This is the earliest known date that Sam began dictating autobiographical memories to Isabel Lyon, who did not take shorthand. Most of these dictations have been lost, with only six surviving, and four of them being portraits of friends: on “John M. Hay,” on “Robert Louis Stevenson,” on Thomas Bailey Aldrich,” and on H.H. Rogers. Two dictations are reminiscences: “Notes on ‘Innocents Abroad’” and an untitled sketch recalling his first use of a typewriter. The sixth is a long diatribe about the Villa di Quarto and the Countess Massiglia [AMT 1:20n50, 22].
In New York, H.H. Rogers wrote to Sam
I have neglected answering your esteemed letter of the 16th ultimo [Dec. 16, 1903], and I trust this will find Mrs. Clemens in much better health and you in better spirits in consequence.
The “Italian Without a Dictionary” has been published and the Harpers have sent us about ten thousand dollars which Miss Harrison will give you full particulars about later.
There had been sickness in the Broughton family and the Coe baby had “been at death’s door,” but all were now better. There was nothing to write save he had never been so busy. They saw a lot of Dr. Clarence Rice. Rogers was going to the opera this evening and expected “a good nap” [MTHHR 549-50].
Arthur W. Higgs, Florence real estate agent, wrote to Sam about his interest (expressed through Gregory Smith) in the Villa Suricciarduin (sp?). The villa was available at once [MTP].
Isabel Lyon wrote to Harriet Whitmore, who had been Isabel’s prior employer.
Perhaps you may be interested to know how very entirely Mr. Clemens absorbs all my time—every minute of it—even my evenings. I attend to an infinite number of Things for him, and when he is lonely and restless we play cards—play cards? Why I play with him all day Sunday even. He is delicious; this morning he had a run of very bad luck and biting his cigar hard he said “Christ couldn’t Take Tricks with the kind of cards you give me.” Oh darling Mrs. Whitmore you have given me all this joy, and Truly I am the wealthiest woman ever. There is a side of the life here that is most exquisite and hallowed; and Mr. Clemens lives much in the past— There are days when he restlessly paces the “lonely house,” and has not yet begun any real work—beyond a short article on “Copyright” that appeared in N. American Review for January. I have very little to do with Jean—never go out with her any more; you see Mr. Clemens wants his secretary on deck—and when he can have her services when he needs them [Trombley, MTOW 32-3].
January 9 Saturday
January 10 Sunday – At the Villa Reale di Quarto near Florence Sam finished his Jan. 7 to Joe Twichell.
P. S. 3 days later.
Livy is as remarkable as ever. The I wrote you—that night, I mean—she had a bitter attack of gout or rheumatism occupying the whole left arm from shoulder to fingers, accompanied by fever. The pains racked her 50 or 60 hours; they have departed, now—and already she is planning a trip to Egypt next fall, and a winter’s sojourn there! This is life in her yet.
You will be surprised that I was willing to do so much magazine-writing—a thing I have always been chary about—but I had good reasons. Our expenses have been so prodigious for a year and a half, and are still so prodigious, that Livy was worrying altogether too much about them, and doing a very dangerous amount of lying awake on their account. It was necessary to stop that, and it is now stopped.
Yes, she is remarkable, Joe. Her rheumatic attack set me to cursing and swearing, without limit as to time or energy, but it merely concentrated her patience and her unconquerable fortitude. It is the difference between us. I can’t count the different kind of ailments which have assaulted her in this fiendish year and a half—and I forgive none of them—but here she comes up again as bright and fresh and enterprising as ever, and goes to planning about Egypt, with a hope and a confidence which are to me amazing.
SLC used mourning border for most letters from Susy’s death on, then from Livy’s death on.