Vol 3 Section 0080

40                                                                           1897

On Thursday last [May 27] Mr. Clemens dined with a few male friends, including Mr.[Henry Loomis] Nelson, the editor of Harper’s Weekly, and the correspondent here of the Associated Press. Mr. Clemens’s hair is almost white, but his face has a good color, his eyes are bright, and his figure is upright and alert. He talked most entertainingly all the evening about his travels, his book, and his experiences in London. After he left Mr. Nelson, who is an old friend of Mr. Clemens, referring to the latter said:

“I have never seen him in better form. He looks far better than when I saw him in New York a few years ago.”

From the Boston Globe, p.6:


Hardly had the report of Mark Twain’s serious illness reached these shores when it was followed by a contradiction that brought cheer to the hearts of the multitude of his admirers.

So far from being a physical wreck, Mr Clemens seems to be alert, vigorous and hopeful, despite the trials and troubles which have come with his later years. Let us hope that the author of “Huckleberry Finn” may live to earn and enjoy comfortable royalties for many a year to come. He is a man whom the world can ill spare. He is more than an entertainer—he is a skillful delineator of life and character, and his work appeals in truth to all sorts and conditions of men.

Sam’s notebook contains an entry that George Griffin (1849?-1897), longtime Clemens butler died [Pettit 103]. Note: Griffin’s birth derived from the 1880 Census and verified by Frank Munsey in his May 17 to Sam, which likely reached Sam about this day.

In an unpublished MS, “A Family Sketch”, Sam wrote of Griffin:

…handsome, well built, shrewd, wise, polite, always good-natured, cheerful to gaiety, honest, religious, a cautious truth-speaker, devoted friend to the family, champion of its interests…. He was the peace-maker in

the kitchen—in fact the peace-keeper, for by his good sense & right spirit & mollifying tongue he adjusted disputes in that quarter before they reached the quarrel-point.

Paine erroneously gives the news of George’s death as “just then” after news of Orion’s death on Dec.


There came also, just then, news of the death of their old Hartford butler, George. It saddened them as if it had been a member of the household. Jean, especially, wept bitterly [MTB 1053]. Note: Pettit gives perhaps the most complete account of the life and influence of Griffin, pages 93-106.

June 3 Thursday – At 23 Tedworth Square in London, Sam wrote to James R. Clemens confirming he’d be waiting that night (Sam did not mention family) at the Adelphi Theatre and also asked him to Sunday dinner. It was the first time noted that the Clemens family hosted since moving into Tedworth Square:

We should all greatly like to made the Richmond excursion Sunday, but Clara has had a fall at the gymnasium and we are afraid to have her go, & so the rest of us will have to stay at home & keep her company. Won’t you come Sunday & remain to supper? The Bigelows are coming [MTP].

Sam also wrote to Frank Fuller, expressing some unease about “that project” of the high-priced lecture. If it was “doubtful, don’t consider it for a moment.” Sam further cautioned him not to tell anyone he’d suggested it or was behind it.

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