William N. Hill, M.D., in Baltimore, “an allaround mugwump” who had “no idea of running for office,” wrote a rather strange letter of his political views to Sam. On the other side of his letter was a typed note on Twentieth Century Club letterhead, soliciting views to be sent to Hill, on a proposed “amendment to the State Constitution curtailing the suffrage and commonly known as the Poe Amendment” [MTP]. Note: see also Wm. Hill in London.
Miss Barbara Mullen wrote from Hannibal, Mo. to Sam. “Perhaps you have not forgotten the little woman who teaches in the High School at Hannibal, and who is such an enthusiastic admirer of your works.” Mullen sent him “lines” of tribute in view of his approaching 70th [MTP].
Mary Boyle O’Reilly wrote on The Guild of St. Elizabeth letterhead, Boston, to thank Sam for his “generous gift to the Guild Fair” [MTP].
H. R. (not further identified), “traveling through the US” wrote Sam from Chicago. He was “seeking correspondents and establishing literary connections” for the new London newspaper, a “penny Liberal Morning paper,” and wanted to see Clemens [MTP].
Rev. M.J. Riordan, Rector Saint Charles’ Catholic Church wrote from Pikesville, Md. to Sam, enclosing an Oct. 30, 1905 clipping from the Baltimore Evening News, with his sermon. “Your new party idea is a good one. Thousands of our best citizens approve it, Talk it up and call a convention. Meantime preach independent voting” [MTP].
November 13 Monday – At 21 Fifth Ave., N.Y. Sam replied to the Nov. 11 from Jeannette L. Gilder.
Dear Miss Gilder.
Two months ago I would gladly have undertaken to persuade the Harpers in this matter, but I am aware that it would not be worth while to repeat the effort which I made at that time (unsuccessfully) in the interest of a very particular friend of mine who wanted me represented in his anthology. The Harper consent has been necessary since the signing of the contract in October two years ago; and as far as my knowledge goes has been refused in all cases. It is true that I am in many anthologies, but it is only fair to say that these instances antedate that contract and did not require their consent.
I am very sorry I cannot help you, dear Miss Gilder, but I exhausted my influence two months ago, as I have just remarked, without success …[MTP].
Sam also wrote to William Ten Eyck Hardenbrook, letter not extant but referred to in Hardenbrook’s Nov. 16 note [MTP].
Isabel Lyon’s journal # 2: “Mr. Wm. O. Ingles / will call at 10—from Sunday World Magazine. / Mr. Clemens will lunch with Mr. Robert Collier 20 Gramscy Park at one o’clock” [MTP TS 34].
John W. Cann wrote from NYC to Sam with some remedy for dyspepsia (indigestion) [MTP]. Note: just after Nov. 13 Sam gave Lyon instructions: “Thank him very heartily. Keep the remedy in mind for other people, doesn’t need it just now—actually cured his dyspepsia he thinks.”
Robert Fulton Cutting for Citizens Union of the City of New York sent Sam a political letter supporting William Travers Jerome’s victory and continued fight against the system of bossism [MTP].
Charles J. Langdon wrote to Sam, enclosing check on Knickerbocker Trust Co. for $137.50 for payment of coupons on the Duval Co. Fla. Bonds due Nov. 1. He hoped to be in NY soon and felt Sam was gratified by the election results [MTP].
A. MacHugh and Y. MacLoghlan, “two Irish mugs” wrote from London, England to show appreciative sentiments to Sam for his writings. They also questioned his contrary voice on the peace of the Russo-Japanese War [MTP]. Note: Clemens wrote at top: “The two Irishmen / answered Dec. 13, 1905.” This letter would have arrived in late November. No outgoing from Clemens is catalogued for Dec. 13, but this is likely that presently catalogued as sometime during November. The envelope note thus puts the November date to Dec. 13. See entry.
November 14 Tuesday – At 21 Fifth Ave., N.Y. Sam wrote to Samuel H. Row, of Lansing, Michigan, who evidently recalled Sam’s “Roughing It” lecture (incoming not extant) in Lansing, Dec. 20, 1871, “when you were young and handsome I had the pleasure of introducing you to a Lansing audience” [Scharnhorst 527]. Evidently Row asked about Sarony’s ubiquitous photograph of Mark Twain (he sat for at least two portraits, in Nov. 1884 and ca.1894). Note: Sam did not lecture in Lansing on that date, but was in Sandwich, Illinois. His last Lansing lecture was on Dec. 14, 1871. Sam’s reply:
That alleged portrait has a private history. Sarony was as much of an enthusiast about wild animals as he was about photography; and when Du Chailles brought the first gorilla to this country in 1819 he came to me in a fever of excitement and asked me if my father was of record and authentic. I said he was; then Sarony, without any abatement of his excitement asked me if my grandfather also was of record and authentic. I said he was. Then Sarony, with still rising excitement and with joy added to it, said he had found my great grandfather in the person of the gorilla and had recognized him at once by his resemblance to me. I was deeply hurt but did not reveal this, because I knew Sarony meant no offense for the gorilla had not done him any harm, and he was not a man who would say an unkind thing about a gorilla wantonly. I went with him to inspect the ancestor, and examined him from several points of view, without being able to detect anything more than a passing resemblance. “Wait,” said Sarony with strong confidence, “let me show you.” He borrowed my overcoat and put it on the gorilla. The result was surprising. I saw that the gorilla while not looking distinctly like me was exactly what my great grandfather would have looked like if I had had one. Sarony photographed the creature in that overcoat, and spread the picture about the world. It has remained spread about the world ever since. It turns up every week in some newspaper some where or other.It is not my favorite, but to my exasperation it is everybody else’s. Do you think you could get it suppressed for me? I will pay the limit. / Sincerely….[MTP]. Note: this letter was included in the syndicated interview for 62 Western newspapers on Sam’s 70th birthday: see Scharnhorst p. 525-8 for the rest, chosen from the Seattle Star, p.8. The interview took place on Nov. 16 [Nov. 16 to Frohman].
Isabel Lyon’s journal: “Jean, 9:30” [MTP TS 109; Hill 116].
Gertrude M. Adams wrote from Swarthmore College, Swarthmore Pa. to thank Sam “very very much” for all he had done—a fan letter [MTP].
Ralph W. Ashcroft wrote on Koy-Lo Co. letterhead to inform Sam that N.W. Halsey, Bankers, would send to him for the $40,000 check.
They told me that these call loans are usually repaid the day after they are made, so they have to keep on replacing the money. They charge a nominal commission for doing this—I didn’t inquire how much. If the money is idle for a few days, they should allow you 2% or 3% interest on it, but I didn’t inquire about that either [MTP].
N.W. Halsey & Co. Bankers wrote to Sam, having rec’d his check for $40,000. “We placed it at 6% on call, and will renew it in the morning at the opening rate” [MTP].
Frederick S. Bigelow wrote from Phila. to ask Sam to contribute “a few sentences” for a maxim book he was compiling for the Henry Altemus Co., a large publishing house in Phila. [MTP].
November 15 Wednesday – In N.Y.C. Isabel V. Lyon wrote for Sam to John Larkin to complain about the new steam heating system installed in the house. The five men who had investigated the problem had not solved it; the main problem being a “constant singing” in the front bedroom radiators, even when cold, which forced his daughters to put beds in their sitting rooms. He requested the matter be brought before the contractor, James A. Renwick, as soon as possible [MTP].
In the evening Sam (and likely his daughters) attended Daniel Frohman’s dramatization of James M. Barrie’s Peter Pan at the Empire Theatre, starring Maude Adams (1872-1953). Sam praised the play in his note to Nov. 16 to Frohman, and also at the end of the Nov. 16 interview with the newspaper syndicate, making this evaluation:
I saw a play last night [Nov. 15] in which you will find this seeming paradox. In that play all the implacable rules of the drama are violated, yet the result is a play which is without defect. I refer to Peter Pan. It is a fairy play. There isn’t a thing in it which could ever happen in real life. That is as it should be. It is consistently beautiful, sweet, clean, fascinating, satisfying, charming, and impossible from beginning to end. It breaks all the rules of real life drama, but preserves intact all the rules of fairyland, and the result is altogether contenting to the spirit.
The longing of my heart is a fairy portrait of myself: I want to be pretty; I want to eliminate facts and fill up the gaps with charms [Scharnhorst 528].
Note: along with Ethel Barrymore (1879-1959) and Billie Burke (1884-1970), Adams was one of several young actresses that sparked Sam’s interest, and with whom he became friends.
Sam inscribed his photo to an unidentified person: “Very Truly Yours, / Mark Twain / Nov. 15/05” [MTP: R&R Enterprises, 18 June 2003, no. 274, lot 607].
Isabel Lyon’s journal: “Jean and I went up to hear Mr. Thayer demonstrate his protective coloration theory” [MTP TS 110]. Isabel Lyon’s Journal # 2: “Mr. Doubleday” [MTP TS 34].
N.W. Halsey & Co. Bankers wrote to Sam, enclosing a “check for $6.67 for one day’s interest at 6% on his $40,000, loaned for your account yesterday. We called this loan this morning and put it out at 10%. We shall remit you for the interest each time the loan is paid” [MTP].
C.M. Lincoln for the N.Y. Herald wrote to thank Sam for giving his views to Mr. Pratt “concerning the result of the municipal election” [MTP].
Alice Whittemore Upton Pearmain wrote to thank Sam for “his kind letter of Nov. 7th,” and for a hat pin that arrived from NY “with word that you had requested to have me try it.” She was grateful for his offer to spend a night at his house in NY, but was afraid it would be some time before she might go. She thanked him for the “beautiful photographs” of him that came all framed the prior week, and asked him to keep her informed about Miss Lawton [MTP].
November 16 Thursday – At 21 Fifth Ave., N.Y. Sam wrote to Chauncey M. Depew.
Having had some experience with the methods of the Oppenheimer Institute, through the case of a dependent whom I sent to take the cure, I am interested in knowing what results others have found in the Oppenheimer treatment. As your name is given as one of the advisory directors of the Institute I infer that you have personal knowledge of beneficial results to patients. Will you kindly inform me of any cases within your own knowledge, and oblige [MTP].
Sam was interviewed by Marlen E. Pew for a newspaper syndicate of 62 Western newspapers, accompanied by an artist, named only as “Fireman,” a friend of Pew’s, who was to sketch Twain while the interview proceeded. Sam suggested they try an experiment of him interviewing himself while they took down his words verbatim. He also submitted the Nov. 14 letter to Samuel H. Row for use in the interview [Scharnhorst 525-8; Nov. 16 to Frohman].
Later, he also wrote to Daniel Frohman of the interview and other things.
Thank you very much for the appointment—I shall instruct Miss Lawton to arrive there on time.
I have already attended to Peter Pan. I have been interviewed this morning for a syndicate of 62 Western papers, & for the first time in my life I tried the experiment of dictating, so that the language might be my own & not the interviewer’s. I closed the interview with the most outspoken praises of the play, & said among other strong expression, that it hadn’t a defect. With lots of thanks to you for the privilege of seeing it I am sincerely yours
This is the newspaper Syndicate that I referred to. The interview is to be published on the 30th of this month which will be my 70th birthday [MTP].
Isabel Lyon’s journal # 2: “Mr. Pew 10— / Marlin [sic] E. Pew / 310 Park Row Building” [MTP TS 34]. Note: Marlen E. Pew would be Editor of the Philadelphia News-Post (1912-1914) and in charge of War News during WWI.
William Ten Eyck Hardenbrook wrote from N.Y.C. to Sam, thanking him for his letter of Nov. 13 (not extant) and a photograph of Sam he’d obtained from Joseph G. Gessford. Hardenbrook asked for Sam’s biography in 500 words—would Sam write it? [MTP]. Note: On or after this day Isabel V. Lyon replied for Sam: “Mr. Clemens never furnished one to anyone. Cyclo.”
C.F. Bertholf, a newsdealer and stationer in Los Banos, Calif. wrote to Sam. Bertholf was unable to find two sketches, “White Elephant,” and “a story of a bad boy and a good boy” [MTP]. Note: The MTP catalogs Sam’s reply as “on or after 16 November.” Six days estimated postal time is allowed here, making an estimate of ca. Nov. 22.
Myrtle Reed wrote to Sam that she’d been invited to his birthday party but couldn’t come. She added she thought the whole thing was fake and that he wasn’t a day over 20 [MTP].
November 16 ca. – At 21 Fifth Ave., N.Y. Sam responded to Nellie Covert’s Nov. 11 query of whether or not he had known a “well-known” Captain Henry Switzer while a pilot on the Mississippi: “I knew of him. It would not have been etiquette for a captain to know me, for I was only an apprentice-pilot” [MTP].
November 17 Friday – At 21 Fifth Ave., N.Y. Sam responded to Barbara Mullen’s Nov. 12 note from Hannibal, Mo. “I have not had, in all my life before, so many generous letters & so many generous poems as this past fortnight has brought me; my thanks go out to all these friends, but I wish to thank you particularly” [MTP]. Note: postmarks show Sam’s letter arrived in Hannibal on Nov. 19, only two days. Delivery to Mullen’s home likely took another day.
Isabel V. Lyon wrote for Sam to Frederick A. Duneka:
“Mr. Clemens directs me to write for him and say that he has been so troubled by having people write to him for sketches & articles, that he submits the enclosed notice to you and would like to have you print a hundred for him as soon as you can, and send them to him / Yours very Truly…”
Herman Black advertising mgr. for the Milwaukee Journal wrote to Sam, seeking “sentiments” from famous people, Clemens included, for their New Year calendar [MTP].
Herbert E. Bowen of Harper’s wrote to Sam, acknowledging the wish to include Jerome K. Jerome in the birthday party; the invitation had already been sent to Jerome [MTP].
N.W. Halsey & Co. Bankers wrote to advise Sam they had delivered a check to the order of the Knickerbocker Trust Co. in care of Ashcroft for $40,019.44 [MTP].
Marguerite Merington, Elizabeth Ward, and Eliza D. White wrote to George B. Harvey; the latter two were unable to attend Twain’s 70th birthday party; the first lady accepted [MTP]. Note: from about this day and for several weeks Harvey received many such responses to invitations.
November 18 Saturday – Isabel Lyon’s journal # 2: “Mr. Halsey—S. Phi.” [MTP TS 34].
Ralph W. Ashcroft wrote on Koy-Lo Co. letterhead to Sam that he’d responded to Stanchfield’s Nov. 17. Ashcroft asked Stanchfield if he wanted to sell more Spiral Pin Co. shares [MTP].
Robert Collyer wrote from NYC to Sam, saying he’d asked the “managers to drop my name from the list of advisory directors some months ago and this was done.” If he’d been put back on he hadn’t known about it, but saw “they were printing vulgar and base advertisement” He added, “I really believe they are doing some good but think the whole thing is on the get rich quick basis and suspect / there are jews ‘pushing behind’.” He wanted the letter kept confidential [MTP]. Note: Clemens wrote at the top: “This is private / Preserve it.”
November 19 Sunday – Isabel Lyon’s journal # 2: “Times Reporter. 10—” [MTP TS 34].
Marjorie V.d.W. Brooke wrote to Sam, evidently enclosing a photo of her grandfather, who many said looked like Mark Twain—didn’t Sam think him a handsome man? [MTP].
Asa Don Dickinson wrote to Sam.
I happened to be present the other day at a meeting of the children’s librarians of the Brooklyn Public Library. In the course of the meeting it was stated that copies of “Tom Sawyer” and “Huckleberry Finn” were to be found in some of the children’s rooms of the system. The Sup’t of the Children’s Dep’t—a conscientious and enthusiastic young woman—was greatly shocked to hear this, and at once ordered that they be transferred to the adults’ department. Upon this I shamefacedly confessed to having read “Huckleberry Finn” aloud to my defenseless blind people, without regard to their age, color, or previous condition of servitude. I also reminded them of Brander Matthews’s opinion of the book, and stated the fact that I knew it almost at heart, having got more pleasure from it than from any book I have ever read, and reading is the greatest pleasure I have in my life. My warm defense elicited some further discussion and criticism, from which I gathered what the prevailing opinion of Huck was and that he was a deceitful boy who said “sweat” when he should have said “perspiration.” The upshot of this matter was that there is to be further consideration of these books at a meeting early in January which I am especially invited to attend. Seeing you the other night at the performance of “Peter Pan” the thought came to me that you (you knows Huck as well as I—you can’t know him better or love him more—) might be willing to give me a word or two to say in witness of his good character though he “warn’t no more quality than a mud cat.”
I would ask as a favor that you regard this communication as confidential, whether you find time to reply to it or not; for I am loath for obvious reasons to bring the institution from which I draw my salary into ridicule, contempt or reproach [MTP]. Note: see Nov. 21 for Sam’s reply.
James Ford Rhodes wrote from 392 Beacon St., Boston, to Sam, remembering “our pleasant talk at the Academy ten days ago…” and asking if he might get a copy of a letter Sam wrote during the Hayes-Tilden campaign of 1876 favoring Hayes; the Hartford Courant had been unable to find it [MTP]. Note: Sam replied on Nov. 21.
Alice Von Versen (née Clemens) wrote from Germany to Sam, sending birthday regards [MTP].
November 20 Monday – At 21 Fifth Ave., N.Y. Sam replied to J.H. Todd of San Francisco, who wrote on Nov. 6. Sam’s letter designated as “not sent”:
Your letter is an insoluble puzzle to me. The handwriting is good & exhibits considerable character, & there are even traces of intelligence in what you say, yet the letter & the accompanying advertisements profess to be the work of the same hand. The person who wrote the advertisements is without doubt the most ignorant person now alive on the planet; also without doubt he is an idiot, an idiot of the 33rd degree, & scion of an ancestral procession of idiots stretching back to the Missing Link. It puzzles me to make out how the same hand could have constructed your letter & your advertisements. Puzzles fret me, puzzles annoy me, puzzles exasperate me; & always, for a moment, they arouse in me an unkind state of mind toward the person who has puzzled me. A few moments from now my resentment will have faded & passed, & I shall probably even be praying for you; but while there is yet time I hasten to wish that you may take a dose of your own poison by mistake, & enter swiftly into the damnation which you & all other patent medicine assassins have so remorselessly earned & do so richly deserve. / Adieu, adieu, adieu! / Mark Twain [MTP]. Note: see Sam’s Boston speech of Nov. 4, and also Todd’s letter of Nov. 6.
Isabel Lyon’s journal: “Jean, 9:30 — 3 times” [MTP TS 110; Hill 116]. Isabel Lyon’s Journal # 2: “Phonograph Record. 2” [MTP TS 34].
Ralph W. Ashcroft wrote two letters to Sam, more about the Plasmon and Spiral Pin goings on [MTP].
Walter Barton wrote from Chattanooga, Tenn. to wish Sam a happy birthday—and oh, yes, to ask for an autograph [MTP].
S.H. Friedlander wrote from Portland, Ore. to ask if Sam would consider delivering “ten or twenty lectures on the Coast” [MTP].
Wilhelm Lang for the English Club (Nuremberg) wrote birthday wishes to Sam [MTP].
November 21 Tuesday – At 21 Fifth Ave., N.Y. Sam replied to Asa Don Dickinson, who wrote Nov. 19.
Dear Sir / I am greatly troubled by what you say. I wrote Tom Sawyer & Huck Finn for adults exclusively, & it always distresses me when I find that boys & girls have been allowed access to them. The mind that becomes soiled in youth can never again be washed clean; I know this by my own experience, & to this day I cherish an unappeasable bitterness against the unfaithful guardians of my young life, who not only permitted but compelled me to read an unexpurgated Bible through before I was 15 years old. None can do that & ever draw a clean sweet breath again this side of the grave. Ask that young lady—she will tell you so.
Most honestly do I wish I could say a softening word or two in defence of Huck’s character, since you wish it, but really in my opinion it is no better than God’s (in the Ahab chapter & 97 others,) & those of Solomon, David, Satan, & the rest of the sacred brotherhood.
If there is an Unexpurgated in the Children’s Department, won’t you please help that young woman remove Huck & Tom from that questionable companionship? [MTP: Wilson Bulletin for Librarians, Nov. 1935]. Note: after his signature : “I shall not show your letter to any one—it is safe with me.”
Sam also replied per Lyon to Herbert Putnam (1861-1955), eighth Librarian of Congress (1899-1939) (incoming not extant).
I shall be very glad indeed to partake of that luncheon and its spiritual seasoning.
I go to Washington Friday and shall reach the New Willard in the evening. I have asked Colonel Harvey of the N. A. Review to go with me and be my guest on this outing, and he has accepted. I did this because he is good company and is not expensive because he always pays all the bills himself. Harvey is arranging various engagements, and I will ask him to see that this one shall get a date [MTP].
Sam also replied to the Nov. 19 from James Ford Rhodes:
I have no recollection of that letter. It must have been a private letter, since, if it had been a public one it would not have been sent otherwhither (fresh word—you can use it if you want to but only week days) than in the two papers which you have mentioned, the Tribune & the Courant; if it was a private letter, there was only one person for it to go to—Howells. Howells is till at Kittery Point, but is expected here about this time. I am leaving for Washington for a week but when I get back I will ask him about this.
I was most glad to meet you, and I hope it will happen again & often. You seem to live next to my friends the Pearmains’ therefore you are very fortunately situated in this world. / Sincerely …[MTP: Cushman file].
Isabel Lyon’s journal # 2: “3.30 Mr. Thomas of the Times” [MTP TS 35].
Lucia Cabaniss, Mary F. Long, and Edith A. MacDougal wrote from Chihuahua, Mexico to send birthday wishes Sam, including a long discussion of his many books [MTP].
Ella McMahon and Miss McMahon wrote on their calling card (“The Misses McMahon”) “Many happy returns” to Sam [MTP].
Charles E. Potts wrote from Troy, N.Y. on a long, narrow paper birthday wishes and a poem to Sam [MTP].
November 22 Wednesday – Isabel Lyon’s journal # 2: “Ray. 3.15” [MTP TS 32].
George Dewey wrote to Sam, advising receipt of “your recent letter, I have to state that I resigned several months ago from the Advisory Directorate of the Oppenheimer Institute, but that while I was a director I had no personal knowledge of the workings of the cure” [MTP].
Max Lowenthal wrote a postcard from Vienna, Austria to send birthday wishes [MTP].
22 ca. – At 21 Fifth Ave., N.Y. Sam responded to C.F.
Bertholf’s Nov. 16
Stories he refers to is in one of the volumes of sketches published by the Harpers” [MTP]. Note: The MTP catalogs this as “on or after 16 November.” Six days estimated postal time is allowed here.
November 23 Thursday – Isabel Lyon’s journal # 2: “Miss Lawton to interview Mr. Charles Frohman at 10:30. / Mr. Clemens will go with Mr. Thuthong / Mr. Clemens will dine with Dr. Quintard, perhaps” [MTP TS 35].
Thomas S. Barbour for Congo Reform Assoc., Boston wrote to Sam on their new letterhead, which listed Samuel L. Clemens as a vice president. Barbour sought Sam’s approval to leave a footnote in place in the “King Leopold” pamphlet. He hoped Sam had had a good talk with Dr. Haley during Sam’s Boston stay; Barbour was sorry he could not see Sam then [MTP].
Note: On or after this day Sam instructed Lyon: “Put it right in as it is—doesn’t care.” As with the Anti-Imperialist League, the group used Sam’s name to gather support; he did little or no work for the group, other than his writing. Hawkins gives G. Stanley Hall, psychologist and president of Clark University as president; other vice presidents Lyman Abbott, Congregational minister and author; David Starr Jordan, president of Stanford University; Henry Van Dyke, Presbyterian minister and professor of English at Princeton; and Booker T. Washington, founder of Tuskegee Institute .
Asa Don Dickinson wrote from Sheepshead Bay Branch, Brooklyn Library to Sam.
“Your letter rec’d. I am surprised to hear that you think Huck & Tom would have an unwholesome effect on boys and girls. But relieved to hear that you would not place them in the same category with many of the scriptural reprobates” [MTP].
November 24 Friday – At 21 Fifth Ave., N.Y., Sam spoke into a graphophone, dictating a letter that Isabel Lyon later wrote to Dr. Osgood:
Dear Dr. Osgood:
Your letter gives me very great pleasure. I believe there is no greater pleasure than that which one gets out of a compliment heartily expressed. Your warm words have gone to my heart and I am grateful for them.
Yes, I have been in your house, and shall expect to be in it again next year and often. I paid a long visit to those dear and delightful Pearmains in Boston and I am sure I could not have felt more entirely at home if I had been under my own roof. Moreover I got my health restored there. For many months I had been fighting a losing fight with dyspepsia—at least I supposed it was dyspepsia—and Mrs. Pearmain cured me by a very simple and rational process. I had given up eating almost altogether, because everything I ate seemed to disagree with me; but she required me to begin eating again; not only eating, but eating very frequently and not much at a time; and she required me to keep up this system in the night as well as in the day. I made the experiment and I am still carrying on the process according to her directions, and I have no further trouble about dyspepsia.
I can eat all sorts of sweet things; I can eat gum, shoes, nails, anything. I can digest anything that goes into my stomach, without any trouble, therefore I am under a debt of gratitude to Mrs. Pearmain which I suppose I shall never be able to pay.
Hoping to see you in Dublin next summer,
I am, dear Doctor,
yours very Sincerely,
S L Clemens.
P.S. This is my first experiment in dictating a letter to a graphophone, and I am thoroughly delighted with it. I shall never use the slow & tedious pen again [Robert Slotta sale on eBay, item 1804024039 Aug. 31, 2009]. Note: regrettably all recordings of Sam’s voice have been lost.
Isabel Lyon’s journal: “Mr. Clemens left for Washington this morning. He went off with Col. Harvey, on copyright” [MTP TS 110].
Sam and his publisher, Col. George B. Harvey, went to Washington, D.C. and took rooms in the New Willard Hotel. In September, he had agreed to be an officer in the American Congo Reform Association, that published his King Leopold’s Soliloquy at the end of September. This trip was a four-day lobbying trip in the Association’s behalf, culminating by a luncheon with President Theodore Roosevelt. Sam would return to New York on Nov. 27. See Nov. 28 apology to Mrs. Roosevelt for unloading the “burden” on the President.
Sam inscribed a copy of TS with his “June-bug” aphorism to Everett J. Brett [Nov. 21 to Putnam; MTP].
Richard R. Bowker (1848-1933), journalist, editor, and founder of R.R. Bowker & Co., wrote birthday wishes to Sam, liking the idea of the President inviting a general thanksgiving on that day [MTP].
A.R. Cross wrote to Sam, asking if he remembered meeting him at Laurence Hutton’s Princeton house, and asking him to dine with them on Wednesday, Dec. 20 at 8 p.m. to meet Miss May Sinclair (1862-1946) author of The Divine Fire (1904), who hoped to meet him [MTP]. Note: see Gribben p. 644.
James F. Mallinckrodt wrote from St. Louis to Sam, signing the letter “John Think.” He liked the Diary of Eve, saying “that is just the way Lady Eve probably talked and wrote,” and added “I first knew you about 35 years ago, floating Galaxies every month. Now you are floating –or it, she, or he is floating you—the great Harper’s Christmas Magazine” [MTP].
Michael Monahan wrote birthday wishes to Sam [MTP].
C. Brereton Sharpe for the Plasmon Syndicate wrote to Sam.
“We are in receipt of your cablegram [not extant] reading as follows: ‘Power ofAttorney too limited Meeting will not be held General Power of Attorney required to negotiate settlement with Hammond’ / In accordance therewith we now enclose a fresh Power of Attorney which was executed at a Special Board Meeting of the Company held yesterday.” They hoped an agreement might be reached with Hammond for the reorganization of the American Plasmon Co. [MTP].
November 24 ca. – At 21 Fifth Ave., N.Y. Isabel V. Lyon replied for Sam to Thomas S. Barbour [MTP]. Note: The MTP catalogs Sam’s reply as “on or after 23 November.” One additional day estimated postal time is allowed here.
November 25 Saturday – The Hartford Courant ran an interview, “Mark Twain at 70” p.16. Scharnhorst (p. 511-16 & n.1) explains it was attributed to Samuel E. Moffett but actually written by Clemens.
Louise Forsslund wrote Sam from Sayville, L.I., N.Y. to confirm a story her father told of traveling with a young man named Clemens in 1849 in Sacramento [MTP]. Note: Sam’s reply ca. Nov. 28.
The New York Times, p. BR812 ran a squib on the coming birthday celebration, “Mark Twain’s Banquet.”
Invitations to the Mark Twain banquet Mr. George Harvey is giving at Delmonico’s, Dec. 5, to celebrate the great humorist’s 70th birthday, are naturally confined to writers of imaginative literature. There will be 150 persons present, as it is, including some of Mr. Clemens’s personal friends, and a few men of distinction in other walks of life. “Imaginative literature,” as it exists to-day, will be largely and brilliantly represented.
Carl H. Fowler for the Oppenheimer Institute wrote noting Sam’s one-time interest and “enclosing a booklet just published showing results obtained at one of our free clinics in this city” [MTP].
Elizabeth Porter Gould wrote from Boston to Sam, thanking him for “your kind suspense, as to the origin of the lines” (unspecified) and wishing she’d had the “pleasure of taking you by the hand when you were in Boston” [MTP].
J. Nelson Parker for the Beacon Society wrote to Sam, most anxious for Clemens to be their guest for their Annual Meeting in Dec. [MTP]. Note: this enclosed in Pearmain to Clemens Nov. 26
November 26 Sunday – In Washington, D.C. Sam wrote to Brian Ború Dunne (1878-1962), journalist for the Washington Times: “I lack time for an interview, but if we can compromise on a Thanksgiving Sentiment, take your pencil & I will dictate it. Thus:” [MTP]. Note: Sam followed this note, crammed at the top of the page, with what is a self-interview that ran in the front page of the Nov. 27 issue of the Washington D.C. Times. Sam wrote the following on a small sheet, cut from the above paragraph.
“A few days ago one of the interviewers [Dunne] offered to let me do a Thanksgiving Sentiment. I was not able to take advantage of the opportunity, for I had already declined two chances & it would not be fair to be inconsisten & unreliable unless I could do good by it or there was graft in it somewhere, for the family.”
Note: this paragraph was the first in the Nov. 27 article in the Times. The remaining “interview,” was published in With Gissing in Italy: The Memoirs of Brian Ború Dunne, 1999, p.190-199, and may be seen at twainquotes.com. Appendix 4 in the source, “An Interview with Mark Twain?” traces the history of this piece, ignored by scholars until publication; the editors consulted Robert H. Hirst, General Editor, MTP, who confirmed the handwriting of Twain, but pointed out the rest of the “interview” was in the hand of Isabel Lyon, who was not in Washington at the time. On the back a typed description: “Part of MS. written by Mark Twain for Brian Ború Dunne, Sunday afternoon, November 26, 1905, at the New Willard Hotel, Washington, D.C.”
The New York Times, p. SM1 ran a long, illustrated feature article: “Mark Twain: A Humorist’s Confession, ” including an interview by A.E. Thomas.
MARK TWAIN: A HUMORIST’S CONFESSION
On the Eve of His 70th Birth Anniversary He
Admits He Never Did a Day’s Work in His Life.
[ three photographs of Twain by Marceau, Boston]
Whatever He Has Done, He Says, He Has Done Because It Was Play—Sage Advice to Fellow Humorists and Others—A Word in Defense of the English—As to Summer Homes.
Mark Twain will be 70 years old on Thanksgiving Day, and he has never done a day’s work in his life. He told me so himself, sitting in one of the cheerful, spacious rooms of the old-fashioned stately New York house which he will probably call his city home as long as he lives. I probably started upon hearing this unlooked-for statement from the lips of the good, gray humorist, for he repeated emphatically:
“No, Sir, not a day’s work in all my life. What I have done I have done, because it has been play. If it had been work I shouldn’t have done it.
“Who was it who said, “Blessed is the man who has found his work”? Whoever it was he had the right idea in his mind. Mark you, he says his work—not somebody else’s work. The work that is really a man’s own work is play and not work at all. Cursed is the man who has found some other man’s work and cannot lose it. When we talk about the great workers of the world we really mean the great players of the world. The fellows who groan and sweat under the weary load of toil that they bear never can hope to do anything great. How can they when their souls are in a ferment of revolt against the employment of their hands and brains? The product of slavery, intellectual or physical, can never be great.
To me who saw him standing there, straight and virile, in the clear, uncompromising light of the early Winter afternoon, it seemed that there must be years of good, hard, joyous play left yet in the Prince of American Humorists. Nor can be bring ourselves to dub him the Dean of American Humorists, either, because that has about it a certain suggestion of decrepit age, and nothing is less suggestive of the Mark Twain of today than decrepitude
Straight and spare as a New England pine, his great mane of thick white hair falling shaggily back from his brow, his thin, mobile upper lip covered with a heavy drooping mustache that is yet only shading toward grayness, his eyes always clear, now reflective and now flashing with the fire of the thoughts that leap like lightning behind them, though the words fall from the lips in that deliberate drawl which tens of thousands will never be able to forget so long as memory has ears, his face unlined and his cheeks touched with a ruddy glow, and only about he corners of his eyes the little tell-tale crow’s feet that seventy years have scratched there—nobody who saw him thus could ever possibly think of Mark Twain as old. No, there is nothing of the “last leaf” effect abut Samuel L. Clemens.
“I’m glad you came to see me today, as I’m up and about, which I shouldn’t have been if I had been doing anything of consequence. You’re surprised at that, are you?”
I admitted that I didn’t understand.
“Well,” he went on slowly, “I’ve found that whenever I’ve got some work to do- “
“You mean play, of course,” I ventured.
“Of course, of course; but we’re all slaves to the use of conventional terms and I’ll stick to them to avoid confusing you. Whenever I’ve got some work to do I go to bed. I got into that habit some time ago when I had an attack of bronchitis. Suppose your bronchitis lasts six weeks. The first two you can’t do much but attend to the barking and so on, but the last four I found I could work if I stayed in bed and when you can work you don’t mind staying in bed.
“I liked it so well that I kept it up after I got well. There are a lot of advantages about it. If you’re sitting at a desk you get excited about what you are doing, and the first thing you know the steam heat or the furnace has raised the temperature until you’ve almost got a fever, or the fire in the grate goes out and you get a chill, or if somebody comes in to attend to the fire he interrupts you and gets you off the trail of that idea you are pursuing.
“So I go to bed. I can keep an equable temperature there without trying and go on about my work without being bothered. Work in bed is a pretty good gospel—at least for a man who’s come, like me, to the time of life when his blood is easily frosted.”
This was queer talk from those virile lips. The only frost you can perceive about Mark Twain is in his hair, and that is a crisp, invigorating frost, like that of a sparkling November morning.
“Well, Mr. Clemens,” I said, “what you say about work and play may be true, but a good many people would think that the immense amount of labor you went through to pay the debts of the publishing house of C. L. Webster & Co. after that firm went to smash was entitled to be called by the name of hard work.”
“Not at all,” retorted Mr. Clemens, very seriously. “All I had to do was write a certain number of books and deliver a few hundred lectures. As for traveling about the country from one place to another for years—the nuisances of getting about and bad hotels and so on—those things are merely the incidents that every one expects to meet in life. The people who had to publish my books, the agents who had to arrange my lecture tours, the lawyers who had to draw up the contracts and other legal documents—they were the men who did the real work. My part was merely play. If it had been work I shouldn’t have done it. I was never intended for work—never could do it—can’t do it now—don’t see any use in it.”
It occurred to me to ask Mr. Clemens to tell the secret of the vital hold he has had for years upon the most intelligent people of the English-speaking world—a grip upon the public mind such as no mere humorist has ever held or ever could hold.
“Well,” he answered, “I know it is a difficult thing for a man who has acquired a reputation as a funny man to have a serious thought and put it into words and be listened to respect fully, but I thoroughly believe that any man who’s got anything worth while to say will be heard if he only says it often enough. Of course, what I have to say may not be worth saying. I can’t tell about that, but if I honestly believe I have an idea worth the attention of thinking people it’s my business to say it with all the sincerity I can muster. They’ll listen to it if it really is worth while and I say it often enough. If it isn’t worth while it doesn’t matter whether I’m heard or not.
“Suppose a man makes a name as a humorist-he may make it at a stroke, as Bret Harte did, when he wrote those verses about the “Heathen Chinee.” That may not be the expression of the real genius of the man at all. He may have a genuine message for the world. Then let him say it and say it again and then repeat it and let him soak it in sincerity. People will warn him at first that he’s getting a bit out of his line, but they’ll listen to him at last, if he’s really got a message—just as they finally listened to Bret Harte.
“Dickens had his troubles when he tried to stop jesting. The “Sketches by Boz” introduced him as a funny man, but when Boz began to take him seriously people began to shake their heads and say: “That fellow Boz isn’t as funny as he was, is he?” But Boz and his creator kept right on being in earnest, and they listened after a time, just as they always will listen to anybody worth hearing.
“I tell you, life is a serious thing, and, try as a man may, he can’t make a joke of it. People forget that no man is all humor, just as they fail to remember that every man is a humorist. We hear that marvelous voice of Sembrich—a wonderful thing—a thing never to be forgotten—but nobody makes the mistake of thinking of Sembrich as merely a great, unmixed body of song. We know that she can think and feel and suffer like the rest of us. Why should we forget that the humorist has his solemn moments? Why should we expect nothing but humor of the humorist?
“My advice to the humorist who has been a slave to his reputation is never to be discouraged. I know it is painful to make an earnest statement of a heartfelt conviction and then observe the puzzled expression of the fatuous soul who is conscientiously searching his brain to see how he can possibly have failed to get the point of the joke. But say it again and maybe he’ll understand you. No man need be a humorist all his life. As the patent medicine man says, there is hope for all.”
“You are far from being a bad man: go and reform,” thought I reminiscently of “The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg.”
“The quality of humor,” Mr. Clemens went on hurriedly—for him—“is the commonest thing in the world. I mean the perceptive quality of humor. In this sense every man in the world is a humorist. The creative quality of humor—the ability to throw a humorous cast over a set of circumstances that before had seemed colorless is, of course, a different thing. But every man in the world is a perceptive humorist. Everybody lives in a glass house. Why should anybody shy bricks at a poor humorist or advise him to stick to his trade when he tries to say a sensible thing?”
“Even the English?” I suggested.
“The English don’t deserve their reputation,” insisted Mr. Clemens. “They are as humorous a nation as any in the world. Only humor, to be comprehensible to anybody, must be built upon a foundation with which he is familiar. If he can’t see the foundation the superstructure is to him merely a freak—like the Flatiron building without any visible means of support—something that ought to be arrested.
“You couldn’t, for example, understand an English joke, yet they have their jokes—plenty of them. There’s a passage in Parkman that tells of the home life of the Indian—describes him sitting at home in his wigwam with his squaw and papooses—not the stoical, toy Indian with whom we are familiar, who wouldn’t make a jest for his life or notice one that anybody else made, but the real Indian that few white men ever saw—simply rocking with mirth at some tribal witticism that probably wouldn’t have commended itself in the least to Parkman.
“And, so you see, the quality of humor is not a personal or a national monopoly. It’s as free as salvation, and, I am afraid, far more widely distributed. But it has its value, I think. The hard and sordid things of life are too hard and too sordid and too cruel for us to know and touch them year after year without some mitigating influence, some kindly veil to draw over them, from time to time, to blur the craggy outlines, and make the thorns less sharp and the cruelties less malignant.”
Mr. Clemens doesn’t mind being seventy years old, but he isn’t especially gay about it.
“When our anniversaries roll up too high a total,” he said, “we don’t feel in a particularly celebratory mood. We often celebrate the wrong anniversaries and lament the ones we ought to celebrate.”
This particular anniversary finds him domiciled within sight of the Washington Arch in one of those dignified old mansions of lower Fifth Avenue that have set their kindly, patrician old faces sternly against the marauding march of skyscrapers and business loft and hotel. Everybody knows that Hartford was for many years his home, though in the Summer intervals various mountain or seaside cottages got in some of their dread work, while so recently as a Summer or two ago an Italian villa added strange new items to the sum total of his domiciliary experiences.
His latest solution to the Summer question is Dublin, New Hampshire. There he was last Summer, and there he hopes to be again. His own account of how he reached so satisfactory a solution is entertaining, and may be instructive.
“Yes,” he said, “I have tried a number of summer homes, here and in Europe together.
“Each of these homes had charms of its own; charms and delights of its own, and some of them—even in Europe—had comforts. Several of them had conveniences, too. They all had a “view.”
“It is my conviction that there should always be some water in a view—a lake or a river, but not the ocean, if you are down on its level. I think that when you are down on its level it seldom inflames you with an ecstasy which you could not get out of a sand flat. It is like being on board ship over again; indeed it is worse than that, for there’s three months of it. On board ship one tires of the aspects in a couple of days and quits looking. The same vast circle of heaving humps is spread around you all the time, with you in the center of it and never gaining an inch on the horizon, as far as you can see one; for variety, a flight of flying fish, a flock of porpoises throwing summersaults afternoons, a remote whale spouting Sundays, occasional phosphorescent effects nights, every other day a streak of black smoke trailing along under the horizon; on the single red-letter day, the illustrious iceberg. I have seen that iceberg thirty four times in thirty-seven voyages; it is always that same shape, it is always the same size, it always throws up the same old flash when the sun strikes it; you may set it on any New York doorstep of a June morning and light it up with a mirror flash and I will engage to recognize it. It is artificial, and is provided and anchored out by the steamer companies. I used to like the sea, but I was young then, and could easily get excited over any kind of monotony, and keep it up till the monotonies ran out.
“Last January, when we were beginning to inquire about a home for this summer, I remembered that Abbott Thayer had said, three years before, that the New Hampshire highlands was a good place. He was right—it is a good place. Any place that is good for an artist in paint is good for an artist in morals and ink. Brush is here, too; so is Col. T. W. Higginson; so is Raphael Pumpelly; so is Mr. Secretary Hitchcock; so is Henderson; so is Learned so is Sumner; so is Franklin MacVeaghso is Joseph L. Smith; so is Henry Copley Greene, when I am not occupying his house, which I am doing this season. Paint, literature, science, statesmanship, history, professorship, law, morals—these are all represented here, yet crime is substantially unknown.
“The summer homes of these refugees are sprinkled, a mile apart, among the forest-clad hills, with access to each other by firm and smooth country roads which are so embowered in dense foliage that it is always twilight in there and comfortable. The forests are spider-webbed with these good roads, they go everywhere; but for the help of the guideboards the stranger would not arrive anywhere.
“The village—Dublin—is bunched together in its own place, but a good telephone service makes its markets handy to all those outliars. If you spell it right it’s witty. The village executes orders on the Boston plan-promptness and courtesy.
“The summer homes are high perched, as a rule, and have contenting outlooks. The house we occupy has one. Monadnock, a soaring double hump, rises into the sky at its left elbow—that is to say, it is close at hand. From the base of the long slant of the mountain, the valley spreads away to the circling frame of hills, and beyond the frame the billowy sweep of remote great ranges rise to view and flow, fold upon fold, wave upon wave, soft and blue and unworldly, to the horizon fifty miles away. In these October days Monadnock and the valley and its framing hills make an inspiring picture to look at, for they are sumptuously splashed and mottled and betorched from sky line to sky line with the richest dyes the autumn can furnish; and when they lie flaming in the full drench of the mid-afternoon sun, the sight affects the spectator physically, it stirs his blood like military music.
“These summer houses are commodious, well built, and well furnished—facts which sufficiently indicate that the owners built them to live in themselves. They have furnaces and wood fireplaces, and the rest of the comforts and conveniences of a city home, and can be comfortably occupied all the year round.
“We cannot have this house next season, but I have secured Mrs. Upton’s house, which is over in the law and science quarter, two or three miles from here, and about the same distance from the art, literary, and scholastic groups. The science and law quarter has needed improving this good while.
“The nearest railway station is distant something like an hour’s drive; it is three hours from there to Boston, over a branch line. You can go to New York in six hours per branch line if you change every time you think of it, but it is better to go to Boston and stop over and take the trunk line next day; then you do not get lost.
“It is claimed that the atmosphere of the New Hampshire highlands is exceptionally bracing and stimulating, and a fine aid to hard and continuous work. It is a just claim, I think. I came in May, and wrought thirty-five successive days without a break. It is possible that I could not have done it elsewhere. I do not know; I have not had any disposition to try it before. I think I got the disposition out of the atmosphere this time. I feel quite sure, in fact, that that is where it came from.
“I am ashamed to confess what an intolerable pile of manuscript I ground out in the thirty-five days; therefore I will keep the number of words to myself. I wrote the first half of a long tale—“The Adventures of a Microbe”—and put it away for a finish next summer, and started another long tale—“The Mysterious Stranger”; I wrote the first half of it and put it with the other for a finish next summer. I stopped then. I was not tired, but I had no books on hand that needed finishing this year except one that was seven years old. After a little I took that one up and finished it. Not for publication, but to have it ready for revision next summer.
“Since I stopped work I have had a two months’ holiday. The summer has been my working time for thirty-five years, to have a holiday in it (in America) is new to me. I have not broken it, except to write “Eve’s Diary” and “A Horse’s Tale”—short things occupying the mill twelve days.
“This year our summer was six months long and ended with November and the flight home to New York, but next year we hope and expect to stretch it another month and end it the first of December.”
A. E. Thomas
Isabel Lyon’s Journal: “Jean, 3 P.M. 8 P.M. Katie / Then am I / A happy fly. / If I live / Or if I die” MTP 110; Hill 116]. Note: Trombley identifies this latter verse as William Blake’s poem, and waxes eloquent in her interpretation of it’s inclusion in Miss Lyon’s diary:
In her cryptic fashion, Isabel’s quoting “The Fly” deftly defines the temporality of her and Jean’s peculiar existences; they were both caught in a place on the margins of life as they dreamed of living it. Both women were frustrated in their attempts to create futures for themselves and both were subjected to circumstances they were powerless to control.: Isabel was ensnared in a trap created by circumstance and dependent upon an elderly man’s whims, and Jean was mired in a downwardly spiraling illness [MTOW 82-3].
Note: Hill sees quite a lot in the underline of “Katie”: “very probably referred to the first of Jean’s homicidal attacks on the housekeeper” [Ibid.]. Trombley argues that Jean attacked Katy because her epilepsy put her in a “postictal psychotic state” and offers up modern neurologists’ opinions [MT Other Woman 81-2]. Lystra, on the other hand, sought medical opinions and poured over the same documents as other biographers, and doubts the attacks occurred: “Scientific opinion is firm: there is absolutely no physiological connection between epilepsy and violence directed against another person.” Lystra puts the story to the superstition of the 19th century which died hard in the 20th, and to Lyon’s manipulation of Jean and the family’s affairs [x-xv]. Shelden argues that Lyon convinced herself that Jean was subject to violent and even homicidal outbursts: “…with the exception of Lyon’s words, there is no evidence that [Dr. Frederick] Peterson accepted that Jean’s disease made her dangerous to others. At Katonah, his favorite therapy for Jean involved intense work in the crafts shop….If Peterson had really shared Lyon’s prejudice, it would have been dangerous therapy indeed to leave Jean in possession of sharp carving tools and mallets for hours at a time” . It wasn’t until Feb. 5, 1906 that Sam took Jean to See Dr. Peterson. Nevertheless, it seems likely that grand mal seizures, especially coming in clusters, would have frightened a sensitive and melodramatic woman like Isabel Lyon. If her fears were real, homicidal acts by Jean may not have been. Did Lyon’s conclusion that Jean was insane and her fears of Jean’s possible violence motivate her actions or did she have ulterior motives and simply use such fears to further her own agenda? Notes of Samuel Charles and Doris Webster made from interviews with Lyon in the 1940s may be suspect by the passage of several decades. On Lyon’s Journal page 110 ½ (to be inserted in page 110, referring to “Jean, 3 p.m. 8 p.m. Katie”) Webster wrote: “This seems to refer to an attack on the maid, Katie Leary that Miss Lyon told me about. Jean was getting dangerous, and the doctor told Miss Lyon never to let Jean get between her and the door, and never to close the door. S.C.W.” Why would the entry “seem” to refer to an attack on Katie is not clear. Did Webster doubt the long-after memory of Isabel Lyon, who was likely embittered by the treatment she received in 1909? Webster himself later wrote Mark Twain Businessman, in an attempt to ameliorate his late father’s reputation in the face of Clemens’ accusations over the failure of Charles L. Webster & Co. One might conclude that neither Lyon or Webster were impartial here. It would also seem that one might choose sides on these and other issues involving the melodramatic and hypersensitive Isabel Lyon. All of this begs the question as to why there isn’t a more explicit exposition of an attack against Leary—there is none by Katie herself, nor by Clemens, nor in Jean’s papers.
Digna Bieszk and Agathe Bieszk sent birthday wishes from Frieberg in Breisgau, Germany [MTP].
Isabella S. Bohan wrote congratulations and birthday wishes to Sam, and asking where she might get the “little volume, ‘Editorial Wild Oats’” [MTP].
Edmund Vance Cooke (1866-1932) wrote from Cleveland, Ohio to Sam: “Under another cover I send you a momento, with inscription,” which was a copy of his book Chronicles of the Little Tot (1905) [Gribben 158]. Note: See Nov. 30 for the book with inscription.
Gilbert Holland Montague wrote from Old Point Comfort, Va. to offer congratulations and birthday wishes [MTP].
J.F. Moreno wrote a postcard from Deming, N.M. to Sam. “Your books have longbeen one of the few pleasures in the life of a poor devil who, lacking health, wishes it to you as the greatest good conceivable” [MTP].
Sumner Bass Pearmain wrote to Sam, passing on and vouching for, the invitation from the Beacon Society of Boston that invited Sam [MTP].
November 27 Monday – Sam was in Washington, D.C. and was a guest of President Theodore Roosevelt. Later in the day he returned to New York. The New York Times reported the event on page 1.
Mark Twain the President’s Guest
WASHINGTON, Nov. 27.—Samuel L. Clemens (Mark Twain) was a guest of President and Mrs. Roosevelt at luncheon to-day. Invited to meet Mr. Clemens were Secretary Bonaparte, Attorney General Moody, and John Temple Graves. The call of Mr. Clemens upon the President was purely social.
[Note: not purely social—Sam took the opportunity to discuss the Congo situation, then wrote to Mrs. Roosevelt his thanks and apologies for unloading his “burden” on the President. See also Dec. 3 article]
Note: Charles Joseph Bonaparte (1851-1921) at this time Secretary of the Navy (1905-1906); also Attorney General (1906-1909). William H. Moody (1853-1917), Attorney General (1904-1906). John Temple Graves, (1856-1925) editor of the Atlanta Georgian, and in 1908 was the People’s candidate for Vice President.
Hawkins writes: “the president showed interest in the Congo and said he would ask Bacon to make a thorough report. Twain apparently inferred that Roosevelt would act against Leopold if he were first sure England would also act” . Robert Bacon (1860-1919) was Assistant Secretary of State under Elihu Root (1845-1937), who was named to the post after the death of John Hay.
Isabel Lyon’s journal: The mails are full of letters from people who are sending loving messages to Mr. Clemens on the approach of his 70th birthday. These letters come from the old, and from the children, from the celebrated and learned and mighty, and from the uncultured and humble—but they all bear the heartfelt message of homage and love and appreciation of the writer, and the man, and the King whose crowning has not been placed by any hands, but has grown with a steady spiritual growth out of the genius and the life of the man who sits enthroned in the hearts of the people who offer their sweet tribute. It is touching. He came home today from Washington [MTP TS 110].
Edmund D. Morel wrote to Sam about The Report of the Commission of Inquiry on the Belgian Congo: “The Report… is a curious document. I sent you a copy of my presentation of it. I trust you received it, but I fear it will have been too long to wade through” [Gribben 574].
H.W. Palmer wrote compliments of his books read for years and birthday wishes to Sam [MTP].
Hélène Elisabeth Picard wrote to Sam asking if he would look at a letter from the President and verify if it was his handwriting. She had written the President congratulating him on the peace reached in the Russo-Japanese War, but a friend claimed it wasn’t his handwriting on a resply. No mention was made of Sam’s 70th [MTP].
Samuel Pollock wrote from Willards Hotel, Wash. D.C. to offer birthday wishes Sam, asked whether he was on the Mississippi in Mar. and Apr. 1862 with the gunboat flotilla, “and if so whether for a short time you were a pilot on the ‘DeSoto’ with Capt. Montgomery” [MTP].
T.G. Sawkins wrote from NYC to Sam recalling it had been 13 years since they’d met at the Players Club in NYC. He enclosed a poem for which he was trying to find a publisher, and asked for “a candid opinion” [MTP]. Note: Miss Lyon wrote at the top in pencil: “The man who claims to have been the first one to advise Mr. Clemens to go to Australia on a lecturing tour—& now he asks a favor”
Will Larrymore Smedley wrote from Chautauqua, NY to offer birthday wishes [MTP].
Eleven year old Paul Thorne wrote from Youngstown, Ohio to Sam, having the same birthday. He and his friends had read Huck and Tom and he “played the games” from them but got licked and sent to bed. He asked if Tom and Huck and Aunt Polly were still alive. He wished Sam “lots more birthdays” [MTP].
Anne Warner wrote from Hildesheim, Germany to offer birthday wishes to Sam [MTP].
November 28 Tuesday – At 21 Fifth Ave., N.Y. where he wrote to Robert Bacon, Asst. Secretary of State, who was seeking more information about England’s willingness to act against Leopold.
For lack of time I was not able to send you those Congo documents yesterday, but I shall have them forwarded to-day. In England the matter is in the hands of John Morley & some strong peers and bishops, & I feel pretty sure that they will push it along to a point where America can drop in & take a hand without much embarrassment [MTP]. Note: see Nov. 27 (Hawkins), and Dec. 4 from Bacon.
Sam also wrote to Robert Reid.
I am just home from a trip; & I am sorry it isn’t a dinner to the brush instead of the pen; or a dinner to both brush and pen, for it is the only 70th I shall ever celebrate, & I wish the Colonel could let me have them all, for this once, with you where of right you belong, at the head of the brushes. Robert, will you think of me at your 70th, and be sorry in your turn? You must [MTP].
Sam also wrote to Edith Kermit Carow Roosevelt (1861-1948), second wife of Theodore Roosevelt, thanking her for hosting the luncheon he shared on Nov. 27 with them.
I did not half thank you for your charming hospitality, but I assure you I was sincerely grateful, nevertheless. I was troubled in my mind, all the time, because I was afraid the President did not know I had come to Washington to ask for a private word with him on a public matter—yet I had to intrude it, for I am a citizen, & the matter was on my citizen-conscience & must be unloaded, so that I might get personal relief. That is why we unload our consciences. We shift the burden. Whither? Mainly—in these days—to the President’s shoulders. Everybody does it: all the nations do it. It is not fair, it is most unfair; yet our consciences are so constructed that they will spare no one when they need relief from a burden, not even an already vastly overburdened President; particularly a President whose heart is always & promptly generous, & likely to be open to appales which are not made in a personal & sordid interest but in behalf of a matter clothed in the dignity of an honorable & national importance. It distressed me to have to add myself to his long list of burden-shifting benevolent persecutors; it touched my hardened conscience that he bore it so patiently. And certainly it is a hardened conscience, & a persistently increasing puzzle to the pathologist. It is now 5 times that I have been operated on for appendicitis, at perilous risk of my life, only to find that it was not my appendix that was inflamed, but only my conscience. We hope to get it, next time, & sequester it in a bottle.
I beg to be mentioned to Miss Roosevelt, whom I have met, & to the boys, whom I would so like to meet. To you, dear Mrs. Roosevelt, & to his Excellency I offer my homage & high regard; & him I would have thanked for remembering me in the midst of his heavy duties when the irremediable disaster of my life fell upon me, but there are things which we cannot say, for the voice breaks [MTP]. Note: the burden Sam unloaded to the President was the Congo situation. See Dec. 3 article.
Isabel Lyon’s journal: Yesterday Mr. Clemens lunched at the White House. His description of Mrs. Roosevelt would be gratifying to her, and to the President too, for Mr. Clemens found her charming, simple and without any shred of self consciousness, a lovely woman. Mr. Clemens liked the President as much as he always does—“you can’t help liking him for he is a magnetic creature, and he shows his teeth in a forceful smile, just as much as ever,” and he unconsciously says that he is “De-lighted” to see you, just as the caricaturists have it on the record [MTP TS 110].
Mona E. Brookman wrote to to offer birthday wishes Sam, and to ask for a photograph [MTP].
Twelve year old Noel E. Evans wrote from Des Moines, Iowa to offer birthday wishes, as it would also be his birthday and Thanksgiving Day [MTP].
Joe Goodman wrote from Alameda, Calif. to Sam, typed on a stiff paper board:
The bearer of these credentials is a fast friend of mine, and was of all our old Comstock comrades, and would have been of yours but for the misjoinder of a few years. He is about the only man on the Slope to whom I would give a passport.
In official circles he is Hon. S.P. Davis, Controller of the State of Nevada; but to the world at large he is Sam Davis, the representative humorist of the Pacific Coast.
He is an ardent admirer of yours—so much so, that he has been lecturing about you. But, though his appreciation of your work is the best I have ever seen in print, he is so off on his reckoning as to facts that I want him to hail you and lay a true course.
The Mark Twain cult is having a boom here, just now—running neck-and-neck with Christian Science, and being played for a winner. There have been two full pages of it in the Sunday supplements within a month. One of the devotees—James Tufts, a veteran editor of the San Francisco “Examiner”—has the rarest collection of your works in existence, probably. It comprises not only first editions of all your books—including the Canadian and English ones—but he has ransacked the magazines back to the ‘60’s, and has all your scattered writings, magnificently bound and illustrated by every picture of you obtainable. It follows necessarily that he is a good fellow. Davis can tell you about him.
Should you and Sam happen to meet in New York, I would like you to go to the Regal (corner of Seventh avenue and 17th street, I think, as you will see by reference to your note-book) and take a beer and sandwich, in memory of old times. / Yours as always, … [MTP].
Winifred Meyer in Cambridge, Mass. wrote congratulations and birthday wishes [MTP].
Alex Montgomery in St. Louis wrote congratulations and birthday wishes [MTP].
Ewald Plaminschetz sent a panoramic picture postcard of Vienna, Austria with congratulations and birthday wishes (in German) [MTP].
Mary Reynolds in Cape Girardeau, Mo. wrote congratulations and birthday wishes; she knew Clemens when he was a river pilot [MTP].
George W. Smith wrote from the Hotel Wendell, Pittsfield, Mass. to send congratulastions on a “long, brilliant and sustained career in letters” with birthday wishes [MTP].
An unidentified person wrote Sam “Best wishes from (One of your admirers)” on a picture postcard of Idora Falls, Youngstown, Ohio [MTP].
William S. Wallace wrote from Chicago offering congratulations and birthday wishes [MTP].
Josephine Curtis Woodbury in Greenwich, Conn. sent two poems about death to Sam [MTP].
November 28 ca. – At 21 Fifth Ave., N.Y. Isabel V. Lyon wrote for Sam to Sumner Bass Pearmain.
Mr Clemens has just returned from Washington very tired—& so directs me to write for him in answer to your letter of Nov. 26th He wishes me to thank you very much for your offer of hospitality, if he were to accept Mr. Parker’s invitation to be a guest of the Beacon Society—but to say that naturally he is declining because he accepts no invitations that he is not obliged to. Then to use Mr. Clemens’s own words: “I want to authorize Mr. Pearmain now to decline for me all invitations, before they get a chance to reach me, for it will relieve us both of embarrassments.” and this he feels, that as his friend‘, you will be glad to do. Mr. Clemens is tired, but very well—and he wishes me to convey to you & to Mrs. Pearmain, his very warm regards [MTP]. Note: J. Nelson Parker.
Isabel Lyon also wrote for Sam to decline J. Nelson Parker’s invitation; “he could not accept invitations that take him so far from his home” [MTP].
Sam also replied to Louise Forsslund’s Nov. 25 query that it “Must have been some other Clemens—never W. of Miss. until middle of 1861” [MTP].
November 29 Wednesday – At 21 Fifth Ave., N.Y. Sam wrote to John P. Cowan.
Dear Mr. Cowan: / Health to you! Sometimes, in the past two years, I have asked the Harpers’ permission to say a word outside—for print—but I don’t now, for the applications these past two days amount to a sort of flood. Privately, between you and me, I did not suppose there was any Clemens blood in the world, outside of my family and J. Ross Clemens of St. Louis. Adam was the only ancestor I had ever heard of. / Sincerely yours … [MTP].
Sam gave an interview to a New York World reporter. The interview ran as “Twain calls Leopold Slayer of 15,000,000” in the paper on Sunday, Dec. 3. Section 3, p. 6. See Dec. 3 entry.
Isabel Lyon’s journal: This afternoon at 3:30 Signor Traverso came in to tell Mr. Clemens about the Massiglia law suit. All the misery that Mr. Clemens ever hoped the Countess would get out of this suit she has got, for she has spent a lot of money, lawyers have taken their time about getting evidence (or taking testimony) and long ago Count Massiglia went to Signor Traverso begging him to ask Mr. Clemens to drop the suit, for it was killing his wife, and life at the villa was made impossible for them, for every hand was against them, and life had become a Hell. Mr. Clemens listened to Traverso’s story, with a keen satisfaction, for the Countess has garnered what she sowed [MTP TS 111].
L. Fosdick wrote from Pittsburg, Penn. to Sam, asking for “a line that shall help clinch the verdict” in a church debate on Mark Twain. He drew a cartoon of a prison inmate and wrote “this is not a ‘hold up’.” On or just after this date Sam replied: “Before you engage in debates you should see to it that you get on the strong side, then you wont have to ask any body’s help” [MTP].
Anna E. Berry wrote from Garden City, L.I. to Sam. “As one of the oldest members of the dear Langdon family circle, I want to tell you that I am glad you are alive, and are going to have a birthday….I love to think of you in Elmira when you carried Pussy Cats, in your white linen coat– pockets…” [MTP].
The following persons also wrote various birthday congratulations to Clemens on Nov. 29: