Dear Sir: I thank you very much for your invitation, and I would accept it if I were foot-free. For I should value the privilege of helping you do honor to the men who re-welded our broken Union & consecrated their great work with their lives; & also I should like to be there to do homage to our soldiers & sailors of to-day who are enlisted for another most righteous war, & utter the hope that they may make short & decisive work of it & leave Cuba free & fed, when they face for home again. And finally I should like to be present and see you interweave those two flags which, more than any others, stand for freedom and progress in the earth—flags which represent two kindred nations, each
great and strong by itself, competent sureties for the peace of the world when they stand together. Truly yours, / MARK TWAIN [MTP].
Note: Flags of England and America. Sam was for the Spanish war until he read the treaty in December seeing the US was to annex the Philippines. Stanton, a correspondent for the Parisian English Daily Messenger and the N.Y. The Critic, had invited Sam to a Decoration Day banquet at the Hotel Continental in Paris. Later called Memorial Day and now celebrated on the last Monday in May, it was originally celebrated on May 30. Sam’s letter ran in The Critic and on June 20 in the NY Times, p.4, “Mark Twain on the Two Wars.”
See insert: Life 31 (May 26, 1898): 438 Part of a text and series of drawings titled, “Taking a ‘Turn’; or, The Literary Cake-Walk” [Budd, Our MT 135].
May 27 Friday – At the Villa Paulhof in Kaltenleutgeben, Austria, Sam wrote to Dr. Thomas S. Kirkbride, who had mentioned a maid in
his service at this boarding house (pension). The Clemenses needed a cook and would “pay her expenses going & coming” from Vienna [MTP]. See also Livy to Kirkbride, May 26. On May 31 Sam reported to Rogers that they had a cook, so it may be this feeler was productive.
We have some insane customs, of course. All countries have insane customs. The stranger notices that they are insane, the native doesn’t; he is used to them, hardened to them, they are matters of course to him. In V[ienna] when you take a flat you pay the rent twice a year in advance; in the country when you take a villa you pay the whole year in advance. It may burn down the first night, what then? you say. The proprietor answers, “I have other houses—you can have one of those.” “It would not suit; we examined every house in the place—there is not another that would begin to suit.” “I should do the best I could for you.” “The best you could do would be a long way from satisfactory.” “One can but do one’s best.” “You don’t suggest refunding the money.” “It is not the custom.” “When a man comes to the cure, he knows its term is 6 weeks
that he must be under the doctor’s advice all that time. Does the doctor collect the whole fee in advance?” “Oh, no.” “Why not?” “The man m—” “Go on. You were going to say the man might die the first day.” “Yes.” “Just as the house might burn down.”
You advertise for a servant. Man comes with a bundle of fine characters. You are delighted with your luck. He has changed places very often—that is suspicious. You conclude to go to his referees. The first one says, “I found he was incompetent.” No 2 found he drank. No. 3 found he was a thief. “But you wrote he was competent; you, that he had no bad habits; you, that he was honest. A visitor tips you a private sign. Stop— “Wait” Later, explains: “the law requires you to give your dismissed servant a character [reference] if he requires it, & it forbids you to give him any but a good character [NB 40 TS 20-1].
May 28 Saturday
May 29 Sunday
May 30 Monday – At the Villa Paulhof in Kaltenleutgeben near Vienna, Austria, Sam wrote to Siegmund Schlesinger, who evidently had asked for more time, likely on their play collaborations. Sam wrote him to “Take another month—and don’t hurry; hurrying doesn’t help a sick man to get well” [MTP].
SLC used mourning border for most letters from Susy’s death on, then from Livy’s death on.