Sam’s Portrait – Bayard Taylor – Nephew Sammy – Duncan’s Lawsuit
Lobbying for Appointments – Alexandroffsky Marvels – Ah Sin Opened
Bermuda! with Twichell – Rambling Notes – John T. Lewis, Hero – Tramp of the Sea
The “First Home” Telephone – Whittier Birthday Debacle – Written Apologies
1877 – Paine gives this year for an additional excerpt written for Mark Twain’s Autobiography, “Early Years in Florida, Missouri” [7-10].
Sam’s sketch on Francis Lightfoot Lee ran in Pennsylvania Magazine, 1, No. 3 [Gribben 539].
The Parlor Table Companion. A Home Treasury of Biography, Romance, Poetry, History, etc. was published in New York by G.W. Carleton & Co. and included the following items on Mark Twain: A short tidbit about Twain being proposed for Mayor of Hartford; the first printing of Sam’s letter “On St. Patrick”; Horse car poetry, and a few paragraphs “Mark Twain Buys a Horse” [eBay by Cornelius Brand, Nov. 11, 2009 Item # 140356814730].
January – Sam’s unsigned and untitled piece on Anna Dickinson ran in the January issue of the Atlantic Monthly, the Contributors’ Club [Camfield, bibliog.].
Sam’s poem, “The Curious House that Mark Built,” was published in The Traveler’s Record, an in-house insurance trade monthly of the Travelers Insurance Co. [Willis 95]. Note: in a conversation with Robert Hirst in July, 2007, he opined that he didn’t think Sam wrote this, and showed me a copy on a 1960s era booklet about Sam’s Hartford house. Budd puts this to January [Our MT 49].
January 1 Monday – After leaving Isabella Hooker’s failed medium party (see Dec. 31, 1876 entry), Sam and Livy went after midnight to the George Warner residence, where they finished festivities and learned of Isabella’s wacky, megalomaniac scheme [Willis 108]. Twichell, evidently did not go to the Hookers on New Year’s Eve, but stopped by the Warners after midnight. From his journal: “led the company in prayer all uniting at the close in the Lord’s Prayer” [Yale 133, copy at MTP].
Sam wrote from Hartford per Fanny Hesse to Victor Wolff, a short note of acceptance as an honorary member of the “Cluster Literary Union” of New York [MTLE 2: 5].
Charles E. Perkins wrote to acknowledge Sam’s check for $752 and credited him $45 to Bissells [MTP].
January 2 Tuesday – Two copies of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer were placed with the Copyright Office, Library of Congress [Hirst, “A Note on the Text” Oxford edition, 1996].
January 3 Wednesday – Twichell’s journal:
“Mr B.[oyesen] concludes not to go on to Boston for several days yet, but to accept M.T’s invitation to spend a season with him. / M.T. was in during the former’s asked of Charles Warren Stoddard’s [?illegible word] as actor on the stage in a manner that beggars description – so very funny” [Yale, copy at MTP]
January 5 Friday – Bret Harte and Charles Thomas Parsloe signed the contract for Ah Sin in New York. Sam signed on Dec. 30, 1876 [Duckett 127-8; MTP].
January 6 Saturday –Twichell’s journal:
“Attended by invitation the ‘Saturday (girl’s) Club’ at M.T’s, at 10 o’clock am—a company to be much delighted in. Boyesen read an unpublished story with great applause” [Yale, copy at MTP].
January 10 Wednesday – Sam wrote from Hartford per Fanny Hesse to Moncure Conway. Sam wanted Andrew Chatto to prosecute the Belford Co., since the copyright belonged to Chatto and not to Sam.
“Toronto is twice as far from Hartford as it is from London, & you & Chatto can prosecute Belford more conveniently than I can. The lawyer that won that other decision is the very lawyer to conduct this suit for my royalties. Therefore I wish Chatto & you would go ahead …& send the bill to me. Can you do it?” [MTLE 2: 6].
On or about this day, the artist Francis Davis Millet (1846-1912) came to stay for a week and paint Sam’s portrait. Millet was a successful journalist and war correspondent, but perhaps an even better artist. His technique was one of almost photographic precision rather than impressionism. Millet’s 1877 portrait of Samuel L. Clemens was later donated to the Hannibal, Missouri Free Public Library. It shows a serious Clemens at the height of his mental and literary powers glaring out of a dark background. Millet gave the Clemens family “a week of social enjoyment, for his company is a high pleasure. We have to lose him tomorrow” [MTLE 2: 7].
Clemens inscribed a copy of TS to Francis Davis Millet: “To F.W. Millet from his sincere friend Samuel L. Clemens, Hartford, Jan. 1877” [ABE Books; Argosy Book Store, NYC; 12/14/2011]. Note: the difference in initials with Millet’s name is unexplained.
January 11 Thursday – H.W. Bergen wrote from NYC wanting to confer with Sam one day next week [MTP]. Note: Bergen was Sam’s road agent for Colonel Sellers play.
January 13 Saturday – The first substantial review following the American Publishing Co.’s release of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer on Dec. 8, 1876 ran in the New York Times. Unsigned and cursory, it noted:
…a truly clever child’s book is one in which both man and boy can find pleasure. No child’s book can be perfectly acceptable otherwise.
January 14 Sunday – Clemens, Twichell, Charles and Susan Warner, Dr.’s Nathaniel J. Burton and Edwin P. Parker all went to hear a lecture by Joseph Cook of Boston. Twichell didn’t think much of the presentation [Yale, copy at MTP].
January 17 Wednesday – Sam wrote from Hartford to Hjalmar H. Boyesen (1848-1895), Norwegian born American writer and literary critic. Boyesen had visited the Clemens family over the holidays. Sam wrote how much they had all enjoyed the visit, extending an open invitation to return. Sam shipped Boyesen’s overshoes and some pamphlets left behind to Boyesen’s home in Ithaca, New York.
Note: Boyesen came to the United States in 1869 and became editor of Fremad, a Norwegian weekly published in Chicago. Later he was a professor at Cornell and Columbia universities; his scholarly works include Goethe and Schiller (1879) and Essays on Scandinavian Literature (1895). Boyesen is best remembered for his fiction, including Gunnar (1874), a romance of Norwegian life, and such realistic urban novels as The Mammon of Unrighteousness (1891) and The Social Strugglers (1893).
Sam wrote Boyesen that he’d asked Bayard Taylor (1825-1878) to be his guest. Taylor was one of the best-known poets, adventurer, and travel writer of his day, soon to lecture in Hartford.
I have asked him to talk to our Young Girls, & I hope he will do it. Warner will talk to them next Saturday, & Gen. Hawley will entertain them soon. I shall make Howells talk to them when I get him here. Gen Franklin is going to instruct them in military matters, or Gatling guns, or something.
Hart hasn’t come yet—so the play isn’t yet licked into shape—consequently I haven’t demanded Howell’s presence. (He is to come when the play is ready to be read & criticised.)
Sam also mentioned that Francis Millet made “an excellent portrait of me” [MTLE 2: 7].
January 19 Friday – Sam wrote from Hartford per Fanny Hesse to his sister Pamela Moffett recommending St. Paul’s, a preparatory school in Concord, New Hampshire for his nephew Samuel Moffett. Sam anticipated the visit of his nephew, now seventeen [MTLE 2: 8].
January 21 Sunday – Sam purchased books from the Osgood & Co., including Bayard Taylor’s The National Ode: The Memorial Freedom Poem (1877), and Centennial Ode (Author, year unidentified), and Richard Irving Dodge’s The Plains of the Great West and Their Inhabitants [Gribben 687; 134; 197].
January 22 Monday – Sam wrote a postcard from Hartford to his attorney, Charles Perkins, asking if “that document” had been sent to “R” for his signature. If not, Sam wanted to make an important alteration. “R” may have been Routledge, in the matter of suing Belford Brothers; or John T. Raymond [MTLE 2: 9].
Receipted for $537.18 from W. Haete, “1,534.18 being the proceeds of £104 to play the sale of M.D. [illegible word] Jan 1st 1877. Hartford, Jany 22, 1877” [MTP].
January 24 Wednesday – Sam wrote from Hartford to Frank Bliss, acknowledging receipt of a statement and check for $83. Sam asked for a paper that would document Bret Harte’s indebtedness, and wanted a statement for The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Feb. 1. Sales of the book would be disappointing. Powers claims, “by summer’s end, some hundred thousand [pirate] copies at seventy-five cents each had crossed the border and reached American bookstores, a devastating strain on the novel’s tardy legitimate sales” [Powers, MT A Life 385].
Sam added: “Lockwood the Baltimore tailor has arrived with his suit not his suite” [MTLE 2: 10]. Note: Henry C. Lockwood.
Sam had heard from Bayard Taylor, who agreed to stay at the Clemens’ home when he lectured in Hartford on Jan. 31. Sam asked if Taylor could stay over till Thursday or Saturday (Feb. 3) and speak to “our Young Girls’ Club,” (Saturday Morning Club) over a dozen “charming lasses of 16 to 20 yrs. old.” Sam listed Boyesen, Harte, Fields, Warner and himself as past speakers to the Club [MTLE 2: 11].
Frank Bliss wrote to Sam enclosing statement of “sales of the old books to Jan. 1. 77. check enclosed for 83.52” [MTP].
James Wells Champney (1843-1903) for Scribner & Co. wrote, hoping Sam could see him on Friday, as he’d been commissioned by the editor of Appleton’s Journal “to confer with you apropos a series of illustrated articles” [MTP]. Note: Sam wrote on the env. “Champney the artist”; American portrait painter.
January 25 Thursday – Plock & Co. NYC wrote to Sam, sending him $125 from Bernard Tauchnitz [MTP].
January 26 Friday – Sam acted as auctioneer and read stories for the Mission Circle, Asylum Hill Congregational Church in Hartford [The Hartford Daily Courant of January 25, 1877, p. 2 in an article titled “A Package Party” reported the entertainment would depend upon the auctioneer and that Mark Twain was scheduled to officiate in that capacity].
Frank Bliss wrote to Sam, enclosing “the Bret Harte dft as you wish—have written on the back of it that it was charged to you, so as to make Harte’s indebtedness to you clearer—” he’d soon make up sales numbers for TS [MTP].
February 2 and 4 Sunday – Livy and Sam wrote from Hartford to Olivia Lewis Langdon, who sent them a set of spirits glassware and a finger bowl for their seventh wedding anniversary (Feb. 2). Livy noted that it had been eight years since her engagement to Sam.
Your lovely, exquisite gift came today! I never was more surprised or more delighted in my life—Mother, how did you come to do it? I never dreamed of your giving me a gift on my wedding day…Mr Clemens and I drank a little wine out of the glasses for diner, he using the claret glass, I the sherry—Then I had the finger bowl and Susy and Clara both had their dear little fingers washed in it too…
I am wonderfully happy, but these days are sad because I am so full of Father—Seven years ago today you left the Buffalo house and all returned to Elmira—[after the gift of the Buffalo house].
Sam added his thanks for the “lovliest glassware I ever saw.”
Long may we continue to deserve & receive! Long may we receive more than we deserve! And long may it be left to us to estimate our deserving, & to you the ability & the inclination to square the rewards with it! [MTLE 2: 13].
Willis writes that the anniversaries of Livy’s engagement always depressed her, “for they made her think of her father” .
Sam and Livy discussed a trip to Germany. Sam wanted to go that summer, Livy the next [Willis 108]. Livy won out; they went in 1878.
About this time Sam paid a Feb. 1 bill from American Publishing Co. for books of Warner’s ordered on Aug. 1, 1876 [Gribben 746].
February 3 Saturday – Sam’s nephew, Samuel Moffett, arrived at the Clemens house for a visit of “two or three weeks” [MTLE 2: 13].
February 5 Monday – Elisha Bliss wrote to Sam, enclosing bill & letter from Orion for services performed in serving notice on D.G. Lowry, bookseller and seizing unauthorized copies of TS. An experienced lawyer in Keokuk advised Orion to charge $50 [MTP].
February 6 Tuesday – Sam traveled to New York City, where he gave readings at Steinway Hall from his sketches, “Encounter with an Interviewer” and “Dueling Experiences” for the NY Press Club [MTPO].
February 7 Wednesday – The NY Times, p.5, reported on the Feb. 6 reading that Sam kept the audience in constant laughter. The NY Tribune of the same date, p.8, also reported on the speech.
February 8 Thursday – Sam wrote from Hartford per Fanny Hesse to George S. Merrill, a short note of regret, unable to attend the annual reunion of the Massachusetts Press Association [MTLE 2: 14].
February 12 Monday – Sam wrote to George Bentley, head of London publishers Richard Bentley & Son, thanking him for “taking so much pains with Mr. Harte’s matter.” Sam promised to send magazine articles that he might write, ahead of U.S. Publication [MTLE 2: 15].
February 14 and 16 Friday – Sam wrote a letter to the editor of the New York World concerning the lecture given in New York by Charles C. Duncan, who had captained the Quaker City. Sam derided Duncan by continually referring to him as the “head-waiter.” (It ran in the paper Feb. 18.)
The “captain” says that when I came to engage passage in the Quaker City I “seemed to be full of whiskey, or something,” & filled his office with the “fumes of bad whiskey.” I hope this is true, but I cannot say, because it is so long ago; at the same time I am not depraved enough to deny that for a ceaseless, tireless, forty-year public advocate of total abstinence the “captain” is a mighty good judge of whiskey at second-hand.
Sam added a PS about charges that Duncan had misappropriated funds from the Ship-owner’s Association [MTLE 2: 16-19].
February 15 Thursday ca. – Susy Clemens dictated a letter to Frank Millet, who stayed with the family a week and painted Sam’s portrait in mid-January. Millet may have sent the girls’ valentines.
Dear Mr. Millet Bay and I has both got valentines, I have a sun fan and a German book and bay’s got a new carriage—Papa teached me that tick, tick—my Grandfather’s clock was too large for the shelf so it stood 90 years on the floor. Mr. Millet is that the same clock what is in your picture—Dear Mr Millet I give you my love. I put it on my heart to get the love out. The little Kittye is in Bays Carriage my love and Susy Clemens Write me a little note [Salsbury 59].
February 15 or 16 Friday – Sam wrote a follow-up letter to the editor of the New York World concerning Captain Duncan, whom he called a “glittering & majestic embezzler!” [MTLE 2: 20-23]. Note: Sam’s wordy and extreme reaction seem out of proportion to Duncan’s lecture remarks.
February 18 Sunday – The New York World printed Sam’s Feb. 16 letter to the editor on page five [MTLE 2: 16].
February 19 Monday – John C. Merritt sent Sam a check dated Feb. 19 for 40 cents (see Feb. 22 entry) with a suggestion Sam buy a toddy with it [MTLE 2: 30].
February 22 Thursday – Sam wrote from Hartford, again to the editor of the New York World, with another lengthy diatribe against Charles C. Duncan. This letter ran on page five of the World for Feb. 25 [MTLE 2: 24-28].
Sam also wrote to Howells. After some political hurrahs for newly elected Rutherford B. Hayes, Sam dictated that Howells should (they often used the imperative with each other):
“…send postal to say you & the madam will be here 2d or 3d of March—do, now, please. The play is done. We [Sam & Harte] are plotting out another one” [MTLE 2: 29].
Note: Duckett makes the following observations concerning this letter:
“This letter fairly definitely sets the time of the open break between Mark Twain and Bret Harte as occurring within the eight-day period following Twain’s letter to Howells on February 22. Harte’s letter [See Mar. 1 entry] suggests that shortly after Mark wrote Howells that he and Harte were beginning a new play, Bret left Hartford for New York, where he received from Mark a letter which made him extremely angry” .
Sam also wrote two notes to John C. Meritt about the 40-cent check he’d received from Merritt to buy a toddy. Sam endorsed on the front of the check:
“Dr. This shall be religiously devoted to the purpose specified & I shall drink your health. S.L.C.”
Sam also wrote on the back of the check to Fanny Hesse, his secretary, to bank the check with Bissell and put it in his “personal” account [MTLE 2: 31].
L.J. Brillant wrote from Switzerland offering to translate The Adventures of Tom Sawyer into French [MTP]. Note: Sam wrote on the env. “From French translator Neuchatil Switzerland”
February 25 Sunday – The New York World published Sam’s last letter on Charles Duncan on page five [MTLE 2: 24]. Sam ended his blistering attack on a so-called “law for the protection of seamen,” which gave Duncan his position as Shipping Commissioner of New York:
“Perhaps no more infamous law than this has ever defiled the code of any Christian land in any age. And yet it is the work of a man whose stock in trade is sham temperance, sham benevolence, religious hypocrisy, & a ceaseless, unctuous drip of buttery prayers” [MTLE 2: 28].
February 26 Monday – Howells had agreed to come for a visit, but his wife could not make the trip. Sam wrote a postcard that he’d meet him “at the station about 2.30, PM, March 3.” Sam mentioned a “project” he had in mind for a “summer’s holiday” if Howells could go with him, and a “little short Atlantic article” which he didn’t think Howells dared to print, but would “send it for inspection by & by” [MTLE 2: 33]. Note: It’s not clear whether Howells made the trip, since Sam traveled to Boston where he wrote Livy on Feb. 11 after being there at least since Feb. 9. (See Mar. 11 entry.)
Jane Clemens wrote to thank Sam and Livy for two drafts which she’d cashed. A cold winter with lots of snow, a scrap book Livy sent, interesting things from Annie’s baby, love to all and a PS that Col. Smith of Buffalo “is coming here to live. Write when you can” [MTP].
February 27 Tuesday – Sam wrote from Hartford to George W. McCrary (1835-1890), Secretary of War under Hayes from Mar. 12, 1877 to Dec. 11, 1879, enclosing a letter of Sam’s outlining reasons why the Seaman Support Law should be ended.
When Duncan got up his commissionership & Seaman Association projects, all of us who knew him, knew he was purposing to rob somebody; but what is everybody’s business is nobody’s business—so nobody interfered. This Duncan is one of the vilest men that exits to-day; & I am exceedingly sorry that I have numbered myself with the silent ones all these years [MTLE 2: 3].
Notes: It’s not clear why Sam felt McCrary was someone who should be made aware of the hated law and of Duncan’s thievery, but it’s probable that Sam had met McCrary, who practiced law in Keokuk, Iowa from 1856, was elected as a Republican to the Forty-first and to the three succeeding Congresses (Mar. 4, 1869 to Mar. 3, 1877); was chairman, Committee on Elections (Forty-second Congress), and Committee on Railways and Canals (Forty-third Congress). McCrary’s Washington experience suggests that Sam felt he was the man to get the word to the right people.
Sam also wrote to sister Pamela Moffett about her son’s visit to Hartford, and more importantly, the issues that had been center stage in Sam’s mind.
“We greatly enjoyed Sam’s visit, but it must have [been] intolerably stupid to him. I was in a smouldering rage, the whole time, over the precious days & weeks of time which Bret Harte was losing for me—so I was in no company for Sam or anybody else” [MTLE 2: 35].
Sam ordered Alfred Rimmer’s Ancient Streets and Homesteads of England (1877) from Osgood & Co. and was billed $7.50 in Nov. 1877 [Gribben 581].
February 27–March 9 Friday – Sometime between these dates, probably closer to Mar. 9, Sam traveled to Boston and stayed with the Howellses and also at the Parker House [MTLE 2: 36].
March 1 Thursday – In New York, Bret Harte wrote a long argument to Sam, asserting his position with respect to Bliss and the American Publishing Co., Sam’s letter and the sending of Parsloe to San Francisco to study the Chinese character (which Harte called “simply preposterous”); and Sam’s offer of $25 per week to write another play with him—obviously an offer which Harte found insulting. The break between the two men was now final.
No, Mark, I do not think it advisable for us to write another play together. Your offer of “$25 per week and board” —is flattering I admit—but I think that if I accepted it, even you would despise me for it. I can make about $100 per week for a few weeks here at my desk—my only idea of asking you for an advance was to save me from the importunity of my creditors, and give me that quiet, which as a nervous man yourself, you ought to know is essential to composition. I had not the slightest idea of your speculating out of my poverty, but as a shrewd man, a careful man, a provident man, I think you will admit that in my circumstances the writing of plays with you is not profitable [Duckett 136].
March 3 Saturday – Edward P. Wilder, attorney, wrote a postcard from NYC to Sam that “absence from city has necessitated postponement of matter referred to in your last note” (not extant) [MTP].
March 8 Thursday – Edward P. Wilder, attorney wrote again to Sam, referring him to James J. Ferris, “a shipping master who has for five years led the fight agst. Duncan, & who is the author of the bill now before Congress…to repeal the Shipping Commissioner’s Act.” [MTP]. Note: Sam wrote on the env. “Duncan’s rascalities”. Ferris was U.S. Shipping Commissioner for many years prior to 1897.
March 9 Friday – Charles Thomas Parsloe of Simmonds & Wall, Dramatic Agents, NYC, wrote to Sam:
Yours of yesterday recd. sorry to inform you that it will be impossible for me to call on you as promised as I have made engagement to go to Philadelphia for two week commencing the 12th.…. I have just left Mr. Harte. Met him on B’way, he was very anxious to know if anything had been done so I promised to let him know when anything occurred that he ought to know…. Then he got red in the face and we parted [MTP].
March 10 Saturday – Sam and Howells “…perplexed ourselves all day…over plots & counter plots, & dreamed over them all night. Unsatisfactory” [MTLE 2: 36].
March 11 Sunday – Sam wrote from Boston to Livy while staying with Howells trying to collaborate on a play.
“We drop back, now to the original proposition—Howells to write the play, dropping in the skeleton of Orm’s speeches, I to take him, later, & fill him out. I expect to remain at Parker’s in Boston, tomorrow and return home Tuesday” [MTLE 2: 36].
March 12 Monday – Hartford taxes on real estate, insurance stock, bank stock, money loaned at interest and merchandise were due by Nov. 1, with the assessed valuation made public the following March. Sam’s valuation was published on this day at $66,650 [MTPO notes with Oct.16, 1876 to Perkins].
Chandos Fulton (1839-1904), Co-manager of the Park Theatre and Broadway Theatre (later Daly’s Theatre), wrote to Sam, having rec’d his card and “looked into matters, without any result as yet.” He asked about a plot Sam had discussed with him “one autumn afternoon last year at the St. James Hotel”—“Was that a fanciful carriage of your imagination”? Fulton encouraged Sam to come down for a matinee and he’d save him a box [MTP]. Note: Fulton also contributed to newspapers and magazines, and wrote plays and a history of the Democratic Party. He died after an operation.
March 13 Tuesday – Sam probably returned home to Hartford [MTLE 2: 36]. He purchased back 1876 issues of The American Architect and Building News, a Boston weekly published by Osgood & Co. The weekly began January 1, 1876. Sam was billed $6 [Gribben 22].
March 19 Monday – Susy Clemens’ fifth birthday.
The Boston Globe ran an interview on page 3 titled, “Mark Twain’s Tenets”—Sam’s remarks on politics and religion [Scharnhorst, Interviews 9-11].
Henry M. Alden (1836-1919) for Harper’s Magazine wrote “at the request of Mr. Moncure D. Conway” sending a check in U.S. currency the equivalent of £39..6s..6d sterling [MTP].
March 20 Tuesday – Sam purchased a copy of Fridthjof’s Saga, A Norse Romance by Esaias Tegnér from Osgood & Co. [Gribben 690]. See Nov. 13 entry for payment. Sam also purchased Bjorn Anderson’s translated Viking Tales of the North (1877) from Osgood [Gribben 24].
March 22 Thursday – Sam purchased a copy of William Morris’ (1834-1896) The Story of Sigurd the Volsung and the Fall of Niblungs (1877), for a discount price of $2.40 from Osgood & Co. [Gribben 487].
March 23? Friday – Sam wrote from Hartford to Howells, praising his effort on the play dialogue, and updating information on a lawsuit where the “villain got only $300 out of me instead of $10,000.” Sam wrote about beginning Orion’s biography the day before:
“I have started him at 18, printer’s apprentice, soft & sappy, full of fine intentions & shifting religions & not aware that he is a shining ass. Like Tom Sawyer he will stop where I start him, no doubt—20, 21 or along there; can’t tell; am driving along without plot, plan, or purpose—& enjoying it” [MTLE 2: 37].
Sam later wrote about Orion’s biography in his autobiography [Neider Ch 43].
March 26 Monday – Sam read “Advantages of Travel” at the Monday Evening Club in Hartford, This was Sam’s fourth presentation to the Club [Monday Evening Club].
April – Sam inscribed a copy of George Ticknor’s (1791-1871) Life, Letters, and Journals of George Ticknor (1876): “S.L. Clemens. / Hartford, / Conn. / April, 1877” [Gribben 704].
April 2 Monday – In Washington, D.C, Bret Harte wrote to Sam. Duckett calls the salutation “extremely formal.” Harte had received an offer from John Thomson Ford (1829-1894) who owned theatres in Washington, Baltimore, and Philadelphia, about the play Ah Sin. Harte outlined the offer and asked Sam to telegram him his answer. He emphasized to Sam that the play was “ours” [Duckett 141-2]. Note: Sam accepted the offer. Ford managed Ford’s Theater at the time Lincoln was assassinated there.
April 6 Friday – Sam went to see the popular actor Edwin Booth in a play and called upon him backstage. Evidently, Booth did not appreciate such spontaneous unannounced contacts, as evidenced by Sam’s apology note on Apr. 7 [MTLE 2: 38].
April 7 Saturday – Sam wrote from Hartford to the actor Edwin Booth, for whom Sam had originally written Gilded Age play. Sam apologized for calling backstage uninvited to pay his respects the night before [MTLE 2: 38]. Note: Booth was the brother of the man who killed Abraham Lincoln.
April 8 Sunday – Sam inscribed a copy of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer to Edwina Booth (1861-1938), daughter of the popular actor, Edwin Booth [MTLE 2: 39].
April 10 Tuesday – H.W. Bergen wrote from Buffalo having rec’d Sam’s of Apr. 5. He thought Sam’s idea of using a hack a good one. “I telegraphed you last evening with ref. to the check so that I may receive it while here” [MTP]. Note: Bergen was Sam’s road agent, reporting on play performances in various cities.
April 13 Friday – Sam wrote from Hartford to Miss Holmes, who evidently requested Sam send her an autograph and a drawing. Sam claimed “figure-drawing as my specialty,” but admitted that some thought he was good at landscapes and still life, though the persons who thought so couldn’t tell the difference. Sam sent her a picture of the President and a caption [MTLE 2: 40].
April 14 Saturday – Sam wrote a letter of condolence to Nancy Fish Barnum (Mrs. P.T. Barnum) on the loss of her youngest daughter, Pauline Barnum Seeley:
“My wife and I are greatly pained to learn of the decease of Mrs. Seeley, whom we remember so well & so pleasantly. Words are of but little value at such a time, but still we are moved to tender our deep sympathy to you and your household in your great bereavement . / Truly Yours / Samuel L. Clemens” [Sotheby’s Dec. 11, 2006 auction Sale No 8251; lot 38].
April 14 and 17 Tuesday – Sam wrote from Hartford to Mary Mason Fairbanks, congratulating Mary’s son on his wedding plans. Charles Mason Fairbanks married Pauline St Armont Merrill on Apr. 25 1877 in Hudson, Summit, Ohio. Sam could not attend as he wrote he’d “either be in the neighborhood of New Orleans, then, or hard at work on a book.” He then corrected himself to say he’d be in Washington on Apr. 25 supervising the rehearsals for the play, Ah Sin. Mary had evidently asked Sam where he wrote.
“In the billiard room—the very most satisfactory study that ever was. Open fire, register, & plenty of light” [MTLE 2: 42]. See insert; Sam’s writing desk at far right with lamp. Photo taken by this editor in 2009.
April 17 Tuesday – Sam wrote a postcard from Hartford to the American Publishing Co., requesting that a copy of Tom Sawyer and Sketches be sent to Absalom C. Grimes [MTLE 2: 43]. Grimes and Sam were both steamboat pilots and members of the Marion Rangers, along with Ed Stevens, Sam Bowen and nine or ten other Hannibal youths. Grimes smuggled mail during the war and was shot and imprisoned for his efforts. (See Ch. 30 of MTB.)
April 19 Thursday – Sam wrote from Hartford to Howells, who had sent Sam a letter to present to President Hayes when Sam went to Washington. This letter may have been part of the effort to secure a consulship for Charles Warren Stoddard that the two men had discussed [MTLE 2: 44].
April 23 Monday – Sam wrote a card from Hartford to Susan Crane, asking if she would stay in Hartford with Livy while he went May 10 “off on a sea voyage, to be gone till toward the end of that month” [MTLE 2: 45].
Sam then left for New York. He arrived at 6 PM and stayed at the St. James Hotel. Dating a note “Early Bedtime” he wrote to Livy:
…I have been talking with people all the time—Charley, Dan, Kingman, Fuller & others—& now at 9 oclock, am dreadfully sleepy. I am ashamed that a trifling little railway trip should have so much effect on me. But I had a delightful afternoon. I left behind me those 2 men who have not been absent an instant from my thoughts (& my hate) for months—Raymond & Harte—so I read Dumas & was serene & content. I move on in the morning. I love you darling—I love you all the time [MTLE 2: 46].
April 24 Tuesday – Sam left New York and arrived in Baltimore [MTLE 2: 47].
April 25? Wednesday – This is the date Sam wrote in his Apr. 17 letter to Mary Fairbanks that he would be in Washington to oversee rehearsals for Ah Sin. He had hoped to take Livy and “remain in Washington & Baltimore till the middle of May…” but Sam went alone [MTLE 2: 41].
April 26 Thursday – Sam wrote a very long and extraordinary letter (32 pages MS.) from Guy’s Hotel in Baltimore to Livy, describing his visit to the automated and palatial estate (“Alexandroffsky”) of Thomas DeKay Winans (1820-1878), an important and wealthy railroad pioneer who had made his money building a railroad with his brother William, and Major George Washington Whistler for Czar Nicholas I of Russia. Winans devoted his later years to creating a series of ingenious inventions, including improvements in organs, pianos, ventilation, and plumbing, most of which, it seems, fascinated Sam no end. He drew sketches of various Winans inventions within his letter [MTLE 2: 47-56]. The visit to the house entranced Clemens.
Sam also sent a one-liner to his attorney, Charles Perkins, asking him to tell Bergen that Perkins was awaiting instructions. The purpose or context of the note is unknown [MTLE 2: 57].
April 27 Friday – Sam had just received another letter from Livy and responded again from Baltimore.
“Livy My Darling, I had a jolly adventure last night with a chap from the ‘Eastern Shore’—you must remind me to tell you about it when I get home. I spent 4 hours in the State Prison to-day, after rehearsal, but it would take a book to hold all I saw & heard” [MTLE 2: 58].
Sam also wrote to William Dean Howells “(On the stage of Ford’s Theatre, 11 in the morning.)” Sam wished his best friend were there, watching rehearsals of Ah Sin [MTLE 2: 59].
On or about this day the Baltimore Gazette ran “Mark Twain’s Opinion,” Sam’s comments on the Russian Czar; and California gold mining [Scharnhorst, Interviews 11-13].
May 1 Tuesday – Sam wrote from Baltimore to Howells.
Found I was not absolutely needed in Washington, so I only staid 24 hours, & am on my way home, now. I called at the White House, & got admission to Col. Rodgers, because I wanted to inquire what was the right hour to go & infest the President….I perceived that Mr. Rodgers took me for George Francis Train & had made up his mind not to let me get at the President…It was a great pity all around, & a loss to the nation, for I was brim full of the Eastern question [MTLE 2: 61].
Sam left for Hartford. A. Hoffman claims it was Bret Harte’s presence in Washington that “drove” Sam home .
Charles E. Perkins wrote a one-liner: “This check contains one hundred dollars on the $700 note so Bergen says” [MTP].
Clara Spaulding wrote a short note to Clemens in German [MTP].
May 2 Wednesday – Based on his May 1 note to Howells, Sam arrived back in Hartford. Donald Hoffman, however, puts May 1 as the day Sam arrived home, with a cold and bronchitis .
Orion Clemens wrote from Keokuk, Ia.
My Dear Brother:— / I enclose a picture of the leech that draws the blood that Col. Sellers makes.
I went to all the job offices in town this morning, and meant to go to the Gate City (morning paper) but found that three or four subs were watching the Constitution—an evening paper—for a chance, and became discouraged. I left my address to be sent for if there should be a spurt. anywhere. It seemed like Sunday all round.
In your absorption preparing your new play I suppose you forgot me this quarter. If you can spare me the usual checks I will get Judge Newman at the August term to appoint me to assist in defending some scoundrel for misdemeanor or felony (the latter penitentiary, the former under that degree) [OC’s parenthetical remark underlined by SLC, with accompanying comment in margin: “the legal instinct to explain.” ] and see what luck I can have in criminal practice. I see bigger fools than I am sit to be prosecuting or district attorneys and get good wages. It seems improbable, but it is so. / Love to all, /Your Brother, / Orion.
When the papers say anything about your play can’t you send it to me? I hear of things here, vaguely. I never see anything [MTPO].
May 3 Thursday – The New York Daily Graphic ran “Mark Twain and His Chairman,” by “Gath,” (George Alfred Townsend) Sam’s comments on the actor Charles Parsloe [Scharnhorst, Interviews 13-14].
May 4–16 Wednesday – Sam wrote from Hartford to Charles E. Perkins, his attorney and financial manager, asking for an accounting of interest on his various investments totaling $31,000. Sam complained that Fanny C. Hesse’s “accounts are so intolerably mixed,” that he couldn’t figure them out [MTLE 2: 62].
May 5 Saturday – Sam wrote a short note from Hartford to his brother Orion in Keokuk about his private secretary’s carelessness at forgetting to send “the usual checks” for Orion. Sam enclosed them. He had a “very bad cold in the head” and couldn’t send details. “…the time is needed for swearing” [MTLE 2: 64, 65].
Sam also wrote a short note to Howells, enclosing Orion’s letter of May 2, which asked for checks not sent and mentioned trying to take on a criminal case. There is weeping ridicule, irritated pathos in Sam’s references to his brother: “2 ½ years civil ‘practice’ has yielded him just one case. He will try criminal law, now, poor fellow” [MTLE 2: 64].
May 6 Sunday – From Livy’s diary:
We are having a wonderfully restful Sunday morning. We neither of us went to church….
The children have been out gathering wild flowers and have brought me such a beautiful lot. I am going down now pretty soon to arrange them.
Mr. Clemens and I are sitting on the west balcony out of the billiard room, it is warm and pleasant, but Mr. Clemens has a terrible cold in the head—As I look down to the stream I see our four ducks—we have also six little ducks…[Salsbury 62].
May 7 Monday – Ah Sin opened in Washington for a week long trial before a New York premier. Sam sent Charles Parsloe a telegram, saying he’d been laid up sick but had prepared two speeches in case he’d been able to make the opening—“one to bewail a failure, the other to glorify a success.” Sam wanted to know which one he should use the next day [MTLE 2: 66]. Note: Parsloe answered Sam on May 11 that the presence of Bret Harte was “an added annoyance” [Duckett 143].
Charles T. Parsloe sent a telegram to Sam: “Telegram read from stage at close of performance. The audience unanimously pronounced in favor of glorifying speech” [MTP].
May 8 Tuesday – Sam’s May 7 telegram to Parsloe ran on page one of the Washington National Republican [MTLE 2: 66]. Also in the Washington Evening Star (4-1) [MTP].
John Thomson Ford wrote Sam of the opening of Ah Sin and enclosed notices. His letter is on letterhead for the Treasurer’s Office of the National Theatre and Opera House:
Before going to Baltimore I write hurriedly to you. I came here to see “Ah Sin” [illegible word] out, and was fully satisfied with the performance. The audience was forced, house crowded, cash receipts near $500. The play was well acted and the applause was liberal and sincere. The female parts were—especially the Plunketts’—very good. Parsloe was himself not strong but well individualized in the character, nervous to timidity and evidently greatly missed you as he needed backing up—advice—bolstering.
With help the play can be made an assured success. You ought to be here to be its wet nurse until it can do for itself….I have urged the President to come tonight. Yours hurriedly J.T. Ford [MTP]. Note: Harte had read his signature J.I. Ford, and it does take some squinting. It’s not known if President Hayes so attended.
May 9 Wednesday – In Cambridge, Mass., Howells wrote about Sam’s frustration at trying to see the President, of Orion’s letter and photograph, and of Sam’s play, Ah Sin [MTHL 1: 177].
May 10 Thursday – Sam purchased John Liptrott Hatton’s The Songs of England from the Osgood & Co [Gribben 300].
Orion Clemens wrote to thank Sam for the 3 drafts of $42 each, and added his cure for the common cold:
“Abstain from eating, drinking and profanity 24 hours (except water); then bathe in hot water half an hour to the knees, keeping the water as hot as you can bear by expedients that will readily suggest themselves to a person of your mental resources; then put on woolen socks and go to bed. In the early stages, warranted” [MTP]. Note: see Sam’s reply on May 14.
May 11 Friday – Charles T. Parsloe wrote from Wash DC to Sam, not recalling whether he’d acknowledged receipt of check by telegram.
“Harte has been here since Monday last and done little or nothing, yet, but promises to have something fixed by tomorrow morning. We have been making improvements among ourselves. The last act is weak at the end and do hope Mr Harte will have something for a good finish….The other acts are all right” [MTP]. Note: Only 35 performances took place of Ah Sin because the writers could not agree on changes.
May 12 Saturday – Sam wrote from Hartford to the American Publishing Co., asking that cloth copies of Sketches and Tom Sawyer be sent to Hon. J.R. Goodpasture of Nashville, Tenn. (unidentified). Sam also wanted a statement of earnings for The Adventures of Tom Sawyer to Apr. 1 [MTLE 2: 67].
May 13 Sunday – Sam wrote from Hartford to William B. Franklin, former Union General who led Ulysses Grant’s West Point class. Sam usually addressed Franklin as “General.” Sam recommended interior decorators, Marcotte of New York and the Household Art Company in Boston to bid some project of Franklin’s. “New York is full of bastard furniture-constructors & decorators,” he wrote [MTLE 2: 68].
Sam had another form postal card printed stating that he’d “gone away on a sea voyage of uncertain duration” [MTLE 2: 69].
May 14 Monday – Sam sent his voyage postcard (form letter) to Orion’s suggestions for cold cures, adding a note that death would be “easily preferable” to Orion’s remedy.
“Profanity is more necessary to me than is immunity from colds” [MTLE 2: 70].
May 15 Tuesday – Sam, still in Hartford and preparing to leave on his 10-day trip to Bermuda with Twichell, sent a note to George F. Bissell & Co. for Charles Perkins, authorizing the latter, Sam’s attorney, to endorse checks payable to Sam for deposit [MTLE 2: 71].
Sam also wrote Charles E. Perkins, asking him to drop a line to Harte to say Sam had “gone off on a sea voyage,” leaving all of Sam’s business in Perkins’ hands [MTLE 2: 72].
In Cambridge, Mass., Howells wrote Sam, answering a letter, now lost, about Howells’ translator in Switzerland. Sam had received an offer from one L.J. Brillant to translate The Adventures of Tom Sawyer into French. Howells answered that his translator in Switzerland was “an American woman” who had translated A Foregone Conclusion into Italian but couldn’t find a publisher there for it. Sam’s lost letter evidently announced he was making a trip to Bermuda with Twichell:
“I suppose you’re going to sea for your health. You’re an enviable man to be able to go. I know one set of shaky nerves that can’t” [MTHL 1: 178].
Charles E. Perkins wrote asking for a power of attorney from Clemens to be able to deposit checks for him in Bissell’s bank. Also H.W. Bergen had sent back the contract [MTP]. Note: Sam wrote on the env. “Power atty to endorse checks for deposit”
Frank Fuller wrote hoping Sam could drop in at his Health Food Co. 74 & 4th Ave. before leaving town. He hated to see Sam continue to spend money on H.C. Bowers’ inventions [MTP]. See also AMT 2: 490.
Bret Harte sent a telegram: “Send my draft if any to Mrs. Knauft forty five fifth ave” [MTP].
May 16 Wednesday – Sam and Joe Twichell left Hartford and traveled to New Haven, Conn., where they took a night boat just before midnight to New York City and spent the night, [Powers, MT A Life 404; D. Hoffman 27] probably at the St. James Hotel, which he wrote in his notebook [2: 12]. (See Sam’s note to Livy of May 17) [MTLE 2: 73]. Sam wrote, “First actual pleasure trip I ever took” [MTNJ 2: 12].
May 17 Thursday –Sam wrote from New York to Livy.
“Livy darling, it is 8.30 AM & Joe & I have been wandering about for half an hour with satchels & overcoats, asking questions of policemen; at last we have found the eating house I was after. Joe’s country aspect & the seal-skin coat caused one policeman to follow us a few blocks” [MTLE 2: 73].
The desired café was on William St. near Fulton [D. Hoffman 27]. Sam mentioned the thunderstorm in the night, causing him to worry about her (this mention shows that the pair went to the city on May 16.) The two men planned to “loaf around to Mr. Sage’s business place after breakfast.” Dean Sage, Brooklyn writer, sportsman, was contributor to the Atlantic and The Nation, among other magazines [MTLE 2: 73].
Clemens and Twichell had a New York breakfast, and in the hot mid-afternoon boarded the mail steamer Bermuda in first class. The boat carried thirteen other passengers for a four-day journey [D. Hoffman 27]. From Sam’s notebook:
Left at 330. Blazing hot till we got outside—then cold rain; put on seal skin coat & tied up the collar with silk handkercf. Steamer came out with us, went ahead. Hearty supper at 6. Chat in smoking cabin till 830. Then whisky & to bed. Had a lantern hung at my head & read self to sleep with Motley’s Netherlands. Kept waking up with nightmares all night—coffee for supper—finally fell to reading at 2 or 3 & read till sunrise [MTNJ 2: 16]. Note: the literary reference is to John Lothrop Motley’s Motley’s The Rise of the Dutch Nation (1856) [Gribben 489].
By nightfall we were far out at sea, with no land in sight. No telegrams could come here, no letters, no news. This was an uplifting thought. It was still more uplifting to reflect that the millions of harassed people on shore behind us were suffering as usual [“Some Rambling Notes of an Idle Excursion”].
May 17 to 21 Monday – The voyage on the Bermuda took four days to reach St. George’s Harbor. During the trip, Sam read John Lothrop Motley’s The Rise of the Dutch Republic, and later (Aug. 6) wrote Mollie Fairbanks he “would have thrown the book into the sea if I had owned it” [MTLE 2: 126]. Note: Motley (1814-1877).
Powers writes that away from Hartford and his pulpit, Twichell’s naiveté to unfamiliar surroundings surfaced, and Sam kindheartedly referred to him as “fool” in his notes [MT A Life 404]. According to the 1871 Census, Bermuda had a population of 12,121: 7,396 colored, 4,725 whites [D. Hoffman 33].
May 18 Friday – From Sam’s notebook:
Bright, sunny, mild—put on light overcoat for the deck. Mother Cary’s chicks very beautiful; bronze, shiny, metallic, broad stripe across tail; —built & carry themselves much like swallows. After luncheon I commenced feeding crumbs to a few over the stern, & in 15 minutes had a thousand collected from nobody knows where. We are very far from land, of course. They never rested a moment. This stormy Petrel is supposed to sleep on the water at night.
On deck, before supper. Very fine & sunny, but a breeze has sprung up—we have up a fore & main spencer, a staysail & fore-topsail. Shall have a sea to-morrow which will retard us. Have been making great speed up to this time.
Engine stopped—everybody interested, I indifferent, caring not a dam [MTNJ 2: 16-7].
May 20 Sunday – Sam’s notebook entry: “6 AM Making land.” From “Idle Excursion”:
Away across the sunny waves one saw a faint dark stripe stretched along under the horizon,—or pretended to see it, for the credit of his eyesight. Even the Reverend [Twichell] said he saw it, a thing which was manifestly not so. But I never have seen anyone who was morally strong enough to confess that he could not see land when others claimed that they could.
The steamer Bermuda did not anchor up north at St. George’s where the Quaker City had a decade before. It went down the North Shore to Grassy Bay and entered the Great Sound, approaching Hamilton Harbor by way of the Timlins’ Narrows [D. Hoffman 30]. From Sam’s notebook:
So the Reverend and I had at last arrived at Hamilton, the principal town in the Bermuda Islands. A wonderfully white town; white as snow itself. White as marble; white as flour. Yet looking like none of these, exactly. Never mind, we said; we shall hit upon a figure by and by that will describe this peculiar white [“Idle Excursion”].
Hotel Closed [The season was over]. No vehicle to take us or baggage to Mrs. Kirkham’s [boarding house]. Hired little darkey boy to show us. He had seat of pants like a township map chromolithographed. He wound us in & out & here & there—once through very narrow lane. Charged double.
Houses painfully white—town & houses & verandahs all Spanish style.
Got two large cool, well lighted rooms, & now the calm Sabbath is being profaned by the crowing & clucking of chickens, the wauling of cats & the clanging of a metallic neighboring piano & people singing “Only an Armor Bearer” &c with power.
Couldn’t sleep—got to feeling low & far from home—went into next room to find a cheerful book—got on in the dark—“Meditations on Death & Eternity.” Looked again & found books better suited to my mood [MTNJ 2: 19-20].
At the boarding house Sam read “The Broken Vow,” a poem in the Feb. 1834 issue of Godey’s Lady’s Book. He noted: “They were a sad & sentimental lot in those days” [Gribben 510].
May 21 Monday – Bermuda. In the morning Sam and Twichell hiked again; they took a carriage ride in the afternoon [D. Hoffman 45]. Sam’s notebook:
Was awakened at 6AM Monday by our ambitious young rooster—looked out saw him swelling around a yellow cat asleep on ground. Birds, a bugle & various noises. Then a piano over the way…
Bought white shoes & pipe-clay. Walked till hurt heel. After noonday dinner
Drove along shore—one horse & intelligent colored man. The sea-view always enchanting…
That fool [Twichell] with us sees “Onions Wanted” & innocently gets out to tell man plenty along the road.
Living is very cheap & there’s potatoes & onions for all. Nobody can starve. Plenty of schools—everybody can read [MTNJ 2: 21].
Sam noted the quarry blocks used for construction, cheap prices of houses, a myriad of flowers and plants, animals of all sorts out grazing, and everywhere white. The whitest and shabbiest town in the northeast would be shabby next to Bermuda, he wrote [MTNJ 2: 23-5].
May 22 Tuesday – Sam and Joe crossed the Causeway and arrived at St. George, Bermuda. They checked into the Globe Hotel at 32 Duke of York Street. The Globe was a “ponderous stone structure with huge chimneys” built in 1699-1700 as a governor’s house. The travelers registered under the names “S. Langhorne” and “JH Twichell USA” [D. Hoffman 50-1]. From “Idle Excursions”:
At the principal hotel in St. George’s, a young girl, with a sweet, serious face, said we could not be furnished with dinner, because we had not been expected, and no preparation had been made….I said we were not very hungry; a fish would do. My little maid answered, it was not the market-day for fish. Things began to look serious; but presently the boarder who sustained the hotel came in, and when the case was laid before him he was cheerfully willing to divide. So we had much pleasant chat at table about St. George’s chief industry, the repairing of damaged ships; and in between we had a soup that had something in it that seemed to taste like the hereafter, but it proved to be only pepper of a particular vivacious kind. And we had iron-clad chicken that was deliciously cooked, but not in the right way. Baking was not the thing to convince his sort….No matter; we had potatoes and a pie and a sociable good time. Then a ramble across town, which is a quaint one, with interesting, crooked streets, and narrow, crooked lanes, with here and there a grain of dust.
May 23 Wednesday – Sam and Joe spent their four days on the island walking and talking, observing people, flora and fauna and the countryside. [Powers, MT A Life 405]. From Oct. to Jan. 1878, a serial publication of Sam’s about the trip ran in the Atlantic: “Some Rambling Notes of an Idle Excursion” [Wells 22]. In this four-parter, the “fool” becomes the “Ass,” but it was all in fun—the men never lost mutual respect for the other. The weather made the men cancel a planned sailboat outing [D. Hoffman 54]. From Sam’s notebook:
That piano & that tune & that rooster were silent this morning. Somebody’s been telling.
Flags at ½ mast for a citizen
Rained like everything. Couldn’t go sailing. Dined aboard the ship.
Rained all day—came home middle of afternoon—bright moonlight at night. We started at 8 & walked to North Shore & then around west & across to town, Joe stepping in an occasional puddle, to my intense enjoyment. Got caught in rain. Walked 5 or 6 miles in new shoes. They were 7s when I started & 5s when I got back [MTNJ 2: 31].
May 24 Thursday – Sam and Joe returned to Hamilton and boarded the Bermuda, preparing to leave. Charles M. Allen, the U.S. consul, came aboard to say goodbye to Charles Langdon and ask about his mother [MJNJ 2: 32].
At 4 PM the steamship Bermuda, Captain Angrove, sailed from Hamilton, Bermuda “on the Queen’s birthday”. Sam noted that at 7 PM “All the ladies are sea-sick & gone to bed except a Scotchman’s wife.” Then, “7.30. The Scotchman’s wife has caved.” Sam related these events in his notebook and in a September letter to the Hartford Courant [MTLE 2: 154]
Sam reflected on Bermuda in his notebook:
There are several “sights” in the Bermudas, of course, but they re easily avoided. This is a great advantage,—one cannot have it in Europe. Bermuda is the right country for a jaded man to “loaf” in. There are no harassments; the deep peace and quiet of the country sink into one’s body and bones and give his conscience a rest, and chloroform the legion of invisible small devils that are always trying to whitewash his hair…[MTNJ 2: 54-5].
Thomas Bailey Aldrich wrote to invite Sam and Livy for a couple of days in Ponkapog, since Edwin Booth & wife were coming next week; he’d also invited the Howellses [MTP]. Note: Sam wrote on the env. “Aldrich the Poet”
May 25 Friday – From Sam’s letter cited above:
At 4 p.m., May 25, twenty-four hours out, our position was 250 miles northwest from Bermuda…[Sam made] a rude pencil sketch of a disabled vessel, & this note concerning it:—
“Friday, 25.—Jonas Smith, ten days out from Bermuda, 250 miles. Signal of distress flying (flag in the main rigging with the Union down.) Went out of our course to see her. Heavy ground swell on the sea, but no wind. They launched their boat, stern first, from the deck amidships…The vessel had an absurdly large crew—we could see as many as a dozen colored men lying around taking it easy on her deck.”
The Jonas Smith schooner turned out to be a strange pleasure cruise of Negro beggars.
May 27 Sunday – Sam and Twichell arrived home in Hartford [Powers, MT A Life 405].
May 28 Monday – Twichell wrote of the Bermuda trip in his journal upon his return, that he’d gone “with M.T. who paid all my expenses” [Yale 174].
May 29 Tuesday – Sam wrote from Hartford to Howells, revealing that he had traveled to Bermuda under an assumed name, and lamenting the fact that Howells had not been on the trip:
Confound you, Joe Twichell & I roamed about Bermuda day & night & never ceased to gabble & enjoy. About half the talk was—“It is a burning shame that Howells isn’t here,” “Nobody could get at the very meat & marrow of this pervading charm & deliciousness like Howells,” “How Howells would revel in the quaintness, & the simplicity of this people & the Sabbath repose of this land!” “What an imperishable sketch Howells would make of Capt. West the whaler, & Capt. Hope with the patient, pathetic face, wanderer in all the oceans for 43 years, lucky in none; coming home defeated once more, now minus his ship—resigned, uncomplaining, being used to this,” “What a rattling chapter Howells would make out of the small boy Alfred, with his alert eye & military brevity & exactness of speech; & out of the old landlady; & her sacred onions; & her daughter; & the visiting clergymen; & the ancient pianos of Hamilton & the venerable music in vogue there—& forty other things which we shall leave untouched or touch but lightly upon, we not being worth,” “Dam Howells for not being here!” (this usually from me, not Twichell) [MTLE 2: 74].
Sam also wrote a note to John A. McPherson, who evidently had inquired as to the source of Sam’s pen name, “Mark Twain” [MTLE 2: 75].
May 31 Thursday – A.P. Hodgkins of Chelsea, Mass. wrote a fan letter from Rome, Italy [MTP]. Note: Sam wrote on the env. “From an admirer”
June – An unsigned article “An Overrated Book” ran without title in the “Contributors’ Club,” June issue of the Atlantic Monthly. Attributed to Twain, it was later titled in an index for the period. A reading online revealed the writer’s home was Ponkapog, Mass., that of Thomas Bailey Aldrich. The review was of Rev. Edward Payson Hammond’s Sketches of Palestine [Eppard 430-1]. (See entries for June 6, 1877, Oct. 27, 1879 and Jan. 12, 1883.) Note: further evidence that this review of Hammond’s poetry was not Twain’s is his opinion often expressed but never better than his Aug. 10, 1881 to Robert Green Ingersoll: “I am not bold enough to express an opinion about it, for I never read poetry, & a criticism from me would be a thing which I should laugh at, myself.” See entry.
Earlier in the year Candace Wheeler (1827-1923) founded the New York Society of Decorative Arts as an outgrowth of the excitement caused by the 1876 Centennial celebration and exhibits in Philadelphia. Wheeler and Louis Comfort Tiffany did the interior decorating on the Clemens home. Wheeler encouraged women in other cities to establish auxiliary societies. Hartford was among the first six cities to form a group of their own.
Upon receiving Wheeler’s circular, Hartford’s female civic leaders came together, and during this month about 50 of the city’s “public spirited ladies” gathered at the home of Lucy Perkins. Among this group was the widow Elizabeth A. Colt, then owner of Colt Patent Fire Arms Manufacturing Co., who would become the Hartford Society’s first president. Included were author Harriet Beecher Stowe, Olivia Clemens, Susan Warner, and Mary Bushnell Cheney (1806-1894), wife of Frank W. Cheney (1822-1909) of Cheney Silk Mills. Many of these women were already active in Hartford charity work. The group decided to focus on art education and open a school toward that aim (See Jan. 16, 1878 entry).
June 3 Sunday – Sam wrote from Hartford to Thomas Bailey Aldrich, poet, novelist and editor who would succeed Howells as editor of the Atlantic in 1881. The Clemens family would leave for Quarry Farm on June 5 and Sam hoped to write a book there:
“…similar to your new one in the Atlantic…though I have not heard what the nature of that one is. Howells says he is going to make his next book indelicate. He says he thinks there is money in it” [MTLE 2: 76].
June 4 Monday – Sam wrote an almost reverent letter from Hartford to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, soliciting his help to obtain the Swiss mission for Howells. Sam couldn’t help but think that if Longfellow, Lowell, Whittier and Holmes wrote President Hayes, the appointment might be more likely [MTLE 2: 77]. Sam purchased a copy of Samuel Breck’s Recollection of Samuel Breck (1877) from Osgood & Co for a discounted price of $1.60 [Gribben 82].
June 5 Tuesday – In Hartford in the evening, Sam attended William H. Gillette’s performance at Seminary Hall. The Courant of June 6, p.2 reported the event:
Mr. W.H. Gillette was greeted last night with a crowded house. Seminary Hall was full, and many stood during the whole entertainment. It was Mr. Gillette’s first appearance in his native city (except in some minor state part), and great curiosity was felt to see how he had fulfilled his early promise of becoming an actor. We may say in a general way that his friends were entirely satisfied, and those who knew nothing of his capabilities were surprised at his talent.
The audience being judge, his performance was a marked success. They were thoroughly entertained from beginning to end, and testified their enjoyment by frequent, hearty applause and more frequent laughter. The programme was mainly one of imitations of well-known actors, partly in costume, with recitations from dramas and humorous sketches. It was exceedingly varied, running from tragedy to comedy and farce; and it was not the least part of the surprise of the audience that the actor was so facile and perfectly at home in such a wide selection of characters. One of the most purely comical performances was the address of a somewhat bashful and conceited young man to a Sunday school. The composition was Mr. Gillette’s own, and it succeeded in being as flat as such addresses often are, and was at the same time amusing from its affectation of inane wit. In contrast to this, but equally well done was the imitation of Mark Twain in the “Jumping Frog.” It was so well done that Mr. Clemens, who was present, might have fancied that he was on the stage.
June 6 Wednesday – Sam wrote from Hartford to Howells. The move to Elmira had been delayed a day, but Sam wrote they were leaving that day. Sam wished Howells well with “[Lawrence] Barrett & the play,” encouraging Howells to write a contract “from the standpoint that he is the blackest-livered scoundrel on earth.” Sam also mentioned the Bermuda article proofs for the Atlantic [MTLE 2: 78]. Sam included a cryptic line about his review of Rev. Edward Payson Hammond’s book, Sketches of Palestine: “The debt was discharged when you sent the Hammond pamphlet—& so I considered it” . (See entries for Oct. 27, 1879 and Jan. 12, 1883.)
The Clemens family went to New York, where they spent the night.
June 7 Thursday – The Clemenses rode the train ten hours and arrived at the Langdon home in Elmira.
Henry Whitney Cleveland (1836-1907) wrote from N.Y.C. the first of six letters to Clemens, who became irritated with him to the point of calling him the “Reverend D—d tramp.”
Dear Sir: / I have a book, like and unlike, the Pilgrims Progress, and call it, “Entranced a Romance of Immortality.” I am a poor Presbyterian minister, for whom you once brought a watch from George MacDonald.
I recently read aloud the story in your last book, of the boy who took a whipping for a girl at school, and it was Sabbath Evening, in the family of Mr Wiles up the Hudson River, where I was preaching, and we all cried over it, before prayers.
I thought you might like mine, and get that great Am. Publ. Co. to like it too.
Very. Rev. A.P. Stanley, of Westminster, wrote me a good letter about it, when he read it, and so did Dr Loyden of Bradford.
P.W. Zeigler of Pa, agreed to take it, but is not able to do so now. If you just would read it, it might make me almost as famed as you are. Yes, on a postcard, and I will tell Dr Rand, of Am. Tract Society to send it to you. / Respectfully / Henry W. Cleveland [MTP]. Note: see Cleveland’s Aug. 9 letter. The whipping tale is in Ch 20 of TS. Arthur Penrhyn Stanley (1815-1881); William W. Rand (1816-1909) sec. Am. Tract Soc.
June 8 Friday – Clara Clemens’ third birthday.
June 9 Saturday –William Dean Howells, on vacation in Conanicut, R.I., and “in a white fog that carries desolation to the soul,” wrote to ask Clemens for parts one and three of “Some Rambling Notes,” to put in type “at once.”
“The wretch who sold you that type-writer has not yet come to a cruel death. In the meantime he offers me $20.00 for it. I never could regard it as more than a loan, so I ask you whether I shall sell it at that price, or pass it along to you at Elmira” [MTHL 1: 181-2].
Francis D. Millet wrote to Sam from Bucharest, Romania to explain how he became a war correspondent (Russo-Turkish War 1877-78) for the New York Herald.
We are very busy of course and I only seize this opportunity of writing you because I don’t know but I may get into the mess any day and then I shant have time to write. I wanted to thank you for the very good letter (not extant) you sent me at Paris…. Charlie Stoddard who spent a few days there and who is soon to come to America will see you and tell you just how well we are situated in Paris and all about our establishment….This war will make people as familiar with the Danubian provinces as they are with Spain I suppose. The most surprising characteristic of the country is its great likeness to our South & West. You would feel quite at home here—with the exception of the language which is peculiar. I am wrestling with that and Russian and scarcely get time to eat. I can only now stop to send many kind regards to all your family whom I remember as if I had acquired new relatives—why don’t people recognize the famille de coeur even if there be no drop of blood of the same blood in its members? I never think of those evenings in Hartford but I feel a great glow come over me” [MTP]. Note: Sam wrote on the env. “Answered”; See Jan. 17, and ca. Feb. 15 from Susy Clemens; it’s possible that he thanked Sam for a letter now lost that accompanied Susy’s.
June 11 Monday – Frank Fuller wrote (Bowers to Fuller June 9 & 10 enclosed),wanting Sam to tell him what to do about H.C. Bowers, and enclosing Bowers’ bill for $31.65 [MTP]. Note: “In 1877 Clemens’s old friend Frank Fuller persuaded him to invest in a company that he managed, the New York Vaporizing Company, which was financing H.C. Bowers to develop a new type of steam generator. Bowers’s machine was built, but did not run, and by early 1878 Clemens had lost $5,000” [AMT 2: 490].
June 12 Tuesday – Sam wrote from the Langdon home in Elmira to Charles Perkins, his attorney and business consultant. Sam enclosed $20 and asked, “When is the dramatic vacation coming! It will be a relief to get Bergen down to $15 a week.” H.W. Bergen was the agent hired to handle and report receipts from stage plays.
Clara had a “raging fever” and Sam wanted a doctor’s permission to take the family to Quarry Farm. He also included a note about John T. Raymond’s wife, who had taken a part in the Gilded Age play.
“Whenever receipts fail to pay Raymond’s wife, you need not pay her out of my pocket. I suppose you notified Raymond to stop her salary” [MTLE 2: 79].
Henry W. Longfellow wrote from Cambridge, Mass. to Sam
Dear Mr Clemens, / I have seen Lowell, and talked with him on the subject of your letter. We are both of us willing to do anything and everything to advance the interests of Howells, but what is to be done is not so clear to us.
We do not believe that any written paper has the slightest influence. It is only filed away and forgotten.
We have tried this method of proceeding with a friend of ours, who asks for a much humbler place and without perceptible result. … / Howells himself I have been unable to see, as he has gone to Newport for the summer [MTP]. Note: James Russell Lowell. Twain was trying to get Howells a consulship.
June 13 Wednesday – Little Clara’s fever had run its course, so Sam took the family up to Quarry Farm, a place “always cool, & still, & reposeful & bewitching” [MTLE 2: 80].
Mike M. Brannan wrote from Dallas, Tex. on The Mail letterhead to send a copy of the “first daily” Brannan had an interest in. Only 24 he claimed he was called “the Mark Twain of the South” and claimed the title “quite repulsed my literary ambitions.” He asked for an autograph [MTP]. Note: Sam wrote on the env “Disgusting”
June 14 Thursday – Sam wrote from Quarry Farm to Howells, responding to a letter received. Sam thought Howells had made good terms for his new play. He consented to publishing the Bermuda travel article in the October issue of the Atlantic. He had revised the first two articles and began the third this day. Wasn’t there “some Montreal magazine I can sell or give them to, & thus beat Belford Bros., thieves, of Toronto?” Sam also agreed to Howells selling the typewriter for $20:
“I didn’t lend you that thing; I gave it to you because you had been doing me some offense or other, & there seemed no other way to avenge myself…” [MTLE 2: 80].
June 16 Saturday – Robert E. Beecher of Continental Life Ins. Co of Hartford wrote, pointing out that $335 plus interest was due on a $10,000 policy Sam had taken out in 1869 [MTP].
June 18 Monday – Frank Fuller wrote to Sam about his recent excursion to the north part of Long Island and of yacht sailing there. He wrote of H.C. Bowers again and was awaiting “the advent of the E.B. Grubb. We are not to be left without grub for 3 months it seems. I could stand that, but to have Bowers for the same period will drive me wild. Let us send him off to some remote isle of the sea, to try the sailing qualities of his thing” [MTP].
June 19 Tuesday – Sam answered an inquiry from James B. Pond about lecturing—couldn’t until “the reverses come. They haven’t arrived yet” [MTLE 2: 81]. Note: when money was abundant, Sam seldom wanted to lecture, unless occasionally for a charity he supported.
June 20 Wednesday – Frank Fuller wrote a postcard from NYC. “I don’t know ‘Pitkins,’ but I have written Bowers to send me the bill for payment. Who overcharged? Pitkins? I’ll warrant it! ‘Tis true ‘tis Pitkins: Pitkins ‘tis, ‘tis true. If I am seem to see an overcharge in that bill when it comes, I’ll render Pitkins sad at heart” [MTP].
J.B. Berry (“Timothy Titus”) wrote from Otterville, Mo. “The connection here have selected me & placed money in my hands to investigate the claim of the Lampton heirs.” He was asking “a few of the best informed” how to best proceed. He asked for $75 [MTP]. Note: Sam wrote on the env “Curiosity”
June 21 Thursday – Sam wrote two letters from Elmira to Howells. Sam had read in the newspapers that Bret Harte was trying to get a consulship. Sam tried to convince Howells to write President Hayes to squelch such an appointment, which Sam claimed would be a “disgrace of literature & the country.” Sam listed Harte’s faults, from not paying his debts to lying to being “steeped in whisky & brandy.” Sam claimed that Harte even “gets up in the night to drink it cold.”
With second thoughts, Sam wrote a follow-up letter to Howells at 10 PM:
“Never mind about Harte—I mean never mind about being bothered with the letter [to President Hayes]. I had to have an outlet to my feelings—I saw none but through you—but of course the thing would be disagreeable to you.” Sam urged Howells and wife to “visit any time in the summer and stay a week” [MTLE 2: 82-3].
June 25 Monday – Joe Twichell wrote to Sam that he was sending a novel by Sabine Baring Gould (1824-1924), “In Exitu Issail.” (In Exitu Israel; 1870). He thanked for the Bermuda trip and valued it, a “splendid time,” enjoyed as “few things in all my life….more like a boy in my feelings than I remember being for many a year” [MTP].
June 27 Wednesday – Sam wrote from Elmira to Howells about finishing part four of the Bermuda travelogue article, “Some Rambling Notes of an Idle Excursion.” As always, Sam deferred to Howells on matters of editing or appropriateness:
“Do not hesitate to squelch them, even with derision & insult.”
Sam was working on a new comedy play, Cap’n Simon Wheeler, The Amateur Detective. He claimed to have written 55 pages at one sitting [MTLE 2: 85]. Emerson writes, “The play was a satire of Alan Pinkerton’s methods and a burlesque of his books…” .
Sam also wrote to Joe Twichell, thanking him for the trip to Bermuda and wishing they might have “had ten days of those walks & talks instead of four!” Sam wrote particulars and revisions for “Rambling Notes.” Twichell had confided bad news about Dean Sage, probably the illness with which he was afflicted, though he lived till 1902. Sam responded, “There are so many we could spare!—& that he should be singled out!” [MTLE 2: 85].
June 28 Thursday – Charles T. Parsloe wrote to ask for a $50 check, and to say, “I am afraid nothing can be done with Mr Abby, Park Theatre So I am trying what can be done with Mr. O.R. Thorne of the Lyceum” [MTP].
Charles E. Perkins sent Clemens a list of insurances on his house and furniture [MTP].
June 29 Friday – Sam wrote from Elmira to Howells. Only the envelope survives [MTLE 2: 86].
June 30 Saturday – In Conanicut, R.I., Howells wrote to Sam, perhaps answering his of June 29. Howells wrote of his recent trip to Quebec and of breakfasting with President Hayes during his recent to Boston and Newport. Howells loved Sam’s pieces about the Bermuda trip:
I’ve just been reading aloud to my wife your Bermuda papers. That they’re delightfully entertaining goes without saying; but we also found that you gave us the only realizing sense of Bermuda that we’ve ever had. I know that they will be a great success. —The fog has cleared off, and we’re in raptures with Conanicut. Would that we could bring your hill-top to our shore!—That joke you put in Twichell’s mouth advising you to make the most of a place that was like Heaven, about killed us [MTHL 1: 185].
Frank Fuller began a note to Sam that he finished on July 3, clipping enclosed: “the tug-boat Herbert, belonging to Staples & Phillips of Taunton, blew up Tuesday and killed William Farrell and William Paull.” Fuller added that Sam erred “in stating that Bowers & Johnny were the parties” [MTP].
July – To an unidentified person:
Sam made an entry in his notebook to purchase a second-hand copy of Arabian Nights [Gribben 26]. He also wrote “get Froude & notes,” referring to James Anthony Froude’s (1818-1894) History of England from the Fall of Wolsey to the Defeat of the Spanish Armada, 12 vols. These books aided Sam in the writing of P&P . He also wrote a reminder to “get full Harper Monthly for Sue” (Crane) at a second-hand bookstore in New York . He also wrote a reminder to “Bring Hume’s Henry VIII & Henry VII,” referring to David Hume’s (1711-1776) The History of England (6 vols. 1854) .
July 3 Tuesday – Frank Fuller finished his June 30: “Bowers sent his regular little dft for 3100 yestrdy, a proof that he still survives.” Fuller intended to leave town should Bowers show up, lying around, “stunning me with steam pressures & tables of expansion” [MTP]. Note: Sam wrote on the env “No answer”; H.C. Bowers; see June 11 listing.
July 4 Wednesday – Sam wrote from Elmira to his attorney Charles Perkins, restating the value of his house and goods for insurance purposes. Sam’s brother-in-law, Theodore Crane, suffered loss of a building insured for $12,000 that the “consultation-gang of insurance-thieves” had said was only worth $8,000 [MTLE 2: 88].
Sam began a letter to Howells that he finished on July 6. He was still bothered by a second reading of Parts one and two of his Bermuda travelogue piece, and told Howells to not print it should he have any doubts. Sam had “piled up 151 MS pages” on his amateur detective play. “Never had so much fun over anything in my life—never such consuming interest & delight.”
Sam wrote about not being able to see President Hayes, due to “that old ass of a private secretary” taking him for George Francis Train. He’d go and call on Hayes again, he said.
“I shall go in my war paint; & if I am obstructed, the nation will have the unusual spectacle of a private secretary with a pen over one ear & a tomahawk over the other” [MTLE 2: 89]. Note: William K. Rogers (d. 1893), the former partner of President Hayes, was the “old ass” secretary.
After reading all of the Atlantic he also wrote of a prolific New England writer, Rose Terry Cooke:
“Mrs. Rose Terry Cooke’s story was a ten-strike. I wish she would write 12 old-time New England tales a year” [MTP; Gribben 158]. Note: see Cooke’s of Aug. 18, 1880 and others indexed.
July 6 Friday – Sam finished the letter to Howells he began on July 4. He’d completed the play, a four-act comedy with fourteen characters—all done in “6 ½ days working 6 ½ hours per day.”
I go to New York Monday (St. James Hotel,) & take MS with me. Shall visit theatres for a week or ten days & see if I can find a man who can play the detective as well as Sol Smith Russell could doubtless have done it—though I have never seem him. If the play’s a success it is worth $50,000 or more—if it fails it is worth nothing—& yet even the worst of failures can’t rob one of the 6 ½ days of booming pleasure I have had in writing it [MTLE 2: 90]. Note: Sam was not only stage-struck, but counting his chickens quite large.
Charles T. Parsloe wrote to Sam that O.R. Thorne of the Lyceum had “read the piece and offers to get it up with everything new and share after Twenty two hundred dollars per week. Terms are a little steep I think but it is the only place in the city to be had.” Parsloe had another offer in St. Louis and gave details, though “the company is sure to be bad because Ben DeBar is the manager” [MTP]. Note: Benedict (“Ben”) DeBar (1812-1877), connected by marriage to the Booth actors, and a prominent stage manager in St. Louis. As an actor, DeBar was best known for portraying Shakespeare’s character John Falstaff in Henry IV.
Charles E. Perkins wrote a notice of interest and his fee [MTP]. Note: Sam wrote on the env “Interest ac/ Send him $100 Livy”
July 7 Saturday – Sam wrote from Hartford to Charles Perkins. He sent a check of $1,110.38 for property taxes on his Farmington Road House. He had discovered that Hartford property purchased with Livy’s money was still in his name, so directed Perkins to draft the necessary documents to deed back to Livy, and to send them to the St. James Hotel in New York [MTLE 2: 91]. Later in the day Sam telegraphed Perkins to send “Bergen’s address” .
July 11 Wednesday – Sam had not yet left Elmira, probably delayed by Livy’s health. Sam wrote to Howells about the Cap’n Simon Wheeler play, which Sam wanted to name “Balaam Ass” but Livy “wouldn’t have it.” Sam planned to leave for New York on Friday or Saturday [MTLE 2: 94].
July 12 Thursday – Still in Conanicut, R.I. on vacation, Howells wrote a short note to Sam, exclaiming that part four of Sam’s notes about Bermuda was “glorious. I nearly killed Mrs. Howells with it.” [MTHL 1: 190].
July 13 or 14 Saturday – Sam traveled to New York [MTLE 2: 94].
July 15 Sunday – In New York Sam wrote to Livy . He was sorry she’d been “low” when he’d left home. He was expecting Frank Fuller to arrive as he wrote the note. He would go to “Hartford in the morning, but I loathe the trip.” A baggage car fire on the way to New York nearly destroyed his play manuscript [MTLE 2: 95]. Sam planned to haunt theatres for a week or ten days, but was forced to take a side-trip to Hartford after a burglar alarm went off at the Farmington Avenue house.
July 16 Monday – From New York, Sam sent separate letters to his daughters, Clara and Susy Clemens. Only the envelope survives to Clara’s letter. To Susy he wrote:
“I saw a cat yesterday, with 4 legs—& yet it was only a yellow cat, & rather small, too, for its size. They were not all fore legs—several of them were hind legs; indeed almost a majority of them were. Write me. Papa” [MTLE 2: 97].
Sam also wrote per Livy to Richard Edwards, giving permission to use three pages from his Mississippi Sketches in a reader [MTLE 2: 98].
Sam went to Hartford. In the evening he had a “pleasant short visit” with at the home of Charles Perkins and a “rattling time” at Twichell’s [MTLE 2: 100]. Twichell’s journal includes an entry for the evening about Sam reading Act I of the Simon Wheeler play:
“…he being the best reader I know…I couldn’t judge the merits of the comedy for stage presentation, but as a reading by the author for an audience of one it was an [?illegible] success” [Yale 4, copy at MTP].
Charles E. Perkins wrote that he’d rec’d Sam’s $100 check for H.W. Bergen. “George has been frightened at what he thinks was an attempt at burglary at your house—am not inclined to take much stock in it” [MTP]. Note: George Griffin, the family butler.
July 17 Tuesday – Sam wrote two letters from Hartford to Livy at Quarry Farm in Elmira. The burglar alarm had been tripped. Sam got to question everyone and play detective. Sam discovered that Lizzy the servant girl’s sweetheart had stayed overnight and left early in the morning, setting off the alarm. Sam thought it best to discharge Lizzy after a few weeks. In another development, a small gang of three “ruffians” had been yelling insults from the street on July 4, and the butler, George Griffin, took a couple of shots at them and ran them off. Sam wrote that he supposed he’d return to New York the next day, July 18[MTLE 2: 100-102]. Sam started another note to Livy that he finished the next day.
From Twichell’s journal:
“In the evening M.T. read us the remaining two acts of the Comedy a fitting way to quiet our nerves after the day’s excitement occasioned as follows: [Yale, copy at MTP]. Joe then describes the burglar episode where Sam cross-examined the servants.
July 18 Wednesday – Sam wrote from a Hartford horse-car to Livy (apologizing for the shaky writing) finishing the last letter of the previous day. He had gained the approval of Mrs. Perkins about disposition of the servants and sent one servant, Mary, to her friends till the family returned from Elmira, and left George Griffin in the house. Lizzy had lied about her man friend spending the night. Sam wrote he’d “been detective Simon Wheeler for 24 hours, now.” Sam ran a ruse to interview Lizzy’s man friend back at the house, “a tall, muscular, handsome fellow of 35” introduced by Lizzy as Willie Taylor. After some half-hour of sleuth-filled conversation, Taylor reluctantly agreed to marry Lizzy. Sam immediately rang a bell, whereupon Mary and George appeared with Pastor Twichell. Sam presented a marriage license he’d procured earlier in the day in a walk to town and Twichell promptly married the couple! Champagne was served in spite of tears from the bride, and Sam drank to their health, gave them each $100, and retired to Twichell’s house for dinner. Sam later wrote the details of the false burglary and the shotgun wedding into a story he called “Wapping Alice” [Willis 110].
Sam read his detective farce play to Joe and Harmony Twichell. He spent the night in the Farmington Avenue house [MTLE 2: 103-5].
Sam sent a dollar, a printed copy of the title-page of the Simon Wheeler play and a note applying for a copyright to Ainsworth R. Spofford, Library of Congress [MTLE 2: 132]. Afterward, he left Hartford for New York.
July 19 Thursday – Sam wrote from New York to Clara “Bay” Clemens, telling her that he’d purchased two dolls and two bath tubs and sent them by express for her and her sister Susy. Clara’s doll (Sam named “Hosannah Maria”) was in “quite delicate health,” and had caught a “very severe cold.”
“She was out driving & got rained on….It settled on her mind…paralyzed the sounding-board of her ears & the wobbling nerve of her tongue…I have consulted the best physicians. They say constant & complicated bathing will fetch her. Papa” [MTLE 2: 107].
Sam wrote a corresponding letter to Susy Clemens.
“Susie dear, Your doll is named Hallelujah Jennings. She early suffered a stroke of some sort, & since that day all efforts of the best physicians have failed to take the stiffening out of her legs. They say incessant bathing is the only thing that can give her eventual relief.”
It seems each daughter’s doll also had a child doll; Sam named them “Glory Ann Jennings” and “Whoop-Jamboree” [MTLE 2: 108].
July 20 Friday – Frank Fuller wrote a postcard from NYC: “I can’t find that old rip[?] so I go alone. I will sound the uttermost depths of the concern & see you or write you” [MTP].
Charles E. Perkins wrote more of Sam’s financials, this on a tax bill [MTP].
July 20 to 30 Monday – Sam spent the days in New York attending rehearsals and helping Augustin Daly for the play Ah Sin to open on July 31. He purchased a white linen swallowtail coat for the opening and prepared a short speech. He also probably tried to sell Daly and others on producing the Simon Wheeler play, and visited friends in the city [MTLE 2: 109]. Note: When in NY, Sam rarely wanted for company.
July 24 Tuesday – Frank Fuller wrote another postcard from NYC: “I am a sick person. I go, hence. I will write Woodruff tomorrow. I have buzzed the old man till I can build that thing at Colt’s & run it. He brings a proposition from petroleum fellows to erect on for that purpose. I have not discharged him because I thought he might be worked off on them & the warm friendship which now exists between all of us be maintained” [MTP]. Note: William N. Woodruff, Hartford machinist. The “old man” was inventor H.C. Bowers. This pertains to the $5,000 Clemens had invested through Fuller’s solicitations for a new type of steam engine and other inventions of Bowers’.
July 25 Wednesday – Maze Edwards wrote from the St. James Hotel, NYC. “Please consent to be here Friday Aug. 31, and either ‘speak a piece’ or say a few words between acts, and let us know your decision in a few days…” [MTP]. Note: Edwards was a theater manager who would become a road agent for Clemens.
Joe Twichell wrote from Hartford after hearing “that a full and circumstantial account of last weeks affair at your house has appeared in the Boston Herald. I want you to understand that it has not been through me that it has attained this publicity. Charley W. says it was written by young Richardson (son of A.D.R)…He must have got his particulars from the police” [MTP]. Note: Richardson boy likely son of Albert Deane Richardson; see Jan. 22, 1868.
July 26 Thursday – Frank Fuller wrote to Sam: “You must go to the sea side with me today or tomorrow or someday & be saved by good things…. I’ve been awful sick & haven’t had strength to frame a suitable letter to Woodruff yet, but I will”[MTP].
July 27 Friday – Sam wrote from New York to Livy, mostly about the rehearsals for Ah Sin and his optimism about the play. He added:
“I am very much obliged to your for marrying me, & I love you, love you, love you!” [MTLE 2: 110].
Stephen Fiske of Daly’s Fifth Ave. Theater wrote:
My Dear Author: / Please send by bearer (& as soon as you come in) FIFTY of the orchestras for Tuesday and you shall have that number for some other night. The orders for seats are so heavy that we cannot spare so many for Tuesday / Yours / Fiske (Plunkett[)]
July 28 Saturday – “Mark Twain’s Hotel” ran in the Downieville, California Mountain Messenger, and Fatout attributes it to Sam, possibly an “Enterprise refugee.”
None but the brave deserve the fare. Persons owing bills for board will be bored for bills. Sheets will be nightly changed, once in six months, or more if necessary. Beds with or without bugs [Fatout, MT Speaks 102].
July 29 Sunday – Livy wrote to Sam [LLMT 203-4] receiving two letters from him, because he offered no excuse for the delay in writing save the hours he’d spent and:
“…worked like a dog through this blistering weather & come home, whether early or late with the feeling that I couldn’t write”
Livy cautioned him not to talk against Harte, who Sam wrote had not “put in an appearance” [MTLE 2: 112].
The Brooklyn Eagle ran a column titled “DUAL DRAMATIC AUTHORSHIP” on page 2 about Sam and Bret Harte’s upcoming opening of the stage play, not mentioned here by name. The unsigned article pointed out that “some of the most successful of French plays have been the joint production of different minds,” but then explained why Sam and Harte’s humor was too different.
The essence of a comedy written by these two men must necessarily be the survival of Mark Twain and suppression of Bret Harte. Such was “Colonel Sellers.” …It would give more encouragement to believers in the American drama if the two humorists wrote apart.
M. Fagan wrote from the office, chief of Hartford police, reporting on absences of Sam’s servants, George Griffin and Mary [MTP]. Note: Sam wrote on the env “George’s remissness”
July 30 Monday – Charles E. Perkins notified Sam that he’d had all the insurance renewed for 3 years [MTP]. Note: Sam wrote on the env “All paid / Aug 3/77”
July 31 Tuesday – The play Ah Sin was presented by Augustin Daly and opened at the Fifth Avenue Theatre, NYC. The cast of main characters included: Miss Dora Goldthwaite as SHIREY TEMPEST, Miss Mary Wells as MRS. TEMPEST, Mrs. G.H. Gilbert as MRS. PLUNKETT, Miss Edith Blande as CAROLINE ANASTASIA PLUNKETT, and Mr. Henry Crisp as HENRY YORK [Duckett 151].
Bret Harte was unable to attend, and Sam made remarks at the conclusion of the third act that would cause a permanent split between himself and Harte, that is, if it had not already taken place.
This is a very remarkable play. You may not have noticed it, but I assure you that it is so. The construction of this play was a work of great labor and research—and plagiarism.
When this play was originally completed, it was so long, and so wide, and so deep (in places), and so comprehensive, that it would have taken two weeks to play it…. the manager said no, that wouldn’t do; to play a play two weeks long would be sure to get us in trouble with the government because the Constitution of the United States says you shan’t inflict cruel and inhuman punishments. So he set to work to cut it down, and cart the refuse to the paper mill…The more he cut out of it, the better it got, right along. He cut out, and cut out, and cut out, and I do believe this would be one of the best plays in the world today if his strength had held out, and he could have gone on and cut out the rest of it [Fatout, MT Speaking 104-5].
Harte reacted heatedly to Sam’s statements, putting them to a personal animus and jealousy, since Harte felt he’d done the lion’s share of the work. The critics, however, were more in line with Sam’s opinion than Bret’s [Walker, P. 188].
After the first performance, The New York Times wrote:
The representation of the play called “Ah Sin” at the Fifth Avenue Theatre yesterday evening afforded frequent gratification to a very large audience. The fact that a good many spectators grew perceptibly weary as the performance approached an end, and the still more significant fact that the audience left the house without making the slightest demonstration of pleasure when the curtain fell upon the last scene, may imply that the piece, as a whole, is scarcely likely to secure a really strong hold upon the favor of the public…Humorists, romance writers, and poets are never born and seldom become dramatists, and both authors of “Ah Sin”, are now truing their ’prentice hand in seeking fame and fortune through the medium of the stage [Railton].
Sam wrote to the night editor of the New York World, asking if they’d be so kind to forward a copy of his curtain speech to the Boston Post [MTLE 2: 113]. The play ran five weeks in New York and then went on the road [Willis 106].
August 1 Wednesday – Sam met with Andrew Chatto at the Lotos Club [MTLE 2: 124] In a letter of Aug. 3 to Howells, Sam said he saw the first two performances of Ah Sin, but “came away” after that, which would suggest Sam left New York on Aug. 2 .
August 2 Thursday –Sam returned to the Hartford house, probably to wrap up issues connected with security and to check with the police.
In Conanicut, R.I., Howells wrote that the last installment of “Some Rambling Notes” was “first-rate.” Howells had received Sam’s invitation to Ah Sin, but did not go.
“…if it had been The Amateur Detective, I think you would have had me on your hands. I’m very curious to read that play. Haven’t you a duplicate that you could send me? Why don’t you run up from New York, and see a fellow? There are six ferryboats a day from Newport to Jamestown, on Conanicut” [MTHL 1: 191].
Sam wrote from Hartford to George M. Fenn (1831-1909), London writer and editor, declining to send a miscellaneous article, using the excuse that he was “under contract for all such things that I do write.” Sam asked to be remembered to:
“…friends in the Savage & Whitefriars—especially Henry Lee, if he will only be good & not so lazy & tell me what amount of money it was I once borrowed of him in Paris & told Dolby to repay him & Dolby writes that he forgot it…I never will borrow money from such a lazy man again!” [MTLE 2: 115].
August 2? Thursday – Sam wrote from Hartford and complied with the request of Paul Apfelstedt for an autograph with “great pleasure” [MTLE 2: 116].
August 3 Friday – Sam had returned to Elmira, where he wrote George Bentley, publisher of Temple Bar, enclosing the first of the series of four articles of the Bermuda travelogue for simultaneous publication. If Bentley did not want the articles, Sam asked that they might be sent to Andrew Chatto for “one of his two magazines…” [MTLE 2: 117].
Sam telegraphed Augustin Daly, suggesting an addition to a scene (ending of the 2nd act?; see Parsloe’s Aug. 5) in Ah Sin [MTLE 2: 118].
Sam also wrote to Howells about sending one of the proofs of the Bermuda travelogue to Bentley in London. In his opinion the Ah Sin opening was better received than the Gilded Age play had been. Sam asked Howells if he would print a disclaimer of a misquote that had appeared in some newspapers to the effect that Sam felt the New York newspaper criticisms weren’t just. Sam had never said such a thing, and believed the opposite, so would Howells print a suggested paragraph? Sam took another swipe at Harte, claiming again that many plagiarisms in the play had to be cut [MTLE 2: 119-20].
Sam also wrote two notes to Charles Perkins about financial matters and deposits from the new play. Sam stipulated that Harte was not to receive any funds until the loans made him were repaid [MTLE 2: 121-2].
William Jermyn Florence, stage name for Bernard Conlen, leading American comic actor, specialty being dialect roles, wrote to Sam. “Have read the play—the idea of The Old Detective is a capital one, but the balance of the characters are ‘sketchy’ ” [MTP].
August 4 Saturday – Sam wrote to Charles E. Perkins, letter not extant but referred to in Perkins’ Aug. 8; Sam likely directed him to deposit a draft from Maze Edwards.
August 5 Sunday – Charles T. Parsloe wrote to Sam that the new ending to the second act was tried and :
Edwards, Chapman and Fiske say it is an improvement but it can be improved still further. Business has dropped since the second night but I am in hopes it will pick up again the coming week, still I believe we are doing the best business of any theatre in the city….I like your idea about buying Harte out. Nothing would please me better than to be able to cut loose from him and shall try my very level best to do it [MTP]. Note: Maze Edwards, Stephen Fiske
August 6 Monday – Sam wrote from Elmira to Elisha Bliss about copyright law, Canadian piracy, Andrew Chatto visiting Canada, and the requirement for a work to be registered in Canada 60 days before publication, something Moncure Conway did not do with The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and likely was unaware of [MTLE 2: 123].
Sam then wrote to Conway, asking a favor to find a certain kind of watch. Sam told of his feud with Harte and his meeting with Andrew Chatto at the Lotos Club on Aug. 2, the day after the Ah Sin opening. Sam enclosed a New York Evening Post article that was a “fair sample” of the Bermuda articles Sam was offering to “simultane” to Temple Bar.
“I have left precious little of Harte in ‘Ah Sin,’ & what there is he stole from other people. He is an incorrigible literary thief—& always was [MTLE 2: 124].
Sam then wrote a fairly long letter to Mary (Mollie) Fairbanks (now Gaylord). Sam perhaps tried to make up for being unable to attend Mollie’s wedding. Sam wrote that the family would “run over to Ithaca tomorrow for a 2-day visit.” (Ithaca, N.Y. was the home of Hjalmar H. Boyesen, who had visited the Clemens family over the last holiday season.) He told of his three weeks in New York working on the Ah Sin play. He hadn’t been able to find a producer for his Simon Wheeler play, but wrote:
“I have a vast opinion of the chief character in it. I want to play it myself, in New York or London, but the madam won’t allow it. She puts her 2 ½ down with considerable weight on a good many of my projects” [MTLE 2: 125]
Besides the startling revelation of Livy’s Lilliputian shoe size (another exaggeration?), Sam asked what Mollie was reading, and launched into a long philosophical discussion of how a person shouldn’t have a “single interest in the world outside of his work,” should “work for 3 months on a stretch, dead to everything but his work; then loaf diligently 3 months & go at it again.”
Sam wrote he had read half of Les Miserables, “two or three minor works of” Victor Hugo, and also “that marvelous being’s biography by his wife”; Carlyle’s History of the French Revolution, and Yonge’s Life of Marie Antoinette, which Sam was highly critical of; In Exitu Isreal, by Baring-Gould (loaned by Twichell); The Taking of the Bastille, by Dumas; “a small history of France” by Madame de Genlis, in French; and some chapters in Taine’s, Ancient Regime; John Motley’s Rise of the Dutch Republic (1856) (Sam read it on the voyage to Bermuda and said he “would have thrown the book into the sea if I had owned it.” ); Charles Reade’s, Woman Hater—Sam had just finished reading it (“a handful of diamonds scattered over every page”) and had just begun Picciola in French, by Xavier Boniface Saintine (1798–1865).
Sam threw in a few lines about his hatred for Republican forms of government and universal suffrage [MTLE 2: 126-7].
Sam also wrote to Henry O. Houghton, inquiring about the Canadian Monthly; letter not extant but referred to in Houghton’s Aug. 9 reply.
Sam also wrote to Charles T. Parsloe, letter not extant but referred to in Parsloe’s reply of Aug. 10.
Charles E. Perkins wrote financial information to Sam, including his $150 bill for the past 6 months [MTP]. Note: Sam wrote on the env “Perkins salary & insurance paid. Aug 77”
August 7 Tuesday – In Elmira Sam wrote to Frank Millet, responding to a recent letter. “All the world’s a stage & everybody is writing plays for it,” Sam wrote, reshaping a line from Shakespeare. Sam thought Ah Sin was going well; Joaquin Miller had a play opening at Wood’s Museum in New York on Aug. 27, but Sam couldn’t recall the name of it (The Danites, or, the Heart of the Sierras opened in NYC on Aug. 22); Howells had written a play for the matinee idol Lawrence Barrett and made good “pecuniary terms with him & Barrett is vastly pleased”; Petroleum Nasby wanted to write a play with Sam, but it wasn’t pursued—Sam saw in the papers that Nasby found another collaborator. Sam wrote he never heard about Prentice Mulford; Ambrose Bierce was in San Francisco, and Charley Stoddard hadn’t turned up yet, but Sam supposed he was still on “the other side”—all responses to probable questions by Millet [MTLE 2: 128].
Assuming Sam’s letter of Aug. 6 was acted upon, the Clemens family went to Ithaca, New York for a two-day visit to Hjalmar H. Boyesen and family. They were back in Elmira by Aug. 11.
August 8 Wednesday – Charles E. Perkins wrote to Sam: “Yours of the 4th inst is recd. I have recd from Mr Maze Edwards $259.36 & placed it to your credit as directed by you—” [MTP].
E. Kirkham wrote a friendly fan letter from Hamilton, Bermuda to Clemens, in which he mentioned reading and laughing over Helen’s Babies by John Habberton (1876) [MTP].
August 9 Thursday – Sam purchased a copy of Alexandre Dumas’ (1824-1895) play, Le Demi-Monde (1855) from James R. Osgood & Co. [Gribben 207].
Henry Whitney Cleveland wrote again to Sam (see June 7). He offered “to be the Slave of the Lamp…to only be your clerk and humble helper, with only such pay as you please.” Cleveland also suggested that Sam publish a play Cleveland had written, “if you will write some fun in it.” [MTP]. Note: Cleveland became a well known autograph collector.
Henry O. Houghton wrote to Clemens: “I am receipt of your favor of the 6th inst. / The Canadian Monthly published in Toronto by Hart & Rawlingson, is as far as we know, a first class journal, and if you desire to have arrangements made with them & I can be of service, looking to their publishing our articles, please command me” [MTP].
August 10 Friday – Sam wrote to M. Fagan, Hartford police investigator of the goings on with Sam’s house. Letter not extant but referred to in Fagan’s Aug. 14 reply. From this reply it seems likely Sam inquired as to the cost of Fagan’s investigations.
Charles T. Parsloe wrote to Sam: “Yours of the 6th received—Mr. Hutchings has not called yet, when he does I will do as you desire. / I have written to Mr Bret Harte about buying him out, but there is no telling when to expect answer…. What do you think of Pennoyer’s letter. I think the terms are too steep….” He included a schedule of performances in various cities from Sept. 3 to Dec. 17. Letter to Parsloe from A.S. Pennoyer (dramatic agent) Aug. 8 enclosed [MTP].
August 11 Saturday – Sam wrote from Elmira to Charles Perkins, his attorney, sending Charles T. Parsloe’s address to contact an agent, name not known by Sam [MTLE 2: 130].
Bissell & Co. Hartford bankers & brokers wrote to Sam: “Rec’d your dispatch that you will take $4000 S. Johnson Bonds. We expect them very soon…” [MTP]. Note: Sam wrote on the env “About $4000 bonds / Aug. 77”
August 11–14 Tuesday – Sam went to New York, business unknown, and stayed at the St. James Hotel [MTLE 2: 133].
August 14 Tuesday – Frank Fuller wrote to Sam on a long strip of 2& ½” paper, (Warren to Fuller July 20, Aug. 7 & 8 enclosed). “Dear Mark: / I will send you Mr. Warren’s letters & you shall decide. He is able & a miller. Beyond a doubt he can build up a big business & a highly profitable one at Lockport with some small help.” Fuller wanted to send the man $50 followed by more. He asked if Sam had rec’d “& mailed my letter to Woodruff.” [MTP].
M. Fagan wrote to Sam having rec’d his of Aug. 10. His investigation of a possible burglary “was never intended to beg any expense” from Clemens. “I believe it my duty to find out if possible who they were and aid any future investigations. Fagan added, “My duties last from 7 P.M. until I awake George in the morning from 5 to 6 A M” [MTP]. Note: Sam wrote on the env “No expense for detective investigations”
Bryan, Brand & Co. Book publishers, St. Louis, wrote, flyer enclosed. They were planning to publish a history of Missouri and asked for “a sketch” of Twain’s life [MTP]. Note: Sam wrote on the env. “Impertinent”
August 15 Wednesday – Sam sent a postcard from New York to Augustin Daly, writing that he was:
“this moment leaving for that bourne from whence no traveler returns when sober (Elmira, N.Y.)” [MTLE 2: 131].
Why and when Sam went to New York is not known, but it may have involved business with Daly and the Ah Sin production, or a continued effort to secure a producer for the Simon Wheeler play.
August 16 Thursday – Sam wrote Charles E. Perkins on financial matters; letter not extant but referred to in the Aug. 21 reply.
August 17 Friday – Sam wrote to Charles T. Parsloe; letter not extant but referred to in Parsloe’s Aug. 20 reply; evidently Sam asked how Ah Sin was going.
Bissell & Co. wrote to Sam, crediting $372.37 rec’d and billing $4000 for S. Johnson Bonds [MTP].
August 18? Saturday – In Elmira Sam sent Charles Perkins an annotated bank statement concerning S. Johnson bonds valuing $4,003.52 [MTLE 2: 132].
August 20 Monday – Sam wrote a short note from Elmira to Francis D. Clark, declining to attend an invitation for an event of the Society of Pioneers, pleading other engagements. Clark’s invitation had been forwarded from the St. James Hotel in New York [MTLE 2: 133]. Sam also turned down an invitation to the group’s annual banquet back in Jan. 1876 [MTLE 1: 30].
Sam also wrote Charles E. Perkins on financial matters; letter not extant but referred to in the Aug. 21 reply.
Sam also wrote H.O. Houghton asking them to contact Hart & Rawlinson publishers of the Canadian Monthly. Letter not extant but referred to in Houghton’s Aug. 30 reply.
Charles T. Parsloe wrote details and income from the play, having rec’d Sam’s letter of Aug 17. He closed with: “If you get time, look at Sunday’s ‘Herald’ and see how Fiske and Daly—Disgustin D—manipulate items for their own purpose. Didn’t I tell you he’d do something dirty before I left? Please reply as early as possible” [MTP]. Note: Sam wrote on the env. “Put in scrap book”
August 21 Tuesday – Charles E. Perkins wrote financial details to Sam, having rec’d his of Aug 16 and 20. “I leave tonight for two weeks vacation” [MTP].
August 22 Wednesday – William C. Hutchings wrote to Sam, offering to dispose of the “Sketches” pamphlets and make $300 by selling them to Aetna Life Ins. Co. who would print their ad on the back [MTP].
Woodruff Iron Works per Edward F. Smith wrote to ask if Clemens could send them the balance of his account, as they had “very small capital,” and had “made a set of patterns and castings according to instructions from Mr Bower[s], as you directed us to do…” Bower and Woodruff disagreed about the castings being acceptable. [MTP]. Note: this may be a continuation of the new form of steam engine H.C. Bower was working on, or another of his inventions; Frank Fields had led Clemens into investing in these inventions to the tune of $5,000.
M. Fagan detective, wrote to Sam: “I would respectfully inform you that Mary returned alone, and slept in your house last night. George’s wife visited your house last evening…” He further reported that local horse races had produced “a great number of stragglers of all kinds” into Hartford [MTP].
August 23 Thursday – In Elmira, sharecropper John T. Lewis (1835-1906) stopped a runaway horse-carriage and saved the lives of Ida Clark Langdon (1849-1934), wife of Charles, little daughter Julia (1871-1948), and the nursemaid Norah.
August 24 Friday – Sam inscribed a copy of Mark Twain’s Sketches, New and Old, to John T. Lewis, who saved Ida Langdon’s life from a runaway horse carriage the day before [McBride 36].
Charles T. Parsloe wrote to Sam: “Have secured Edwards. Business light this week. Daly gets it all. Houses average $200—only. / Will you please send me check for $50. and oblige” [MTP].
August 25 Saturday – Maze Edwards & Charles T. Parsloe wrote to Sam about Ah Sin business, enclosing a contract of this date between Clemens, Edwards and Parsloe. Edwards also wrote: “The item you speak of did appear in all the New York papers, and Mr. Fiske was the instigator of it. He now endeavors to evade it by saying it was Bret Harte who said such an event would take place. Parsloe informs me he has agreed with you for my services. I herewith enclose copies of Agreement, signed by myself and Parsloe, which if satisfactory, please sign and return to me. / Business is quiet / Very truly &c…” [MTP]. Note: Stephen Fiske
The Aug. 25 contract between Maze Edwards Charles Parsloe, and Clemens, as Edwards an agent for Ah Sin at $40 per week to go on the road with the play and furnish accounts to the authors [Duckett 157]. Note: an agreement is in the MTP file for Aug. 25 specifies that Edwards would furnish “his services for the transactions of all business connected with the performances” of the play from Sept. 1, 1877 to Dec. 22 [MTP].
Sam replied with $50 check to the Aug. 24 of Charles T. Parsloe, letter not extant but referred to in Parsloe’s Aug. 28 reply.
Sol Smith Russell wrote to Sam: “Both Mr Daly & Harry Wall have spoken to me of your new play “Clues” Mr Daly thinking the star part will suit me advised this letter. / I shall be please, indeed to hear from you concerning this piece” [MTP]. Note: Horace (Harry) Wall, theatrical agent. Simon Wheeler, Detective.
Sam replied to Sol Smith Russell, letter not extant but referred to in Russell’s Aug. 28 reply.
H.W. Bergen wrote to ask Clemens for an extra $20 since Perkins was on vacation and the “fare alone” for the long trip was $27 or $29 [MTP]. Note: Sam wrote on the env “Bergen / Sent $20 / Aug 26/77”
** Frank Fuller wrote to Woodruff Iron Works and sent Sam a copy that enclosed $250 [MTP]. Note: Sam wrote on the env “Bowers—Woodruff Aug. 77”; in MTP File: “See 4 Oct 1877 letter from Fuller with enclosure of 3 Oct letter from Woodruff replying to 25 Aug letter.”
August 25 and 27 Monday – Sam wrote from Elmira to Dr. John Brown in Edinburgh, Scotland, about the thrilling rescue made by John T. Lewis on Aug. 23 [MTLE 2: 135-9].
It has been known, during some years, that it was Lewis’s purpose to buy a thirty-dollar silver watch some day, if he ever got where he could afford it. Today Ida has given him a new sumptuous gold Swiss stem-winding stopwatch; & if any scoffer shall say “Behold this thing is out of character,” there is an inscription within, which will silence him; for it will teach him that this wearer aggrandizes the watch, not the watch the wearer [MTLE 2: 138].
The Cranes forgave Lewis his indebtedness of some $700. Charles Langdon gave Lewis the watch [Willis 112]. Sam called Lewis “our great black hero,” and became a life-long friend. Lewis certainly influenced the character of Jim in Huckleberry Finn.
Also on these same two days, Sam wrote to William Dean and Elinor Howells, telling them essentially the same account of the rescue he’d written to Dr. John Brown. Sam expressed the wish that the Cranes did not wish the story to appear in the newspapers, and he knew that the Howellses could keep it in confidence [MTLE 2: 140-4].
August 27 Monday – Sarah T. Crowell and Emma Gayle, Cape Cod neighbors, wrote to Clemens:
Dear Sir / We are two sin twisters (we meant to write twin sisters) of Cape Cod, have lived here all our lives with a few interruptions; we never went to a big city, never saw a publisher, are afraid of big cities and publishers. But something happened in this locality a while ago that we have written into a book and want dreadfully to publish. So we want to know if you will let us send you the M.S.S. and read it and approve it and send it to that unknown animal the publisher and tell him to put it in print. We should not know what to say to one, we should feel as scared as you did the night of your first lecture as described in “Roughing it.” Now we haven’t any one to laugh for us unless you will laugh, and we haven’t anyone to pound our genius into the publisher’s brain, unless you will pound. Will you laugh? Will you pound? (Tears of entreaty fall at this point) and will you answer this brassy epistle? (We acknowledge it is brassy “should not have written in this style to Mark Twain one of the Authors of Ah Sin—and lots of other sins” I hear you say.[)] however we humbly implore your pardon and on bended knees and awful big tears beseech you to answer by return mail.
We read “Roughing it” all last Winter and wept each time we came to the end—if you had only kept on writing more of it, it would have been the best book in the World it beats Dickens works all “holler.”
Will you have the kindheartedness and disinterestedness to ask Mr Bret Harte if you will send us his parody on the May Queen as we lent our copy to Aunty Carber and she’s lost it—it is so tremendously pathetic we cannot possibly live without it, and we should admire a copy of the “Gilded Age” but I dont know as the publishers give you an extra one? do they?
Our Book is not very long but remarkable like your play Oh! that we could see that play. We cant write any more for we’ve both got the “Epic-zootic.” Don’t forget to answer.
The ardent admirers of “Roughing it” — “Innocents Abroad” &c &c. / S.T. Crowell, / E. Gayle [MTP].
August 28 Tuesday – Sol Smith Russell wrote to Sam wishing an interview. He’d rec’d Sam’s of Aug. 25 and reported his “engagements are closed to Feb. 1st—nothing beyond—I leave New York Sunday 2nd for the south” [MTP].
Charles Thomas Parsloe wrote: “Your of 25th with check enclosed just received.” Mrs. P had lost her pocketbook so the money arrived “in the nick of time.” Also, “Wall & Edwards have read your letter and say all right, your instructions shall be obeyed to the letter. We open in Elmira Sept. 14th with ‘Ah Sin’ / Business still very light” [MTP]. Note: Sam wrote on the env “Check from me for $50 rec’d”
August 29 Wednesday – Sam wrote from Elmira to William Dean Howells. Sam had received Howells’ letter the day before and didn’t care for one of his Bermuda articles in proof. Sam wrote that Boucicault said his new play (Simon Wheeler) was “ever so much better than Ah Sin,” and that an actor (unnamed) was “chawing over the play in New York.” Sam expected to leave Quarry Farm and Elmira on Sept. 4, reaching their Hartford home on Sept. 8, but admitted they might be delayed a week. Sam had been reading Ticknor’s Diary, about a man traveling through the mountains of Spain, rife with outlaws [MTLE 2: 146].
August 30 Thursday – Sam wrote to Mollie Clemens and his mother, Jane Clemens, who was visiting Orion and Mollie in Keokuk. Sam sent Livy’s advice that Mollie’s health would be a “bar” to her trying to run a boarding house. To his mother Sam wrote:
“If you don’t quit tearing around with the other young people you will make yourself sick, sure. However, we are glad you are having such a good time, & hope it will continue. Why don’t you want to go to George Hawes’s?” [MTLE 2: 147]
H.O. Houghton & Co. wrote to Clemens having rec’d his of Aug. 20. They had written Hart & Rawlinson publishers of the Canadian Monthly as requested. “Their reply, which we inclose, came to-day, and the proof of your article in the Oct Atlantic has been sent to them” [MTP].
September –Elisha M. Van Aken (1828-1904) wrote to Sam [MTP].
September 3 Monday – Sam wrote from Elmira to Mary Mason Fairbanks. Sam encouraged Mary to visit, and wrote about his desire to travel to Germany next May 1, “& settled down in some good old city…& never stir again for 6 months. Then come home.” Sam’s mother was visiting Quarry Farm, and the Clemens family would go home to Hartford the next day [MTLE 2: 148].
Also possibly on this day, Livy and Sam wrote from Elmira to the Howlands, Robert and Louise. Robert Howland was a buddy from Sam’s Nevada days, the man responsible for gathering a list of Carson City dignitaries to encourage Sam to lecture there on his first Nevada circuit. Livy thanked them for a picture they’d sent of their daughter and invited them to visit Hartford. Sam wrote that the Howland girl was “a marvel of grace & beauty” [MTLE 2: 149].
September 4 Tuesday – If the intentions in the two letters of Sept. 3 to Mary Fairbanks and the Howlands were carried out, the Clemens family left Elmira and returned to their home in Hartford.
September 10 Monday – Sam wrote from Hartford to Etta Booth, a girl of eight when Sam first saw her in Virginia City in 1863. Etta had written to Sam from New York. Sam responded:
“Your letter has almost made a grandfather of me, it carried me so far back into the wasted centuries…I have reached the age where one puts such things out of his mind & keeps them out—for they remind him not that he is growing old, but that he is old” [MTLE 2: 150].
Note: See MTL 2: 72n2, which claims Etta “was probably the daughter of Lucius A. Booth of Virginia City, proprietor of the Winfield Mill and Mining Company.” Sam later ran into Etta by accident in New York in Apr. 1906 and recalled having first met her at a ball in Virginia City at “the beginning of the winter of 1862” and estimating her age then at thirteen. See more about Etta in Jan. 7, 1863 entry, and in MTA 2: 24.
Sam also wrote to Charles Warren Stoddard, who had sought advice to publish a travel book. Sam discouraged Stoddard about the possibility of a subscription house publishing a travel book at that time, but invited Charles to come for a visit, when Sam would fill him up with “good advice & Scotch whisky” [MTLE 2: 151].
Maze Edwards wrote from Cincinnati to Sam: “Parsloe and I are on our way back from St. Louis, to join the Rochester Co. with whom we commence Thursday….The business in St. Louis was not favorable, hence I have not been able to send Mr. Perkins, anything other than a statement for the past week “ [MTP]. Note: Sam’s new road agent for Ah Sin.
September 11 Tuesday – Samuel C. Upham sent Sam a printed poem, “The Land We Adore” handwriting on the bottom, “Mr. Samuel L. Clemens with compliments of The Author” [MTP]. Note: Sam wrote on the env “ ‘Poetry’ by the man who said that if Prentice Mulford would put his mind to it he could easily cast Twain & Harte’s literature far into the shade.”
September 12 Wednesday – Joe Twichell wrote from Keene Valley, NY to quote a paragraph from Charles Kingsley’s Life, Am. Edition p. 407 which contained the botanical word “Oreodoxa” which he thought Sam should have used in his article “to take off the flavor of the cabbage.” He hoped Sam was “up for a long walk this fall” [MTP].
September 15 Saturday – Sam wrote from Hartford to George Bentley, publisher of the London Temple Bar. Sam sent Bentley the first of four articles he’d written for Howells and the Atlantic on his Bermuda trip, and now sent the second. Sam conveyed Andrew Chatto’s desire for the advance sheets of the articles if Bentley did not want them. Sam did not hear back from Bentley on the matter and had told Chatto to contact Bentley [MTLE 2: 152]. He wished to “simultane” publish the articles in England and the U.S. in order to subvert pirate publishers in either country and Canada.
On or about this day Sam wrote a short note to his mother and enclosed $100 [MTLE 2: 153]. It is interesting to compare Sam’s letters to his mother with those to close friends and family members. Since he’d been a young man away from home in the 1850s and 60s, Sam’s letters to Jane were mostly short, abrupt even, if cordial, and did not openly display affection that is seen in many of his other letters. This may be due to the sometimes-scolding nature of his mother’s letters, and Sam’s feelings of begrudging duty to Orion. He signed this letter “Affly Sam.” To be fair, most of Sam’s letters to his mother were destroyed by his request.
September 16 Sunday – H.J. Mettenheimer wrote from Cincy to Sam, clipping enclosed that claimed Clemens had written a St. Louis insurance man asking for “a full history of the rise and fall of life insurance in the West.” H.J. volunteered such information [MTP]. Note: Sam wrote on the env “A lie probably started by Raymond”
September 17 Monday – In Cambridge, Mass., Howells wrote to Sam, advising him not to give “that story about the captain” to “those fellows” in some unidentified club, as “They’d be sure to slap it into print.” Howells wanted to use Sam’s story about John T. Lewis from Sam’s Aug. 25 letter, calling Lewis the “Elmira life-preserver” [MTHL 1: 202].
September 18 Tuesday – John Brougham (1810-1880) wrote to Sam, criticizing the detective character in a possible play (Simon Wheeler) [MTP]. Note: Sam wrote on the env “Jhn Brougham Sept 77 About Detective”
September 19 Wednesday – From Hartford, Sam wrote a letter to the editor of the Hartford Courant, which ran on page 2 on Sept. 20 as, “A Tramp of the Sea.” Sam threw some light upon the mystery of a “schooner with a black crew of thirteen and only one white man,” (the Jonas Smith). On return from Bermuda Sam’s ship had come in contact with the mystery vessel [MTLE 2: 154-7]. (See listings of May 24-5, 1877.)
Sam also wrote to Howells, pasting an obituary in the middle of his text for Mary Langdon (1790-1877), who died Sept. 12. No, he had not written the obit, Sam answered, but she was a relative. Sam wanted to talk to Howells about the story of the runaway horse and John T. Lewis’ heroism when Howells came for a planned visit.
“Delicacy—a sad, sad false delicacy—robs literature of the two best things among its belongings: Family-circle narratives & obscene stories.”
Sam also wrote of the adventure at sea returning from Bermuda that left out of his articles for the Atlantic, and that “the press dispatches bring the sequel to-day, & now there’s plenty to it.”
A sailless, mastless, chartless, compassless, grubless old condemned tub that has been drifting helpless about the ocean for 4 months & a half, begging bread & water like any other tramp, flying a signal of distress permanently, & with 13 innocent, marveling, chuckle-headed Bermuda niggers on board, taking a Pleasure Excursion! Our ship fed the poor devils on the 25 of last May, far out at sea & left them to bullyrag their way to New York—& now they ain’t as near New York as they were then by 250 miles! They have drifted south & west 750 miles & are still drifting south in the relentless Gulf Stream! What a delicious magazine chapter it would make—but I had to deny myself. I had to come right out in the papers at once, with my details…[MTLE 2: 159].
Dr. John Brown wrote a friendly letter of goings on and thoughts, some of which are illegible due to overwriting and leak-through. Enclosed is a letter from George Barclay, mentioned by name here [MTP].
George Barclay wrote a letter of fan appreciation from N.B. to Sam, enclosed in above [MTP].
September 20 Thursday – Sam’s letter about contacting the mystery vessel, the schooner Jonas Smith, with a large black crew not being mutineers as first reported, ran in the Hartford Courant under the headline “Tramp of the Sea” [MTLE 2: 154-7].
Bill arrived from Doré Gallery, London; Fairless & Beeforth £16 for artists proof of Dore’s “Christ Leaving the Praetorium” [MTP]. Note: Routledge & Co. had refused to pay this bill; Sam recalled that the agreement was he was to pay only if the engraving could be completed “in 2 1/2 years, or at the outside 3.” On about Oct. 3 he solicited Charles E. Perkins’ legal opinion whether to pay.
Sam telegraphed President Rutherford B. Hayes about the plight of the schooner Jonas Smith and the suffering crew [MTLE 2: 160]. Hayes directed Sam to forward a copy of the telegram with letter to John Sherman (1823-1900) Secretary of the Treasury, which he did [MTLE 2: 161-2].
Sam also wrote to Charles Perkins, his attorney and financial advisor, telling H.W. Bergen to add two dollars to his wages after Oct. 2 [MTLE 2: 163].
Sam wrote to an unidentified man on Sept. 20 and added a conclusion on Sept. 22. The man was likely either a clock dealer or repairman:
Dear Sir: The clock refuses to strike, but I am not particular about that. She runs faster than necessary, but I can regulate that. She doesn’t change the day of the week and the month until noon; but if she will stick to that, so that I can depend on her, she will not perplex me by giving her yesterdays an extra 12 hours. I always did think the yesterdays were too short any way. I inclose check. / S.L. Clemens.
Sept. 22—Clock is all right now [MTPO: “Recent Changes,” Jan. 20, 2009: NY Times Oct. 14, 1877].
Rutherford B. Hayes sent a telegram: “Despatch received Please communicate with Secy. of Treasy at Washington & the proper course will be taken” [MTPO].
Minnie L. Wakeman-Curtis wrote from East Oakland, Calif. to announce she was “arranging for publication the ‘log’ or life written by” her father, Capt. Ned Wakeman. She asked for any remembrance of the Capt. that Clemens might have [MTP]. Note: Sam wrote on the env. “Captain Wakeman’s daughter”
September 21 Friday – Sam wrote from Hartford to Charles Perkins. Sam informed Perkins that he’d told H.W. Bergen to report once a year or so, that dramatics weren’t worth the effort to do it oftener [MTLE 2: 164]. An agreement with this date temporarily transferred Sam’s interest in the Colonel Sellers play to Bergen [MTPO Notes with Oct. 27, 1876 to Raymond].
The Doré Gallery (Fairless & Beeforth) wrote to Sam.
Sir, / Agreeably to your instructions we duly forwarded the engraving “Xt. leaving the Prætorium” to the care of Messrs Routledge & Co; but they declined to honor the your draft on them for amt. of our a/c—
We have therefore sent the Proof out to you direct by Messrs Davies Turner & Co., whose local Agents will present the order for payment on delivery of the case—which we shall be obliged by your duly honoring. We are, Sir / Yours obedtly / for Fairless & Beeforth [MTPO].
September 22 Saturday – Sam wrote from Hartford to John Sherman, Secretary of the Treasury, enclosing an excerpt from an article regarding the schooner Jonas Smith not being in trouble. Sam apologized for having caused Sherman any trouble connected with the “shameful” crew [MTLE 2: 165].
U.S. Treasury per John Sherman wrote to Sam replying to his of Sept. 20 (to President Hayes) and another on 22nd. The schooner had been boarded but no problem was found; the passengers & crew did not need assistance [MTP]. Note: Sam wrote on the env “The Sec’y of the Treasury about the ‘Jonas Smith’ “
September 23 Sunday – Isaiah Weston wrote a postcard from St. Louis: “Friend Sam = Have just returned from the Black Hills, Rusty & Seedy = Save old Judge Morgan = also, & nearly all the old broken Pioneers , of the few who are left = If you wish to write me, — Direct to Sherman, Texas, the next 40 days = your absent friend of 11 years…” [MTP]. Note: nothing further found on Weston. 11 years would = 1866, when Clemens was in Hawaii.
September 24 Monday – In Hartford Sam wrote a postcard to Charles Perkins, asking if money from Edwards (unidentified) had been received [MTLE 2: 167].
H.W. Bergen wrote to Sam: “Yours of he 21st enclosing chk for $100—reached me this A.M all OK. Also the contract which I enclose signed.” He promised to hold down expenses and had hope the business would pay them both [MTP].
September 25 Tuesday – Frederick Wicks wrote on Glascow News notepaper to tell Sam about G.C. Clemens, a man people kept thinking was Mark Twain, even though his hair was jet black. Even reporters of the Evening News published the man was Twain [MTP]. Note: Sam wrote on the env “Rather amusing & a trifle discomforting”
September 27 Thursday – O.W. Bromwell wrote from Jacksonville, Tenn. to Sam, clippings enclosed. “Thinking that perhaps the fate of the ‘Ocean Tramp’ described in your letter to the Hartford Courant Sept. 19 would be of some interest to you, I take the liberty to send you the enclosed clippings” [MTP]. Note: clippings about the schooner Jonas Smith, from NY Herald Sept. 20, “Mark Twain Solves the Mystery of the Bark Jonas Smith”
September 30 Sunday – Sol Smith Russell wrote to Sam: “Yours to Norfolk Va – was sent to me. Thank you kindly for your letter as I had about despaired of hearing from you—Depend on it I shall run up and see you as soon as possible” [MTP].
October – The first of a four-part, 15,000 word article on Sam and Joe Twichell’s trip to Bermuda, ran in the Atlantic Monthly: “Some Rambling Notes of an Idle Excursion” [Wells 22].
Curiously, in the magazine Belgravia, Chatto & Windus published a piece of Clemens’ titled “Some Random Thoughts of an Idle Excursion,” no explanation for the title change. The piece ran only seven pages [AntiQbook.com]. Note: see Jan. 1, 1878 entry, which shows Chatto and Conway thought this a better title; also used is “Random Notes of an Idle Excursion.”
Sam inscribed copies of Innocents Abroad and Sketches, New and Old, to Matthew H. Bartlett, a Boston shipping agent [MTLE 2: 168]. “To Mr. Bartlett, who has robbed the historical command ‘Away with him to the Tower!’ of all its terrors—this, with the grateful acknowledgements of Mark Twain Hartford, Oct. 1877” [McBride 9].
October 2 Tuesday – Sam gave a dinner speech at the Putnam Phalanx Dinner, Allyn House in Hartford for the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Massachusetts. “If you fight as well as you feed, God protect the enemy” [Fatout, MT Speaking 106-9]. Budd identifies the title as “My Military History” [“Collected” 1017].
Maze Edwards, the agent Sam had hired to follow Ah Sin on the road, wrote feedback to Sam on the performances. Disappointing audiences showed the play needed rewriting. He offered that Parsloe knew someone who could rewrite the play if Sam chose not to; that the “vulgarities of the Plunkett women must somehow be removed” [MTP].
October 3? Wednesday – Sam wrote from Hartford to Charles Perkins, enclosing a bill from a London merchant that Routledge refused to pay. The bill was for an engraving, “Christ leaving the Praetorium,” which Sam had purchased in London in 1872, under the understanding that he would pay for the picture only if it were completed in two and a half years [MTLE 2:172]. Sam didn’t want to pay the bill either, but sought his attorney’s advice—should he pay or refuse? [MTLE 2: 170].
October 4 Thursday – Sam wrote from Hartford, again to Charles Perkins, asking him to “re-mail that letter to me. I believe I will not concede the ‘dramatic’ year yet” [MTLE 2: 171].
Frank Fuller wrote to Sam (Woodruff Iron Works to Fuller Oct. 3 enclosed). “Poor old Bower never uttered a word when I told him I had no money for him & never expected to have any. He quietly but firmly walked away & has not reappeared. I have felt lighter & happier ever since” [MTP].
October 5 Friday – Sam wrote from Hartford to Minnie L. Wakeman-Curtis, daughter of Edgar “Ned” Wakeman (1813-1875). Minnie would aid in publishing her father’s memoirs, The Log of An Ancient Mariner in 1878. Minnie sought biographical anecdotes about her father, and had written to Sam for anything he might supply. Sam answered that the yarns Wakeman spun were not best captured on paper, that they were so dramatic as to best be talked, and that Wakeman could make the listener cry and laugh at the same time, something very hard to do [MTLE 2:172].
Charles E. Perkins wrote to Sam about the disputed bill on the picture ordered in England. Perkins asked how many years before had Sam ordered it? [MTP].
October 5 or 6 Saturday – Sam wrote to Charles Perkins on his letter of Oct. 5, answering that it had been “more than 5 years ago” he ordered the engraving in England [MTLE 2:173]. (See Oct. 5 entry.)
October 7 Sunday – Howells inscribed a copy of Frederica Sophia Wilhemina, Margravine of Bayrueth’s memoirs, in two volumes: “S.L. Clemens, / from his friend / W.D. Howells / Cambridge, / Oct. 7, 1877” [Gribben 771].
Maze Edwards wrote to Sam reporting such low receipts on Ah Sin that an infusion of $400 would be needed to keep it going till the end of the season [Duckett 158].
October 8 Monday – J.L. Goodloe wrote from Memphis to ask Sam to look over 400 pages of MS for him [MTP]. Note: Sam wrote on the env “An absurd request”
October 10 Wednesday – Phineas T. Barnum wrote to Sam, clipping from the Denver Post pasted at top: “Barnum seems to be quite an admirer of Pope and quotes him more than any other writer except Mark Twain”. “My dear Mark / You cant well have more begging letters than I do ….but here is a peculiar case.” He seems to have asked Twain for tips for his “lecture or talk” to a poor church on some specific case [MTP].
October 12 Friday – Davies & Co. NYC wrote to advise Sam that “a box said to contain engraving has arrived from London”; they asked him to remit $112.31 [MTP]. Note: engraving, “Christ leaving the Praetorium.”
October 14 Sunday – Sam wrote from Hartford to Charles Perkins, offering to take the tardy engraving and pay no more than fifty dollars [MTLE 2:174]. (See Oct. 3 to 5 entries.)
Minnie L. Wakeman-Curtis wrote to thank Sam for his of Oct. 5; she understood his reply and that her father’s stories could never be the same in print as he told them [MTP].
William Dean Howells wrote a postcard from Boston: “Barrett has given my play twice in Cincinnati with what he calls a grand success: the first time to a fair house; the second to a house in which every seat was sold. W.D.H.” [MTP].
October 15 Monday – Sam wrote from Hartford to Howells, whose Oct. 14 letter carried good news about his play starring Lawrence Barrett, a matinee idol. Sam had seen the reviews in the papers and answered:
I’ve got some good news too—(but keep it to yourself for the present)—“Ah Sin” is a most abject & incurable failure! It will leave the stage permanently, within a week, & then I shall be a cheerful being again. I’m sorry for poor Parsloe, but for nobody else concerned [MTLE 2:175].
Evidently, after thinking about the feedback Maze Edwards had sent, Sam neither wished to invest more or do a rewrite of the play, and had decided by the time he wrote Howells, to abandon the effort. Howells was soon to visit and Sam also wanted him to read his “Undertaker’s Tale,” and tell him “what is the trouble with it.”
October 17 Wednesday – Kate Cowan, Chicago schoolteacher, wrote to ask Sam “for a few interesting facts” of his life for her literary group [MTP].
October 18 Thursday – Sam wrote from Hartford to Charles Perkins, another communication on the engraving purchased five years before in London. Sam wanted Mr. D. Vorce to sell the engraving in New York [MTLE 2:176]. Note: engraving, “Christ leaving the Praetorium.”
Phineas T. Barnum wrote to Sam still trying to wrangle a visit. “Go ahead with your book. May it be as usual a …success.” He looked to Feb. for a visit [MTP].
Francis D. Millet wrote from Brestovec, Bulgaria: “One of my couriers brought me your letter a few days ago and handed it to me in the tent where, by a strange coincidence, I was occupied in wrestling with the Russian translation of your ‘Salt Beef Contract’ which together with ‘Journalism in Tennessee’ I discovered in a Russian magazine of late date.” He wrote of his struggles there as reporter for various papers, calling himself a “corpse” but eating all he could find. He asked about Stoddard. A long, interesting and legible letter [MTP].
October 19 Friday – Davies & Co. wrote to Sam. “We have since writing on 12th received draft endorsed to our order drawn by you in London 4th Oct 1872 for sixteen pounds, in payment for the engraving ‘Christ leaving the Prætorium.’ The note is drawn on Mess Geo Routledge & Sons, London” [MTP]. Note: they denied ever doing a commission on a time schedule, as Twain had claimed.
Frank Fuller wrote to Sam (Woodruff Iron Works to Fuller Oct. 18. enclosed): “You see how W. feels. He don’t want me to come to Hartford. I wrote him I would, if he could lift the thing into the tug & build a fire under it” [MTP].
October 20 Saturday – Twichell’s journal:
Livy started a “visitor’s book” for the many callers to write in. Eight years later, on June 7, 1885, she turned it into a diary, “as we always forget to ask visitors to write in it.” Stoddard was the first to sign the visitor’s book: “Livy: First—the most” / yours always / Chas. Warren Stoddard”
October 20? Saturday – Sam sent a letter he’d received to Charles Perkins from agents Davies, Turner & Co., New York, concerning the engraving “Christ leaving the Prætorium.” The agent had received payment from Sam through Routledge for sixteen pounds for the picture. The suppliers of the engraving, Fairless and Beeforth, claimed to these agents previously that they never promise engravings by any specified time. It’s likely that the man who sold Sam the engraving made the promise, though unauthorized to do so. Sam wrote back to Perkins on the Davies letter,
“I suppose they ought to give up the order on Routledge now. SLC” [MTLE 2:177].
October 20–22 Monday – Sam inscribed five of his books to Charles Warren Stoddard, during a two-day visit: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, The Gilded Age, Innocents Abroad, Mark Twain’s Sketches, New and Old, and Roughing It [MTLE 2:178-82].
Sam included a letter dated Oct. 22, apologizing for not accompanying Stoddard to the train station (Livy scolded Sam for sending “anybody away alone.”) Sam invited Stoddard to “give me one more chance” and visit again.
October 23 Tuesday – Davies & Co. wrote to Sam that they’d received the $112.06 and forwarded the engraving this day by express by A. Vorce, dealer in fine arts, as his instructions [MTP].
October 24 Wednesday – Sam purchased books from James R. Osgood & Co., including: Early Travels in Palestine, etc. (1848), by Thomas Wright, Chronicles of the Crusades (1876), Abbot Ingulf of Crowland’s (d. 1109) Ingulph’s Chronicle of the Abbey of Croyland (trans. 1854), and Huntington’s History of England (1853) [Gribben 789; 142; 308].
Charles E. Perkins wrote to ask for a $75 check for Maze Edwards [MTP].
October 25 Thursday – Andrew Chatto wrote of publishing business to Sam, sorry he’d sent the wrong edition of Arabian Nights, and pleased to have rec’d his “Idle Notes” [MTP].
A. Vorce, fine arts, Hartford wrote “Upon the receipt of your postal card, respecting the “Dori Eng,’ we thought it best to have it sent direct to us here as it might be slaughtered if left to Davis & Co. to dispose of. We think of putting it up in good style & expose it for sale at a moderate price. We trust this will meet with your approval” [MTP]. Note: engraving, “Christ leaving the Praetorium.”
October 26 Friday – The Howellses traveled to Hartford and dined with the Charles Warners, then attended a reception for Yung Wing and his wife at the Clemens home [Twichell’s Journal, Yale; MTHL 1: 207n1]. (See Oct. 31 Howells to Sam entry)
Twichell’s journal: “thence to M.T’s after a trip to Yale” [Yale, copy at MTP].
From Livy’s visitor’s book (later her diary): “Not last, but least. / W.D. Howells / Oct 26,1877” [MTP].
October? 26 Friday – Sam inscribed one of his Mark Twain’s Adhesive Scrap Books for Elinor Howells, calling the scrapbook his “last & least objectionable work” [MTLE 2:184].
October 27 Saturday – Based on his Oct. 31 letter, Howells and wife probably returned home to Cambridge after an overnight stay.
October 29 Monday – Orion Clemens wrote from Keokuk to thank his brother for 3 checks, $42 each. He sent news of their mother heading home with R.F. Bower this afternoon [MTP].
October 30 Tuesday – Livy’s visitor’s book was signed by H. Watie Gridley, a coal dealer [MTP].
October 31 Wednesday – In Hartford, Sam wrote to Mary Mason Fairbanks, who was considering publishing a book (probably on the Quaker City excursion) and asked Sam’s advice. He answered that it was not “absurd” to offer a “best effort…to the public for trial & judgment.” Sam offered to write the introduction, and recommended Osgood if she was considering an eastern publisher. Then he dropped this jewel of writing wisdom:
But there’s a good safe rule to follow—considering that Providence always makes it a point to find out what you are after, so as to see that you don’t get it: Publish for fame, & you may get money; publish for money & you may get fame: but the true trick is, publish for love, & then you don’t care a (I can’t seem to get hold of the word I’m after) whether you get anything or not [MTLE 2:185]. Note: Sam often teased Mary about swearing.
In Cambridge, Mass., William Dean Howells wrote to Sam:
“The glimpse I had of you last week was such an aggravation that I almost wish I hadn’t seen you at all. I want a good old three-dayser, next time.”
Howells also wrote of Sam’s last “Rambling Notes” segment, and of wanting the amateur detective play story for the Atlantic [MTHL 1: 206-7].
Charles W. Stoddard wrote from Perth Amboy, NJ to Sam:
“It was not necessary for you to see me to the Station that rainy day; I’m used to going alone in all sorts of weather and environs had you gone with me I should have felt as if I was taking you from your work and that would have made me wretched.” He thanked Sam for the signed books, and told a tale of a young man about to commit suicide who started reading IA and then “postponed his suicide indeffinitely”[MTP].
November – The second of a four-part, 15,000 word article on Sam and Joe Twichell’s trip to Bermuda, ran in the Atlantic Monthly: “Some Rambling Notes of an Idle Excursion” [Wells 22]. Note: Budd notes that “The Captain’s Story,” which was a part of “Rambling Notes,” was later printed separately in several collections; and that “The Invalid’s Story” was excluded by Howells from the piece for being “too offensive” for the magazine. It later appeared in The Stolen White Elephant (1882) [“Collected” 1017].
Sam wrote to an unidentified person, enclosing a drawing he’d made of a sleeping cat and a drawing of a cat with arched back by Thomas Nast labeled: “This is a dog. Th. Nast” [MTLE 2:187].
Sam’s notebook included tirades against Whitelaw Reid for a planned biography which was never written [MTNJ 2: 49]. Osgood & Co. billed Sam for a set of George Mogridge’s (1787-1854) Learning to Think (1846) [Gribben, 479].
November 1 Thursday – Sam wrote from Hartford to Howells. Sam also felt Howells’ visit was too short, and hoped when he returned in December it would be a longer stay. Sam enclosed a piece that Joe Twichell got from a “Cleveland clergyman, who said it was very recent” for Howells consideration. Evidently Sam had marked a place to insert the piece in the proof of one of his current Atlantic articles on his Bermuda trip, and asked if Howells printed the insertion to “send a proof to Canada & forward one to me for London” [MTLE 2:188].
Sam ended with a reference to “Mrs. Gilman” having “fitful glimmerings of reason, in which she straightway plunges into schemes for paying the swindled creditors, & is soon a frantic maniac again.” This reference is to an unidentified Mrs. Gilman (possibly Mrs. George Shepard Gilman), not Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1860-1935), Hartford-born grandniece of Harriet Beecher Stowe, who did not become a Gilman until 1900. See AMT 2: 488-9 for more on Mr. George Shepard Gilman.
Mollie Clemens wrote to Sam and Livy. The weather was “simply horrible.” They missed “Ma more than I had any idea we would; she was here three & a half months. She made a great many friends and was admired by all and told to her face she was beautiful” [MTP].
Moncure Conway wrote to Sam having just rec’d his first copy of TS from Chatto & Windus. “They are just bringing out the cheap edition on which it is hoped the money is to be made. / Your speech to the Boston soldiers was about as good as it could be, except that it nearly broke one of my blood-vessels….You must—you really must—come over next Spring” [MTP].
Charles E. Perkins wrote to Sam of credits to his acct at Bissell’s bank and a request for $46.45 for Maze Edwards [MTP].
November 6 Tuesday – H.W. Bergen wrote from Toronto to thank Sam for the $60 check but returned it as he had gotten a “little ahead in money matters” and had “good cities and towns to visit yet” [MTP]. Note: Sam wrote on the env “Bergen enclosing ‘not used’ check for $60”
**W.D. Wells wrote from Jesup, Iowa to ask for a “short sketch” of Twain’s life [MTP].
November 7 Wednesday – Sam wrote from Hartford per Fanny Hess to Andrew Chatto. Sam repeated that he only wanted to confirm Moncure Conway’s receipt of commissions for work placed with Chatto. Sam also had received two checks, one for over seven English pounds.
“The larger a check is, the more I like it; & the more I honor & glorify the sender, & the more it stirs me up to high literary achievement in that man’s behoof” [MTLE 2:189].
November 8 Thursday – Sam wrote from Hartford per Fanny Hesse to Moncure Conway. Sam had found an old letter of Conway’s about the cost of telegrams sent, and thought he may have forgotten to reimburse their cost. Sam wanted Conway to “take that £3.11.s out of the next Sawyer money due me from Chatto” [MTLE 2:190].
November 9 Friday – Sam wrote from Hartford to E.S. Sykes (Hartford druggist) evidently about some carping on a recent event to raise money for charity, which Sam had volunteered for but wished only a lesser role in, and his name kept out of the newspapers. Relating the complaints about the shortcomings of the fundraiser to a sermon by Twichell, Sam quoted:
“He that waiteth for all men to be satisfied with his plan, let him seek eternal life, for he shall need it.” This portion of Mr. Twichell’s sermon made a great impression upon me, & I was grieved that some one had not wakened me earlier so that I might have heard what went before [MTLE 2:191-2].
Henry Watterson wrote to Sam: “Can’t you run over to New York about the 20th and give me some lessons in the fine arts?” [MTP].
November 12 Monday – Sam wrote from Hartford to Thomas Nast, proposing the same plan that he had turned down in Nov. 1867—that is, to lecture together, Sam talking while Nast drew pictures. Sam listed the 75 cities they would tour, and estimated a net profit from $60,000 to $75,000 to split. Sam explained that he had declined the many lecture offers in the past year or so, not because of the money or that he minded talking to an audience, but because “(1.) traveling alone is so heart-breakingly dreary, & (2), shouldering the whole show is such a cheer-killing responsibility” [MTLE 2: 193-5]. Note: this time, Nast turned him down. See full text in the recently released AMT: 2, p.10.
November 13 Tuesday – Sam wrote from Hartford to Orion in Keokuk. Only the envelope survives [MTLE 2: 196]. Sam paid a bill from Osgood & Co. for a copy of Fridthjof’s Saga that he’d ordered on Mar. 20 and for Bayard Taylor’s The National Ode: The Memorial Freedom Poem (1877) purchased on Jan. 21 [Gribben 687,690].
November 17 Saturday – Orion Clemens wrote of his change of offices, his being made Secretary of Republicans to publish the proceedings of the primary, thanking Livy for her account of Hall’s death, and of reading extracts of Sam’s Bermuda letters in the Atlantic Monthly [MTP]. Note: Sam wrote on the env. “Preserve”
A.F. Higgs wrote from Chicago admiring Twain’s article in the Dec. Atlantic (“Some Rambling Notes of an Idle Excursion”), and recalling his own Union Army career [MTP]. Note: Sam wrote on the env. “Curiosity”
November 17? Saturday – Sam wrote from Hartford to Thomas Bailey Aldrich, who had sent Sam his book (probably The Queen of Sheba and My Cousin the Colonel (1877). “I have read every line of the bewitching thing & have lost my day’s work & am not in the least sorry” [MTLE 2: 197].
November 18 Sunday – Edward Fordham Flower wrote from London: “I send you some notices of two pamphlets in one which are now published in New York by Cassells & Co. Can you do or say anything to make them known[?]” [MTP]. Note: father of Charles Edward Flower.
November 20 Tuesday – Dean Sage visited Twichell from Nov. 19 to 21. Twichell’s journal entry notes they went “to lunch at Mark Twain’s at noon” [Yale, copy at MTP].
November 21 Wednesday – E.S. Sykes, Hartford druggists wrote to Sam: “I return herewith your letter as requested. I read it to the Board as proposed. And it certainly set you right with those gentlemen who knew of yr. connection with the matter. / Feeling sure that if others were as ready to do their part as you have shown yourself to do yours that our poor would not want assistance, I remain… [MTP]. Note: Sam wrote on the env “The performance that didn’t come off”
November? 22 Thursday – Sam wrote from Hartford to Charles E. Flower, advising that since receiving his letter about the Shakespeare Memorial, he had corresponded with some New York newspaper men. Sam and Livy stayed with the Flower family on their first trip to London together and Sam had used his influence to help Flower raise funds in the U.S. [MTLE 2: 198].
November 23 Friday – Sam dated several story and book ideas in his notebook, including one “in which the telephone plays a principal part (the germ of the story “The Loves of Alonzo Fitz Clarence and Rosannah Ethelton” published in the Atlantic for Mar. 1878). He wrote notes for Prince and the Pauper, which he’d worked on in the summer of 1877. Also noted were several ideas in a single line that would lead to future works, such as “Leathers, Earl of Dunham”—a distant relative’s delusions of grandeur as the basis for American Claimant [MTNJ 2: 49-51].
Livy’s visitor book was signed by Frank Hall, J.D. Slee, and Olivia Langdon “The Mother” [MTP]. Note: Hall was the American reporter who in Aug. 1867 wrote about the public burial ground at Naples, Italy which Sam noted was “damnable” [MTNJ 1: 385n10].
In Cambridge, Mass., Howells wrote Sam a short note that he and Winny [his daughter] expected,
“To be with you in the evening of Dec. 11. We should like to stay till the morning of the 13th, if it doesn’t seem too hard on you” [MTHL 1: 209].
Andrew Chatto wrote to Sam: “I have much pleasure in enclosing cheque for 15£ for the 3rd & 4th instalments of your ‘Random Notes’ ” [MTP].
November 26 Monday – Eighteen year old William (“Will”) M. Clemens (1860-1931) wrote to Sam, the first of over a dozen he would write by 1909.
To “That Uncle of mine”
Dear Mark; / I have just finished the “Gilded age,” for the second time, and I am determined to write you, not, for the sake of the book but to form an acquaintance with yourself.
I am a young man of 18, or a boy in his teens, just as you like it.
As you will perceive I belong to the band of rising young journalists that infest this land of wine and women. I am also an author just budding you know, and my favorite style is the humorous, but this I cannot help for “They all duet,” the Clemens’ I mean.
I have published a miniature journal for boys & girls but it has gone where the potato vine sprouteth. But of all this nonsense I am through, and I earnestly wish you will answer one who bears your name. / Very truly Yours / Will Clemens, Akron, Ohio [MTP]. Note: Twain wrote on the env. “curiosity / No answer required.” See also Jan. 7, 1881 entry; May 22, 1900 from Will with Sam’s objection on June 6, 1900. In a letter to H.H. Rogers of June 12, 1900, Twain called Will Clemens “a mere maggot” and “this troublesome cuss,” after Will published Twain’s bio information without permission. Will Clemens was not a relative. See indexes other volumes.
November 27 Tuesday – Livy’s 32nd birthday. Sam gave her Pottery and Porcelain of All Times and Nations (1878) by William Cowper Prime (1825-1905). Sam inscribed it: “Livy Clemens from S.L.C./ November 27, 1877/ Hartford” [Gribben 560].
November 29 Thursday – An unidentified “young girl” sent Clemens a poem aiming at his soul: “I gave my life for thee, / My precious blood I shed, / That thou might’st ransomed be, / and quickened from the dead; / I gave my life for thee; / What hast thou done for me?” [MTP]. Note: Sam wrote on the env “From a young girl whom I do not know, but who has been trying for 7 years to save me—ever since she was 14”
November 30 Friday – Sam’s 42nd birthday.
December – The third of a four-part, 15,000 word article on Sam and Joe Twichell’s trip to Bermuda, ran in the Atlantic Monthly: “Some Rambling Notes of an Idle Excursion” [Wells 22].
December 1 Saturday – Sam wrote from Hartford to an unidentified person who solicited an autograph. Sam responded that the “great question of the day” didn’t disturb him because he believed there wouldn’t be any eternal punishment, “except for the man who invented steel pens” [MTLE 2: 199].
December 1-15 Saturday –During this period Sam wrote to the Chicago Union Veteran Club:
“I am tied to the treadmill, hand & foot, hard at work, on what seems an interminable book, so I must not think of lecturing,—though I assure you that I would be considerable gladder to have talked for the Veterans than for any other institution in the country, if I were still on the lecturing war path” [MTPO: “Recent Changes,” Jan. 20, 2009: Chicago Tribune, Jan. 6, 1878].
December 3 Monday – Orion Clemens wrote from Keokuk to congratulate Sam on his recent birthday, to make suggestions how he might purchase the Post with a thousand down and a mortgage for ten thousand. “If I got into the printing business again I should subordinate my whims to my business.” He then wrote about “how lawyers get into business,” and ended with a PS thanking for the Atlantic Monthly [MTP].
December 4 Tuesday – John Napton (1843-1917) and brothers wrote from Elkhill, Mo. to Sam.
“Mark Twain” / Dear Sir,
Is there the slightest probability of your writing and publishing any other books. “Innocents Abroad” “Roughing It” & “The Gilded Age” have about up-set our youngest brother Frank (the youngest of nine)—a youth of seventeen, now six feet two in his stocking-feet, and like yourself, a “Missouri puke,” “and to the manner born.”
If you contemplate issuing any more books like those above mentioned please let us know in due time in order that we may get him out of the way—send him to Patagonia—or some other region where access to them will be impossible. Some time since—the Judge—pater familias—gave him ten dollars to invest in books to suit his own fancy. At first he thought of buying an illustrated copy of Bunyons [sic] Pilgrims Progress, but on reflection, being religiously inclined, gave your works the preference. He has since read them forty times, and then re-read them backwards and cross-ways. He has literally read them to pieces. It would, or ought to, do your heart good to see them,—the books, He is so chuck full of them, that no matter what may be under discussion in our family after-supper controversies,—whether, law, politics, literature, or divinity, the Holy land, the life of Christ, or the silver bill,—five minutes cannot elapse without his putting in, “Mark Twain says so & so &c &c,”—a delightful grin immediately enlightening his countenance. He is worse than old Claude Halcro, and his immortal John Dryden.
To cap the climax he has begun writing a book of his own, and takes yours for his models. Can’t you wean him from his folly, “We feel hot.”
Let us hear from you. / Yours excitedly / John Napton. / H.P. Napton. / C. Mc Napton. / L.W. Napton.
Seriously,—we all read and like your books almost as much as Frank [MTP].
Notes: the senders were the sons of the Missouri state supreme court judge William Barclay Napton Sr. (1808-1883) who had Napton, Mo. named after him. The judge had nine children, seven boys. Claud Halcro was a character in Sir Walter Scott’s novel The Pirate. Twain wrote on the letter, “Curiosity / answered Dec 9th, 1877” (not extant).
December 5 Wednesday – Sam wrote from Hartford to D.F. Appleton, head of the New England Society (see Dec. 22 entry). The society had invited Sam to attend their 72nd anniversary at Delmonico’s in New York on Dec. 22. Sam begged “an offensive business engagement that day in Hartford,” and so declined to attend. Sam announced he intended to have his private telephone connected with the banquet hall and, with a few friends:
“will smoke our pipes and sip our lemonade, applaud your speeches judiciously, and refresh ourselves with a fragrant sniff of each of your course as it comes on your table” [MTLE 2: 200].
Sam revealed that if any of the speakers went over their allotted ten minutes, “we will shut down the lid on him and wait for the next speaker,” using an invention of Sam’s he called the Olfactorium.
Sam also wrote to his mother-in-law, Olivia Lewis Langdon, saying the family was well and thanking her for the shaving stand, a birthday gift. Sam said he had not missed a day shaving since he’d received it, and that Livy was thus thankful too. Sam mentioned a visit by John Slee (Jervis Langdon’s past business partner) that they had enjoyed [MTLE 2: 201].
December 9 Sunday – Orion Clemens wrote from Keokuk to Sam, enclosing a short article “A Snide Book Agent,” which perpetrated a fraud selling a book “Elbow Room,” by Max Adeler as one by Twain. Orion is mentioned in the article and his letter describes his investigations into the matter [MTP]. Note: Sam wrote on the env., “Dec. 9/77 – Orion’s story about Sir John Franklin,” one of Orion’s literary efforts also enclosed.
December 10 Monday – Sam wrote from Hartford per Fanny Hesse to Andrew Chatto, thanking him for the royalty check of £15 and for “the other half of the Arabian Nights.” Sam wrote he might have an article soon [MTLE 2: 202].
December 11 Tuesday – Sam wrote from Hartford per Fanny Hesse to an unidentified person:
To the Editor of —— [Sam may have sent several letters to western papers, or specifically the paper that Orion clipped the article from, unknown]
Sir, A fraudulent concern calling itself “the Franklin Publishing Co” of New York is canvassing the West for a book entitled “Elbow Room, or the Innocents at Home by Mark Twain.” I have never written any such book [MTLE 2: 204]. Note: Innocents at Home was the title Routledge gave to an authorized 1872 edition of Roughing It, not to be confused with this work. Note Orion’s Dec. 15 reply.
Sam also wrote to Orion, asking him to discreetly determine an address for a company called “Franklin Publishing” that was canvassing a future book of Sam’s without authorization. The culprits got their books from out West somewhere, Sam thought, not New York [MTLE 2: 203]. (Misdated as Dec. 10; see above to unidentified.)
An Unidentified person wrote
from Cloversville, NY. Only the env. is extant; Note:
Sam wrote on the env.,
”From that same old Irish ass”; and “Dec 11/79 Poetry”
December 12 Wednesday – William Dean Howells arrived and stayed at the Clemens home (see Nov. 23 entry). Howells appeared on the Seminary Hall Lecture Course, Seminary Hall, Hartford, where Sam introduced him. The Hartford Times, Dec. 13, gave a fragment:
“The gentleman who is now to address you is the editor of the Atlantic Monthly. He has a reputation in the literary world which I need not say anything about. I am only here to back up his moral character” [Fatout, MT Speaking 652-3].
December 13 Thursday – Howells spoke on Venice at the Clemens house to an “extra” meeting of the Saturday Morning Girls’ Club. Twichell also attended [Twichell’s journal, Yale].
From Twichell’s journal, of the events of Dec. 12 and 13 (written Dec. 14):
To M.T.’s to dinner with H[armony]. The special occasion was the presence of W.D. Howells the author, who came to town two days since to lecture. We heard the lecture on Gibbon and the next morning I attended an extra meeting of the (girls) Sat. morning Club at M.T.’s where Mr. Howells talked most charmingly about Venice.
I had to leave the dinner table to go abut my Thursday evening duties and returned only in time to take H. home. W.D.H. is the most pleasing personality of all the literary folks I have met. He seems to be a downright and simple good man. There are certain Christian flavors about him that one perceives yet can hardly describe [Yale, copy at MTP].
December 15 Saturday – Orion wrote from Keokuk: “Your letter of 11th with the notices for the papers received. You will see from my last letter that they are not necessary, as the case was probably that of a book agent stuck with some of Max Adeler’s books and trying to work them off.” He suggested that Sam take his “Kingdom of Sir John Franklin” sketch and “use it as a skeleton or as memoranda, expand it into a book…” [MTP].
December 17 Monday – Sam gave his infamous dinner speech at John Greenleaf Whittier’s birthday dinner, Hotel Brunswick, Boston, Mass. [Fatout, MT Speaking 110-4]. The speech was a rambling burlesque about three tramps in the mining country foothills of the Sierras pretending to be Holmes, Emerson and Longfellow. The sketch fell flat and cold on the august assembly. But it was Sam who experienced the greatest pain and mortification for the speech. Howells, writing to Charles Eliot Norton on Dec. 19, referred to the speech as “that hideous mistake of poor Clemens.”
“As you have more than once expressed a kindness for him, you will like to know that before he had fairly touched his point, he felt the awfulness of what he was doing, but was fatally helpless to stop….The worst of it was, I couldn’t see any retrieval for him” [MTHL 2: 214].
Stephen A. Hubbard wrote from the Hartford Courant to Sam with the costs of his telephone project—to install a phone at their offices, and houses of Hubbard, Joseph R. Hawley, Charles E. Perkins and Clemens at a cost of $225 with rental of the phone instrument at $10 per person per year [MTP]. Note: news of the connection to the Clemens residence led to rumors that Sam was now a Courant editor.
December 18Tuesday – Sam was still in Boston. (See Dec. 20 entry to Starbird.) Sam and William Dean Howells did some window-shopping. Howells sent Sam a one-liner, addressed to the Parker House: “All right, you poor soul!” Sam returned to Hartford either this day or Dec. 19, when he wrote Orion.
Charles E. Perkins wrote to advise Sam he’d credited him $360 interest from Burnham [MTP].
December 19 Wednesday – Sam wrote from Hartford to Orion, who had given Sam an idea for a book (see Dec. 15 from Orion). Sam’s answer sounded more like a put-upon father than a brother, which is the way he often answered Orion. But then, Sam did not suffer fools lightly.
“Dr Bro—If I write all the books that lie planned in my head, I shall see the middle of the next century. I can’t add another, until after that. I couldn’t write from another man’s ideas, anyway. But go ahead & write it yourself—that is, if you can drop other things” [MTLE 2: 205].
An unsigned article, “Celebrities at Home,” ran in the London World apparently from a visit to Sam’s Hartford home, which was the subject of a lengthy description, together with Sam’s thinking and his work [Tenney, Mark Twain Journal, Spring 2004 p.3].
Charles Follen Adams (1842-1918) wrote from Boston to send Sam his book of poetry [MTP]. Note: Sam wrote on the env., “Adams the new humorist”; Adams began writing humorous verses in Penn. German dialect in 1872. See insert.
Washington Irving Gilbert (1821-1898) wrote from Phila. to ask Sam’s help publishing his poem “Whittier” enclosed [MTP]. Note: Sam wrote on the env., “Curiosity rubbish from an ass”.
December 20 Thursday – Sam wrote from Hartford to Charles Follen Adams (1842-1918) in Boston. Sam thanked Adams and wrote that “several of the pieces are familiar to me, & I shall be glad to make the acquaintance of the rest” [MTLE 2: 206]. Adams had sent his Leedle Yawcob Strauss, and Other Poems (1878; preface dated 1877) [Gribben 7].
Sam also wrote to Nathaniel W. Starbird, Jr., ordering a “brass fender (54 ½ inches long,) which you showed to me & Mr. Howells, editor of the ‘Atlantic Monthly’ Tuesday morning.” Sam enclosed a $60 check and asked Starbird to ship it at once to give as a Christmas present [MTLE 2: 207]. (See Dec. 28 entry.)
An unspecified sketch of Sam’s ran in the London World [The Twainian, vol. 6 no. 4, July-Aug. 1947].
Below, letter from Frank Finlay in London to Sam of the same date.
My dear Clemens. / A wellmeant but imperfect sketch of one Mark Twain in the World of today (for which I have no responsibility) pricks one in the conscience. I look back to your last letter, and I find it was written A.D. 1647, and is still without answer. I am contrite. If your ears be good, you may hear groans of repentance and sighs of anguish. NB. They are my groans, and my sighs. I have brought out & placed before me certain counterfeit presentments of a man in white garments in a cabin-of-a-ship-looking study, working a miracle by writing without a pen. The windows contain landscapes: a china doggie sits upon sheets of M.S.: volumes of The Gilded Age and other theological works are piled on a round table with an ostentatious knob. The gifted author has filled his wastebasket and not crowded his table with copy. It is The Interior of Mark Twain’s Summer Study at Quarry Farm. Slow music. The scene changes. It is a London particular fog. Gas lighted. A back room in a London street. Over the door a bust of Pallas, with a Raven perched upon it, and a gilt tablet on which is written “NEVERMORE!” On one wall a large shield of crimson with a trophy of old arms and curios, the spoils of foreign travel: on the opposite wall, an old Queen Anne wall-mirror with a shelf full of old china. Over the mantelpiece a large illuminated text—
“The First Of All Gospels Is This—That a Lie Cannot Endure For Ever”
from Carlyle’s Revolution. Beneath, a frame surrounding a block of old Mosaic brought from Carthage, with “Delenda Est Carthago” on it. On the mantel a marble bust of the Young Augustus, a photo of Dickens with a piece of his writing: photos. of two female busts by Hiram Powers, a gift from the sculptor: more old china & curios. On brackets more old china. A big carve oak bookcase, crammed. Some water colours & engravings on the walls. Photos of Garibaldi, Edward Whitty, Gad’s Hill with Dickens & his family on the lawn. A square legged Eastlake table of dark oak, and a carved oak writing table, very much littered, complete the picture. Stay—I forgot myself. I am at the writing table, and this is my little den, into which I have settled at last & where I have found rest for the sole of my foot.
Since I wrote last we have had great troubles and great relief. My poor wife had all her distress over again: another tumour & another operation. But she bore it like a herd of Trojan heroes. We didn’t get into our home till 21st. Augt. Then she took bad again, & after the second operation I took her to Scarboro’ for 5 weeks, & that set her up completely. She is now very much better, but needing much care still. We like our house very much. I have all my old crockery out & displayed, and all we want now is a mad bull: we have the China shop. How pleased I should be to see you here, Sir and Brother! And when–when when. Here I am, a loafer and an idle vagabond, and able to go round London with you day & night [MTP]
December 21 Friday – In Cambridge, Mass., Howells wrote Sam a note announcing he’d sent him a present of several books. No mention was made of the Whittier birthday dinner [MTHL 1: 211].
Sam wrote from Hartford to Moncure Conway. Sam had received a letter from Routledge & Sons, asking for his Bermuda and “Old Times on the Mississippi” articles. Sam wanted to clarify that Conway was his agent to negotiate with Routledge and Chatto for the same commission paid him for The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Sam wanted to confirm that Conway still wanted to act as his agent before he answered Routledge [MTLE 2: 208].
December 22 Saturday – Sam’s “Letter of Regret” was read to the Seventy-Second Anniversary Celebration of the New England Society in the City of New York at Delmonico’s. Sam dated the letter Dec. 5 from Hartford (see Dec. 5 entry) [Fatout, MT Speaks 109].
December 23 Sunday – Sam wrote from Hartford to Howells.
My sense of disgrace does not abate. It grows. I see that it is going to add itself to my list of permanencies—a list of humiliations that extends back to when I was seven years old, & which keep on persecuting me regardless of my repentancies.
It seems as if I must have been insane when I wrote that speech & saw no harm in it, no disrespect toward those men whom I reverenced so much. And what shame I brought upon you, after what you said in introducing me! It burns me like fire to think of it [MTLE 2: 209].
Sam, from a sense of deep shame and humiliation, but also from the knowledge that his speech had embarrassed Howells, asked that his recent short story, “The Loves of Alonzo Fitz Clarence and Rosannah Ethelton,” scheduled to run in the Atlantic, be pulled. Sam felt he’d been “injured…all over the country,” and wished to “retire from before the public at present. It will hurt the Atlantic for me to appear in its pages, now” [MTLE 2: 209].
Xantippe (“Tip”) Saunders wrote to Sam: “…as the holidays approach it reminds me of the pleasant week I spent at your house one year ago” [MTPO Notes with Dec. 20, 1876 to Perkins].
Dr. Asa Millet (1813-1893; father of Francis Davis Millett) wrote to Sam: “Dear Sir / Thinking that perhaps a look at the boy in his army rig might not be [illegible word] to you & Mrs Clemens I enclose a copy of a photo sent me by Frank in five days ago” [MTP].
December 24 Monday – This is the date Sam gave as having returned Bret Harte’s I.O.U.’s totaling $3,000, only to receive an indignant reply that “permanently annulled the existing friendship.” As Duckett explains, “If Mark Twain’s date is correct, the return of the notes occurred within a week after Mark’s humiliation at the Whittier Birthday Dinner. During this period, Mark Twain felt increasingly penitent and friendless” .
Sam Bernard wrote to Sam; not found at MTP, but catalogued as UCLC 48597.
H. Ulrich wrote from Louisville, Ky. enclosing a small play bill of the Young Ladies Social Society, with Katie Ulrich in the lead role in Elvira Slimmons’s Millinery Shop. “I am very sorry that I could not get that Dramma called Tom Sawyer. I would like to have it so much.” She/He asked him to compose one on the same order or “one on two sharp boys” [MTP]. Note: Sam wrote on the env., “Curiosity Dec. 27th 1877”
December 25 Tuesday – Christmas – William Dean Howells wrote to Charles Dudley Warner about Sam’s letter of Dec. 23: “This morning I got a letter from poor Clemens that almost breaks my heart. I hope I shall be able to answer it in just the right way” [MTHL 2: 212n3].
He then wrote to Sam that being in the Atlantic would “…help and not hurt us many a year yet…” He then began to repair Sam’s wounds:
…while I think your regret does you honor and does you good, I don’t want you to dwell too morbidly on the matter….One of the most fastidious men here [Francis J. Child] who read the speech, saw no offense in it. But I don’t pretend not to agree with you about it. All I want you to do is not to exaggerate the damage. You are not going to be floored by it; there is more justice than that even in this world. And especially as regards me, just call the sore spot well.
Howells suggested a way Sam might help himself:
—A man isn’t hurt by any honest effort at reparation. Why shouldn’t you write to each of those men and say frankly that at such and such an hour on the 17th of December you did so and so? They would take it in the right spirit, I’m sure. If they didn’t the right would be yours [MTHL 2: 213].
Sam wrote from Hartford to Olivia Lewis Langdon, thanking her for Christmas gifts of Satsuma ware, two quilts, and a “dainty Japanese fish.” Sam and family had a “pretty booming sort of a Christmas” and sent their love [MTLE 2: 210].
Sam inscribed a copy of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer to Harriet L. Lewis, Livy’s cousin who was with Livy and Sam on that first day the two had spent together in 1869, later pretending to be Sam’s sweetheart to avoid gossip. “Hattie L. Lewis, Merry Christmas, 1877.”
Sam received a copy of Harriet Martineau’s Retrospect of Western Travel, 2 vols (1838) from Theodore Crane [Gribben 454].
T.C. Marsh, “Stogies, Tips and Fine Cigars” wrote from Cambridge, Ohio, advising he was sending 600 stogies [MTP]. Note: Sam wrote on the env., “Asking to name cigar after me. Agreed to. SLC”
December 27 Thursday – In Hartford, Sam wrote individual apologies to Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and Oliver Wendell Holmes for his embarrassing speech at Whittier’s Dec. 17 birthday party. He claimed he’d given the speech “innocently & unwarned,” and spoke of his mortification. He wrote of Livy’s “distress”; that:
“…yours were sacred names to her. We do not talk about this misfortune—it scorches; so we only think—and think. [Sam pleaded that he was] only heedlessly a savage, not premeditatedly, [and that he was] under as severe punishment as even you could adjudge to me if you were required to appoint my penalty” [MTLE 2: 212]. Note: years later he would insist the sketch had been funny.
December 28 Friday – Sam wrote from Hartford to Howells, thanking him for his letter of Dec. 25 which “was a godsend.” Sam was particularly grateful for Howells:
“…consent that I write to those gentlemen; for you discouraged my hints in that direction that morning in Boston—rightly, too, for my offense was yet too new, then”
Sam surprised Livy with the “brass fender” he’d ordered on Dec. 20, writing, “…how perfectly naturally it takes its place under the carved oak [mantel]”
“I haven’t done a stroke of work since the Atlantic dinner; have only moped around. But I’m going to try to-morrow. How could I ever have—Ah, well, I am a great & sublime fool. But then I am God’s fool, & all His works must be contemplated with respect” [MTLE 2: 213].
Sam also wrote a postcard to Charles Perkins, with the note that he’d heard “Nothing from Bergen since Dec 8—3 weeks” [MTLE 2: 214]. H.W. Bergen was an agent hired to furnish reports of income from plays on the road.
December 29 Saturday – Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote to reassure Sam he hadn’t taken offense to his remarks at Whittier’s birthday dinner [MTP]. Note: on the env., “Publ. In part in Paine Biog, II pp 607-8.”
December 31 Monday – Charles E. Perkins wrote to advise of a credit to Sam’s account for $450 as “interest on your western loan.” He lists: W.S. Bland, M T Burwell, R Miller, and N Wethersby [MTP].