the heartache of Olivia and Samuel Clemens and their two remaining daughters, it was here in the sort of surroundings the English Lake Poets a century earlier had sought for their inspiration .
July 17 Saturday – The Clemens party was at the Hotel Union in Lucerne, making ready the move to Weggis the next day. Arrangements were made with E.H. Roth-Näf of Lucerne for a rental piano for Clara to be shipped to Weggis. It would arrive on July 19 [Locher 10]; see entry.
Sam wrote on a calling card with this date to John Y. MacAlister: “Mrs. C. & I are coming, but the girls cant. OVER / I have already sent this message but it best to repeat it” [MTP]. Note: either MacAlister had traveled to Lucerne, or the date is suspect, since the Clemens family left England on July 12 and were in Lucerne on July 17.
The Spectator included an anonymous review of TS,D, p. 89. “Despite weaknesses, the title story is ‘inimitable.’ ‘The Californian’s tale’ is ‘short, but a simply perfect specimen of dramatic surprise. We are reminded of Poe, and scarcely expected to find even the versatile Mark Twain capable of such a tour de force. ‘Adam’s Diary’ is too far-fetched, grotesque in fact, and the humour by no means rich. When will Mark Twain learn to leave such subjects alone, as he cannot handle them with good taste nor even literary skill?’ ‘How to Tell a Story’ …is a very able chapter. It is a pity that the chapters on Paul Bourget’s ‘Outre Mer’ were ever written” [Tenney: “A Reference Guide Second Annual Supplement,” American Literary Realism, Autumn 1978 p. 169].
July 18 Sunday – The Clemens party arrived in Weggis, Switzerland, where they took residence at the Villa Bühlegg, what Dolmetsch calls, “a pension [boardinghouse] in the village of Weggis, about an hour by paddlewheel steamer up the lake from the city of Lucerne” .
Sam’s notebook includes a lot of description of the family’s new surroundings. In part:
It takes a person not born & reared among mountains a long long time to find out that when he has looked across the lake at a towering bulk like Pilatus once he has not yet seen it; that when he has looked across at it daily for twenty days he is not yet acquainted with it; that when he has done this for a hundred days it still has a thousand details, a thousand aspects, charms, fascinations, exquisitenesses which have not yet been revealed to him; & he will by & by come to realize that such a mountain is a sublime mystery which is full charged with beautiful secrets which only a life-time of daily observation can enable him to exhaust. Every slight drift of the sun exposes to view for a moment a detail not discovered before, & the next moment it is invisible again & may remain so for a year possibly, —until sun & atmosphere are exactly right for it once more. It may be a shepherd’s hut, high-perched among the breezy heights—it glows like a spark for an instant, & perhaps you might watch that spot for a year & never see it again. Every slight change of the ceaselessly changing atmosphere washes the mountain with new distributions of light & shade, new dreams of enchanting color. On a bright day all the great mass is a glory of all shades of green, & hazy blacks & blues, with vagrant films of white clouds creeping about it & mottling it with their shadows; & as evening approaches it is drowned in soft & rich & luminous mists, blue & purple & golden–& presently the sun is gone & the mountain’s vast silhouette, looms stupendous in the sky, its base fused with the night, its jagged summit backed strong & black against a sunset explosion of rich dyes, a conflagration of flaming splendors.
There is a hard smooth road at the lake edge all around—made for carriages, but all the world bikes now. ———
In the store where I bought the cigars there is a little of everything, including anvils, Bibles, sheet music, salt mackerel, & millinery. Like New England. Two buxom girls there.
We have to have a row-boat—another expense. And bathing-suits [NB 42 TS 11-13].
July 19 Monday – In Weggis, Switzerland a rented piano arrived for Clara to use during their stay.
SLC used mourning border for most letters from Susy’s death on, then from Livy’s death on.