Vol 1 Section 0023

Fitz Smythe & Corrupt Cops – Sandwich Islands –Volcanoes & Captain Cook

 Sacramento Union Letters – Anson Burlingame – Hornet Disaster

Hymns on the Smyrniote – “Trouble begins at 8”– First Lecture tour

Virginia City Homecoming – Robbed on the Divide – San Francisco Lectures

Isthmus with Ned Wakeman – Cholera Aboard

Several of Sam’s writings for this year are as yet undated. Three items were originally part of the Sandwich Islands Letters. Bret Harte extracted these for publication in the Californian, but they were collected in The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, and Other Sketches: Honored as a Curiosity in Honolulu; Short and Singular Rations; The Steed “Oahu[Camfield bibliog.]. “Il Trovatore” written but published posthumously [ibid].

January – Sam’s San Francisco Letter of Dec. 29, 1865 ran in the Enterprise (See entry.) Another Enterprise item, “New Year’s Day,” was a narrative of Sam trying to find breakfast on the holiday. (Reprinted in the Golden Era on Jan. 14.) [Walker 111-3]. The following items also ran in the Enterprise sometime in January: “The Kearney Street Ghost Story,” “Captain Montgomery,” “The Chapman Family” [Schmidt].

January, mid Sam was arrested for being drunk in public and jailed overnight. He’d been the object of a police watch, after articles criticizing police corruption and racism.

January 7 Sunday – Sam’s article, “Policemen’s Presents” appeared in the San Francisco Golden Era [Budd, “Collected” 1006].


January 8 Monday Sam’s San Francisco Letter, dated this day, ran sometime in January in the Enterprise. Sections: “White Man Mighty Onsartain,” “ Mint Defalcation,” “The Opening Night,” and:


In the bath-house sign are very correct likenesses of the chief stockholders, and are as follows: The fleshy, smiling, bald-headed man hanging to the middle of the little life boat, is Mr. O. P. Sutton, in the banking interest. The bald headed man hanging on near the stern of the boat, is Mr. Aleck Badlam, the shark-fancier. The man on the left, who is just starting on the spring-board, is Col. Monstery, the fencing-master. The inverted young man on the bow of the boat who is performing some kind of extraordinary gymnastic feat and appears to have got it a little mixed, is Captain McComb. The central figure, swinging on the trapeze, is Mr. Edward Smith, of the banking interest. The half-submerged figure diving head-foremost at the right of the central fountain, is Mr. A. J. Snyder, the carpenter and builder, and is a very correct portrait as far as it goes. The handsome fat man facing you from the stateroom door on the extreme left, is Mr. Louis Cohn, and is considered a masterpiece of portrait painting. I cannot recognize the stockholder immediately under the spring board on the left, on account of his truly extraordinary position. It may be Fitz Smythe. The gentleman who is splashing himself behind the figure in the swing, and [has] upon his countenance an expression of lively enjoyment, is Professor Nash. The figure in the swing is most too many for me. It may be Menken, or it may be Jeff. Davis, or it may be some other man or some other woman. It is the very picture that so exasperates the South Parkers. It has got baggy breasts like a squaw, and the hips have the ample and rounded swell which belong to the female shape; but the head is masculine. That figure has worried the ladies of South Park a good deal, and it worries me just as much. I shall have to let this personage swing on undisturbed, and leave it to a wiser head to determine the sex and discover the name that belongs to it. It would be very uncomfortable, now, if it should turn out that I have been mistaken, and this remarkable picture should never have been intended for a collection of portraits, after all—in which case I beg pardon.

[Schmidt: “The Opening Night” and “The Portraits” reprinted in Mark Twain: San Francisco Correspondent, (Book Club of California, 1957) 60-62].

January 11 Thursday Sam’s San Francisco Letter, dated this day, ran sometime in January in the Enterprise. Sections: “Another Romance,” “Precious Stones,” “Premature,” “A Handsome Testimonial,” “The California Art Union,” “Theatrical,” (text not available for the last four items), and Gorgeous New Romance, By Fitz Smythe!” From “Another Romance”:

I don’t want all the glory fastened on the Captains and Chiefs and regulars, and the deeds of the specials— the scallawags who really do all the work—left unsung. Tune up another column of [praise of] them, and blast away, idolatrous Fitz Smythe! [Schmidt: reprinted in Mark Twain: San Francisco Correspondent, (Book Club of California, 1957) 25-28].

January 13 SaturdayThe Ajax steamed out of San Francisco “in a pelting rain” on its first voyage to Hawaii. Frear writes:

A number of prominent persons had been invited to go as guests. Mark Twain wrote that fifty-two of these went, and a splendid brass band, but apparently, to judge from the newspaper reports and passenger lists, most of these and the band failed to go. A few other prominent persons, besides Honolulu residents and some invalids, went on their own.

      Mark Twain was included among the invited guests—a tribute to his growing reputation. But his conscience prevented, because, as he wrote, there would then be no one to continue the regular correspondence with the Territorial Enterprise, which he had resumed upon his return to San Francisco from Jackass Hill and Angel’s Camp, where he had gone to avoid the police and where he got the Jumping Frog story. However, no sooner had the steamer sailed than he began to regret that he had not yielded. If only he had the chance again he would “go quick” and “throw up” his correspondence! The correspondence had indeed become insufferably boresome, and the vagabond instinct was strong upon him [4]. Note: Sam got his chance and sailed on the Ajax’s second voyage on Mar. 7. See entry.

January 14 Sunday The Golden Era printed Sam’s article, “New Year’s Day” [Walker 111].

January 1618 Thursday Sam’s satire sketch about Albert Evans includes vernacular from a boy, something Sam would use to great advantage in his greatest literary work, Huckleberry Finn. The sketch, “Fitz Smythe’s Horse,” and an item “What Have the Police Been Doing?” ran in the Enterprise between these dates. Most copies of the Enterprise are lost, but it required about three days to travel between Virginia City and San Francisco, and the sketch was reprinted under the heading “Mark Twain” by the Golden Era on Jan. 21, thereby dating the Virginia City publication.


Yesterday, as I was coming along through a back alley, I glanced over a fence, and there was Fitz Smythe’s horse. I can easily understand, now, why that horse always looks so dejected and in different to the things of this world. They feed him on old newspapers. I had often seen Smythe carrying “dead loads” of old exchanges up town, but I never suspected that they were to be put to such a use as this. A boy came up while I stood there, and said, “That hoss belongs to Mr. Fitz Smythe, and the old man — that’s my father, you know — the old man’s going to kill him.”

“Who, Fitz Smythe?”

“No, the hoss — because he et up a litter of pups that the old man wouldn’t a taken forty dol — “

“Who, Fitz Smythe?”

“No, the hoss — and he eats fences and everything — took our gate off and carried it home and et up every dam splinter of it; you wait till he gets done with them old Altas and Bulletins he’s a chawin’ on now, and you’ll see him branch out and tackle a-n-y-thing he can shet his mouth on. Why, he nipped a little boy, Sunday, which was going home from Sunday school; well, the boy got loose, you know, but that old hoss got his bible and some tracts, and them’s as good a thing as he wants, being so used to papers, you see. You put anything to eat anywheres, and that old hoss’ll shin out and get it — and he’ll eat anything he can bite, and he don’t care a dam. He’d climb a tree, he would, if you was to put anything up there for him — cats, for instance — he likes cats — he’s et up every cat there was here in four blocks — he’ll take more chances — why, he’ll bust in anywheres for one of them fellers; I see him snake a old tom cat out of that there flower-pot over yonder, where she was a sunning of herself, and take her down, and she a hanging on and a grabbling for a holt on some thing, and you could hear her yowl and kick up and tear around after she was inside of him. You see Mr. Fitz Smythe don’t give him nothing to eat but them old newspapers and sometimes a basket of shavings, and so you know, he’s got to prospect or starve, and a hoss ain’t going to starve, it ain’t likely, on account of not wanting to be rough on cats and sich things. Not that hoss, anyway, you bet you. Because he don’t care a dam. You turn him loose once on this town, and don’t you know he’d eat up m-o-r-e goods-boxes, and fences, and clothing-store things, and animals, and all them kind of valuables? Oh, you bet he would. Because that’s his style, you know, and he don’t care a dam. But you ought to see Mr. Fitz Smythe ride him around, prospecting for them items — you ought to see him with his soldier coat on, and his mustashers sticking out strong like a cat-fish’s horns, and them long laigs of his’n standing out so, like them two prongs they prop up a step-ladder with, and a jolting down street at four mile a week — oh, what a guy! — sets up stiff like a close pin, you know, and thinks he looks like old General Macdowl. But the old man’s a going to hornisswoggle that hoss on account of his goblin up them pups. Oh, you bet your life the old man’s down on him. Yes, sir, coming!” and the entertaining boy departed to see what the “old man” was calling him for. But I am glad that I met the boy, and I am glad I saw the horse taking his literary breakfast, because I know now why the animal looks so discouraged when I see Fitz Smythe rambling down Montgomery street on him — he has altogether too rough a time getting a living to be cheerful and frivolous or anyways frisky [ET&S 2: 343-6].

January 18 Thursday ca.According to a Jan. 19 dispatch by Albert Evans, San Francisco correspondent for the Gold Hill Daily News, Sam was “in the dock for being drunk over night.” Since Sam and Evans were anything but on friendly terms, it’s probable that Evans would not delay reporting Sam’s misdeeds. Sam appeared before Justice of the Peace Alfred Barstow [Fanning 107-8].

January 19 Friday ca. – Based on the events of Sam’s imprisonment, Evans’ dispatch, and Sam’s appearance before a magistrate, Fanning concludes this the likely date that Sam “put the pistol to my head but wasn’t man enough to pull the trigger” [108]. ].


January 20 Saturday Sam wrote from San Francisco to his mother, and sister Pamela:

“I don’t know what to write—my life is so uneventful. I wish I was back there piloting up & down the river again. Verily, all is vanity and little worth—save piloting” [MTL 1: 327].

Sam was at a low point. It seems like the new and wondrous places he found since leaving Hannibal soon wore thin, and his wanderlust took over. His piloting days would always be fixed in his memory in a romantic haze. Without that fixture, much of his great works might not have been produced. He bemoaned that the “Jumping Frog” story, “ a villainous backwoods sketch” would be singled out by “those New York people” to “compliment.” Perhaps his use of Coon’s story didn’t feel much like his own, even though he’d worked hard at revising it. He also wrote of Bret Harte’s desire to collaborate on a collection of stories and sketches, and a burlesque of California’s best poets book he and Harte planned. Neither work came to fruition. Sam enclosed clippings from the San Francisco Examiner about a new book he was to write [MTL 1: 327-31].


January 21 Sunday The Golden Era reprinted Sam’s articles, “What have the Police been Doing, ” and “Fitz Smythe’s Horse” [Walker 97-99]. Sam’s attacks on the police have often been cited as a contributing factor in his departure from San Francisco. Regardless, Sam enjoyed poking the police with his pen. This first article is doubtless one the Call would not publish.

January 22 Monday – Sam’s jailing brought delight to his rivals, including Albert Evans of the Alta California, who wrote articles objecting to the relocation of the city’s slaughter houses. Evans wrote that such a change would allow prevailing winds to give the entire city “a stench which is only second in horrible density to that which prevails in the Police Court when the Bohemian of the Sage-Brush is in the dock for being drunk over night” [Sanborn 270].

January 23 Tuesday Sam’s San Francisco Letter dated Jan. 18 ran in the Enterprise. Sections: “A Righteous Judge,” “The Righteous Shall Not be Forgotten,” and “Chief Burke.”


Judge Rix decides that the word “bilk” is obscene, and has fined a man for using it. He ought to have hanged him; but considering that he had not power to do that, and considering that he punished him as severely as the law permitted him to do, we should all be satisfied, and enter a credit mark in our memories for Judge Rix. That word is in all our dictionaries, and is by all odds the foulest one there. Its sound is against it—just as the reader’s countenance is against him, perhaps, or just as the face or voice of many a man we meet is against the owner, and repels a stranger. The word was popular a hundred years ago, and then it meant swindling, or defrauding, and was applicable to all manner of cheating. Having such a wide significance, perhaps its disgusting sound was forgiven it in consideration of its services. But it went out of date—became obsolete, and slept for nearly a century. And then it woke up ten years ago a different word—a superannuated word shorn of every virtue that made it respectable. The hoary verb woke up in a bawdy house after its Rip Van Winkle sleep of three generations and found itself essentially vulgar and obscene, in that it had but one solitary significance, and that described the defrauding a harlot of the wages she has earned. Since then its jurisdiction has been enlarged somewhat, but nothing can refine it—nothing can elevate it; it is permanently disgraced; it will never get rid of the odor of the bawdy house. The decision of Judge Rix closes respectable lips against its utterance and banishes it to the domain of prostitution, where it belongs. Depart in peace, proscribed Bilk! [Schmidt: “A Righteous Judge” and “The Righteous Shall Not Be Forgotten” reprinted in Bancroftiana, Fall 1999 10, 12. “Chief Burke San Francisco Examiner (February 5 and 7, 1866) and Albert Bigelow Paine’s Biography].

Sam dug himself an even deeper hole with more comments on police Chief Martin J. Burke:

The air is full of lechery, and rumors of lechery.

I want to compliment Chief Burke—I do honestly. But I can’t find anything to compliment him about. He is always rushing furiously around, like a dog after his own tail—and with the same general result, it seems to me; if he catches it, it don’t amount to anything, after all the fuss; and if he don’t catch it it don’t make any difference, because he didn’t want it anyhow; he only wanted the exercise, and the happiness of “showing off” before his mistress and the other young ladies. But if the Chief would only do something praiseworthy, I would be the first and most earnest and cordial to give him the credit due. I would sling him a compliment that would knock him down. I mean that it would be such a first-class compliment that it might surprise him to that extent as coming from me [Schmidt; see also Scharnhorst, “Mark Twain’s Imbroglio with the San Francisco Police: Three Lost Texts. American Literature, V. 62 No. 4 (Dec. 1990) p 686-91.

January 24 Wednesday Sam’s San Francisco Letter dated Jan. 24 ran later in January in the Enterprise. Sections: “More Outcroppings!” “Among the Spiritualists,” “Personal,” and “How They Take It.” (No text available for the last two items) [Schmidt: reprinted in Mark Twain: San Francisco Correspondent, (Book Club of California, 1957) 66-67].

January 28 Sunday The Golden Era printed or reprinted five articles by Sam: “The Kearny Street Ghost Story,” “Captain Montgomery,” “The Chapman Family,” “Busted, and gone Abroad,” and “Miseries of Washoe Men” [Walker 104, 120].

January 3031 Wednesday Sam’s San Francisco Letter dated Jan. 28 ran in the Enterprise: Sections: “Closed Out,” “Bearding the Fenian in his Lair,” “Card from Volunteers,” “Sabbath Reflections,” and “Neodamode” [Schmidt: “Closed Out” reprinted in ET&S 2: 349; “Neadomode” reprinted in Taper 200-1].

February Items which ran in the Enterprise sometime during the month, day unknown: “Mark Twain, Committee Man,” (reprinted Feb. 11 in the Golden Era), “Mark Twain on the Police,” and three items reprinted in the Feb. 13 Golden Era: “The Signal Corps,” “Spiritual Insanity,” and a San Francisco Letter with “The Russian American Telegraph Company” [Schmidt].

February 3 Saturday Sam’s article “More Spiritual Investigations” ran in the Enterprise and was reprinted Mar. 11 in the Golden Era [Camfield bibliog.].

February 4 Sunday Sam’s articles: The Golden Era printed, “Among the Spiritualists” as “Among the Spirits” [Walker 122]; “The Spiritual Séance” first ran in the Enterprise and was later revised for inclusion in The Jumping Frog (1867) [Budd, “Collected” 1006].

February 6or7 Wednesday Sam’s highly personal attack on Albert Evans is part of his San Francisco Letter written on Feb. 3, titled, “Take the Stand, Fitz Smythe,” printed in the Enterprise on one of these dates. Evans was biased in favor of the San Francisco police, a corrupt organization at that time. Other items in the letter: “Personal,” “More Cemeterial Ghastliness,” “Rev. Charles Ellis,” and “More Outcroppings (II)” [Schmidt].

February 7 Wednesday In response to the above letter that appeared in the San Francisco Examiner on Feb. 5 – Twain dated this letter Feb. 5 to the Editors of the Examiner:


EDITOR EXAMINER:—You published the following paragraph the other day and stated that it was an “extract from a letter to the Virginia Enterprise, from the San Francisco correspondent of that paper.” Please publish it again, and put in the parentheses where I have marked them, so that people who read with wretched carelessness may know to a dead moral certainty when I am referring to Chief Burke, and also know to an equally dead moral certainty when I am referring to the dog:

I want to compliment Chief Burke—I do honestly. But I can’t find anything to compliment him about. He is always rushing furiously around, like a dog after his own tail—and with the same general result, it seems to me; if he (the dog, not the Chief,) catches it, it don’t amount to anything, after all the fuss; and if he (the dog, not the Chief,) don’t catch it it don’t make any difference, because he (the dog, not the Chief,) didn’t want it anyhow; he (the dog, not the Chief,) only wanted the exercise, and the happiness of “showing off” before his (the dog’s, not the Chief’s,) mistress and the other young ladies. But if the Chief (not the dog,) would only do something praiseworthy, I would be the first and the most earnest and cordial to give him (the Chief, not the dog,) the credit due. I would sling him (the Chief, not the dog,) a compliment that would knock him down. I mean that it would be such a first-class compliment that it might surprise him (the Chief, not the dog,) to that extent as coming from me.

I think that even the pupils of the Asylum at Stockton can under stand that paragraph now. But in its original state, and minus the explanatory parentheses, there were people with sufficiently gorgeous imaginations to gather from it that it contained an intimation that Chief Burke kept a mistress!—and not only that, but they also imagined that Chief Burke was in the habit of amusing that mistress with an entertainment of the most extraordinary character! I grant you that if you can make the sentence mean that it was the Chief who amused “his mistress and the other young ladies,” it must mean that the same individual went through the truly surprising performance alluded to. I was sorry to learn that any one had placed so dire a misconstruction upon that sentence; I was genuinely sorry, but the idea was so unspeakably funny that I had to laugh a little, in spite of my tears. Certain friends of the Chief’s were really distressed about this thing, and my object in writing this paragraph now, is to assure them emphatically that I did not intend to hint that he kept a mistress, and to further assure them that I have never heard any one in the world intimate such a thing. I think that is plain enough. I have written hard things about Chief Burke, in his official capacity, and I have no doubt I shall do it again; but I have not the remotest idea of meddling with his private affairs. Even if he kept a mistress, I would hardly parade it in the public prints; nor would I object to his performing any gymnastic miracle which might suggest itself to his mind as being calculated to afford her wholesome amusement. I am a little at loggerheads with M. J. Burke, Chief of Police, and I must beg leave to stir that officer up some in the papers from time to time; but M. J. Burke, in his capacity as a private citizen, is a bosom friend of mine, and is safe from my attacks. I would even drink with him, if asked to do so. But Chief Burke don’t keep a mistress. On second thoughts, I only wish he did. I would call it malfeasance in office and publish it in a minute! MARK TWAIN.

February 810 Saturday Sam’s article “Remarkable Dream” is part of his San Francisco Letter dated Feb. 6 which ran in the Enterprise. The piece is another swipe at “Fitz Smythe.” Other items in the letter: “Ministerial Change,” “Personal,” and “Dogberry’s Lecture.” (Text not available for last two items) [ET&S 2: 353].

February 10 Saturday – Sam’s article, “Mark Twain Among the Spirits” was printed in the Californian [Reprinted from the Enterprise] [Schmidt].

February 11 Sunday The Golden Era reprinted Sam’s earlier February Enterprise article, “Mark Twain a Committee Man,” A hilarious account of Sam “handling” a stage spiritualist [Walker 125].

February 12 Monday Sam’s San Francisco Letter of this date ran later in February in the Enterprise. Sections: “Michael,” “Liberality of Michael,” “Liberality to His Heir,” The New Play,” and “Personal,” –all text unavailable. Also in the letter, in full:


I once made up my mind to keep the ladies of the State of Nevada posted upon the fashions, but I found it hard to do. The fashions got so shaky that it was hard to tell what was good orthodox fashion, and what heretical and vulgar. This shakiness still obtains in everything pertaining to a lady’s dress except her bonnet and her shoes. Some wear waterfalls, some wear nets, some wear cataracts of curls, and a few go bald, among the old maids; so no man can swear to any particular “fashion” in the matter of hair.

The same uncertainty seems to prevail regarding hoops. Little “highflyer” schoolgirls of bad associations, and a good many women of full growth, wear no hoops at all. And we suspect these, as quickly and as naturally as we suspect a woman who keeps a poodle. Some who I know to be ladies, wear the ordinary moderate sized hoops, and some who I also know to be ladies, wear the new hoop of the “ spread-eagle “ pattern—and some wear the latter who are not elegant and virtuous ladies—but that is a thing that may be said of any fashion whatever, of course. The new hoops with a spreading base look only tolerably well. They are not bell-shaped—the “spread” is much more abrupt than that. It is tent-shaped; I do not mean an army tent, but a circus tent—which comes down steep and small half way and then shoots suddenly out horizontally and spreads abroad. To critically examine these hoops—to get the best effect—one should stand on the corner of Montgomery and look up a steep street like Clay or Washington. As the ladies loop their dresses up till they lie in folds and festoons on the spreading hoop, the effect presented by a furtive glance up a steep street is very charming. It reminds me of how I used to peep under circus tents when I was a boy and see a lot of mysterious legs tripping about with no visible bodies attached to them. And what handsome vari-colored, gold-clasped garters they wear now-a-days! But for the new spreading hoops, I might have gone on thinking ladies still tied up their stockings with common strings and ribbons as they used to do when I was a boy and they presumed upon my youth to indulge in little freedoms in the way of arranging their apparel which they do not dare to venture upon in my presence now.

But as I intimated before, one new fashion seems to be marked and universally accepted. It is in the matter of shoes. The ladies all wear thick-soled shoes which lace up in front and reach half way to the knees. The shoe itself is very neat and handsome up to the top of the instep—but I bear a bitter animosity to all the surplus leather between that point and the calf of the leg. The tight lacing of this legging above the ankle-bone draws the leather close to the ankle and gives the heel an undue prominence or projection—makes it stick out behind and assume the shape called the “jay bird heel” pattern. It does not look well. Then imagine this tall shoe on a woman with a large, round, fat foot, and a huge, stuffy, swollen-looking ankle. She looks like she had on an elbow of stove pipe. Any foot and ankle that are not the perfection of proportion and graceful contour look surpassingly ugly in these high-water shoes. The pretty and sensible fashion of looping up the dress gives one ample opportunity to critically examine and curse an ugly foot. I wish they would cut down these shoes a little in the matter of leggings [Taper 217-18].

February 13 Tuesday See February listing for items reprinted this day in the Golden Era.

February 15 Thursday Sam’s San Francisco Letter of this date ran later in February in the Enterprise. Sections: “Funny,” “Montana,” “Literary,” “Personal,” and “Specie and Currency.” Only the first article text is available:


Chief Burke’s Star Chamber Board of Police Commissioners is the funniest institution extant, and the way he conducts it is the funniest theatrical exhibition in San Francisco. Now to see the Chief fly around and snatch up accuser and accused before the commission when any policeman is charged with misconduct in the public prints, you would imagine that fearful Commission was really going to raise the very devil. But it is all humbug, display, fuss and feathers. The Chief brings his policeman out as sinless as an angel, unless the testimony be heavy enough and strong enough, almost, to hang an ordinary culprit, in which case a penalty of four or five days’ suspension is awarded. …

Why, the other day, in one of the Commission trials, where a newspaper editor was summoned as a prosecutor, they detailed a substitute for the real delinquint, and tried him! There may be more joke than anything else about that statement, but I heard it told, anyhow. And then it is plausible—it is just characteristic of Star Chamber antics [Taper 218-20].

February 17 Saturday – Sam’s article, “An Open Letter to the American People” was published this date in the New York Weekly Review [MTL 1: 330 n5].

February 18 Sunday The Golden Era printed three articles by Sam: “The Signal Corps,” “Spiritual Insanity,” and “Mysterious Newspaper Man” [Walker 129].

February 22 Thursday – Sam interviewed passengers upon return of the steamer Ajax, which began its maiden voyage on the San Francisco to Honolulu run on Jan. 13. Sam regretted not going. The Ajax was the same steamship that Sam would take in March.

The earliest known “saloon version” of how Sam acquired the pen name “Mark Twain” appeared in the Nevada City, California Transcript [Cardwell 179]. (“Mark Twain” being a charge for two drinks.)

February 23 Friday – Sam wrote an account of the pioneer voyage of the Ajax for the Enterprise.

February 24 Saturday – Sam traveled to Sacramento [MTL 1: 334n1].

February 25 Sunday – Sam wrote his daily Enterprise letter from Sacramento. It ran later that month. He’d arrived there to call on the editors of the Sacramento Union. Sam knew them and wanted to discuss becoming their special correspondent for a couple of months.

LETTER FROM SACRAMENTO [dated February 25, 1866].

I arrived in the City of Saloons this morning at 3 o’clock, in company with several other disreputable characters, on board the good steamer Antelope, Captain Poole, commander. I know I am departing from usage in calling Sacramento the City of Saloons instead of the City of the Plains, but I have my justification—I have not found any plains, here, yet, but I have been in most of the saloons, and there are a good many of them. You can shut your eyes and march into the first door you come to and call for a drink, and the chances are that you will get it. And in a good many instances, after you have assuaged your thirst, you can lay down a twenty and remark that you “copper the ace,” and you will find that facilities for coppering the ace are right there in the back room. In addition to the saloons, there are quite a number of mercantile houses and private dwellings. They have already got one capitol here, and will have another when they get it done. They will have fine dedicatory ceremonies when they get it done, but you will have time to prepare for that—you needn’t rush down here right away by express. You can come as slow freight and arrive in time to get a good seat [Schmidt]. Note: Captain Edward A. Poole.

Other items in his letter: “The ‘High Grade’ Improvement,” “Boot Blacking,” “Brief Climate Paragraph,” “The Lullabye of the Rain,” “I Try to Out “Sass” the Landlord—and Fail,” and “Mr. John Paul‘s Baggage” [Schmidt]. The Golden Era printed three articles by Sam: “On California Critics,” “On Fashions,” and “A San Francisco Millionaire” [Walker 109].

February 2528 Wednesday Sam’s San Francisco Letter dated Feb. 23 ran in the Enterprise: Sections: “Voyage of the Ajax,” “Pleasing Incident,” “Off for the Snow Belt,” “After Them,” “Theatrical,” and “A New Biography of Washington[Schmidt].


February 26 Monday – This is most likely the day Sam and the editors of the Union agreed he should go to the Sandwich Islands. The exact agreement with the editors is unknown, but it’s clear Sam was to be paid for each letter from the islands. Sam had told his old school chum, Will Bowen, that he was willing to go anywhere the editors sent him, but since he’d missed out on two trips to the Sandwich Islands, it’s likely Sam suggested or offered that destination [Sanborn 273-4].

This is also the day that Orion Clemens resigned as chairman of Ways and Means in the Nevada State Legislature [Fanning 110].

February 27March 2 Friday – Sam booked passage to the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii) sometime after returning to San Francisco.

March 3 Saturday – Sam’s article, “A New Biography of George Washington,” was printed in the Californian [reprinted from the Territorial Enterprise] [Schmidt].

March 3? Saturday – Sam wrote from San Francisco to Billy Gillis (William R. Gillis, who paraphrased this letter from Sam later), telling him that he was leaving in a “short time for Sandwich Islands in company with a party of U.S. surveyors, a special correspondent of the Alta California” [MTL 1: 332]. (Sam had made a deal with the Sacramento Union, not the Alta.)

March 4 Sunday The Golden Era printed two articles by Sam: “A New Wildcat Religion,” and “Biographical Sketch of George Washington” [Walker 106].

March 5 Monday – Sam wrote a short letter from San Francisco to his mother, Jane Clemens and sister Pamela:

I start to the Sandwich Islands day after to-morrow…I am to remain there a month & ransack the islands, the great cataracts & the volcanoes completely, & write twenty or thirty letters to the Sacramento Union—for which they pay me as much money as I would get if I staid at home [MTL 1: 333].


Sam was an excellent speller, but always wrote “staid” for “stayed” (as did others); spelling conventions evolve. Sam briefly mentioned plans upon return from Hawaii, to start straight across the continent by way of the Columbia River, the Pen d’Oreille Lakes, through Montana and down the Missouri River—only 200 miles of land travel from San Francisco to New Orleans [MTL 1: 333-4].

March 7 Wednesday – Sam left for the Sandwich Islands aboard the steamer Ajax. The ship left port at four o’clock in the afternoon on a pleasant breezy day. Passage took ten days, 19 ½ hours [Frear 5]. Sam’s friends had given him letters of introduction to important persons on the island, including the King. They also gave him a case of wine, several boxes of cigars, and a “small assortment of medicinal liquors and brandy” [Sanborn 275-6; MTL 1: 334n1]. From Sam’s notebook:

“Got away about 4 P.M. Only about half dozen of us, out of 30 passengers, at dinner—balance all sea-sick” [MTNJ 1: 112].

March 8 Thursday – From Sam’s notebook:

“Strong gale all night—ship rolled heavily—heavy sea on this evening—& black sky overhead. Nearly everybody sick abed yet” [MTNJ 1: 112].

March 9 Friday – From Sam’s notebook:

“Woke up several times in the night—must have had pretty rough time of it from the way the vessel was rolling.—Heard passengers heaving & vomiting occasionally. Very rough, stormy night, I am told” [MTNJ 1: 112].

On this night he made one of his few personal entries. He’d just read letters from home that had arrived late. They announced news of further oil discoveries on the Tennessee Land. Sam wrote:

“…& that worthless worthless [canceled twice] brother of mine, with his eternal cant about law & religion, getting ready in his slow, stupid way, to go to Excelsior, in stead of the States, to sell the land….He sends me some prayers as usual” [MTNJ 1: 112].

March 917 Saturday – The weather was stormy for three days. While aboard the Ajax, Sam jotted in his notebooks what information about the islands he gained from talk with passengers who lived there. He recorded anecdotes, bits of conversation, regional dialect, and occupational vernacular, such as the euchre game he watched between three whaling captains. From his notes he wrote the first letter to the Union, in which he included himself in the euchre contest. Sam would write 25 letters for the Union on this trip. Sam again used his alter ego in these letters, “Mr. Brown,” an imaginary crude companion. This was a similar literary ploy as his use of the “Unreliable” in his Enterprise letters [Sanborn 276-7]. Note: His choice of the name “Brown” may have been inspired by the hated steamboat pilot, William Brown. 

March 10 Saturday From Sam’s notebook:

We are making about 200 miles a day. Got some sail on yesterday morning for first time, & in afternoon crowded everything on. Sea-gulls chase but no catch.

10th—cont. Three or four of the sea-sick passengers came to lunch at noon, & several of the ladies are able to dress & sit up.

      Captain reports 325 miles made in past 24 hours.

      Found an old acquaintance to-day—never been anywhere yet that I didn’t find an acquaintance.

Note: The “old acquaintance” was shorthand reporter, Andrew J. Marsh, formerly Sam’s colleague reporting Nevada legislative goings-on for the Territorial Enterprise [MTNJ 1: 113].

Sam would later write to the Alta:

Saturday – Weather same, or more so. You can rake that four-days dose of your infamous “Pacific,” Mr. Balboa, and digest it, and you may consider it well for your reputation in California that we had pretty fair weather the balance of the voyage. If we hadn’t, I would have given you a blast in this letter that would have made your old dry bones rattle in your coffin – you shameless old foreign humbug!

The Unionville, Nevada Humboldt Register ran an “interview” with Mark Twain dated Mar. 4.

…last night he would leave, in a few days, for the Sandwich Islands, in the employ of the Sacramento Union. Will be gone about two months. Then will go to Montana for same paper, and next Fall down the Missouri river in a Mackinac boat—he’s an old Mississippi pilot—to New Orleans; where he intends writing a book [ET&S 1: 35].


March 11 Sunday Sam made several brief notebook entries on situations and customs of Hawaii the crew and passengers told him about.

“…sea as smooth as a river. Nearly everybody out to breakfast this morning—not more than ½ dozen sick now” [MTNJ 1: 113].


Frear writes of Twain’s preparations during the voyage:

…on the voyage he strove to acquire all the information he could about Hawaii, preparatory to arrival. Besides questioning seamen and Honolulu passengers, of whom there were several well-informed, such as the missionary sons, Captain (afterwards General) W.H. Dimond and Rev. T.G. Thurston, he devoted much attention to books, including a Hawaiian dictionary and phrase book, which he had succeeded in borrowing.

He was much taken with the language. He later even made a list of Hawaiian phrases for his own use [9].

Note: Thomas G. Thurston (1836-1884). William Henry Dimond (1838-1896), son of Rev. Henry Dimond (1808-1895) who came to the Hawaiian Islands with the Seventh Company of American missionaries, arriving on December 5, 1834. William left the islands in 1868 due to his wife’s health and later became superintendent of the S.F. Mint and General of the California National Guard.

The Golden Era printed two articles by Sam: “More Spiritual Investigations,” (reprinted from Feb. 3 Enterprise) [Camfield bibliog.]; and “On Boot-blacks” [Walker 135, 114].

March 13 Tuesday – Having put their Carson City house up for sale and most of their worldly possessions, Orion and Mollie Clemens left Carson for points west. Orion would settle at Meadow Lake, in the Excelsior mining district of Nevada Co., California; Mollie continued on to Sacramento and San Francisco. They rejoined on June 16 and continued liquidating possessions and raising money for the trip home to Keokuk [MTL 1: 342n1]. (See Aug. 30 entry.)

March 14 Wednesday – Sam developed the mumps. He would quickly recover once in the islands [Sanborn 278; Frear 5].

March 18 Sunday – The Ajax arrived at Honolulu at 11:30 AM, to the peals of “six different church bells” [Frear 5, 18]. A crowd of four or five hundred colorfully dressed natives and tourists met the boat. Sam was duly impressed [Sanborn 277].

From Sam’s first letter to the Union On Board Steamer AJAX, HONOLULU (H. I.), MARCH 18 — ran in the Union April 16 1866:


We arrived here to-day at noon, and while I spent an hour or so talking, the other passengers exhausted all the lodging accommodations of Honolulu. So I must remain on board the ship to-night. It is Very warm in the stateroom, no air enters the ports. Therefore, have dressed in a way which seems best calculated to suit the exigencies of the case. A description of this dress is not necessary. I may observe, however, that I bought the chief article of it at ‘Ward’s.

There are a good many mosquitoes around to-night and they are rather troublesome; but it is a source of unalloyed satisfaction to me to know that the two millions I sat down on a minute ago will never sing again.

Note: Sam’s letters from Hawaii are referenced from [Mark Twain’s Letters from Hawaii, ed. A. Grove Day 1966]. Print dates for the Sacramento Union are taken from [Schmidt, www.twainquotes.com]. Frear notes that mosquitoes were introduced into Hawaii in 1828 “in water casks by the ship Wellington from San Blas, Mexico—in retaliation, it was said, for refusal to repeal the laws against vice” [19n3].

Frear writes:

However, that first quiet day, before writing his first letter to the Union in the evening, he eagerly made his first reconnaissance. “The further I traveled through the town the better I liked it. Every step revealed a new contrast—disclosed something I was unaccustomed to,” and he went on at length to contrast Honolulu with San Francisco, much to the disadvantage of the latter [19].

The Golden Era first ran Sam’s article, “Reflections on the Sabbath” [Walker 115].

March 19 Monday – From Sam’s second letter to the Union dated “Honolulu, March 19, 1866” Ran in the Union Apr. 17 1866: THE AJAX VOYAGE CONTINUED:

“We passengers are all at home now — taking meals at the American Hotel, and sleeping in neat white cottages, buried in noble shade trees and enchanting tropical flowers and shrubbery” [Day 17; Frear 19-20].

“Hotels gouge Californians—charges sailing passengers eight dollars a week for board, but steamer passengers ten” [MTNJ 1: 195].

Frear writes of the American Hotel:


The hotel was opened only on the first of that month and was kept by a German, M. Kirchhoff, but an added interest to Mark Twain was that a fellow “lady passenger of high recommendations’ bought a half interest in it, and showed determination to achieve success.



The hotel was on the upper side of Beretainia Street opposite the end of what is now Bishop Street. … At first Twain took only his meals there and at Laller’s restaurant on Nuuanu Street, rooming part of the time on Emma Street at the old Queen Emma…where St. Andrew’s Cathedral is now, and part of the time on the corner of Fort Street and Chaplain Lane next to “Father” Damon’s home. During the last part of his visit he also roomed at the hotel. On Emma Street he was at the J.H. Black’s, a newspaper man with whom he had been associated as a printer in earlier days. Twain is said to have had a genial table at the hotel, at which he presided as the “autocrat” [20 & n5]. Note: editorial emphasis.


March 22 Thursday – Sam wrote in pencil on the flyleaf of a copy of Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress (in Hawaiian): “Sam. L. Clemens / From Rev. S. C. Damon / Honolulu, Hawaii, / March 22, 1866” [Gribben 112]. Note: Samuel Chenery Damon (1815-1885) pastor of the Oahu Bethel Church and chaplain of the Honolulu American Seamen’s Friend Society.


Frear [52] puts this notebook entry [MTNJ 1:195] of Sam’s to “Shortly after his arrival”:


Charley Richards keeps a tremendous spider & 2 lizards for pets. I would like to sleep with him if he would get a couple of snakes or so. / Honolulu hospitality. Richards said: “Come in—sit down—take off your coat & boots—take a drink. Here is a pass-key to the liquor & cigar cupboard—put it in your pocket—two doors to this house—stand wide open night & day from January till January—no locks on them—march in whenever you feel like it, take as many drinks & cigars as you want, & make yourself at home” [Note: Charles L. Richards was a partner in C.L. Richards & Co., Honolulu ship chandlers and commission merchants.]


March 24 Saturday – Sam’s article, “A Complaint About Correspondents” was printed in the Californian [Schmidt].


March 25 SundayFrear writes of Sam’s church attendance this day:

On the next Sunday after his arrival Mark Twain attended church and heard his fellow passenger, T.G. Thurston,  deliver his first sermon. “Young Thurston made his first sermon in Fort Street Church Sunday evening 25th—his old father and mother (missionary 46 years) present—feeling remarks of minister in his prayer about the old people being spared to hear the son they had dedicated to the Lord—very affecting” [25]. Note: see Mar. 11 entry.

March, lateSam undertook his “equestrian excursion” around the island. Young Henry Macfarlane was along for much of the ride [Day 44-65]. Frear, Ch. III, discusses Sam’s poor horsemanship. See also MTL 1: 371n2.


April Sam’s sketch, “A Strange Dream,” was written: a tale about a fictional search for the bones of Kamehameha I (1737?-1819), the conqueror of the Hawaiian Islands [MTL 1: 344 n1].

April 3 Tuesday Sam wrote from Honolulu to his mother, and sister Pamela.

I have been here two or three weeks, & like the beautiful tropical climate better & better. I have ridden on horseback all over this island (Oahu) in the meantime, & have visited all the ancient battle-fields & other places of interest. I have got a lot of human bones which I took from one of these battle-fields—I guess I will bring you some of them [MTL 1: 334].

April 4 Wednesday – Sam visited with the king of Hawaii, Kamehameha V (1830-1872) at Iolani Palace. Sam was escorted by the “King’s Grand Chamberlain,” David Kalakaua (1836-1891) who would become king in 1874.

April 6 Friday – “Special Dispatch from Mark Twain” ran on page 4 of the New York Times, the first such mention of Sam in that paper:

“Have had an interview with the spirits of Jno. Phoenix and Joe Miller. In their opinion it can’t be done. Joe wanted to know if it’s a regular ‘Tenner’ or something ‘queer.’ MARK TWAIN.”


April 7 Saturday – Sam’s Article, “On Linden, etc.,” was printed in the Californian:

And speaking of steamboats reminds me of an incident of my late trip to Sacramento. I want to publish it as showing how going north on the river gradually enfeebles one’s mind, and accounts for the strange imbecility of legislators who leave here sensible men, and become the reverse, to the astonishment of their constituents, by the time they reach their seats in the Capitol at Sacramento [Schmidt].

April, mid – Sam left for Maui on a small schooner, where he saw the Haleakala volcano [Frear 55; MTL 1: 335n5]. Frear on some notable personages Sam met on Maui:

As on Oahu he found Minister [C.C.] Harris and Bishop [T.N.] Staley types of pretense deserving his hottest denunciation for years, so on Maui he found a character whom he immortalized as a Munchausen. He called him Markiss. His real name was F.A. Oudinot. He claimed descent from Napoleon’s famed Marshal of that name, and on French national days would celebrate all by himself in a gorgeous French uniform and with a French flag. In 1880 he was pointed out to the writer as the man Mark Twain branded the biggest liar on earth. There was a store with large timber doors on the waterfront street facing the sea at Lahaina, and here in dull seasons it was customary for a variety of characters to gather for gossip and to watch the schooners come and go. Besides a Peter Tredway who had a fund of more moderate stories, there were two men who had “a very adventurous life, according to their tellings.” Apparently it was here that Mark Twain first met Oudinot—“in a sort of public room in the town of Lahaina,” as he wrote, and in Roughing It he devoted a chapter to four stories (the chimney, the tree, the horse and the blast) told by Oudinot, the latter’s sad end, and the uncomfortable effects on Twain himself. Twain added seemingly naively; “Almost from the beginning, I regarded that man as a liar” [57-8]. Note: editorial emphasis.

April 16 Monday – Sam’s first letter from the Sandwich Islands ran in the Sacramento Union. (See Mar. 18 entry) [Day 3].

April 17 Tuesday – Sam’s second letter from the Sandwich Islands ran in the Sacramento Union. (See Mar. 19 entry) [Day 9].

April 18 Wednesday – Sam’s third letter to the Union dated “Honolulu, March, 1866: STILL AT SEA” ran in the Union:

“I have been here a day or two now, but I do not know enough concerning the country yet to commence writing about it with confidence, so I will drift back to sea again.”

He then wrote a long letter about the Ajax and the need to establish a permanent steamship line to the islands [Day 18].

Note: the next several letters, dated only “March” were printed daily in the Union. Sam may have written these on consecutive days, but there is no way of telling, and his habit of writing in “fits and starts” was well established. According to A. Grove Day [page x], dates given for letters from Hawaii cannot always be trusted. Sam’s last eight letters were published after his return, and some were written after and dated earlier.

April 19 Thursday Sam’s fourth letter to the Union, dated “Honolulu, March, 1866: OUR ARRIVAL ELABORATED A LITTLE MORE” ran in the Union:

I had not shaved since I left San Francisco – ten days. As soon as I got ashore I hunted for a striped pole, and shortly found one. I always had a yearning to be a King. This may never be, I suppose. But at any rate it will always be a satisfaction to me to know that if I am not a King, I am the next thing to it – I have been shaved by the King’s barber [Day 29].

April 20 Friday Sam’s fifth letter to the Union, dated “Honolulu, March, 1866: BOARD AND LODGING SECURED” ran in the Union:

Washing is done chiefly by the natives, price, a dollar a dozen. If you are not watchful, though, your shirt won’t stand more than one washing, because Kanaka artists work by a most destructive method. They use only cold water-sit down by a brook, soap the garment, lay it on one rock and “pound” it with another. This gives a shirt a handsome fringe around its borders, but it is ruinous on buttons. If your washerwoman knows you will not put up with this sort of thing, however, she will do her pounding with a bottle, or else rub your clothes clean with her hands. After the garments are washed the artist spreads them on the green grass, and the flaming sun and the winds soon bleach them as white as snow. They are then ironed on a cocoa-leaf mat spread on the ground, and the job is finished. I cannot discover that anything of the nature of starch is used.

Board, lodging, clean clothes, furnished room, coal oil or whale oil lamp (dingy, greasy, villainous)— next you want water, fruit, tobacco and cigars, and possibly wines and liquors—and then you are ‘fixed,’ and ready to live in Honolulu [Day 37].

April 21 Saturday Sam’s sixth letter, dated “Honolulu, March, 1866: COMING HOME FROM PRISON” ran in the Union:

I am probably the most sensitive man in the kingdom of Hawaii to night — especially about sitting down in the presence of my betters. I have ridden fifteen or twenty miles on horseback since 5 P.M., and to tell the honest truth, I have a delicacy about sitting down at all. I am one of the poorest horsemen in the world, and I never mount a horse without experiencing a sort of dread that I may be setting out on that last mysterious journey which all of us must take sooner or later, and I never come back in safety from a horseback trip without thinking of my latter end for two or three days afterward. This same old regular devotional sentiment began just as soon as I sat down here five minutes ago [Day 44].

Sam’s article, “Mark Twain at Sea,” was printed in the Californian [Reprinted from Sacramento Daily Union of Apr. 17, 1866] [Schmidt].

April 24Tuesday Sam’s seventh letter, dated “Honolulu, March, 1866: THE EQUESTRIAN EXCURSION CONCLUDED” ran in the Union:

The popular-song nuisance follows us here. In San Francisco it used to be “Just Before the Battle Mother,’’ every night and all night long. Then it was “When Johnny Comes Marching Home.” After that it was “Wearin’ of the Green.” And last and most dreadful of all, came that calamity of “When We Were Marching Through Georgia.” It was the last thing I heard when the ship sailed, and it gratified me to think I should hear it no more for months. And now, here at dead of night, at the very outpost and fag-end of the world on a little rock in the middle of a limitless ocean, a pack of dark-skinned savages are tramping down the street singing it with a vim and an energy that make my hair rise! – singing it in their own barbarous tongue! They have got the tune to perfection — otherwise I never would have suspected that

“Waikiki lantani oe Kaa hooly hooly wawhoo”

means, “When We Were Marching Through Georgia.” If it would have been all the same to General Sherman, I wish he had gone around by the way of the Gulf of Mexico, instead of marching through Georgia [Day 65].

April 26 Thursday Sam wrote from Wailuku, Maui, to the Kimball brothers who had been fellow passengers on the Ajax.

Messrs Kimball—

Gentlemen—Don’t you think for a moment of going up on Haleakala without giving me an opportunity of accompanying you! I have waited for & skirmished after some company for some time without avail, & now I hear that you will shortly be at Haiku. So I shall wait for you.

Cannot you let me know, just as soon as you arrive, & give me a day or two (or more, even, if possible,) to get there in, with my horse? Because I am told the distance hence to Haiku is 15 miles—to prosecute which will be a matter of time, to my animal, & possibly a matter of eternity. His strong suit is grace & personal comeliness, rather than velocity.

Yours Very Truly,

Sam L. Clemens.

(Or “Mark Twain,” if you have forgotten my genuine name.)

My address is “Plantation.”Wailuku

I shall send two or three notes for by different parties, for fear one might miss fire—an idea suggested by my own native sagacity [MTPO]. Note: Sam had heard they would be in Haiku, a village 15 miles from him and asked the brothers to wait for him to travel to the extinct volcano Haleakala. He described his visit in Roughing It, Ch. 76. Note: MTP subject index lists William Cargill Kimball (1841-1890) and Warren Woods Kimball (1838-1874).

Frear writes:

On Maui he made Wailuku, now the county seat, his headquarters, boarded with G. Armstrong whom he had met in Virginia City, roomed with a Mr. Tallant, the plantation bookkeeper, loafed and smoked and spun yarns of an evening at a nearby carpenter shop, when not doing so at Armstrong’s, supped often and had “jolly times” with his most prized friend there, the missionary “Father” Alexander, met many others from the “homeliest” to the “oldest,” the “King of Liars,” and probably some of the relatives of his friend Charles Warren Stoddard, attended card and dancing parties and scoured the island scenically and industrially [56-7]. Note: editorial emphasis. Frear also quotes Armstrong’s interview of 32 years later: “For he hadn’t a red cent, not even decent clothes.”

April 28 Saturday – Sam’s article, “Mark Twain on His Travels,” was printed in the Californian [Schmidt].

May 1 Tuesday ca. Sam visited Ulapalakua Plantation. Sam wrote about sugar production on the islands in his twenty-third Union letter published Sept. 26, “The High Chief of Sugardom,” and so visited several plantations.

May 3 Thursday Sam returned to Waikapu Sugar Plantation, owned by Henry Cornwell, where he spent the night. The Hornet sank in the Pacific, 108 days out and a little above the equator [Frear 103].

May 4 Friday – Sam wrote from the Wailuku Sugar Plantation, Maui to his mother, Jane Clemens and sister Pamela Moffett.

This is the infernalist darkest country, when the moon don’t shine; I stumbled & fell over my horse’s lariat a minute ago & hurt my leg, & so I must stay here tonight. I went to Ulapalakua Plantation (25 miles,) few days ago, & returned yesterday afternoon to Mr. Cornwell’s (Waikapu Plantation) & staid all night (it is a mile from here.)….As soon as I get back from Haleakala…I will sail for Honolulu again & from thence to the Island of Hawaii … to see the greatest active volcano in the world—that of Kilauea …& from thence back to San Francisco—& then, doubtless, to the States. I have been on this trip 2 months, & it will probably be 2 more before I get back to California [MTL 1: 336-8].

May 7 Monday – Sam wrote from Wailuku Sugar Plantation, Maui to Will Bowen. He wrote about being mad at Will for so long that his anger had “about spent itself & I begin to feel friendly again.” Will had owed Sam money and they’d had a disagreement in the early 60s. Will was still a steamboat captain on the Mississippi. Sam also wrote about seeing Daniel Martin, an old Hannibal resident and saloon owner Sam had met in Como, Nevada, near Carson City. Martin billed himself as “Martin the Wizard” and did sleight of hand poorly. He also had a “striped learned pig,” who Martin claimed could “speak seven languages” [MTL 1: 338-40].


May 21 Monday – Sam’s eighth letter, dated “Honolulu (S.I), April, 1866: OFF” ran in the Union:  

At night they feasted and the girls danced the lascivious hula hula—a dance that is said to exhibit the very perfection of educated motion of limb and arm, hand, head and body, and the exactest uniformity of movement and accuracy of “time.” It was performed by a circle of girls with no raiment on them to speak of, who went through with an infinite variety of motions and figures without prompting, and yet so true was their “time,” and in such perfect concert did they move that when they were placed in a straight line, hands, arms, bodies, limbs and heads waved, swayed, gesticulated, bowed, stooped, whirled, squirmed, twisted and undulated as if they were part and parcel of a single individual; and it was difficult to believe they were not moved in a body by some exquisite piece of mechanism [Day 70].

May 22 Tuesday – Sam returned to Honolulu on the schooner Kai Moi (The King) [Frear 55; MTL 1: 335n5]. Frear writes, “During the few days between returning from Maui and sailing for Hawaii, he attended the legislature and wrote two letters on that subject” [56].

Sam wrote his sister-in-law, Mollie Clemens, that he had just returned from Maui. He expressed resentment he still felt for Orion’s refusal to take Henry Camp’s offer for the Tennessee Land.

My Dear Sister:

I have just got back from a sea voyage—from the beautiful island of Maui. I have spent 5 weeks there, riding backwards & forwards among the sugar plantations—looking up the splendid scenery & visiting the lofty crater of Haleakala. It has been a perfect jubilee to me in the way of pleasure. I have not written a single line, & have not once thought of business, or care, or human toil or trouble or sorrow or weariness. Few such months come in a lifetime.

I set sail again, a week hence, for the island of Hawaii, to see the great active volcano of Kileaua. I shall not get back here for 4 or 5 weeks, & shall not reach San Francisco before the latter part of July. So it is no use to wait for me to go home. Go on yourselves. It is Orion’s duty to attend to that land, & after shutting me out of my attempt to sell it (for which I shall never entirely forgive him,) if he lets it be sold for taxes, all his religion will not wipe out the sin. It is no use to quote Scripture to me, Mollie,—I am in poverty & exile now because of Orion’s religious scruples. Religion & poverty cannot go together. I am satisfied Orion will eventually save himself, but in doing it he will damn the balance of the family. I want no such religion. He has got a duty to perform by us—will he perform it?

I have crept into the old subject again, & opened the old sore afresh that cankers within me. It has got into many letters to you & I have burned them. But it is no use disguising it—I always feel bitter & malignant when I think of Ma & Pamela grieving at our absence & the land going to the dogs when I could have sold it & been at home now, instead of drifting about the outskirts of the world, battling for bread. If I were in the east, now, I could stop the publication of a piratical book which has stolen some of my sketches.

I saw the American Minister today & he says Edwin McCook, of Colorado Ter. has been appointed to fill his place—so there is an end to that project.

It is late—good-bye, Mollie.

Yr Bro


[MTL 1: 341-2; MTPO]. Notes: Orion and Molly were leaving Nevada, and would take a steamer from San Francisco to New York, and eventually return to Keokuk. Beadle & Company of New York had plagiarized Sam’s Frog Story (Beadle’s Dime Book of Fun No. 3, Apr. 1866), which evoked Sam’s remark about “the publication of a piratical book.” Edward M. McCook (1833-1909) commissioned on Mar. 21 to replace James McBride (1802-1875) as the US minister resident to Hawaii. McCook was a Union general in the Civil War and governor of Colo. Terr (1869-75).

Also, Sam’s ninth letter dated “Honolulu, April, 1866: SAD ACCIDENT ” ran in the Union:

And etiquette varies according to one’s surroundings. In the mining camps of California, when a friend tenders you a “smile” or invites you to take a “blister,” it is etiquette to say, “Here’s hoping your dirt’ll pan out gay.” In Washoe, when you are requested to “put in a blast,” or invited to take “your regular pison,” etiquette admonishes you to touch glasses and say, “Here’s hoping you’ll strike it rich in the lower level.” And in Honolulu, when your friend the whaler asks you to take a “fid” with him, it is simple etiquette to say, “Here’s eighteen hundred barrels, old salt!” But “Drink hearty!” is universal. That is the orthodox reply, the world over.

In San Francisco sometimes, if you offend a man, he proposes to take his coat off, and inquires, “Are you on it?” If you are, you can take your coat off, too. In Virginia City, in former times, the insulted party, if he were a true man, would lay his hand gently on his six-shooter and say, “Are you heeled?” But in Honolulu, if Smith offends Jones, Jones asks (with a rising inflection on the last word, which is excessively aggravating), “How much do you weigh?” Smith replies, “Sixteen hundred and forty pound — and you?” “Two ton to a dot, at a quarter past eleven this forenoon — peel yourself; you’re my blubber!” [Day 85; Schmidt].

May 23-25 FridayIn the few days between his return from Maui and sailing for the big island of Hawaii, Sam visited the Legislature and wrote two letters about it to the Union [Frear 56].

May 23 Wednesday Sam’s tenth letter dated “Honolulu, April, 1866: WHALING TRADE” ran in the Union:

I have talked whaler talk and read whaling statistics and asked questions about the whaling interest every now and then for two or three weeks, and have discovered that it was easy to get plausible information concerning every point connected with this commerce save one, and that was: Why is it that this remote port, in a foreign country, is made the rendezvous of the whaling fleet, instead of the seemingly more eligible one of San Francisco, on our own soil? This was a ‘stunner.’ Most people would venture a chance shot at one portion of the mystery, but nobody was willing to attempt its entire solution. The truth seems to be that there is no main, central, prominent reason for it, but it is made up of a considerable bundle of reasons, neither of which is especially important when taken by itself [Day 90; Schmidt].

May 24 Thursday Sam’s eleventh letter dated “Honolulu, April, 1866: PARADISE AND THE PARI (JOKE)” ran in the Union:


Stands not far from the melancholy Bungalow, in the center of grounds extensive enough to accommodate a village. The place is surrounded by neat and substantial coral walks, but the gates pertaining to them are out of repair, and so was the soldier who admitted us—or at any rate his uniform was. He was an exception, however, for the native soldiers usually keep their uniforms in good order.

The palace is a large, roomy frame building, and was very well furnished once, though now some of the appurtenances have lost some of their elegance. But the King don’t care, I suppose, as he spends nearly all his time at his modest country residence at Waikiki. A large apartment in the center of the building serves as the royal council chamber; the walls are hung with life-size portraits of various European monarchs, sent hither as tokens of that cousinly regard which exists between all kings, at least on paper. To the right is the reception room or hall of audience, and to the left are the library and a sort of ante room or private audience chamber. In one of these are life-size portraits of old Kamehameha the Great and one or two Queens and Princes. The old war-horse had a dark brown, broad and beardless face, with native intelligence apparent in it, and something of a crafty expression about the eye; hair white with age and cropped short; in the picture he is clad in a white shirt, long red vest and with the famous feather war-cloak over all. We were permitted to examine the original cloak. It is very ample in its dimensions, and is made entirely of the small, silky, bright yellow feathers of the man-of-war or tropic bird, closely woven into a strong, coarse netting of grass by a process which promises shortly to become a lost art, inasmuch as only one native, and he an old man, is left who understands it in its highest elegance. These feathers are rare and costly, because each bird has but two of them—one under each wing—and the birds are not plenty. It required several generations to collect the materials and manufacture this cloak, and had the work been performed in the United States, under our fine army contract system, it would have cost the Government more millions of dollars than I can estimate without a large arithmetic and a blackboard. In old times, when a king put on his gorgeous feather war-cloak, it meant trouble; some other king and his subjects were going to catch it. We were shown other war-cloaks, made of yellow feathers, striped and barred with broad bands of red ones—fine specimens of barbaric splendor. The broken spear of a terrible chief who flourished seven hundred years ago, according to the tradition, was also brought out from among the sacred relics of a former age and displayed. It is said that this chieftain stood seven feet high with out his boots (he was permanently without them), and was able to snake an enemy out of the ranks with this spear at a distance of forty to sixty and even a hundred feet and the spear, of hard, heavy, native wood, was once thirty feet long. The name of this pagan hero is sounded no more from the trumpet of fame, his bones lie none knows where, and the record of his gallant deeds is lost. But he was a “brick,” we may all depend upon that. How the wood of the weapon has managed to survive seven centuries of decay, though, is a question calculated to worry the antiquaries.

But it is sunrise, now, and time for honest people to begin to “turn in” [Day 102].

May 26 Saturday Sam left Honolulu for a three-week visit to the big island Hawaii and Kilauea volcano aboard the little schooner Boomerang [MTL 1: 335n5; Sanborn 285]. Sam’s article, “Mark Twain on His Travels,” (two by this title) ran in the Californian [Schmidt].

May 28Monday – Sam arrived at Kailau Bay. He hired a horse and rode through the coffee and orange region of Kona. The Boomerang was to proceed to Kealakekua Bay, the spot where natives in 1779 murdered Captain Cook. Sam was to meet the schooner there. At sunset Sam stood on the same spot at the same hour where Cook was killed [Sanborn 286; Roughing It, Ch. 69].

Sam wrote: “Plain unvarnished history takes the romance out of Captain Cook’s assassination, and renders a deliberate verdict of justifiable homicide….Small blame should attach to the natives for the killing of Cook. They treated him well. In return, he abused them” [Frear 65]. Note: see also Ch 30 of RI and Ch 3 of FE on the death of Cook.

May 29 Tuesday –Sam saw a “bevy of nude native young ladies bathing in the sea” [RI Ch. 72]. Note: at some point, perhaps at Kailau Bay, Sam joined up with his friend, Charles Warren Stoddard, who had family in the islands (see June 2 Frear entry.) Sam would at times write of “Mr. Brown,” referring to both Stoddard and Edward (Ned) T. Howard (1844?-1918).

In the evening the schooner Emeline and Captain Crane picked Sam up and resumed the sea voyage, since the Boomerang was becalmed [Frear 69].

May 30 WednesdayFrear writes of the events of the day:

…all night and next day (Wednesday) sailing down the black lava coast “parallel with the long mountain that apparently had neither beginning nor end” and “rose with a regular swell from the sea till its forests diminished to velvety shrubbery and were lost in the clouds.” During the night, “dark and stormy…one of those simple natives risking his life [in a canoe] to bring the Captain a present of half a dozen chickens,” prompted Twain again to expatiate on the “amazingly unselfish and hospitable” Kanakas. By midnight they had got near where they were able to stop but couldn’t weather the south point of the island and so put out to sea [69].

May 31 Thursday“All the next day (Thursday) we fought the treacherous point and, after tacking far our that night, made it and came in and anchored the following day (Friday)…” [Frear 69].

June 1 FridayFrear writes of this day’s events:

…anchored…at Kaalualu, in the district of Kau. A six mile horseback ride brought them to the beautiful village of Waiohinu, one of the few inland villages, nestling in the crotch of the hills. This was to him another memorable spot. Besides riding through the canefields and enjoying an abundance of fruits, he wrote: “In this rainy spot trees and flowers flourish luxuriantly, and three of those trees—two mangoes and an orange—will live in my memory as the greenest, freshest and most beautiful I ever saw—and withal the stateliest and most graceful.” He wrote of the independence of the natives in this district and related several singular stories to illustrate, satirically, that the native judges were “rare specimens of judicial sagacity.” Waiohinu has become the most noted spot, though not event, of his Hawaii visit by reason of the physical monument in the form of a Monkeypod (or Saman or Rain tree) which he is reputed to have planted and which has now grown to immense size—trunk six feet in diameter [69-70]. Note: see source notes for the controversy surrounding the accuracy of this tale.

June 2 Saturday Frear on the start of the journey to the volcano Kilauea:

Next day (Saturday) Twain having bought his mule so advantageously and Brown his horse so disadvantageously…they started on their forty-mile ride to the volcano. …after sixteen or seventeen miles Brown’s horse came down to a walk and refused to improve on it. We had to stop and intrude on a gentleman who was not expecting us and who I thought did not want us, either, but he entertained us handsomely, nevertheless, and has my hearty thanks for his kindness. This was at Pahala and the gentleman and his wife, missionary son and daughter, were Mr. and Mrs. F.S. Lyman. They had finished dinner, cleared up and prepared for the Sabbath, as customary; also travelers usually stopped at Kapapala Ranch, four miles beyond. The following quotation from Mr. Lyman not only introduces Stoddard but yields interesting sidelights. Mrs. Lyman at the time noted in her autograph book:

This P.M. after supper two travellers came along to stop over night. I had to fix the room and make corn bread for their supper.


At a later time Mr. Lyman wrote:

One Saturday afternoon after work was done and we had our supper two travellers rode up to our front door and asked if we could lodge them over night, on their way to the Volcano. We recommended them to go four miles further on to where travelers usually stopped, to the Kapapala Ranch, but they begged to stay, they were so tired and it was so late. We finally consented, Bella and her native boy cooked supper for them. She made one of her elegant short cakes and other things. They introduced themselves as Mr. Clemens and Mr. Stoddard. They enjoyed the supper very much and seemed very grateful for our hospitality. After supper they laid themselves out to entertain us, especially Mr. C. with his slow drawling way. He kept us in roars of laughter.…The next morning, Sun., after breakfast and family prayers Mr. C. made comments on the scriptures read which amused the children very much. [Frear 71-2]. Note: editorial emphasis.

Sam’s sketch, “A Strange Dream,” had been penned in April. The tale was about a fictional search for the bones of Kamehameha I, the conqueror of the Hawaiian Islands. The sketch was published this day in the New York Saturday Press [MTL 1: 344, n1]. Sam’s article, “Mark Twain on a Singular Character,” ran in the Californian [Schmidt].

June 3 Sunday From Mrs. Lyman’s diary: “The strangers left after breakfast for the volcano” [Frear 71]. From Frear’s account:

That (Sunday) morning at Kapapala Ranch, where they stopped to hire a guide, the proprietor and another said they intended to go to the volcano the next day but they would go that day if the travelers would stay to lunch, which of course they did. [at the volcano house that evening]… After dinner, when it was ‘thoroughly dark’ they spent several hours in the lookout house, a half-mile away, watching the stupendous fire works, of which he gave a vivid description [73].

The Volcano House (see insert), was a new hotel near the Kilauea volcano. The eruption began May 22 and continued throughout Sam’s stay in the islands [MTL 1: 344n1]. (See Nov. 16, 1866 entry for Sam’s description.)

June 4 to 6 Wednesday Sam and a “stranger Marlette walked on hot lava fields at night. A few days later Sam witnessed a great eruption [RI Ch. 75]. Note: no further account of Marlette was found—another imaginary like Mr. Brown? Or was Stoddard now called Marlette?

June 7 Thursday – Sam left the Volcano House Hotel [MTL 1: 344 n1]. Frear writes, “They didn’t charge him anything at the Volcano House—perhaps another evidence of his ingratiating himself wherever he went. Scenically and spectacularly the Volcano was of course the highlight of his Hawaiian visit” [74]. Frear also writes of a new traveling companion, Ned Howard:

“At the Volcano Stoddard dropped out of the picture and one [Ned] Howard was persuaded to accompany him the rest of the trip around the island. On Howard, the ride to Hilo, the visit there and at the next stop, Onomea, we again quote from Franklin H. Austin, eldest son of the proprietor of the sugar plantation at the latter place.…Sam insisted on calling [Ned] Howard, ‘Brown’ because ‘…it’s easier to remember’” [74-5].

Howard described by Austin as: “…a tall, immaculately dressed Englishman.” Sam as: “…evidently an American, of medium height, rather slouchily dressed in a brown linen suit and a native lauhala straw hat pulled over his eyes. He had a flowing silky brown moustache, rather dark tanned complexion and bushy dark brown hair with bright hazel eyes. [Sam was wearing] sheepskin leggings…and jingling Mexican spurs, which were all in vogue at the time” [75].

At Onomea Sam again entertained for his supper, keeping a long table of overseers and mechanics in stitches until 2 a.m. (See Frear 53-54). Austin observed that Sam seemed somewhat frustrated that he could not make Howard laugh.

Frear on the continued journey:

After lunch the host showed the strangers over the mill and then urged them to remain another night owing to the lateness of the hour and the hardness of the journey. Howard wanted to stay over. “We will surely get lost in those dreadful gulches,” he objected; but the traveling companion insisted that they go on. This was indeed the hardest part of this hard trip, —which laid Twain up for some time and which he long “remembered painfully” …This being the rainy side of the island, there was an almost uninterrupted succession of canyons or gulches, down and up whose jungly sides the trail zigzagged, with the torrent to be forded at the bottom. A guide accompanied them as far as Honomu that day [79].

June 8 Friday – Sam and Ned Howard continued their journey on horseback. Frear estimates they made “at least” Hakalau, “as originally intended, and probably” Laupahoehoe, “where a few days later the survivors of the Hornet disaster landed” [79].

June 9 to 16 Saturday – Sam and party “rode horseback all around the island of Hawaii” some 200 miles by his estimate. “…our Kanaka horses would not go by a house or a nut without stopping.” Frear writes:

“Then, pushing on through the Hamakua District, up along the great Waipio Valley and across the island over the saddle between Mauna Kea and the Kohala mountains, they caught the little steamer Kilauea at Kawaihae and reached Honolulu June 16” [79]. Note: editorial emphasis. Frear adds a footnote here: “Twain wrote that it was the 18th [In RI] but the newspapers gave the 16th as the date of the steamer’s arrival with Twain and Howard in the passenger lists. No wonder they had to “push” to catch the steamer.” [79]

They ended their tour at Kawaihae [RI Ch. 76].

Sam returned to Honolulu [MTL 1: 344n1]. It was during this stay in the city that Sam became bedridden with boils. He passed the time by reading, including Oliver Wendell HolmesSongs in Many Keys (1862) [Gribben 319]. Note: Holmes (1809-1894).

June 20 Wednesday Sam’s twelfth letter dated “HONOLULU, MAY 23, 1866: HAWAIIAN LEGISLATURE” ran in the Union:


The Legislature meets in the Supreme Court-room, an apartment which is larger, lighter and better fitted and furnished than any Court room in San Francisco. A railing across the center separates the legislators from the visitors.

When I got to the main entrance of the building, and was about to march boldly in, I found myself confronted by a large placard, upon which was printed:


It shocked my republican notions somewhat, but I pocketed the insinuation that I was not high-toned enough to go in at the front door, and went around and entered meekly at the back one. If ever I come to these islands again I will come as the Duke of San Jose, and put on as many frills as the best of them [Day 107].

June 21 Thursday Sam’s thirteenth letter dated “HONOLULU, MAY 23, 1866: LEGISLATURE CONTINUED THE SALONS AT WORK” ran in the Union:

The first business that was transacted to-day was the introduction of a bill to prohibit the intermarrying of old persons with young ones, because of the non-fruitfulness of such unions. The measure was discussed, laughed over, and finally tabled. I will remark here that I noticed that there seemed to be no regular order of business observed. Motions, resolutions, notices, introduction and third reading of bills, etc., were jumbled together. This may be convenient enough for the members, but it must necessarily be troublesome to the clerks and reporters.

Then a special Committee reported back favorably a bill to prohibit Chinamen from removing their male children from the islands, and the report was adopted — which I thought was rather hard on the Chinamen [Day 114].

Also, Sam wrote from Honolulu to his mother, Jane Clemens and sister Pamela about his trip to the island of Hawaii:

“—only 6 or 7 days at sea—all the balance horseback, & the hardest mountain roads in the world. I staid at the Volcano about a week & witnessed the greatest eruption that has occurred for years. I lived well there” [MTL 1: 343].

In chapters 74-75 of RI, Sam described his visit to the volcano. Sam wrote that he would go to Kauai in a week but the trip was canceled. Sam would remain on Oahu until he left the islands on July 19.

June 27 Wednesday Sam wrote from Honolulu to his mother, Jane Clemens and sister Pamela of his story on the Hornet crew.

I got the whole story from the third mate & ten of the sailors. If my account gets to the Sacramento Union first, it will be published first all over the United States, France, England, Russia and Germany—all over the world, I may say. You will see it. Mr. Burlingame went with me all the time & helped me question the men—throwing away invitations to dinner with princes & foreign dignitaries, & neglecting all sorts of things to accommodate me—& you know I appreciate that kind of thing… [MTL 1: 347].

Anson Burlingame (1820-1870), lawyer, legislator, and diplomat, put Sam on a stretcher and helped him interview the crew. Sam was suffering from saddle boils. It was Burlingame who gave Sam the advice which is thought to have influenced his future choices:

“You have great ability; I believe you have genius. What you need now is the refinement of association. Seek companionship among men of superior intellect and character. Refine yourself and your work. Never affiliate with inferiors; always climb” [MTB 287].

Frear writes of Sam reconnecting with friends and new ones he made during the Hawaii stay:

He found two Coast friends, Rev. Franklin S. Rising and James J. Ayers, who arrived a little before he did [on Mar. 18], and others from the Coast with whom he was not so well acquainted. The closest new friends he made seem to have been Anson Burlingame, his son Edward, and General Van Valkenburgh, visitors, and “Father” Samuel C. Damon, Henry M. Whitney and Henry Macfarlane, local residents. There were others not so close but of whom he thought highly, such as G.P. Judd, at first medical missionary and then long one of the foremost benefactors of Hawaii in government service, his son, A.F. Judd, later Chief Justice, Rev. Lorrin Andrews, missionary, author of the Hawaiian dictionary and phrase book…and Prof. William DeWitt. Alexander, missionary son, salutatorian at Yale, President of Oahu College, historian and philologist, “one of the finest Greek scholars ever produced,” so Twain wrote [24].

Notes: see also source notes. Editorial emphasis. Rising, in the islands for his health, had been rector of the Episcopal church in Virginia City, “a noble young fellow—& for 3 years, there, he & I were fast friends” [MTNJ 1:110n2]. Ayers was one of the founders of the S.F. Call, and would found the Daily Hawaiian Herald in Sept. Whitney (1824-1904) Hawaii’s first postmaster and owner of the Honolulu Pacific Commercial Advertiser. See Nov. 30, 1895 to Whitney. Macfarlane, a Honolulu liquor dealer. One of Clemens’s companions on his “equestrian excursion” on the island of Oahu in March 1866. Van Valkenburg (1821-1888), sometimes without the ending “h,”former Republican congressman from New York (1861–65) and commander of the 107th Regiment, New York Volunteer Infantry, at the battle of Antietam (1862), was on his way to Japan to take up his duties as American minister resident there” [MTPO; 21 June 1866 to Jane & Pamela, n.5]. Edward “Ned” Burlingame, who originated the joke from Matthew 5:41, “And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.” Andrews (1795-1865) also opened the first post-secondary school for Hawaiians called Lahainaluna Seminary, which evolved into the University of Hawaii. Albert Francis Judd (1838-1900) chief justice (1881-1900), whose father was physician and statesman, Gerrit Parmele Judd (1803-1873); see also MTNJ 1: 97-98. William DeWitt Alexander (1833-1913), besides Greek scholarship, he was an educator, author and linguist, son of missionary William Patterson Alexander (1805-1884).

June 29 Friday From Sam’s notebook: “—visited the hideous Mai Pake Hospital & examined the disgusting victims of Chinese Leprosy” [MTNJ 1: 118].

July 218 Wednesday Sam spent the last eighteen days on Oahu. He rode horseback to sightsee and attended social activities, with Edward Burlingame, Anson’s son [Sanborn 292-3].

July 3 Tuesday From Sam’s notebook:

“Saw star to-night on which counted 12 distinct & flaming points—very large star—shone with such a pure, rich, diamond luster—lustrous—on a field on dead solid black—no star very close—where I sat saw no other—Moonlight here is fine, but nowhere so fine as Washoe” [MTNJ 1: 119].

July 4 Wednesday – Sam danced half the night at a Fourth of July ball. He went to a “great luau” at Waikiki thrown by David Kalakaua, who was to be the next and last Hawaiian king. The luau was to honor Anson Burlingame and General Van Valkenburg, who would sail in a few days for their respective diplomatic posts [Sanborn 292].

July 7 Saturday – Sam’s article, “A Strange Dream,” was printed in the Californian [Schmidt].

July 16 Monday – Sam’s fourteenth letter to the Union, Honolulu, June 22, 1866: HOME AGAIN”

 The Swallow arrived here on Monday morning, with Anson Burlingame, United States Minister to China, and General Van Valkenburgh, United States Minister to Japan. Their stay is limited to fourteen days, but a strong effort will be made to persuade them to break that limit and pass the Fourth of July here. They are paying and receiving visits constantly, of course, and are cordially welcomed. Burlingame is a man who would be esteemed, respected and popular anywhere, no matter whether he were among Christians or cannibals [Day 134; Schmidt].

July 18 Wednesday From Sam’s notebook:

Honolulu, July 18/66 - Have got my passport from the Royal d—d Hawaiian Collector of Customs & paid a dollar for it, & tomorrow we sail for America in the good ship Smyrniote, Lovett, master—& I have got a devlish saddle-boil to sit on for the first two weeks at sea [MTNJ 1: 132].

July 19Thursday Sam’s fifteenth letter to the Union,  dated “Honolulu, June 25, 1866: BURNING OF THE CLIPPER SHIP HORNET AT SEA”:

In the postscript to a letter which I wrote two or three days ago, and sent by the ship Live Yankee, I gave you the substance of a letter received here from Hilo by Walker, Allen & Co. informing them that a boat containing fifteen men, in a helpless and starving condition, had drifted ashore at Laupahoehoe, Island of Hawaii, and that they had belonged to the clipper ship Hornet, [Josiah] Mitchell master, and had been afloat on the ocean since the burning of that vessel, about one hundred miles north of the equator, on the 3d of May — forty-three days.

The third mate and ten of the seamen have arrived here and are now in the hospital. Captain Mitchell, one seaman named Antonio Passene, and two passengers (Samuel and Henry Ferguson, of New York city, young gentlemen, aged respectively 18 and 28) are still at Hilo, but are expected here within the week.

In the Captain’s modest epitome of this terrible romance, which you have probably published, you detect the fine old hero through it. It reads like Grant [Day 137].

Sam left the Sandwich Islands aboard the sailing ship Smyrniote at 4:30 in the afternoon. He chose that vessel over the afternoon ship Comet, because Josiah Mitchell, the Hornet’s captain, and two of the Hornet’s passengers, had all kept logs of the ordeal of the vessel and the aftermath. Sam had permission to copy their logs and to talk with the men and to write up the events for Harper’s Monthly [Sanborn 292-3]. Before Sam departed Honolulu he wrote to Samuel C. Damon, pastor of the Oahu Bethel Church. Sam claimed he returned a book he had borrowed, History of the Hawaiian Islands [MTL 1: 349].

In Sam’s letter of this date to Rev. Samuel Chenery Damon (1815-1885), pastor of the Oahu Bethel Church, he confessed taking History of the Hawaiian or Sandwich Islands (2nd ed. 1844) by James Jackson Jarves (1818-1888). He did not return Jarves’ book, as originally reported; the title of the returned book has yet to be identified. (See Gribben p. 352.)


REV. MR. Damon:—Dear Sir— / return herewith the last book I borrowed, with many thanks for its use and for all your kindness. I take your Jarves’ History with me, because I may not be able to get it at home. I “cabbage” it by the strong arm, for fear you might refuse to part with it if I asked you. This is a case of military necessity, and is therefore [admissible]. The honesty of the transaction may be doubtful, but the policy of it is sound—sound as the foundation upon which the imperial greatness of America rests.

So just hold on a bit. I will send the book back within a month, or soon after I arrive.


Note: Frear on Sam’s leaving the islands:

Mark Twain expected to be over his illness from the hard trip in a few days and then spend three weeks on the fourth largest island, Kauai, the “Garden Island,” –and especially in order to fill in the time while waiting for the arrival of the new American minister, General Edward M. McCook (1833-1909), whose views on Hawaiian politics he wished to obtain. Then he planned to visit China at the invitation of Anson Burlingame and after that the Paris World’s Fair, but first he would go to the “States” to see his folks. But, as so often, his plans did not pan out…The time of General McCook’s arrival was so uncertain that Twain finally sailed three days before that event—after remaining in Honolulu a month and three days [80].

July 20 Friday From Sam’s notebook: “Made 110 miles up to noon of Friday 20th, but were then only 10 miles from Oahu, having gone clear around the island” [MTNJ 1: 133].

July 21 Saturday – From Sam’s notebook: “On 21 made 179 miles” [MTNJ 1: 133].

July 22 Sunday From Sam’s notebook: “Sunday, 4 day out—lat. 28.12. long. 157.42—distance 200 miles in the last 24 hours” [MTNJ 1: 133].

July 23 Monday From Sam’s notebook: “5 day—lat. 31.34—longitude 157.30—distance 202 miles.”

July 24 Tuesday From Sam’s notebook:

“6 Day out—lat. 34.32 N. long. 157.40 W. Distance 180 miles. Had calms several times. Are we never going to make any longitude? The trades are weakening—it is time we struck the China winds about midnight—say in lat. 36” [MTNJ 1: 134].

July 25 Wednesday From Sam’s notebook:

“lat. 37.18 long. 158.06—distance 170 miles. 3 P.M. –we are abreast of San Francisco, but seventeen hundred miles at sea!—when will the wind change?….I was genuinely glad, this evening, to welcome the first twilight I have seen in 6 years, No twilight in the S. Islands, California or Washoe” [MTNJ 1: 134-5].


July 26 Thursday From Sam’s notebook: “Got 50 miles above opposite San Francisco & at noon started back & are now running south-east—almost calm—1700 miles at sea” [MTNJ 1: 136].


July 27 Friday From Sam’s notebook:

We are just barely moving to-day in a general direction southeast toward San F—though last night we stood stock still for hours, pieces of banana skins thrown to the great sea-birds swimming in our wake floating perfectly still in the sluggish water. In the last 24 hours we have made but 38 miles—made most of that drifting sideways. Position at noon, 38.55 N. 157.37 W….Tuesday & Friday bean day; Saturday fish day; Monday & Thursday duck [MTNJ 1: 136-7].


Frear writes: “On the ninth night he saw a resplendent lunar rainbow—to him a good omen” [12].

Throughout the voyage, Sam recorded snippets of events and ideas from his childhood (“The stabbed dead man in my father’s law office”) and from experiences in his travels.

July 28 Saturday From Sam’s notebook: “—38.46—156.36—48 miles—glassy calm—had sternway awhile” [MTNJ 1: 139].

From notebook entries for the period aboard the Smyrniote, it may be inferred that Sam read Ocean Scenes by Leavitt & Allen (1848), during these long calm periods [Gribben 513 from Michael Frank, ed. MTP].

July 29 Sunday From Sam’s notebook: “Overcast, breezy and very pleasant on deck. All hands on deck immediately after breakfast. Rev. Franklin S. Rising preached, & the passengers formed choir” [MTNJ 1: 144]. Note: Rising (1833?-1868).

Frear writes: “One of his fellow passengers was the young Episcopal clergyman Franklin S. Rising, with whom he had formed a warm friendship in a helpful, fatherly way in Nevada and California—the first of his noted ministerial friendships. Rising preached each Sunday on board” [13].


July 30 Monday Sam’s sixteenth letter to the Union, dated “Honolulu, June 30, 1866. A MONTH OF MOURNING:


For a little more than a month, the late Princess—her Royal Highness Victoria Kamamalu Kaahumanu, heir presumptive to the crown and sister to the Kinglay in state at Iolani Pal ace, the royal residence. For a little over a month, troops of natives of both sexes, drawn here from the several islands by the great event, have thronged past my door every evening on their way to the palace. Every night, and all night long, for more than thirty days, multitudes of these strange mourners have burned their candle-nut torches in the royal inclosure, and sung their funeral dirges, and danced their hulahulas, and wailed their harrowing wail for the dead. All this time we strangers have been consumed with curiosity to look within those walls and see the pagan deviltry that was going on there. But the thing was tabu (forbidden—we get our word “taboo” from the Hawaiian language) to foreigners—haoles. The grounds were thrown open to everybody the first night, but several rowdy white people acted so unbecomingly—so shamefully, in fact—that the King placed a strict tabu upon their future admittance. I was absent—on the island of Hawaii [Maui].—at that time, and so I lost that one single opportunity to gratify my curiosity in this matter [Day 161; Schmidt].

Also, while at sea Sam began a letter to his mother, Jane Clemens, and sister Pamela. The letter would be completed in San Francisco on Aug. 20 and would include segments written July 6, 7, 8, 10 and August 20.

The sea is very dark & blue here. I play whist & euchre at night until the passengers all tire out & go to bed, & then walk the quarter-deck & smoke with the mates & swap lies with them till 2 oclock….Get up at 8 in the morning—always the last man, & never quick enough for the first table—& breakfast with servants, children & subordinate officers. This is better than I do in San Francisco, though—always get up at noon, there [MTL 1: 351].

From Sam’s notebook:

“This is the fifth day of dead, almost motionless calm—a man can walk a crack in the deck, the ship lies so still. I enjoy it, and I believe all hands do except the d—d baby. I write 2 hours a day and loaf the balance…1400 miles at sea—Lat. 38.40; long 154.03—Distance 51” [MTNJ 1: 149].


End of July Relating to the diaries of Methuselah and Shem, which were part of a larger project Sam conceived in the late 1860s is this passage in his notebook:

“Conversation between the carpenters of Noah’s Ark, laughing at him for an old visionary—his money as good as anybody’s though going to bust himself on this crazy enterprise” [MTNJ 1: 147}. 

Notes: The passage stands alone; it is evidence to the beginnings of Sam’s attempts to rewrite the Bible on his own terms, attempts that culminated in such works as “Captain Stormfield,” “Letters from the Earth,” and “What is Man?” The age Sam lived in, due to great scientific and technological advances, was one of conflict between science and Christian Biblical belief. Sam was a product of that age and was troubled by what he saw as fallacies in Scripture, though ironically he was influenced more by the Bible than any other book.

August 1 Wednesday Sam’s seventeenth letter to the Union dated “Honolulu, July 1, 1866: FUNERAL OF THE PRINCESS:

Four or five poodle dogs, which had been the property of the deceased, were carried in the arms of individuals among these servants of peculiar and distinguished trustworthiness. It is likely that all the Christianity the Hawaiians could absorb would never be sufficient to wean them from their almost idolatrous affection for dogs. And these dogs, as a general thing, are the smallest, meanest, and most spiritless, homely and contemptible of their species [Day 182].

From Sam’s notebook:

Lat. 38.50 N. Long 150.56 W.—Distance 100 miles. Of Sounding in fair weather. Close hauled—Brail up the mizzen & mizzen-staysail, let go the main-sheet, so as the sail will shiver, put the helm a-lee & brace the mizzen topsail square, so it’ll back, you know. You keep the head-sails & the jib & staysails just as they were before, you understand, & haul taut & belay the lee-braces. When she’s nearly lost her headway but is still coming to the wind, you heave the lead & you heave it quick, too—cussed quick, as you may say [MTNJ 1: 153].

August 3 Friday From Sam’s notebook: “The calm continues. Magnificent weather. Men all turned boys. Play boyish games on the poop & quarter-deck” [MTNJ 1: 158].


August 5 Sunday – From Sam’s notebook: “Everybody cheerful—at daylight saw the Comet in the distance on our lee—it is pleasant in this tremendous solitude to have company.” In persistent solitude, Sam recalled childhood incidents, and jotted down superstitions of his boyhood days. Among these:


      Wash face in rain water standing on fresh cow dung to remove freckles.

      Wash hands in rain water standing in old rotten hollow stump to remove warts.

      Stick pin in wart, get blood, then stick in another boy will transfer your warts to him.

      Split a bean, bind it on wart, wait till midnight & bury at X roads in dark of the moon.

      Niggers tie wool up with thread, to keep witches from riding them.

Sam continued the letter he began July 30.

Afternoon—We had preaching on the quarter-deck by Rev. Mr. Rising, of Virginia City, old friend of mine. Spread a flag on the booby-hatch, which made a very good pulpit…I am leader of the choir on this ship & a sorry lead it is. I hope they will have a better opinion of the music in Heaven than I have down here. If they don’t a thunderbolt will come down & knock the vessel endways [MTL 1: 352].


August 6 Monday From Sam’s notebook: “Lat. 39.54—long. 142.13—Distance 80 miles” [MTNJ 1: 161].

He continued the multi-dated letter to his mother and sister:

“This is rather slow. We still drift, drift, drift along—at intervals a spanking breeze, & then—drift again….There is a ship in sight—the first object we have seen since we left Honolulu” [MTL 1: 352].

August 7 Tuesday – Sam continued the multi-dated letter to his mother and sister he began July 30. He wrote about seeing and identifying the Comet, another ship which had left Honolulu the same day, and which they had spotted for a couple of days.

“In the morning she was only a little black peg standing out of the glass sea in the distant horizon—an almost invisible mark in the bright sky. Dead calm. So the ships have stood, all day long—have not moved 100 yards” [MTL 1: 352].

August 8 Wednesday – Sam continued the letter he began July 30.

Afternoon—The calm is no more. There are 3 vessels in sight. It is so sociable to have them hovering about us on this broad waste of waters. It is sunny & pleasant, but blowing hard. Every rag about the ship is spread to the breeze & she is speeding over the sea like a bird. There is a large brig right astern of us with all her canvas set & chasing us at her best [MTL 1: 353].

From Sam’s notebook:

800 miles west of San Francisco—the calm is over & we have got a strong breeze. This sort of Life on the Ocean Wave will do—the ship is flying like a bird—she tears the sea into seething foam—& yet the ocean is quiet & sunny….Only one dish meaner than stewed chicken, & that is grasshopper pie [MTNJ 1: 163].

August 10 Friday – Sam continued the multi-dated letter to his mother and sister he began July 30.

We have breezes & calms alternately. The brig is 2 miles to 3 astern, & just stays there. We sail directly east—this brings the brig, with all her canvas set, almost in the eye of the sun, when it sets—beautiful. She looks sharply cut & black as coal against a background of fire & in the midst of a sea of blood [MTL 1: 353].

August 13 Monday – At 3 PM, the Smyrniote and the Comet arrived at San Francisco together. The trip had taken 25 days, due to long periods of calm weather [Sanborn 294]. From Walter Frear:

One of the most interesting features of the return voyage was the race between the clipper barks Smyrniote (1426 tons, Capt. Lovett), on which Mark Twain sailed, and the Comet (1836 tons), in command of the noted Commodore John Paty, who had sailed the course upwards of one hundred and fifty times. Both left Honolulu the same afternoon, July 19, about two hours apart, the Comet first. Both took twenty-five days. The Smyrniote was sighted first from the Farallones, about 30 miles off San Francisco, but the Comet maneuvered so that both entered the Golden Gate almost side by side, the Comet slightly in the lead, so near together that the passengers could call across. The Comet dropped anchor fifteen minutes ahead, but was one and three-fourths hours longer in actual sailing time. ….All this was thrilling, and especially to Twain, as he knew many of those on the other vessel, including Mr. [Edward, “Ned”] Howard, with whom he had ridden around the island of Hawaii, and the wife and daughters of Captain Thomas Spencer, with whom he had stayed when at Hilo [Frear 15]. Note: editorial emphasis.

From Sam’s notebook:

“Aug 13—San Francisco—Home again. No—not home again—in prison again—and all the wild sense of freedom gone. The city seems so cramped, & so dreary with toil & care & business anxiety. God help me, I wish I were at sea again!” [MTL 1: 355 n5; MTNJ 1: 163].

Sam telegraphed the publishers of the Sacramento Union, noting his arrival and that he would “go up to Sacramento tomorrow” [MTL 1: 356; Sanborn 295].

August 14 Tuesday Based on his letter of the previous day, Sam left for Sacramento to present his bill to the Union Publishers. They paid him and gave him another assignment to report on the State Fair, which ran from Sept. 10 to 15.

August 1419 Sunday – In his letter completed Aug. 20 to his mother, Sam wrote that he’d been to Sacramento to square accounts [MTL 1: 353]. The exact date of his return took place within this five-day period. He was paid a bonus for his scoop of the Hornet disaster [MTL 1: 355n6]. Sam came down from Sacramento on the steamboat Capital, where he found a pamphlet issued by an insurance company about various insurable risks. This gave Sam an idea for an article for the Enterprise, “How, for Instance?” in which he asked a humorous series of questions to the insurance company about earthquakes and dog bites.

August 18 Saturday Sam’s eighteenth letter to the Union dated “HONOLULU, JULY, 1866: AT SEA AGAIN”:

Bound for Hawaii, to visit the great volcano and behold the other notable things which distinguish this island above the remainder of the group, we sailed from Honolulu on a certain Saturday afternoon, in the good schooner Boomerang.

The Boomerang was about as long as two street cars, and about as wide as one. She was so small (though she was larger than the majority of the inter-island coasters) that when I stood on her deck I felt but little smaller than the Colossus of Rhodes must have felt when he had a man-of war under him. I could reach the water when she lay over under a strong breeze. When the Captain and Brown and myself and four other gentlemen and the wheelsman were all assembled on the little after portion of the deck which is sacred to the cabin passengers, it was full — there was not room for any more quality folks. Another section of the deck, twice as large as ours, was full of natives of both sexes, with their customary dogs, mats, blankets, pipes, calabashes of poi, fleas, and other luxuries and baggage of minor importance. As soon as we set sail the natives all laid down on the deck as thick as negroes in a slave-pen, and smoked and conversed and captured vermin and eat them, spit on each other, and were truly sociable [Day 195; Schmidt].

August 20 Monday – Sam, in San Francisco, completed the multi-dated letter to his mother, and sister Pamela he began on July 30.

“I have been up to Sacramento & squared accounts with the Union. They paid me a great deal more than they promised me. I suppose that means that I gave satisfaction, but they did not say so….Orion & Mollie are here. They leave for Santa Cruz tomorrow” [MTL 1: 353].

August 24 Friday Sam’s nineteenth letter to the Union dated “KONA, JULY, 1866: STILL IN KONA - CONCERNING MATTERS AND THINGS”:

At one farmhouse we got some large peaches of excellent flavor while on our horseback ride through Kona. This fruit, as a general thing, does not do well in the Sandwich Islands. It takes a sort of almond shape, and is small and bitter. It needs frost, they say, and perhaps it does; if this be so, it will have a good opportunity to go on needing it, as it will not be likely to get it. The trees from which the fine fruit I have spoken of came had been planted and replanted over and over again, and to this treatment the proprietor of the orchard attributed his success [Day 209].

August 25 Saturday Sam was probably staying at the Occidental Hotel [MTL 1: 359n2; Sanborn 295]. Sam received and answered a letter from his old Hannibal and pilot friend, Will Bowen.

You write me of the boats, thinking I may yet feel an interest in the old business. You bet your life I do. It is about the only thing I do feel any interest in & yet I can hear least about it. If I were two years younger, I would come back & learn the river over again. But it is too late now. I am too lazy for 14-day trips—too fond of running all night & sleeping all day—too fond of sloshing around, talking with people….Marry be d—d. I am too old to marry. I am nearly 31. I have got gray hairs in my head. Women appear to like me, but d—n them, they don’t love me [MTL 1: 358-9].

Sam’s article, “The Moral Phenomenon,” (a whimsical title Sam gave himself) ran in the Californian [Schmidt]. In the same publication appeared a squib about the promise of Sam’s Union letters collected into a possible book. The article was “probably [by] his friend James F. Bowman (1826-1882)—poet, journalist, and editor pro tem of the Californian—who wrote:”

THERE SEEMS TO BE a very general impression that Mark Twain’s Sandwich Island letters to the Sacramento Union possess sufficient intrinsic interest and value to justify their publication in book form. If the writer could be persuaded to collect and revise them, he would have no difficulty in finding a publisher; and we are satisfied that the book would prove both a literary and a pecuniary success [MTL 2: 3].

August 30 Thursday – Sam’s twentieth letter to the Union from Kealakekua Bay:



When I digressed from my personal narrative to write about Cook’s death I left myself, solitary, hungry and dreary, smoking in the little warehouse at Kealakekua Bay. Brown was out somewhere gathering up a fresh lot of specimens, having already discarded those he dug out of the old lava flow during the afternoon. I soon went to look for him. He had returned to the great slab of lava upon which Cook stood when he was murdered, and was absorbed in maturing a plan for blasting it out and removing it to his home as a specimen. Deeply pained at the bare thought of such a sacrilege, I reprimanded him severely and at once removed him from the scene of temptation. We took a walk then, the rain having moderated considerably. We clambered over the surrounding lava field, through masses of weeds, and stood for a moment upon the door step of an ancient ruin — the house once occupied by the aged King of Hawaii — and I reminded Brown that that very stone step was the one across which Captain Cook drew the reluctant old king when he turned his foot steps for the last time toward his ship [Day 222].

Orion and Mollie Clemens left for Panama, and connections to New York on the steamer Golden City [MTL 1: 342n1].


September 5 Wednesday Sam’s opinion of photographs ran in the Daily Hawaiian Herald:

No photograph ever was good, yet, of anybody – hunger and thirst and utter wretchedness overtake the outlaw who invented it! It transforms into desperadoes the meekest of men; depicts sinless innocence upon the pictured faces of ruffians; gives the wise man the stupid leer of a fool, and a fool an expression of more than earthly wisdom. If a man tries to look serious when he sits for his picture the photograph makes him look as solemn as an owl; if he smiles, the photograph smirks repulsively; if he tries to look pleasant, the photograph looks silly; if he makes the fatal mistake of attempting to seem pensive, the camera will surely write him down as an ass. The sun never looks through the photographic instrument that it does not print a lie. The piece of glass it prints it on is well named a “negative” – a contradiction – a misrepresentation – a falsehood. I speak feeling of this matter, because by turns the instrument has represented me to be a lunatic, a Soloman, a missionary, a burglar and an abject idiot, and I am neither [The Twainian, Jan. 1940 p6].

September 6 Thursday Sam’s 21st letter to the Union dated KEALAKEKUA BAY, JULY, 1866 A FUNNY SCRAP OF HISTORY” ran:

 (Sam arrived back in Honolulu on June 18, so this was one of several post-dated letters)

In my last I spoke of the old cocoanut stump, all covered with copper plates bearing inscriptions commemorating the visits of various British naval commanders to Captain Cook’s death-place at Kealakekua Bay. The most magniloquent of these is that left by “the Right Hon. Lord George Paulet, to whom, as the representative of Her Britannic Majesty Queen Victoria, the Sandwich Islands were ceded, February 25, 1843.”

Lord George, if he is alive yet, would like to tear off that plate and destroy it, no doubt. He was fearfully snubbed by his Government, shortly afterward, for his acts as Her Majesty’s representative upon the occasion to which he refers with such manifest satisfaction.

A pestilent fellow by the name of [Richard] Charlton had been Great Britain’s Consul at Honolulu for many years. He seems to have employed his time in sweating, fuming and growling about everything and everybody; in acquiring property by devious and inscrutable ways; in blackguarding the Hawaiian Government and the missionaries; in scheming for the transfer of the islands to the British crown; in getting the King drunk and laboring diligently to keep him so; in working to secure a foothold for the Catholic religion when its priests had been repeatedly forbidden by the King to settle in the country; in promptly raising thunder every time an opportunity offered, and in making himself prominently disagreeable and a shining nuisance at all times [Day 231].

September 10 to 15 Saturday Sam covered the thirteenth annual fair of the California State Agricultural Society, held in Sacramento, for the Sacramento Union [MTL 1: 361].

September 14 Friday Sam was quoted on Captain Cook by the Daily Hawaiian Herald [Schmidt].

September 22 Saturday Sam’s 22nd letter to the Union dated “KEALAKEKUA BAY, JULY, 1866 THE ROMANTIC GOD LONO” ran: (Sam arrived back in Honolulu on June 18):

I have been writing a good deal, of late, about the great god Lono and Captain Cook’s personation of him. Now, while I am here in Lono’s home, upon ground which his terrible feet have trodden in remote ages—unless these natives lie, and they would hardly do that, I suppose—I might as well tell who he was.

The idol the natives worshipped for him was a slender, unornamented staff twelve feet long. Unpoetical history says he was a favorite god on the island of Hawaii—a great king who had been deified for meritorious services—just our own fashion of rewarding heroes, with the difference that we would have made him a Postmaster instead of a god, no doubt. In an angry moment he slew his wife, a goddess named Kaikilani Alii. Remorse of conscience drove him mad, and tradition presents us the singular spectacle of a god traveling “on the shoulder;” for in his gnawing grief he wandered about from place to place boxing and wrestling with all whom he met. Of course this pastime soon lost its novelty, inasmuch as it must necessarily have been the case that when so powerful a deity sent a frail human opponent “to grass” he never came back any more. Therefore, he instituted games called makahiki, and ordered that they should be held in his honor, and then sailed for foreign lands on a three-cornered raft, stating that he would return some day, and that was the last of Lono. He was never seen any more; his raft got swamped, perhaps. But the people always expected his return, and they were easily led to accept Captain Cook as the restored god [Day 243].

Sam’s article, “Mark Twain at the Islands,” ran in the Californian [Schmidt].

September 26Wednesday Sam’s 23rd letter to the Union “HONOLULU, SEPTEMBER 10 1866 THE HIGH CHIEF OF SUGARDOM”: This letter was dated Sept. 10, even though Sam left the islands on July 19. It describes the “principal labor used on plantations…that of Kanaka men and women—six dollars to eight dollars a month and find them, or eight to ten dollars and let them find themselves” [Day 270].

September 29 Saturday – Sam’s article, “Origin of Illustrious Men,” ran in the Californian:

You have done fair enough about Franklin and Shakespeare, and several parties not so well known—parties some of us never heard of, in fact—but you have shirked the fellows named below. Why this mean partiality?

JOHN SMITH was the son of his father. He formerly resided in New York and other places, but he has moved to San Francisco, now.

WM. SMITH was the son of his mother. This party’s grandmother is deceased. She was a brick.

JOHN BROWN was the son of old Brown. The body of the latter lies mouldering in the grave.

EDWARD BROWN was the son of old Brown by a particular friend.

HENRY JONES was a son of a sea-cook.

WM. JONES was a son of a gun.

JOHN JONES was a Son of Temperance.

In early life GABRIEL JONES was actually a shoemaker. He is a shoemaker yet.

Previous to the age of 85, CALEB JONES had never given any evidence of extraordinary ability. He has never given any since.

PATRICK MURPHY is said to have been of Irish extraction.

JAMES PETERSON was the son of a common weaver, who was so miraculously poor that his friends were encouraged to believe that in case the Scriptures were strictly carried out he would “inherit the earth.” He never got his property.

JOHN DAVIS’ father was a soap-boiler, and not a very good soap-boiler at that. John never arrived at maturity—died in childbirth, he and his mother.

JOHN JOHNSON was a blacksmith. He died. It was published in the papers, with a head over it, “DEATHS.” It was therefore thought he died to gain notoriety. He has got an aunt living somewheres.

Up to the age of 34, HOSEA WILKERSON never had any home but Home, Sweet Home, and even when he had that he had to sing it himself. At one time it was believed that he would have been famous if he had become celebrated. He died. He was greatly esteemed for his many virtues. There was not a dry eye in the crowd when they planted him [Schmidt].

Also, Sam’s article, “How, for Instance?” was published in the New York Weekly Review [MTL 1: 330n5]. “Mark Twain at the Islands” ran in the Californian [Camfield, bibliog.].

September, mid to late – Although they’d traveled in the same regions, from the Mediterranean to the Mississippi to Washoe mining camps, there is no record before this month that Sam and J. Ross Browne ever met. Browne was a humorist in the Western vein of John Phoenix, Bret Harte, and Mark Twain. He was also an excellent travel writer, currently collecting mining statistics in the West for the U.S. Treasury Department. He was living with his family in Oakland. Note: some scholars have asserted that Browne served literary influence on Sam; Gribben lists one thesis and two of Browne’s articles, one series “A Peep at Washoe” that Sam had recommended to his family and in a letter he wrote jointly with Orion to the Keokuk Gate City, May 10, 1862 [Gribben 90]. According to Francis J. Rock, the meeting happened shortly after Sam’s return from the Sandwich Islands and when Sam was preparing for his first platform appearance at the Academy of Music on Oct. 2. From Rock’s 1929 dissertation on Browne, which includes notes from Browne and this oral testimony from Browne’s son:

“Whilst in this state of apprehension he came upon Ross Browne in San Francisco and delightedly greeted him. ‘Browne, you are just the man I want to see.’ He explained his quandary and expressed his anxiety at not knowing how to approach an audience. Browne was by this time a well-known lecturer and could give him the desired direction. Accordingly, Browne invited Mark Twain home to Oakland with him for the few days previous to the lecture, and urged him to try out his material on his house-full of children. Needless to say, the result was gratifying. The enthusiastic response of the Brownes entirely fortified Mark Twain’s courage” [44-5].

Rock further asserts Browne’s Yusef (1853) “as the direct forerunner of Mark Twain’s Innocents Abroad” [72].

October 2 Tuesday – Sam’s first stage appearance took place at the Academy of Music on Pine Street in San Francisco, a new hall owned by Tom Maguire, who suggested Sam try to make his fortune by entering the lecture field and offering his experiences in the Sandwich Islands. He’d offered the hall to Sam at half price, 50 dollars, in exchange for half the profits. Sam agreed and spent 150 dollars on advertising. He had posters made up announcing the Honolulu Correspondent for the Sacramento Union, “Mark Twain,” would be speaking. “Doors open at 7 o’clock. The Trouble will begin at 8.” The city’s elite arrived in force, including the Governor of California. Sam charged a dollar a seat and grossed $1,200 (his net profit after splitting with Maguire and expenses—$400.) Sam’s career as a lecturer was off to a comet-like start [Sanborn 294-7]. Sam later described the event in Ch. 78 of Roughing It.

In the lecture Sam told the audience that:

…his object in delivering this lecture was to obtain funds which would enable him to publish an account of the Sandwich Islands in the form of a volume, with illustrations by [Edward] Jump [MTL 2: 3]. Note: Jump was a French-born caricaturist, San Francisco’s favorite, who later made a living as a portrait artist. Several of Edward Jump’s (1832-1883) lithographs may be found in Bernard Taper’s Mark Twain’s San Francisco. See Works Cited. Taper claims that Sam “admired Jump’s work very much and liked him personally. They roomed together for a while at one point” [p.xxv]. Unfortunately, Taper does not say at what point and no evidence was found. Robert Hirst expressed skepticism of this.

October 3 Wednesday – Newspaper reviews to Sam’s talk were very positive, as witnessed by this excerpt from the San Francisco Evening-Bulletin of Oct. 3:

The Academy of Music was stuffed . . . to repletion. . . . It is perhaps fortunate that the King of Hawaii did not arrive in time to attend, for unless he had gone early he would have been turned away, as many others were who could not gain admittance.

The appearance of the lecturer was the signal for applause and from the time he commenced until he closed, the greatest good feeling existed. He commenced by apologizing for the absence of an orchestra, he wasn’t used to getting up operas of this sort. He had engaged a musician to come and play the trombone, but, after the bargain was closed, the trombone player insisted upon having some other musicians to help him. He had hired the man to work, and wouldn’t stand any such nonsense, and so discharged him on the spot. The lecturer then proceeded with his subject, and delivered one of the most interesting and amusing lectures ever delivered in this city. It was replete with information of that character which is seldom got from books, describing all those minor traits of character, custom and habits which are only noted by a close observer, and yet the kind of information which gives the most correct idea of the people described. Their virtues were set forth generously, while their vices were touched off in a humourous style, which kept the audience in a constant state of merriment. From the lecturer’s reputation as a humorist, the audience were unprepared for the eloquent description of the volcano of Kilauea, a really magnificent piece of word-painting, their appreciation of which was shown by long and continued applause. Important facts concerning the resources of the Islands were given, interspersed with pointed anecdotes and side-splitting jokes. Their history, traditions, religions, politics, aristocracy, royalty, manners and customs were all described in brief and in the humorous vein peculiar to the speaker. . . . The lecturer held his audience constantly interested and amused for an hour and a half, and the lecture was unanimously pronounced a brilliant success [Schmidt].

October 6 Saturday Sam’s article, MARK TWAIN ON ETIQUETTE, was reprinted in the Daily Hawaiian Herald. (See May 22 entry for excerpt).

October 11 to November 27 Tuesday – Sam and Denis McCarthy, former part-owner of the Territorial Enterprise, (who Sam now labeled “The Orphan,” quickly organized a lecture tour in California and Nevada. (Lorch gives strong reasoning that the subsequent lecture tour was most likely organized well before this Oct. 2 debut [35-6]). The lecture, titled “Sandwich Islands” made sixteen engagements between these dates at locations where Sam was well known [Sanborn 298-9]. Dates in Silver City, Dayton, and Washoe were canceled. Lorch writes that the cancellation was due to the “fake robbery” which occurred the night of Nov. 10 [36, 41].

The pair first traveled to Sacramento by riverboat. Lorch writes that Sam chose boat over stagecoach for two reasons: first, it was nostalgic, and second the boat had a bar [36]. Sam gave the lecture “Sandwich Islands,” in the Metropolitan Theatre. The Daily Union reported the next day:

The lecturer entertained the audience for about an hour, discoursing in an easy, colloquial style…seasoning a large dish of genuine information with spicy anecdotes, depicting the lights and shades of Kanaka society….Mark goes hence to cultivate an acquaintance with the people of up-country towns [Sanborn 298-9].

October 15 Monday – Sam and Denis McCarthy traveled by riverboat to Marysville, California (named for Mary Murphy, a survivor of the Donner Party). There, Sam gave the lecture “Sandwich Islands” at Maguire’s New Theatre [Sanborn 299].

October 17 Wednesday Sam’s article dated “Sept. 24, San Francisco, An Epistle from Mark Twain THE QUEEN’S ARRIVAL / ALPHABET WARREN / MISC.” ran in the Daily Hawaiian Herald [Schmidt; Camfield bibliog.].

October 20 Saturday – Sam and McCarthy traveled by stage through gold boomtowns, Timbuctoo, Smartsville, and Rough and Ready (in modern days nearly empty). Sam gave the lecture “Sandwich Islands” in Hamilton Hall, Grass Valley, California. The Grass Valley Daily Union reported:

Crowds are flocking into Hamilton Hall, as we write, to hear Mark Twain’s lecture….But a moment ago we saw the lecturer preparing himself for a clear voice with a copious dose of gin and gam, after which he started for the Hall with the irregular movement of a stern-wheel boat in a heavy wind… [Sanborn 299].

The Daily Hawaiian Herald ran the following on Nov. 16 about the Grass Valley lecture:

CHARACTERISTIC. – The following is the conclusion of Mark Twain’s advertisement for his lecture delivered lately in Grass Valley:

“After the lecture is over the lecturer will perform the following wonderful feats on


if desired to do so:

“At a given signal, he will go out with any gentleman and take a drink. If desired, he will repeat this unique and interesting feat—repeat it until the audience are satisfied that there is no deception about it.

“At a moment’s warning he will depart out of town and leave his hotel bill unsettled. He has performed this ludicrous trick many hundreds of times in San Francisco and elsewhere, and it has always elicited the most enthusiastic comments.

“At any hour of the night, after ten, the lecturer will go through any house in the city, no matter how dark it may be, and take an inventory of its contents, and not miss as many of the articles as the owner will in the morning.

“The lecturer declines to specify any more of his miraculous feats at present, for fear of getting the police too much interested in his circus” [Schmidt].

Sam and McCarthy are said to have stayed in the now historic Holbrooke Hotel, Grass Valley (still in operation as of 2013).

October 23 Tuesday – Sam gave the lecture “Sandwich Islands,” in the Nevada Theatre in Nevada City, California, a short distance from Grass Valley. Sam stayed at the National Exchange Hotel. The local newspaper Transcript wrote:

“Mark Twain” as a lecturer is far superior to “Artemus Ward” or any of that class….We bespeak for him large audiences wherever he goes [Sanborn 300].

October 24 Wednesday – Sam and McCarthy rode horseback to the old mining camp of Red Dog, California and gave the “Sandwich Islands” lecture at the Odd Fellows Hall.

October 25Thursday Sam’s 24th letter to the Union dated “Kilauea, June 1866: A NOTABLE DISCOVERY ran in the Union:


Tired and over-heated, we plodded back to the ruined temple. We were blistered on face and hands, our clothes were saturated with perspiration and we were burning with thirst. Brown ran, the last hundred yards, and with out waiting to take off anything but his coat and boots jumped into the sea, bringing up in the midst of a party of native girls who were bathing. They scampered out, with a modesty which was not altogether genuine, I suspect, and ran, seizing their clothes as they went. He said they were very handsomely formed girls. I did not notice, particularly.

These creatures are bathing about half their time, I think. If a man were to see a nude woman bathing at noon day in the States, he would be apt to think she was very little better than she ought to be, and proceed to favor her with an impudent stare. But the case is somewhat different here. The thing is so common that the white residents pass carelessly by, and pay no more attention to it than if the rollicking wenches were so many cattle. Within the confines of even so populous a place as Honolulu, and in the very center of the sultry city of Lahaina, the women bathe in the brooks at all hours of the day. They are only particular about getting undressed safely, and in this science they all follow the same fashion. They stoop down snatch the single garment over the head, and spring in. They will do this with great confidence within thirty steps of a man. Finical highflyers wear bathing dresses, but of course that is an affectation of modesty born of the high civilization to which the natives have attained, and is confined to a limited number.

Many of the native women are prettily formed, but they have a noticeable peculiarity as to shape—they are almost as narrow through the hips as men are [Day 278; Schmidt].

Note: Sam’s letters may not have been printed in the same sequence they were written. Furthermore, he wrote his mother that he had not bothered with writing while on Maui, so some of the letters from this period were penned after he arrived back in Honolulu, Sam affixing the dates of his activity rather than the date written.

By the time the last Hawaii letters were printed, Sam was back in the States lecturing. On this day Sam gave the “Sandwich Islands” lecture in You Bet, Calif. On their way back to the Exchange Hotel on horseback, Sam and McCarthy became lost in a dense thicket and wandered about until dawn [Sanborn 300-301].

October 26 Friday Sam and McCarthy stopped to see Meadow Lake City, also known as Summit City, Ca., the highest of the gold mining districts at 7,100 feet and the place where Orion Clemens had briefly tried a legal office. They arrived at 9 PM [Schmidt: article from S.F. Bulletin, ran Dec. 6].

“A bright, new, pretty town, all melancholy and deserted, and yet not showing one sign of decay or delapidation! I never saw the like before” [Note: By 1872 the town was abandoned; Sanborn 301].

Sam also telegraphed Joe Goodman: “Our circus is coming. Sound the hewgag (a toy instrument similar to a kazoo) [MTL 5: 681]. From Meadow Lake City, Sam and McCarthy boarded the Pioneer stagecoach for the trip back to Virginia City.

October 27 Saturday – Sam and McCarthy arrived back at Virginia City about ten p.m.

October 29 Monday Sam wrote from Virginia City to Robert M. Howland, an old friend from his Nevada mining days, asking if Carson City would turn out to hear Sam lecture. Sam was unsure of the reception he would get there, due to the Sanitary Ball miscegenation prank [MTL 1: 362].

Sam also wrote to Henry R. Mighels to arrange a hall for his lecture:

Friend Mighels—I am trying to get the theatre for a lecture Wednesday night (day after tomorrow) & if I succeed, I shall preach in Gold Hill Thursday, Silver City Friday perhaps, & Carson Saturday if you think I can get a reasonably good audience. What do you think of it. I ought to get a good house there after all the advertising you have been doing for me—& for which you must accept my warm & grateful thanks [MTP, drop-in letters]. Note: evidently Sam’s plans were changed, as he did not “preach” in Gold Hill Thursday, etc.


October 30 Tuesday The Territorial Enterprise announced that Sam would perform in Virginia City the following night. “We expect to see the very mountains shake with a tempest of applause” [MTL 5: 682n].


October 31 Wednesday – Sam gave one performance in Virginia City—the “Sandwich Islands” lecture at Maguire’s Opera House. It was a glorious homecoming. The Enterprise wrote, “an immense success” [Sanborn 302]. Sam met with old friends, Dan De Quille, Joe Goodman and Steve Gillis. Gillis urged Sam to speak again at the Opera House, but Sam did not want to repeat himself in any one town. Steven hatched a plot to pull a fake robbery of Sam in Gold Hill as a way of getting Sam to lecture again on a new topic [303].

The Longmont, Colo. Ledger of Oct. 10, 1879 ran a story in “Mark Twain’s Testimonial,” in which Sam was greeted before his lecture by a committee of three, that asked him to meet at the “old place,” a saloon, after the lecture. Supposedly he did go and was presented with a silver brick, which stunned him with gratitude until he discovered it was covered with tinfoil [MTJ, Spring 1989 p 33]. Note: This story was not confirmed with other sources, and due to the newspaper article coming twelve years after, may be apocryphal.

November 1 Thursday Sam sent a telegraph to Abraham V.Z. Curry (1815-1873), John Neely Johnson (1825-1872), Robert M. Howland and others to confirm he would be in Carson City the next day to speak there on Saturday evening. Howland had sent Sam a letter dated Oct. 30 with over 100 signatures of prominent Carson City citizens who wanted to hear Sam’s “Sandwich Islands” lecture. The list included Henry Goode Blasdel (1825-1900), Governor of Nevada. Sam wrote to him, agreeing to speak on the stage of the Carson Theatre and:

“…disgorge a few lines and as much truth as I can pump out without damaging my constitution… [signed]. Ex-Gov. Third House and late Independent Missionary to the Sandwich Islands” [MTL 1: 363-5; Sanborn 303].


November 2 Friday – Sam arrived in Carson City. He wrote his mother Jane Clemens  and family a letter about lecturing in Carson City the next night, his next stops and ultimate plans to return to New York, leaving by steamer Dec. 1 [MTL 1: 365].

November 2 Friday ca. – On or about this day Sam wrote from Virginia City to Catherine C. (Kate) Lampton and Annie E. and Samuel E. Moffett. Kate was Sam’s first cousin; Annie and Sammy were Pamela Moffett’s children, Sam’s niece and nephew. Teasing Annie again about the “bullrushers” story, Sam asked,

How is old Moses that was rescued from the bulrushes & keeps a second-hand clothing-store in Market Street? Dear Sammy—Keep up your lick & you will become a great minister of the gospel some day, & then I shall be satisfied. I wanted to be a minister myself—it was the only genuine ambition I ever had. I always missed fire on the ministry. Then I hoped some member of the family would take hold of it & succeed [MTL 1: 367].

November 3 Saturday – Sam gave the “Sandwich Islands” lecture at Carson Theatre in Carson City.


November 7 Wednesday – Sam gave the “Sandwich Islands” lecture at Washoe City, Nevada sometime between these dates [MTL 1: 366n3; MTPO “Mark Twain on the Platform”].

“Card from Mark Twain” dated Nov. 1 ran in the Enterprise [Camfield bibliog.].

November 8 Thursday – Sam gave the “Sandwich Islands” lecture at Dayton, Nevada, probably at the Odeon Hall Saloon, where Sam sometimes drank and played billiards. He arrived in Virginia City “about 12 in the evening…from Dayton[Clark 903].

November 9 Friday – Sam gave the “Sandwich Islands” lecture at Silver City, Nevada.

November 10 Saturday – Sam gave the “Sandwich Islands” lecture at the Gold Hill Theatre, Gold Hill, Nevada. After the lecture Sam and Denis McCarthy were the victims of a prank robbery on the one-mile highway between Gold Hill and Virginia City called “the divide.” An all-night farewell party was promised in Virginia City. Sam and McCarthy were on foot. The “robbers” took about $125 in coin, and a $300 gold watch that Sam highly prized, a present to him by A.S. “Sandy” Baldwin and Theodore Winters [Clark 903].

The Enterprise revealed the next day that Sam might have suspected a practical joke. This elaborate plan of Steve Gillis to keep Sam in Virginia City for more lectures did not pan out. Sam was told about the hoax. Sam was ill again, and after a day’s rest in Virginia City, left for San Francisco. Gillis, in 1907, claimed everyone was in on the prank except De Quille and Goodman—the former was needed to write up a realistic account, and the latter frowned on practical jokes. Among the band of robbers, Gillis named the chief of police George Birdsall (who wanted to “insure the proper performance of the hold-up,” Leslie Blackburn, “Jimmy” Edington, Pat Holland and one or two unnamed others. [Sanborn 305-6; MTL 1: 366n4 for details of the “robbery,” or read Steve Gillis’ 1907 deathbed “confession” account in The Twainian, Jan-Feb 1956 p3].

Note: in William R. Gillis’ 1930 account in Gold Rush Days with Mark Twain, he identifies others involved:

Steve then hunted up Joe Harlowe, Little Hicks, Salty Boardman and John Russell, and they, too, became members of the Gang. Joe Harlowe and Hicks were to do the robbing, while Boardman and Russell were to remain in the shade so that Sam could distinguish them through the darkness. Steve was to wait in the composing room to receive Sam after the holdup [109].

Bret Harte’s review (signed F.B.H.) of Sam’s “Sandwich Islands” lecture of Oct. 2 ran in the Springfield (Mass.) Daily Republican [Tenney 2].


November 11 Sunday Sam’s CARD TO THE HIGHWAYMEN ran in the Enterprise:


      Last night I lectured in Gold Hill, on the Sandwich Islands.  At ten o’clock I started on foot to Virginia, to meet a lot of personal friends who were going to set up all night with me and start me off in good shape for San Francisco in the morning. This social programme proved my downfall. But for it, I would have remained in Gold Hill. As we “raised the hill” and straightened up on the “Divide,” a man just ahead of us (Mac, my agent, and myself), blew an ordinary policemen’s whistle, and Mac said, “Thunder! this is an improvement—they didn’t use to keep policemen on the Divide.” I coincided. The infernal whistle was only a signal to you road agents. About half a minute afterwards, a small man emerged from some ambuscade or other and crowded close up to me. I was smoking and supposed he wanted a light. But this humorist instead of asking for a light, thrust a horrible six-shooter in my face and simply said, “Stand and deliver!” I said, “My son, your arguments are powerful—take what I have, but uncock that infamous pistol.” The young man uncocked the pistol (but he requested three other gentlemen to present theirs at my head) and then he took all the money I had ($20 or $25), and my watch. Then he said to one of his party, “Beauregard, go through that man!”—meaning Mac—and the distinguished rebel did go through Mac. Then the little Captain said, “Stonewall Jackson, seat these men by the roadside, and hide yourself; if they move within five minutes, blow their brains out!” Stonewall said, “All right, sire.” Then the party (six in number) started toward Virginia and disappeared.

      Now, I want to say to you road agents as follows: My watch was given to me by Judge Sandy Baldwin and Theodore Winters, and I value it above anything else I own. If you will send that to me (to the Enterprise office, or to any prominent man in San Francisco) you may keep the money and welcome. You know you got all the money Mac had—and Mac is an orphan —and besides, the money he had belonged to me.

      Adieu, my romantic young friends [Benson 200-01].


November 12 Monday – At noon, Sam and Denis McCarthy left Virginia City by the Pioneer Stage via Donner Lake route for San Francisco. Just as the stage was leaving from in front of the Wells Fargo office, the chief of police George Birdsall handed Sam a package containing his watch, money, two jackknives, corkscrew, toothpick, three lead pencils, and the masks worn by the “robbers.”

According to this account, Sam refused to shake hands with Birdsall and ordered the stage driver to go on. McCarthy was a likely accomplice to the joke [Clark 903-4]. Steve Gillis claimed that Sam accused the bunch of other robberies in the area due to the smooth way his prank was pulled off, and swore they’d all wind up in the penitentiary [The Twainian, Jan-Feb 1956 p3]. Sam planned a new lecture for San Francisco [Sanborn 306].

Lorch claims that Sam was “especially incensed when he discovered that Denis McCarthy was a member of the conspirators,” and “In his fury he sought McCarthy out, paid him off, and told him he wanted no more of his services” [42]. Still, other sources point out that McCarthy and Sam left together. The few letters to McCarthy subsequent do not illuminate this claim. One San Francisco Golden Era reporter, who wrote under the name “Sans Souci” put forth the theory that Sam had created the robbery to gain free publicity [Lorch, 43].


November 13 Tuesday – Sam arrived back in San Francisco at night [MTL 1: 366n4].

November 16 Friday – In front of 1,500 people in Platt’s Hall, San Francisco, California, Sam gave a new lecture based on the ride west with Orion. Sam repeated the same tired joke about Horace Greeley (1811-1872) and Hank Monk (1832?-1883) on a stagecoach until the house’s silence crumbled into waves of laughter. Still, this second San Francisco lecture was not as well received as the first on Oct. 2 [Lorch 44]. Lorch writes:

He had yet to fully understand that audiences not only expected to be informed but desired to be informed, and that while they were greatly delighted with his humor, they had at least to feel that they had been instructed in order to believe they had received their money’s worth. No other problem was to give Mark Twain more concern in the tours that followed than precisely this one: how to satisfy his own desire to make his audiences laugh while at the same time satisfying them that they had been instructed [44].

The Alta California had commissioned Sam to act as roving correspondent on a proposed world tour. Sam was aiming at bigger fish than being the “humorist of the Pacific slope” [Sanborn 308; Lennon 154].

Sam’s 25th and last letter to the Union, dated “Volcano House, June 3d Midnight THE GREAT VOLCANO OF KILAUEA” ran:

I suppose no man ever saw Niagara for the first time without feeling disappointed. I suppose no man ever saw it the fifth time without wondering how he could ever have been so blind and stupid as to find any excuse for disappointment in the first place. I suppose that any one of nature’s most celebrated wonders will always look rather insignificant to a visitor at first, but on a better acquaintance will swell and stretch out and spread abroad, until it finally grows clear beyond his grasp—becomes too stupendous for his comprehension. I know that a large house will seem to grow larger the longer one lives in it, and I also know that a woman who looks criminally homely at a first glance will often so improve upon acquaintance as to become really beautiful before the month is out.

I was disappointed when I saw the great volcano of Kilauea (Ke-low way-ah) to-day for the first time. It is a comfort to me to know that I fully expected to be disappointed, how ever, and so, in one sense at least, I was not disappointed [Day 291].

November 17 Saturday Sam’s sketch “The Story of a Scriptural Panoramist” ran in the Californian. It was later included in Sketches, New and Old (1875) [Camfield bibliog.]. Scharnhorst writs that the receipts from Sam’s lecture of Nov. 16 were garnished to “satisfy part of the judgment” from posting bond for “a friend who then fled to Nevada” two years before (Steve Gillis) [“Mark Twain’s Imbroglio with the San Francisco Police” American Literature (Dec 1990) p.691]. Sanborn claims there “are no facts to support” the story of Sam posting a bond for Gillis [255]. Lorch surmises that since the “San Francisco papers remained silent” on the attachment, one might conclude that the action was for unpaid bills in Nevada [46].

November 21 Wednesday – Sam gave the “Sandwich Islands” lecture at Armory Hall, San Jose, California. This is the first lecture where Sam offered to demonstrate cannibalism as practiced in the Sandwich Islands, asking for a mother to bring her child to the platform. This device was successful and yielded much laughter if also a few criticisms now and then from the press for being in bad taste [Lorch 47].

The Washoe Evening Slope ran a brief item that declared the proceeds of Sam’s second lecture in San Francisco had been attached for the benefit of one of his creditors [Lorch 46].

November 26 Monday – The San Jose Mercury:

We have been an admirer of the inimitable humor of the lecturer, as shown in his numerous letters and sketches, that have been so widely published, but confess that the lecture disappointed us. We expected to hear the Kanakas “Joked blind,” but had no idea of being treated to such an intellectual feast as he served up to his audience. We never heard or read anything half so beautiful as his description when he laid aside the role of the humorist and gave rein to his fancy. To use the expression of a rapt listener to the lecture, “He’s lightenin’.”

Sam gave the “Sandwich Islands” lecture at Petaluma, Calif. That town’s newspaper, the Argus, did not give Sam a flattering review: “…as a lecturer he is not a success.” [MTL 1: 366-7n4]. Lorch attributes the negative reviews of the Argus and the Petaluma Journal to spite for “non-receipt of advertisements and complimentary tickets” [338 (from Frear, Mark Twain and Hawaii 447)].

November 27 Tuesday – Sam gave the “Sandwich Islands” lecture at Oakland, Calif. in College Hall. Sam stayed with J. Ross Browne and family in Oakland. [MTL 1: 370n6]. (See September, mid to late entry.) The turnout was small for this lecture, only about 200 people, which Lorch attributes to “a misunderstanding about the time at which the talk was to take place, though the entire city council canceled a meeting and came to the hall as a group.” Sam had to wait for the school band to finish a long concert before speaking [47].

November 30 Friday Sam’s 31st birthday. He wrote at least three letters to the San Francisco Evening Bulletin, reporting on some of the stops on his interior lecture tour. The first known of these, MARK TWAIN’S INTERIOR NOTES ran with descriptions of Marysville, Grass Valley, The Eureka Mine, Nevada, and:


I have recently returned from a missionary trip to the interior. I have nothing new to report concerning Sacramento; it was rather warm there. They haven’t got the grade finished yet. The grade has proven of high sanitary importance to Sacramento; nothing else could have so happily affected the health of the city as the new grade. Constant exercise on a dead level is too monotonous—the human system eventually ceases to receive any benefit from it. What the people there needed was a chance for up-hill and down-hill exercise, and now they have got it. You see, they have raised some of the houses up about eight or ten feet, to correspond with the new grade, and raised the sidewalks up accordingly; the other houses remain as they were before, and so do the sidewalks in front of them; the high walks are reached from the low ones by inclined staging similar to the horse stairways in livery stables. This arrangement gives infinite variety to a promenade there, now. The more the grade progresses the more the people are exercised and the healthier they become. The patience, money and energy required to prosecute the work to a successful completion are fearful to contemplate, but I think the citizens are equal to the emergency. Sacramento, with its broad, straight avenues, shaded by stately trees and bordered with flower-gardens, is already handsome, and some day it will be beautiful.

The new Capitol is a slow coach. I would like to be Superintendent of it for life, with the privilege of transmitting the office to my heirs and assigns forever [Benson 201-2].

December – Sam’s write up of the Hornet disaster, “Forty-three Days in an Open Boat” was printed in the prestigious Harper’s Monthly, but the piece was indexed to “Mark Swain” [MTL 1: 355n8].

Sam’s notebook labeled such songs as, “Marching through Georgia,” and “When Johnny Comes Marching Home,” and “Old Dog Tray,” and “Just Before the Battle, Mother,” as the “d—dest, oldest, vilest songs” performed by the ship’s choir” [MTNJ 1: 262].

December 1 Saturday – The Santa Rosa Sonora Democrat ridiculed the editors of the Petaluma Argus and the Petaluma Journal for their unexplained criticisms of Sam’s Petaluma lecture [Lorch 338n33].

December 3 Monday Sam called on Rev. Dr. Charles Wadsworth (1814-1882) of Calvary Presbyterian Church, but he was not at home [MTL 1: 368].

December 4 Tuesday Sam wrote from San Francisco to Isabella A. Cotton, one of his companions on the Smyrniote sailing ship from Hawaii, about his plans to leave on the “Opposition” steamer on Dec. 15. He forgot to enclose a picture of himself, and so sent a second note [MTL 1: 371-2].

Sam also wrote his mother, Jane Lampton Clemens, and family. Sam wrote he was:

…thick & thieves with the Rev. Stebbings, & I am laying for the Rev. Scudder & the Rev. Dr. Stone. I am running on preachers, now altogether. I find them gay. Stebbings is a regular brick. I am taking letters of introduction to Henry Ward Beecher, Rev. Dr. Tyng, & other eminent parsons in the east. Whenever anybody offers me a letter to a preacher now, I snaffle it on the spot. I shall make Rev. Dr Bellows trot out the fast nags of the cloth for me when I get to New York [MTL 1: 368]. Note: Rev. Henry Whitney Bellows (1814-1882); Rev. Barton Warren Stone (1772-1844). That expression “fast nags of the cloth” would become well known.


December 5 Wednesday Governor Frederick Low, and Henry Blasdel, Governor of Nevada and others invited Sam by to repeat his first lecture before he departed California [MTL 1: 373n1]. Note: Lorch concludes it “may never be known” if Sam arranged this invitation, “but it must be confessed that the phrasing …has the earmarks of being genuine” [48].

December 6 Thursday – Sam replied to Governor Frederick Low and others accepting their Dec. 5 invitation to repeat his lecture on the Sandwich Islands at Congress Hall on Monday, Dec. 10 [MTL 1: 372].

Sam’s letter, MARK TWAIN’S INTERIOR NOTES [II]. ran in the San Francisco Evening Bulletin. Subheadings: “To Red Dog and Back,” “A Memento of Speculation,” “An Aristocratic Turn-Out,” and “Silver Land” [Schmidt; Camfield bibliog.].

December 7 Friday Sam’s letter, MARK TWAIN’S INTERIOR NOTES [III]. ran in the San Francisco Evening Bulletin. Sections: “San Jose,” “Silk,” and “Mark Twain Mystified” [Schmidt]. Camfield and Benson both list “Mark Twain Mystified” as running first in the Evening Bulletin [bibliog.; 165].


December 9 Sunday Sam’s article “Mark Twain Mystified” was re-printed in the San Francisco Golden Era.

“I cannot understand the telegraphic dispatches nowadays, with their odd punctuation—I mean with so many question marks thrust in where no question is asked.”

Sam complained that this tore up his mind on the “eve of a lecture” [Fatout, MT Speaks 34].

Another article, “’Mark Twain’ on the Dog Question,” was published in the Morning Call [Schmidt].

December 10 Monday Sam gave the “Sandwich Islands” lecture at Congress Hall in San Francisco as “Mark Twain’s Farewell” [Benson 165]. Lorch say the “lecture was well attended and well received” [48].

December 11 Tuesday The Alta California reported that the Dec. 10 audience paid:

…rapt attention to his gorgeous imagery, in describing scenes at the Sandwich Islands, or convulsed with laughter at the humorous sallies interspersed through lecture, he seemed to come reluctantly to the promised “good-bye,” and then his whole manner changed—the words were evidently the language of the heart, and the convictions of his judgment [Fatout, MT Speaking 16; Lorch 48].


December 12 Wednesday Sam received a telegraph from a fan: “Go to Nudd, Lord & Co., Front street, collect amount of money equal to what highwaymen took from you. (signed) A.D.N.” [MTL 1: 374n1]. The signator was Asa D. Nudd, principal of the firm.


December 14 Friday Alta California printed Sam’s impromptu farewell address of Dec. 10, “So Long” [Camfield bibliog.]. Lorch and Sanborn report the verbatim article as Dec. 15 [49; 309].

S. Purmoil wrote from Honolulu to “Affluent Mark…/ I write you in sorrow and tribulation. Since you left here, everything has gone wrong.” He proceeded to write of many shortcomings and anecdotes. Printed in the Daily Hawaiian Herald [MTP].

December 15 Saturday – The San Francisco Morning Call reported that Sam collected $100 from Nudd, Lord & Co [MTL 1: 374n1]. Sam’s article, “Depart, Ye Accursed!” was published in the New York Weekly Review [MTL 1: 330n5]. It was reprinted in the Californian, Jan.19, 1867 as “Mark Twain on Chambermaids” [Camfield bibliog.].

Sam wrote from San Francisco to his mother, Jane Clemens and family of his sailing for New York the next day, “leaving more friends behind me that any newspaper man that ever sailed out of the Golden Gate.” He wrote of going to the church fair at Platt’s Hall that evening [MTL 1: 373-5].

Sam’s notebook 7 covers dates from this day to Jan. 12, 1867.

Alta California printed Sam’s Dec. 10 lecture, “Mark Twain’s Farewell.”


That his letters will be read with interest needs no assurance from us—his reputation has been made here in California, and his great ability is well known; but he has been known principally as a humorist, while he really has no superior as a descriptive writer—a keen observer of men and their surroundings—and we feel confident his letters to the ALTA, from his new field of observation, will give him a world-wide reputation [Schmidt].

Sam sailed from San Francisco for New York, by way of the Isthmus of Nicaragua. The trip took 27 & ½ days and was not an easy one. The first night out the ship nearly sank in a bad storm. Nearly all the passengers were seasick for days. Sam was not seasick but came down again with a mysterious illness that often forced him to bed. Edgar “Ned” Wakeman (1818-1875) was the captain of the ship America. Wakeman was burly and tattooed and impressed Sam with his strength, his cheery voice, and ability to spin yarns. Sam found Wakeman “inexhaustibly interesting.” Wakeman was the model for Ned Blakely in chapter 50 of Roughing It as well as Captain Eli Stormfield in “Captain Stormfield’s Visit to Heaven,” a story seeded by a dream Wakeman had about going to heaven. Wakeman inspired several other characters in Sam’s work. Sam and Wakeman shared knowledge of and interest in the Bible. Wakeman was 50 when Sam met him [Sanborn 312; Rasmussen 502].

From Sam’s notebook:


“Pleasant, sunny day, hills brightly clad with green grass and shrubbery. First night great tempest—the greatest seen on this coast for many years….Passenger said he had served 14 yrs at sea—but considered his time was come now—still, said ‘if anybody can save her its old Wakeman’” [MTNJ 1: 245-6].

December 16 Sunday From Sam’s letter to the Alta of Dec. 18:


NOON, 16th

All the afternoon, yesterday, two or three hundred passengers paced the promenade deck, and so quiet was the sea that not half a dozen of them succumbed to sickness. But at 8 or 9 at night the wind began to rise, and from that time it steadily in creased in violence until, at midnight, it was blowing a hurricane. There was a tremendous sea running, and the night was so pitch dark that a man standing on the deck would find by voices at his elbow that other persons were almost touching him, when he imagined himself alone. On deck, above the lashing of the waves, and the roaring of the winds, the shouting of the captain and his officers, and the hurried tramping of the men were scarcely to be heard [Schmidt].

From Sam’s notebook:


“This is a long, long night. I occupy the lower berth & read & smoke by a ship’s lantern borrowed from the steward (I won the middle berth, but gave it to Smith because he is seasick & we have piled our apples, limes, wines, books & small traps in the upper one)” [MTNJ 1: 246].

December 18 Tuesday From Sam’s notebook:


“The young runaway couple, after co-habiting a night or two, were married last night by the Capt’s peremptory order, in presence of 5 witnesses” [MTNJ 1: 249].

December 19 Wednesday – From Sam’s letter to the Alta printed January 18, 1867:


I have to give the sequel to the runaway match now. Yesterday it was whispered about that our young couple, who passed in the ship as “Mr. and wife,” and occupied a state room together, were really not married! Luscious sensation for a monotonous sea voyage! Capt. Wakeman exploded two or three awful salt-water oaths and ordered the Purser to produce the culprits before him at once. It was done, at 8 P.M. An explanation was demanded. They said they were married in San Jose Valley, but had lost the certificate. The Captain swore a blood-curdling oath that he’d furnish them another, and mighty quick, too; and ordered up the Rev. Mr. Fackler, an Episcopalian minister of San Francisco, to perform the ceremony, and four respectable persons to witness it. The bridegroom did not seem particularly gratified with these proceedings, and even the bride said afterwards that they had kept company together four days on shore before they shipped, and she was satisfied—thought people might mind their own business, and let theirs alone. She said they were going to be married in Brooklyn, and that was the programme from the start; didn’t care anything about having any such foolishness on the ship! A child fifteen years old, and weighted down with the wisdom and experience of an infant! Another lady said she couldn’t see why people wanted to meddle with other people’s business. Why couldn’t they let the girl alone! God help me! I am an orphan and many and many a league at sea—with such a crowd as this! [Schmidt].


December 20 Thursday From Sam’s notebook:


“At noon, 5 days out from Sanfrancisco, abreast high stretch of land at foot of Magdalena Bay, Capt came & said, ‘Come out here…I want to show you something’ –took the marine glass— (2 whaling ships with a catch)” [MTNJ 1: 250].

The Brooklyn Eagle ran a short note on page 4 about Sam’s “Lecture among Highwaymen,” and ended with “Mark failed to see the point” of the practical joke. [The Eagle is available online].

December 21 Friday From Sam’s notebook:


“Crossed tropic of Capricorn—Cape St Lucas—now abreast Gulf of California….Geniuses are people who dash off weird, wild, incomprehensible poems with astonishing facility, & then go & get booming drunk & sleep in the gutter…people who have genius do not pay their board, as a general thing” [MTNJ 1: 250].

December 22 Saturday From Sam’s notebook:

“Passengers have been singing several days—now the men have come down to leap-frog, boyish gymnastics & tricks of equilibrium—& sitting on a bottle with legs extended & Xd , & threading a good sized needle” [MTNJ 1: 251-2].


December 23 Sunday From Sam’s notebook:

Morning service on Prom deck by Fackler—organ & choir. I had rather travel with that old portly, hearty, jolly, boisterous, good-natured old sailor, Capt. Ned Wakeman than with any other man I ever came across. He never drinks, & never plays cards; he never swears, except in the privacy of his own quarters, with a friend or so, & then his feats of fancy blasphemy are calculated to fill the hearer with awe & the liveliest admiration [MTNJ 1: 253].

Sam vowed that if the ship choir “attempted that outrage [singing “Roll on, silver moon”]” he “would have scuttled the ship” [Gribben 587].


December 24 Monday From Sam’s notebook:

Christmas Eve—9 P.M. Me & the Capt & Kingman out forward. Capt. Said—Don’t like the looks of that point with the mist outside of it—hold her a point free.

Quartermaster (touching his hat)—“The child is dead sir (been sick 2 days.—) What are yr orders” [MTNJ 1: 257].

The death of a child onboard made for a solemn Christmas Eve.

December 25 TuesdayChristmas – From Sam’s Mar. 15 Alta letter [Schmidt]:

CHRISTMAS NIGHT.—The child died last evening, and some of the lady passengers sat up with the corpse all night. At ten this morning, we all assembled on the lower guard aft, and listened with uncovered heads, to a brief sermon by the clergyman (Rev. Mr. Fackler) and the reading of the Episcopal burial service—the capstan with a national flag over it served for a pulpit, and meanwhile the first officer and boatswain held the canvassed corpse with its head resting on their shoulders and its feet upon the taffrail—at the conclusion there was a breathless pause; then the minister said “Earth unto earth—ashes unto ashes—dust unto dust!”—a sharp plunge of the weighted body into the sea, a shudder from the startled passengers, a wild shriek from the young mother (a mere girl), and all was over.

Within three hours, with that solemn presence gone out of the ship, cheerfulness and vivacity reigned again.

December 27 Thursday – Sam wrote of a raffle for a dead wife’s jewelry (Mar. 15 Alta):


DECEMBER 28th. —Isaac’s upward flight culminated yesterday in a raffle, and now he is fallen! Hobnobbing with the chief officers, and hail fellow well met with everybody yesterday—to-day, degraded to the ranks, and none so poor as to take notice of him. You see he has often excited sympathy by displaying his late wife’s jewelry (he said she died six weeks ago,) and mourning over it. But yesterday he got up that raffle said it grieved him to the heart to have those mementoes of his lost one about him—said her dear jewelry constantly reminded him of happy days he should never again see—and so he gathered it together and raffled it off for three hundred and fifty dollars ! He feels easier after that, no doubt. His lacerated heart will be able to stand it for awhile, now, perhaps [Schmidt].

December 29 Saturday From Sam’s letter to the Alta printed Mar. 15, 1867:


DECEMBER 29. — One sea voyage is ended anyhow. We have arrived at San Juan del Sur, and must leave the ship and cross the Isthmus—not to-day, though. They have posted a notice on the ship that the cholera is raging among a battalion of troops just arrived from New York, and so we are not permitted to go ashore to-day. And to the sea-weary eyes of some of our people, no doubt, bright green hills never looked so welcome, so enchanting, so altogether lovely, as these do that lie here within pistol-shot of us. But the law is spoken, and so half the ship’s family are looking longingly ashore, or discussing the cholera news fearfully, and the other half are in the after cabin, singing boisterously and carrying on like a troop of wild school children [Schmidt].

December 30 Sunday – The America completed the first leg of the trip, reaching San Juan del Sur. Cholera had claimed 35 passengers there awaiting transportation to San Francisco, so the passengers of America were not allowed ashore until later in the morning [Sanborn 312]. It was a three-hour trip by horses, mules, and mud wagons to Virgin Bay on Lake Nicaragua. Sam was impressed by the roadside stands of fruits and food, and especially by the pretty young women there. He was told they were “virtuous according to their lights, but I guess their lights are a little dim.” At Virgin Bay the passengers boarded a small steamer to cross the lake [Sanborn 313].

December 31 Monday – Sam and passengers arrived at San Carlos, Nicaragua. From Sam’s notebook:

“Native thatched houses—coffee, eggs, bread, cigars & fruit for sale—delicious—10 cents buy pretty much anything & in great quantity. Californians can’t understand how 10 or 25 cents can buy a sumptuous lunch of coffee, eggs & bread….Saw at San Carlos the first osage trees of the trip—my favorite tree above all others” [MTNJ 1: 261-2].


They changed vessels to a stern-wheeler and began a trip down the San Juan River to the sea [Sanborn 313]. Camfield lists Sam’s poem “Miss Simmens” published posthumously [bibliog.].