cent royalty. [¶] It may be that we have already enough books. But anyway, I wish you would do Smalley & Reid the courtesy to call on Smalley at once & talk about the book….I am tied up at home with an equinoctial precession of guests, complicated with engagements, but can come presently if desirable [MTP].
Note: Sam felt that a book by Smalley would be valuable but not as valuable as Gen. Adam Badeau’s book on Grant.
November 18 Thursday – In Hartford Sam wrote to James B. Pond, who was managing the speaking tour of the renowned journalist and explorer, Henry M. Stanley. Pond sought Sam for an introduction of Stanley, presumably in Hartford.
If I were in any other town where Stanley was going to lecture, I would introduce him to his audience, & do it with pleasure & with enthusiasm, too; but in Hartford I shall never again appear in public. — a vow made before John Fiske came. I am common and valueless here. [Note: Pond took Sam at his word; Sam would introduce Stanley in Boston on Dec. 9].
Sam added that Livy and he wanted to renew the friendship with Stanley and insisted he be their guest while in Hartford.
There will be silence, & rest, & beer, for the weary; & whisky & billiards for those that are so disposed. Come — say yes [MTP].
Sam then wrote a short note to Henry M. Stanley, suggesting that an answer to his invitation come from Pond:
The man who forces a lecturer to write a letter should land in hell in a minute [MTP].
November 19 Friday
November 20 Saturday – In Hartford Sam wrote to Henry B. Barnes. Sam’s letter is another of the obvious responses to one not extant. Barnes had invited Sam to speak at the Stationers and Publishers Dinner on Feb. 7, 1887. Sam offered these terms:
Yes, I would like very well indeed to be present — with the speech-requirement left out. Being a publisher myself, I should like to meet & get acquainted with my fellow-craftsmen; & would also like to get up & talk, in case the spirit moved…but I could not respond to a toast….I am too old & lazy to make even the triflingest preparation for a speech…I do try to be sorry that this is so, but at bottom I ain’t, because I hate work [MTP]. (See Dec. 6 entry.)
Harrie Wilbye Taylor wrote from Melbourne, Australia to Sam asking for an autograph and perhaps a “characteristic quotation which would add a sort of gild-edged halo to it.” Sam did not write on the envelope, and it’s not known if he complied [MTP].
November 21 Sunday – Charles Hopkins Clark wrote “Personal” on a note to Sam about the “private and none of my business” libel suit of Albert H. Walker against the Courant. “…if you could see… [the] application ….you’d be cured of all ills that may afflict you.” Clark suggested Sam “could accidentally get her [Mrs. C.D. Warner] to show you” but didn’t wish Sam to say it was his idea [MTP].
November 22 Monday – Henry B. Barnes of the N.Y. publishing house of A.S. Barnes & Co. dictated a typed letter to Sam, thanking him for agreeing to attend the Stationers Board of Trade dinner on the second Tuesday of February (Feb. 8) [MTP].
November 23 Tuesday – The Hartford Courant, p2 “Blackbird Again,” reported:
The barrel of clothing and provisions for A.I. Blackbird, the Ottawa Indian in northern Michigan, will be forwarded this week if there are articles enough sent to fill it. The ladies connected with the First Congregational church (the Center), have it in charge, and anything designed for the barrel should be sent as soon as possible…./ The younger children of Blackbird’s family are nearly provided with clothing by the Sunday school classes of the Center church, but the oldest son, Red Deer, who is lame and cannot work, and the next youngest son, North Wind, who is sixteen years old, have very little sent in for them….The ladies acknowledge with thanks ten dollars from Mr. S. L. Clemens for Blackbird.
November 24 Wednesday – Orion Clemens wrote to Sam. Fanning sees Orion suffering from a “deliberate slight” at not being told that Sam was writing Connecticut Yankee. He quotes from the letter:
I was greatly surprised as well as pleased that you have written another book, and that extracts from it so amused and entertained a New York audience. It will dissipate the owlish statements that your humor was losing the richness of the Jumping Frog. When will your new book be published? The idea is bran new. I shall be anxious to see the book. I congratulate you on the success of an experiment on a New York audience that you may have anticipated with some anxiety. / I imagine you have been at work on it a good while” . Note: portions added to Fanning’s quote and one word corrected at the MTP. Nothing here to indicate Orion showed he was slighted.
Whatever one may think about such biographical conclusions, no answer to this letter has been found, though it had been Sam’s habit to share his works-in-progress with his brother, which may explain Fanning’s leap.
November 25 Thursday – Thanksgiving – J.M.G. Wood (Jack G. Wood) wrote from White City, La. Wood had sent Sam a sketch; Sam recommended Wood send it to the Century, which he did. “I wish very much to obtain a position with some journal or some literary enterprise.” Sam wrote on the envelope, “Try to get him a literary job” [MTP]. Note: the letter was stamped “Missent” and also postmarked in New London, Conn. See Sept. 8.
Orion and Mollie Clemens began a letter to Sam and Livy finished Nov. 26. Orion: “I took Ma to church to-day. The services closed with a contribution for general benevolence and at my suggestion she subscribed five dollars with her own hand….Every year she gives five dollars to the missions.” Mollie: “If you had not sent that for Pa, he would not be as comfortable as he is — for we have used that a little more freely than we could have done of ourselves.” Mollie wrote that her father “cried like a child” when she told him of Sam’s check” [MTP] See Nov. 26 for PS to this letter.
November 26 Friday – Sam had heard from Edward H. House that both he and Koto were ill. Sam sent a letter of condolence, adding that to be “homeless at the same time — it is simply hell.” House had requested that Sam be the executor of his will, but this was an obligation Sam didn’t feel comfortable with, so he recommended his business agent, Franklin G. Whitmore. Beyond this, Sam made no direct offer of help, which suggests he may have had reservations about doing so [MTP].
The Hartford Courant reported on p.1 under “New York City” that Miss Dora Wheeler, “would soon visit Hartford as the guest of Mr. and Mrs. Samuel L. Clemens. She is to paint the portrait of Mr. Clemens during her stay.”
News of Sam’s Nov. 11 Governor’s Island reading of a piece on King Arthur’s court ran on p.14 of the London Pall Mall Gazette.
Thomas Ewing N.Y. lawyer with Ewing & Southard wrote to Franklin G. Whitmore desiring consultation with his client, J.W. Schuckers, who had called on him this day with Whitmore’s Nov. 23 letter [MTP]. See Nov. 12 for Schukers’ information.
Orion and Mollie Clemens letter of Nov. 25 bears a Nov. 26 PS written at the top: “Aunt Pamelia Hancock was buried day before yesterday — aged 68” [MTP].
Genealogy note: Pamelia (Goggin) Clemens (1775-1844) was married first to Samuel Clemens (d. 1805) and, after his death, to Simon Hancock of Adair County, Kentucky. Her son by her first marriage, John Marshall Clemens (1798-1847), was the father of American author Samuel Langhorne Clemens (Mark Twain). Her children by her second marriage were: Ann Hill Hancock, Mary G. Hancock, Pamelia G. Hancock, and a son whose name is unknown. Thus, Aunt Pamelia was Sam’s half-aunt.
November 27 Saturday – Livy’s 41st birthday.
Charles Webster wrote to Sam “in great haste” enclosing an unspecified check, and would answer Sam’s letter Monday, Nov. 29 (he wrote on Nov. 30) [MTP].
November 28 Sunday
November 29 Monday – In Hartford Sam wrote a one-line acknowledgment of Webster & Co.’s check for $10,000.
Sam read a story at an Authors Reading event in New York City [Fatout, MT Speaking 657].
Charles P. Green wrote to Sam [MTP]. Green inscribed and sent Sam John Palmer’s Journal of Travels in the United States of North America, and in Lower Canada,…in 1817 (1818):
To Samuel L. Clemens, Esqr — A trifling recognition of the many happy hours his writings have marked Ch. P. Green, Malvern, England, Novr. 29, 1886 [Gribben 525].
November 30 Tuesday – Sam’s 51st Birthday.
In Hartford Sam wrote to James B. Pond, explaining that though they had room for Henry M. Stanley to stay with them while he lectured in Hartford, remodeling made “one of our guest rooms…uninhabitable,” so that Pond would need to stay at a hotel. Sam promised to make up for this with a later invitation for billiards.
By what train & at what hour shall you & Stanley arrive? — & will it be the 8th, or the day before? Because we want Rev. Dr. Parker & General Franklin & one or two others to dinner; & if it be the 7th we can have it at 6 p.m. as usual, but if it is to be the 8th, the hour must be 3 o r 4, (or 5 at the latest,) so that Stanley can have a short nap before going on the platform if he would like to.
Sam disclosed that Livy had wanted Parker to introduce Stanley; then the newspaper brought news that Parker had been chosen for the job — Sam saw this as another “Case of mind-reading” [MTP].
In New York, Henry M. Stanley lectured at the Academy of Music. The Brooklyn Eagle gushed:
Those who had the pleasure of being present at Mr. Henry M. Stanley’s lecture in the Academy of Music last evening may fairly congratulate themselves on having seen and heard one who as an explorer has no superior among living men, and who has had few equals among the great travelers of any age. Mr. Stanley, although by birth an Englishman, has been so fully identified with American enterprise in his several journeys that we may legitimately claim him as our own [Eagle, Dec. 1, 1886 p.2 “Stanley and the Dark Continent”].
Note: Stanley was actually born a bastard in Wales, and came to the U.S. at age eighteen.
Charles Webster wrote to Sam:
A book from Stanley would be a good hit. Can’t you use your influence with him for one? [MTLTP 210n3]. Note: He also noted “McClellan looking up.” See Sam’s Dec. 14 reply.
Also in New York, discussions broke off between J.W. Schuckers through his attorneys Thomas Ewing and M.I. Southard, and Sam and James W. Paige through attorney Franklin G. Whitmore. The spacing device was ruled too incomplete (Whitmore to Ewing Nov. 30, 1886) [MTNJ 3: 267n134].
Franklin G. Whitmore wrote to Thomas Ewing about Schuckers spacing invention. Whitmore nixed any further interest citing the “many difficulties” with the device. What’s important here is that Whitmore mentions “The friendly interview with Mr. Schuckers at Mr. Clemens home…as well as your letter to me,” which places a recent visit by Schuckers to the Clemens home [MTP]
December – Karl Gerhardt’s statue of Nathan Hale was ready to be cast in bronze. Sam referred to it in his notebook during this month. It would be installed in the Conn. Capitol building on June 14, 1887 [MTNJ 3: 269n139].
McClellan’s Own Story was ready for publication by Webster & Co. In Sam’s notebook are reminders to send Mrs. Custer, and Mr. Collins (Hartford RR agent) copies [MTNJ 3: 269n141].
December 1 Wednesday – Charles E. Lewis wrote from Washington, D.C. asking if HF had been dramatized and if was open to negotiating for such a play for a Miss Annie Lewis, an actress who made “a specialty of boys parts.” Miss Lewis was now in an Irish comedy [MTP].
S.C. and L.M. Gould of Notes and Queries with Answers magazine wrote to Sam asking for $1 due and an additional $1 should Sam wish to re-subscribe [MTP].
December 2 Thursday – Arden Smith stopped at Sam’s house in a fifteen minute span when he was returning to the depot to bring a guest back. Sam had left for the wrong train and so went out into a “bitter blizzard” again. Smith, possibly a member of family friends, left this note:
Banking on the old Missouri acquaintance and the family friendship I enclose some business scrip with the hope that you will have leisure to drop down some evening and see my son ‘Edwin Arden’ in our play. It has been a great success.
Smith asked Sam to help with the local press. Was this a personal note or an actor angling for free publicity? Sam wrote across the left margin of this letter: P.S. So It’s all right, after all. It was business, but he had not time to wait [MTP].
December 3 Friday – In Hartford Sam wrote to Pamela Moffett, irritated by Arden Smith’s missed visit of Dec. 2. He couldn’t remember the man at all, and feared he’d been “an envoy from Ella [Lampton].” Smith was staying at the Allyn House, but Sam refused to go back out into the storm.
I wouldn’t with any heartiness turn out in such weather to hunt up any stranger….So I didn’t go to the hotel. I argued that if his visit was on business, he would repeat it when he saw that I did not come; & that if it was only a call of courtesy, he should have waited the 15 minutes he was asked to wait….You may meet the Smiths, & they may speak of this matter; so I thought I would post you….for I am daily persecuted by the kindly attention of strangers & remote acquaintances, & am prejudiced against the whole tribe [MTP].
Along these same lines, Sam wrote a two-liner to Robert H. Moore:
The weather — consider the weather. The “sentiment” would be profane; & so is withheld [MTP].
Sam also responded to James B. Pond, who took Sam at his word and asked if he’d introduce Henry M. Stanley in Boston for his Dec. 9 lecture.
Of course I’ll introduce him in Boston if you think it would be good judgment, good policy — which to me is doubtful. He ought to have a Boston gun; & the biggest gun in the Boston battery, too.
Sam also discussed train schedules to Hartford (Pond and Stanley were coming from N.Y.) for Wednesday, Dec. 8, the day of his lecture. Dinner would be at 4:30, Sam wrote [MTP; See Dec. 6 to Parker].
Note: Stanley sailed from Southampton, England on the Aller Nov. 19, arriving in New York Nov. 27, where he stayed at the Everett House. He was last in the U.S. for three months in 1873. This from the Nov. 28 New York Times, p.14:
His present visit will be of very little longer duration [than his last visit], his intention being to return to Europe in March after he has lectured in the principal cities of the United States. Mr. Stanley looks young and robust, his complexion is ruddy, his hair seems to suggest that time is treating him with an extra amount of kindness, while in manner he is genial, entertaining, and full of anecdote. He has an inexhaustible fund of information, which he dishes out in the most attractive form possible.
December 4 Saturday – In Hartford Sam, per Franklin G. Whitmore, wrote to Charles E. Lewis who had written Dec. 1 asking to negotiate dramatizations of HF. Whitmore replied for Sam that “while the story might be successfully dramatized & the character of Huck well personated by Miss Lewis,” that Sam was not interested [MTP].
Calvin H. Higbie, Sam’s old mining partner of the “Blind Lead,” wrote from Greenville, Plumas Co., Calif., asking for a loan of $20,000 in return for a half interest in a mine he’d been working. “What do you think of that?” he asked right off the top.
You can’t imagine how much a little money will help me now in this grand effort, to make a little stake, and settle down in some quiet retreat, and tell the grand children in the comeing [sic] years, of the generosity, & kindness of my Old acquaintance, Mark Twain, that I used to feed on hot cakes three times a day, when we lived in that mansion just 11 feet square. Yours Fraternally, C.H. Higbie [MTP].
Caroline B. Le Row began a letter she finished on Dec. 11. The lady was “mixed” and thought Sam’s advice about her literary undertaking, “paradoxical.” [MTP].
Charles Webster wrote from N.Y. to Sam once again pumping for a book from Henry M. Stanley, whom he didn’t “suppose” had “exhausted half his African matter yet” [MTP].
December 5 Sunday – The New York Times ran an interesting article, “Banquet Hall Orators” on p.4, which contained a story about Sam and a “joke” played on Senator William M. Evarts:
Evarts’s special weakness as a presiding officer is the interjecting of facetious comments on the efforts of the other speakers. He delights to diffuse mirth and good fellowship, and his facetiousness never has the sting of acerbity. Occasionally, in attempting to score a point on a fellow-speaker, he suffers the fate of a boomerang thrower. An instance in point occurred at the New-England society dinner last Winter. Mark Twain had just finished an extraordinarily piquant address when Mr. Evarts arose, shoved both of his hands down into his trousers pockets, as is his habit, and laughingly remarked: “Doesn’t it strike this company as a little unusual that a professional humorist should be funny?”
Mark Twain waited until the laughter excited by this sally had subsided and then drawled out: “Doesn’t it strike this company as a little unusual that a lawyer should have his hands in his own pockets?”
Note: There is no listing in MTDBD – I for such a dinner in the winter of 1885. The New York Times Dec. 23, 1885 p.2 “Sons of the Pioneers” article describing that dinner does not relate the incident, nor a talk by either man, though Sam was in New York on that day. The story may be apocryphal.
Also in the Times on p.12 is a three-column story, “MCCLELLAN’S OWN STORY,” quoting his friend and advisor to Mrs. McClellan, William C. Prime. The article focuses on McClellan’s war exploits and gives Webster & Co. Free advertising.
December 6 Monday – In Hartford Sam wrote to Henry B. Barnes, accepting with his original “terms” to speak at the Stationers’ Board of Trade meeting on Feb. 10, 1887 [MTP]. (See Nov. 20 to Barnes.)
Henry M. Stanley spoke at the Methodist Book Concern in New York to clergymen about missionary work in Africa [NY Times, Dec. 7, 1886, p.12 “Answering the Missionaries”].
Franklin G. Whitmore wrote for Sam to S.C. and L.M. Gould to discontinue Notes and Queries with Answers magazine [MTP].
Sam also wrote a short invitation to Dr. Edwin Pond Parker.
Will you dine with me Wednesday afternoon at 4.30 to meet his Excellency Henry M. Stanley, Governor of the Congo Free State? [MTP]. Note: Wednesday, Dec. 8 evening, Stanley’s lecture.
Sam also wrote to Charles Webster suggesting a half or full-page ad in the Century over a quarter page. On Badeau’s book he opined,
I have read “Grant in Peace” up to the present time, & there hasn’t been a dull chapter thus far. It is mighty well written, too [MTLTP 209-10].
He added that he would “tackle” Henry M. Stanley about a book, and asked that a cloth LM be sent to Miss Mary E. Mathews, he thought of New Windsor, Maryland, who may have written him (not extant).
A notice ran in the New York Times, p 3 “BOOKS RECEIVED”:
MCCLELLAN’S OWN STORY, the War for the Union. By GEORGE B. MCCLELLAN, late Major-General Commanding. New-York: Charles L. Webster & Co. 1887.
Note: Interestingly, in this same list of books released, is Tennyson Calendar, 1887 by John Wanamaker; also, , 1886 by John Boyle O’Reilly, the author of Pope Leo XIII’s biography.
William Mackay Laffan wrote to Sam that he was “to see [Whitelaw] Reid tomorrow and may find out something. If you are right it is the most busted machine in existence.” This referred to the Mergenthaler Linotype machine on trial at the New York Tribune [MTNJ 3: 270].
John F. Lacy wrote from Oskaloosa, Iowa objecting to the “larceny committed by the blacksmith who perpetrated the engravings for ‘Roughing It’.” These were poor copies of J. Ross Browne’s, and “mutilated pictures.”
Look at Browne’s “Adventures in the Apache Country” published by the Harpers in 1869. Compare the “Saved Brother” on page 260 of “Roughing It” with the “Arizonian in sight of Home” in the Apache Country page 289. Compare also “The Man who had killed a dozen” in “Roughing It” p.340, with “The Candidate for Mayor”, page 500, in Browne’s Book [MTP]. Lacy thought killing this “artist” “would hardly be considered homicide.” Sam made no annotations on the envelope.
December 7 Tuesday – Sam sent $3,000 to the treasurer of the International Telegraph and Cable Co. To pay for stock. William Mackay Laffan recommended this investment, but would, on Oct. 3, 1887, struggle to get the money back [MTNJ 3: 262n116]. See also Oct. 16 entry.
Charles Webster wrote responding to Sam’s Dec. 6 about the quarter page ad in the Century, which Sam felt “crowds your matter so.”
I had already taken a page in the Century which will be occupied next month [MTLTP 210n1]. Note: In late 1887 Sam blamed Webster for full page ads, which he then thought extravagant. Webster also wrote that General John Logan had offered a book [MTHL 211n2].
Karl Gerhardt wrote that he wanted to call and thank Sam properly for all his kindnesses [MTP].
December 8 Wednesday – Henry M. Stanley arrived with Lady Stanley and James B. Pond in time for dinner at the Clemens residence. In the evening he lectured in Hartford, introduced by Rev. Dr. Edwin Pond Parker. Livy and Sam were most likely in attendance [Sam to Pond Nov. 30]. The Hartford Courant, p.3 reported:
MR. STANLEY’S LECTURE
A Full House and All Well Satisfied
Mr. Henry M. Stanley appeared last evening for a first time before a Hartford audience. Unity hall was packed full, not only every seat but all standing room being taken up stairs and down. The Rev. Dr. Parker introduced the lecturer in a few graceful and appreciative … Mr. Stanley then took the platform.
Joe Twichell was also at the dinner with Stanley at Sam’s house. From Twichell’s journal:
Dined at M.T.’s with a company of gentlemen, to meet Stanley the African Explorer, who was in Hartford to lecture. Attended the lecture afterward, and returned to M.T.’s to a late supper which was followed by talk till a late hour… [Yale, copy at MTP; also in MTHL 2:576n2].
Note: In 1931, Clara Clemens recalled the Stanley’s visit but mis-remembered it as “several days,” when it was only one night.
They were the first English people I had ever seen, and their pronounced inflections fascinated me and helped me to remember remarks they made. For instance, Lady Stanley turned effusively to Father once and said in her lovely voice that had a sincere ring in it, “I did not know whether I should enjoy visiting you, Mr. Clemens, because Americans have customs and habits so different from ours. I feared I might not feel at home in the house of an American, particularly so distinguished a one, but I must confess I find you an easy host to get along with. Stanley agrees with me. Don’t you, Stanley?” She always called her husband by his last name. She was a woman of genial charm and made an interesting contrast to her husband, who possessed the personality necessary for the discoverer of Livingstone. One felt a strong will and ability for endurance in his general make-up — in fact, enormous energy for action [MFMT 41].
December 9 Thursday – Sam, James B. Pond and Mr. & Mrs. Henry M. Stanley left Sam’s home and took the train to Boston, Mass. In the evening, Sam introduced Stanley’s lecture, “Through the Dark Continent” at the Tremont Temple. Published in Fatout, MT Speaking 214-15. (See also Gribben 658.) Fatout’s preface:
“Drafted to introduce a speaker, Mark Twain paid him the polite compliments that were expected, sometimes exaggerating to achieve a mildly ironical effect. If well acquainted with the man he was introducing, he was likely to add uncomplimentary lies that were too outrageous to be taken seriously, but were never malicious. Generally he tempered praise with remarks that served as a counterbalance.”
The Boston Transcript, Dec. 10 ran one version of Sam’s introduction:
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, if any should ask, Why is it that you are here as introducer of the lecturer? I should answer that I happened to be around and was asked to perform this function. I was quite willing to do so, and, as there was no sort of need of an introduction, anyway, it could be necessary only that some person come forward for a moment and do an unnecessary thing, and this is quite in my line. Now, to introduce so illustrious a name as Henry M. Stanley by any detail of what the man has done is clear aside from my purpose; that would be stretching the unnecessary to an unconscionable degree. When I contrast what I have achieved in my measurably brief life with what he has achieved in his possibly briefer one, the effect is to sweep utterly away the ten-story edifice of my own self-appreciation and leave nothing behind but the cellar. When you compare these achievements of his with the achievements of really great men who exist in history, the comparison, I believe, is in his favor. I am not here to disparage Columbus.
No, I won’t do that; but when you come to regard the achievements of these two men, Columbus and Stanley, from the standpoint of the difficulties they encountered, the advantage is with Stanley and against Columbus. Now, Columbus started out to discover America. Well, he didn’t need to do anything at all but sit in the cabin of his ship and hold his grip and sail straight on, and America would discover itself. Here it was, barring his passage the whole length and breadth of the South American continent, and he couldn’t get by it. He’d got to discover it. But Stanley started out to find Doctor Livingstone, who was scattered abroad, as you may say, over the length and breadth of a vast slab of Africa as big as the United States. It was a blind kind of search. He was the worst scattered of men. But I will throw the weight of this introduction upon one very peculiar feature of Mr. Stanley’s character, and that is his indestructible Americanism — an Americanism which he is proud of. And in this day and time, when it is the custom to ape and imitate English methods and fashion, it is like a breath of fresh air to stand in the presence of this untainted American citizen who has been caressed and complimented by half of the crowned heads of Europe who could clothe his body from his head to his heels with the orders and decorations lavished upon him. And yet, when the untitled myriads of his own country put out their hands in welcome to him and greet him, “Well done,” through the Congress of the United States, that is the crown that is worth all the rest to him. He is a product of institutions which exist in no other country on earth-institutions that bring out all that is best and most heroic in a man. I introduce Henry M. Stanley. [Note: the Dec. 10, 1886, p.2 “Stanley’s Lecture” Boston Daily Globe report is, save for a few words and the insertion of parentheticals to designate laughter, the same. The discrepancies of a few words are interesting, however.
Note: William Dean Howells was not in Boston on this date, attending the funeral of his sister, Victoria M. Howells, who died in Jefferson, Ohio on Dec. 3 [MTHL 2: 574n2]. (See Howells to Sam Dec. 12.) Howells’ Dec. 12 letter implies that Sam went to the Howells residence while in Boston, only to be told the sad news by Elinor Howells. Upon his return home, Sam sent Howells a telegram (not extant).
Steuben T. Bacon per American Ballot-Box Assoc. Wrote from Boston asking for his help by speaking to “either of the commissioners” in their cause of “honest voting” [MTP].
Samuel S. Cox (Moses to Cox Nov. 19 enclosed) wrote from Washington, enclosing a Nov. 19 letter from “Far-away Moses” in Constantinople. “Sunset” Cox wrote “The writer is indebted to you for an immortalization. You have embalmed him in much better style than the Egyptian Immigrants, two of whom I have introduced into this country into the National Museum. You see what he wants. Please write to me, or have your publishers send to me the “Innocents Abroad” when I will forward it to him in some way.” [MTP]. Note: “Far-away Moses” was the celebrated Turkish guide described in IA Ch. XXXV and pictured on p.382 [Oxford facsimile ed.].
December 10 Friday – Sam probably spent the night in Boston and returned to Hartford this day. He telegrammed Howells, most likely his condolences on discovering the death of Howells’ sister in Ohio. The telegram is not extant, which is how academics say, “it’s lost” [MTHL 2: 574n3].
December 11 Saturday – In Hartford Sam wrote to Charles Webster that Henry M. Stanley wanted to write a book for them but had to lecture for three or four months and could not do both.
His lecturing, this time, is going to make reputation for him — it destroyed it when he tried it before [MTP].
Sam also responded to a suggestion Webster made in his Dec. 7 letter, that they consider a book by General John A. Logan. Note: Logan would die on Dec. 26.
Caroline B. Le Row finished her Dec. 4 to Sam, enclosing eight pages of her student misstatements: “Parasite — some kind of umbrella; Culinary — cunning or cute,” etc. [MTP]. Note: Le Row, a Brooklyn schoolteacher, furnished the grist for Sam’s “English As She Is Taught.”
William Smith wrote to Sam from Morley, near Leeds, England. Smith thanked him for his “kindly expressions” to his work, responding late to Sam’s Oct. 18 letter, which he would have acknowledged but was waiting for the books on Hartford to arrive which he’d thought Sam “intimated would soon be on the way.” They had not arrived. Had Sam read Elijer Gof’s works? Smith thought Gof the “best English humorist at the present time” [MTP].
December 12 Sunday – William Dean Howells, back in Boston after attending the funeral of his sister in Ohio, wrote to Sam.
When I got home I found this dispatch [lost]. I don’t know in the least what it means, for I’ve never invited Stanley, at all; but if you will come on here, and preside in my place at the Tavern Club, we shall be glad to have him there to supper after his lecture the night of the 18th….I cannot appear at this time, of course, but all the Club would be delighted to have you take my place [MTHL 2: 574].
Note: Stanley was recalled to the Congo, receiving a telegram while at Amherst, Mass. from the King of Belgium the night before this note, Dec. 11 [NY Times, Dec. 13, 1886 p.5 “Henry M. Stanley’s Recall”].
From Washington “Sunset” Samuel S. Cox wrote a curiously humorous thank you, not wanting “to look a gift broncho in the mouth,” no doubt for the IA sent to “Far-away Moses” [MTP].
December 13 Monday † – In Hartford Sam responded to Howells’ Dec. 12 (Sam probably misdated this letter as Dec. 12, but the mails weren’t that good. Or, perhaps in his grief, Howells misdated his letter). Sam understood Howells’ inability to preside at the Tavern Club, but Dec. 18 was too close to Christmas and company around that time, including his mother-in-law who was staying with them. This precluded his leaving again. Sam then confessed a disclosure of the day before:
Your recent experiences have been hard, very hard — & yet yesterday a thunder-stroke fell upon me out of the most unsuspected of skies which for a moment ranged me breast to breast & comraded me as an equal, with all men who have suffered sudden & awful disaster: I found that all their lives my children have been afraid of me! have stood all their days in uneasy dread of my sharp tongue & uncertain temper. The accusing instances stretch back to their babyhood, & are burnt into their memories: & I never suspected, & the fact was never guessed by anybody until yesterday [MTHL 2: 575]. Note: This source quotes Susy’s biography of her father [576n3] to somewhat soften this view of Sam’s.
Sam also wrote a long letter (not extant) to Henry M. Stanley arguing how Stanley, being a stenographer, might be able to write a book while on the train during lecture travel [Dec. 14 to Webster].
Steuben T. Bacon per American Ballot-Box Assoc. Wrote to Sam: “Your favor with Bond enclosed is received — and I inclose herewith your certificate of stock in this association. You will please sign and return the inclosed duplicate “stub,” for our book” [MTP].
December 14 Tuesday – In Hartford Sam wrote to Charles Webster, who in his Nov. 30 letter suggested a book from Henry M. Stanley would be a “good hit.” Sam agreed. He also referred a “Lieutenant Owen” (William Miller Owen, who in 1885 published a Civil War book with Ticknor & Co.) to Webster for a possible publication, calling him “not quite a stranger.” He also wrote of his sales job on Henry M. Stanley:
I have suggested, in a long letter mailed yesterday, an Autobiography to Stanley, & shown him how he can write it in the cars (he is a stenographer) in 105 days, one hour’s work a day. I said he could have our crowned-head rates — half the profits; & that I didn’t see why he shouldn’t clear $50,000 out of it, though that was a guess & would prove wrong in one direction or the other. [¶]. I see by this morning’s paper that he is likely to sail for Europe & Congo tomorrow. All right; he has of course received my letter this morning, & will have time to chew on it at sea [MTLTP 211]. Note: Stanley did sail on Dec. 15.
E.L. Osgood wrote to Sam (this letter was enclosed to William Smith, Dec. 15). Osgood wrote that his binders had overlooked his order to send the set of “Hartford History” (Memorial History of Hartford County, Connecticut, edited by: James Hammond Trumbull LL.D. and published by Edward L. Osgood , 1886) to William Smith, the English author of Morley: Ancient and Modern, London (1886). (See Oct. 18 entry.) Osgood took care of the oversight and also responded to Sam’s invitation:
I shall very soon avail myself of your kind suggestion to come and teach you how to play billiards [MTP]. Note: what a not-so-subtle challenge!
December, mid – Sam’s notebook contains a reminder to telegram Webster to send “that article by Wednesday or it won’t reach here in time.” The notes say this was possibly a bureau Livy asked Webster to purchase for her [MTNJ 3: 269n143].
December 15 Wednesday – At the request of the King of Belgium, Henry M. Stanley sailed from New York to return to the Congo [Brooklyn Eagle, Dec. 15, 1886 p.6 “Stanley’s Farewell”].
In Hartford Sam wrote to William Smith, the English author (see Dec. 14 entry) enclosing the apologetic letter and challenge from publisher E.L. Osgood. If he did not receive the book afterward, Sam asked Smith to let him know,
…in that case it is my purpose to go out & kill all persons of the name of Osgood, regardless of age or sex [MTP].
G. Dallas Lind wrote from Danville, Ind. On Central Normal College letterhead. Lind was gathering information to publish a book in ten years hence, and asked, “Do you use tobacco? If so in what form, what is it you smoke or chew?” Sam wrote on the envelope “Disciple of Chesterfield. Not answered” [MTP].
Pamela Moffett wrote from N.Y.C. and quoted at length a letter from her son, Samuel Moffett. She had sold her San Diego property for $3,000 with $500 down and a mortgage at 8 per cent. She usually signed her letters with her initials, fittingly, “P.A.M.” [MTP].
December 16 Thursday – In Hartford Sam answered Calvin H. Higbie’s Dec. 4 plea for financial help. Sam had dedicated Roughing It to Higbie, his old mining partner and held a soft spot for the trusting, giant of a man. Higbie was in Greenville, Calif. Still, he had to turn him down for a $20,000 loan:
Lord, it’s good to hear from you again! It brings back the pleasantness of the old times, with the pains & privations left behind. I would most certainly help you if I could, & believe you know that to be the truth. I know it to be the truth. But I alone am responsible for the capital of my firm in NewYork; I by myself am under contract to keep it sufficient. For the next twelve months this will make it necessary for me to sail just as close to the wind, financially, as I possibly can…
I do not seem to talk much like a millionaire? Well, I have never been a millionaire — except once, for ten days: an episode which you remember well enough. [Note: See May 1 and July 1, 1862 entries].
Sam mentioned seeing another old Nevada pal in New York lately, Robert M. Howland, who Sam said was “prospering.” Why not try him? [MTP].
Harriet Beecher Stowe inscribed a new edition of Uncle Tom’s Cabin; or, Life Among the Lowly (1886) for the Clemens family: Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints / Harriet Beecher Stowe. Dec. 16 1886 [Gribben 672].
December 17 Friday – In Hartford Sam wrote to Edward H. House, who was still ailing, along with his adopted daughter, Koto House. Sam suggested that House think about writing an adaptation for P&P for the stage, something he was reminded House had spoken of once.
That would be nice; but I can’t dramatize it. The reason I say this is because I did dramatize it, & made a bad botch of it. But you could do it. And if you will, for ½ or 2/3 of the proceeds, I wish you would. Shan’t I send you the book? The work might afford you good amusement when the pains mercifully retire at times [MTP]. Note: This letter and House’s reply would wind up in a court case in 1890, with House arguing that the letters constituted a contract of offer and acceptance [Fatout, “MT Litigant” 34].
In Keokuk, Orion Clemens mistakenly took ammonia water, thinking it was cough medicine. Mollie rushed him to a pharmacy four blocks away where he took “ascid.” By then he was spitting blood and could not speak. Mollie later wrote that for six days and nights Orion got no rest from the pain, and was unable to eat. He lost weight as a result. Orion was concerned he could not continue the research for Sam’s history game, and it would be April until he recovered enough to put in four hours a day doing so [Fanning 205-6]. (See also Orion and Mollie’s letters of Dec. 29 and 30, and Feb. 3, 1887.)
December 18 Saturday – Caroline B. Le Row wrote from Brooklyn, “overwhelmed with gratitude” at Sam’s offer. She did not think it wise to have her name connected with the article which would become “English as She is Taught” while still connected with the Public Board of Education. She referred to her possible book in these letters as “Y.J.” She also was duly warned about Carleton as a publisher — “Let his name be Anathema,” and suggested Cassell & co. Might undertake her book but was open to suggestion. She had “about 175 pages, this size” [4.5”x8”] — should she send the entire MS? [MTP]. Note: Sam would use her material, gathered from various teachers and classrooms of ridiculous things students said, as material for a magazine article (“English As She Is Taught”), in return for his help in getting more of the material published as a book. Sam did not want her book published by Webster, however.
December 19 Sunday – Orion wrote, related his mistaking ammonia water for cough medicine with the resultant emergency:
My conversation is now almost entirely confined to nods and shakings of the head. The doctor (Jenkins) visits me here 2 ½ times a day and forbids my going out of the house, lest I take cold in my throat. My diet is milk, for which I yearn, but which I approach with dred on account of the pain and difficulty swallowing. Friday evening I was nearly unable to swallow at all.
His main concern seems to have been the time lost on his work of history research for Sam. Mollie would write her letter and send them both the next day. [MTP].
December 20 Monday – Mollie Clemens wrote to Sam and Livy, including Orion’s of Dec. 19.
Friday [Dec. 17] just after dinner Orion turned the bottle of Aqua ammonia up tilted his head clear back and filled his mouth full. Some ran down the esophogas. Of course we were in a state of frenzy for a time. I heard him rushing down stairs. I had only left him a few minutes before. I jumped and opened the stair door — with the thought — “Ma has a fit, or the house is on fire — in either case I must be calm.” But Orion’s mouth was wide open he was white as death. I said what is it. He said “O My God, I have taken poison.” He managed to say ammonia. I got a bottle of olive oil and he took it. I sent the girl for Dr. Jenkins — Orion wanted to run to a drug store — I said there is Mrs Davis’s horse — we’ll take it –so without a single moments delay we took it….it was snowing…we drove four blocks to a drug store — they gave Orion acid….Orion was spitting blood freely [MTP].
December 21 Tuesday – In Hartford Sam wrote to an unidentified man:
Just let it stand as it is; it can’t be improved. I haven’t ever seen a paragraph with more truth & less error…[MTP].
Karl Gerhardt wrote from Hartford to Sam: “Gov. Harrison remarked to me today, ‘You have behaved miserably, but your statue is admirable.’ If he knew how little I care for myself in comparison with my images his health might have been spoiled.” He also noted that Charles Dudley Warner wanted sculptor Ward to see his work.
Orion Clemens began a letter, which he added to on Dec. 22, 23, and 24. Mostly it contains observations and cynicism about the local church. He added that his voice was returning slowly but his cold was still “wretched” On Dec. 24 he wrote,
Last night I approached a night’s rest — best in seven….Kate Lampton is back in St. Louis. Dr. Jenkins examined my lungs last night. He says they are sound, and that the maltine I am taking will cure the bronchial catarrh [MTP].
December 22 Wednesday – Joe Twichell wrote to Sam enclosing a newspaper clipping from the July 6, 1886 Morning Oregonian, which featured an address given by Thomas Fitch in Portland. Shortly thereafter Sam wrote “It is fine, Joe. Preserve it” on the clipping. [MTP].
December 23 Thursday – Samuel Moffett wrote from Berkeley, Calif. To his Uncle Sam. He announced he would be married in the spring, and sent gifts:
I send some little Christmas things for the children although it is rather late. I have been so busy that it has been impossible to do it before. The shells are for Susy, the Chinese shoes and wooden envelopes for Clara and a little coin of California pictures for Jean [MTP].
December 24 Friday – Edward H. House wrote to Sam:
As regards the “Prince and the Pauper,” I should be well pleased to undertake the dramatization of it….I shall be glad if you send me a copy of the book….According to my remembrance of the book, the most taking arrangement would be to give both characters to the same performer, using a silent double in positions where they must for a moment appear together. If there is anywhere about a girl like what Lotta was twenty years ago, or Bijou Heron fifteen years ago, she might fill the duplicate part; but for such selection and other business details you know I am now incompetent. Doubtless there are…trustworthy men to take that matter in hand; so I shall be able, if you will send me…the book…. In a day or two I shall finish…a libretto for a comic opera…and I shall be ready for fresh fields and pastures new [NY Times, Jan. 27, 1890; see also Fatout, “MT Litigant” 34].
Charles Webster wrote to Sam:
Everything is working well. McClellan is selling well, Mrs. Hancock has accepted our offer, Genl. Sheridan is at work, and the Pope’s book looks as good if not better than ever. As soon as the agents slack up on McClellan I shall put them on that and Crawford [General Samuel W. Crawford’s Generals of the Civil War] then Mrs. Hancock then Sheridan or perhaps Logan if he accepts as I think he will [MTLTP 212]. Note: The decks were definitely crowded, and Webster & Co. Seemed to have cornered the market on war books.
Orion Clemens finished the letter begun on Dec. 21-see entry [MTP].
December 25 Saturday – Christmas – Sam inscribed a copy of Poganuc People, by Harriet Beecher Stowe (1878) to Susy: Susy Clemens / Xmas, 1886. [Note: Gribben p.671 writes this book was listed among volumes belonging to Jean and Clara Clemens, so it may be that all three girls got copies.]
Charles Dudley Warner inscribed a copy of Edward Gilliat’s, newly released, Forest Outlaws; or, Saint Hugh and the King (1887) to Clara: Clara Clemens / with love of / Chas. Dudley Warner / Dec. 25, 1886 [Gribben 260].
December 26 Sunday – In Hartford Sam wrote to Charles P. Green, Beresford House, Malvern, England, who had written Nov. 29 and sent an inscribed book.
The book arrived several days ago, but everybody in the house been so driven, during the past fortnight, with Xmas preparations, that none of us has had a chance to look at it yet [MTP].
Note: The book in question was John Palmer’s Journal of Travels in the United States of North America, and in Lower Canada,…in 1817 (1818) [Gribben 525]. Green’s identity was not determined.
Sam also wrote to Edward H. House, drawing a sketch of a house with a smoking chimney in place of his name in the salutation.
I’ve ordered a couple of P&P’s to be sent to you….Will see you when I come down, a week or ten days hence.
Sam said he would express his “absurd P&P dramatization” that day or the next [MTP]. Fatout writes that Sam sent two copies of P&P and “went to New York about a month later to discuss the play with him” [“MT Litigant” 34]. These details would become the crux of a court case brought by House in 1890.
Sam wrote to Charles Webster, ending the letter, “Poor General Logan!” (General John A. Logan died this day.) Sam asked for a couple of cloth or unbound copies of P&P to be sent to House. He also recommended a possible “assistant porter” for the Webster & Co. Office:
I know of a bright, strong & phenomenally active young mulatto who is out of work. Writes a good hand.
Sam added a P.S. that Livy wanted Webster to keep watch for places where she could “buy old hock glasses & old china” [MTP].
Orion Clemens wrote from Keokuk, thanking Sam and Livy for the $25 sent which would “annihilate chores this winter” — in other words, he would hire work he was unable to do. He also thanked them for their sympathy. “I laughed till I hurt my throat at the idea of a man having at once inflammatory rheumatism and St. Vitas’s dance. I wish it had been John Nye.” He also told of Ma’s imaginings, and of plans to buy her a nice chair with the money Sam sent [MTP].
December 27 Monday – Bruce W. Munro wrote from Toronto, Canada to Sam: “I beg to have the honor of sending you in about a week’s time a copy of my book “A Blundering Boy.” Munro asked for a brief comment from Sam on the book. Sam wrote on the envelope, “Review his book” [MTP].
Paul E. Wirt of the Paul E. Wirt Fountain Pen Co. Wrote from Bloomsburg, Penn. Wirt had heard that Sam had “spoken favorably” of their pen to H.M. Smith & Co., N.Y. agents and asked for the “commendatory letter, — or what would be better a direct line to us” [MTP].
December 28 Tuesday – Charles Webster wrote to Sam asking if they might approach Mrs. Custer to publish her book. He also proposed they buy the late General Logan’s book from his widow at a greater royalty than offered the General [MTLTP 211n2].
Susan E. Dickinson wrote from Pittston, Penn. She’d asked Sam for help for Miss Sade E. Bond earlier but now needed help herself, “a loan for a few months,” as she had no friends or relatives she might ask, and was nursing her sick mother and sick sister. “…and the sum I need is not less than two hundred and fifty dollars,” for which she could only give her note. Sam wrote on the envelope, “Anna Dickinson’s Sister” [MTP]. Note: One wonders why the request wasn’t aimed at her sister.
December 29 Wednesday – Edmund C. Stedman wrote from N.Y. to Sam, a letter of introduction for his friend, a Danish sculptor Mr. Carl Rohl-Smith, from Copenhagen. Stedman wrote that Carl would go to Hartford the next day and hoped the artist would find the Clemenses at home [MTP].
December 29 and 30 Thursday – Orion Clemens wrote to Sam; Mollie wrote to Sam and Livy. Orion acknowledged and thanked Sam for a $155 check from Webster & Co., Dec. 30:
Please thank Susie for me, for her kind words, and tell her I am very slowly gaining. I begin to swallow things sweet, but nothing with salt in it yet. [Mollie:] Ma is very well — has gained flesh til she looks younger; the wrinkles filled up [MTP].
December 30 Thursday – In Hartford Sam answered Webster’s of Dec. 29, approving the suggestion that they raise their offer for the recently deceased General Logan’s book to half the profits, which is as high as they went for any book save Grant’s Memoirs. Sam also felt that if Elizabeth Bacon Custer’s book, Boots and Saddles; or, Life in Dakota with General Custer (1885), which had sold poorly in the trade, be put together in one volume with her late husband’s book, that they might offer her 25 cents per copy [MTP].
December 31 Friday – Frank Fuller wrote from New York touting three stocks, which he clipped and pasted newspaper quotes — Oregon R & N, Oregon S.L.. And Union Pacific [MTP].
Arthur C. Thornton wrote a fan letter to Sam from Richmond, Va. Thornton told of a trip to Washington during last summer and of relating each of Sam’s books to places and events there. Obliquely, Thornton asked for a book. Sam wrote on the envelope, “O, Sorrowful!” [MTP].
Mike M. Brannan for Eufaula (Alabama) Times & News wrote to Sam on his letterhead announcing himself as “Correspondent N.Y. Times, &c., and Founder of the Fund to Erect a Monument over the Grave of Father Ryan, at Mobile”. Brannan glued a sliver from the Atlanta Constitution of this day:
MARK TWAIN is now said to be worth something like $1,500,000
On the envelope Sam wrote, ‘O, hell!” [MTP].
Paul E. Wirt (that fountain pen magnate) wrote from Bloomsburg, Penn. thanking Sam for his “kind response” to his last letter, which he received Dec. 30. Wirt sent a fee pen, even though he thought that Sam may have all he needed, and if so, he could “give it to one of his boys” [MTP].
Browning Reader – Too Many Books to Publish – Webster’s Neuralgia is a Pain
English as She is Taught – Soul & Entrails – Beecher Advance, Beecher Dead
Embezzler Nabbed – Question the Queen – Another Troublesome Dinner
1887 – Sometime early in the year, Sam agreed to take charge of a Wednesday Browning reading circle, made up mostly of ladies. They would meet every week in Sam’s billiard room. (See Mar. 22 to Fairbanks.) Paine writes:
The Browning readings must have begun about this time. Just what kindled Mark Twain’s interest in the poetry of Robert Browning is not remembered, but very likely his earlier associations with the poet had something to do with it. Whatever the beginning, we find him, during the winter of 1886 and 1887, studiously, even violently, interested in Browning’s verses, entertaining a sort of club or class who gathered to hear his rich, sympathetic, and luminous reading of the Parleyings — “With Bernard de Mandeville,” “Daniel Bartoli,” or “Christopher Smart.” Members of the Saturday Morning Club were among his listeners and others — friends of the family. They were rather remarkable gatherings, and no one of that group but always vividly remembered the marvelously clear insight which Mark Twain’s vocal personality gave to those somewhat obscure measures. They did not all of them realize that before reading a poem he studied it line by line, even word by word; dug out its last syllable of meaning, so far as lay within human possibility, and indicated with pencil every shade of emphasis which would help to reveal the poet’s purpose. No student of Browning ever more devoutly persisted in trying to compass a master’s intent — in such poems as “Sordello,” for instance — than Mark Twain. Just what permanent benefit he received from this particular passion it is difficult to know [MTB 846].
Sam inscribed a two-volume The Poetical Works of Shelley to Livy: Livy L. Clemens / Hartford / 1887 [MTP from Butterfield catalog July 16, 1997; See Gribben 640].
Sometime during the year, Sam wrote an apology for Livy’s inability to furnish Miss Collins’ table “one of it’s [sic] finest & best decorations.” Livy was not well [MTP].
Also this year, Sam wrote “An Adventure in the Remote Seas,” which was printed posthumously as “Which Was the Dream?” (1968) [Camfield, isterin.].
About this year, Sam also wrote a long letter to an unidentified woman about not having a system for his memory:
But I had no system; — and some sort of rational order of procedures is of course necessary to success in any study. Well, Loisette furnished me with a system. I cannot undertake to say it is the best, or the worst, because I don’t know what the other systems are. What I do know, is, that a trial of the system quickly convinced me that I had a memory; and that all I needed to do, to make it useful, was to pay ATTENTION when I was giving it a thing to keep, and then HAVE CONFIDENCE in it. …
Loisette doesn’t make memories; he furnishes confidence in memories that already exist. Isn’t that valuable? Indeed it is to me [MTP]. Note: Professor Loisette taught a “system of memory” at his Fifth Avenue location in New York. Several times throughout the year he ran ads, using, among others, Mark Twain ‘s recommendation. His real name was Marcus Dwight Larrowe; he had known Sam in Nevada.
Also about this year, Sam wrote a one-liner to the Walt Whitman fund:
What we want to do is make the splendid old soul comfortable [MTP].
Note: Sam contributed at least twice to funds for Whitman; one time for a horse and carriage (See Aug. 6, 1885); the other for a house (See May 28, 1886).
Sarah Knowles Bolton’s Famous American Authors (1887) included a section (pages 365-386), “Mark Twain” [Tenney 16; Gribben, Appendix A 910]. Bolton begins by quoting Critic:
“Within the past-half century, he has done more than any other man to lengthen the lives of his contemporaries by making them merrier.” Thus says the “Critic.” But he has done vastly more than this .
Note: this biographical section is remarkable for the ground covered at this early date. Howells is quoted. Sam’s championing of the oppressed Chinese is mentioned. It contains several references to Roughing It, Tom Sawyer, A Tramp Abroad, The Gilded Age, “Old Times on the Mississippi,” as well as synopses of Sam’s careers as riverboat pilot, miner (including the “blind lead” episode), newspaper reporter, lecturer, author, publisher, and inventor.
Routledge’s World Library published an abridged edition of Innocents Abroad [Tenney 16].
Knapp & Co. published an anonymous thumbnail biography, “Life of Mark Twain,” that was inserted in packs of Duke’s Cigarettes. This was one of a series, “Histories of Poor Boys Who Have Become Rich and Other Famous People.” The cited source says this “date is inferred from the fact that the biography describes Twain’s life through October 1886. Duke’s Cigarettes also published a series of biographies on Civil War generals” [“Some New Paths in Twain-Collecting,” Firsts the Book Collector’s Magazine, Sept. 1998, Vol. 8 No. 9 p.46].
Books published by Charles L. Webster & Co. In 1887.
Cox, Samuel Sullivan, Diversions of a Diplomat in Turkey
Crawford, General Samuel Wylie, The Genesis of the Civil War: The Story of Sumter,
Custer, Elizabeth, Tenting on the Plains; or, General Custer in Kansas and Texas
Hancock, Almira Russell, Reminiscences of Winfield Scott Hancock
Kalakaua, David, The Legends and Myths of Hawaii: The Fables and Folk-lore of a
O’Reilly, Father Bernard, Life of Pope Leo XIII
Caroline B. Le Row wrote two letters, fragments of which are in the MTP along with the note:
“This folder contains portions of 3 different letters to SLC. One is a copy of a letter to an unknown correspondent which was probably enclosed in a letter to SLC. The contents of each letter suggest a date before April 1887, when Clemens published his article about English As She is Taught in the Century. The article subsequently became his introduction to the book.” [Note: this file examined at the MTP in April, 2008 — the letter fragment from the “unknown correspondent” is definitely Le Row’s hand.]
From the first:
It’s all right, my dear Mark Twain. I hated to tease you, and felt altogether to [“]numerons.” I don’t like to “ride a free horse to death,” and particularly object to “crowding the mourners.” But though I could truthfully parody old Adam’s assertion and say “Mr. Dunham tempted me and I did write,” I will refrain and not even assert that I did right. As for your immense generosity in writing the Century article — well, I have no words with which to thank you [MTP].
January – Charles Webster began to suffer from neuralgia during the month. (See Sam’s note: Jan. 15 entry). MTHL intro to Section IX refers to Webster’s affliction:
“…and grew worse during the spring. His illness kept him out of the office most of the time after the beginning of summer and almost constant pain made him irritable” [2: 580].
Budd writes Sam probably wrote “Letter from the Recording Angel” this month. It was not published in Sam’s lifetime, first appearing in 1962 under the title “Letter to the Earth” in Letters from the Earth, DeVoto, ed. [Budd, Collected 1: 1021].
January 1 Saturday – James B. Pond wrote to Sam from the Everett House in N.Y., wishing the Clemens family a happy new year. He asked,
How do you think Grady of Atlanta Constitution would draw ? if he lectured in Hartford. Would you, if you couldn’t help it pay hundred cents to hear him? When are you coming to the village? [MTP]. Note: Henry W. Grady (1850-1889), leader of the “Atlanta Ring.”
January 2 Sunday
January 3 Monday – Charles Webster wrote to Sam that Henry Ward Beecher was contemplating a biography:
Beecher seemed to think that it might be a pretty good thing to do, and he also seemed to think that other things being equal, he would rather have us publish it than any one else….I do not love Beecher any more than you do, but I love his money just as well, and I am certain that the book would sell [MTNJ 3: 272n156]. Webster expressed a desire to “switch off War books if we can” [MTLTP 212n1].
Orion Clemens wrote from Keokuk and enclosed the history work he’d done so far. “Ma was out with us Saturday to a new-year’s dinner. Her itching is some better” [MTP].
Mrs K S Cook
January 4 Tuesday – In Hartford Sam wrote to Charles Webster answering questions about publishing a book by Henry Ward Beecher:
Yes, ½ profits is the right offer to make — his wide reputation entitles him to that — and if anybody wants to offer him more, we withdraw from the competition….If we can’t clear $40,000 for Beecher, at ½-profits, it’ll be the author’s fault, not the publisher’s; that is, it will mean that he isn’t as good a card as we think he is [MTBus 373].
Samuel Webster (son of Charles) writes, “If anything, Mark Twain was a little too much inclined to want to publish what his friends wrote, regardless of profit.”
Harriet G. Brown wrote what Sam labeled a “begging letter” from Manchester, N.H. She did not specify an amount, but only “a little from your abundance” [MTP].
January 5 Wednesday
January 6 Thursday
January 7 Friday – Alexander Cargill wrote from N.Y. to Sam. Cargill wanted to send a MS. Sam wrote on the envelope, “From a Mr. Cargill who wants to publish a novel” [MTP].
William Mackay Laffan for NY Sun wrote to Sam enclosing a letter from E.R. Garczyuski of Brooklyn to Sun dated Nov. 12, 1886, which pointed out a “blunder” in Sam’s talk about King Arthur. Laffan wrote on the opposite blank side of this letter:
I have another book of a wholly different breed in my eye and I will converse you about it when you drop in here next. They are hacking away the same as ever in the Tribune [with the typesetter] and don’t seem to progress but talk sassy, anyhow [MTP]. Note: Laffan also wanted to know if Sam had “made anything out of Shuckers.”
George E. Lemon telegraphed Sam that General Logan’s wife was “comparatively destitute after settlement of estate” of her husband, and that $50,000, half of the goal, had been subscribed [MTP].
January 8 Saturday – Caroline B. Le Row wrote from Brooklyn having sent by Westcott’s Express the “specimen pages” from her book to Sam for review.
I did not in my last letter express the regret which I felt at being obliged to sacrifice the Dedication, but tried to content myself with feeling that you would buy the Magazine article, be really more identified with it than if it was not so noticed by you [MTP]. Note: her book was to be published anonymously, so she suggested that the Dedication might as well stay in because she did want Sam’s name in it.
January 9 Sunday – Robert M. Yost wrote from St. Louis to Sam and enclosed Mrs. Yost’s Jan 11 request for a “souvenir” — “Won’t you please send me a scrap of one of your neck ties [?]” Mr. Yost was born in Shelbyville, Mo. and wrote of going back to Hannibal and “shaking hands with the old Florida people who ‘knew Sam Clements,’ as they call you” [MTP].
January 10 Monday – William Smith wrote from the Osborne House in Morley, near Leeds, England, having received Trumbull’s volumes of Hartford history from Sam. Smith thanked him profusely and wrote he was sending as set of “Old Yorkshire,” which he said had been out of print for some time and hard to find at twice the original price. Smith also wanted to know where he might find a copy of Mark Twain’s Scrap book [MTP].
January 10 Monday ca. – Livy’s mother, Olivia Lewis Langdon, ended her stay with the Clemens family and left for Elmira. She stayed at least one night at the Gilsey House in New York City, and had a gift shipped back to Livy. On Jan. 13 Livy wrote to thank her for a gift of two dishes sent. Sam likely escorted his mother-in-law to New York and made arrangements for her return trip — see Jan. 14 to Pamela. From that letter it seems likely he spent one night and two days there attending to publishing business [MTP].
January 11 Tuesday – Sam was in New York, having escorted his mother-in-law to the Gilsey House. He did errands and had “such a long talk with Charley” (Webster) that he left things undone.
M.H. Bartlett wrote from Avon, Conn. wanting to borrow $600 with real estate as security [MTP].
Karl Gerhardt wrote asking for a “card of introduction” to Gen. Lucius Fairchild, Commander in Chief of the G.A.R. [MTP]. See June 19, 1887 entry.
January 12 Wednesday – Sam was still in New York, running errands, checking out the new offices of Webster & Co., and visiting with the Websters.
Marie Eberstadt; Auguste Keller and Lili Kalm of Mannheim, Germany, all signed a letter to Sam, praising his books and offering “a few specimens of German construction and grammar which you may not have found in our German books…” [MTP].
January 13 Thursday – In Hartford Sam wrote to Charles Webster, excited about a new book possibility, that of William Thompson Walters, proposed by William Mackay Laffan — a full color art book. Walters was “a Baltimore merchant and railroad and steamship developer,” who had a “vast art collection” [MTNJ 3: 273n157].
IF Mr. W. will put up all of the necessary money (receiving it back out of the first returns,) that book is a greenback-mine. I got delayed & didn’t get down to L’s after my talk with you; so you better arrange a meeting per telephone, & go down & talk with him. This isn’t a “big” thing — it calls for Pond’s word: “colossal.” [MTBus 374].
Samuel Charles Webster identifies “Mr. W” and also “L” in this letter and observes:
“Walters was ready to spend as much as two hundred and fifty thousand dollars on the book. [¶]. …Uncle Sam was completely sold on the idea — perhaps because he was interested in color printing — and called on my mother [Annie Moffett Webster] expressly to get her interested in the project, although she had never attempted to understand anything connected with the publishing business. I asked her why my father didn’t care for the book, and she said that he didn’t think it would pay.” Note: it was not published until 1897, “long after the death of Webster and Mr. Walters, too” [MTBus 374-5; MTLTP 213n1].
Pamela Moffett wrote from N.Y. to her brother Sam, sending two photos of her son, “Sam’s fiancé for your inspection.” Pamela was staying with her daughter Annie Webster and family in the City, and wrote of Charles’ neuralgia attack “in his head” the night before “but relieved it entirely by the application of ice.” Her grandson Willie had been sick with a cold necessitating a visit from the doctor. [MTP].
January 14 Friday – In Hartford Sam wrote to his sister, Pamela Moffett. This letter confirms the short trip to New York, probably to escort Olivia Lewis Langdon on the first leg of her trip to Elmira.
I had such a long talk with Charley that I failed on some of my (remotely possible) New York errands. I could have staid another day, but concluded I wouldn’t, because I should be going down again, soon. I am hoping that Livy & Jean will go with me; in which case we’ll arrange a visit & make a success of it. My intention this time was to return in the 11 o’clock train, but Charley’s neuralgia (which I did not know about), prevented that.
Sam also remarked on the “new offices” which “were worth missing a train for,” and added a note about the dinner party for the soon-to-be marrieds. Note: Paine writes:
“On the strength of the Grant success Webster had moved into still larger quarters at No.3 East Fifteenth Street, and