May 4 Wednesday – At the Villa Reale di Quarto near Florence Sam replied to Poultney Bigelow (incoming not extant).
Indeed I should like to be at next Year’s dinner, but of course Mrs. Clemens is most unlikely to be able to make a sea voyage then or even sometime later. We hope and expect to keep her in this world for years yet, but she will never again be strong enough to travel, I am afraid. We had her on her feet for a little while, but that was many months ago.
I want to congratulate you on the professorship, and I hope you will like it and make a success of it. Go on and train the men for the service—that is your share of the good work, and is easy; getting them appointed is God’s share, and He will find that keeping America supplied with satisfactory winter weather is pastime to it.
The Arno is an open drain yet—but no matter, we are 3 miles from it.
Here’s hoping you are arriving safe and all right [MTP].
On or after this day, Isabel V. Lyon wrote for Clara Clemens to Louise Du Cros, who offered to “undertake commissions” for Clara in Paris (singing engagements) [MTP].
Sam also wrote to Frederick A. Duneka. “It reads all right; & I am glad that an artist rich in feeling & imagination is to make the pictures, instead of that dabbler who has neither—(Du Mont.)” [MTP].
Sam also replied to Sir Thomas Wardle in Swainsley, England. Wardle wrote on Apr. 29.
The whisky arrived 10 minutes ago, & I have already sampled it by drinking your health in it. Also I sampled my own whisky at the same time, & found it frankly detestable by comparison. I thank you cordially. It is my idea to see if the British pharmacy here can import this fine brand for me; if it can’t, you mustn’t be surprised if I require you to make those Scotsman send it to me themselves when I give notice that I am running short. But I won’t bring any discredit upon you: they can send me the bill first & I won’t require them to send the goods until I’ve paid it. I’m a spoiled man, now: I can’t drink this other whisky any more.
We are still troubled about Mrs. Clemens; if she improves at all it is not perceptible. But she still hopes, & so do we, largely because she hopes, & keeps up the fight so well. She had one of her bad nights, last night, & so we are not allowed to see her to-day.
I often recal that visit of yours, which was all too brief. I haven’t spent so interesting a time for many a
With very kind regards to you & to your daughters,—ah, I wish we could do the impossible & go to Swainsley—I am …. [MTP]. Note: see inscription in Nov. 29, 1899 entry for reference to visit.
Sam also gave his autograph to an unidentified person: “Florence / May 4/ 04 / Very Truly Yours / Mark Twain / (SL. Clemens)” [MTP].
May 4, after – Sam also wrote to George B. Harvey. “Not well enough to write—very likely will be here during the summer. May go further north. [On verso:] Has not been able to see any one for a long time—” [MTP].
A PS note of accounts headed “P.S. Next day, May 4” is in the DV245 file, MTP, which lists Sam’s bank balances and investments. “Can I put you to some trouble , now, before I start out house-hunting? To begin with— some history & some guessing:” Sam showed deposit of $14,471.44 in the Guaranty Trust before they sailed, some deposited since (subtotalling $33,220) and another “guess” of about $2,000 in dividends paid from stock since, giving a total of $35,000 to his credit. This may be a separated page from a letter to Katharine I. Harrison.
May 5 Thursday
SLC used mourning border for most letters from Susy’s death on, then from Livy’s death on.