January 15 Friday – Mollie Clemens (Mrs. Orion Clemens; Mary Eleanor Stotts) died at age 69 in Keokuk, Iowa. [NY Times, Jan. 16, 1904, “Obituary Notes,” p.9]. Note: Sam referred to not telling Livy of Mollie’s death in his Feb. 14 to Carpenter.
At the Villa Reale di Quarto near Florence, Sam read William Dean Howells’ the first installment (27-pages) of Howells’ novel The Son of Royal Langbrith in the Jan. issue in the North American Review) [Jan. 16 to
Howells; Gribben 334].
Sam’s notebook: “Mrs. Wheeler / Miss Godkin / Lung’ Arno 1 / (Guicciardini) / Cablegram from Keokuk,
Iowa: ‘Mollie died today.’ (Orion’s widow.) / She survived him 6 years, & was about 78 years old” [NB 47 TS
3]. Note: cablegram not extant.
Joseph Blouin’s Dec. 21 and 22, 1903 bills of $61.50 and $306.66 for additional repairs to the Tarrytown house were paid Jan. 15, 1904 [1903 Financials file MTP].
C.H. Curtiss & Co. Hardware Plumbing & Tinning’s bill of Dec. 31, 1903 for $73.52 was paid [1903
Financials file MTP]. Note: this bill was likely connected to Blouin’s work on the Tarrytown house.
Henry Bodset of Bedford Petroleum Co., Paris wrote to Sam enclosing a check for 6,180 francs; Sam owned stock in the company through H.H. Rogers [MTP].
January 16 Saturday – At the Villa Reale di Quarto near Florence Sam wrote to William Dean Howells, enthused about the method of dictating his autobiography. He’d not yet uttered a sentence that Livy felt needed changing. He recommended the technique to Howells then shared his schedule for dictating.
Miss Lyon does the scribing, & is an inspiration, because she takes so much interest in it. I dictate from 10.30 till noon. The result is bout 1500 words. Then I am a free man & can read & smoke the rest of the day, for there’s not a correction to be made. If I live two years this Auto will cover many volumes, but they will not be published independently, but only as notes (copyrightable) to my existing books. Their purpose is, to add 28 years to the life of the existing books. I think the notes will add 50% of matter to each book, & be some shades more readable than the book itself.
I’ve a good many chapters of Auto—written with a pen from time to time & laid away in envelopes—but I expect that when I come to examine them I shall throw them away & do them over again with my mouth, for I feel sure that my quondam satisfaction in them will have vanished & that they will seem poor & artificial & lacking in color. (Quondam! Long-forgotten old drudge-word!)
One would expect dictated stuff to read lik an impromptu speech—brokenly, catchily, repetitiously, & marred by absence of coherence, fluent movement, & the happy things that didn’t come till the speech was done—but it isn’t so.
I have written, since we came here, all the magazine-matter the Colonel [Harvey] will need this year, & therefore can go on with my dictating unembarrassed.
I expect to put in some of my afternoons on one or the other of my long stories, & by & by get both of them finished, but there is no hurry.
Last night I read your 27 pages in the N. A. R., with vast interest. It stimulated me out of a couple of hours of sleep—then I resorted to whisky. Aldrich’s new book did me the same service & disservice night before last—whisky rescued me. I can’t stand any more of these indiscretions; I shall read my own works nights, after this.
Gales & snow-storms with you, two weeks ago—I read about it in the Sun this morning & was grateful to be in Italy & look out upon Paradise. If I have any more years left, they will be split in two, & the winter-half will be spent here. You are too old to be boxing with those implacable winters—don’t you know that? [MTHL 2: 778-9].
SLC used mourning border for most letters from Susy’s death on, then from Livy’s death on.