paper of yours was nearly as good as mine on Norris, which I suppose you have not had the decency to read. Yours ever… [MTHL 2: 755]. Note: “Frank Norris” and “Christian Science” ran in the same issue of the North American Review. Henry Harland (1861-1905), author of the best-selling The Cardinal’s Snuff-Box (1900), was one of Howells’ younger friends who enjoyed the food at Moretti’s. Early in his career, Harland pretended to be Russian-born, and wrote sensational novels under the pseudonym Sidney Luska. In 1890 he moved to London and was editor of The Yellow Book.
December 24 Wednesday – In Riverdale, N.Y. Sam replied to William Dean Howells’ Dec. 23 invitation for lunch at Moretti’s.
I’ll be there. Tell me who he is. [Henry Harland]
But I did read it [Howells’ N.A.R. article on Norris] And moreover, I found in it (with envy & animosity,) what I always find in your examinations of books: a microscope’s vision, a chemist’s mastery of analysis & proportion, & a precision all your own in setting down the details & the accumulated result of the inquisition in English which no man can misunderstand. Nor improve upon in the matter of purity, nor rival in grace of expression. And I read to people—& praised—the pair of birth-day poems, & the Santa Claus poem, & the deep & moving one which you wrote at York, & which I wanted Mrs. Clemens to see, there, & which I hide from her now—because we guard her against feeling & thinking all we can. Yes, sir, & I have praised your speech at the dinner, which was not only happy & brilliant—a thing to be expected—but was delivered as well as God Almighty could have done it; a thing not to be expected—from you.
Poor Aldrich has gone to the Adirondacks—to that perishing son [MTHL 2: 756].
Notes: the birthday poems: “A Double-Barrelled Sonnet to Mark Twain in the Dec. 13 Harper’s Weekly; Santa Claus poem: “The Christmas Spirit” in the Dec. 6 Harper’s Weekly; the “deep & moving one”: “The Mother in Dec. Harper’s. Charles Aldrich would die after a long siege of tuberculosis on Mar. 5, 1904 [May 11, 1904 to Twichell].
In N.Y.C. H.H. Rogers wrote to Sam.
For many years your friends have been complaining of your use of tobacco, both as to quantity and quality. Complaints are now coming in of your use of time. Most of your friends think you are using your supply somewhat lavishly, but the chief complaint is in regard to the quality.
I have been appealed to in the matter, and have concluded that it is impossible to get the right kind of time from a blacking-box.
Therefore, I take the liberty of sending you herewith a machine that will furnish only the best. …
PS Complaint has also been made in regard to the furrows you make in your trowsers in scratching matches. You will find a furrow on the bottom of the article enclosed. Please use it, Compliments of the Season to the family [MTHHR 511-2]. Note: this relates to Sam’s watch, a gift from Rogers—see Harrison’s note below and Sam’s reply of Dec. 25.
Katharine I. Harrison also wrote to Sam. “After the holidays if you will please bring me your watch, I will see the proper inscription is put on it. With best wishes to you all for a Merry Xmas….” [MTHHR 512n2].
Henry W. Lucy and Nancy Lucy sent Sam a Christmas card wishing a “cheerful Christmas” [MTP].
George M. Philips, principal State Normal School, West Chester, Pa. wrote, thanking Clemens for
“promptness for writing in and returning my Life on the Mississippi. I wonder if you begin to appreciate how much happiness you have brought into the world…” [MTP].
James B. Pond wrote from his residence in Jersey City, N.J. to Sam, enclosing a composition from his son. He observed that his house was full of Mark Twain things collected over 30 years, but that Sam had
SLC used mourning border for most letters from Susy’s death on, then from Livy’s death on.