The New York Times, anticipating the return of Mark Twain to America, ran “Mark Twain’s Home-Coming” on p. BR1. The article, after the following introduction, reviewed Sam’s history over the prior decade—the bankruptcy, the vow in Vancouver, B.C. to pay 100 cents on the dollar, his world tour at an age most men needed to rest, and his recent writings and activities in Vienna and London
MARK TWAIN’S HOME-COMING.
Payment of his Debts, Though Not Legally Liable for Them All—A Five Years’ Absence—No Plans Yet to Do Him Honor.
Ere this the Minnehaha may have poked her nose into her New York dock, and the doyen of American letters, Mark Twain, been landed, together with his baggage, with which, according to a letter he recently wrote to Secretary Gage, the steamer “would be loaded.” …
Mark Twain returns to America bearing with him the evidence of many distinctions and honors. Most of the leading associations and societies of merit on the Continent have taken him unto themselves. But how lightly he wore these decorations was once betrayed by him to a friend who had congratulated him on receiving the ribbon of the Legion of Honor. “Few escape it,” he remarked simply.
…There was not an American heart which did not bid him godspeed when he set out upon his mission five years ago.
Now that he has overcome all obstacles and had triumphantly accomplished the work he believed he ought to do, some peculiar recognition of this fact should come to him from Americans—something that should appeal to Samuel L. Clemens, the man, rather than to Mark Twain, the littérateur. Just what form this recognition should take is doubtful, of the case, as we have said, has no exact precedent. No attempt should be made to rival even in significance the decorations that have been bestowed upon him by the Old World. They are things apart. A dinner, with a memorial of welcome, would, perhaps, be the most satisfactory and appropriate form of recognition.
An extended inquiry among writers and publishers of this city has failed to reveal the presence of any plans for this purpose. Everybody, however, recognizes the appropriateness of such a demonstration, and expresses the hope that one might be made. So much good will and friendliness should not be allowed to spend itself in isolated expression. It should be molded into some common and distinctive form. The question is, Who will do the molding? The material is ready. No time should be wasted: Why not the Authors Club?
An anonymous review of The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg, and Other Stories, ran on p.464 of Saturday Review, XC. Tenney: “The title story ‘is thin and weak but may be read while waiting for breakfast. The remaining chapters comprise fugitive specimens of American journalese, which can owe their resurrection only to the accident of Mark Twain’s popularity,’ and they are not funny or convincing. ‘With the best desire to be tolerant to an unsophisticated scribe, we can only say that Mark Twain often appears to be a good-natured vulgarian’” [Tenney: “A Reference Guide Second Annual Supplement,” American Literary Realism, Autumn 1978 p. 171].
October 14 Sunday – Sam’s notebook: “Noon. About 500 miles to make. A spacious ship & most comfortable.
Rides the seas level—hardly any motion. No sea-sickness on board. No table-racks” [NB 43 TS 27].
The New York World ran an article, “Mark Twain, the Greatest American Humorist, Returning Home, Talks at Length,” which included Twain’s ideas about autobiography given to reporters before sailing on Oct. 6 in London:
There has never been an autobiography or biography or diary or whatever you like to call it that has been written with quite the detachment from all anxiety about what the readers may think of it or its writer as this one of mine. Pepys, you might be disposed to think, was a miracle of candor even at his own expense, but even Pepys wrote with the consciousness that his contemporaries were looking over his shoulder, and despite
SLC used mourning border for most letters from Susy’s death on, then from Livy’s death on.