John F. McCabe wrote to Sam, asking for the lines on Susy’s headstone [MTP]. Note: Sam replied through Lyon on Dec. 1.
November 30 ca. – At 21 Fifth Ave., N.Y. Sam sent a telegram to Henry Campbell Bannerman.
Dear Primey— / Just a line to say that I’ve never cherished hard feeling towards you or felt the least bit envious of your [one word illegible] position in society—to be obliged to lug around the title of Minister. even though it is of the premier class would have taken the heart clear out of me, & life would have lost it’s savour—You’ve earned a just reward & a crown in a happier land. May you find them soon / Mark Twain [MTP].
November 30, after – Shortly after turning 70, Sam wrote “Old Age.” The piece was included in Mark Twain’s Fables of Man p.440, (1972), Tuckey ed., based on the surviving MS [Budd, Collected 2: 1011].
December – “Eve’s Diary” was first published in Harper’s Monthly. In June 1906 it was published in book form as Eve’s Diary Translated from the Original MS; also included in The $30,000 Bequest and Other Stories (1906) [Budd, Collected 2: 1010-11].
In N.Y.C. Sam inscribed his photograph to Mrs. John C. Graham: “Perhaps Mrs. John C. Graham will divine why this picture is intruded upon her by her obliged servant. / Mark Twain Dec./05.” [MTP].
Sam also inscribed a copy of HF to Charles Aubrey Slosson (1875-1965): “Mr. Charles Aubrey Slosson his book.” Sam followed this with his “June-bug” aphorism [MTP].
Sam also inscribed a copy of The Man that Corrupted Hadleyburg to an unidentified person: “Necessity is the mother of taking chances. Truly yours Mark Twain. Dec./05” [MTP: American Art Assoc.—Anderson Galleries catalogs Jan. 29, 1936, Item 104].
Sam also inscribed a copy of A Dog’s Tale to an unidentified person: “You may straighten the worm, but the crook is in him & only waiting. Mark Twain. Dec/05.” [MTP: Parke-Bernet catalogs June 17, 1964, Item 14].
Sam signed his copy of Voices of Doubt and Trust (1897) by Volney Streamer (1850-1915): “S.L. Clemens / Dec. 1905. / 21—5th ave” [Gribben 674].
Sam also wrote an aphorism to an unidentified person: “Taking the pledge will not make bad liquor good, but it will improve it./ Truly yours / Mark Twain./ Dec./05” [MTP: Swann Galleries Inc catalog, May 3, 1990 Item 315].
Sam also wrote an aphorism to an unidentified person: “Never put off till tomorrow what can be put off till day after tomorrow just as well. / Truly yours / Mark Twain./ Dec./05” [MTP: Kenneth W. Rendell catalog, No. 258].
The following persons wrote various birthday congratulations to Clemens sometime during December:
Daniel Carter Beard wrote to Sam sometime during the month.
Mary S. Coristine.
Louis E. Michael.
Robert D. Work [Note: all above names and letters courtesy MTP].
Strand Magazine ran “Portraits of Celebrities at Different Ages—New Series. ‘Mark Twain’” p. 667-8, picturing Samuel Clemens at ages 18, 27, 33, 48, and 62. They ran the identical article again for Jan. 1906.
December 1 Friday – At 21 Fifth Ave., N.Y. Sam wrote a short note to Marcella Sembrich, opera star. “Dear Madame Sembrich— / It was lovely of you to send me so eloquent & so beautiful aremembrance, & I thank you out of my heart” [MTP].
Sam also wrote to Will Larrymore Smedley in Chataqua-on-Chataqua, N.Y.: “To you, & to all my other known & unknown friends who have lightened the weight of my seventieth birthday with kind words & good wishes I offer my most grateful thanks, & beg leave to sign myself” [MTP].
Isabel Lyon replied to John F. McCabe’s Nov. 30 request for the lines on Susy’s headstone, which were often mistakenly ascribed to Sam: “Mr. Clemens is glad to send you the lines you have asked for. He directs me to tell you that they were written by a young Australian poet, Robert Richardson, and Mr. Clemens made an adaptation of them for the grave of his daughter” [New York Times, Apr. 30, 1910, “Views of Readers”].
Isabel Lyon’s Journal # 2: “Miss Clemens sings. 4:30 / Mr. Barbour. 9:30” [MTP TS 35].
Edward Everett Hale in Wash. D.C. on copyright matters wrote that he would be unable to attend the Dec. 5 dinner celebration of Sam’s 70th [MTP].
Paul S. Godbey in Jacksonville, Fla. sent a wooden! Florida Souvenir Post Card to Sam with congratulations [MTP].
Karl Peutl wrote congrats to Sam [MTP].
James A. Renwick wrote to receipt Sam for his check of $297.61 for Dec. rent [MTP].
Louise M. Sill for Harper & Brothers wrote to thank Sam for sending the story, “Eve’s Diary” [MTP].
W.H. Winsor sent a telegram from South Framingham, Mass. to congratulate Sam [MTP].
December 1 ca. – At 21 Fifth Ave., N.Y. Sam replied to L. Fosdick’s Nov. 29 query [MTP]. Note: The MTP catalogs this as “on or after 29 November.” Two days estimated postal time is allowed here.
December 2 Saturday – At 21 Fifth Ave., N.Y. Sam wrote to Andrew Carnegie.
Dear St. Andrew: / What is your telephone number? I have been trying to get to your house, & look at the family, but it is so far & I rise so late—however, I shall succeed, yet. My telephone address is “3907 Gramercy”—it isn’t in the book.
With warmest regards to you all, … [MTP].
Henry S. Fleming wrote from N.Y. to Sam in behalf of the Society of Illustrators and on the urging of Daniel Carter Beard, Fleming was “anxious” to have Mark Twain at their Dec. 21 dinner [MTP]. Note: On or just after this day Isabel Lyon answered for Sam: “Should like it very much on Mr. Beard’s account as well as his own, but it is his purpose this winter as last to avoid going out at night, because he is too apt to catch cold & that always means 6 wks in bed with bronchitis”
Edward L. Adams wrote congratulations to Sam [MTP].
John C. Bostlemann (who had been the Clemens girls’ music teacher) wrote on Ashlar Club stationery, Corning, NY to Sam, enclosing a printed copy of Sam’s unsolicited Sept. 13, 1889 letter (see Vol II). There was a vacancy in the NY State Library and he asked Sam if he might “kindly write me a few lines of endorsement for one of the vacancies” [MTP: Cushman].
Rabie Hart wrote congratulations to Sam [MTP].
John Y.W. MacAlister wrote to Sam with congratulations [MTP].
Abbott Handerson Thayer wrote to Sam with a “yarn about how the Boston Tavern Club has just treated me. I need to know whether I am crazy or whether they are the Bostonest, effetest, driest little set of relics that ever were trundled nightly to a sheep-headed assemblage …” [MTP]. Note: the Tavern Club of young men had been started by William Dean Howells.
Alicia K. Van Buren wrote from Orange Park, Fla. To compliment Sam on “Eve’s Diary” and to ask if he was coming to Florida [MTP].
Outlook ran an anonymous article, “Mark Twain at Seventy,” p. 808. Tenney: “A conventional tribute, noting his wide popularity and his originality, an unevenness in his work, but a closeness to life in primary rather than secondary terms; praises him (by implication) for his courage and honor in paying his debts after his business failure” [Tenney 40; Tenney “A Reference Guide Third Annual Supplement,” American Literary Realism, Autumn 1979 p. 189-90].
December 3 Sunday – Gribben cites the New York World’s article “Twain Calls Leopold Slayer of 15,000,000,” and speculates: “Twain probably drew on Suetonius when he mentioned Nero as a killer” . Note: the interview is in Scharnhorst, p.528-31, and also online at the Univ. Washington site:
Twain Calls Leopold Slayer of 15,000,000
Besides Leopold, Nero, Caligula, Attila, Torquemada, Genghis Khan, and such killers of men are mere amateurs.
My interest in the Congo and the Belgian King’s connection with that State is not personal further than that I am a citizen of the United States and am pledged, like every other citizen of the United States to superintend that King as foreman and superintendent of that property. Thirteen Christian nations stand pledged like our own. The thirteen are responsible for that King’s good conduct, for his humane conduct; we are all officially committed to see that King Leopold does his righteous duty in the Congo State, or, if he falls short of his duty, to call him to strict account.
By the arrangement in 1884 at Berlin the Christian powers gave the well-being of the Congo State into the hands of the International Association and charged that association with a couple of very important responsibilities. The association was required to protect the natives from harm and to advance their well-being in various ways; also it was charged with the duty of seeing that the several Christian states have freedom of trade in the Congo State.
The King of the Belgians has taken over the whole property; he is acting as an absolute sovereign in that State. He has over-ridden all the restrictions put upon at Berlin in 1884, and by the conference of Brussels in 1890. He has thus, in taking over this vast State, which is twice as large as the German Empire, very rich and very populous before he began his devastation, robberies and massacres of the natives, taken upon himself all the responsibilities which were placed upon the International Association. By the terms of the two conventions it is not only the privilege of those Christian powers to call him to account, but it is their duty to do this—a duty which they solemnly assumed, and which they are neglecting.
The responsibility of the United States may be said to take first place, because we were the first of the nations to recognize the Congo flag, which was done by a Presidential order in 1884. We occupied the office of midwife to the Congo State and brought it into the world.
But we are not any more responsible than are the other powers. There should be a concert of action between them. That concert will be brought about in due time; the movement is on foot on the other side of the water and is making progress, particularly in England, where the Government is becoming more and more interested in the matter, and where the people are strongly stirred and are giving voice to their outraged feelings.
The outlook is that England will presently invite the other powers to join her in demanding a searching inquiry into Leopold’s performance, this inquiry to be conducted by a commission, not appointed by him as was the late one, but by themselves. We shall need to take a hand in this righteous proceeding, and it is not likely that we shall be backward about it.
The packed commission appointed by Leopold finished its work and prepared its report many months ago. It was made as mild as possible, but it was nevertheless not the sort of report which the King wanted to spread before the civilized nations. He kept it back several months and issued it lately, and with very proper reluctance.
There is a matter connected with that report history which had a good deal of significance at the time. I speak of the suicide of the chief Congo official, a governor-general or something like that. That man had been representing the King a good many years; his treatment of the natives had been merciless; he harried them with the torch and the sword; he robbed and burned right and left; he was bitterly hated, not by the natives only but by the whites. He read the report of the commission in its original shape there on the Congo before Leopold had had an opportunity to blue-pencil it.
Late that night two white men, one of whom was an Englishman of high character and position, occupied a room next to the Governor-General’s. They heard a peculiar noise, and one of them said to the other: “Something is happening in that room.”
They went in there and found the Governor-General gasping out his life with his throat cut. The noise they had heard was the streaming of his blood upon the floor. His last act had been the writing of a note of a rather impressive character. I cannot quote its language, but in substance it was to this effect:
“I cannot stand up against that report, yet I can only say in all sincerity that everything I have done was by command of the King himself.”
That note was brought away, and is now in the possession of that Englishman. I have these facts from an American missionary who was on the spot at the time, and who vouches for their authenticity.
The King has not mended the condition of things in the Congo since he blue-pencilled that report and issued it. The atrocities go on just as before, and the world must expect them to continue until the Christian powers shall exercise the right which they have reserved to themselves at Berlin and Brussels to put an end to them.
The pamphlet which I lately issued contains a small part of the twenty-year accumulation of evidence against King Leopold, and this evidence is of an authority which cannot be disputed. It comes from English officials, Belgian officials, and from American missionaries of unimpeachable character. I intend that the pamphlet shall go into the hands of every clergyman in America, and this purpose will be carried out. We have eighty millions of people who will speak, and speak audibly, when they find out the infamies that are being perpetrated in the Congo, and that our whole nation has a personal interest in the matter and is under written engagement to look after it.
Note: Hawkins again points out that Sam once more mistakenly assumed the U.S. had ratified the Berlin Act of 1885, which he put forth as America’s supposed legal obligation. Sam was optimistic about action against King Leopold, and believed the U.S. would “take a hand” [162-3].
Fanny Hallock Carpenter (Mrs. Philip Carpenter) wrote from NYC to Sam, enclosing her 1901 “translation” of “Extracts from Eve’s Diary”—some 24 half-pages typed.
Elizabeth Jenks Comfort wrote from Monte Carlo to ask Sam for his autograph for her “very clever little Anglo-American grandson” [MTP].
F.P. Jones wrote birthday congratulations to Sam [MTP].
W. Gillison and Theo Williams (two undergraduates at Cambridge, England) wrote to Sam with “how delighted” they were by “Eve’s Diary” [MTP].
Merrill Tiliston wrote from the Hotel Newberry, Chicago to ask Sam’s “sanction in the use of the words / ‘By permission Mark Twain’ painted upon the coffin box of that Buffalo Express graveyard skit…” [MTP]. Note: on the bottom: “Mr. Clemens would rather he would not use it—makes him a party & he would rather word it.” See ca. Dec. 6 for Sam’s reply, which allows three days postal time Chicago to N.Y.
“Dear St. Andrew: / I don’t know for sure that you got my telephone message the other day, but it doesn’t matter—I’m coming, the 18thanyway, with a nightshirt / Ys Ever / Mark ”[MTP]. Note: this letter # 08592 was found in the Fragments file and determined to be on a Sunday before Monday, Dec. 18, 1905, when Sam spoke for Russian Jews in NYC. No other year fits. Also, Carnegie inscribed his book for Clemens on Dec. 16. See entries.
December 4 Monday – Mrs. L.C.U. Bramhall wrote from N.Y.C. to Sam, noting they shared the same birthday, and asking about Susan Crane and “all the familiar faces of old” that she knew in Elmira some 30 years before. On or just after this day Sam replied, “Not seen Mrs. Crane lately, but a letter addressed to her at Q.F. will find her” [MTP].
Isabel Lyon’s journal: “Mr. Clemens went down to the Harpers today and came home with the news that Col. Harvey would be glad if I would go to Delmonico’s tomorrow evening in time for the speeches, and I’m afraid to breathe lest I find the permission be nothing more than a thistle-down of a thought to float way into air” [MTP TS 111]. Isabel Lyon’s Journal # 2: “Dr. Parkhurst—4.45 / Miss Clemens/Charlton 3:54” [MTP TS 36]. Note: Loudon Charlton, concert manager Carnegie Hall.
Anne Ashley, “a little girl that called on you last summer at Norfolk, Conn.” wrote birthday wishes [MTP].
Robert Bacon wrote seeking more information on the Congo situation from England: “If you could tell us some time just what has been done in times past by England, and how, it would help us a great deal in deciding what we might to most effectively” [Hawkins 163; MTP]. See Nov. 27 (Hawkins), Nov. 28, Dec. 6 to Bacon.
Maurice Ernst wrote from Vienna. Congratulations and how did Sam get his nom de plume? [MTP]. Note: on Dec. 15 Sam replied; MTP had his reply to “an unnamed correspondent,” who now is likely named.
Seth Low wrote birthday congrats to Sam and offered a humorous story about Daniel Webster in England—A man thought Webster was the jumping frog, not the famous Mass. senator! [MTP].
Coggeshall Macy wrote from Vienna to praise “Eve’s Diary” in the Christmas Harper’s [MTP].
Mrs. Ruth McEnery Stuart wrote from NYC to Sam, that tomorrow evening she was gathering with friends to “do you honor” [MTP].
Sam wrote a paragraph in the front pastedown endpaper of A Humble Romance, and Other Stories (1887), by Mary Eleanor Freeman (1852-1930). Livy had crudely signed the book and the ink did not stick to the paper, so was barely legible.
Dec. 4, 1905. She has been in her grave a year & a half to-morrow. She probably made that attempt with that annoying pen eighteen years ago when she was 42 & looked ten years younger. I know she did not lose her temper, but kept it & her sweet dignity unimpaired. If I was present I probably laughed, for we had no cares then—I could cry easier now. It is many years since I have seen this book. Susy was 15 then; she is gone, these nine years & more. I have just closed my seventieth year [Gribben 245].
December 5 Tuesday – In New York City Sam wrote a short note to Helen Keller:
It is a lovely letter, dear Helen, & I thank you from my heart for it
Remain an optimist just as long as you can, dear! I would not abridge the term by a single day. But as for me—ah, that is different!
Do please give my love to Mr. & Mrs. Macy. / Always affectionately…[MTP: Cushman file]. Note: John Albert Macy (1877-1932), author, critic, poet.
Isabel Lyon’s Journal # 2: “Call up Mrs. Loomis / Birthday Dinner [MTP TS 36].
Isabel Lyon’s journal:
Mr. Clemens’s seventieth celebration today, tonight at Delmonico’s. The preparations have been colossal, but Colonel Harvey has proved himself the man of parts that he is. Mr. Twichell arrived and he and Mr. Clemens and Clara Cl. started off at seven o’clock. Mr. Clemens thought I was going too, to sit in the reception room and “enjoy the solitude” until speech time. That was the reason why he called out to me as he passed my door—“Clara’s just about ready!” [MTP TS 111-112].
Note: Trombley writes of this as a perceived slight to Isabel Lyon and calls this entry “bitter”: At what point Isabel would be allowed to arrive during the festivities was apparently a very sensitive point of etiquette for Clara, who was opposed to her coming at all. Isabel hoped to be allowed to sit quietly in the public reception room until “speech time”; however, it was deemed socially inappropriate for Isabel to enter Delmonico’s with the Clemenses. She could only arrive later, alone, when the ceremonial part of the evening was about to commence. Isabel was furious at Clara over the slight, and she despaired that her time at such a socially prestigious event would be so limited. She bitterly noted in her journal that Twain thought she would be accompanying him to make an entrance: “That was the reason … “ [see rest in IVL journal above].
Sam attended his 70th birthday dinner celebration at Delmonico’s, arranged and hosted by his publisher, George B. Harvey. The New York Times put a full report of the gala event on the front page:
CELEBRATE MARK TWAIN’S
Fellow-Workers in Fiction Dine with Him at Delmonico’s.
HEAR WHY HE LIVED SO LONG
And How They, if They Resemble Him,
May Reach Seventy, Too—Roosevelt Sends Congratulations.
Mark Twain, the greatest of living humorists and the uncrowned king of American letters, whose standing joke among his intimate friends is the pretension that his real name is Samuel Langhorne Clemens, celebrated his seventieth birthday last night. Or perhaps it would be more proper to say that others did it for him, Mark Twain himself being too busy making a speech.
There were 170 of his friends and fellow-craftsmen in literature gathered in the Red Room at Delmonico’s for the celebration. Barring a half dozen or so, all were guaranteed to be genuine creators of imaginative writings—or illustrators of such writings. The guarantee was furnished by Col. George Harvey, editor of The North American Review, who was the host of the evening as well as the Chairman.
Even the presence as the guest of honor of the world’s foremost fun maker could not drive away the serious reflection that never before in the annals of this country had such a representative gathering of literary men and women been seen under one roof. There were representative in every conceivable respect—even geographically. There was no corner of this country with a literary crop of its own that did not have at least one favorite son—or daughter—present. The Far North and the extreme South, the New England States, and the Pacific slope—all sent delegates.
Many Women There.
A particular feature of the dinner was the strength of the feminine contingent. There were fully as many women there as men, and they were no present as mere appendages of their husbands, but as individuals representing the art of imaginative writing no less than the men. An observer looking over the host of diners, after having scanned the list of guests and noticed that every feminine name in it was familiar to all readers, could not but wonder that the women he found corresponding to those names were all young and pretty. The whole gathering did not seem to include half a dozen women with streaks of gray in their hair.
All—men as well as women—showed by word and manner and act that they looked upon the chief guest as the master. The greeting when he rose to speak was one which might have tickled the vanity of the vainest of political adventurers. No one thought of measuring the duration of the applause and cheering, however, because everybody, including the reporters, were too busy swelling the volume of that ovation.
Unintroduced, as it seemed most befitting, Mr. Clemens rose to respond to the toast proposed to him by his fellow veteran in the literary service, William Dean Howells. It would be difficult to pick a more critical audience—and yet as the great humorist talked on in his characteristic, inimitable drawl, the men and women present laughed until their laughter turned into groans. Yet a strain of melancholy ran perceptibly through the speaker’s sentences. Toward the end it gained predominance, and the last words were spoken with a voice quivering with emotion.
To those who listened, the man appeared younger than ever, and when he pretended to look down upon really old men with scorn, his attitude was thought more than a clever conceit. The character of the occasion caused Mr. Clemens to hark back to other birthdays, of which he admitted having had a great many. And his reminiscences concerned, in particular, the first of them all. Between this and the last one, so far he drew an inferred comparison, the comparison was entirely in favor of the seventieth.
His First Birthday.
“I remember that first birthday well,” he began. “Whenever I think of it, it is with indignation. Everything was so crude, so unaesthetic. Nothing was really ready. I was born, you know, with a high and delicate aesthetic taste. And then think of—I had no hair, no teeth, no clothes. And I had to go to my first banquet like that.
“And everybody came swarming in. It was the merest little hamlet in he backwoods of Missouri, where never anything happened at all. All interest centered on me that day. They came with that peculiar provincial curiosity to look me over and to see if I had brought anything fresh in my particular line. Why, I was the only thing that had happened in the last three months—and I came very near being the only thing that happened there in two whole years.
“They gave their opinions. No one had asked them, but they gave them, and they were all just green with prejudice. I stood it as long as—well, you know, I was born courteous. I stood it for about an hour. Then the worm turned. I was the worm. It was my turn to turn, and I did turn. I knew the strength of my position. I knew that I was the only spotlessly pure person in that camp, and I just came out and told them so.
“It was so true that they could make no answer at all. They merely blushed and went away. Well, that was my cradle song, and now I am singing my swan song. It is a far stretch from that first birthday to this, the seventieth. Just think of it!
Twain Recipe for Long Life.
“The seventieth birthday! It is the time of life when you arrive at a new and awful dignity; when you may throw aside the decent reserves which have oppressed you for a generation, and stand unafraid and unabashed upon your seven-terraced summit and look down and teach—unrebuked. You can tell the world how you got there. It is what they all do. I have been anxious to explain my own system this long time, and now at last I have the right.
“I have achieve my seventy years in the usual way: by sticking strictly to a scheme of life which would kill anybody else. It sounds like an exaggeration, but that is really the common rule for attaining old age. When we examine the programme of any of these garrulous old people we always find that the habits which have preserved them would have decayed us. I will offer here, as a sound maxim this: that we can’t reach old age by another man’s road.
“I will now teach, offering my way of life to whomsoever desires to commit suicide by scheme which has enabled me to beat the doctor and the hangman for seventy years. Some of the details may sound untrue, but they are not. I am not here to deceive. I am here to teach.
He Goes to Bed Sometimes.
“We have no permanent habits until we are 40. Then they begin to harden, presently they petrify, then business begins. Since 40 I have been regular about going to bet and getting up—and that is one of the main things. I have made it a rule to go to bed when there wasn’t anybody left to sit up with; and I have made it a rule to get up when I had to. This has resulted in an unswerving regularity of irregularity.
“In the matter of diet—which is another main thing—I have been persistently strict in sticking to the things which didn’t agree with me until one or the other got the best of it myself. But last Spring I stopped frolicking with mince pie after midnight; up to then I had always believed it wasn’t loaded. For thirty years I have taken coffee and bread at 8 in the morning, and no bite nor sup till 7:30 in the evening. Eleven hours. That is all right for me. Headachy people would not reach 70 comfortably by that road. And I wish to urge upon you this—which I think is wisdom—that if you find you can’t make 70 by any but an uncomfortable road, don’t you go. When they take off the Pullman and retire you to the rancid smoker, put on your things, count your checks, and get out at the first way station where there’s a cemetery.
And Smokes in Bed.
“I have made it a rule never to smoke more than one cigar at a time. I have no other restriction as regards smoking. I do not know just when I began to smoke, I only know that it was in my father’s lifetime, and that I was discreet. He passed from this life early in 1847, when I was a shade past 11; ever since then I have smoked publicly. As an example to others, and not that I care for moderation myself, it has always been my rule never to smoke when asleep and never to refrain when awake.
“I smoke in bed until I have to go to sleep; I wake up in the night, sometimes once, sometimes twice, sometimes three times, and I never waste any of these opportunities to smoke. This habit is so old and dear and precious to me that if I should break it I should feel as you, Sir, would feel if you should lose the only moral you’ve got. Meaning the Chairman. If you’ve got one; I am making no charge. I will grant, here, that I have stopped smoking, now and then, for a few months at a time, but it was not on principle—it was only to show off; it was to pulverize those critics who said I was a slave to my habits and couldn’t break my bonds.
“Today it is all of sixty years since I began to smoke the limit. I have never bought cigars with life belts around them. I early found that those were too expensive for me. I have always bought cheap cigars—reasonably cheap, at any rate. Sixty years ago they cost me $4 a barrel, but my taste has improved laterly, and I pay $7 now. Six or seven. Seven, I think. Yes; it’s seven. But that includes the barrel. I often have smoking parties at my house, but the people that come have always just taken the pledge. I wonder why that is?
Raised on 9 Barrels of Cod Liver Oil.
“As for drinking, I have not rule about that. When the others drink I like to help; otherwise I remain dry, by habit and preference. This dryness does not hurt me, but it could easily hurt you, because you are different. You let it alone.
“Since I was 7 years old I have seldom taken a dose of medicine, and have still seldomer needed one. But up to 7 I have lived exclusively on allopathic medicines. Not that I needed them, for I don’t think I did; it was for economy. My father took a drug store for a debt, and it made cod liver oil cheaper than other breakfast foods. We had nine barrels of it, and it lasted me seven years. Then I was weaned. The rest of the family had to get along with rhubarb and ipecac and such things, because I was the pet. I was the first Standard Oil Trust. I had it all. By the time the drug store was exhausted my health was established, and there has never been much the matter with me since.
“I have never taken any exercise, except sleeping and resting, and I never intend to take any. Exercise is loathsome. And it cannot be any benefit when you are tired; I was always tired.
“I desire now to repeat and emphasize that maxim: We can’t reach old age by another man’s road. My habits protect my life, but they would assassinate you.
“I have lived a severely moral life. But it would be a mistake for other people to try that, or for me to recommend it. Very few would succeed: you have to have a perfectly colossal stock of morals; and you can’t get them on a margin. Morals are an acquirement—like music, like a foreign language, like piety, poker, paralysis—no man is born with them. I wasn’t myself. I started poor. I hadn’t a single moral. There is hardly a man in this house that is poorer than I was then. Yes, I started like that—the world before me, not a moral in the slot. Not even an insurance moral.
His First Moral.
“I can remember the first one I ever got. I can remember the landscape, the weather, the—I can remember how everything looked. It was an old moral, an old second-hand moral, all out of repair, and didn’t fit, anyway. But if you are careful with a thing like that, and keep it in a dry place, and save it for processions, and Chautauquas, and World’s Fairs and so on, and disinfect it now and then, and give it a fresh coat of whitewash once in a while, you will be surprised to see how well she will last and how long she will keep sweet, or at least inoffensive. When I got that moldy old moral she had stopped growing, because she hadn’t any exercise, but I worked her hard, I worked her Sundays and all. Under this cultivation she waxed in might and stature beyond belief, and served me well and was my pride and joy for sixty-three years; then she got to associating with insurance Presidents, and lost flesh and character, and was a sorrow to look at and no longer competent for business. She was a great loss to me.
“Yet not all loss. I sold her—ah, pathetic skeleton, as she was!—I sold her to Leopold, the pirate King of Belgium; he sold her to our Metropolitan Museum, and it was very glad to get her, for without a rag on, she stands fifty-seven feet long and sixteen feet high, and they think she’s a brontosaur. Well, she looks it. They believe it will take nineteen geological periods to breed her match.
Joys of Being Moral.
“Morals are of inestimable value, for every man is born crammed with sin microbes, and the only thing that can extirpate these sin microbes is morals. Now you take a sterilized Christian—I mean, you take the sterilized Christian, for there’s only one—Dear Sir, I wish you wouldn’t look at me like that.
“Threescore years and ten!
“It is the Scriptural statute of limitations. After that you owe no active duties; for you the strenuous life is over. You are a time-expired man, to use Kipling’s military phrase. You have served your term, well or less well, and you are mustered out.
“The Previous Engagement plea, which in forty years has cost you so many twinges, you can lay aside forever; on this side of the grave you will never need it again. If you shrink at thought of night, and winter, and the late homecoming from the banquet and the lights and the laughter, through the deserted streets—a desolation which would not remind you now, as for a generation it did, that your friends are sleeping, and you must creep in a-tiptoe and not disturb them, but would only remind you that you need not tiptoe, you can never disturb them more—if you shrink at thought of these things, you need only reply:
“Your invitation honors me, and pleases me because you still keep me in your remembrance, but I am seventy; seventy, and would nestle in the chimney corner, and smoke my pipe, and read my book, and take my rest, wishing you well in all affection, and that when you in your turn shall arrive at pier No. 70 you may step aboard your waiting ship with a reconciled spirit, and lay your course toward the sinking sun with a contented heart.”
Guest of Honor Led to Dinner.
The dinner began at 8 o’clock. Soon before that hour the guests began to gather in the parlor adjoining the Red Room. In the corridor outside, place had been prepared for an orchestra of forty directed by Nahan Franko. When the march, serving as a signal for the procession to the dining room, was played, Mr. Clemens led the way, with Mrs. Mary E. Wilkins Freeman on his arm.
The couples that followed would have attracted attention wherever they were seen and recognized. Col. Harvey led Princess Troubetzkoy, who once was Amelia Rives and still writes under that name. Andrew Carnegie and Agnes Repplier, the essayist, followed side by side.
After them came John Burroughs and Mrs. Louise Chandler Moulton, who was the first author from whom Henry Mills Alden received a contribution after becoming editor of Harper’s Monthly, more than forty years ago. The Rev. Dr. Henry Van Dyke escorted Mrs. Frances Hodgson Burnett, while Bliss Carman, the poet, led Mrs. Ruth McEnery Stuart.
While the dinner was in progress the guests—one table at a time—went out into another room and had their pictures taken in groups. The pictures will form the most conspicuous feature of an album which is to be given to Mr. Clemens as a souvenir of the occasion.
Souvenirs Plaster Busts.
The menu was printed with a circle of pen-and-ink sketches by Leon Barritt, showing the guest of honor at the successive stages of his long and varied career—as a printer, as Mississippi pilot, as gold miner in the far West, as editor in the same adventurous region, as world traveler, and, finally, as a lecturer pronouncing to empty benches the maxim: “Be good and you will be lonesome.”
Toward the end of the dinner the souvenirs were brought in. They were plaster of paris busts about a foot high and excellently modeled. When the distribution had been completed, there were just 171 Mark Twains in the room, including the original.
Col. Harvey’s first act as toastmaster of the evening was to call on Miss Cutting, President of Vassar College Alumni Association to read this letter which had been received from President Roosevelt:
The President’s Letter.
Nov. 28, 1905
My Dear Col. Harvey: I wish it were in my power to be at the dinner held to celebrate the seventieth birthday of Mark Twain—it is difficult to write of him by his real name instead of by that name which has become a household word wherever the English language is spoken. He is one of the citizens whom all Americans should delight to honor, for he has rendered a great and peculiar service to America, and his writings, though such as no one but an American could have written, yet emphatically come within that small list which are written for no particular country, but for all countries, and which are not merely written for the time being, but have an abiding and permanent value. May he live long, and year by year may he add to the sum of admirable work that he has done. Sincerely yours, THEODORE ROOSEVELT.
The reading of the letter was the cause of prolonged applause.
Howells Toasts Twain.
Col. Harvey called next on William Dean Howells as “the person in all the world best fitted to propose the health of the guest of the evening.” Previously Col. Harvey had referred to Mr. Clemens as a man “who first of all had the friendship of the whole world, and thin in a peculiar degree the friendship of the few.” He made special mention of Henry H. Rogers and the Rev. Joseph H. Twitchell as two of Mr. Clemens’s most intimate friends, who although not men of letters were present and occupied seats at the table with the principal guest.
Mr. Howells declared that the thought of Mark Twain always threw him into poetic ecstasy, and whenever he had to make a speech in honor of the humorist it seemed to shape itself naturally in to meter and rhyme. This was the case three years ago, he said, when Mr. Clemens was a comparatively young man of 67.
“Then I composed what I called a ‘double-barreled sonnet,’ “ Mr. Howells explained. “This time, thinking of the Psalmist’s age limit, I wanted to try a Psalm, but this time, too, I had to fall back on the Shakespearean sonnet. But please notice that the sonnet is twice as long as Shakespeare used to make them, and for good reason.
“Shakespeare, you know, has been improved upon since he died. Nowadays Shaw is writing plays that are twice as good as those of Shakespeare, and I am writing sonnets twice as long as his.”
Mr. Howells then read his sonnet, which after comparing the effect of the American joke on a traveler from the Old World with that made by a skyscraper, ended with this sextet:
The lame dance with delight in me; my mirth
Reaches the deaf untrumpeted; the blind
My point can see. I jolly the whole earth,
But most I love to jolly my own kind.
Joke of a people great, gay, bold, and free,
I type their master-mood. Mark Twain made me.
England Sends Greetings.
After the uproar which followed the completion of Mark Twain’s reply to the toast given by Mr. Howells had died out, Col. Harvey read this cablegram, received from London:
The undersigned send Mark Twain heartiest greetings on his seventieth birthday and cordially wish him long life and prosperity:
Sir William Anson, T. Anstey Guthrie, (F. Anstey,) Alfred Austin, Poet Laureate; the Right Hon. Arthur Balfour, J. M. Barrie, Augustine Birrell, K. T.; the Right Hon. James Bryce, Sir Francis Burnand, editor of Punch; Gilbert Chesterton, Churton Collins, W. L. Courteney, Austin Dobson, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, W. S. Gilbert, Edmund Gosse, Francis Carruthers Gould, Thomas Hardy, Anthony Hope, W. W. Jacobs, Rudyard Kipling, Ian Maclaren, (the Rev. John Watson,) W. H. Mallock, George Meredith, Henry Norman, M. P.; Sir Gilbert Parker, Sir John Tenniel, the illustrator; Sir George Otto Trevelyan, historian; Mrs. Humphry Ward, William Watson, Theodore Watts Dunton, Israel Zangwill, Tauchnitz.
More Poetic Tributes.
Letters of regret were read from Dr. S. Weir Mitchell and Joel Chandler Harris, both of whom had planned to be present. Dr. Mitchell ended his message of felicitation with the quatrain in honor of the chief guest:
So large the joy your pen has given,
To match it one might try in vain,
But what one man could never do
Is easily done by Twain.
[ Insert by Carlo de Fornaro (1871-1949) Italian caricaturist, and guest.]
Among others who read or sent greetings in rhyme were Amelia E. Barr, Wilbur D. Nesbit, Virginia Frazer Boyle, John Kendrick Bangs, and Henry van Dyke.
Tale the Others Told.
Prof. Brander Matthews, Andrew Carnegie, George W. Cable, Richard Watson Gilder, Rex E. Beach, and Irving Bacheller were among the other speakers. Mr. Carnegie won great applause with his Scotch drolleries. He extolled Mr. Clemens for his sincerity, and said he was a lion of his day.
George W. Cable recalled days more than twenty years ago when he and Mark Twain were on the Mississippi together. He told many anecdotes that were new and interesting. He told of a mutual friend who, on meeting Mark Twain for the first time, had prepared something “nice and appropriate” to say when he shook hands with the humorist. This friend had read all his works, but the only one he could recall, when it came to shaking hands, was his “heathen Chinee,” so he quoted it at length.
Hamilton W. Mabie said that Mark Twain had written a biography, or an autobiography, of Adam and Eve and every other person of Scriptural or historic fame. Mr. Mabie thought his masterpiece was yet to come and it should be called “The Diary of the Devil.” At this, Mark Twain doubled up over the nearest bust of himself.
Here is the list of guests in full:
Joseph Altsheler, George Ade, Henry M. Alden, Mrs. Henry M. Alden, Frances H. Burnett, T. Buchanan, Nancy H. Banks, Margaret P. Black, Josephine D. Bacon, Perry Belmont, Mrs. Belmont, Alice Brown, Lillian Bell Bogue, Elizabeth B. Wetmore, Irving Bacheller, John K. Bangs, Rex E. Beach, John Burroughts, Gelett Burgess, Edmund I. Baylies, Mrs. Baylies, Dorothy Canfield, Miss Clemens, Andrew Carnegie, Mrs. Carnegie, James B. Connolly, George W. Cobb, Robert W. Chambers, Arthur Colton, Will Carleton, Charles W. Chestnutt, Mrs. Pearl Craigie, Miss Cutting, Elisabeth L. Cary, Mrs. Phillips Clark, Frances P. Case, Willa S. Cather, E. A. Dithmar, Finley P. Dunne, Caroline Duer, Olivia H. Dunbar, Norman Duncan, Samuel Davis, Frederick A. Duneka, Charles A. Eastman, Geo. C. Eggleston, George B. Fife, Mary W. Freeman, May Isabel Fisk, Justus M. Forman, Sewell Ford, Louise Forsslund, C. de Fornaro, Lawrence Gilman, Richard W. Gilder, S. M. Gardenhire, Eliot Gregory, Theodosia Garrison, Miss Howells, William D. Howells, Will N. Harben, Frederick T. Hill, Rupert Hughes, Julian Hawthorne, Margaret S. B. Hopkins, Katherine Hillard, Mrs. Harvey, J. Henry Harper, Ernest Ingersoll, Winifred Ives, Burges Johnson, Adrian H. Joline, Gabrielle Jackson, Elizabeth G. Jordan, Owen Johnson, Mrs. Joline, Florence M. Kingsley, Mrs. H. A. M. Keays, Mrs. Leigh, Edwin Lefevre, John Uri Lloyd, Richard Le Gallienne, Nelson Lloyd, Elinor M. Lane, Alfred H. Lewis, John L. Long, W. J. Lampton, Frederick T. Leigh, Mrs. Edward Loomis, Roy L. McCardell, John A. Mitchell, Alice Duer Miller, Marguerite Merington, Mrs. G. M. Martin, Charles Meior, Hamilton W. Mabie, Geo. B. McCutcheon, Philip V. Mighels, Weymer Jay Mills, Edwin Markham, Harold McGrath, Tom Masson, Brander Matthews, Frank D. Millet, R. K. Munkittrick, Louise C. Moulton, Frances A. Mathews, John McCutcheon, Samuel E. Moffett, W. D. Nesbit, James MacArthur, Edward S. Martin, Peter Newell, Anne O’Hagan, William D. Orcutt, Lloyd Osbourne, Roland Phillips, Emery Pottle, William F. Payson, Anna P. Paret, Albert B. Paine, Emily Post, Dr. Edward Quintard, Kate Douglas Riggs, Morgan Robertson, Charles G. D. Roberts, Agnes Repplier, Henry H. Rogers, Mrs. Rogers, C. C. Rice, Henry E. Rood, Abby M. Roach, William D. Sloane, Mrs. Sloane, Ruth McE. Stuart, Louise Morgan Sill, Anna McClure Sholl, F. Hopkinson Smith, Van Tassel Sutphen, Isobel Strong, May Sinclair, E. T. Tomlinson, Bert Leston Taylor, Eugene Thwing, Annie E. Trumbull, Caroline Ticknor, The Rev. J. H. Twichell, Mark Twain, Herman K. Viele, Henry van Dyke, Onoto W. Babcock, Churchill Williams, Mrs. Wilson Woodrow, Edith Wyatt, Jesse L. Williams, Carolyn Wells, Florence Wilkinson, Owen Wister, Orme Wilson, Mrs. Orme Wilson, Thomas B. Wells, Jean Webster.
Ralph W. Ashcroft wrote on Koy-Lo Co. letterhead to advise Sam that Justice Stover of the NY Supreme Court had decided this day to uphold the Plasmon Co. of America’s election held Sept. 1, 1904, but that the Butters contingent, as holding the majority of stock, should have been allowed to take charge on Apr. 27, 1905 at that meeting.
Everything we did from Sept. 1, 1904, to April 27, 1905, is again declared legal this time by the State Court, as it was last August by the U.S. Court….This last decision strengthens our position VERY MATERIALLY…that anything that the Butters crowd did from Sept. 1 st to April 27th, (such as the burgarlizing of the Company’s offices and the wrecking of its business by illegitimate bankruptcy proceedings) is illegal, and therefore actionable [MTP].
Amelia Edith Huttleston Barr wrote Sam birthday wishes. This note dated Dec. 5 and enclosed in Barr to Harvey of Nov. 17 [MTP].
Mrs. Cornelia V. Blackman wrote from Galena, Kans. to relate how funny an interview of Sam was [MTP].
James Bertram for Andrew Carnegie wrote to advise Sam that Carnegie was “just off to Boston…his telephone number is 1601—79th Street. He notes yours” [MTP].
Oscar W. Krecher wrote to Sam [MTP]. Note: the letter could not be found at the MTP but is in their catalog.
The following persons also sent various birthday congratulations to Clemens on Dec. 5: