was no condition but one under which the writing of such a book could be possible; only one—the consciousness that it would not see print.
It is under way, now, & it is a luxury! an intellectual drunk. Twice I didn’t start it right; & got pretty far in, both times, before I found it out. But I am sure it is started right this time. It is in tale-form. I believe I can make it tell what I think of Man, & how he is constructed, & what a shabby poor ridiculous thing he is, & how mistaken he is in his estimate of his character & powers & qualities & his place among the animals.
So far, I think I am succeeding. I let the madam into the secret day before yesterday, & locked the doors & read to her the opening chapters. She said—
“It is perfectly horrible—and perfectly beautiful!” [MTHL 2: 694-9].
Sam also wrote to his nephew, Samuel E. Moffett in N.Y.C., writing below the Apr. 29 letter from Wilfred R. Hollister and R. Harry Norman, which asked for contacts who might provide biographical information of “unpublished incidents” of Sam’s life. Would Moffett answer them and explain that his new biographical sketch (for the Uniform Edition) “will be the only authorised one, & refer him to that, all others being spurious”? [MTP]. Note: The 1900 Five Famous Missourians, included p. 9-86 on Mark Twain; it is a folksy narrative without citation or much to recommend; some errors noted.
May 14 Sunday
May 15 Monday – In Vienna, Austria, Sam wrote to Richard Watson Gilder.
“Why hang it, my note about the shipwreck narrative [Hornet] was only a feeler. I was meaning to protect you from all possible editorial embarrassment—in case you ever have any of that” [MTP: Dawson’s Book Shop catalogs, Oct. 1934, Item 50].
May 16 Tuesday
May 17 Wednesday
May 18 Thursday
May 19 Friday – Robert Buchanan wrote to Sam from London on a mourning border. He was pleased to see Sam’s handwriting after having “influenza, pneumonia and other devilries” for several months, and had a “reverent affection” for him [MTP]. Note: the hand is tiny and often illegible.
May 20 Saturday
May 21 Sunday
May 22 Monday – At the Hotel Krantz in Vienna, Austria, Sam replied to John Y. MacAlister, who had written an offer (not extant) for a place for the Clemenses to stay upon their arrival in London.
I thank you ever so much for your kind offer, but as we shall be in London a couple of months only, it will no doubt be handiest to stay in a hotel.
We intend to try the Prince of Wales hotel in De Vere Gardens Kensington & see how we like it.
We expect to leave here next Friday 26th & reach London by Calais & Dover about 6 days later.
And when I get there I will reform you [MTP].
The London Times, May 23, 1899 p. 4 datelined “Vienna, May 22” ran “Mark Twain’s Bequest.”
Vienna, May 22—Mr. Samuel Langhorne Clemens (Mark Twain) has been obliged to postpone his departure from Vienna until the 26th inst. in consequence of a flattering communication which has just been made to him through the United States Minister, Mr. Addison Harris. The Emperor Francis Joseph will receive the distinguished American author in audience on Thursday next. Mark Twain, whose works have long vied in
SLC used mourning border for most letters from Susy’s death on, then from Livy’s death on.