February 21 Monday – Vienna, Austria: Clemens wrote a “Memorandum” and “Note” about his play, Is He Dead? [Univ. of Calif. Press 2003].
February 22 Tuesday – At the Hotel Metropole in Vienna, Austria, Sam wrote to Walter Besant (1836-1901), London novelist, historian, and literary critic, who had reviewed FE in the Feb. issue of Munsey. Besant also wrote for the journal Queen.
It makes me very proud—I have just read it in Munsey for February.
Many a person will privately thank you for compacting into words an unarticulated feeling which we have all had (p. 660)—that, helped by age & long experience, we often see in pictures & books things which artist
author did not themselves know they had put there. We find it out when we come to memorize a passage of our own for public delivery—how surely we do, every time! By no chance do we ever know the half that’s in it till we have turned that search-light onto it. …
You have stirred in me again the longing to go back to the seclusion of Jackson’s island & give up the futilities of life. I suppose we all have a Jackson’s island somewhere, & dream of it when we are tired [MTP]. Note: See Gribben 61-3 for more on Besant.
Sam attended Baroness von Suttner’s pacifist group Oesterreichische Gesellschaft der Friedensfreunde (Austrian Friends of Peace) meeting. For his outspoken defense of Alfred Dreyfus and Emile Zola, Sam was widely recognized in Vienna, especially by such groups. His invitation was not to speak but to meet the Baronness, and likely came from his objections to the case. Dolmetsch writes of the meeting:
…Zola’s views received a ringing endorsement, were widely noticed in the Viennese press. The liberal papers reported them without comment, but, predictably the anti-Semitic Reichspost editorialized that “the unavoidable Mark Twain, who seems to have no idea of how he is being mishandled by the Jews in Vienna,” was expressing opinions about things of which “he is really ignorant.” The reporter continued with heavy irony that even as Twain boasted “the idea of peace is making great progress in America,” his country was “grabbing Spain by the throat over blowing up of a warship,” a reference to the sinking of the Maine a few days earlier [173-4].
Note: Dolmetsch points out (p.185) that the sinking of the Maine one week before was not on the agenda for this meeting, but the passage of a resolution supporting Zola, and by association Dreyfus. The group also planned to boycott France’s planned 1900 Paris Exposition over the case.
February 23 Wednesday – Michael Henry Dziewicki replied to Sam from Cracow, Austria, thanking him for his “kind letter”; he’d been busy so had taken awhile to answer. About meeting—there was a chance that he’d be passing through Vienna, but if his novel (unspecified) “really proves a success” he’d prefer to spend his vacation in England. He added that he’d taught English in Cracow and when reading Mark Twain in translation: “…the joke is twice as funny to me when I see a dazed perception of it slowly dawning on my pupils face.” He had also heard Sam was collecting German long words—“You might add to them a few Czech words without vowels …and some Polish ones, like chrzaszez for instance!” [MTP]. Note: Sam wrote on the envelope “From the author of ‘Entombed in Flesh’.” (Entombed in Flesh (1897); see Gribben p.210.
February 24 Thursday – A contract signed between Sam and Siegmund Schlesinger concerning the management of a comedy play they’d collaborated on, “Der Gegencandidat, or Woman in Politics” bears this date. The contract itself was in Sam’s hand [MTHHR 317n2].
A detailed review in Neue Freie Presse praised “Stirring Times in Austria,” which ran in the March 1898 issue of Harper’s [Dolmetsch 270].
SLC used mourning border for most letters from Susy’s death on, then from Livy’s death on.