Captain Jenks was at the wheel when the St. Louis harbor boat pulled out with the Rochambeau and Clemens parties aboard Friday morning, but Mark Twain piloted the Mark Twain back into port after a cruise up and down the muddy stream Mark knew so well forty years ago.
The old boat had been given a coat of white paint in honor of the occasion, and folks will hardly recognize the ancient tub with its new name.
The christening of the harbor boat is Mayor Wells’ idea, and a splendid one it was. …
The party arrived at the wharf in carriages at 11:20 and fifteen minutes later the hawser was cast off and the boat backed away. The band played, the breeze blew and the sun shone brightly.
The Count and Countess Rochambeau occupied the first carriage and were first aboard the steamer, and Missouri’s Mark Twain drove up in the second.
As he stepped from the stringpiece of the wharf to the rail of the boat Mark lifted his Panama, as if in salutation to the river, which once was his pride.
The band was playing “Sewanee River,” too, and the reminiscences must have crowded Twain’s mind.
“Does the river look familiar?” Dr. Clemens was asked.
“Yes, just as wet and muddy,” returned he. … [Note: the Rochambeaus led a French delegation visiting St. Louis in relation to the Louisiana Purchase/World’s Fair preparation; Sorrentino gives 15-30 minutes of piloting for Sam, with lunch on the boat at 2:15 p.m. and unveiling the Eugene Fields tablet at 4:30 p.m.: p.21; MTCI 459-60].
Sam wrote to James R. Clemens also in St. Louis: “May my namesake follow in my righteous footsteps, then neither of us will need any fire insurance” [MTP]. Note: Sam had planned to stay with his cousin and family after the ceremonies at Columbia.
The Ralls County Record ran an interview with Mark Twain as he toured Hannibal [MTCI 456-9].
The St. Louis Republic, p. 2 ran “Renewed Welcome to Mark Twain”
The New York Times, p.8, June 7, reported on Sam leaving St. Louis:
MARK TWAIN’S FAREWELL.
He Bids Dramatic Adieu to the Mississippi River.
Special to The New York Times.
ST. LOUIS, June 6.—Mark Twain bade a dramatic farewell to the Mississippi River, where he earned his pen name, this afternoon. He piloted the harbor boat, with a distinguished party on board, for more than half an hour. Luncheon was served, and Mayor Wells made a speech. Then the Countess de Rochambeau took a bottle of champagne from the hand of ex-Gov. Francis and broke it on the deck, saying: “I christen thee, good boat, ‘Mark Twain.’”
In his response Mr. Clemens said:
“I wish to offer my thanks for the honor done me by naming this last rose of Summer of the Mississippi Valley for me, this boat which represents a perished interest, which I fortified long ago, but whose life I did not save. And, in the first place, I wish to thank the Countess de Rochambeau for the honor she has done me in presiding at this christening.
“I believe that it is peculiarly appropriate that I should be allowed the privilege of joining my voice with the general voice of St. Louis and Missouri in welcoming to the Mississippi Valley and this part of the continent these illustrious visitors from France.
“I consider it just and right that I should be allotted this from the fact that for many years I have represented the people of the United States without special request, and without salary, as Special Ambassador to the World.
“We owe much to the French, and I am sure that we will always remember and shall never forget it. We are glad to welcome these visitors here, to show them the results of what was done long ago by their
SLC used mourning border for most letters from Susy’s death on, then from Livy’s death on.