Part 5 out of 5
and he heralded the discovery far and wide. He wrote to friends far
and near advising them to try Kellgren for anything they might
happen to have. Whatever its beginning, any letter was likely to
close with some mention of the new panacea.
To Rev. J. H. Twichell, traveling in Europe:
SANNA, Sept. 6, '99.
DEAR JOE,--I've no business in here--I ought to be outside. I shall
never see another sunset to begin with it this side of heaven. Venice?
land, what a poor interest that is! This is the place to be. I have
seen about 60 sunsets here; and a good 40 of them were clear and away
beyond anything I had ever imagined before for dainty and exquisite and
marvellous beauty and infinite change and variety. America? Italy? The
tropics? They have no notion of what a sunset ought to be. And this
one--this unspeakable wonder! It discounts all the rest. It brings the
tears, it is so unutterably beautiful.
If I had time, I would say a word about this curative system here. The
people actually do several of the great things the Christian Scientists
pretend to do. You wish to advise with a physician about it? Certainly.
There is no objection. He knows next to something about his own trade,
but that will not embarrass him in framing a verdict about this one.
I respect your superstitions--we all have them. It would be quite
natural for the cautious Chinaman to ask his native priest to instruct
him as to the value of the new religious specialty which the Western
missionary is trying to put on the market, before investing in it. (He
would get a verdict.)
Love to you all!
Howells wrote that he was going on a reading-tour-dreading it, of
course-and asking for any advice that Clemens felt qualified to
give. Naturally, Clemens gave him the latest he had in stock,
without realizing, perhaps, that he was recommending an individual
practice which few would be likely to imitate. Nevertheless, what
he says is interesting.
To W. D. Howells, in America:
SANNA, SWEDEN, Sept. 26, '99.
DEAR HOWELLS,--Get your lecture by heart--it will pay you. I learned a
trick in Vienna--by accident--which I wish I had learned years ago. I
meant to read from a Tauchnitz, because I knew I hadn't well memorized
the pieces; and I came on with the book and read a few sentences, then
remembered that the sketch needed a few words of explanatory
introduction; and so, lowering the book and now and then unconsciously
using it to gesture with, I talked the introduction, and it happened to
carry me into the sketch itself, and then I went on, pretending that I
was merely talking extraneous matter and would come to the sketch
presently. It was a beautiful success. I knew the substance of the
sketch and the telling phrases of it; and so, the throwing of the rest of
it into informal talk as I went along limbered it up and gave it the snap
and go and freshness of an impromptu. I was to read several pieces, and
I played the same game with all of them, and always the audience thought
I was being reminded of outside things and throwing them in, and was
going to hold up the book and begin on the sketch presently--and so I
always got through the sketch before they were entirely sure that it had
begun. I did the same thing in Budapest and had the same good time over
again. It's a new dodge, and the best one that was ever invented. Try
it. You'll never lose your audience--not even for a moment. Their
attention is fixed, and never wavers. And that is not the case where one
reads from book or MS., or where he stands up without a note and frankly
exposes the fact, by his confident manner and smooth phrasing, that he is
not improvising, but reciting from memory. And in the heat of telling a
thing that is memorised in substance only, one flashes out the happiest
suddenly-begotten phrases every now and then! Try it. Such a phrase has
a life and sparkle about it that twice as good a one could not exhibit if
prepared beforehand, and it "fetches" an audience in such an enthusing
and inspiring and uplifting way that that lucky phrase breeds another
Your September instalment--["Their Silver Wedding journey."]--was
delicious--every word of it. You haven't lost any of your splendid art.
Callers have arrived.
"Yes," wrote Howells, "if I were a great histrionic artist like you
I would get my poor essays by heart, and recite them, but being what
I am I should do the thing so lifelessly that I had better recognise
their deadness frankly and read them."
From Vienna Clemens had contributed to the Cosmopolitan, then owned
by John Brisben Walker, his first article on Christian Science. It
was a delicious bit of humor and found such enthusiastic
appreciation that Walker was moved to send an additional $200 check
in payment for it. This brought prompt acknowledgment.
To John Brisben Walker, in Irvington, N. Y.:
LONDON, Oct. 19, '99
DEAR MR. WALKER,--By gracious but you have a talent for making a man feel
proud and good! To say a compliment well is a high art--and few possess
it. You know how to do it, and when you confirm its sincerity with a
handsome cheque the limit is reached and compliment can no higher go.
I like to work for you: when you don't approve an article you say so,
recognizing that I am not a child and can stand it; and when you approve
an article I don't have to dicker with you as if I raised peanuts and you
kept a stand; I know I shall get every penny the article is worth.
You have given me very great pleasure, and I thank you for it.
S. L. CLEMENS.
On the same day he sent word to Howells of the good luck which now
seemed to be coming his way. The Joan of Arc introduction was the
same that today appears in his collected works under the title of
Saint Joan of Arc.
To W. D. Howells, in New York:
LONDON, Oct. 19, '99.
DEAR HOWELLS,--My, it's a lucky day!--of the sort when it never rains but
it pours. I was to write an introduction to a nobler book--the English
translation of the Official Record (unabridged) of the Trials and
Rehabilitation of Joan of Arc, and make a lot of footnotes. I wrote the
introduction in Sweden, and here a few days ago I tore loose from a tale
I am writing, and took the MS book and went at the grind of note-making
--a fearful job for a man not used to it. This morning brought a note
from my excellent friend Murray, a rich Englishman who edits the
translation, saying, "Never mind the notes--we'll make the translators do
them." That was comfort and joy.
The same mail brought a note from Canon Wilberforce, asking me to talk
Joan of Arc in his drawing-room to the Dukes and Earls and M. P.'s--
(which would fetch me out of my seclusion and into print, and I couldn't
have that,) and so of course I must run down to the Abbey and explain--
and lose an hour. Just then came Murray and said "Leave that to me
--I'll go and do the explaining and put the thing off 3 months; you write
a note and tell him I am coming."
(Which I did, later.) Wilberforce carried off my hat from a lunch party
last summer, and in to-day's note he said he wouldn't steal my new hat
this time. In my note I said I couldn't make the drawing-room talk, now
--Murray would explain; and added a P. S.: "You mustn't think it is
because I am afraid to trust my hat in your reach again, for I assure you
upon honor it isn't. I should bring my old one."
I had suggested to Murray a fortnight ago, that he get some big guns to
write introductory monographs for the book.
Miss X, Joan's Voices and Prophecies.
The Lord Chief Justice of England, the legal prodigies which she
performed before her judges.
Lord Roberts, her military genius.
Kipling, her patriotism.
And so on. When he came this morning he said he had captured Miss X;
that Lord Roberts and Kipling were going to take hold and see if they
could do monographs worthy of the book. He hadn't run the others to
cover yet, but was on their track. Very good news. It is a grand book,
and is entitled to the best efforts of the best people. As for me, I
took pains with my Introduction, and I admit that it is no slouch of a
Then I came down to Chatto's, and found your all too beautiful letter,
and was lifted higher than ever. Next came letters from America properly
glorifying my Christian Science article in the Cosmopolitan (and one
roundly abusing it,) and a letter from John Brisben Walker enclosing $200
additional pay for the article (he had already paid enough, but I didn't
mention that--which wasn't right of me, for this is the second time he
has done such a thing, whereas Gilder has done it only once and no one
else ever.) I make no prices with Walker and Gilder--I can trust them.
And last of all came a letter from M-. How I do wish that man was in
hell. Even-the briefest line from that idiot puts me in a rage.
But on the whole it has been a delightful day, and with M----in hell it
would have been perfect. But that will happen, and I can wait.
Ah, if I could look into the inside of people as you do, and put it on
paper, and invent things for them to do and say, and tell how they said
it, I could writs a fine and readable book now, for I've got a prime
subject. I've written 30,000 words of it and satisfied myself that the
stuff is there; so I am going to discard that MS and begin all over again
and have a good time with it.
Oh, I know how you feel! I've been in hell myself. You are there
tonight. By difference in time you are at luncheon, now--and not eating
it. Nothing is so lonesome as gadding around platforming. I have
declined 45 lectures to-day-England and Scotland. I wanted the money,
but not the torture: Good luck to you!--and repentance.
With love to all of you
LETTERS OF 1900, MAINLY TO TWICHELL. THE BOER WAR. BOXER TROUBLES.
THE RETURN TO AMERICA
The New Year found Clemens still in London, chiefly interested in
osteopathy and characteristically glorifying the practice at the expense
of other healing methods.
To Rev. J. H. Twichell, in Hartford:
LONDON, Jan. 8, 1900.
DEAR JOE,--Mental Telepathy has scored another. Mental Telegraphy will
be greatly respected a century hence.
By the accident of writing my sister and describing to her the remarkable
cures made by Kellgren with his hands and without drugs, I brought upon
myself a quite stunning surprise; for she wrote to me that she had been
taking this very treatment in Buffalo--and that it was an American
Well, it does really turn out that Dr. Still, in the middle of Kansas, in
a village, began to experiment in 1874, only five years after Kellgren
began the same work obscurely in the village of Gotha, in Germany. Dr.
Still seems to be an honest man; therefore I am persuaded that Kellgren
moved him to his experiments by Mental Telegraphy across six hours of
longitude, without need of a wire. By the time Still began to
experiment, Kellgren had completed his development of the principles of
his system and established himself in a good practice in London--1874
--and was in good shape to convey his discovery to Kansas, Mental
Yes, I was greatly surprised to find that my mare's nest was much in
arrears: that this new science was well known in America under the name
of Osteopathy. Since then, I find that in the past 3 years it has got
itself legalized in 14 States in spite of the opposition of the
physicians; that it has established 20 Osteopathic schools and colleges;
that among its students are 75 allopathic physicians; that there is a
school in Boston and another in Philadelphia, that there are about 100
students in the parent college (Dr. Still's at Kirksville, Missouri,) and
that there are about 2,000 graduates practicing in America. Dear me,
there are not 30 in Europe. Europe is so sunk in superstitions and
prejudices that it is an almost impossible thing to get her to do
anything but scoff at a new thing--unless it come from abroad; as witness
the telegraph, dentistry, &c.
Presently the Osteopath will come over here from America and will soon
make himself a power that must be recognized and reckoned with; and then,
25 years from now, England will begin to claim the invention and tell all
about its origin, in the Cyclopedia B-----as in the case of the
telegraph, applied anaesthetics and the other benefactions which she
heaped her abuse upon when her inventors first offered them to her.
I cannot help feeling rather inordinately proud of America for the gay
and hearty way in which she takes hold of any new thing that comes along
and gives it a first rate trial. Many an ass in America, is getting a
deal of benefit out of X-Science's new exploitation of an age-old healing
principle--faith, combined with the patient's imagination--let it boom
along! I have no objection. Let them call it by what name they choose,
so long as it does helpful work among the class which is numerically
vastly the largest bulk of the human race, i.e. the fools, the idiots,
We do not guess, we know that 9 in 10 of the species are pudd'nheads.
We know it by various evidences; and one of them is, that for ages the
race has respected (and almost venerated) the physician's grotesque
system--the emptying of miscellaneous and harmful drugs into a person's
stomach to remove ailments which in many cases the drugs could not reach
at all; in many cases could reach and help, but only at cost of damage to
some other part of the man; and in the remainder of the cases the drug
either retarded the cure, or the disease was cured by nature in spite of
the nostrums. The doctor's insane system has not only been permitted to
continue its follies for ages, but has been protected by the State and
made a close monopoly--an infamous thing, a crime against a free-man's
proper right to choose his own assassin or his own method of defending
his body against disease and death.
And yet at the same time, with curious and senile inconsistency, the
State has allowed the man to choose his own assassin--in one detail--the
patent-medicine detail--making itself the protector of that perilous
business, collecting money out of it, and appointing no committee of
experts to examine the medicines and forbid them when extra dangerous.
Really, when a man can prove that he is not a jackass, I think he is in
the way to prove that he is no legitimate member of the race.
I have by me a list of 52 human ailments--common ones--and in this list I
count 19 which the physician's art cannot cure. But there isn't one
which Osteopathy or Kellgren cannot cure, if the patient comes early.
Fifteen years ago I had a deep reverence for the physician and the
surgeon. But 6 months of closely watching the Kellgren business has
revolutionized all that, and now I have neither reverence nor respect for
the physician's trade, and scarcely any for the surgeon's,--I am
convinced that of all quackeries, the physician's is the grotesquest and
the silliest. And they know they are shams and humbugs. They have taken
the place of those augurs who couldn't look each other in the face
See what a powerful hold our ancient superstitions have upon us: two
weeks ago, when Livy committed an incredible imprudence and by
consequence was promptly stricken down with a heavy triple attack--
influenza, bronchitis, and a lung affected--she recognized the gravity of
the situation, and her old superstitions rose: she thought she ought to
send for a doctor--Think of it--the last man in the world I should want
around at such a time. Of course I did not say no--not that I was
indisposed to take the responsibility, for I was not, my notion of a
dangerous responsibility being quite the other way--but because it is
unsafe to distress a sick person; I only said we knew no good doctor,
and it could not be good policy to choose at hazard; so she allowed me to
send for Kellgren. To-day she is up and around-Lured. It is safe to say
that persons hit in the same way at the same time are in bed yet, and
booked to stay there a good while, and to be in a shackly condition and
afraid of their shadows for a couple of years or more to come.
It will be seen by the foregoing that Mark Twain's interest in the
Kellgren system was still an ardent one. Indeed, for a time he gave most
of his thought to it, and wrote several long appreciations, perhaps with
little idea of publication, but merely to get his enthusiasm physically
expressed. War, however, presently supplanted medicine--the Boer
troubles in South Africa and the Boxer insurrection in China. It was a
disturbing, exciting year.
To W. D. Howells, in Boston:
WELLINGTON COURT, KNIGHTSBRIDGE,
Jan. 25, 1900.
DEAR HOWELLS,--If you got half as much as Pond prophesied, be content and
praise God--it has not happened to another. But I am sorry he didn't go
with you; for it is marvelous to hear him yarn. He is good company,
cheery and hearty, and his mill is never idle. Your doing a lecture tour
was heroic. It was the highest order of grit, and you have a right to be
proud of yourself. No mount of applause or money or both could save it
from being a hell to a man constituted as you are. It is that even to
me, who am made of coarser stuff.
I knew the audiences would come forward and shake hands with you--that
one infallible sign of sincere approval. In all my life, wherever it
failed me I left the hall sick and ashamed, knowing what it meant.
Privately speaking, this is a sordid and criminal war, and in every way
shameful and excuseless. Every day I write (in my head) bitter magazine
articles about it, but I have to stop with that. For England must not
fall; it would mean an inundation of Russian and German political
degradations which would envelop the globe and steep it in a sort of
Middle-Age night and slavery which would last till Christ comes again.
Even wrong--and she is wrong--England must be upheld. He is an enemy of
the human race who shall speak against her now. Why was the human race
created? Or at least why wasn't something creditable created in place of
it. God had his opportunity. He could have made a reputation. But no,
He must commit this grotesque folly--a lark which must have cost him a
regret or two when He came to think it over and observe effects. For a
giddy and unbecoming caprice there has been nothing like it till this
war. I talk the war with both sides--always waiting until the other man
introduces the topic. Then I say "My head is with the Briton, but my
heart and such rags of morals as I have are with the Boer--now we will
talk, unembarrassed and without prejudice." And so we discuss, and have
It was my intention to make some disparaging remarks about the human
race; and so I kept this letter open for that purpose, and for the
purpose of telling my dream, wherein the Trinity were trying to guess a
conundrum, but I can do better--for I can snip out of the "Times" various
samples and side-lights which bring the race down to date, and expose it
as of yesterday. If you will notice, there is seldom a telegram in a
paper which fails to show up one or more members and beneficiaries of our
Civilization as promenading in his shirt-tail, with the rest of his
regalia in the wash.
I love to see the holy ones air their smug pieties and admire them and
smirk over them, and at the same moment frankly and publicly show their
contempt for the pieties of the Boer--confidently expecting the approval
of the country and the pulpit, and getting it.
I notice that God is on both sides in this war; thus history repeats
itself. But I am the only person who has noticed this; everybody here
thinks He is playing the game for this side, and for this side only.
With great love to you all
One cannot help wondering what Mark Twain would have thought of
human nature had he lived to see the great World War, fought mainly
by the Christian nations who for nearly two thousand years had been
preaching peace on earth and goodwill toward men. But his opinion
of the race could hardly have been worse than it was. And nothing
that human beings could do would have surprised him.
To Rev. J. H. Twichell, in Hartford:
LONDON, Jan. 27, 1900.
DEAR JOE,--Apparently we are not proposing to set the Filipinos free and
give their islands to them; and apparently we are not proposing to hang
the priests and confiscate their property. If these things are so, the
war out there has no interest for me.
I have just been examining chapter LXX of "Following the Equator," to see
if the Boer's old military effectiveness is holding out. It reads
curiously as if it had been written about the present war.
I believe that in the next chapter my notion of the Boer was rightly
conceived. He is popularly called uncivilized, I do not know why.
Happiness, food, shelter, clothing, wholesale labor, modest and rational
ambitions, honesty, kindliness, hospitality, love of freedom and
limitless courage to fight for it, composure and fortitude in time of
disaster, patience in time of hardship and privation, absence of noise
and brag in time of victory, contentment with a humble and peaceful life
void of insane excitements--if there is a higher and better form of
civilization than this, I am not aware of it and do not know where to
look for it. I suppose we have the habit of imagining that a lot of
artistic, intellectual and other artificialities must be added, or it
isn't complete. We and the English have these latter; but as we lack the
great bulk of these others, I think the Boer civilization is the best of
the two. My idea of our civilization is that it is a shabby poor thing
and full of cruelties, vanities, arrogancies, meannesses, and
hypocrisies. As for the word, I hate the sound of it, for it conveys a
lie; and as for the thing itself, I wish it was in hell, where it
Provided we could get something better in the place of it. But that is
not possible, perhaps. Poor as it is, it is better than real savagery,
therefore we must stand by it, extend it, and (in public) praise it.
And so we must not utter any hateful word about England in these days,
nor fail to hope that she will win in this war, for her defeat and fall
would be an irremediable disaster for the mangy human race.... Naturally,
then, I am for England; but she is profoundly in the wrong, Joe, and no
(instructed) Englishman doubts it. At least that is my belief.
Maybe I managed to make myself misunderstood, as to the Osteopathists.
I wanted to know how the men impress you. As to their Art, I know fairly
well about that, and should not value Hartford's opinion of it; nor a
physician's; nor that of another who proposed to enlighten me out of his
ignorance. Opinions based upon theory, superstition and ignorance are
not very precious.
Livy and the others are off for the country for a day or two.
Love to you all
The next letter affords a pleasant variation. Without doubt it was
written on realizing that good nature and enthusiasm had led him
into indiscretion. This was always happening to him, and letters
like this are not infrequent, though generally less entertaining.
To Mr. Ann, in London:
WELLINGTON COURT, Feb. 23, '00.
DEAR MR. ANN,--Upon sober second thought, it won't do!--I withdraw that
letter. Not because I said anything in it which is not true, for I
didn't; but because when I allow my name to be used in forwarding a
stock-scheme I am assuming a certain degree of responsibility as toward
the investor, and I am not willing to do that. I have another objection,
a purely selfish one: trading upon my name, whether the enterprise scored
a success or a failure would damage me. I can't afford that; even the
Archbishop of Canterbury couldn't afford it, and he has more character to
spare than I have. (Ah, a happy thought! If he would sign the letter
with me that would change the whole complexion of the thing, of course.
I do not know him, yet I would sign any commercial scheme that he would
sign. As he does not know me, it follows that he would sign anything
that I would sign. This is unassailable logic--but really that is all
that can be said for it.)
No, I withdraw the letter. This virgin is pure up to date, and is going
to remain so.
S. L. C.
To Rev. J. H. Twichell, in Hartford:
KNIGHTSBRIDGE, Mch. 4, '00.
DEAR JOE,--Henry Robinson's death is a sharp wound to me, and it goes
very deep. I had a strong affection for him, and I think he had for me.
Every Friday, three-fourths of the year for 16 years he was of the
billiard-party in our house. When we come home, how shall we have
billiard-nights again--with no Ned Bunce and no Henry Robinson?
I believe I could not endure that. We must find another use for that
room. Susy is gone, George is gone, Libby Hamersley, Ned Bunce, Henry
Robinson. The friends are passing, one by one; our house, where such
warm blood and such dear blood flowed so freely, is become a cemetery.
But not in any repellent sense. Our dead are welcome there; their life
made it beautiful, their death has hallowed it, we shall have them with
us always, and there will be no parting.
It was a moving address you made over Ward Cheney--that fortunate, youth!
Like Susy, he got out of life all that was worth the living, and got his
great reward before he had crossed the tropic frontier of dreams and
entered the Sahara of fact. The deep consciousness of Susy's good
fortune is a constant comfort to me.
London is happy-hearted at last. The British victories have swept the
clouds away and there are no uncheerful faces. For three months the
private dinner parties (we go to no public ones) have been Lodges of
Sorrow, and just a little depressing sometimes; but now they are smiley
and animated again. Joe, do you know the Irish gentleman and the Irish
lady, the Scotch gentleman and the Scotch lady? These are darlings,
every one. Night before last it was all Irish--24. One would have to
travel far to match their ease and sociability and animation and sparkle
and absence of shyness and self-consciousness.
It was American in these fine qualities. This was at Mr. Lecky's. He is
Irish, you know. Last night it was Irish again, at Lady Gregory's. Lord
Roberts is Irish; and Sir William Butler; and Kitchener, I think; and a
disproportion of the other prominent Generals are of Irish and Scotch
breed-keeping up the traditions of Wellington, and Sir Colin Campbell of
the Mutiny. You will have noticed that in S. A. as in the Mutiny, it is
usually the Irish and the Scotch that are placed in the fore-front of the
battle. An Irish friend of mine says this is because the Kelts are
idealists, and enthusiasts, with age-old heroisms to emulate and keep
bright before the world; but that the low-class Englishman is dull and
without ideals, fighting bull-doggishly while he has a leader, but losing
his head and going to pieces when his leader falls--not so with the Kelt.
Sir Wm. Butler said "the Kelt is the spear-head of the British lance."
Love to you all.
The Henry Robinson mentioned in the foregoing letter was Henry C.
Robinson, one-time Governor of Connecticut, long a dear and intimate
friend of the Clemens household. "Lecky" was W. E. H. Lecky, the
Irish historian whose History of European Morals had been, for many
years, one of Mark Twain's favorite books:
In July the Clemenses left the small apartment at 30 Wellington
Court and established a summer household a little way out of London,
at Dollis Hill. To-day the place has been given to the public under
the name of Gladstone Park, so called for the reason that in an
earlier time Gladstone had frequently visited there. It was a
beautiful spot, a place of green grass and spreading oaks. In a
letter in which Mrs. Clemens wrote to her sister she said: "It is
simply divinely beautiful and peaceful; the great, old trees are
beyond everything. I believe nowhere in the world do you find such
trees as in England." Clemens wrote to Twichell: "From the house
you can see little but spacious stretches of hay-fields and green
turf..... Yet the massed, brick blocks of London are reachable in
three minutes on a horse. By rail we can be in the heart of London,
in Baker Street, in seventeen minutes--by a smart train in five."
Mail, however, would seem to have been less prompt.
To the Editor of the Times, in London:
SIR,--It has often been claimed that the London postal service was
swifter than that of New York, and I have always believed that the claim
was justified. But a doubt has lately sprung up in my mind. I live
eight miles from Printing House Square; the Times leaves that point at 4
o'clock in the morning, by mail, and reaches me at 5 in the afternoon,
thus making the trip in thirteen hours.
It is my conviction that in New York we should do it in eleven.
DOLLIS HILL, N. W.
To Rev. J. H. Twichell, in Hartford:
DOLLIS HILL HOUSE, KILBURN, N. W.
LONDON, Aug. 12, '00.
DEAR JOE,--The Sages Prof. Fiske and Brander Matthews were out here to
tea a week ago and it was a breath of American air to see them. We
furnished them a bright day and comfortable weather--and they used it all
up, in their extravagant American way. Since then we have sat by coal
We shall sail for home sometime in October, but shall winter in New York
where we can have an osteopath of good repute to continue the work of
putting this family in proper condition.
Livy and I dined with the Chief justice a month ago and he was as well-
conditioned as an athlete.
It is all China, now, and my sympathies are with the Chinese. They have
been villainously dealt with by the sceptred thieves of Europe, and I
hope they will drive all the foreigners out and keep them out for good.
I only wish it; of course I don't really expect it.
Why, hang it, it occurs to me that by the time we reach New York you
Twichells will be invading Europe and once more we shall miss the
connection. This is thoroughly exasperating. Aren't we ever going to
With no end of love from all of us,
P. S. Aug. 18.
DEAR JOE,--It is 7.30 a. m. I have been waking very early, lately. If
it occurs once more, it will be habit; then I will submit and adopt it.
This is our day of mourning. It is four years since Susy died; it is
five years and a month that I saw her alive for the last time-throwing
kisses at us from the railway platform when we started West around the
Sometimes it is a century; sometimes it was yesterday.
We discover in the foregoing letter that the long European residence
was drawing to an end. More than nine years had passed since the
closing of the Hartford house--eventful years that had seen failure,
bereavement, battle with debt, and rehabilitated fortunes. All the
family were anxious to get home--Mark Twain most anxious of all.
They closed Dollis Hill House near the end of September, and put up
for a brief period at a family hotel, an amusing picture of which
To J. Y. M. MacAlister, in London:
MY DEAR MACALISTER,--We do really start next Saturday. I meant to sail
earlier, but waited to finish some studies of what are called Family
Hotels. They are a London specialty, God has not permitted them to exist
elsewhere; they are ramshackle clubs which were dwellings at the time of
the Heptarchy. Dover and Albemarle Streets are filled with them. The
once spacious rooms are split up into coops which afford as much
discomfort as can be had anywhere out of jail for any money. All the
modern inconveniences are furnished, and some that have been obsolete for
a century. The prices are astonishingly high for what you get. The
bedrooms are hospitals for incurable furniture. I find it so in this
one. They exist upon a tradition; they represent the vanishing home-like
inn of fifty years ago, and are mistaken by foreigners for it. Some
quite respectable Englishmen still frequent them through inherited habit
and arrested development; many Americans also, through ignorance and
superstition. The rooms are as interesting as the Tower of London, but
older I think. Older and dearer. The lift was a gift of William the
Conqueror, some of the beds are prehistoric. They represent geological
periods. Mine is the oldest. It is formed in strata of Old Red
Sandstone, volcanic tufa, ignis fatuus, and bicarbonate of hornblende,
superimposed upon argillaceous shale, and contains the prints of
prehistoric man. It is in No. 149. Thousands of scientists come to see
it. They consider it holy. They want to blast out the prints but
cannot. Dynamite rebounds from it.
Finished studies and sail Saturday in Minnehaha.
Yours ever affectionately,
They sailed for New York October 6th, and something more than a week
later America gave them a royal welcome. The press, far and wide,
sounded Mark Twain's praises once more; dinners and receptions were
offered on every hand; editors and lecture agents clamored for him.
The family settled in the Earlington Hotel during a period of house-
hunting. They hoped eventually to return to Hartford, but after a
brief visit paid by Clemens alone to the old place he wrote:
To Sylvester Baxter, in Boston:
NEW YORK, Oct. 26, 1900.
DEAR MR. BAXTER,--It was a great pleasure to me to renew the other days
with you, and there was a pathetic pleasure in seeing Hartford and the
house again; but I realize that if we ever enter the house again to live,
our hearts will break. I am not sure that we shall ever be strong enough
to endure that strain.
S. L. CLEMENS.
Mr. and Mrs. Rogers wished to have them in their neighborhood, but
the houses there were not suitable, or were too expensive. Through
Mr. Frank Doubleday they eventually found, at 14 West Tenth Street,
a large residence handsomely furnished, and this they engaged for
the winter. "We were lucky to get this big house furnished," he
wrote MacAlister in London. "There was not another one in town
procurable that would answer us, but this one is all right--space
enough in it for several families, the rooms all old-fashioned,
The little note that follows shows that Mark Twain had not entirely
forgotten the days of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn.
To a Neighbor on West Tenth Street, New York:
DEAR MADAM,--I know I ought to respect my duty and perform it, but I am
weak and faithless where boys are concerned, and I can't help secretly
approving pretty bad and noisy ones, though I do object to the kind that
ring door-bells. My family try to get me to stop the boys from holding
conventions on the front steps, but I basely shirk out of it, because I
think the boys enjoy it.
My wife has been complaining to me this evening about the boys on the
front steps and under compulsion I have made some promises. But I am
very forgetful, now that I am old, and my sense of duty is getting
Very truly yours,
S. L. CLEMENS.