Part 2 out of 5
slave-driver of Europe, Alexander III, has so reduced his usual monthly
order for chains that the Russian foundries are running on only half time
now? Also that other rumor that English nobility acquired an added
stench the other day--and had to ship it to India and the continent
because there wasn't any more room for it at home? Things are working.
By and by there is going to be an emigration, may be. Of course we shall
make no preparation; we never do. In a few years from now we shall have
nothing but played-out kings and dukes on the police, and driving the
horse-cars, and whitewashing fences, and in fact overcrowding all the
avenues of unskilled labor; and then we shall wish, when it is too late,
that we had taken common and reasonable precautions and drowned them at
There followed at this time a number of letters to Goodman, but as
there is much of a sameness in them, we need not print them all.
Clemens, in fact, kept the mails warm with letters bulging with
schemes for capitalization, and promising vast wealth to all
concerned. When the letters did not go fast enough he sent
telegrams. In one of the letters Goodman is promised "five hundred
thousand dollars out of the profits before we get anything
ourselves." One thing we gather from these letters is that Paige
has taken the machine apart again, never satisfied with its
perfection, or perhaps getting a hint that certain of its
perfections were not permanent. A letter at the end of November
seems worth preserving here.
To Joseph T. Goodman, in California:
HARTFORD, Nov. 29, '89.
DEAR JOE, Things are getting into better and more flexible shape every
day. Papers are now being drawn which will greatly simplify the raising
of capital; I shall be in supreme command; it will not be necessary for
the capitalist to arrive at terms with anybody but me. I don't want to
dicker with anybody but Jones. I know him; that is to say, I want to
dicker with you, and through you with Jones. Try to see if you can't be
here by the 15th of January.
The machine was as perfect as a watch when we took her apart the other
day; but when she goes together again the 15th of January we expect her
to be perfecter than a watch.
Joe, I want you to sell some royalties to the boys out there, if you can,
for I want to be financially strong when we go to New York. You know the
machine, and you appreciate its future enormous career better than any
man I know. At the lowest conceivable estimate (2,000 machines a year,)
we shall sell 34,000 in the life of the patent--17 years.
All the family send love to you--and they mean it, or they wouldn't say
The Yankee had come from the press, and Howells had praised it in
the "Editor's Study" in Harper's Magazine. He had given it his
highest commendation, and it seems that his opinion of it did not
change with time. "Of all fanciful schemes of fiction it pleases me
most," he in one place declared, and again referred to it as
"a greatly imagined and symmetrically developed tale."
In more than one letter to Goodman, Clemens had urged him to come
East without delay. "Take the train, Joe, and come along," he wrote
early in December. And we judge from the following that Joe had
decided to come.
To W. D. Howells, in Boston:
HARTFORD, Dec. 23, '89.
DEAR HOWELLS,--The magazine came last night, and the Study notice is just
great. The satisfaction it affords us could not be more prodigious if
the book deserved every word of it; and maybe it does; I hope it does,
though of course I can't realize it and believe it. But I am your
grateful servant, anyway and always.
I am going to read to the Cadets at West Point Jan. 11. I go from here
to New York the 9th, and up to the Point the 11th. Can't you go with me?
It's great fun. I'm going to read the passages in the "Yankee" in which
the Yankee's West Point cadets figure--and shall covertly work in a
lecture on aristocracy to those boys. I am to be the guest of the
Superintendent, but if you will go I will shake him and we will go to the
hotel. He is a splendid fellow, and I know him well enough to take that
And won't you give me a day or two's visit toward the end of January?
For two reasons: the machine will be at work again by that time, and we
want to hear the rest of the dream-story; Mrs. Clemens keeps speaking
about it and hankering for it. And we can have Joe Goodman on hand again
by that time, and I want you to get to know him thoroughly. It's well
worth it. I am going to run up and stay over night with you as soon as I
can get a chance.
We are in the full rush of the holidays now, and an awful rush it is,
too. You ought to have been here the other day, to make that day perfect
and complete. All alone I managed to inflict agonies on Mrs: Clemens,
whereas I was expecting nothing but praises. I made a party call the day
after the party--and called the lady down from breakfast to receive it.
I then left there and called on a new bride, who received me in her
dressing-gown; and as things went pretty well, I stayed to luncheon.
The error here was, that the appointed reception-hour was 3 in the
afternoon, and not at the bride's house but at her aunt's in another part
of the town. However, as I meant well, none of these disasters
The Yankee did not find a very hearty welcome in England. English
readers did not fancy any burlesque of their Arthurian tales, or
American strictures on their institutions. Mark Twain's publishers
had feared this, and asked that the story be especially edited for
the English edition. Clemens, however, would not listen to any
suggestions of the sort.
To Messrs. Chatto & Windus, in London, Eng.:
GENTLEMEN,--Concerning The Yankee, I have already revised the story
twice; and it has been read critically by W. D. Howells and Edmund
Clarence Stedman, and my wife has caused me to strike out several
passages that have been brought to her attention, and to soften others.
Furthermore, I have read chapters of the book in public where Englishmen
were present and have profited by their suggestions.
Now, mind you, I have taken all this pains because I wanted to say a
Yankee mechanic's say against monarchy and its several natural props,
and yet make a book which you would be willing to print exactly as it
comes to you, without altering a word.
We are spoken of (by Englishmen) as a thin-skinned people. It is you who
are thin-skinned. An Englishman may write with the most brutal frankness
about any man or institution among us and we republish him without
dreaming of altering a line or a word. But England cannot stand that
kind of a book written about herself. It is England that is thin-
skinned. It causeth me to smile when I read the modifications of my
language which have been made in my English editions to fit them for the
sensitive English palate.
Now, as I say, I have taken laborious pains to so trim this book of
offense that you might not lack the nerve to print it just as it stands.
I am going to get the proofs to you just as early as I can. I want you
to read it carefully. If you can publish it without altering a single
word, go ahead. Otherwise, please hand it to J. R. Osgood in time for
him to have it published at my expense.
This is important, for the reason that the book was not written for
America; it was written for England. So many Englishmen have done their
sincerest best to teach us something for our betterment that it seems to
me high time that some of us should substantially recognize the good
intent by trying to pry up the English nation to a little higher level of
manhood in turn.
Very truly yours,
S. L. CLEMENS.
The English nation, at least a considerable portion of it, did not wish
to be "pried up to a higher level of manhood" by a Connecticut Yankee.
The papers pretty generally denounced the book as coarse; in fact, a
vulgar travesty. Some of the critics concluded that England, after all,
had made a mistake in admiring Mark Twain. Clemens stood this for a time
and then seems to have decided that something should be done. One of the
foremost of English critics was his friend and admirer; he would state
the case to him fully and invite his assistance.
To Andrew Lang, in London:
[First page missing.]
They vote but do not print. The head tells you pretty promptly whether
the food is satisfactory or not; and everybody hears, and thinks the
whole man has spoken. It is a delusion. Only his taste and his smell
have been heard from--important, both, in a way, but these do not build
up the man; and preserve his life and fortify it.
The little child is permitted to label its drawings "This is a cow this
is a horse," and so on. This protects the child. It saves it from the
sorrow and wrong of hearing its cows and its horses criticized as
kangaroos and work benches. A man who is white-washing a fence is doing
a useful thing, so also is the man who is adorning a rich man's house
with costly frescoes; and all of us are sane enough to judge these
performances by standards proper to each. Now, then, to be fair, an
author ought to be allowed to put upon his book an explanatory line:
"This is written for the Head;" "This is written for the Belly and the
Members." And the critic ought to hold himself in honor bound to put
away from him his ancient habit of judging all books by one standard, and
thenceforth follow a fairer course.
The critic assumes, every time, that if a book doesn't meet the
cultivated-class standard, it isn't valuable. Let us apply his law all
around: for if it is sound in the case of novels, narratives, pictures,
and such things, it is certainly sound and applicable to all the steps
which lead up to culture and make culture possible. It condemns the
spelling book, for a spelling book is of no use to a person of culture;
it condemns all school books and all schools which lie between the
child's primer and Greek, and between the infant school and the
university; it condemns all the rounds of art which lie between the cheap
terra cotta groups and the Venus de Medici, and between the chromo and
the Transfiguration; it requires Whitcomb Riley to sing no more till he
can sing like Shakespeare, and it forbids all amateur music and will
grant its sanction to nothing below the "classic."
Is this an extravagant statement? No, it is a mere statement of fact.
It is the fact itself that is extravagant and grotesque. And what is the
result? This--and it is sufficiently curious: the critic has actually
imposed upon the world the superstition that a painting by Raphael is
more valuable to the civilizations of the earth than is a chromo; and the
august opera than the hurdy-gurdy and the villagers' singing society; and
Homer than the little everybody's-poet whose rhymes are in all mouths
today and will be in nobody's mouth next generation; and the Latin
classics than Kipling's far-reaching bugle-note; and Jonathan Edwards
than the Salvation Army; and the Venus de Medici than the plaster-cast
peddler; the superstition, in a word, that the vast and awful comet that
trails its cold lustre through the remote abysses of space once a century
and interests and instructs a cultivated handful of astronomers is worth
more to the world than the sun which warms and cheers all the nations
every day and makes the crops to grow.
If a critic should start a religion it would not have any object but to
convert angels: and they wouldn't need it. The thin top crust of
humanity--the cultivated--are worth pacifying, worth pleasing, worth
coddling, worth nourishing and preserving with dainties and delicacies,
it is true; but to be caterer to that little faction is no very dignified
or valuable occupation, it seems to me; it is merely feeding the over-
fed, and there must be small satisfaction in that. It is not that little
minority who are already saved that are best worth trying to uplift,
I should think, but the mighty mass of the uncultivated who are
underneath. That mass will never see the Old Masters--that sight is for
the few; but the chromo maker can lift them all one step upward toward
appreciation of art; they cannot have the opera, but the hurdy-gurdy and
the singing class lift them a little way toward that far light; they will
never know Homer, but the passing rhymester of their day leaves them
higher than he found them; they may never even hear of the Latin
classics, but they will strike step with Kipling's drum-beat, and they
will march; for all Jonathan Edwards's help they would die in their
slums, but the Salvation Army will beguile some of them up to pure air
and a cleaner life; they know no sculpture, the Venus is not even a name
to them, but they are a grade higher in the scale of civilization by the
ministrations of the plaster-cast than they were before it took its place
upon then mantel and made it beautiful to their unexacting eyes.
Indeed I have been misjudged, from the very first. I have never tried in
even one single instance, to help cultivate the cultivated classes.
I was not equipped for it, either by native gifts or training. And I
never had any ambition in that direction, but always hunted for bigger
game--the masses. I have seldom deliberately tried to instruct them,
but have done my best to entertain them. To simply amuse them would have
satisfied my dearest ambition at any time; for they could get instruction
elsewhere, and I had two chances to help to the teacher's one: for
amusement is a good preparation for study and a good healer of fatigue
after it. My audience is dumb, it has no voice in print, and so I cannot
know whether I have won its approbation or only got its censure.
Yes, you see, I have always catered for the Belly and the Members, but
have been served like the others--criticized from the culture-standard
--to my sorrow and pain; because, honestly, I never cared what became of
the cultured classes; they could go to the theatre and the opera--they
had no use for me and the melodeon.
And now at last I arrive at my object and tender my petition, making
supplication to this effect: that the critics adopt a rule recognizing
the Belly and the Members, and formulate a standard whereby work done for
them shall be judged. Help me, Mr. Lang; no voice can reach further than
yours in a case of this kind, or carry greater weight of authority.
Lang's reply was an article in the Illustrated London News on "The
Art of Mark Twain." Lang had no admiration to express for the
Yankee, which he confessed he had not cared to read, but he
glorified Huck Finn to the highest. "I can never forget, nor be
ungrateful for the exquisite pleasure with which I read Huckleberry
Finn for the first time, years ago," he wrote; "I read it again last
night, deserting Kenilworth for Huck. I never laid it down till I
had finished it."
Lang closed his article by referring to the story of Huck as the
"great American novel which had escaped the eyes of those who
watched to see this new planet swim into their ken."
LETTERS, 1890, CHIEFLY TO JOS. T. GOODMAN. THE GREAT MACHINE ENTERPRISE
Dr. John Brown's son, whom Mark Twain and his wife had known in 1873
as "Jock," sent copies of Dr. John Brown and His Sister Isabella, by
E. T. McLaren. It was a gift appreciated in the Clemens home.
To Mr. John Brown, in Edinburgh, Scotland:
HARTFORD, Feby 11, 1890.
DEAR MR. BROWN,--Both copies came, and we are reading and re-reading the
one, and lending the other, to old time adorers of "Rab and his Friends."
It is an exquisite book; the perfection of literary workmanship. It says
in every line, "Don't look at me, look at him"--and one tries to be good
and obey; but the charm of the painter is so strong that one can't keep
his entire attention on the developing portrait, but must steal side-
glimpses of the artist, and try to divine the trick of her felicitous
brush. In this book the doctor lives and moves just as he was. He was
the most extensive slave-holder of his time, and the kindest; and yet he
died without setting one of his bondmen free. We all send our very, very
S. L. CLEMENS.
If Mark Twain had been less interested in the type-setting machine
he might possibly have found a profit that winter in the old Sellers
play, which he had written with Howells seven years before. The
play had eventually been produced at the Lyceum Theatre in New York,
with A. P. Burbank in the leading role, and Clemens and Howells as
financial backers. But it was a losing investment, nor did it pay
any better when Clemens finally sent Burbank with it on the road.
Now, however, James A. Herne, a well-known actor and playwright,
became interested in the idea, after a discussion of the matter with
Howells, and there seemed a probability that with changes made under
Herne's advisement the play might be made sensible and successful.
But Mark Twain's greater interest was now all in the type-machine,
and certainly he had no money to put into any other venture. His
next letter to Goodman is illuminating--the urgency of his need for
funds opposed to that conscientiousness which was one of the most
positive forces of Mark Twain's body spiritual. The Mr. Arnot of
this letter was an Elmira capitalist.
To Jos. T. Goodman, in California:
HARTFORD, March 31, '90.
DEAR JOE,--If you were here, I should say, "Get you to Washington and beg
Senator Jones to take the chances and put up about ten or "--no, I
wouldn't. The money would burn a hole in my pocket and get away from me
if the furnisher of it were proceeding upon merely your judgment and mine
and without other evidence. It is too much of a responsibility.
But I am in as close a place to-day as ever I was; $3,000 due for the
last month's machine-expenses, and the purse empty. I notified Mr. Arnot
a month ago that I should want $5,000 to-day, and his check arrived last
night; but I sent it back to him, because when he bought of me on the 9th
of December I said that I would not draw upon him for 3 months, and that
before that date Senator Jones would have examined the machine and
approved, or done the other thing. If Jones should arrive here a week or
ten days from now (as he expects to do,) and should not approve, and
shouldn't buy any royalties, my deal with Arnot would not be
symmetrically square, and then how could I refund? The surest way was to
return his check.
I have talked with the madam, and here is the result. I will go down to
the factory and notify Paige that I will scrape together $6,000 to meet
the March and April expenses, and will retire on the 30th of April and
return the assignment to him if in the meantime I have not found
It is very rough; for the machine does at last seem perfect, and just a
bird to go! I think she's going to be good for 8,000 ems an hour in the
hands of a good ordinary man after a solid year's practice. I may be in
error, but I most solidly believe it.
There's an improved Mergenthaler in New York; Paige and Davis and I
watched it two whole afternoons.
With the love of us all,
Arnot wrote Clemens urging him to accept the check for five thousand
dollars in this moment of need. Clemens was probably as sorely
tempted to compromise with his conscience as he had ever been in his
life, but his resolution field firm.
To M. H. Arnot, in Elmira, N. Y.:
MR. M. H. ARNOT
DEAR SIR,--No--no, I could not think of taking it, with you unsatisfied;
and you ought not to be satisfied until you have made personal
examination of the machine and had a consensus of testimony of
disinterested people, besides. My own perfect knowledge of what is
required of such a machine, and my perfect knowledge of the fact that
this is the only machine that can meet that requirement, make it
difficult for me to realize that a doubt is possible to less well-posted
men; and so I would have taken your money without thinking, and thus
would have done a great wrong to you and a great one to myself. And now
that I go back over the ground, I remember that where I said I could get
along 3 months without drawing on you, that delay contemplated a visit
from you to the machine in the interval, and your satisfaction with its
character and prospects. I had forgotten all that. But I remember it
now; and the fact that it was not "so nominated in the bond" does not
alter the case or justify me in making my call so prematurely. I do not
know that you regarded all that as a part of the bargain--for you were
thoroughly and magnanimously unexacting--but I so regarded it,
notwithstanding I have so easily managed to forget all about it.
You so gratified me, and did me so much honor in bonding yourself to me
in a large sum, upon no evidence but my word and with no protection but
my honor, that my pride in that is much stronger than my desire to reap a
money advantage from it.
With the sincerest appreciation I am Truly yours
S L. CLEMENS.
P. S. I have written a good many words and yet I seem to have failed to
say the main thing in exact enough language--which is, that the
transaction between us is not complete and binding until you shall have
convinced yourself that the machine's character and prospects are
I ought to explain that the grippe delayed us some weeks, and that we
have since been waiting for Mr. Jones. When he was ready, we were not;
and now we have been ready more than a month, while he has been kept in
Washington by the Silver bill. He said the other day that to venture out
of the Capitol for a day at this time could easily chance to hurt him if
the bill came up for action, meantime, although it couldn't hurt the
bill, which would pass anyway. Mrs. Jones said she would send me two or
three days' notice, right after the passage of the bill, and that they
would follow as soon as I should return word that their coming would not
inconvenience us. I suppose I ought to go to New York without waiting
for Mr. Jones, but it would not be wise to go there without money.
The bill is still pending.
The Mergenthaler machine, like the Paige, was also at this time in
the middle stages of experimental development. It was a slower
machine, but it was simpler, less expensive, occupied less room.
There was not so much about it to get out of order; it was not so
delicate, not so human. These were immense advantages.
But no one at this time could say with certainty which typesetter
would reap the harvest of millions. It was only sure that at least
one of them would, and the Mergenthaler people were willing to trade
stock for stock with the Paige company in order to insure financial
success for both, whichever won. Clemens, with a faith that never
faltered, declined this offer, a decision that was to cost him
Winter and spring had gone and summer had come, but still there had
been no financial conclusion with Jones, Mackay, and the other rich
Californians who were to put up the necessary million for the
machine's manufacture. Goodman was spending a large part of his
time traveling back and forth between California and Washington,
trying to keep business going at both ends. Paige spent most of his
time working out improvements for the type-setter, delicate
attachments which complicated its construction more and more.
To Joe T. Goodman, in Washington:
HARTFORD, June 22, '90.
DEAR JOE,--I have been sitting by the machine 2 hours, this afternoon,
and my admiration of it towers higher than ever. There is no sort of
mistake about it, it is the Big Bonanza. In the 2 hours, the time lost
by type-breakage was 3 minutes.
This machine is totally without a rival. Rivalry with it is impossible.
Last Friday, Fred Whitmore (it was the 28th day of his apprenticeship on
the machine) stacked up 49,700 ems of solid nonpareil in 8 hours, and the
type-breaking delay was only 6 minutes for the day.
I claim yet, as I have always claimed, that the machine's market (abroad
and here together,) is today worth $150,000,000 without saying anything
about the doubling and trebling of this sum that will follow within the
life of the patents. Now here is a queer fact: I am one of the
wealthiest grandees in America--one of the Vanderbilt gang, in fact--and
yet if you asked me to lend you a couple of dollars I should have to ask
you to take my note instead.
It makes me cheerful to sit by the machine: come up with Mrs. Goodman and
refresh yourself with a draught of the same.
The machine was still breaking the types now and then, and no doubt
Paige was itching to take it to pieces, and only restrained by force
from doing so. He was never thoroughly happy unless he was taking
the machine apart or setting it up again. Finally, he was allowed
to go at it--a disasterous permission, for it was just then that
Jones decided to steal a day or two from the Silver Bill and watch
the type-setter in operation. Paige already had it in parts when
this word came from Goodman, and Jones's visit had to be called off.
His enthusiasm would seem to have weakened from that day. In July,
Goodman wrote that both Mackay and Jones had become somewhat
diffident in the matter of huge capitalization. He thought it
partly due, at least, to "the fatal delays that have sicklied over
the bloom of original enthusiasm." Clemens himself went down to
Washington and perhaps warmed Jones with his eloquence; at least,
Jones seemed to have agreed to make some effort in the matter a
qualified promise, the careful word of a wary politician and
capitalist. How many Washington trips were made is not certain, but
certainly more than one. Jones would seem to have suggested forms
of contracts, but if he came to the point of signing any there is no
evidence of it to-day.
Any one who has read Mark Twain's, "A Connecticut Yankee in King
Arthur's Court," has a pretty good idea of his opinion of kings in
general, and tyrants in particular. Rule by "divine right," however
liberal, was distasteful to him; where it meant oppression it
stirred him to violence. In his article, "The Czar's Soliloquy," he
gave himself loose rein concerning atrocities charged to the master
of Russia, and in a letter which he wrote during the summer of 1890,
he offered a hint as to remedies. The letter was written by
editorial request, but was never mailed. Perhaps it seemed too
openly revolutionary at the moment.
Yet scarcely more than a quarter of a century was needed to make it
"timely." Clemens and his family were spending some weeks in the
Catskills when it was written.
An unpublished letter on the Czar.
TO THE EDITOR OF FREE RUSSIA,--I thank you for the compliment of your
invitation to say something, but when I ponder the bottom paragraph on
your first page, and then study your statement on your third page, of the
objects of the several Russian liberation-parties, I do not quite know
how to proceed. Let me quote here the paragraph referred to:
"But men's hearts are so made that the sight of one voluntary victim for
a noble idea stirs them more deeply than the sight of a crowd submitting
to a dire fate they cannot escape. Besides, foreigners could not see so
clearly as the Russians how much the Government was responsible for the
grinding poverty of the masses; nor could they very well realize the
moral wretchedness imposed by that Government upon the whole of educated
Russia. But the atrocities committed upon the defenceless prisoners are
there in all their baseness, concrete and palpable, admitting of no
excuse, no doubt or hesitation, crying out to the heart of humanity
against Russian tyranny. And the Tzar's Government, stupidly confident
in its apparently unassailable position, instead of taking warning from
the first rebukes, seems to mock this humanitarian age by the aggravation
of brutalities. Not satisfied with slowly killing its prisoners, and
with burying the flower of our young generation in the Siberian desserts,
the Government of Alexander III. resolved to break their spirit by
deliberately submitting them to a regime of unheard-of brutality and
When one reads that paragraph in the glare of George Kennan's
revelations, and considers how much it means; considers that all earthly
figures fail to typify the Czar's government, and that one must descend
into hell to find its counterpart, one turns hopefully to your statement
of the objects of the several liberation-parties--and is disappointed.
Apparently none of them can bear to think of losing the present hell
entirely, they merely want the temperature cooled down a little.
I now perceive why all men are the deadly and uncompromising enemies of
the rattlesnake: it is merely because the rattlesnake has not speech.
Monarchy has speech, and by it has been able to persuade men that it
differs somehow from the rattlesnake, has something valuable about it
somewhere, something worth preserving, something even good and high and
fine, when properly "modified," something entitling it to protection from
the club of the first comer who catches it out of its hole. It seems a
most strange delusion and not reconcilable with our superstition that man
is a reasoning being. If a house is afire, we reason confidently that it
is the first comer's plain duty to put the fire out in any way he can--
drown it with water, blow it up with dynamite, use any and all means to
stop the spread of the fire and save the rest of the city. What is the
Czar of Russia but a house afire in the midst of a city of eighty
millions of inhabitants? Yet instead of extinguishing him, together with
his nest and system, the liberation-parties are all anxious to merely
cool him down a little and keep him.
It seems to me that this is illogical--idiotic, in fact. Suppose you had
this granite-hearted, bloody-jawed maniac of Russia loose in your house,
chasing the helpless women and little children--your own. What would you
do with him, supposing you had a shotgun? Well, he is loose in your
house-Russia. And with your shotgun in your hand, you stand trying to
think up ways to "modify" him.
Do these liberation-parties think that they can succeed in a project
which has been attempted a million times in the history of the world and
has never in one single instance been successful--the "modification" of a
despotism by other means than bloodshed? They seem to think they can.
My privilege to write these sanguinary sentences in soft security was
bought for me by rivers of blood poured upon many fields, in many lands,
but I possess not one single little paltry right or privilege that come
to me as a result of petition, persuasion, agitation for reform, or any
kindred method of procedure. When we consider that not even the most
responsible English monarch ever yielded back a stolen public right until
it was wrenched from them by bloody violence, is it rational to suppose
that gentler methods can win privileges in Russia?
Of course I know that the properest way to demolish the Russian throne
would be by revolution. But it is not possible to get up a revolution
there; so the only thing left to do, apparently, is to keep the throne
vacant by dynamite until a day when candidates shall decline with thanks.
Then organize the Republic. And on the whole this method has some large
advantages; for whereas a revolution destroys some lives which cannot
well be spared, the dynamite way doesn't. Consider this: the
conspirators against the Czar's life are caught in every rank of life,
from the low to the high. And consider: if so many take an active part,
where the peril is so dire, is this not evidence that the sympathizers
who keep still and do not show their hands, are countless for multitudes?
Can you break the hearts of thousands of families with the awful Siberian
exodus every year for generations and not eventually cover all Russia
from limit to limit with bereaved fathers and mothers and brothers and
sisters who secretly hate the perpetrator of this prodigious crime and
hunger and thirst for his life? Do you not believe that if your wife or
your child or your father was exiled to the mines of Siberia for some
trivial utterances wrung from a smarting spirit by the Czar's intolerable
tyranny, and you got a chance to kill him and did not do it, that you
would always be ashamed to be in your own society the rest of your life?
Suppose that that refined and lovely Russian lady who was lately stripped
bare before a brutal soldiery and whipped to death by the Czar's hand in
the person of the Czar's creature had been your wife, or your daughter or
your sister, and to-day the Czar should pass within reach of your hand,
how would you feel--and what would you do? Consider, that all over vast
Russia, from boundary to boundary, a myriad of eyes filled with tears
when that piteous news came, and through those tears that myriad of eyes
saw, not that poor lady, but lost darlings of their own whose fate her
fate brought back with new access of grief out of a black and bitter past
never to be forgotten or forgiven.
If I am a Swinburnian--and clear to the marrow I am--I hold human nature
in sufficient honor to believe there are eighty million mute Russians
that are of the same stripe, and only one Russian family that isn't.
Type-setter matters were going badly. Clemens still had faith in
Jones, and he had lost no grain of faith in the machine. The money
situation, however, was troublesome. With an expensive
establishment, and work of one sort or another still to be done on
the machine, his income would not reach. Perhaps Goodman had
already given up hope, for he does not seem to have returned from
California after the next letter was written--a colorless letter--
in which we feel a note of resignation. The last few lines are
To Joe T. Goodman, in California:
DEAR JOE,--...... I wish you could get a day off and make those two or
three Californians buy those privileges, for I'm going to need money
I don't know where the Senator is; but out on the Coast I reckon.
I guess we've got a perfect machine at last. We never break a type, now,
and the new device for enabling the operator to touch the last letters
and justify the line simultaneously works, to a charm.
With love to you both,
The year closed gloomily enough. The type-setter seemed to be
perfected, but capital for its manufacture was not forthcoming.
The publishing business of Charles L. Webster & Co. was returning
little or no profit. Clemens's mother had died in Keokuk at the end
of October, and his wife's mother, in Elmira a month later. Mark
Twain, writing a short business letter to his publishing manager,
Fred J. Ball, closed it: "Merry Xmas to you!--and I wish to God I
could have one myself before I die."
LETTERS, 1891, TO HOWELLS, MRS. CLEMENS AND OTHERS.
RETURN TO LITERATURE. AMERICAN CLAIMANT. LEAVING HARTFORD.
EUROPE. DOWN THE RHINE
Clemens was still not without hope in the machine, at the beginning of
the new year (1891) but it was a hope no longer active, and it presently
became a moribund. Jones, on about the middle of February, backed out
altogether, laying the blame chiefly on Mackay and the others, who, he
said, had decided not to invest. Jones "let his victim down easy" with
friendly words, but it was the end, for the present, at least, of machine
It was also the end of Mark Twain's capital. His publishing business was
not good. It was already in debt and needing more money. There was just
one thing for him to do and he did it at once, not stopping to cry over
spilt milk, but with good courage and the old enthusiasm that never
failed him, he returned to the trade of authorship. He dug out half-
finished articles and stories, finished them and sold them, and within a
week after the Jones collapse he was at work on a novel based an the old
Sellers idea, which eight years before he and Howells had worked into a
play. The brief letter in which he reported this news to Howells bears
no marks of depression, though the writer of it was in his fifty-sixth
year; he was by no means well, and his financial prospects were anything
To W. D. Howells, in Boston:
HARTFORD, Feb. 24, '91
DEAR HOWELLS,--Mrs. Clemens has been sick abed for near two weeks, but is
up and around the room now, and gaining. I don't know whether she has
written Mrs. Howells or not--I only know she was going to--and will yet,
if she hasn't. We are promising ourselves a whole world of pleasure in
the visit, and you mustn't dream of disappointing us.
Does this item stir an interest in you? Began a novel four days ago, and
this moment finished chapter four. Title of the book
"Colonel Mulberry Sellers.
Great Earldom of Rossmore'
Peerage of Great Britain."
Probably Mark Twain did not return to literary work reluctantly. He had
always enjoyed writing and felt now that he was equipped better than ever
for authorship, at least so far as material was concerned. There exists
a fragmentary copy of a letter to some unknown correspondent, in which he
recites his qualifications. It bears evidence of having been written
just at this time and is of unusual interest at this point.
Fragment of Letter to -------, 1891:
. . . . I confine myself to life with which I am familiar when
pretending to portray life. But I confined myself to the boy-life out on
the Mississippi because that had a peculiar charm for me, and not because
I was not familiar with other phases of life. I was a soldier two weeks
once in the beginning of the war, and was hunted like a rat the whole
time. Familiar? My splendid Kipling himself hasn't a more burnt-in,
hard-baked, and unforgetable familiarity with that death-on-the-pale-
horse-with-hell-following-after, which is a raw soldier's first fortnight
in the field--and which, without any doubt, is the most tremendous
fortnight and the vividest he is ever going to see.
Yes, and I have shoveled silver tailings in a quartz-mill a couple of
weeks, and acquired the last possibilities of culture in that direction.
And I've done "pocket-mining" during three months in the one little patch
of ground in the whole globe where Nature conceals gold in pockets--or
did before we robbed all of those pockets and exhausted, obliterated,
annihilated the most curious freak Nature ever indulged in. There are
not thirty men left alive who, being told there was a pocket hidden on
the broad slope of a mountain, would know how to go and find it, or have
even the faintest idea of how to set about it; but I am one of the
possible 20 or 30 who possess the secret, and I could go and put my hand
on that hidden treasure with a most deadly precision.
And I've been a prospector, and know pay rock from poor when I find it--
just with a touch of the tongue. And I've been a silver miner and know
how to dig and shovel and drill and put in a blast. And so I know the
mines and the miners interiorly as well as Bret Harte knows them
And I was a newspaper reporter four years in cities, and so saw the
inside of many things; and was reporter in a legislature two sessions
and the same in Congress one session, and thus learned to know personally
three sample bodies of the smallest minds and the selfishest souls and
the cowardliest hearts that God makes.
And I was some years a Mississippi pilot, and familiarly knew all the
different kinds of steam-boatmen--a race apart, and not like other folk.
And I was for some years a traveling "jour" printer, and wandered from
city to city--and so I know that sect familiarly.
And I was a lecturer on the public platform a number of seasons and was a
responder to toasts at all the different kinds of banquets--and so I know
a great many secrets about audiences--secrets not to be got out of books,
but only acquirable by experience.
And I watched over one dear project of mine for years, spent a fortune on
it, and failed to make it go--and the history of that would make a large
book in which a million men would see themselves as in a mirror; and they
would testify and say, Verily, this is not imagination; this fellow has
been there--and after would cast dust upon their heads, cursing and
And I am a publisher, and did pay to one author's widow (General Grant's)
the largest copyright checks this world has seen--aggregating more than
L80,000 in the first year.
And I have been an author for 20 years and an ass for 55.
Now then; as the most valuable capital or culture or education usable in
the building of novels is personal experience I ought to be well equipped
for that trade.
I surely have the equipment, a wide culture, and all of it real, none of
it artificial, for I don't know anything about books.
Clemens for several years had been bothered by rheumatism in his
shoulder. The return now to the steady use of the pen aggravated
his trouble, and at times he was nearly disabled. The phonograph
for commercial dictation had been tried experimentally, and Mark
Twain was always ready for any innovation.
To W. D. Howells, in Boston:
HARTFORD, Feb. 28, '91.
DEAR HOWELLS,--Won't you drop-in at the Boylston Building (New England
Phonograph Co) and talk into a phonograph in an ordinary conversation-
voice and see if another person (who didn't hear you do it) can take the
words from the thing without difficulty and repeat them to you. If the
experiment is satisfactory (also make somebody put in a message which you
don't hear, and see if afterward you can get it out without difficulty)
won't you then ask them on what terms they will rent me a phonograph for
3 months and furnish me cylinders enough to carry 75,000 words. 175
cylinders, ain't it?
I don't want to erase any of them. My right arm is nearly disabled by
rheumatism, but I am bound to write this book (and sell 100,000 copies of
it--no, I mean a million--next fall) I feel sure I can dictate the book
into a phonograph if I don't have to yell. I write 2,000 words a day; I
think I can dictate twice as many.
But mind, if this is going to be too much trouble to you--go ahead and do
it, all the same.
Howells, always willing to help, visited the phonograph place, and a
few days later reported results. He wrote: "I talked your letter
into a fonograf in my usual tone at my usual gait of speech. Then
the fonograf man talked his answer in at his wonted swing and swell.
Then we took the cylinder to a type-writer in the next room, and she
put the hooks into her ears and wrote the whole out. I send you the
result. There is a mistake of one word. I think that if you have
the cheek to dictate the story into the fonograf, all the rest is
perfectly easy. It wouldn't fatigue me to talk for an hour as I
Clemens did not find the phonograph entirely satisfactory, at least
not for a time, and he appears never to have used it steadily. His
early experience with it, however, seems interesting.
To W. D. Howells, in Boston:
HARTFORD, Apl. 4, '91.
DEAR HOWELLS,--I'm ashamed. It happened in this way. I was proposing to
acknowledge the receipt of the play and the little book per phonograph,
so that you could see that the instrument is good enough for mere letter-
writing; then I meant to add the fact that you can't write literature
with it, because it hasn't any ideas and it hasn't any gift for
elaboration, or smartness of talk, or vigor of action, or felicity of
expression, but is just matter-of-fact, compressive, unornamental, and as
grave and unsmiling as the devil.
I filled four dozen cylinders in two sittings, then found I could have
said about as much with the pen and said it a deal better. Then I
I believe it could teach one to dictate literature to a phonographer--and
some time I will experiment in that line.
The little book is charmingly written, and it interested me. But it
flies too high for me. Its concretest things are filmy abstractions to
me, and when I lay my grip on one of them and open my hand, I feel as
embarrassed as I use to feel when I thought I had caught a fly. I'm
going to try to mail it back to you to-day--I mean I am going to charge
my memory. Charging my memory is one of my chief industries ....
With our loves and our kindest regards distributed among you according to
P. S.--I'm sending that ancient "Mental Telegraphy" article to Harper's
--with a modest postscript. Probably read it to you years ago.
S. L. C.
The "little book" mentioned in this letter was by Swedenborg, an
author in whom the Boston literary set was always deeply interested.
"Mental Telegraphy" appeared in Harper's Magazine, and is now
included in the Uniform Edition of Mark Twain's books. It was
written in 1878.
Joe Goodman had long since returned to California, it being clear
that nothing could be gained by remaining in Washington. On receipt
of the news of the type-setter's collapse he sent a consoling word.
Perhaps he thought Clemens would rage over the unhappy circumstance,
and possibly hold him in some measure to blame. But it was
generally the smaller annoyances of life that made Mark Twain rage;
the larger catastrophes were likely to stir only his philosophy.
The Library of American Literature, mentioned in the following
letter, was a work in many volumes, edited by Edmund Clarence
Stedman and Ellen Mackay Hutchinson.
To Joe T. Goodman:
April [?] 1891.
DEAR JOE, Well, it's all right, anyway. Diplomacy couldn't have saved
it--diplomacy of mine--at that late day. I hadn't any diplomacy in
stock, anyway. In order to meet Jones's requirements I had to surrender
the old contract (a contract which made me boss of the situation and gave
me the whip-hand of Paige) and allow the new one to be drafted and put in
its place. I was running an immense risk, but it was justified by
Jones's promises--promises made to me not merely once but every time I
tallied with him. When February arrived, I saw signs which were mighty
plain reading. Signs which meant that Paige was hoping and praying that
Jones would go back on me--which would leave Paige boss, and me robbed
and out in the cold. His prayers were answered, and I am out in the
cold. If I ever get back my nine-twentieths interest, it will be by law-
suit--which will be instituted in the indefinite future, when the time
I am at work again--on a book. Not with a great deal of spirit, but with
enough--yes, plenty. And I am pushing my publishing house. It has
turned the corner after cleaning $50,000 a year for three consecutive
years, and piling every cent of it into one book--Library of American
Literature--and from next January onward it will resume dividends. But
I've got to earn $50,000 for it between now and then--which I will do if
I keep my health. This additional capital is needed for that same book,
because its prosperity is growing so great and exacting.
It is dreadful to think of you in ill health--I can't realize it; you are
always to me the same that you were in those days when matchless health.
and glowing spirits and delight in life were commonplaces with us. Lord
save us all from old age and broken health and a hope-tree that has lost
the faculty of putting out blossoms.
With love to you both from us all.
Mark Twain's residence in Hartford was drawing rapidly to a close.
Mrs. Clemens was poorly, and his own health was uncertain. They
believed that some of the European baths would help them.
Furthermore, Mark Twain could no longer afford the luxury of his
Hartford home. In Europe life could be simpler and vastly cheaper.
He was offered a thousand dollars apiece for six European letters,
by the McClure syndicate and W. M. Laffan, of the Sun. This would
at least give him a start on the other side. The family began
immediately their sad arrangements for departure.
To Fred J. Hall (manager Chas. L. Webster & Co.), N. Y.:
HARTFORD, Apl. 14, '91.
DEAR MR. HALL,--Privately--keep it to yourself--as you, are already
aware, we are going to Europe in June, for an indefinite stay. We shall
sell the horses and shut up the house. We wish to provide a place for
our coachman, who has been with us a 21 years, and is sober, active,
diligent, and unusually bright and capable. You spoke of hiring a
colored man as engineer and helper in the packing room. Patrick would
soon learn that trade and be very valuable. We will cease to need him by
the middle or end of June. Have you made irrevocable arrangements with
the colored man, or would you prefer to have Patrick, if he thinks he
would like to try?
I have not said anything to him about it yet.
S. L. C.
It was to be a complete breaking up of their beautiful
establishment. Patrick McAleer, George the butler, and others of
their household help had been like members of the family. We may
guess at the heartbreak of it all, even though the letters remain
Howells, strangely enough, seems to have been about the last one to
be told of their European plans; in fact, he first got wind of it
from the papers, and wrote for information. Likely enough Clemens
had not until then had the courage to confess.
To W. D. Howells, in Boston:
HARTFORD, May 20, '91.
DEAR HOWELLS,--For her health's sake Mrs. Clemens must try baths
somewhere, and this it is that has determined us to go to Europe.
The water required seems to be provided at a little obscure and little-
visited nook up in the hills back of the Rhine somewhere and you get to
it by Rhine traffic-boat and country stage-coach. Come, get "sick or
sorry enough" and join us. We shall be a little while at that bath, and
the rest of the summer at Annecy (this confidential to you) in Haute
Savoie, 22 miles from Geneva. Spend the winters in Berlin. I don't know
how long we shall be in Europe--I have a vote, but I don't cast it. I'm
going to do whatever the others desire, with leave to change their mind,
without prejudice, whenever they want to. Travel has no longer, any
charm for me. I have seen all the foreign countries I want to see except
heaven and hell, and I have only a vague curiosity as concerns one of
I found I couldn't use the play--I had departed too far from its lines
when I came to look at it. I thought I might get a great deal of
dialogue out of it, but I got only 15 loosely written pages--they saved
me half a days work. It was the cursing phonograph. There was abundance
of good dialogue, but it couldn't befitted into the new conditions of the
Oh, look here--I did to-day what I have several times in past years
thought of doing: answered an interviewing proposition from a rich
newspaper with the reminder that they had not stated the terms; that my
time was all occupied with writing, at good pay, and that as talking was
harder work I should not care to venture it unless I knew the pay was
going to be proportionately higher. I wish I had thought of this the
other day when Charley Stoddard turned a pleasant Englishman loose on me
and I couldn't think of any rational excuse.
Clemens had finished his Sellers book and had disposed of the serial
rights to the McClure syndicate. The house in Hartford was closed
early in June, and on the 6th the family, with one maid, Katie
Leary, sailed on the Gascogne. Two weeks later they had begun a
residence abroad which was to last for more than nine years.
It was not easy to get to work in Europe. Clemens's arm remained
lame, and any effort at writing brought suffering. The Century
Magazine proposed another set of letters, but by the end of July he
had barely begun on those promised to McClure and Laffan. In
August, however, he was able to send three: one from Aix about the
baths there, another from Bayreuth concerning the Wagner festival,
and a third from Marienbad, in Bohemia, where they rested for a
time. He decided that he would arrange for no more European letters
when the six were finished, but would gather material for a book.
He would take a courier and a kodak and go tramping again in some
fashion that would be interesting to do and to write.
The idea finally matured when he reached Switzerland and settled the
family at the Hotel Beau Rivage, Ouchy, Lausanne, facing Lake Leman.
He decided to make a floating trip down the Rhone, and he engaged
Joseph Very, a courier that had served him on a former European
trip, to accompany him. The courier went over to Bourget and bought
for five dollars a flat-bottomed boat and engaged its owner as their
pilot. It was the morning of September 20, when they began their
floating-trip down the beautiful historic river that flows through
the loveliest and most romantic region of France. He wrote daily to
Mrs. Clemens, and his letters tell the story of that drowsy, happy
experience better than the notes made with a view to publication.
Clemens had arrived at Lake Bourget on the evening before the
morning of their start and slept on the Island of Chatillon, in an
old castle of the same name. Lake Bourget connects with the Rhone
by a small canal.
Letters and Memoranda to Mrs. Clemens, in Ouchy, Switzerland:
Sept. 20, 1891.
Sunday, 11 a.m.
On the lake Bourget--just started. The castle of Chatillon high overhead
showing above the trees. It was a wonderfully still place to sleep in.
Beside us there was nobody in it but a woman, a boy and a dog. A Pope
was born in the room I slept in. No, he became a Pope later.
The lake is smooth as glass--a brilliant sun is shining.
Our boat is comfortable and shady with its awning.
11.20 We have crossed the lake and are entering the canal. Shall
presently be in the Rhone.
Noon. Nearly down to the Rhone. Passing the village of Chanaz.
3.15 p. m. Sunday. We have been in the Rhone 3 hours. It is
unimaginably still and reposeful and cool and soft and breezy. No rowing
or work of any kind to do--we merely float with the current--we glide
noiseless and swift--as fast as a London cab-horse rips along--8 miles an
hour--the swiftest current I've ever boated in. We have the entire river
to ourselves--nowhere a boat of any kind.
Good bye Sweetheart
S. L. C.
PORT DE GROLEE, Monday, 4.15 p.m.
[Sept. 21, 1891]
Name of the village which we left five minutes ago.
We went ashore at 5 p. m. yesterday, dear heart, and walked a short mile
to St. Geuix, a big village, and took quarters at the principal inn; had
a good dinner and afterwards along walk out of town on the banks of the
Guiers till 7.30.
Went to bed at 8.30 and continued to make notes and read books and
newspapers till midnight. Slept until 8, breakfasted in bed, and lay
till noon, because there had been a very heavy rain in the night and the
day was still dark and lowering. But at noon the sun broke through and
in 15 minutes we were tramping toward the river. Got afloat at 1 p. m.
but at 2.40 we had to rush suddenly ashore and take refuge in the above
village. Just as we got ourselves and traps safely housed in the inn,
the rain let go and came down in great style. We lost an hour and a half
there, but we are off again, now, with bright sunshine.
I wrote you yesterday my darling, and shall expect to write you every
Good-day, and love to all of you.
ON THE RHONE BELOW VILLEBOIS,
Good morning, sweetheart. Night caught us yesterday where we had to take
quarters in a peasant's house which was occupied by the family and a lot
of cows and calves--also several rabbits.--[His word for fleas.]--The
latter had a ball, and I was the ball-room; but they were very friendly
and didn't bite.
The peasants were mighty kind and hearty, and flew around and did their
best to make us comfortable. This morning I breakfasted on the shore in
the open air with two sociable dogs and a cat. Clean cloth, napkin and
table furniture, white sugar, a vast hunk of excellent butter, good
bread, first class coffee with pure milk, fried fish just caught.
Wonderful that so much cleanliness should come out of such a phenomenally
An hour ago we saw the Falls of the Rhone, a prodigiously rough and
dangerous looking place; shipped a little water but came to no harm.
It was one of the most beautiful pieces of piloting and boat-management
I ever saw. Our admiral knew his business.
We have had to run ashore for shelter every time it has rained
heretofore, but Joseph has been putting in his odd time making a water-
proof sun-bonnet for the boat, and now we sail along dry although we had
many heavy showers this morning.
With a word of love to you all and particularly you,
ON THE RHONE, BELOW VIENNA.
I salute you, my darling. Your telegram reached me in Lyons last night
and was very pleasant news indeed.
I was up and shaved before 8 this morning, but we got delayed and didn't
sail from Lyons till 10.3O--an hour and a half lost. And we've lost
another hour--two of them, I guess--since, by an error. We came in sight
of Vienne at 2 o'clock, several miles ahead, on a hill, and I proposed to
walk down there and let the boat go ahead of us. So Joseph and I got out
and struck through a willow swamp along a dim path, and by and by came
out on the steep bank of a slough or inlet or something, and we followed
that bank forever and ever trying to get around the head of that slough.
Finally I noticed a twig standing up in the water, and by George it had a
distinct and even vigorous quiver to it! I don't know when I have felt
so much like a donkey. On an island! I wanted to drown somebody, but I
hadn't anybody I could spare. However, after another long tramp we found
a lonely native, and he had a scow and soon we were on the mainland--yes,
and a blamed sight further from Vienne than we were when we started.
Notes--I make millions of them; and so I get no time to write to you. If
you've got a pad there, please send it poste-restante to Avignon. I may
not need it but I fear I shall.
I'm straining to reach St. Pierre de Boef, but it's going to be a close
fit, I reckon.
AFLOAT, Friday, 3 p.m., '91.
Livy darling, we sailed from St. Pierre de Boef six hours ago, and are
now approaching Tournon, where we shall not stop, but go on and make
Valence, a City Of 25,000 people. It's too delicious, floating with the
swift current under the awning these superb sunshiny days in deep peace
and quietness. Some of these curious old historical towns strangely
persuade me, but it is so lovely afloat that I don't stop, but view them
from the outside and sail on. We get abundance of grapes and peaches for
next to nothing.
Joseph is perfect. He is at his very best--and never was better in his
life. I guess he gets discouraged and feels disliked and in the way when
he is lying around--but here he is perfection, and brim full of useful
alacrities and helps and ingenuities.
When I woke up an hour ago and heard the clock strike 4, I said "I seem
to have been asleep an immensely long time; I must have gone to bed
mighty early; I wonder what time I did go to bed." And I got up and lit
a candle and looked at my watch to see.
2 HOURS BELOW BOURG ST. ANDEOL.
Monday, 11 a.m., Sept. 28.
Livy darling, I didn't write yesterday. We left La Voulte in a driving
storm of cold rain--couldn't write in it--and at 1 p. m. when we were
not thinking of stopping, we saw a picturesque and mighty ruin on a high
hill back of a village, and I was seized with a desire to explore it; so
we landed at once and set out with rubbers and umbrella, sending the boat
ahead to St. Andeol, and we spent 3 hours clambering about those cloudy
heights among those worn and vast and idiotic ruins of a castle built by
two crusaders 650 years ago. The work of these asses was full of
interest, and we had a good time inspecting, examining and scrutinizing
it. All the hills on both sides of the Rhone have peaks and precipices,
and each has its gray and wasted pile of mouldy walls and broken towers.
The Romans displaced the Gauls, the Visigoths displaced the Romans, the
Saracens displaced the Visigoths, the Christians displaced the Saracens,
and it was these pious animals who built these strange lairs and cut each
other's throats in the name and for the glory of God, and robbed and
burned and slew in peace and war; and the pauper and the slave built
churches, and the credit of it went to the Bishop who racked the money
out of them. These are pathetic shores, and they make one despise the
We came down in an hour by rail, but I couldn't get your telegram till
this morning, for it was Sunday and they had shut up the post office to
go to the circus. I went, too. It was all one family--parents and 5
children--performing in the open air to 200 of these enchanted villagers,
who contributed coppers when called on. It was a most gay and strange
and pathetic show. I got up at 7 this morning to see the poor devils
cook their poor breakfast and pack up their sordid fineries.
This is a 9 k-m. current and the wind is with us; we shall make Avignon
before 4 o'clock. I saw watermelons and pomegranates for sale at St.
With a power of love, Sweetheart,
HOTEL D'EUROPE, AVIGNON,
Monday, 6 p.m., Sept. 28.
Well, Livy darling, I have been having a perfect feast of letters for an
hour, and I thank you and dear Clam with all my heart. It's like hearing
from home after a long absence.
It is early to be in bed, but I'm always abed before 9, on this voyage;
and up at 7 or a trifle later, every morning. If I ever take such a trip
again, I will have myself called at the first tinge of dawn and get to
sea as soon after as possible. The early dawn on the water-nothing can
be finer, as I know by old Mississippi experience. I did so long for you
and Sue yesterday morning--the most superb sunrise!--the most marvelous
sunrise! and I saw it all from the very faintest suspicion of the coming
dawn all the way through to the final explosion of glory. But it had
interest private to itself and not to be found elsewhere in the world;
for between me and it, in the far distant-eastward, was a silhouette
mountain-range in which I had discovered, the previous afternoon, a most
noble face upturned to the sky, and mighty form out stretched, which I
had named Napoleon Dreaming of Universal Empire--and now, this prodigious
face, soft, rich, blue, spirituelle, asleep, tranquil, reposeful, lay
against that giant conflagration of ruddy and golden splendors all rayed
like a wheel with the upstreaming and far-reaching lances of the sun. It
made one want to cry for delight, it was so supreme in its unimaginable
majesty and beauty.
We had a curious experience today. A little after I had sealed and
directed my letter to you, in which I said we should make Avignon before
4, we got lost. We ceased to encounter any village or ruin mentioned in
our "particularizes" and detailed Guide of the Rhone--went drifting along
by the hour in a wholly unknown land and on an uncharted river! Confound
it, we stopped talking and did nothing but stand up in the boat and
search the horizons with the glass and wonder what in the devil had
happened. And at last, away yonder at 5 o'clock when some east towers
and fortresses hove in sight we couldn't recognize them for Avignon--yet
we knew by the broken bridge that it was Avignon.
Then we saw what the trouble was--at some time or other we had drifted
down the wrong side of an island and followed a sluggish branch of the
Rhone not frequented in modern times. We lost an hour and a half by it
and missed one of the most picturesque and gigantic and history-sodden
masses of castellated medieval ruin that Europe can show.
It was dark by the time we had wandered through the town and got the
letters and found the hotel--so I went to bed.
We shall leave here at noon tomorrow and float down to Arles, arriving
about dark, and there bid good bye to the boat, the river-trip finished.
Between Arles and Nimes (and Avignon again,) we shall be till Saturday
morning--then rail it through on that day to Ouchy, reaching the hotel at
11 at night if the train isn't late.
Next day (Sunday) if you like, go to Basel, and Monday to Berlin. But I
shall be at your disposal, to do exactly as you desire and prefer.
With no end of love to all of you and twice as much to you,
I believe my arm is a trifle better than it was when I started.
The mention in the foregoing letter of the Napoleon effigy is the
beginning of what proved to be a rather interesting episode. Mark
Twain thought a great deal of his discovery, as he called it--the
giant figure of Napoleon outlined by the distant mountain range.
In his note-book he entered memoranda telling just where it was to
be seen, and added a pencil sketch of the huge profile. But then he
characteristically forgot all about it, and when he recalled the
incident ten years later, he could not remember the name of the
village, Beauchastel, from which the great figure could be seen;
also, that he had made a record of the place.
But he was by this time more certain than ever that his discovery
was a remarkable one, which, if known, would become one of the great
natural wonders, such as Niagara Falls. Theodore Stanton was
visiting him at the time, and Clemens urged him, on his return to
France, to make an excursion to the Rhone and locate the Lost
Napoleon, as he now called it. But Clemens remembered the wonder as
being somewhere between Arles and Avignon, instead of about a
hundred miles above the last-named town. Stanton naturally failed
to find it, and it remained for the writer of these notes, motoring
up the Rhone one September day, exactly twenty-two years after the
first discovery, to re-locate the vast reclining figure of the first
consul of France, "dreaming of Universal Empire." The re-discovery
was not difficult--with Mark Twain's memoranda as a guide--and it
was worth while. Perhaps the Lost Napoleon is not so important a
natural wonder as Mark Twain believed, but it is a striking picture,
and on a clear day the calm blue face outlined against the sky will
long hold the traveler's attention.
To Clara Clemens, in Ouchy, Switzerland:
AFLOAT, 11.20 a.m., Sept. 29, Tuesday.
DEAR OLD BEN,--The vast stone masses and huge towers of the ancient papal
palace of Avignon are projected above an intervening wooded island a mile
up the river behind me--for we are already on our way to Arles. It is a
perfectly still morning, with a brilliant sun, and very hot--outside; but
I am under cover of the linen hood, and it is cool and shady in here.
Please tell mamma I got her very last letter this morning, and I perceive
by it that I do not need to arrive at Ouchy before Saturday midnight.
I am glad, because I couldn't do the railroading I am proposing to do
during the next two or three days and get there earlier. I could put in
the time till Sunday midnight, but shall not venture it without
telegraphic instructions from her to Nimes day after tomorrow, Oct. 1,
care Hotel Manivet.
The only adventures we have is in drifting into rough seas now and then.
They are not dangerous, but they go thro' all the motions of it.
Yesterday when we shot the Bridge of the Holy Spirit it was probably in
charge of some inexperienced deputy spirit for the day, for we were
allowed to go through the wrong arch, which brought us into a tourbillon
below which tried to make this old scow stand on its head. Of course I
lost my temper and blew it off in a way to be heard above the roar of the
tossing waters. I lost it because the admiral had taken that arch in
deference to my opinion that it was the best one, while his own judgment
told him to take the one nearest the other side of the river. I could
have poisoned him I was so mad to think I had hired such a turnip.
A boatman in command should obey nobody's orders but his own, and yield
to nobody's suggestions.
It was very sweet of you to write me, dear, and I thank you ever so much.
With greatest love and kisses,
To Mrs. Clemens, in Ouchy, Switzerland:
ARLES, Sept. 30, noon.
Livy darling, I hain't got no time to write today, because I am sight
seeing industriously and imagining my chapter.
Bade good-bye to the river trip and gave away the boat yesterday evening.
We had ten great days in her.
We reached here after dark. We were due about 4.30, counting by
distance, but we couldn't calculate on such a lifeless current as we
I love you, sweetheart.
It had been a long time since Clemens had written to his old friend
Twichell, but the Rhone trip must have reminded him of those days
thirteen years earlier, when, comparatively young men, he and
Twichell were tramping through the Black Forest and scaling Gemmi
Pass. He sent Twichell a reminder of that happy time.
To Rev. Joseph H. Twichell, in Hartford, Conn:
NIMES, Oct. 1, '91.
DEAR JOE,--I have been ten days floating down the Rhone on a raft, from
Lake Bourget, and a most curious and darling kind of a trip it has been.
You ought to have been along--I could have made room for you easily--and
you would have found that a pedestrian tour in Europe doesn't begin with
a raft-voyage for hilarity and mild adventure, and intimate contact with
the unvisited native of the back settlements, and extinction from the
world and newspapers, and a conscience in a state of coma, and lazy
comfort, and solid happiness. In fact there's nothing that's so lovely.
But it's all over. I gave the raft away yesterday at Arles, and am
loafing along back by short stages on the rail to Ouchy-Lausanne where
the tribe are staying.
Love to you all
The Clemenses settled in Berlin for the winter, at 7 Kornerstrasse,
and later at the Hotel Royal. There had been no permanent
improvement in Mark Twain's arm and he found writing difficult.
Some of the letters promised to Laffan and McClure were still
Young Hall, his publishing manager in America, was working hard to
keep the business afloat, and being full of the optimism of his
years did not fail to make as good a showing as he could. We may
believe his letters were very welcome to Clemens and his wife, who
found little enough in the general prospect to comfort them.
To Mr. Hall, in New York:
BERLIN, Nov. 27, '91.
DEAR MR. HALL,--That kind of a statement is valuable. It came this
morning. This is the first time since the business began that I have had
a report that furnished the kind of information I wanted, and was really
enlightening and satisfactory. Keep it up. Don't let it fall into
Everything looks so fine and handsome with the business, now, that I feel
a great let-up from depression. The rewards of your long and patient
industry are on their way, and their arrival safe in port, presently,
By George, I shall be glad when the ship comes in!
My arm is so much better that I was able to make a speech last night to
250 Americans. But when they threw my portrait on the screen it was a
sorrowful reminder, for it was from a negative of 15 years ago, and
hadn't a gray hair in it. And now that my arm is better, I have stolen a
couple of days and finished up a couple of McClure letters that have been
lying a long time.
I shall mail one of them to you next Tuesday--registered. Lookout for
I shall register and mail the other one (concerning the "Jungfrau") next
Friday look out for it also, and drop me a line to let me know they have
I shall write the 6th and last letter by and by when I have studied
Yours in a most cheerful frame of mind, and with my and all the family's
Thanksgiving greetings and best wishes,
S. L. CLEMENS.
Postscript by Mrs. Clemens written on Mr. Clemens's letter:
DEAR MR. HALL,--This is my birthday and your letter this morning was a
happy addition to the little gifts on the breakfast table. I thought of
going out and spending money for something unnecessary after it came, but
concluded perhaps I better wait a little longer.
O. L. CLEMENS.
"The German Chicago" was the last of the six McClure letters and was
finished that winter in Berlin. It is now included in the Uniform
Edition of Mark Twain's works, and is one of the best descriptive
articles of the German capital ever written. He made no use of the
Rhone notes further than to put them together in literary form.
They did not seem to him to contain enough substance to warrant
publication. A letter to Hall, written toward the end of December,
we find rather gloomy in tone, though he is still able to extract
comfort and even cheerfulness from one of Mr. Hall's reports.
Memorandum to Fred J. Hall, in New York:
Among the MSS I left with you are a few that have a recent look and are
written on rather stiff pale green paper. If you will have those type-
writered and keep the originals and send me the copies (one per mail, not
two.) I'll see if I can use them.
But tell Howells and other inquirers that my hopes of writing anything
are very slender--I seem to be disabled for life.
Drop McClure a line and tell him the same. I can't dare to make an
engagement now for even a single letter.
I am glad Howells is on a magazine, but sorry he gave up the Study.
I shall have to go on a magazine myself if this L. A. L. continues to
hold my nose down to the grind-stone much longer.
I'm going to hold my breath, now, for 30 days--then the annual statement
will arrive and I shall know how we feel! Merry Xmas to you from us all.
S. L. C.
P. S. Just finished the above and finished raging at the eternal German
tax-gatherer, and so all the jubilant things which I was going to say
about the past year's business got knocked out of me. After writing this
present letter I was feeling blue about Huck Finn, but I sat down and
overhauled your reports from now back to last April and compared them
with the splendid Oct.-Nov. business, and went to bed feeling refreshed
and fine, for certainly it has been a handsome year. Now rush me along
the Annual Report and let's see how we feel!
S. L. C.
LETTERS, 1892, CHIEFLY TO MR. HALL AND MRS. CRANE. IN BERLIN, MENTONE,
Mark Twain was the notable literary figure in Berlin that winter, the
center of every great gathering. He was entertained by the Kaiser, and
shown many special attentions by Germans of every rank. His books were
as well known in Berlin as in New York, and at court assemblies and
embassies he was always a chief center of interest.
He was too popular for his own good; the gaiety of the capital told on
him. Finally, one night, after delivering a lecture in a hot room, he
contracted a severe cold, driving to a ball at General von Versen's, and
a few days later was confined to his bed with pneumonia. It was not a
severe attack, but it was long continued. He could write some letters
and even work a little, but he was not allowed to leave his bed for many
weeks, a condition which he did not find a hardship, for no man ever
enjoyed the loose luxury of undress and the comfort of pillows more than
Mark Twain. In a memorandum of that time he wrote: "I am having a
booming time all to myself."
Meantime, Hall, in America, was sending favorable reports of the
publishing business, and this naturally helped to keep up his spirits.
He wrote frequently to Hall, of course, but the letters for the most part
are purely of a business nature and of little interest to the general
To Fred J. Hall, in New York:
HOTEL ROYAL, BERLIN, Feb. 12.
DEAR MR. HALL,--Daly wants to get the stage rights of the "American
Claimant." The foundation from which I wrote the story is a play of the
same name which has been in A. P. Burbank's hands 5 or 6 years. That
play cost me some money (helping Burbank stage it) but has never brought
me any. I have written Burbank (Lotos Club) and asked him to give me
back his rights in the old play so that I can treat with Daly and utilize
this chance to even myself up. Burbank is a lovely fellow, and if he
objects I can't urge him. But you run in at the Lotos and see him; and
if he relinquishes his claim, then I would like you to conduct the
business with Daly; or have Whitford or some other lawyer do it under
your supervision if you prefer.
This morning I seem to have rheumatism in my right foot.
I am ordered south by the doctor and shall expect to be well enough to
start by the end of this month.
It is curious, after Clemens and Howells had tried so hard and so
long to place their "Sellers" Play, that now, when the story
appeared in book form, Augustin Daly should have thought it worth
dramatizing. Daly and Clemens were old friends, and it would seem
that Daly could hardly have escaped seeing the play when it was
going the rounds. But perhaps there is nothing more mysterious in
the world than the ways and wants of theatrical managers. The
matter came to nothing, of course, but the fact that Daly should
have thought a story built from an old discarded play had a play in
it seems interesting.
Clemens and his wife were advised to leave the cold of Berlin as
soon as he was able to travel. This was not until the first of
March, when, taking their old courier, Joseph Very, they left the
children in good hands and journeyed to the south of France.
To Susy Clemens, in Berlin:
MENTONE, Mch 22, '92.
SUSY DEAR,--I have been delighted to note your easy facility with your
pen and proud to note also your literary superiorities of one kind and
another--clearness of statement, directness, felicity of expression,
photographic ability in setting forth an incident--style--good style--no
barnacles on it in the way of unnecessary, retarding words (the Shipman
scrapes off the barnacles when he wants his racer to go her best gait and
straight to the buoy.) You should write a letter every day, long or short
--and so ought I, but I don't.
Mamma says, tell Clara yes, she will have to write a note if the fan
comes back mended.
We couldn't go to Nice to-day--had to give it up, on various accounts--
and this was the last chance. I am sorry for Mamma--I wish she could
have gone. She got a heavy fall yesterday evening and was pretty stiff
and lame this morning, but is working it off trunk packing.
Joseph is gone to Nice to educate himself in Kodaking--and to get the
pictures mounted which Mamma thinks she took here; but I noticed she
didn't take the plug out, as a rule. When she did, she took nine
pictures on top of each other--composites.
With lots of love.
In the course of their Italian wanderings they reached Florence,
where they were so comfortable and well that they decided to engage
a villa for the next winter. Through Prof. Willard Fiske, they
discovered the Villa Viviani, near Settignano, an old palace
beautifully located on the hilltops east of Florence, commanding a
wonderful view of the ancient city. Clemens felt that he could work
there, and time proved that he was right.
For the summer, however, they returned to Germany, and located at
Bad-Nauheim. Clemens presently decided to make a trip to America to
give some personal attention to business matters. For one thing,
his publishing-house, in spite of prosperity, seemed constantly to
be requiring more capital, and then a Chicago company had been
persuaded by Paige to undertake the manufacture of the type-setter.
It was the beginning of a series of feverish trips which he would
make back and forth across the ocean during the next two years.
To Fred J. Hall, in New York:
BAD-NAUHEIM, June 11, '92.
DEAR MR. HALL,--If this arrives before I do, let it inform you that I am
leaving Bremen for New York next Tuesday in the "Havel."
If you can meet me when the ship arrives, you can help me to get away
from the reporters; and maybe you can take me to your own or some other
lodgings where they can't find me.
But if the hour is too early or too late for you, I shall obscure myself
somewhere till I can come to the office.
S. L. C.
Nothing of importance happened in America. The new Paige company
had a factory started in Chicago and expected to manufacture fifty
machines as a beginning. They claimed to have capital, or to be
able to command it, and as the main control had passed from
Clemens's hands, he could do no more than look over the ground and
hope for the best. As for the business, about all that he could do
was to sign certain notes necessary to provide such additional
capital as was needed, and agree with Hall that hereafter they would
concentrate their efforts and resist further temptation in the way
of new enterprise. Then he returned to Bad-Nauheim and settled down
to literature. This was the middle of July, and he must have worked
pretty steadily, for he presently had a variety of MSS. ready to
To Fred J. Hall, in New York:
Aug. 10, '92.
DEAR MR. HALT,--I have dropped that novel I wrote you about, because I
saw a more effective way of using the main episode--to wit: by telling it
through the lips of Huck Finn. So I have started Huck Finn and Tom
Sawyer (still 15 years old) and their friend the freed slave Jim around
the world in a stray balloon, with Huck as narrator, and somewhere after
the end of that great voyage he will work in the said episode and then
nobody will suspect that a whole book has been written and the globe
circumnavigated merely to get that episode in an effective (and at the
same time apparently unintentional) way. I have written 12,000 words of
this narrative, and find that the humor flows as easily as the adventures
and surprises--so I shall go along and make a book of from 50,000 to
It is a story for boys, of course, and I think will interest any boy
between 8 years and 80.
When I was in New York the other day Mrs. Dodge, editor of St. Nicholas,
wrote and, offered me $5,000 for (serial right) a story for boys 50,000
words long. I wrote back and declined, for I had other matter in my
I conceive that the right way to write a story for boys is to write so
that it will not only interest boys but will also strongly interest any
man who has ever been a boy. That immensely enlarges the audience.
Now this story doesn't need to be restricted to a Childs magazine--it is
proper enough for any magazine, I should think, or for a syndicate. I
don't swear it, but I think so.
Proposed title of the story, "New Adventures of Huckleberry Finn."
The "novel" mentioned in the foregoing was The Extraordinary Twins,
a story from which Pudd'nhead Wilson would be evolved later. It was
a wildly extravagant farce--just the sort of thing that now and then
Mark Twain plunged into with an enthusiasm that had to work itself
out and die a natural death, or mellow into something worth while.
Tom Sawyer Abroad, as the new Huck story was finally called, was
completed and disposed of to St. Nicholas for serial publication.
The Twichells were in Europe that summer, and came to Bad-Nauheim.
The next letter records a pleasant incident. The Prince of Wales of
that day later became King Edward VII.
To Mr. and Mrs. Orion Clemens, in Keokuk, Iowa.:
Private. BAD-NAUHEIM, Aug. 23, '92.
DEAR ORION AND MOLLIE,--("Private" because no newspaper-man or other
gossip must get hold of it)
Livy is getting along pretty well, and the doctor thinks another summer
here will cure her.
The Twichell's have been here four days and we have had good times with
them. Joe and I ran over to Homburg, the great pleasure resort,
Saturday, to dine with some friends, and in the morning I went walking in
the promenade and met the British Ambassador to the Court of Berlin, and
he introduced me to the Prince of Wales, and I found him a most unusually
comfortable and unembarrassing Englishman to talk with--quick to see the
obscurest point, and equipped with a laugh which is spontaneous and
catching. Am invited by a near friend of his to meet him at dinner day
after tomorrow, and there could be a good time, but the brass band will
smash the talk and spoil everything.
We are expecting to move to Florence ten or twelve days hence, but if
this hot weather continues we shall wait for cooler. I take Clara to
Berlin for the winter-music, mainly, with German and French added. Thus
far, Jean is our only glib French scholar.
We all send love to you all and to Pamela and Sam's family, and Annie.
Clemens and family left Bad-Nauheim for Italy by way of Switzerland.
In September Mrs. Clemens's sister, Mrs. Crane, who had been with
them in Europe during the first year, had now returned to America.
Mrs. Clemens had improved at the baths, though she had by no means
recovered her health. We get a general report of conditions from
the letter which Clemens wrote Mrs. Crane from Lucerne, Switzerland,
where the party rested for several days. The "Phelps" mentioned in
this letter was William Walter Phelps, United States Minister to
Germany. The Phelps and Clemens families had been much associated
in Berlin. "Mason" was Frank Mason, Consul General at Frankfort,
and in later years at Paris. "Charlie and Ida" were Charles and
Mrs. Langdon, of Elmira.
To Mrs. Crane, in Elmira, N. Y.:
LUCERNE, Sept. 18, '92.
DEAR AUNT SUE,--Imagine how I felt to find that you had actually gone off
without filling my traveling ink stand which you gave me! I found it out
yesterday. Livy advised me to write you about it.
I have been driving this pen hard. I wrote 280 pages on a yarn called
"Tom Sawyer Abroad," then took up the "Twins" again, destroyed the last
half of the manuscript and re-wrote it in another form, and am going to
continue it and finish it in Florence. "Tom Sawyer" seems rather pale to
the family after the extravagances of the Twins, but they came to like it
after they got used to it
We remained in Nauheim a little too long. If we had left there four or
five days earlier we should have made Florence in 3 days; but by the time
we got started Livy had got smitten with what we feared might be
erysipelas--greatly swollen neck and face, and unceasing headaches. We
lay idle in Frankfort 4 days, doctoring. We started Thursday and made
Bale. Hard trip, because it was one of those trains that gets tired
every seven minutes and stops to rest three quarters of an hour. It took
us 3 1/2 hours to get here, instead of the regulation 2.20. We reached
here Friday evening and will leave tomorrow (Tuesday) morning. The rest
has made the headaches better. We shall pull through to Milan tomorrow
if possible. Next day we shall start at 10 a. m., and try to make
Bologna, 5 hours. Next day (Thursday) Florence, D. V. Next year we will
walk, for these excursions have got to be made over again. I've got
seven trunks, and I undertook to be courier because I meant to express
them to Florence direct, but we were a couple of days too late. All
continental roads had issued a peremptory order that no baggage should
travel a mile except in the company of the owner. (All over Europe
people are howling; they are separated from their baggage and can't get
it forwarded to them) I have to re-ship my trunks every day. It is very
amusing--uncommonly so. There seemed grave doubts about our being able
to get these trunks over the Italian frontier, but I've got a very
handsome note from the Frankfort Italian Consul General addressed to all
Italian Customs Officers, and we shall get through if anybody does.
The Phelpses came to Frankfort and we had some great times--dinner at his
hotel, the Masons, supper at our inn--Livy not in it. She was merely
allowed a glimpse, no more. Of course, Phelps said she was merely
pretending to be ill; was never looking so well and fine.
The children are all right. They paddle around a little, and drive-so do
we all. Lucerne seems to be pretty full of tourists. The Fleulen boat
went out crowded yesterday morning.
The Paris Herald has created a public interest by inoculating one of its
correspondents with cholera. A man said yesterday he wished to God they
would inoculate all of them. Yes, the interest is quite general and
strong, and much hope is felt.
Livy says, I have said enough bad things, and better send all our loves
to you and Charley and Ida and all the children and shut up. Which I do
--and shut up.
S. L. C.
They reached Florence on the 26th, and four days later we find
Clemens writing again to Mrs. Crane, detailing everything at length.
Little comment on this letter is required; it fully explains itself.
Perhaps a word of description from one of his memoranda will not be
out of place. Of the villa he wrote: "It is a plain, square
building, like a box, and is painted light green and has green
window-shutters. It stands in a commanding position on the
artificial terrace of liberal dimensions, which is walled around
with masonry. From the walls the vineyards and olive groves of the
estate slant away toward the valley.... Roses overflow the
retaining walls and the battered and mossy stone urn on the gate-
post, in pink and yellow cataracts, exactly as they do on the drop-
curtains in the theaters. The house is a very fortress for
The Mrs. Ross in this letter was Janet Ross, daughter of Lady Duff
Gordon, remembered to-day for her Egyptian letters. The Ross castle
was but a little distance away.
To Mrs. Crane, in Elmira:
VILLA VIVIANI, SETTIGNANO, FLORENCE.
Sept. 30, 1892
DEAR SUE,--We have been in the house several days, and certainly it is a
beautiful place,--particularly at this moment, when the skies are a deep
leaden color, the domes of Florence dim in the drizzling rain, and
occasional perpendicular coils of lightning quivering intensely in the
black sky about Galileo's Tower. It is a charming panorama, and the most
conspicuous towers and domes down in the city look to-day just as they
looked when Boccaccio and Dante used to contemplate them from this
hillock five and six hundred years ago.
The Mademoiselle is a great help to Livy in the housekeeping, and is a
cheery and cheerful presence in the house. The butler is equipped with a
little French, and it is this fact that enables the house to go--but it
won't go well until the family get some sort of facility with the Italian
tongue, for the cook, the woman-of-all-work and the coachman understand
only that. It is a stubborn and devilish language to learn, but Jean and
the others will master it. Livy's German Nauheim girl is the worst off
of anybody, as there is no market for her tongue at all among the help.
With the furniture in and the curtains up the house is very pretty, and
not unhomelike. At mid-night last night we heard screams up stairs--Susy
had set the lofty window curtains afire with a candle. This sounds kind
of frightful, whereas when you come to think of it, a burning curtain or
pile of furniture hasn't any element of danger about it in this fortress.
There isn't any conceivable way to burn this house down, or enable a
conflagration on one floor to climb to the next.
Mrs. Ross laid in our wood, wine and servants for us, and they are
excellent. She had the house scoured from Cellar to rook the curtains
washed and put up, all beds pulled to pieces, beaten, washed and put
together again, and beguiled the Marchese into putting a big porcelain
stove in the vast central hall. She is a wonderful woman, and we don't
quite see how or when we should have gotten under way without her.
Observe our address above--the post delivers letters daily at the house.
Even with the work and fuss of settling the house Livy has improved--and
the best is yet to come. There is going to be absolute seclusion here--
a hermit life, in fact. We (the rest of us) shall run over to the Ross's
frequently, and they will come here now and then and see Livy--that is
all. Mr. Fiske is away--nobody knows where--and the work on his house
has been stopped and his servants discharged. Therefore we shall merely
go Rossing--as far as society is concerned--shan't circulate in Florence
until Livy shall be well enough to take a share in it.
This present house is modern. It is not much more than two centuries
old; but parts of it, and also its foundations are of high antiquity.
The fine beautiful family portraits--the great carved ones in the large
ovals over the doors of the big hall--carry one well back into the past.
One of them is dated 1305--he could have known Dante, you see. Another
is dated 1343--he could have known Boccaccio and spent his afternoons in
Fiesole listening to the Decameron tales. Another is dated 1463--
he could have met Columbus.....
Evening. The storm thundered away until night, and the rain came down in
floods. For awhile there was a partial break, which furnished about such
a sunset as will be exhibited when the Last Day comes and the universe
tumbles together in wreck and ruin. I have never seen anything more
spectacular and impressive.
One person is satisfied with the villa, anyway. Jean prefers it to all
Europe, save Venice. Jean is eager to get at the Italian tongue again,
now, and I see that she has forgotten little or nothing of what she
learned of it in Rome and Venice last spring.
I am the head French duffer of the family. Most of the talk goes over my
head at the table. I catch only words, not phrases. When Italian comes
to be substituted I shall be even worse off than I am now, I suppose.
This reminds me that this evening the German girl said to Livy, "Man hat
mir gesagt loss Sie una candella verlaught habe"--unconsciously dropping
in a couple of Italian words, you see. So she is going to join the
polyglots, too, it appears. They say it is good entertainment to hear
her and the butler talk together in their respective tongues, piecing out
and patching up with the universal sign-language as they go along. Five
languages in use in the house (including the sign-language-hardest-worked
of them all) and yet with all this opulence of resource we do seem to
have an uncommonly tough time making ourselves understood.
What we lack is a cat. If we only had Germania! That was the most
satisfactory all-round cat I have seen yet. Totally ungermanic in the
raciness of his character and in the sparkle of his mind and the
spontaneity of his movements. We shall not look upon his like again....
S. L. C.
Clemens got well settled down to work presently. He found the
situation, the climate, the background, entirely suited to literary
production, and in a little while he had accomplished more than at
any other time since his arrival in Europe. From letters to Mrs.
Crane and to Mr. Hall we learn something of his employments and his
To Mrs. Crane, in Elmira:
SETTIGNANO, FLORENCE. Oct. 22, '92.
DEAR SUE,--We are getting wonted. The open fires have driven away the
cold and the doubt, and now a cheery spirit pervades the place. Livy and
the Kings and Mademoiselle having been taking their tea a number of
times, lately, on the open terrace with the city and the hills and the
sunset for company. I stop work, a few minutes, as a rule, when the sun
gets down to the hilltops west of Florence, and join the tea-group to
wonder and exclaim. There is always some new miracle in the view, a new
and exquisite variation in the show, a variation which occurs every 15
minutes between dawn and night. Once early in the morning, a multitude
of white villas not before perceived, revealed themselves on the far
hills; then we recognized that all those great hills are snowed thick
with them, clear to the summit.
The variety of lovely effects, the infinitude of change, is something not
to be believed by any who has not seen it. No view that I am acquainted
with in the world is at all comparable to this for delicacy, charm,
exquisiteness, dainty coloring, and bewildering rapidity of change. It
keeps a person drunk with pleasure all the time. Sometimes Florence
ceases to be substantial, and becomes just a faint soft dream, with domes
and towers of air, and one is persuaded that he might blow it away with a
puff of his breath.
Livy is progressing admirably. This is just the place for her.
To Fred J. Hall, in New York:
Dec. 12, '92.
DEAR MR. HALL,--November check received.
I have lent the Californian's Story to Arthur Stedman for his Author Club
Book, so your suggestion that my new spring-book bear that name arrives
too late, as he probably would not want us to use that story in a book of
ours until the Author book had had its run. That is for him to decide--
and I don't want him hampered at all in his decision. I, for my part,
prefer the "$1,000,000 Banknote and Other Stories" by Mark Twain as a
title, but above my judgment I prefer yours. I mean this--it is not
I told Arthur to leave out the former squib or paragraph and use only the
Californian's Story. Tell him this is because I am going to use that in
the book I am now writing.
I finished "Those Extraordinary Twins" night before last makes 60 or
80,000 words--haven't counted.
The last third of it suits me to a dot. I begin, to-day, to entirely
recast and re-write the first two-thirds--new plan, with two minor
characters, made very prominent, one major character cropped out, and the
Twins subordinated to a minor but not insignificant place.
The minor character will now become the chiefest, and I will name the
story after him--"Puddn'head Wilson."
Merry Xmas to you, and great prosperity and felicity!
S. L. CLEMENS.
LETTERS, 1893, TO MR. HALL, MRS. CLEMENS, AND OTHERS. FLORENCE.
BUSINESS TROUBLES. "PUDD'NHEAD WILSON." "JOAN OF ARC."
AT THE PLAYERS, NEW YORK
The reader may have suspected that young Mr. Hall in New York was having
his troubles. He was by this time one-third owner in the business of
Charles L. Webster & Co., as well as its general manager. The business
had been drained of its capital one way and another-partly by the
publication of unprofitable books; partly by the earlier demands of the
typesetter, but more than all by the manufacturing cost and agents'
commissions demanded by L. A. L.; that is to say, the eleven large
volumes constituting the Library of American Literature, which Webster
had undertaken to place in a million American homes. There was plenty of
sale for it--indeed, that was just the trouble; for it was sold on
payments--small monthly payments--while the cost of manufacture and the
liberal agents' commissions were cash items, and it would require a
considerable period before the dribble of collections would swell into a