the necrologies find me personally interested—when they treat of old stagers. Generally when a man dies who is worth cabling, it happens that I have run across him somewhere, some time or other.
Oh, say! Down by the Laurentian Library there’s a marble image that has been sitting on its pedestal some 450 years, if my dates are right—Cosimo I. I’ve seen the back of it many a time, but not the front; but yesterday I twisted my head around after we had driven by, and the profane exclamation burst from my mouth before I could think: “— there’s Chauncey Depew!” [Insert: statue of Cosimo I]
I mean to get a photo of it—and use it if it confirms yesterday’s conviction. That’s a very nice word from the Catholic Magazine and I am glad you sent it. I mean to show it to my priest—we are very fond of him. He is a sterling man, and is also very learnedly scientific. He invented the thing which records the seismatic disturbances, for the peoples of the earth. And he’s an astronomer and has an observatory of his own.
Ah, many’s the cry I have, over reflecting that maybe we could have had Young Harmony for Livy, and didn’t have wit enough to think of it. Speaking of Livy reminds me that your inquiry arrives at a good time (unberufen) It has been weeks (I don’t know how many!) since we could have said a hopeful word, but this morning Katy came the minute the day-nurse came on watch and said words of a strange and long-forgotten sound: “Mr. Clemens, Mrs. Clemens is really and truly better!—anybody can see it; she sees it herself; and last night at 9 o’clock she said it.”
There—it is heart-warming, it is splendid, it is sublime; let us enjoy it, let us make the most of it to-day—and bet not a farthing to-morrow. The tomorrow have nothing for us. Too many times they have breathed the word of promise to our ear and broken it to our hope. We take no to-morrow’s word any more.
You’ve done a wonder, Joe: you’ve written a letter that can be sent in to Livy—that doesn’t often happen, when either a friend or a stranger writes. You did whirl in a P.S. that wouldn’t do, but you wrote it on a margin of a page in
such a way that I was able to clip off the margin clear across both pages, and now Livy won’t perceive that the sheet isn’t the same size it used to be. It was about Aldrich’s son, and I came near forgetting to remove it. It should have been written on a loose strip and enclosed. That son died on the 5th of March and Aldrich wrote me on the night before that his minutes were numbered. On the 18th Livy asked after that patient, and I was prepared, and able to give her a grateful surprise by telling her “the Aldriches are no longer uneasy about him.”
I do wish I could have been present and heard Charley Clark. When he can’t light up a dark place nobody can. / With lots of love to you all / MARK [Paine’s 1917 Mark Twain’s Letters p.752-4].
Note: the Catholic priest was Don Raffaello Stiattisi who had given some Italian lessons to Isabel Lyon and gone on several outings with her and others [MTOW 38]. Charles Aldrich, son of Thomas Bailey Aldrich, died Mar. 5 of tuberculosis at an Adirondack sanitarium. Cosimo I (1519-1574) became the Duke of Florence in 1537 and the First Grand Duke of Tuscany from 1569. In 1571 the Duke opened the Laurentian Library, which included works designed by Michaelangeo.
May 12 Thursday – At the Villa Reale di Quarto near Florence Sam wrote a letter to Richard Watson Gilder that he added to on May 13.
A friend of ours (the Baroness de Nolde) was here this afternoon & wanted a note of introduction to the Century, for she has something to sell to you in case you ’ll want to make an offer after seeing a sample of the goods. I said, “With pleasure; get the goods ready, send the same to me, I will have Jean type-write them, then I will mail them to the Century; and to-night I will write the note to Mr. Gilder & start it along.” Also, write me a letter embodying what you have been saying to me about the goods & your proposed plan of arranging & explaining them, & I will forward that to Gilder, too.”
As to the Baroness. She is German; 30 years old; was married at 17; is very pretty—indeed I may say very pretty; has a lot of sons, (5) running up from 7 to 12 years old. Her husband is a Russian. They live half the time in Russia & the other half in Florence, & supply population alternately to the one country & then to the other. Of course it is a family that speaks languages. This occurs at their table—I know it by experience. It is
SLC used mourning border for most letters from Susy’s death on, then from Livy’s death on.