Though it isn’t quite down to your level, I don’t wonder you like my literature—it’s nearly all about you. But you’d better take a brace, and try to get up as high as “Putnam Place.” Now you’re sick, I ‘ve a great mind to have it out with [you] about Jane Austen. If you say much more I’ll come out and read “Pride and Prejudice” to you.
Say, that was a mighty good thing of yours on the age of consent. Why is civilization such a carrion of falsehood?—That poor girl and her murdered baby; it made [me] sick to read about her; but one is so limp and helpless in the presence of the injustice which underlies society, and I am getting so old. I’m glad you’re still young.
—Mrs. Howells was born on the 1st of May, well, some years ago, and I called out to her today, when I happened to remember it, “Happy Birthday!” and she called back, “All right; and don’t you say another word about it” [MTHL 2: 769-70].
Note: Howells referred to Sam’s article in the May 2 Harper’s Weekly, “Why Not Abolish It?” Note 3 of the source: “In his article Mark Twain expressed indignation that no action had been taken against the seducer of a girl who had drowned her illegitimate baby and was to receive a life sentence, because she had reached ‘the age of consent.’ He maintained that the law should recognize no such age when self-respect and a family’s reputation were at stake, and by implication urged his readers to sign the petition then being circulated for the girl’s pardon.”
May 2 Saturday – In Riverdale, N.Y. Isabel V. Lyon wrote for Sam to Franklin G. Whitmore.
Mr. Clemens wishes me to write you at once that he will accept Mr.Bissell’s offer and will pay the tax. Regarding the furniture, Mr Clemens will have to write you later as that must be left with Mrs. Clemens,
and she cannot talk the matter over at present.
Mr. Clemens does not think that Mr. Reeves will ever put in a claim [MTP].
Note: Sam accepted $28,000 for 351 Farmington Ave. from Richard M. Bissell, vice-president of Hartford Fire Ins. Co. See May 6, 8. This was less than a quarter of the house’s cost. George W. Reeves, Hoyt & Co. real estate agent, who Whitmore thought might claim a commission for the sale.
Nat Lynch wrote from Deronda, Penn. to Sam: “Dear Mark / God bless you for that article in Harpers Weekly, ‘Why not abolish it’” [MTP].
What Hill calls “a curiously hysterical article by Mark Twain” ran in Harper’s Weekly. “Why Not Abolish It?” argued doing away with the age of consent, which limited prosecution of seducers . Note: Hill misdates the issue as July 5, 1902; Budd gives this correct date, and notes it was not collected in any book during Sam’s life [Collected 2: 1008].
The New York Times, p.2 reported that Judge William D. Dickey reduced the assessment from $80,000 to $50,000 on the Clemens’ Tarrytown house. The assessments in Tarrytown had been the subject of much controversy, with sales prices not affecting them to any large degree. Sam had fought the high taxes.
May 3 Sunday – Sam also wrote to Millard Sewell.
Friend Sewall: —
I am not conscious of any hostility toward Christian Science, nor Mohammedanism, nor Hinduism, nor Judaism, nor Presbyterianism, nor Mormanism, nor Dowieism, nor any other religion. Sincerity of belief makes any religion respect worthy, and certainly the Christian Scientists are sincere. My hostility is all for Mrs. Eddy. I know she never wrote a line of Science and Health, therefore I have no respect for her; her claim is a falsehood, and she is a criminal.
In writing those articles my hope was to prove to the world that the Science is becoming a tremendous power and one to be dreaded. Sewall, I’ve made one convert sure! It’s my publisher. The Harper’s were so
SLC used mourning border for most letters from Susy’s death on, then from Livy’s death on.