bordered on either side by tall poplars and cedar trees. Rose bushes in abundance. And a beautiful fountain that told of the many sweethearts it had blessed. In the far distance were the gray roofs and slender church spires of Florence; and everywhere silence. Unforgettable silence [MFMT 241].
Hill writes, “Miss Lyon and Clemens both instantly disliked the countess and recorded descriptions of her.” Sam wrote:
She is excitable, malicious, malignant, vengeful, unforgiving, selfish, stingy, avaricious, coarse, vulgar, profane, obscene, a furious blusterer on the outside and at heart a coward…It is good to be a real noble, it is good to be a real American, it is a calamity to be neither the one thing nor the other, a politico-social bastard on both counts [Hill 72]. See insert of the cavernous Villa.
Hill also writes that the Clemens party “arrived at the villa only to discover that Mrs. Clemens could not be placed in the bedroom chosen for her—a clause in the lease specifically forbade the presence of any sick person in that one room” .
Isabel Lyon remembered the countess when she was Mrs. Barney Campan, later divorced, in
Philadelphia in the late 1880s, and wrote an equally damning indictment of the woman:
Count Massiglia is far away serving his country as Consul in Persia or Siam, and he is likely to stay there too; and it seems to me that for the sake of peace or freedom, he has left this Villa in the hands of the Countess … Here she remains, a menace to the peace of the Clemens household, with her painted hair, her great coarse voice, her slitlike vicious eyes, her dirty clothes, and her terrible manners. … Her viciousness seems to grow, as she realizes that she cannot make a tool of Mr. Clemens, nor use the lovely Clemens daughters as tools of another kind to give a place in society [Willis 3-4].
November 9 after – At the Villa Reale di Quarto near Florence Sam wrote a short note to Edward B. Caulfield, reporter for the Italian Gazette in Florence. “Shall we call it next Sunday? That is my off-day. At
least part of it is—from 10 till 12 in the forenoon” [MTP}
Sam also wrote sometime during Nov. after their arrival on Nov. 9. to Caulfield: “I waited till 10.30—was then obliged to go. Very good—we will call it 10 next Sunday. This time I had to run away & hunt for a doctor” [MTP].
Sam wrote to an unidentified person: “Mrs. Lyon & Miss Lyon will arrive by the “Lahn” about November 22 or
They will remain overnight no doubt & go to Florence next day” [MTP]. Note: the MTP has this as “before November 1” from Florence—if from Florence, it could not have been written until after Sam’s arrival on Nov. 9. Thus it is designated as just after Nov. 9. The Lahn left New York on Nov. 7 [NY Times, Nov. 7, p.13, “Shipping and Foreign Mails”].
Between Nov. and Dec. 1903 Sam wrote another short note to Caulfield:
I knew there was something I wanted to ask you yesterday, but before I could call to mind what it was, you were gone.
To-wit: The New York Sun says Maurice Hewlett is spending the winter in Florence. Is it so? Do you know him? If the Sun’s report is true, can you give me Mr. Hewlett’s address? [MTP]. Note: Maurice Hewlett (1861-1923), prolific English novelist and poet.
Sometime during November Sam wrote to an unidentified female informing her that “Thursdays is (or are) our day (or days)” and that he would be glad to see her [MTP: Christie, Manson & Woods catalogs, 24 Oct. 1979, Item 97]. Note: it was custom to assign a particular day and/or time of the day for callers.
SLC used mourning border for most letters from Susy’s death on, then from Livy’s death on.