“I can’t seem to locate him—I wish you had taken the card. Why didn’t you?”
“I didn’t like his manners.”
“Why? What did he do?”
“He called me a quadrilateral astronomical incandescent son of a bitch.”
“Oh, that was Howells. Is that what annoyed you’! What is the matter with it? Is that a thing to distort into an offence, when you couldn’t possibly know but that he meant it as a compliment? And it is a compliment, too.”
“I don’t think so, it only just sounds so. I am not finding any fault with the main phrase, which is
hallowed to me by the memories of childhood’s happy days, now vanished never to return, on account of it’s
being very sainted mother’s diminutive for me, but I did not like those adverbs. I have an aversion for
adverbs. I will not take adverbs from a stranger.”
[following page struck out:]
“Very well,” I said, coldly, “such being your theology, you can get your money after breakfast, & seek another place. I know you are honest, I know you are competent, & I am sorry to part with you; you are the best gardener I have ever had, but in matter of grammar you are morbid & this makes you over-sensitive & altogether too god dam particular.”
I am sorry & ashamed, Howells, & so is Clara, who is helping write this letter, with expressions she got of her mother, but the like will not happen again on this place, I can assure you.
[cross-written in bottom left corner:]
P.S. This page had to be rewritten & made parlormentory, because I found Mrs. Clemens had given orders that the letter be brought under her blue pencil before mailing. But I knew 2 of the pages would pass.
“Very well,” I said, coldly, “such being your theology, you can get your money after breakfast, & seek another place. I know you are honest, I know you are competent, & I am sorry to part with you; you are the best gardener I have ever had, but in matter of grammar you are morbid, & this makes you over-sensitive & altogether too amsterdam particular.”
I am sorry & ashamed, Howells, & so are Clara & Mrs. Clemens, who blame me for allowing it to happen, but the like will not happen again on this place, I can assure you [MTHL 2: 764-6].
February 14 Saturday – In Riverdale, N.Y. Sam wrote a Valentine’s Day note to Livy.
Feb. 14—being St. Valentine’s Day.
And so this is to my Valentine—my especial Valentine & darling & best beloved—with kisses therewith,
many! I have read that ½ page. Mr. Bryant was wonderful to do those early risings & all that at 80. If ever I get to be 80, I mean to do them, too. Go to bed, Livy darling, & sleep well—I shall get up as early as I can, & go out & get fresh air.
Good night, dear heart. / Y [MTP].
Isabel V. Lyon. wrote for Sam to Paul Kester in Accotink, Va. Kester had evidently answered Sam’s Feb. 10 note; his reply not extant. “Mr. Clemens who is very busy this morning wishes me to write for him, and say
that he was glad to receive your letter. He would like very much to see the ms., and knows that Mrs. Clemens would like to see it also” [MTP].
Sam’s notebook: “Amelia B. Edwards: ‘Heaven for climate & hell for society’” [NB 46 TS 10]. Note: Amelia Ann Blandford Edwards (1831-1892), English writer and Egyptologist. See Gribben p.214.
February 15 Sunday – Mr. and Mrs. H.H. Rogers came to the Clemens home for a visit [Feb. 6 to E.
Rogers]. Sam’s notebook: “The Rogers? Send cab, ? lunch” [NB 46 TS 11].
SLC used mourning border for most letters from Susy’s death on, then from Livy’s death on.