Feb. 18/97. Brilliant morning (very rare). Some of the people looked glad to be alive. But not many. Walked an hour in King’s Road (as usual) between Markham Square & the Chelsea Polytechnic—back & forth. Shakespeare’s people all on hand, as usual.
O Mother of Thugs!
We do not know who he was; he flits across the page of this rusty old book & disappears in the obscurity beyond; but he is an impressive figure, moving through that valley of death serene & unafraid, clothed in the might of the Eng. name.
He was not a direct liar, but he wd subtly convey untruth. He never dealt in any but large things, if you let him tell it; if by accident his trousers-seat got stained in divers tints, he would explain it by no actual lie, yet he would leave you with the impression that he got it by sliding down a rainbow.
Don’t remember who this was, but it fitted him, anyway. I know 9 others that it fits; & one of them is a preacher.
I asked the “Square porter” (licensed) when he came to do the morning chores what his name was? “Mister Wallace.”
He is in the hospital—writes to ask that his place be kept & signs “Mr. Wallace” [NB 41 TS 12-13].
February 19 Friday – Sam’s notebook:
Feb. 19/97. Lunched with the Henry M. Stanleys. Anecdote by Mrs. Tennant of the American who wanted his portrait painted by Sir John Millais.
Dennis McCartney’s description of Jim Townsend’s voice—“A strong bass—immensely powerful—but raucous, reedy, raspy—sort of a horse-fly voice, you know.[”]
The Welsh quarry singers in a little hall in the King’s Road to-night—two good voices; the music was stirring. It was a village crowd, right here in the metropolis of the world.
A workingman made a speech. Pretty well phrased, but it had ideas, & they showed out through the cloudy grammar & the rain of his.
Money cannot do everything. It failed to find the man who could explain how the French lost their tails [NB 41 TS 13-14]. Note: Sir John Everett Millais (1829-1896) not to be confused with his son, John Guille Millais (1965-1931) also an artist of some note.
February 20 Saturday – The London Athenaeum p. 244 reviewed TS,D: “The title story is a disappointment, ‘How to Tell a Story’ does not make its case, and the chapters on Paul Bourget “hardly seem worth reprinting” [Tenney 26].
February 21 Sunday
February 22 Monday – J.A. O’Brien wrote from Sydney, Aus. to Sam. The short note is half illegible, but refers to a tribute which “should be framed in gold.” He wrote he was “nobody” [MTP].
February 23 Tuesday – At 23 Tedworth Square in London, Sam wrote to William Dean Howells. He thanked Howells for his “splendid phrases, so daringly uttered & so warmly” in his review of the first five volumes in Harper’s of Mark Twain’s “Uniform Edition” (HF, LM, P&P, CY, TSA, TSD). “The words stir the dead heart of me,” he wrote, but confessed he was “Indifferent to nearly everything but work.” Admitting that “This mood will pass” but only after Livy “comes up out of the submergence.” He then gave a positive report on the girls and turned to world events:
SLC used mourning border for most letters from Susy’s death on, then from Livy’s death on.