Vol 3 Section 0614

558                                                                        1901

Sam recommended Dr. George Helmer, his osteopath [MTP].

Note: this letter cataloged only as “ca. September 1901” but easily fits this day, what with Sam finishing “The Double-Barrelled Detective Story” the day before; so far as is known no other day in Sept 1901 was he finishing a magazine story. Also, several outgoing letters from this day survive; Sam often responded in batches.

September 9 MondayThe ledger books of Chatto & Windus show that between Sept. 9, 1901 and Jan. 25, 1908, three additional printings totaling 4,500 copies of Tom Sawyer Abroad were printed, totaling 14,500 [Welland 237]. Chatto & Windus’ Jan. 1, 1904 statement to Clemens shows 1,500 3s.6d. copies of TSA were printed, for a total printed to date of 11,500 (10,000 had been printed on Feb. 28, 1894) [1904 Financials file MTP]. ,

September 10 TuesdayIn Saranac Lake, N.Y. Sam wrote to Joe Twichell.

DEAR JOE,—It is another off day, but tomorrow I shall resume work to a certainty, and bid a long farewell to letter-scribbling.

The news of the President looks decidedly hopeful, and we are all glad, and the household faces are much improved, as to cheerfulness. Oh, the talk in the newspapers! Evidently the Human Race is the same old Human Race. And how unjust, and unreflectingly discriminating, the talkers are. Under the unsettling effects of powerful emotion the talkers are saying wild things, crazy things—they are out of themselves, and do not know it; they are temporarily insane, yet with one voice they declare the assassin sane—a man who has been entertaining fiery and reason—debauching maggots in his head for weeks and months. Why, no one is sane, straight along, year in and year out, and we all know it. Our insanities are of varying sorts, and express themselves in varying forms—fortunately harmless forms as a rule—but in whatever form they occur an immense upheaval of feeling can at any time topple us distinctly over the sanity-line for a little while; and then if our form happens to be of the murderous kind we must look out—and so must the spectator.

This ass with the unpronounceable name was probably more insane than usual this week or two back, and may get back upon his bearings by and by, but he was over the sanity-border when he shot the President. It is possible that it has taken him the whole interval since the murder of the King of Italy to get insane enough to attempt the President’s life. Without a doubt some thousands of men have been meditating the same act in the same interval, but new and strong interests have intervened and diverted their over-excited minds long enough to give them a chance to settle, and tranquilize, and get back upon a healthy level again. Every extraordinary occurrence unsettles the heads of hundreds of thousands of men for a few moments or hours or days. If there had been ten kings around when Humbert fell they would have been in great peril for a day or more—and from men in whose presence they would have been quite safe after the excess of their excitement had had an interval in which to cool down. I bought a revolver once and travelled twelve hundred miles to kill a man. He was away. He was gone a day. With nothing else to do, I had to stop and think—and did. Within an hour—within half of it—I was ashamed of myself—and felt unspeakably ridiculous. I do not know what to call it if I was not insane. During a whole week my head was in a turmoil night and day fierce enough and exhausting enough to upset a stronger reason than mine. All over the world, every day, there are some millions of men in that condition temporarily. And in that time there is always a moment—perhaps only a single one when they would do murder if their man was at hand. If the opportunity comes a shade too late, the chances are that it has come permanently too late. Opportunity seldom comes exactly at the supreme moment. This saves a million lives a day in the world—for sure.

No Ruler is ever slain but the tremendous details of it are ravenously devoured by a hundred thousand men whose minds dwell, unaware, near the temporary-insanity frontier—and over they go, now! There is a day—two days—three—during which no Ruler would be safe from perhaps the half of them; and there is a single moment wherein he would not be safe from any of them, no doubt.

It may take this present shooting-case six months to breed another ruler-tragedy, but it will breed it. There is at least one mind somewhere which will brood, and wear, and decay itself to the killing-point and produce that tragedy.

SLC used mourning border for most letters from Susy’s death on, then from Livy’s death on.