Vol 3 Section 0046

6                                                                             1897

smoke, nor eat batter cakes and syrup! The old fraudsyou call them in. They worm out of you your various pleasures in life. Then its you mustn’t practice any of those things for sure. Drs. are saintly villains [MTP].

January 6 WednesdayFrom Gribben p.140 : “On 6 and 7 January 1897 Mark Twain amused himself with working notes ‘for a farce or sketch’ (or perhaps ‘an Operetta’) which would employ ‘pilgrims to Canterbury’ accompanied by Chaucer himself’” [NB 39 TS 43; NB 40 TS 1].

Sam’s notebook lists Edwin Ransford ’s (1805- 1876) song, “In the Days When We Went Gypsying.” Gribben: “On 6 January 1897, in London, Clemens thought of quoting the poem in ‘a farce or sketch’ about an enchanted fairy palace in which Chaucer would appear and write songs. One of Clemens’ notes reads: ‘Song—young people grown old…’ [569: NB 39 TS 43]. Sam associated the song with Susy’s death [NB 39 TS 50, 52, 58]. See also June 1, 1902 NB entry.

January 7 Thursday – At 23 Tedworth Square in London, Sam wrote to his sister, Pamela Moffett, who had complained to Orion that Sam answered his letters but not hers. Sam explained he was in the habit of writing Orion “about 8 times a year,” paying Orion “one for six” of his letters. Then he confessed the real reason for not writing to her:

I have written you and Sam [Moffett] twice each, in the last four months, but tore the letters up—I was not able to keep Webster out of them, the primal cause of Susy’s death & my ruin. I am not able to think of him without cursing him, & cursing the day that I opposed your better judgment of the lousy scoundrel & thief, & sided with Annie in her desire to marry him. The thought of that treacherous cur can wake me out of my sleep. I have no such bitterness against Hall; he was merely a baby, & an incurable & unteachable fool; & was dishonest merely through moral cowardice, not cold deliberation. He has many excellent & likeable qualities: Webster had none. He was all dog. And he put me where I am, & Susy where she is.

He continued to say he had “an immense pride” in his nephew. Sam had worked all day and every day on his new book (FE) had not lost a day since Oct. 4, but if he allowed himself to write letters he “should arrive nowhere” [MTP]. Note: of the 232 extant letters written by Pamela Moffett since 1890, 227 are to her son, Samuel Moffett; none are to Sam.

Sam’s notebook: “This cook is going. Good many tried, none have been satisfactory. This one had a sweetheart—‘Jim’—who used to come & spend the whole evening, & take supper. I appeared, & asked him to discontinue” [NB 41 TS 2].

January 7-10 SundaySam’s notebook:

There is in life only one moment & in eternity only one. It is so brief that it is represented by the flitting of a luminous mote through a thin ray of sunlight—it is visible but a fraction of a second. The moments that preceded it have been lived, are forgotten & are without value; the moments that have not been lived have no existence & will have no value except in the moment that each shall be lived. While you sleep you are dead; & whether you stay dead an hour or a billion years the time to you is the same.


Write a novel in which part of the action takes place in heaven & hell, the rest upon earth. Let a woman in heaven watch the sweep of the ocean of fire at close quarters—a person passes by at very long intervals only, the ocean is so large. It is a solitude—so is heaven. She has sought her daughter for a long time—she is watching hell, now, but not expecting her daughter to be there. Musing she hears a shriek & her daughter sweeps by—there is an instant of recognition by both—the mother springs in, perceiving that there is no happiness in heaven for her any longer.


They try to help the situation of all the workingmen except the hardest-worked one, the Prince of Wales. He does not get the benefit of the 8-hour law, & ought to strike.


SLC used mourning border for most letters from Susy’s death on, then from Livy’s death on.