Vol 3 Section 0648

592                                                                        1901

Sam also wrote to William Dean Howells.

Yours [not extant] has arrived just as I was about to mail you the Baker letter.

Your comment on that son of a bitch’s “Ideals” letter reminds me that I preached a good sermon to my family yesterday on his particular layer of the human race, that grotesquest of all the inventions of the Creator. It was a good sermon; but coldly received, & it seemed best not to try to take up a collection.

Thank you for sending me Aldrich’s beautiful letter [not extant]. Mrs. Clemens is not here, but she will want to read it; I will return it after that.


Read the Baker letter several times; it is one of those supreme & unapproachable masterpieces which one must read & re-read in order to get all the juice of it. If one were writing a novel & had this poor rotten old Christian in it, what a nugget that letter would be! No genius & no training can equip one to successfully imitate that phrasing.

After his signature he added a few thoughts: he didn’t think Harpers kept a proof-reader; he noted how God discriminated between H.H. Rogers and “poor” Baker. He noted Livy had returned and “captured” his letter and he was “enduring the compliments” [MTHL 2: 733]. See MTHHR 497n2.

Note: William H. Baker’s Nov. 15, 1901 letter to Rogers is referred to. Note 2 of the source: “Baker was a semiliterate resident of Fairhaven….Baker points out the need for an old people’s home. A later letter from

Baker thanks Rogers for a gift of money (Fairhaven, 17 December, 1901, TS in MTP).” Howells answered on Nov. 23. See also MTHHR 497n2.

Sam also wrote to H.H. Rogers.

The Baker letter hasn’t its match in literature anywhere. It can’t be approached—it stands alone. I’ve sent it to Howells—but only lent it. If he loses it I must have another copy. I think Twichell ought to be allowed a sight

of it when he comes [MTHHR 475-6]. Note: the lengthy letter by William H. Baker to H.H. Rogers (copy at MTP) dated Fairhaven, Nov. 15, 1901 is semi-literate and a “begging letter” for an old people’s home in Fairhaven; see MTHHR 497n2.

Harper & Brothers sent a form letter to Sam for renewing his subscription [MTP].

Augusta Kortrecht (supposedly a six-year-old girl in N.Y.C.) wrote to Sam: “I have a cat named Kitty, and a dog named Pup. I like to guess puzzles. Did you write a story for the Herald Com-pe-ti-tion? I hope you will answer my letter” [MTP]. Note: Sam wrote on the margin “Lame attempt of a middle-aged liar to pull an autograph”.

Elisabeth Marbury wrote to Sam that she’d advised Francis Wilson that Sam didn’t want to have the title of the book used without its material and that $50 a week was “far too small a compensation.” She enclosed a copy of his reply that he was afraid Sam didn’t understand—“I believe the book should be all of the play—except the lyrics” [MTP].

Theodore Weld Stanton wrote from the Grand Hotel d’Europe in Avignon, France to Sam. Stanton was trying to find the “Lost Napoleon”—the hill or mountain Sam had once seen in France. He would write again from Arles [MTP]. Note: see Nov. 17 entry.

November 22 Friday

November 23 Saturday – William Dean Howells replied to Sam’s Nov. 21.

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