interest has been concentrated upon my wife’s precarious condition. She has not been out her bed for 9 weeks, now, & we have been uneasy—for the twentieth time in a year & a half.
Of course my wife does not know of Molly Clemens’s death—we conceal from her all things that would move her emotions. And so I am obliged to answer your letter without her help & advice, which I should so value.
But if Molly’s kindred would like to have any or all of the books I have selected, let them feel perfectly free to take them, & I beg them to do so—with only two reservations, the old Cyclopedia (my father’s—I do not care for any later one) & my mothers old illustrated family Bible, if it still exists. I do not care for a later one.
Second. “Of all the things of our dear Ma Clemens”—& the silverwatch; also the family pictures. Let Mrs. P. A. Moffett take the whole of these things; & if in some future day my wife should want any of them she may ask for them but not claim them, not require them.
After noting several misc. items Livy might want, Sam added a P.S. asking for any letters of his to be destroyed [MTP].
Sam also wrote to Charles J. Langdon.
Your letter to Livy has arrived, with its news of the dividend—very welcome, she assures you; for she thinks our expenses are pretty heavy, & it is a satisfaction to her to hear the chink of the wherewithal come oversea from the house that has never allowed her to lack. I forgot to ask her what she wishes you to do with it, but I will venture to say for her, deposit $1000 of it to our joint credit in the Guaranty Trust Co—either personally or thro’ Mr. Rogers. (If Livy wishes to change or annul this suggestion I will add a note to this letter, saying so.)
I want her to feel entirely easy about the expenses. Therefore I have gone on & loaded up the Harpers with magazine-stuff to a point where I know the cash for it will make Livy quite hand-free as regards extra costs. And now I am out of a job for this year, so far as any must-work is concerned.
Livy has not been well of late, & has had a hard time; but she has borne it with incredible patience & fortitude. It is this spirit that defeats disease, it is this spirit which finds her still unsubdued after every assault, & which will yet set her upon her feet again.
I am hurrahing for Jervis, &. I must leave room for his blessed aunt to put in a hurrah, too. With lots of love to you all—— / Saml
P. S. Livy wants me to say her congratulations about Jervis & add her hurrah, & thank you for sending her good letters & good news & happiness. And she says that during this illness she has thought so much & so often of the good visits with you on the porch, & how much she loves you [MTP].
In New York William Dean Howells replied to Sam’s Jan. 16.
You do stir me mightily with the hope of dictating, and I will try it when I get the chance. But there is the temperamental difference. You are dramatic and unconscious; you count the thing more than yourself; I am cursed with consciousness to the core, and can’t say myself out; I am always saying myself in, and setting myself above all that I say, as of more worth. Lately I have felt as if I were rotting with egotism. I don’t admire myself; I am sick of myself; but I can’t think of anything else. Here I am at it now, when I ought to be rejoicing with you at the blessing you’ve found.
Howells hoped they might meet soon, as he was planning a trip to England and if so would spend the winter in Italy. He would “like immensely” to read Sam’s autobiography, but would Sam tell “all” the truth?—the “black truth, which we all know of ourselves in our hearts, or only the whity-brown truth of the pericardium, or the nice, whitened truth of the shirtfront?” Howells confessed to being “rather run down nervously” from the writing of The Son of Royal Langbrith, which is why daughter Pilla was taking him abroad. Mrs. Howells was well; he was glad Livy was “so much better”[MTHL 2: 780-1].
SLC used mourning border for most letters from Susy’s death on, then from Livy’s death on.