Infomotions, Inc.— Volume III, Part 1: 1900-1907 / Paine, Albert Bigelow, 1861-1937

Author: Paine, Albert Bigelow, 1861-1937
Title: — Volume III, Part 1: 1900-1907
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The Project Gutenberg EBook of Mark Twain, A Biography, Vol. 3, Part 1,
1900-1907, by Albert Bigelow Paine

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Title: Mark Twain, A Biography, Vol. 3, Part 1, 1900-1907
       The Personal And Literary Life Of Samuel Langhorne Clemens

Author: Albert Bigelow Paine

Release Date: August 21, 2006 [EBook #2986]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ASCII

*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK MARK TWAIN, A BIOGRAPHY, ***




Produced by David Widger





MARK TWAIN, A BIOGRAPHY

By Albert Bigelow Paine



VOLUME III, Part 1: 1900-1907



CCXII


THE RETURN OF THE CONQUEROR

It would be hard to exaggerate the stir which the newspapers and the
public generally made over the homecoming of Mark Twain. He had left
America, staggering under heavy obligation and set out on a pilgrimage of
redemption. At the moment when this Mecca, was in view a great sorrow
had befallen him and, stirred a world-wide and soul-deep tide of human
sympathy. Then there had followed such ovation as has seldom been
conferred upon a private citizen, and now approaching old age, still in
the fullness of his mental vigor, he had returned to his native soil with
the prestige of these honors upon him and the vast added glory of having
made his financial fight single-handed-and won.

He was heralded literally as a conquering hero. Every paper in the land
had an editorial telling the story of his debts, his sorrow, and his
triumphs.

"He had behaved like Walter Scott," says Howells, "as millions rejoiced
to know who had not known how Walter Scott had behaved till they knew it
was like Clemens."

Howells acknowledges that he had some doubts as to the permanency of the
vast acclaim of the American public, remembering, or perhaps assuming, a
national fickleness. Says Howells:

    He had hitherto been more intelligently accepted or more largely
    imagined in Europe, and I suppose it was my sense of this that
    inspired the stupidity of my saying to him when we came to consider
    "the state of polite learning" among us, "You mustn't expect people
    to keep it up here as they do in England." But it appeared that his
    countrymen were only wanting the chance, and they kept it up in
    honor of him past all precedent.

Clemens went to the Earlington Hotel and began search for a furnished
house in New York. They would not return to Hartford--at least not yet.
The associations there were still too sad, and they immediately became
more so. Five days after Mark Twain's return to America, his old friend
and co-worker, Charles Dudley Warner, died. Clemens went to Hartford to
act as a pall-bearer and while there looked into the old home. To
Sylvester Baxter, of Boston, who had been present, he wrote a few days
later:

    It was a great pleasure to me to renew the other days with you, &
    there was a pathetic pleasure in seeing Hartford & the house again;
    but I realized 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.

Even if the surroundings had been less sorrowful it is not likely that
Clemens would have returned to Hartford at this time. He had become a
world-character, a dweller in capitals. Everywhere he moved a world
revolved about him. Such a figure in Germany would live naturally in
Berlin; in England London; in France, Paris; in Austria, Vienna; in
America his headquarters could only be New York.

Clemens empowered certain of his friends to find a home for him, and Mr.
Frank N. Doubleday discovered an attractive and handsomely furnished
residence at 14 West Tenth Street, which was promptly approved.
Doubleday, who was going to Boston, left orders with the agent to draw
the lease and take it up to the new tenant for signature. To Clemens he
said:

"The house is as good as yours. All you've got to do is to sign the
lease. You can consider it all settled."

When Doubleday returned from Boston a few days later the agent called on
him and complained that he couldn't find Mark Twain anywhere. It was
reported at his hotel that he had gone and left no address. Doubleday
was mystified; then, reflecting, he had an inspiration. He walked over
to 14 West Tenth Street and found what he had suspected--Mark Twain had
moved in. He had convinced the caretaker that everything was all right
and he was quite at home. Doubleday said:

"Why, you haven't executed the lease yet."

"No," said Clemens, "but you said the house was as good as mine," to
which Doubleday agreed, but suggested that they go up to the real-estate
office and give the agent notice that he was in possession of the
premises.

Doubleday's troubles were not quite over, however. Clemens began to find
defects in his new home and assumed to hold Doubleday responsible for
them. He sent a daily postal card complaining of the windows, furnace,
the range, the water-whatever he thought might lend interest to
Doubleday's life. As a matter of fact, he was pleased with the place. To
MacAlister he wrote:

    We were very lucky to get this big house furnished. 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, great size.

The house at 14 West Tenth Street became suddenly one of the most
conspicuous residences in New York. The papers immediately made its
appearance familiar. Many people passed down that usually quiet street,
stopping to observe or point out where Mark Twain lived. There was a
constant procession of callers of every kind. Many were friends, old and
new, but there was a multitude of strangers. Hundreds came merely to
express their appreciation of his work, hoping for a personal word or a
hand-shake or an autograph; but there were other hundreds who came with
this thing and that thing--axes to grind--and there were newspaper
reporters to ask his opinion on politics, or polygamy, or woman's
suffrage; on heaven and hell and happiness; on the latest novel; on the
war in Africa, the troubles in China; on anything under the sun,
important or unimportant, interesting or inane, concerning which one
might possibly hold an opinion. He was unfailing "copy" if they could
but get a word with him. Anything that he might choose to say upon any
subject whatever was seized upon and magnified and printed with
head-lines. Sometimes opinions were invented for him. If he let fall a
few words they were multiplied into a column interview.

"That reporter worked a miracle equal to the loaves and fishes," he said
of one such performance.

Many men would have become annoyed and irritable as these things
continued; but Mark Twain was greater than that. Eventually he employed
a secretary to stand between him and the wash of the tide, as a sort of
breakwater; but he seldom lost his temper no matter what was the request
which was laid before him, for he recognized underneath it the great
tribute of a great nation.

Of course his literary valuation would be affected by the noise of the
general applause. Magazines and syndicates besought him for manuscripts.
He was offered fifty cents and even a dollar a word for whatever he might
give them. He felt a child-like gratification in these evidences of his
market advancement, but he was not demoralized by them. He confined his
work to a few magazines, and in November concluded an arrangement with
the new management of Harper & Brothers, by which that firm was to have
the exclusive serial privilege of whatever he might write at a fixed rate
of twenty cents per word--a rate increased to thirty cents by a later
contract, which also provided an increased royalty for the publication of
his books.

The United States, as a nation, does not confer any special honors upon
private citizens. We do not have decorations and titles, even though
there are times when it seems that such things might be not
inappropriately conferred. Certain of the newspapers, more lavish in
their enthusiasm than others, were inclined to propose, as one paper
phrased it, "Some peculiar recognition--something that should appeal to
Samuel L. Clemens, the man, rather than to Mark Twain, the literate.
Just what form this recognition should take is doubtful, for the case has
no exact precedent."

Perhaps the paper thought that Mark Twain was entitled--as he himself
once humorously suggested-to the "thanks of Congress" for having come
home alive and out of debt, but it is just as well that nothing of the
sort was ever seriously considered. The thanks of the public at large
contained more substance, and was a tribute much more to his mind. The
paper above quoted ended by suggesting a very large dinner and memorial
of welcome as being more in keeping with the republican idea and the
American expression of good-will.

But this was an unneeded suggestion. If he had eaten all the dinners
proposed he would not have lived to enjoy his public honors a month. As
it was, he accepted many more dinners than he could eat, and presently
fell into the habit of arriving when the banqueting was about over and
the after-dinner speaking about to begin. Even so the strain told on
him.

"His friends saw that he was wearing himself out," says Howells, and
perhaps this was true, for he grew thin and pale and contracted a hacking
cough. He did not spare himself as often as he should have done. Once
to Richard Watson Gilder he sent this line of regrets:

    In bed with a chest cold and other company--Wednesday.
    DEAR GILDER,--I can't. If I were a well man I could explain with
    this pencil, but in the cir---ces I will leave it all to your
    imagination.

    Was it Grady who killed himself trying to do all the dining and
    speeching?

    No, old man, no, no!    Ever yours,  MARK.

He became again the guest of honor at the Lotos Club, which had dined him
so lavishly seven years before, just previous to his financial collapse.
That former dinner had been a distinguished occasion, but never before
had the Lotos Club been so brimming with eager hospitality as on the
second great occasion. In closing his introductory speech President
Frank Lawrence said, "We hail him as one who has borne great burdens with
manliness and courage, who has emerged from great struggles victorious,"
and the assembled diners roared out their applause. Clemens in his reply
said:

    Your president has referred to certain burdens which I was weighted
    with. I am glad he did, as it gives me an opportunity which I
    wanted--to speak of those debts. You all knew what he meant when he
    referred to it, & of the poor bankrupt firm of C. L. Webster & Co.
    No one has said a word about those creditors. There were ninety-six
    creditors in all, & not by a finger's weight did ninety-five out of
    the ninety-six add to the burden of that time. They treated me
    well; they treated me handsomely. I never knew I owed them
    anything; not a sign came from them.

It was like him to make that public acknowledgment. He could not let an
unfair impression remain that any man or any set of men had laid an
unnecessary burden upon him-his sense of justice would not consent to it.
He also spoke on that occasion of certain national changes.

    How many things have happened in the seven years I have been away
    from home! We have fought a righteous war, and a righteous war is a
    rare thing in history. We have turned aside from our own comfort
    and seen to it that freedom should exist, not only within our own
    gates, but in our own neighborhood. We have set Cuba free and
    placed her among the galaxy of free nations of the world. We
    started out to set those poor Filipinos free, but why that righteous
    plan miscarried perhaps I shall never know. We have also been
    making a creditable showing in China, and that is more than all the
    other powers can say. The "Yellow Terror" is threatening the world,
    but no matter what happens the United States says that it has had no
    part in it.

    Since I have been away we have been nursing free silver. We have
    watched by its cradle, we have done our best to raise that child,
    but every time it seemed to be getting along nicely along came some
    pestiferous Republican and gave it the measles or something. I fear
    we will never raise that child.

    We've done more than that. We elected a President four years ago.
    We've found fault and criticized him, and here a day or two ago we
    go and elect him for another four years, with votes enough to spare
    to do it over again.

One club followed another in honoring Mark Twain--the Aldine, the St.
Nicholas, the Press clubs, and other associations and societies. His old
friends were at these dinners--Howells, Aldrich, Depew, Rogers,
ex-Speaker Reed--and they praised him and gibed him to his and their
hearts' content.

It was a political year, and he generally had something to say on matters
municipal, national, or international; and he spoke out more and more
freely, as with each opportunity he warmed more righteously to his
subject.

At the dinner given to him by the St. Nicholas Club he said, with deep
irony:

    Gentlemen, you have here the best municipal government in the world,
    and the most fragrant and the purest. The very angels of heaven
    envy you and wish they had a government like it up there. You got
    it by your noble fidelity to civic duty; by the stern and ever
    watchful exercise of the great powers lodged in you as lovers and
    guardians of your city; by your manly refusal to sit inert when base
    men would have invaded her high places and possessed them; by your
    instant retaliation when any insult was offered you in her person,
    or any assault was made upon her fair fame. It is you who have made
    this government what it is, it is you who have made it the envy and
    despair of the other capitals of the world--and God bless you for
    it, gentlemen, God bless you! And when you get to heaven at last
    they'll say with joy, "Oh, there they come, the representatives of
    the perfectest citizenship in the universe show them the archangel's
    box and turn on the limelight!"

Those hearers who in former years had been indifferent to Mark Twain's
more serious purpose began to realize that, whatever he may have been
formerly, he was by no means now a mere fun-maker, but a man of deep and
grave convictions, able to give them the fullest and most forcible
expression. He still might make them laugh, but he also made them think,
and he stirred them to a truer gospel of patriotism. He did not preach a
patriotism that meant a boisterous cheering of the Stars and Stripes
right or wrong, but a patriotism that proposed to keep the Stars and
Stripes clean and worth shouting for. In an article, perhaps it was a
speech, begun at this time he wrote:

    We teach the boys to atrophy their independence. We teach them to
    take their patriotism at second-hand; to shout with the largest
    crowd without examining into the right or wrong of the matter
    --exactly as boys under monarchies are taught and have always been
    taught. We teach them to regard as traitors, and hold in aversion
    and contempt, such as do not shout with the crowd, & so here in our
    democracy we are cheering a thing which of all things is most
    foreign to it & out of place--the delivery of our political
    conscience into somebody else's keeping. This is patriotism on the
    Russian plan.

Howells tells of discussing these vital matters with him in "an upper
room, looking south over a quiet, open space of back yards where," he
says, "we fought our battles in behalf of the Filipinos and Boers, and he
carried on his campaign against the missionaries in China."

Howells at the time expressed an amused fear that Mark Twain's
countrymen, who in former years had expected him to be merely a humorist,
should now, in the light of his wider acceptance abroad, demand that he
be mainly serious.

But the American people were quite ready to accept him in any of his
phases, fully realizing that whatever his philosophy or doctrine it would
have somewhat of the humorous form, and whatever his humor, there would
somewhere be wisdom in it. He had in reality changed little; for a
generation he had thought the sort of things which he now, with advanced
years and a different audience, felt warranted in uttering openly. The
man who in '64 had written against corruption in San Francisco, who a few
years later had defended the emigrant Chinese against persecution, who at
the meetings of the Monday Evening Club had denounced hypocrisy in
politics, morals, and national issues, did not need to change to be able
to speak out against similar abuses now. And a newer generation as
willing to herald Mark Twain as a sage as well as a humorist, and on
occasion to quite overlook the absence of the cap and bells.




CCXIII

MARK TWAIN--GENERAL SPOKESMAN

Clemens did not confine his speeches altogether to matters of reform. At
a dinner given by the Nineteenth Century Club in November, 1900, he spoke
on the "Disappearance of Literature," and at the close of the discussion
of that subject, referring to Milton and Scott, he said:

    Professor Winchester also said something about there being no modern
    epics like "Paradise Lost." I guess he's right. He talked as if he
    was pretty familiar with that piece of literary work, and nobody
    would suppose that he never had read it. I don't believe any of you
    have ever read "Paradise Lost," and you don't want to. That's
    something that you just want to take on trust. It's a classic, just
    as Professor Winchester says, and it meets his definition of a
    classic--something that everybody wants to have read and nobody
    wants to read.

    Professor Trent also had a good deal to say about the disappearance
    of literature. He said that Scott would outlive all his critics.
    I guess that's true. That fact of the business is you've got to be
    one of two ages to appreciate Scott. When you're eighteen you can
    read Ivanhoe, and you want to wait until you're ninety to read some
    of the rest. It takes a pretty well-regulated abstemious critic to
    live ninety years.

But a few days later he was back again in the forefront of reform,
preaching at the Berkeley Lyceum against foreign occupation in China. It
was there that he declared himself a Boxer.

    Why should not China be free from the foreigners, who are only
    making trouble on her soil? If they would only all go home what a
    pleasant place China would be for the Chinese! We do not allow
    Chinamen to come here, and I say, in all seriousness, that it would
    be a graceful thing to let China decide who shall go there.

    China never wanted foreigners any more than foreigners wanted
    Chinamen, and on this question I am with the Boxers every time. The
    Boxer is a patriot. He loves his country better than he does the
    countries of other people. I wish him success. We drive the
    Chinaman out of our country; the Boxer believes in driving us out of
    his country. I am a Boxer, too, on those terms.

Introducing Winston Churchill, of England, at a dinner some weeks later,
he explained how generous England and America had been in not requiring
fancy rates for "extinguished missionaries" in China as Germany had done.
Germany had required territory and cash, he said, in payment for her
missionaries, while the United States and England had been willing to
settle for produce--firecrackers and tea.

The Churchill introduction would seem to have been his last speech for
the year 1900, and he expected it, with one exception, to be the last for
a long time. He realized that he was tired and that the strain upon him
made any other sort of work out of the question. Writing to MacAlister
at the end of the year, he said, "I seem to have made many speeches, but
it is not so. It is not more than ten, I think." Still, a respectable
number in the space of two months, considering that each was carefully
written and committed to memory, and all amid crushing social pressure.
Again to MacAlister:

    I declined 7 banquets yesterday (which is double the daily average)
    & answered 29 letters. I have slaved at my mail every day since we
    arrived in mid-October, but Jean is learning to typewrite &
    presently I'll dictate & thereby save some scraps of time.

He added that after January 4th he did not intend to speak again for a
year--that he would not speak then only that the matter concerned the
reform of city government.

The occasion of January 4, 1901, was a rather important one. It was a
meeting of the City Club, then engaged in the crusade for municipal
reform. Wheeler H. Peckham presided, and Bishop Potter made the opening
address. It all seems like ancient history now, and perhaps is not very
vital any more; but the movement was making a great stir then, and Mark
Twain's declaration that he believed forty-nine men out of fifty were
honest, and that the forty-nine only needed to organize to disqualify the
fiftieth man (always organized for crime), was quoted as a sort of slogan
for reform.

Clemens was not permitted to keep his resolution that he wouldn't speak
again that year. He had become a sort of general spokesman on public
matters, and demands were made upon him which could not be denied. He
declined a Yale alumni dinner, but he could not refuse to preside at the
Lincoln Birthday celebration at Carnegie Hall, February 11th, where he
must introduce Watterson as the speaker of the evening.

"Think of it!" he wrote Twichell. "Two old rebels functioning there: I
as president and Watterson as orator of the day! Things have changed
somewhat in these forty years, thank God!"

The Watterson introduction is one of the choicest of Mark Twain's
speeches--a pure and perfect example of simple eloquence, worthy of the
occasion which gave it utterance, worthy in spite of its playful
paragraphs (or even because of them, for Lincoln would have loved them),
to become the matrix of that imperishable Gettysburg phrase with which he
makes his climax. He opened by dwelling for a moment on Colonel
Watterson as a soldier, journalist, orator, statesman, and patriot; then
he said:

    It is a curious circumstance that without collusion of any kind, but
    merely in obedience to a strange and pleasant and dramatic freak of
    destiny, he and I, kinsmen by blood--[Colonel Watterson's forebears
    had intermarried with the Lamptons.]--for we are that--and one-time
    rebels--for we were that--should be chosen out of a million
    surviving quondam rebels to come here and bare our heads in
    reverence and love of that noble soul whom 40 years ago we tried
    with all our hearts and all our strength to defeat and dispossess
    --Abraham Lincoln! Is the Rebellion ended and forgotten? Are the
    Blue and the Gray one to-day? By authority of this sign we may
    answer yes; there was a Rebellion--that incident is closed.

    I was born and reared in a slave State, my father was a slaveowner;
    and in the Civil War I was a second lieutenant in the Confederate
    service. For a while. This second cousin of mine, Colonel
    Watterson, the orator of this present occasion, was born and reared
    in a slave State, was a colonel in the Confederate service, and
    rendered me such assistance as he could in my self-appointed great
    task of annihilating the Federal armies and breaking up the Union.
    I laid my plans with wisdom and foresight, and if Colonel Watterson
    had obeyed my orders I should have succeeded in my giant
    undertaking. It was my intention to drive General Grant into the
    Pacific--if I could get transportation--and I told Colonel Watterson
    to surround the Eastern armies and wait till I came. But he was
    insubordinate, and stood upon a punctilio of military etiquette; he
    refused to take orders from a second lieutenant--and the Union was
    saved. This is the first time that this secret has been revealed.
    Until now no one outside the family has known the facts. But there
    they stand: Watterson saved the Union. Yet to this day that man
    gets no pension. Those were great days, splendid days. What an
    uprising it was! For the hearts of the whole nation, North and
    South, were in the war. We of the South were not ashamed; for, like
    the men of the North, we were fighting for 'flags we loved; and when
    men fight for these things, and under these convictions, with
    nothing sordid to tarnish their cause, that cause is holy, the blood
    spilt for it is sacred, the life that is laid down for it is
    consecrated. To-day we no longer regret the result, to-day we are
    glad it came out as it did, but we are not ashamed that we did our
    endeavor; we did our bravest best, against despairing odds, for the
    cause which was precious to us and which our consciences approved;
    and we are proud--and you are proud--the kindred blood in your veins
    answers when I say it--you are proud of the record we made in those
    mighty collisions in the fields.

    What an uprising it was! We did not have to supplicate for soldiers
    on either side. "We are coming, Father Abraham, three hundred
    thousand strong!" That was the music North and South. The very
    choicest young blood and brawn and brain rose up from Maine to the
    Gulf and flocked to the standards--just as men always do when in
    their eyes their cause is great and fine and their hearts are in it;
    just as men flocked to the Crusades, sacrificing all they possessed
    to the cause, and entering cheerfully upon hardships which we cannot
    even imagine in this age, and upon toilsome and wasting journeys
    which in our time would be the equivalent of circumnavigating the
    globe five times over.

    North and South we put our hearts into that colossal struggle, and
    out of it came the blessed fulfilment of the prophecy of the
    immortal Gettysburg speech which said: "We here highly resolve that
    these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation, under God,
    shall have a new birth of freedom; and that a government of the
    people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the
    earth."

    We are here to honor the birthday of the greatest citizen, and the
    noblest and the best, after Washington, that this land or any other
    has yet produced. The old wounds are healed, you and we are
    brothers again; you testify it by honoring two of us, once soldiers
    of the Lost Cause, and foes of your great and good leader--with the
    privilege of assisting here; and we testify it by laying our honest
    homage at the feet of Abraham Lincoln, and in forgetting that you of
    the North and we of the South were ever enemies, and remembering
    only that we are now indistinguishably fused together and nameable
    by one common great name--Americans!




CCXIV

MARK TWAIN AND THE MISSIONARIES

Mark Twain had really begun his crusade for reform soon after his arrival
in America in a practical hand-to-hand manner. His housekeeper, Katie
Leary, one night employed a cabman to drive her from the Grand Central
Station to the house at 14 West Tenth Street. No contract had been made
as to price, and when she arrived there the cabman's extortionate charge
was refused. He persisted in it, and she sent into the house for her
employer. Of all men, Mark Twain was the last one to countenance an
extortion. He reasoned with the man kindly enough at first; when the
driver at last became abusive Clemens demanded his number, which was at
first refused. In the end he paid the legal fare, and in the morning
entered a formal complaint, something altogether unexpected, for the
American public is accustomed to suffering almost any sort of imposition
to avoid trouble and publicity.

In some notes which Clemens had made in London four years earlier he
wrote:

    If you call a policeman to settle the dispute you can depend on one
    thing--he will decide it against you every time. And so will the
    New York policeman. In London if you carry your case into court the
    man that is entitled to win it will win it. In New York--but no one
    carries a cab case into court there. It is my impression that it is
    now more than thirty years since any one has carried a cab case into
    court there.

Nevertheless, he was promptly on hand when the case was called to sustain
the charge and to read the cabdrivers' union and the public in general a
lesson in good-citizenship. At the end of the hearing, to a
representative of the union he said:

"This is not a matter of sentiment, my dear sir. It is simply practical
business. You cannot imagine that I am making money wasting an hour or
two of my time prosecuting a case in which I can have no personal
interest whatever. I am doing this just as any citizen should do. He
has no choice. He has a distinct duty. He is a non-classified
policeman. Every citizen is, a policeman, and it is his duty to assist
the police and the magistracy in every way he can, and give his time, if
necessary, to do so. Here is a man who is a perfectly natural product of
an infamous system in this city--a charge upon the lax patriotism in this
city of New York that this thing can exist. You have encouraged him, in
every way you know how to overcharge. He is not the criminal here at
all. The criminal is the citizen of New York and the absence of
patriotism. I am not here to avenge myself on him. I have no quarrel
with him. My quarrel is with the citizens of New York, who have
encouraged him, and who created him by encouraging him to overcharge in
this way."

The driver's license was suspended. The case made a stir in the
newspapers, and it is not likely that any one incident ever contributed
more to cab-driving morals in New York City.

But Clemens had larger matters than this in prospect. His many speeches
on municipal and national abuses he felt were more or less ephemeral. He
proposed now to write himself down more substantially and for a wider
hearing. The human race was behaving very badly: unspeakable corruption
was rampant in the city; the Boers were being oppressed in South Africa;
the natives were being murdered in the Philippines; Leopold of Belgium
was massacring and mutilating the blacks in the Congo, and the allied
powers, in the cause of Christ, were slaughtering the Chinese. In his
letters he had more than once boiled over touching these matters, and for
New-Year's Eve, 1900, had written:

      A GREETING FROM THE NINETEENTH TO THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

    I bring you the stately nation named Christendom, returning,
    bedraggled, besmirched, and dishonored, from pirate raids in Kiao-
    Chou, Manchuria, South Africa, and the Philippines, with her soul
    full of meanness, her pocket full of boodle, and her mouth full of
    pious hypocrisies. Give her soap and towel, but hide the looking-
    glass.--[Prepared for Red Cross Society watch-meeting, which was
    postponed until March. Clemens recalled his "Greeting" for that
    reason and for one other, which he expressed thus: "The list of
    greeters thus far issued by you contains only vague generalities and
    one definite name--mine: 'Some kings and queens and Mark Twain.' Now
    I am not enjoying this sparkling solitude and distinction. It makes
    me feel like a circus-poster in a graveyard."]

This was a sort of preliminary. Then, restraining himself no longer, he
embodied his sentiments in an article for the North American Review
entitled, "To the Person Sitting in Darkness." There was crying need for
some one to speak the right word. He was about the only one who could do
it and be certain of a universal audience. He took as his text some
Christmas Eve clippings from the New York Tribune and Sun which he had
been saving for this purpose. The Tribune clipping said:

    Christmas will dawn in the United States over a people full of hope
    and aspiration and good cheer. Such a condition means contentment
    and happiness. The carping grumbler who may here and there go forth
    will find few to listen to him. The majority will wonder what is
    the matter with him, and pass on.

A Sun clipping depicted the "terrible offenses against humanity committed
in the name of politics in some of the most notorious East Side districts
"--the unmissionaried, unpoliced darker New York. The Sun declared that
they could not be pictured even verbally. But it suggested enough to
make the reader shudder at the hideous depths of vice in the sections
named. Another clipping from the same paper reported the "Rev. Mr.
Ament, of the American Board of Foreign Missions," as having collected
indemnities for Boxer damages in China at the rate of three hundred taels
for each murder, "full payment for all destroyed property belonging to
Christians, and national fines amounting to thirteen times the
indemnity." It quoted Mr. Ament as saying that the money so obtained was
used for the propagation of the Gospel, and that the amount so collected
was moderate when compared with the amount secured by the Catholics, who
had demanded, in addition to money, life for life, that is to say, "head
for head"--in one district six hundred and eighty heads having been so
collected.

The despatch made Mr. Ament say a great deal more than this, but the gist
here is enough. Mark Twain, of course, was fiercely stirred. The
missionary idea had seldom appealed to him, and coupled with this
business of bloodshed, it was less attractive than usual. He printed the
clippings in full, one following the other; then he said:

    By happy luck we get all these glad tidings on Christmas Eve--just
    the time to enable us to celebrate the day with proper gaiety and
    enthusiasm. Our spirits soar and we find we can even make jokes;
    taels I win, heads you lose.

He went on to score Ament, to compare the missionary policy in China to
that of the Pawnee Indians, and to propose for him a monument
--subscriptions to be sent to the American Board. He denounced the
national policies in Africa, China, and the Philippines, and showed by
the reports and by the private letters of soldiers home, how cruel and
barbarous and fiendish had been the warfare made by those whose avowed
purpose was to carry the blessed light of civilization and Gospel "to the
benighted native"--how in very truth these priceless blessings had been
handed on the point of a bayonet to the "Person Sitting in Darkness."

Mark Twain never wrote anything more scorching, more penetrating in its
sarcasm, more fearful in its revelation of injustice and hypocrisy, than
his article "To the Person Sitting in Darkness." He put aquafortis on
all the raw places, and when it was finished he himself doubted the
wisdom of printing it. Howells, however, agreed that it should be
published, and "it ought to be illustrated by Dan Beard," he added, "with
such pictures as he made for the Yankee in King Arthur's Court, but you'd
better hang yourself afterward."

Meeting Beard a few days later, Clemens mentioned the matter and said:

"So if you make the pictures, you hang with me."

But pictures were not required. It was published in the North American
Review for February, 1901, as the opening article; after which the
cyclone. Two storms moving in opposite directions produce a cyclone, and
the storms immediately developed; one all for Mark Twain and his
principles, the other all against him. Every paper in England and
America commented on it editorially, with bitter denunciations or with
eager praise, according to their lights and convictions.

At 14 West Tenth Street letters, newspaper clippings, documents poured in
by the bushel--laudations, vituperations, denunciations, vindications; no
such tumult ever occurred in a peaceful literary home. It was really as
if he had thrown a great missile into the human hive, one-half of which
regarded it as a ball of honey and the remainder as a cobblestone.
Whatever other effect it may have had, it left no thinking person
unawakened.

Clemens reveled in it. W. A. Rogers, in Harper's Weekly, caricatured him
as Tom Sawyer in a snow fort, assailed by the shower of snowballs,
"having the time of his life." Another artist, Fred Lewis, pictured him
as Huck Finn with a gun.

The American Board was naturally disturbed. The Ament clipping which
Clemens had used had been public property for more than a month--its
authenticity never denied; but it was immediately denied now, and the
cable kept hot with inquiries.

The Rev. Judson Smith, one of the board, took up the defense of Dr.
Ament, declaring him to be one who had suffered for the cause, and asked
Mark Twain, whose "brilliant article," he said, "would produce an effect
quite beyond the reach of plain argument," not to do an innocent man an
injustice. Clemens in the same paper replied that such was not his
intent, that Mr. Ament in his report had simply arraigned himself.

Then it suddenly developed that the cable report had "grossly
exaggerated" the amount of Mr. Ament's collections. Instead of thirteen
times the indemnity it should have read "one and a third times" the
indemnity; whereupon, in another open letter, the board demanded
retraction and apology. Clemens would not fail to make the apology--at
least he would explain. It was precisely the kind of thing that would
appeal to him--the delicate moral difference between a demand thirteen
times as great as it should be and a demand that was only one and a third
times the correct amount. "To My Missionary Critics," in the North
American Review for April (1901), was his formal and somewhat lengthy
reply.

"I have no prejudice against apologies," he wrote. "I trust I shall
never withhold one when it is due."

He then proceeded to make out his case categorically. Touching the
exaggerated indemnity, he said:

To Dr. Smith the "thirteen-fold-extra" clearly stood for "theft and
extortion," and he was right, distinctly right, indisputably right. He
manifestly thinks that when it got scaled away down to a mere "one-third"
a little thing like that was some other than "theft and extortion." Why,
only the board knows!

I will try to explain this difficult problem so that the board can get an
idea of it. If a pauper owes me a dollar and I catch him unprotected and
make him pay me fourteen dollars thirteen of it is "theft and extortion."
If I make him pay only one dollar thirty-three and a third cents the
thirty-three and a third cents are "theft and extortion," just the same.

I will put it in another way still simpler. If a man owes me one dog
--any kind of a dog, the breed is of no consequence--and I--but let it
go; the board would never understand it. It can't understand these
involved and difficult things.

He offered some further illustrations, including the "Tale of a King and
His Treasure" and another tale entitled "The Watermelons."

    I have it now. Many years ago, when I was studying for the gallows,
    I had a dear comrade, a youth who was not in my line, but still a
    scrupulously good fellow though devious. He was preparing to
    qualify for a place on the board, for there was going to be a
    vacancy by superannuation in about five years. This was down South,
    in the slavery days. It was the nature of the negro then, as now,
    to steal watermelons. They stole three of the melons of an adoptive
    brother of mine, the only good ones he had. I suspected three of a
    neighbor's negroes, but there was no proof, and, besides, the
    watermelons in those negroes' private patches were all green and
    small and not up to indemnity standard. But in the private patches
    of three other negroes there was a number of competent melons. I
    consulted with my comrade, the understudy of the board. He said
    that if I would approve his arrangements he would arrange. I said,
    "Consider me the board; I approve; arrange." So he took a gun and
    went and collected three large melons for my brother-on-the-
    halfshell, and one over. I was greatly pleased and asked:

    "Who gets the extra one?"
    "Widows and orphans."

    "A good idea, too. Why didn't you take thirteen?"

    "It would have been wrong; a crime, in fact-theft and extortion."

    "What is the one-third extra--the odd melon--the same?"

    It caused him to reflect. But there was no result.

    The justice of the peace was a stern man. On the trial he found
    fault with the scheme and required us to explain upon what we based
    our strange conduct--as he called it. The understudy said:

    "On the custom of the niggers. They all do it."--[The point had
    been made by the board that it was the Chinese custom to make the
    inhabitants of a village responsible for individual crimes; and
    custom, likewise, to collect a third in excess of the damage, such
    surplus having been applied to the support of widows and orphans of
    the slain converts.]

    The justice forgot his dignity and descended to sarcasm.

    "Custom of the niggers! Are our morals so inadequate that we have
    to borrow of niggers?"

    Then he said to the jury: "Three melons were owing; they were
    collected from persons not proven to owe them: this is theft; they
    were collected by compulsion: this is extortion. A melon was added
    for the widows and orphans. It was owed by no one. It is another
    theft, another extortion. Return it whence it came, with the
    others. It is not permissible here to apply to any purpose goods
    dishonestly obtained; not even to the feeding of widows and orphans,
    for this would be to put a shame upon charity and dishonor it."

    He said it in open court, before everybody, and to me it did not
    seem very kind.

It was in the midst of the tumult that Clemens, perhaps feeling the need
of sacred melody, wrote to Andrew Carnegie:

DEAR SIR & FRIEND,--You seem to be in prosperity. Could you lend an
admirer $1.50 to buy a hymn-book with? God will bless you. I feel it; I
know it.

N. B.--If there should be other applications, this one not to count.
                                Yours, MARK.

P. S.-Don't send the hymn-book; send the money; I want to make the
selection myself.

Carnegie answered:

    Nothing less than a two-dollar & a half hymn-book gilt will do for
    you. Your place in the choir (celestial) demands that & you shall
    have it.

    There's a new Gospel of Saint Mark in the North American which I
    like better than anything I've read for many a day.

    I am willing to borrow a thousand dollars to distribute that sacred
    message in proper form, & if the author don't object may I send that
    sum, when I can raise it, to the Anti-Imperialist League, Boston, to
    which I am a contributor, the only missionary work I am responsible
    for.

    Just tell me you are willing & many thousands of the holy little
    missals will go forth. This inimitable satire is to become a
    classic. I count among my privileges in life that I know you, the
    author.

Perhaps a few more of the letters invited by Mark Twain's criticism of
missionary work in China may still be of interest to the reader:
Frederick T. Cook, of the Hospital Saturday and Sunday Association,
wrote: "I hail you as the Voltaire of America. It is a noble
distinction. God bless you and see that you weary not in well-doing in
this noblest, sublimest of crusades."

Ministers were by no means all against him. The associate pastor of the
Every-day Church, in Boston, sent this line: "I want to thank you for
your matchless article in the current North American. It must make
converts of well-nigh all who read it."

But a Boston school-teacher was angry. "I have been reading the North
American," she wrote, "and I am filled with shame and remorse that I have
dreamed of asking you to come to Boston to talk to the teachers."

On the outside of the envelope Clemens made this pencil note:

"Now, I suppose I offended that young lady by having an opinion of my
own, instead of waiting and copying hers. I never thought. I suppose
she must be as much as twenty-five, and probably the only patriot in the
country."

A critic with a sense of humor asked: "Please excuse seeming
impertinence, but were you ever adjudged insane? Be honest. How much
money does the devil give you for arraigning Christianity and missionary
causes?"

But there were more of the better sort. Edward S. Martin, in a grateful
letter, said: "How gratifying it is to feel that we have a man among us
who understands the rarity of the plain truth, and who delights to utter
it, and has the gift of doing so without cant and with not too much
seriousness."

Sir Hiram Maxim wrote: "I give you my candid opinion that what you have
done is of very great value to the civilization of the world. There is
no man living whose words carry greater weight than your own, as no one's
writings are so eagerly sought after by all classes."

Clemens himself in his note-book set down this aphorism:

"Do right and you will be conspicuous."




CCXV

SUMMER AT "THE LAIR"

In June Clemens took the family to Saranac Lake, to Ampersand. They
occupied a log cabin which he called "The Lair," on the south shore, near
the water's edge, a remote and beautiful place where, as had happened
before, they were so comfortable and satisfied that they hoped to return
another summer. There were swimming and boating and long walks in the
woods; the worry and noise of the world were far away. They gave little
enough attention to the mails. They took only a weekly paper, and were
likely to allow it to lie in the postoffice uncalled for. Clemens,
especially, loved the place, and wrote to Twichell:

    I am on the front porch (lower one-main deck) of our little bijou of
    a dwelling-house. The lake edge (Lower Saranac) is so nearly under
    me that I can't see the shore, but only the water, small-poxed with
    rain splashes--for there is a heavy down pour. It is charmingly
    like sitting snuggled up on a ship's deck with the stretching sea
    all around but very much more satisfactory, for at sea a rainstorm
    is depressing, while here of course the effect engendered is just a
    deep sense of comfort & contentment. The heavy forest shuts us
    solidly in on three sides--there are no neighbors. There are
    beautiful little tan-colored impudent squirrels about. They take
    tea 5 P.M. (not invited) at the table in the woods where Jean does
    my typewriting, & one of them has been brave enough to sit upon
    Jean's knee with his tail curved over his back & munch his food.
    They come to dinner 7 P.M. on the front porch (not invited), but
    Clara drives them away. It is an occupation which requires some
    industry & attention to business. They all have the one name
    --Blennerhasset, from Burr's friend--& none of them answers to it
    except when hungry.

Clemens could work at "The Lair," often writing in shady seclusions along
the shore, and he finished there the two-part serial,--[ Published in
Harper's Magazine for January and February, 1902.]--"The Double-Barrelled
Detective Story," intended originally as a burlesque on Sherlock Holmes.
It did not altogether fulfil its purpose, and is hardly to be ranked as
one of Mark Twain's successes. It contains, however, one paragraph at
least by which it is likely to be remembered, a hoax--his last one--on
the reader. It runs as follows:

    It was a crisp and spicy morning in early October. The lilacs and
    laburnums, lit with the glory-fires of autumn, hung burning and
    flashing in the upper air, a fairy bridge provided by kind nature
    for the wingless wild things that have their home in the tree-tops
    and would visit together; the larch and the pomegranate flung their
    purple and yellow flames in brilliant broad splashes along the
    slanting sweep of woodland, the sensuous fragrance of innumerable
    deciduous flowers rose upon the swooning atmosphere, far in the
    empty sky a solitary oesophagus slept upon motionless wing;
    everywhere brooded stillness, serenity, and the peace of God.

The warm light and luxury of this paragraph are factitious. The careful
reader will, note that its various accessories are ridiculously
associated, and only the most careless reader will accept the oesophagus
as a bird. But it disturbed a great many admirers, and numerous letters
of inquiry came wanting to know what it was all about. Some suspected
the joke and taunted him with it; one such correspondent wrote:

    MY DEAR MARK TWAIN,--Reading your "Double-Barrelled Detective Story"
    in the January Harper's late one night I came to the paragraph where
    you so beautifully describe "a crisp and spicy morning in early
    October." I read along down the paragraph, conscious only of its
    woozy sound, until I brought up with a start against your oesophagus
    in the empty sky. Then I read the paragraph again. Oh, Mark Twain!
    Mark Twain! How could you do it? Put a trap like that into the
    midst of a tragical story? Do serenity and peace brood over you
    after you have done such a thing?

    Who lit the lilacs, and which end up do they hang? When did larches
    begin to flame, and who set out the pomegranates in that canyon?
    What are deciduous flowers, and do they always "bloom in the fall,
    tra la"?

    I have been making myself obnoxious to various people by demanding
    their opinion of that paragraph without telling them the name of the
    author. They say, "Very well done." "The alliteration is so
    pretty." "What's an oesophagus, a bird?" "What's it all mean,
    anyway?" I tell them it means Mark Twain, and that an oesophagus is
    a kind of swallow. Am I right? Or is it a gull? Or a gullet?

    Hereafter if you must write such things won't you please be so kind
    as to label them?
                     Very sincerely yours,
                                ALLETTA F. DEAN.

Mark Twain to Miss Dean:

    Don't you give that oesophagus away again or I'll never trust you
    with another privacy!

So many wrote, that Clemens finally felt called upon to make public
confession, and as one searching letter had been mailed from Springfield,
Massachusetts, he made his reply through the Republican of that city.
After some opening comment he said:

    I published a short story lately & it was in that that I put the
    oesophagus. I will say privately that I expected it to bother some
    people--in fact, that was the intention--but the harvest has been
    larger than I was calculating upon. The oesophagus has gathered in
    the guilty and the innocent alike, whereas I was only fishing for
    the innocent--the innocent and confiding.

He quoted a letter from a schoolmaster in the Philippines who thought the
passage beautiful with the exception of the curious creature which "slept
upon motionless wings." Said Clemens:

    Do you notice? Nothing in the paragraph disturbed him but that one
    word. It shows that that paragraph was most ably constructed for
    the deception it was intended to put upon the reader. It was my
    intention that it should read plausibly, and it is now plain that it
    does; it was my intention that it should be emotional and touching,
    and you see yourself that it fetched this public instructor. Alas!
    if I had but left that one treacherous word out I should have
    scored, scored everywhere, and the paragraph would have slidden
    through every reader's sensibilities like oil and left not a
    suspicion behind.

    The other sample inquiry is from a professor in a New England
    university. It contains one naughty word (which I cannot bear to
    suppress), but he is not in the theological department, so it is no
    harm:

    "DEAR MR. CLEMENS,--'Far in the empty sky a solitary oesophagus
    slept upon motionless wing.'

    "It is not often I get a chance to read much periodical literature,
    but I have just gone through at this belated period, with much
    gratification and edification, your 'Double-Barrelled Detective
    Story.'

    "But what in hell is an oesophagus? I keep one myself, but it never
    sleeps in the air or anywhere else. My profession is to deal with
    words, and oesophagus interested me the moment I lighted upon it.
    But, as a companion of my youth used to say, 'I'll be eternally,
    co-eternally cussed' if I can make it out. Is it a joke or am I an
    ignoramus?"

    Between you and me, I was almost ashamed of having fooled that man,
    but for pride's sake I was not going to say so. I wrote and told
    him it was a joke--and that is what I am now saying to my
    Springfield inquirer. And I told him to carefully read the whole
    paragraph and he would find not a vestige of sense in any detail of
    it. This also I recommend to my Springfield inquirer.

    I have confessed. I am sorry--partially. I will not do so any
    more--for the present. Don't ask me any more questions; let the
    oesophagus have a rest--on his same old motionless wing.

He wrote Twichell that the story had been a six-day 'tour de force',
twenty-five thousand words, and he adds:

    How long it takes a literary seed to sprout sometimes! This seed was
    planted in your house many years ago when you sent me to bed with a
    book not heard of by me until then--Sherlock Holmes . . . .
    I've done a grist of writing here this summer, but not for
    publication soon, if ever. I did write two satisfactory articles
    for early print, but I've burned one of them & have buried the other
    in my large box of posthumous stuff. I've got stacks of literary
    remains piled up there.

Early in August Clemens went with H. H. Rogers in his yacht Kanawha on a
cruise to New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Rogers had made up a party,
including ex-Speaker Reed, Dr. Rice, and Col. A. G. Paine. Young Harry
Rogers also made one of the party. Clemens kept a log of the cruise,
certain entries of which convey something of its spirit. On the 11th, at
Yarmouth, he wrote:

    Fog-bound. The garrison went ashore. Officers visited the yacht in
    the evening & said an anvil had been missed. Mr. Rogers paid for
    the anvil.

    August 13th. There is a fine picture-gallery here; the sheriff
    photographed the garrison, with the exception of Harry (Rogers) and
    Mr. Clemens.

    August 14th. Upon complaint of Mr. Reed another dog was procured.
    He said he had been a sailor all his life, and considered it
    dangerous to trust a ship to a dog-watch with only one dog in it.

    Poker, for a change.

    August 15th. To Rockland, Maine, in the afternoon, arriving about 6
    P.M. In the night Dr. Rice baited the anchor with his winnings &
    caught a whale 90 feet long. He said so himself. It is thought
    that if there had been another witness like Dr. Rice the whale would
    have been longer.

    August 16th. We could have had a happy time in Bath but for the
    interruptions caused by people who wanted Mr. Reed to explain votes
    of the olden time or give back the money. Mr. Rogers recouped them.

    Another anvil missed. The descendant of Captain Kidd is the only
    person who does not blush for these incidents. Harry and Mr.
    Clemens blush continually. It is believed that if the rest of the
    garrison were like these two the yacht would be welcome everywhere
    instead of being quarantined by the police in all the ports. Mr.
    Clemens & Harry have attracted a great deal of attention, & men have
    expressed a resolve to turn over a new leaf & copy after them from
    this out.

    Evening. Judge Cohen came over from another yacht to pay his
    respects to Harry and Mr. Clemens, he having heard of their
    reputation from the clergy of these coasts. He was invited by the
    gang to play poker apparently as a courtesy & in a spirit of seeming
    hospitality, he not knowing them & taking it all at par. Mr. Rogers
    lent him clothes to go home in.

    August 17th. The Reformed Statesman growling and complaining again
    --not in a frank, straightforward way, but talking at the Commodore,
    while letting on to be talking to himself. This time he was
    dissatisfied about the anchor watch; said it was out of date,
    untrustworthy, & for real efficiency didn't begin with the
    Waterbury, & was going on to reiterate, as usual, that he had been a
    pilot all his life & blamed if he ever saw, etc., etc., etc.

    But he was not allowed to finish. We put him ashore at Portland.

That is to say, Reed landed at Portland, the rest of the party returning
with the yacht.

"We had a noble good time in the yacht," Clemens wrote Twichell on their
return. "We caught a Chinee missionary and drowned him."

Twichell had been invited to make one of the party, and this letter was
to make him feel sorry he had not accepted.




CCXVI

RIVERDALE--A YALE DEGREE

The Clemens household did not return to 14 West Tenth Street. They spent
a week in Elmira at the end of September, and after a brief stop in New
York took up their residence on the northern metropolitan boundary, at
Riverdale-on-the-Hudson, in the old Appleton home. They had permanently
concluded not to return to Hartford. They had put the property there
into an agent's hands for sale. Mrs. Clemens never felt that she had the
strength to enter the house again.

They had selected the Riverdale place with due consideration. They
decided that they must have easy access to the New York center, but they
wished also to have the advantage of space and spreading lawn and trees,
large rooms, and light. The Appleton homestead provided these things. It
was a house built in the first third of the last century by one of the
Morris family, so long prominent in New York history. On passing into
the Appleton ownership it had been enlarged and beautified and named
"Holbrook Hall." It overlooked the Hudson and the Palisades. It had
associations: the Roosevelt family had once lived there, Huxley, Darwin,
Tyndall, and others of their intellectual rank had been entertained there
during its occupation by the first Appleton, the founder of the
publishing firm. The great hall of the added wing was its chief feature.
Clemens once remembered:

"We drifted from room to room on our tour of inspection, always with a
growing doubt as to whether we wanted that house or not; but at last,
when we arrived in a dining-room that was 60 feet long, 30 feet wide, and
had two great fireplaces in it, that settled it."

There were pleasant neighbors at Riverdale, and had it not been for the
illnesses that seemed always ready to seize upon that household the home
there might have been ideal. They loved the place presently, so much so
that they contemplated buying it, but decided that it was too costly.
They began to prospect for other places along the Hudson shore. They
were anxious to have a home again--one that they could call their own.

Among the many pleasant neighbors at Riverdale were the Dodges, the
Quincy Adamses, and the Rev. Mr. Carstensen, a liberal-minded minister
with whom Clemens easily affiliated. Clemens and Carstensen visited back
and forth and exchanged views. Once Mr. Carstensen told him that he was
going to town to dine with a party which included the Reverend Gottheil,
a Catholic bishop, an Indian Buddhist, and a Chinese scholar of the
Confucian faith, after which they were all going to a Yiddish theater.
Clemens said:

"Well, there's only one more thing you need to make the party complete
--that is, either Satan or me."

Howells often came to Riverdale. He was living in a New York apartment,
and it was handy and made an easy and pleasant outing for him. He says:

"I began to see them again on something like the sweet old terms. They
lived far more unpretentiously than they used, and I think with a notion
of economy, which they had never very successfully practised. I recall
that at the end of a certain year in Hartford, when they had been saving
and paying cash for everything, Clemens wrote, reminding me of their
avowed experiment, and asking me to guess how many bills they had at
New-Year's; he hastened to say that a horse-car would not have held them.
At Riverdale they kept no carriage, and there was a snowy night when I
drove up to their handsome old mansion in the station carryall, which was
crusted with mud, as from the going down of the Deluge after transporting
Noah and his family from the Ark to whatever point they decided to settle
provisionally. But the good talk, the rich talk, the talk that could
never suffer poverty of mind or soul was there, and we jubilantly found
ourselves again in our middle youth."

Both Howells and Clemens were made doctors of letters by Yale that year
and went over in October to receive their degrees. It was Mark Twain's
second Yale degree, and it was the highest rank that an American
institution of learning could confer.

Twichell wrote:

I want you to understand, old fellow, that it will be in its intention
the highest public compliment, and emphatically so in your case, for it
will be tendered you by a corporation of gentlemen, the majority of whom
do not at all agree with the views on important questions which you have
lately promulgated in speech and in writing, and with which you are
identified to the public mind. They grant, of course, your right to hold
and express those views, though for themselves they don't like 'em; but
in awarding you the proposed laurel they will make no count of that
whatever. Their action will appropriately signify simply and solely
their estimate of your merit and rank as a man of letters, and so, as I
say, the compliment of it will be of the pure, unadulterated quality.

Howells was not especially eager to go, and tried to conspire with
Clemens to arrange some excuse which would keep them at home.

I remember with satisfaction [he wrote] our joint success in keeping away
from the Concord Centennial in 1875, and I have been thinking we might
help each other in this matter of the Yale Anniversary. What are your
plans for getting left, or shall you trust to inspiration?

Their plans did not avail. Both Howells and Clemens went to New Haven to
receive their honors.

When they had returned, Howells wrote formally, as became the new rank:

    DEAR SIR,--I have long been an admirer of your complete works,
    several of which I have read, and I am with you shoulder to shoulder
    in the cause of foreign missions. I would respectfully request a
    personal interview, and if you will appoint some day and hour most
    inconvenient to you I will call at your baronial hall. I cannot
    doubt, from the account of your courtesy given me by the Twelve
    Apostles, who once visited you in your Hartford home and were
    mistaken for a syndicate of lightning-rod men, that our meeting will
    be mutually agreeable.

                     Yours truly,
                            W. D. HOWELLS.
    DR. CLEMENS.




CCXVII

MARK TWAIN IN POLITICS

There was a campaign for the mayoralty of New York City that fall, with
Seth Low on the Fusion ticket against Edward M. Shepard as the Tammany
candidate. Mark Twain entered the arena to try to defeat Tammany Hall.
He wrote and he spoke in favor of clean city government and police
reform. He was savagely in earnest and openly denounced the clan of
Croker, individually and collectively. He joined a society called 'The
Acorns'; and on the 17th of October, at a dinner given by the order at
the Waldorf-Astoria, delivered a fierce arraignment, in which he
characterized Croker as the Warren Hastings of New York. His speech was
really a set of extracts from Edmund Burke's great impeachment of
Hastings, substituting always the name of Croker, and paralleling his
career with that of the ancient boss of the East India Company.

It was not a humorous speech. It was too denunciatory for that. It
probably contained less comic phrasing than any former effort. There is
hardly even a suggestion of humor from beginning to end. It concluded
with this paraphrase of Burke's impeachment:

    I impeach Richard Croker of high crimes and misdemeanors. I impeach
    him in the name of the people, whose trust he has betrayed.

    I impeach him in the name of all the people of America, whose
    national character he has dishonored.

    I impeach him in the name and by virtue of those eternal laws of
    justice which he has violated.

    I impeach him in the name of human nature itself, which he has
    cruelly outraged, injured, and oppressed, in both sexes, in every
    age, rank, situation, and condition of life.

The Acorn speech was greatly relied upon for damage to the Tammany ranks,
and hundreds of thousands of copies of it were printed and circulated.
--[The "Edmund Burke on Croker and Tammany" speech had originally been
written as an article for the North American Review.]

Clemens was really heart and soul in the campaign. He even joined a
procession that marched up Broadway, and he made a speech to a great
assemblage at Broadway and Leonard Street, when, as he said, he had been
sick abed two days and, according to the doctor, should be in bed then.

    But I would not stay at home for a nursery disease, and that's what
    I've got. Now, don't let this leak out all over town, but I've been
    doing some indiscreet eating--that's all. It wasn't drinking. If
    it had been I shouldn't have said anything about it.

    I ate a banana. I bought it just to clinch the Italian vote for
    fusion, but I got hold of a Tammany banana by mistake. Just one
    little nub of it on the end was nice and white. That was the
    Shepard end. The other nine-tenths were rotten. Now that little
    white end won't make the rest of the banana good. The nine-tenths
    will make that little nub rotten, too.

    We must get rid of the whole banana, and our Acorn Society is going
    to do its share, for it is pledged to nothing but the support of
    good government all over the United States. We will elect the
    President next time.

    It won't be I, for I have ruined my chances by joining the Acorns,
    and there can be no office-holders among us.

There was a movement which Clemens early nipped in the bud--to name a
political party after him.

"I should be far from willing to have a political party named after me,"
he wrote, "and I would not be willing to belong to a party which allowed
its members to have political aspirations or push friends forward for
political preferment."

In other words, he was a knight-errant; his sole purpose for being in
politics at all--something he always detested--was to do what he could
for the betterment of his people.

He had his reward, for when Election Day came, and the returns were in,
the Fusion ticket had triumphed and Tammany had fallen. Clemens received
his share of the credit. One paper celebrated him in verse:

              Who killed Croker?
              I, said Mark Twain,
              I killed Croker,
              I, the jolly joker!

Among Samuel Clemens's literary remains there is an outline plan for a
"Casting-Vote party," whose main object was "to compel the two great
parties to nominate their best man always." It was to be an organization
of an infinite number of clubs throughout the nation, no member of which
should seek or accept a nomination for office in any political
appointment, but in each case should cast its vote as a unit for the
candidate of one of the two great political parties, requiring that the
man be of clean record and honest purpose.

    From constable up to President [runs his final clause] there is no
    office for which the two great parties cannot furnish able, clean,
    and acceptable men. Whenever the balance of power shall be lodged
    in a permanent third party, with no candidate of its own and no
    function but to cast its whole vote for the best man put forward by
    the Republicans and Democrats, these two parties will select the
    best man they have in their ranks. Good and clean government will
    follow, let its party complexion be what it may, and the country
    will be quite content.

It was a Utopian idea, very likely, as human nature is made; full of that
native optimism which was always overflowing and drowning his gloomier
logic. Clearly he forgot his despair of humanity when he formulated that
document, and there is a world of unselfish hope in these closing lines:

    If in the hands of men who regard their citizenship as a high trust
    this scheme shall fail upon trial a better must be sought, a better
    must be invented; for it cannot be well or safe to let the present
    political conditions continue indefinitely. They can be improved,
    and American citizenship should arouse up from its disheartenment
    and see that it is done.

Had this document been put into type and circulated it might have founded
a true Mark Twain party.

Clemens made not many more speeches that autumn, closing the year at last
with the "Founder's Night" speech at The Players, the short address
which, ending on the stroke of midnight, dedicates each passing year to
the memory of Edwin Booth, and pledges each new year in a loving-cup
passed in his honor.




CCXVIII

NEW INTERESTS AND INVESTMENTS

The spirit which a year earlier had prompted Mark Twain to prepare his
"Salutation from the Nineteenth to the Twentieth Century" inspired him
now to conceive the "Stupendous International Procession," a gruesome
pageant described in a document (unpublished) of twenty-two typewritten
pages which begin:

                THE STUPENDOUS PROCESSION

    At the appointed hour it moved across the world in following order:

                  The Twentieth Century

    A fair young creature, drunk and disorderly, borne in the arms of
    Satan. Banner with motto, "Get What You Can, Keep What You Get."

    Guard of Honor--Monarchs, Presidents, Tammany Bosses, Burglars, Land
    Thieves, Convicts, etc., appropriately clothed and bearing the
    symbols of their several trades.

                      Christendom

    A majestic matron in flowing robes drenched with blood. On her head
    a golden crown of thorns; impaled on its spines the bleeding heads
    of patriots who died for their countries Boers, Boxers, Filipinos;
    in one hand a slung-shot, in the other a Bible, open at the text "Do
    unto others," etc. Protruding from pocket bottle labeled "We bring
    you the blessings of civilization." Necklace-handcuffs and a
    burglar's jimmy.
    Supporters--At one elbow Slaughter, at the other Hypocrisy.
    Banner with motto--"Love Your Neighbor's Goods as Yourself."
    Ensign--The Black Flag.
    Guard of Honor--Missionaries and German, French, Russian, and
    British soldiers laden with loot.

And so on, with a section for each nation of the earth, headed each by
the black flag, each bearing horrid emblems, instruments of torture,
mutilated prisoners, broken hearts, floats piled with bloody corpses. At
the end of all, banners inscribed:

       "All White Men are Born Free and Equal."

          "Christ died to make men holy,
           Christ died to make men free."

with the American flag furled and draped in crepe, and the shade of
Lincoln towering vast and dim toward the sky, brooding with sorrowful
aspect over the far-reaching pageant. With much more of the same sort.
It is a fearful document, too fearful, we may believe, for Mrs. Clemens
ever to consent to its publication.

Advancing years did little toward destroying Mark Twain's interest in
human affairs. At no time in his life was he more variously concerned
and employed than in his sixty-seventh year--matters social, literary,
political, religious, financial, scientific. He was always alive, young,
actively cultivating or devising interests--valuable and otherwise,
though never less than important to him.

He had plenty of money again, for one thing, and he liked to find
dazzlingly new ways for investing it. As in the old days, he was always
putting "twenty-five or forty thousand dollars," as he said, into
something that promised multiplied returns. Howells tells how he found
him looking wonderfully well, and when he asked the name of his elixir he
learned that it was plasmon.

    I did not immediately understand that plasmon was one of the
    investments which he had made from "the substance of things hoped
    for," and in the destiny of a disastrous disappointment. But after
    paying off the creditors of his late publishing firm he had to do
    something with his money, and it was not his fault if he did not
    make a fortune out of plasmon.

It was just at this period (the beginning of 1902) that he was promoting
with his capital and enthusiasm the plasmon interests in America,
investing in it one of the "usual amounts," promising to make Howells
over again body and soul with the life-giving albuminate. Once he wrote
him explicit instructions:

    Yes--take it as a medicine--there is nothing better, nothing surer
    of desired results. If you wish to be elaborate--which isn't
    necessary--put a couple of heaping teaspoonfuls of the powder in an
    inch of milk & stir until it is a paste; put in some more milk and
    stir the paste to a thin gruel; then fill up the glass and drink.

    Or, stir it into your soup.

    Or, into your oatmeal.

    Or, use any method you like, so's you get it down--that is the only
    essential.

He put another "usual sum" about this time in a patent cash register
which was acknowledged to be "a promise rather than a performance," and
remains so until this day.

He capitalized a patent spiral hat-pin, warranted to hold the hat on in
any weather, and he had a number of the pins handsomely made to present
to visitors of the sex naturally requiring that sort of adornment and
protection. It was a pretty and ingenious device and apparently
effective enough, though it failed to secure his invested thousands.

He invested a lesser sum in shares of the Booklover's Library, which was
going to revolutionize the reading world, and which at least paid a few
dividends. Even the old Tennessee land will-o'-the-wisp-long since
repudiated and forgotten--when it appeared again in the form of a
possible equity in some overlooked fragment, kindled a gentle interest,
and was added to his list of ventures.

He made one substantial investment at this period. They became more and
more in love with the Hudson environment, its beauty and its easy access
to New York. Their house was what they liked it to be--a gathering
--place for friends and the world's notables, who could reach it easily
and quickly from New York. They had a steady procession of company when
Mrs. Clemens's health would permit, and during a single week in the early
part of this year entertained guests at no less than seventeen out of
their twenty-one meals, and for three out of the seven nights--not an
unusual week. Their plan for buying a home on the Hudson ended with the
purchase of what was known as Hillcrest, or the Casey place, at
Tarrytown, overlooking that beautiful stretch of river, the Tappan Zee,
close to the Washington Irving home. The beauty of its outlook and
surroundings appealed to them all. The house was handsome and finely
placed, and they planned to make certain changes that would adapt it to
their needs. The price, which was less than fifty thousand dollars, made
it an attractive purchase; and without doubt it would have made them a
suitable and happy home had it been written in the future that they
should so inherit it.

Clemens was writing pretty steadily these days. The human race was
furnishing him with ever so many inspiring subjects, and he found time to
touch more or less on most of them. He wreaked his indignation upon the
things which exasperated him often--even usually--without the expectation
of print; and he delivered himself even more inclusively at such times as
he walked the floor between the luncheon or dinner courses, amplifying on
the poverty of an invention that had produced mankind as a supreme
handiwork. In a letter to Howells he wrote:

Your comments on that idiot's "Ideals" letter reminds me that I preached
a good sermon to my family yesterday on his particular layer of the human
race, that grotesquest of all the inventions of the Creator. It was a
good sermon, but coldly received, & it seemed best not to try to take up
a collection.

He once told Howells, with the wild joy of his boyish heart, how Mrs.
Clemens found some compensation, when kept to her room by illness, in the
reflection that now she would not hear so much about the "damned human
race."

Yet he was always the first man to champion that race, and the more
unpromising the specimen the surer it was of his protection, and he never
invited, never expected gratitude.

One wonders how he found time to do all the things that he did. Besides
his legitimate literary labors and his preachments, he was always writing
letters to this one and that, long letters on a variety of subjects,
carefully and picturesquely phrased, and to people of every sort. He
even formed a curious society, whose members were young girls--one in
each country of the earth. They were supposed to write to him at
intervals on some subject likely to be of mutual interest, to which
letters he agreed to reply. He furnished each member with a typewritten
copy of the constitution and by-laws of the juggernaut Club, as he called
it, and he apprised each of her election, usually after this fashion:

    I have a club--a private club, which is all my own. I appoint the
    members myself, & they can't help themselves, because I don't allow
    them to vote on their own appointment & I don't allow them to
    resign! They are all friends whom I have never seen (save one), but
    who have written friendly letters to me. By the laws of my club
    there can be only one member in each country, & there can be no male
    member but myself. Some day I may admit males, but I don't know
    --they are capricious & inharmonious, & their ways provoke me a good
    deal. It is a matter, which the club shall decide. I have made
    four appointments in the past three or four months: You as a member
    for Scotland--oh, this good while! a young citizeness of Joan of
    Arc's home region as a member for France; a Mohammedan girl as
    member for Bengal; & a dear & bright young niece of mine as member
    for the United States--for I do not represent a country myself, but
    am merely member-at-large for the human race. You must not try to
    resign, for the laws of the club do not allow that. You must
    console yourself by remembering that you are in the best company;
    that nobody knows of your membership except yourself; that no member
    knows another's name, but only her country; that no taxes are levied
    and no meetings held (but how dearly I should like to attend one!).
    One of my members is a princess of a royal house, another is the
    daughter of a village bookseller on the continent of Europe, for the
    only qualification for membership is intellect & the spirit of good-
    will; other distinctions, hereditary or acquired, do not count. May
    I send you the constitution & laws of the club? I shall be so glad
    if I may.

It was just one of his many fancies, and most of the active memberships
would not long be maintained; though some continued faithful in their
reports, as he did in his replies, to the end.

One of the more fantastic of his conceptions was a plan to advertise for
ante-mortem obituaries of himself--in order, as he said, that he might
look them over and enjoy them and make certain corrections in the matter
of detail. Some of them he thought might be appropriate to read from the
platform.

    I will correct them--not the facts, but the verdicts--striking out
    such clauses as could have a deleterious influence on the other
    side, and replacing them with clauses of a more judicious character.

He was much taken with the new idea, and his request for such obituaries,
with an offer of a prize for the best--a portrait of himself drawn by his
own hand--really appeared in Harper's Weekly later in the year. Naturally
he got a shower of responses--serious, playful, burlesque. Some of them
were quite worth while.

The obvious "Death loves a shining Mark" was of course numerously
duplicated, and some varied it "Death loves an Easy Mark," and there was
"Mark, the perfect man."

The two that follow gave him especial pleasure.

                OBITUARY FOR "MARK TWAIN"

    Worthy of his portrait, a place on his monument, as well as a place
    among his "perennial-consolation heirlooms":

              "Got up; washed; went to bed."

    The subject's own words (see Innocents Abroad). Can't go back on
    your own words, Mark Twain. There's nothing "to strike out";
    nothing "to replace." What more could be said of any one?

    "Got up!"--Think of the fullness of meaning! The possibilities of
    life, its achievements--physical, intellectual, spiritual. Got up
    to the top!--the climax of human aspiration on earth!

    "Washed"--Every whit clean; purified--body, soul, thoughts,
    purposes.

    "Went to bed"--Work all done--to rest, to sleep. The culmination of
    the day well spent!

    God looks after the awakening.

                         Mrs. S. A. OREN-HAYNES.

    Mark Twain was the only man who ever lived, so far as we know, whose
    lies were so innocent, and withal so helpful, as to make them worth
    more than a whole lot of fossilized priests' eternal truths.

                         D. H. KENNER.




CCXIX

YACHTING AND THEOLOGY

Clemens made fewer speeches during the Riverdale period. He was as
frequently demanded, but he had a better excuse for refusing, especially
the evening functions. He attended a good many luncheons with friendly
spirits like Howells, Matthews, James L. Ford, and Hamlin Garland. At
the end of February he came down to the Mayor's dinner given to Prince
Henry of Prussia, but he did not speak. Clemens used to say afterward
that he had not been asked to speak, and that it was probably because of
his supposed breach of etiquette at the Kaiser's dinner in Berlin; but
the fact that Prince Henry sought him out, and was most cordially and
humanly attentive during a considerable portion of the evening, is
against the supposition.

Clemens attended a Yale alumni dinner that winter and incidentally
visited Twichell in Hartford. The old question of moral responsibility
came up and Twichell lent his visitor a copy of Jonathan Edwards's
'Freedom of the Will' for train perusal. Clemens found it absorbing.
Later he wrote Twichell his views.

    DEAR JOE,--(After compliments.)--[Meaning "What a good time you gave
    me; what a happiness it was to be under your roof again," etc. See
    opening sentence of all translations of letters passing between Lord
    Roberts and Indian princes and rulers.]--From Bridgeport to New
    York, thence to home, & continuously until near midnight I wallowed
    & reeked with Jonathan in his insane debauch; rose immensely
    refreshed & fine at ten this morning, but with a strange & haunting
    sense of having been on a three days' tear with a drunken lunatic.
    It is years since I have known these sensations. All through the
    book is the glare of a resplendent intellect gone mad--a marvelous
    spectacle. No, not all through the book--the drunk does not come
    on till the last third, where what I take to be Calvinism & its God
    begins to show up & shine red & hideous in the glow from the fires
    of hell, their only right and proper adornment.

    Jonathan seems to hold (as against the Armenian position) that the
    man (or his soul or his will) never creates an impulse itself, but
    is moved to action by an impulse back of it. That's sound!

    Also, that of two or more things offered it, it infallibly chooses
    the one which for the moment is most pleasing to ITSELF. Perfectly
    correct! An immense admission for a man not otherwise sane.

    Up to that point he could have written Chapters III & IV of my
    suppressed Gospel. But there we seem to separate. He seems to
    concede the indisputable & unshaken dominion of Motive & Necessity
    (call them what he may, these are exterior forces & not under the
    man's authority, guidance, or even suggestion); then he suddenly
    flies the logical track & (to all seeming) makes the man & not those
    exterior forces responsible to God for the man's thoughts, words, &
    acts. It is frank insanity.

    I think that when he concedes the autocratic dominion of Motive and
    Necessity he grants a third position of mine--that a man's mind is a
    mere machine--an automatic machine--which is handled entirely from
    the outside, the man himself furnishing it absolutely nothing; not
    an ounce of its fuel, & not so much as a bare suggestion to that
    exterior engineer as to what the machine shall do nor how it shall
    do it nor when.

    After that concession it was time for him to get alarmed & shirk
    --for he was pointed straight for the only rational & possible next
    station on that piece of road--the irresponsibility of man to God.

    And so he shirked. Shirked, and arrived at this handsome result:

    Man is commanded to do so & so.

    It has been ordained from the beginning of time that some men
    sha'n't & others can't.

    These are to blame: let them be damned.

    I enjoy the Colonel very much, & shall enjoy the rest of him with an
    obscene delight.

    Joe, the whole tribe shout love to you & yours!
                                       MARK.

Clemens was moved to set down some theology of his own, and did so in a
manuscript which he entitled, "If I Could Be There." It is in the
dialogue form he often adopted for polemic writing. It is a colloquy
between the Master of the Universe and a Stranger. It begins:
I

If I could be there, hidden under the steps of the throne, I should hear
conversations like this:

A STRANGER. Lord, there is one who needs to be punished, and has been
overlooked. It is in the record. I have found it.

LORD. By searching?

S. Yes, Lord.

L. Who is it? What is it?

S. A man.

L. Proceed.

S. He died in sin. Sin committed by his great-grandfather.

L. When was this?

S. Eleven million years ago.

L. Do you know what a microbe is?

S. Yes, Lord. It is a creature too small to be detected by my eye.

L. He commits depredations upon your blood?

S. Yes, Lord.

L. I give you leave to subject him to a billion years of misery for this
offense. Go! Work your will upon him.

S. But, Lord, I have nothing against him; I am indifferent to him.

L. Why?

S. He is so infinitely small and contemptible. I am to him as is a
mountain-range to a grain of sand.

L. What am I to man?

S. (Silent.)

L. Am I not, to a man, as is a billion solar systems to a grain of sand?

S. It is true, Lord.

L. Some microbes are larger than others. Does man regard the
difference?

S. No, Lord. To him there is no difference of consequence. To him they
are all microbes, all infinitely little and equally inconsequential.

L. To me there is no difference of consequence between a man & a
microbe. Man looks down upon the speck at his feet called a microbe from
an altitude of a thousand miles, so to speak, and regards him with
indifference; I look down upon the specks called a man and a microbe from
an altitude of a billion leagues, so to speak, and to me they are of a
size. To me both are inconsequential. Man kills the microbes when he
can?

S. Yes, Lord.

L. Then what? Does he keep him in mind years and years and go on
contriving miseries for him?

S. No, Lord.

L. Does he forget him?

S. Yes, Lord.

L. Why?

S. He cares nothing more about him.

L. Employs himself with more important matters?

S. Yes, Lord.

L. Apparently man is quite a rational and dignified person, and can
divorce his mind from uninteresting trivialities. Why does he affront me
with the fancy that I interest Myself in trivialities--like men and
microbes?
II

L. Is it true the human race thinks the universe was created for its
convenience?

S. Yes, Lord.

L. The human race is modest. Speaking as a member of it, what do you
think the other animals are for?

S. To furnish food and labor for man.

L. What is the sea for?

S. To furnish food for man. Fishes.

L. And the air?

S. To furnish sustenance for man. Birds and breath.

L. How many men are there?

S. Fifteen hundred millions.

L. (Referring to notes.) Take your pencil and set down some statistics.
In a healthy man's lower intestine 28,000,000 microbes are born daily and
die daily. In the rest of a man's body 122,000,000 microbes are born
daily and die daily. The two sums aggregate-what?

S. About 150,000,000.

L. In ten days the aggregate reaches what?

S. Fifteen hundred millions.

L. It is for one person. What would it be for the whole human
population?

S. Alas, Lord, it is beyond the power of figures to set down that
multitude. It is billions of billions multiplied by billions of
billions, and these multiplied again and again by billions of billions.
The figures would stretch across the universe and hang over into space on
both sides.

L. To what intent are these uncountable microbes introduced into the
human race?

S. That they may eat.

L. Now then, according to man's own reasoning, what is man for?

S. Alas-alas!

L. What is he for?

S. To-to-furnish food for microbes.

L. Manifestly. A child could see it. Now then, with this common-sense
light to aid your perceptions, what are the air, the land, and the ocean
for?

S. To furnish food for man so that he may nourish, support, and multiply
and replenish the microbes.

L. Manifestly. Does one build a boarding-house for the sake of the
boarding-house itself or for the sake of the boarders?

S. Certainly for the sake of the boarders.

L. Man's a boarding-house.

S. I perceive it, Lord.

L. He is a boarding-house. He was never intended for anything else. If
he had had less vanity and a clearer insight into the great truths that
lie embedded in statistics he would have found it out early. As concerns
the man who has gone unpunished eleven million years, is it your belief
that in life he did his duty by his microbes?

S. Undoubtedly, Lord. He could not help it.

L. Then why punish him? He had no other duty to perform.

Whatever else may be said of this kind of doctrine, it is at least
original and has a conclusive sound. Mark Twain had very little use for
orthodoxy and conservatism. When it was announced that Dr. Jacques Loeb,
of the University of California, had demonstrated the creation of life by
chemical agencies he was deeply interested. When a newspaper writer
commented that a "consensus of opinion among biologists" would probably
rate Dr. Loeb as a man of lively imagination rather than an inerrant
investigator of natural phenomena, he felt called to chaff the consensus
idea.

    I wish I could be as young as that again. Although I seem so old
    now I was once as young as that. I remember, as if it were but
    thirty or forty years ago, how a paralyzing consensus of opinion
    accumulated from experts a-setting around about brother experts who
    had patiently and laboriously cold-chiseled their way into one or
    another of nature's safe-deposit vaults and were reporting that they
    had found something valuable was plenty for me. It settled it.

    But it isn't so now-no. Because in the drift of the years I by and
    by found out that a Consensus examines a new thing with its feelings
    rather oftener than with its mind.

    There was that primitive steam-engine-ages back, in Greek times: a
    Consensus made fun of it. There was the Marquis of Worcester's
    steam-engine 250 years ago: a Consensus made fun of it. There was
    Fulton's steamboat of a century ago: a French Consensus, including
    the great Napoleon, made fun of it. There was Priestley, with his
    oxygen: a Consensus scoffed at him, mobbed him, burned him out,
    banished him. While a Consensus was proving, by statistics and
    things, that a steamship could not cross the Atlantic, a steamship
    did it.

And so on through a dozen pages or more of lively satire, ending with an
extract from Adam's Diary.

    Then there was a Consensus about it. It was the very first one. It
    sat six days and nights. It was then delivered of the verdict that
    a world could not be made out of nothing; that such small things as
    sun and moon and stars might, maybe, but it would take years and
    years if there was considerable many of them. Then the Consensus
    got up and looked out of the window, and there was the whole outfit,
    spinning and sparkling in space! You never saw such a disappointed
    lot.
                                        ADAM.

He was writing much at this time, mainly for his own amusement, though
now and then he offered one of his reflections for print. That beautiful
fairy tale, "The Five Boons of Life," of which the most precious is
"Death," was written at this period. Maeterlinck's lovely story of the
bee interested him; he wrote about that. Somebody proposed a Martyrs'
Day; he wrote a paper ridiculing the suggestion. In his note-book, too,
there is a memorandum for a love-story of the Quarternary Epoch which
would begin, "On a soft October afternoon 2,000,000 years ago." John
Fiske's Discovery of America, Volume I, he said, was to furnish the
animals and scenery, civilization and conversation to be the same as
to-day; but apparently this idea was carried no further. He ranged
through every subject from protoplasm to infinity, exalting, condemning,
ridiculing, explaining; his brain was always busy--a dynamo that rested
neither night nor day.

In April Clemens received notice of another yachting trip on the Kanawha,
which this time would sail for the Bahama and West India islands. The
guests were to be about the same.--[The invited ones of the party were
Hon. T. B. Reed, A. G. Paine, Laurence Hutton, Dr. C. C. Rice, W. T.
Foote, and S. L. Clemens. "Owners of the yacht," Mr. Rogers called them,
signing himself as "Their Guest."]

He sent this telegram:

H. H. ROGERS, Fairhaven, Mass.

Can't get away this week. I have company here from tonight till middle
of next week. Will Kanawha be sailing after that & can I go as
Sunday-school superintendent at half rate? Answer and prepay.
                                       DR. CLEMENS.

The sailing date was conveniently arranged and there followed a happy
cruise among those balmy islands. Mark Twain was particularly fond of
"Tom" Reed, who had been known as "Czar" Reed in Congress, but was
delightfully human in his personal life. They argued politics a good
deal, and Reed, with all his training and intimate practical knowledge of
the subject, confessed that he "couldn't argue with a man like that."

"Do you believe the things you say?" he asked once, in his thin, falsetto
voice.

"Yes," said Clemens. "Some of them."

"Well, you want to look out. If you go on this way, by and by you'll get
to believing nearly everything you say."

Draw poker appears to have been their favorite diversion. Clemens in his
notes reports that off the coast of Florida Reed won twenty-three pots in
succession. It was said afterward that they made no stops at any harbor;
that when the chief officer approached the poker-table and told them they
were about to enter some important port he received peremptory orders to
"sail on and not interrupt the game." This, however, may be regarded as
more or less founded on fiction.




CCXX

MARK TWAIN AND THE PHILIPPINES

Among the completed manuscripts of the early part of 1902 was a North
American Review article (published in April)--"Does the Race of Man Love
a Lord?"--a most interesting treatise on snobbery as a universal
weakness. There were also some papers on the Philippine situation. In
one of these Clemens wrote:

    We have bought some islands from a party who did not own them; with
    real smartness and a good counterfeit of disinterested friendliness
    we coaxed a confiding weak nation into a trap and closed it upon
    them; we went back on an honored guest of the Stars and Stripes when
    we had no further use for him and chased him to the mountains; we
    are as indisputably in possession of a wide-spreading archipelago as
    if it were our property; we have pacified some thousands of the
    islanders and buried them; destroyed their fields; burned their
    villages, and turned their widows and orphans out-of-doors;
    furnished heartbreak by exile to some dozens of disagreeable
    patriots; subjugated the remaining ten millions by Benevolent
    Assimilation, which is the pious new name of the musket; we have
    acquired property in the three hundred concubines and other slaves
    of our business partner, the Sultan of Sulu, and hoisted our
    protecting flag over that swag.

    And so, by these Providences of God--the phrase is the government's,
    not mine--we are a World Power; and are glad and proud, and have a
    back seat in the family. With tacks in it. At least we are letting
    on to be glad and proud; it is the best way. Indeed, it is the only
    way. We must maintain our dignity, for people are looking. We are
    a World Power; we cannot get out of it now, and we must make the
    best of it.

And again he wrote:

    I am not finding fault with this use of our flag, for in order not
    to seem eccentric I have swung around now and joined the nation in
    the conviction that nothing can sully a flag. I was not properly
    reared, and had the illusion that a flag was a thing which must be
    sacredly guarded against shameful uses and unclean contacts lest it
    suffer pollution; and so when it was sent out to the Philippines to
    float over a wanton war and a robbing expedition I supposed it was
    polluted, and in an ignorant moment I said so. But I stand
    corrected. I concede and acknowledge that it was only the
    government that sent it on such an errand that was polluted. Let us
    compromise on that. I am glad to have it that way. For our flag
    could not well stand pollution, never having been used to it, but it
    is different with the administration.

But a much more conspicuous comment on the Philippine policy was the
so-called "Defense of General Funston" for what Funston himself referred
to as a "dirty Irish trick"; that is to say, deception in the capture of
Aguinaldo. Clemens, who found it hard enough to reconcile himself to-any
form of warfare, was especially bitter concerning this particular
campaign. The article appeared in the North American Review for May,
1902, and stirred up a good deal of a storm. He wrote much more on the
subject--very much more--but it is still unpublished.




CCXXI

THE RETURN OF THE NATIVE

One day in April, 1902, Samuel Clemens received the following letter from
the president of the University of Missouri:

MY DEAR MR. CLEMENS, Although you received the degree of doctor of
literature last fall from Yale, and have had other honors conferred upon
you by other great universities, we want to adopt you here as a son of
the University of Missouri. In asking your permission to confer upon you
the degree of LL.D. the University of Missouri does not aim to confer an
honor upon you so much as to show her appreciation of you. The rules of
the University forbid us to confer the degree upon any one in absentia. I
hope very much that you can so arrange your plans as to be with us on the
fourth day of next June, when we shall hold our Annual Commencement.

                     Very truly yours,
                            R. H. JESSE.

Clemens had not expected to make another trip to the West, but a
proffered honor such as this from one's native State was not a thing to
be declined.

It was at the end of May when he arrived in St. Louis, and he was met at
the train there by his old river instructor and friend, Horace Bixby--as
fresh, wiry, and capable as he had been forty-five years before.

"I have become an old man. You are still thirty-five," Clemens said.

They went to the Planters Hotel, and the news presently got around that
Mark Twain was there. There followed a sort of reception in the hotel
lobby, after which Bixby took him across to the rooms of the Pilots
Association, where the rivermen gathered in force to celebrate his
return. A few of his old comrades were still alive, among them Beck
Jolly. The same afternoon he took the train for Hannibal.

It was a busy five days that he had in Hannibal. High-school
commencement day came first. He attended, and willingly, or at least
patiently, sat through the various recitals and orations and
orchestrations, dreaming and remembering, no doubt, other high-school
commencements of more than half a century before, seeing in some of those
young people the boys and girls he had known in that vanished time. A
few friends of his youth were still there, but they were among the
audience now, and no longer fresh and looking into the future. Their
heads were white, and, like him, they were looking down the recorded
years. Laura Hawkins was there and Helen Kercheval (Mrs. Frazer and Mrs.
Garth now), and there were others, but they were few and scattering.

He was added to the program, and he made himself as one of the graduates,
and told them some things of the young people of that earlier time that
brought their laughter and their tears.

He was asked to distribute the diplomas, and he undertook the work in his
own way. He took an armful of them and said to the graduates:

"Take one. Pick out a good one. Don't take two, but be sure you get a
good one."

So each took one "unsight and unseen" aid made the more exact
distributions among themselves later.

Next morning it was Saturday--he visited the old home on Hill Street, and
stood in the doorway all dressed in white while a battalion of
photographers made pictures of "this return of the native" to the
threshold of his youth.

"It all seems so small to me," he said, as he looked through the house;
"a boy's home is a big place to him. I suppose if I should come back
again ten years from now it would be the size of a birdhouse."

He went through the rooms and up-stairs where he had slept and looked out
the window down in the back yard where, nearly sixty years before, Tom
Sawyer, Huck Finn, Joe Harper, and the rest--that is to say, Tom
Blankenship, John Briggs, Will Pitts, and the Bowen boys--set out on
their nightly escapades. Of that lightsome band Will Pitts and John
Briggs still remained, with half a dozen others--schoolmates of the less
adventurous sort. Buck Brown, who had been his rival in the spelling
contests, was still there, and John Robards, who had worn golden curls
and the medal for good conduct, and Ed Pierce. And while these were
assembled in a little group on the pavement outside the home a small old
man came up and put out his hand, and it was Jimmy MacDaniel, to whom so
long before, sitting on the river-bank and eating gingerbread, he had
first told the story of Jim Wolfe and the cats.

They put him into a carriage, drove him far and wide, and showed the
hills and resorts and rendezvous of Tom Sawyer and his marauding band.

He was entertained that evening by the Labinnah Club (whose name was
achieved by a backward spelling of Hannibal), where he found most of the
survivors of his youth. The news report of that occasion states that he
was introduced by Father McLoughlin, and that he "responded in a very
humorous and touchingly pathetic way, breaking down in tears at the
conclusion. Commenting on his boyhood days and referring to his mother
was too much for the great humorist. Before him as he spoke were sitting
seven of his boyhood friends."

On Sunday morning Col. John Robards escorted him to the various churches
and Sunday-schools. They were all new churches to Samuel Clemens, but he
pretended not to recognize this fact. In each one he was asked to speak
a few words, and he began by saying how good it was to be back in the old
home Sunday-school again, which as a boy he had always so loved, and he
would go on and point out the very place he had sat, and his escort
hardly knew whether or not to enjoy the proceedings. At one place he
told a moral story. He said:

Little boys and girls, I want to tell you a story which illustrates the
value of perseverance--of sticking to your work, as it were. It is a
story very proper for a Sunday-school. When I was a little boy in
Hannibal I used to play a good deal up here on Holliday's Hill, which of
course you all know. John Briggs and I played up there. I don't suppose
there are any little boys as good as we were then, but of course that is
not to be expected. Little boys in those days were 'most always good
little boys, because those were the good old times when everything was
better than it is now, but never mind that. Well, once upon a time, on
Holliday's Hill, they were blasting out rock, and a man was drilling for
a blast. He sat there and drilled and drilled and drilled perseveringly
until he had a hole down deep enough for the blast. Then he put in the
powder and tamped and tamped it down, but maybe he tamped it a little too
hard, for the blast went off and he went up into the air, and we watched
him. He went up higher and higher and got smaller and smaller. First he
looked as big as a child, then as big as a dog, then as big as a kitten,
then as big as a bird, and finally he went out of sight. John Briggs was
with me, and we watched the place where he went out of sight, and by and
by we saw him coming down first as big as a bird, then as big as a
kitten, then as big as a dog, then as big as a child, and then he was a
man again, and landed right in his seat and went to drilling just
persevering, you see, and sticking to his work. Little boys and girls,
that's the secret of success, just like that poor but honest workman on
Holliday's Hill. Of course you won't always be appreciated. He wasn't.
His employer was a hard man, and on Saturday night when he paid him he
docked him fifteen minutes for the time he was up in the air--but never
mind, he had his reward.

He told all this in his solemn, grave way, though the Sunday-school was
in a storm of enjoyment when he finished. There still remains a doubt in
Hannibal as to its perfect suitability, but there is no doubt as to its
acceptability.

That Sunday afternoon, with John Briggs, he walked over Holliday's Hill
--the Cardiff Hill of Tom Sawyer. It was jest such a Sunday as that one
when they had so nearly demolished the negro driver and had damaged a
cooper-shop. They calculated that nearly three thousand Sundays had
passed since then, and now here they were once more, two old men with the
hills still fresh and green, the river still sweeping by and rippling in
the sun. Standing there together and looking across to the low-lying
Illinois shore, and to the green islands where they had played, and to
Lover's Leap on the south, the man who had been Sam Clemens said:

"John, that is one of the loveliest sights I ever saw. Down there by the
island is the place we used to swim, and yonder is where a man was
drowned, and there's where the steamboat sank. Down there on Lover's
Leap is where the Millerites put on their robes one night to go to
heaven. None of them went that night, but I suppose most of them have
gone now."

John Briggs said:

"Sam, do you remember the day we stole the peaches from old man Price and
one of his bow-legged niggers came after us with the dogs, and how we
made up our minds that we'd catch that nigger and drown him?"

They came to the place where they had pried out the great rock that had
so nearly brought them to grief. Sam Clemens said:

"John, if we had killed that man we'd have had a dead nigger on our hands
without a cent to pay for him."

And so they talked on of this thing and that, and by and by they drove
along the river, and Sam Clemens pointed out the place where he swam it
and was taken with a cramp on the return swim, and believed for a while
that his career was about to close.

"Once, near the shore, I thought I would let down," he said, "but was
afraid to, knowing that if the water was deep I was a goner, but finally
my knees struck the sand and I crawled out. That was the closest call I
ever had."

They drove by the place where the haunted house had stood. They drank
from a well they had always known, and from the bucket as they had always
drunk, talking and always talking, fondling lovingly and lingeringly that
most beautiful of all our possessions, the past.

"Sam," said John, when they parted, "this is probably the last time we
shall meet on this earth. God bless you. Perhaps somewhere we shall
renew our friendship."

"John," was the answer, "this day has been worth thousands of dollars to
me. We were like brothers once, and I feel that we are the same now.
Good-by, John. I'll try to meet you--somewhere."




CCXXII

A PROPHET HONORED IN HIS COUNTRY

Clemens left next day for Columbia. Committees met him at Rensselaer,
Monroe City, Clapper, Stoutsville, Paris, Madison, Moberly--at every
station along the line of his travel. At each place crowds were gathered
when the train pulled in, to cheer and wave and to present him with
flowers. Sometimes he spoke a few words; but oftener his eyes were full
of tears--his voice would not come.

There is something essentially dramatic in official recognition by one's
native State--the return of the lad who has set out unknown to battle
with life, and who, having conquered, is invited back to be crowned. No
other honor, however great and spectacular, is quite like that, for there
is in it a pathos and a completeness that are elemental and stir emotions
as old as life itself.

It was on the 4th of June, 1902, that Mark Twain received his doctor of
laws degree from the State University at Columbia, Missouri. James
Wilson, Secretary of Agriculture, and Ethan Allen Hitchcock, Secretary of
the Interior, were among those similarly honored. Mark Twain was
naturally the chief attraction. Dressed in his Yale scholastic gown he
led the procession of graduating students, and, as in Hannibal, awarded
them their diplomas. The regular exercises were made purposely brief in
order that some time might be allowed for the conferring of the degrees.
This ceremony was a peculiarly impressive one. Gardner Lathrop read a
brief statement introducing "America's foremost author and best-loved
citizen, Samuel Langhorne Clemens--Mark Twain."

Clemens rose, stepped out to the center of the stage, and paused. He
seemed to be in doubt as to whether he should make a speech or simply
express his thanks and retire. Suddenly, and without a signal, the great
audience rose as one man and stood in silence at his feet. He bowed, but
he could not speak. Then that vast assembly began a peculiar chant,
spelling out slowly the word Missouri, with a pause between each letter.
It was dramatic; it was tremendous in its impressiveness. He had
recovered himself when they finished. He said he didn't know whether he
was expected to make a speech or not. They did not leave him in doubt.
They cheered and demanded a speech, a speech, and he made them one--one
of the speeches he could make best, full of quaint phrasing, happy humor,
gentle and dramatic pathos. He closed by telling the watermelon story
for its "moral effect."

He was the guest of E. W. Stevens in Columbia, and a dinner was given in
his honor. They would have liked to keep him longer, but he was due in
St. Louis again to join in the dedication of the grounds, where was to be
held a World's Fair, to celebrate the Louisiana Purchase. Another
ceremony he attended was the christening of the St. Louis harbor-boat, or
rather the rechristening, for it had been decided to change its name from
the St. Louis--[Originally the Elon G. Smith, built in 1873.]--to the
Mark Twain. A short trip was made on it for the ceremony. Governor
Francis and Mayor Wells were of the party, and Count and Countess
Rochambeau and Marquis de Lafayette, with the rest of the French group
that had come over for the dedication of the World's Fair grounds.

Mark Twain himself was invited to pilot the harbor boat, and so returned
for the last time to his old place at the wheel. They all collected in
the pilot-house behind him, feeling that it was a memorable occasion.
They were going along well enough when he saw a little ripple running out
from the shore across the bow. In the old days he could have told
whether it indicated a bar there or was only caused by the wind, but he
could not be sure any more. Turning to the pilot languidly, he said: "I
feel a little tired. I guess you had better take the wheel."

Luncheon was served aboard, and Mayor Wells made the christening speech;
then the Countess Rochambeau took a bottle of champagne from the hand of
Governor Francis and smashed it on the deck, saying, "I christen thee,
good boat, Mark Twain." So it was, the Mississippi joined in according
him honors. In his speech of reply he paid tribute to those illustrious
visitors from France and recounted something of the story of French
exploration along that great river.

"The name of La Salle will last as long as the river itself," he said;
"will last until commerce is dead. We have allowed the commerce of the
river to die, but it was to accommodate the railroads, and we must be
grateful."

Carriages were waiting for them when the boat landed in the afternoon,
and the party got in and were driven to a house which had been identified
as Eugene Field's birthplace. A bronze tablet recording this fact had
been installed, and this was to be the unveiling. The place was not in
an inviting quarter of the town. It stood in what is known as Walsh's
Row--was fashionable enough once, perhaps, but long since fallen into
disrepute. Ragged children played in the doorways, and thirsty lodgers
were making trips with tin pails to convenient bar-rooms. A curious
nondescript audience assembled around the little group of dedicators,
wondering what it was all about. The tablet was concealed by the
American flag, which could be easily pulled away by an attached cord.
Governor Francis spoke a few words, to the effect that they had gathered
here to unveil a tablet to an American poet, and that it was fitting that
Mark Twain should do this. They removed their hats, and Clemens, his
white hair blowing in the wind, said:

"My friends; we are here with reverence and respect to commemorate and
enshrine in memory the house where was born a man who, by his life, made
bright the lives of all who knew him, and by his literary efforts cheered
the thoughts of thousands who never knew him. I take pleasure in
unveiling the tablet of Eugene Field."

The flag fell and the bronze inscription was revealed. By this time the
crowd, generally, had recognized who it was that was speaking. A
working-man proposed three cheers for Mark Twain, and they were heartily
given. Then the little party drove away, while the neighborhood
collected to regard the old house with a new interest.

It was reported to Clemens later that there was some dispute as to the
identity of the Field birthplace. He said:

"Never mind. It is of no real consequence whether it is his birthplace
or not. A rose in any other garden will bloom as sweet."




CCXXIII

AT YORK HARBOR

They decided to spend the summer at York Harbor, Maine. They engaged a
cottage, there, and about the end of June Mr. Rogers brought his yacht
Kanawha to their water-front at Riverdale, and in perfect weather took
them to Maine by sea. They landed at York Harbor and took possession of
their cottage, The Pines, one of their many attractive summer lodges.
Howells, at Kittery Point, was not far away, and everything promised a
happy summer.

Mrs. Clemens wrote to Mrs. Crane:

    We are in the midst of pines. They come up right about us, and the
    house is so high and the roots of the trees are so far below the
    veranda that we are right in the branches. We drove over to call on
    Mr. and Mrs. Howells. The drive was most beautiful, and never in my
    life have I seen such a variety of wild flowers in so short a space.

Howells tells us of the wide, low cottage in a pine grove overlooking
York River, and how he used to sit with Clemens that summer at a corner
of the veranda farthest away from Mrs. Clemens's window, where they could
read their manuscripts to each other, and tell their stories and laugh
their hearts out without disturbing her.

Clemens, as was his habit, had taken a work-room in a separate cottage
"in the house of a friend and neighbor, a fisherman and a boatman":

    There was a table where he could write, and a bed where he could lie
    down and read; and there, unless my memory has played me one of
    those constructive tricks that people's memories indulge in, he read
    me the first chapters of an admirable story. The scene was laid in
    a Missouri town, and the characters such as he had known in boyhood;
    but often as I tried to make him own it, he denied having written
    any such story; it is possible that I dreamed it, but I hope the MS.
    will yet be found.

Howells did not dream it; but in one way his memory misled him. The
story was one which Clemens had heard in Hannibal, and he doubtless
related it in his vivid way. Howells, writing at a later time, quite
naturally included it among the several manuscripts which Clemens read
aloud to him. Clemens may have intended to write the tale, may even have
begun it, though this is unlikely. The incidents were too well known and
too notorious in his old home for fiction.

Among the stories that Clemens did show, or read, to Howells that summer
was "The Belated Passport," a strong, intensely interesting story with
what Howells in a letter calls a "goat's tail ending," perhaps meaning
that it stopped with a brief and sudden shake--with a joke, in fact,
altogether unimportant, and on the whole disappointing to the reader. A
far more notable literary work of that summer grew out of a true incident
which Howells related to Clemens as they sat chatting together on the
veranda overlooking the river one summer afternoon. It was a pathetic
episode in the life of some former occupants of The Pines--the tale of a
double illness in the household, where a righteous deception was carried
on during several weeks for the benefit of a life that was about to slip
away. Out of this grew the story, "Was it Heaven? or Hell?" a
heartbreaking history which probes the very depths of the human soul.
Next to "Hadleyburg," it is Mark Twain's greatest fictional sermon.

Clemens that summer wrote, or rather finished, his most pretentious poem.
One day at Riverdale, when Mrs. Clemens had been with him on the lawn,
they had remembered together the time when their family of little folks
had filled their lives so full, conjuring up dream-like glimpses of them
in the years of play and short frocks and hair-plaits down their backs.
It was pathetic, heart-wringing fancying; and later in the day Clemens
conceived and began the poem which now he brought to conclusion. It was
built on the idea of a mother who imagines her dead child still living,
and describes to any listener the pictures of her fancy. It is an
impressive piece of work; but the author, for some reason, did not offer
it for publication.--[This poem was completed on the anniversary of
Susy's death and is of considerable length. Some selections from it will
be found under Appendix U, at the end of this work.]

Mrs. Clemens, whose health earlier in the year had been delicate, became
very seriously ill at York Harbor. Howells writes:

At first she had been about the house, and there was one gentle afternoon
when she made tea for us in the parlor, but that was the last time I
spoke with her. After that it was really a question of how soonest and
easiest she could be got back to Riverdale.

She had seemed to be in fairly good health and spirits for several weeks
after the arrival at York. Then, early in August, there came a great
celebration of some municipal anniversary, and for two or three days
there were processions, mass-meetings, and so on by day, with fireworks
at night. Mrs. Clemens, always young in spirit, was greatly interested.
She went about more than her strength warranted, seeing and hearing and
enjoying all that was going on. She was finally persuaded to forego the
remaining ceremonies and rest quietly on the pleasant veranda at home;
but she had overtaxed herself and a collapse was inevitable. Howells and
two friends called one afternoon, and a friend of the Queen of Rumania, a
Madame Hartwig, who had brought from that gracious sovereign a letter
which closed in this simple and modest fashion:

    I beg your pardon for being a bore to one I so deeply love and
    admire, to whom I owe days and days of forgetfulness of self and
    troubles, and the intensest of all joys-hero-worship! People don't
    always realize what a happiness that is! God bless you for every
    beautiful thought you poured into my tired heart, and for every
    smile on a weary way.                CARMEN SYLVA.

This was the occasion mentioned by Howells when Mrs. Clemens made tea for
them in the parlor for the last time. Her social life may be said to
have ended that afternoon. Next morning the break came. Clemens, in his
notebook for that day, writes:

Tuesday, August 12, 1902. At 7 A.M. Livy taken violently ill.
Telephoned and Dr. Lambert was here in 1/2 hour. She could not
breathe-was likely to stifle. Also she had severe palpitation. She
believed she was dying. I also believed it.

Nurses were summoned, and Mrs. Crane and others came from Elmira. Clara
Clemens took charge of the household and matters generally, and the
patient was secluded and guarded from every disturbing influence. Clemens
slipped about with warnings of silence. A visitor found notices in Mark
Twain's writing pinned to the trees near Mrs. Clemens's window warning
the birds not to sing too loudly.

The patient rallied, but she remained very much debilitated. On
September 3d the note-book says:

    Always Mr. Rogers keeps his yacht Kanawha in commission & ready to
    fly here and take us to Riverdale on telegraphic notice.

But Mrs. Clemens was unable to return by sea. When it was decided at
last, in October, that she could be removed to Riverdale, Clemens and
Howells went to Boston and engaged an invalid car to make the journey
from York Harbor to Riverdale without change. Howells tells us that
Clemens gave his strictest personal attention to the arrangement of these
details, and that they absorbed him.

    There was no particular of the business which he did not scrutinize
    and master . . . . With the inertness that grows upon an aging
    man he had been used to delegate more and more things, but of that
    thing I perceived that he would not delegate the least detail.

They made the journey on the 16th, in nine and a half hours. With the
exception of the natural weariness due to such a trip, the invalid was
apparently no worse on their arrival. The stout English butler carried
her to her room. It would be many months before she would leave it
again. In one of his memoranda Clemens wrote:

    Our dear prisoner is where she is through overwork-day & night
    devotion to the children & me. We did not know how to value it. We
    know now.

And in a notation, on a letter praising him for what he had done for the
world's enjoyment, and for his splendid triumph over debt, he said:

    Livy never gets her share of these applauses, but it is because the
    people do not know. Yet she is entitled to the lion's share.

He wrote Twichell at the end of October:

    Livy drags along drearily. It must be hard times for that turbulent
    spirit. It will be a long time before she is on her feet again. It
    is a most pathetic case. I wish I could transfer it to myself.
    Between ripping & raging & smoking & reading I could get a good deal
    of holiday out of it. Clara runs the house smoothly & capitally.

Heavy as was the cloud of illness, he could not help pestering Twichell a
little about a recent mishap--a sprained shoulder:

    I should like to know how & where it happened. In the pulpit, as
    like as not, otherwise you would not be taking so much pains to
    conceal it. This is not a malicious suggestion, & not a personally
    invented one: you told me yourself once that you threw artificial
    power & impressiveness in your sermons where needed by "banging the
    Bible"--(your own words). You have reached a time of life when it
    is not wise to take these risks. You would better jump around. We
    all have to change our methods as the infirmities of age creep upon
    us. Jumping around will be impressive now, whereas before you were
    gray it would have excited remark.

Mrs. Clemens seemed to improve as the weeks passed, and they had great
hopes of her complete recovery. Clemens took up some work--a new Huck
Finn story, inspired by his trip to Hannibal. It was to have two parts
--Huck and Tom in youth, and then their return in old age. He did some
chapters quite in the old vein, and wrote to Howells of his plan. Howells
answered:

    It is a great lay-out: what I shall enjoy most will be the return of
    the old fellows to the scene and their tall lying. There is a
    matchless chance there. I suppose you will put in plenty of pegs in
    this prefatory part.

But the new story did not reach completion. Huck and Tom would not come
back, even to go over the old scenes.




CCXXIV

THE SIXTY-SEVENTH BIRTHDAY DINNER

It was on the evening of the 27th of November, 1902, I at the
Metropolitan Club, New York City, that Col. George Harvey, president of
the Harper Company, gave Mark Twain a dinner in celebration of his
sixty-seventh birthday. The actual date fell three days later; but that
would bring it on Sunday, and to give it on Saturday night would be more
than likely to carry it into Sabbath morning, and so the 27th was chosen.
Colonel Harvey himself presided, and Howells led the speakers with a
poem, "A Double-Barreled Sonnet to Mark Twain," which closed:

       Still, to have everything beyond cavil right,
       We will dine with you here till Sunday night.

Thomas Brackett Reed followed with what proved to be the last speech he
would ever make, as it was also one of his best. All the speakers did
well that night, and they included some of the country's foremost in
oratory: Chauncey Depew, St. Clair McKelway, Hamilton Mabie, and Wayne
MacVeagh. Dr. Henry van Dyke and John Kendrick Bangs read poems. The
chairman constantly kept the occasion from becoming too serious by
maintaining an attitude of "thinking ambassador" for the guest of the
evening, gently pushing Clemens back in his seat when he attempted to
rise and expressing for him an opinion of each of the various tributes.

"The limit has been reached," he announced at the close of Dr. van Dyke's
poem. "More that is better could not be said. Gentlemen, Mr. Clemens."

It is seldom that Mark Twain has made a better after-dinner speech than
he delivered then. He was surrounded by some of the best minds of the
nation, men assembled to do him honor. They expected much of him--to
Mark Twain always an inspiring circumstance. He was greeted with cheers
and hand-clapping that came volley after volley, and seemed never ready
to end. When it had died away at last he stood waiting a little in the
stillness for his voice; then he said, "I think I ought to be allowed to
talk as long as I want to," and again the storm broke.

It is a speech not easy to abridge--a finished and perfect piece of
after-dinner eloquence,--[The "Sixty-seventh Birthday Speech" entire is
included in the volume Mark Twain's Speeches.]--full of humorous stories
and moving references to old friends--to Hay; and Reed, and Twichell, and
Howells, and Rogers, the friends he had known so long and loved so well.
He told of his recent trip to his boyhood home, and how he had stood with
John Briggs on Holliday's Hill and they had pointed out the haunts of
their youth. Then at the end he paid a tribute to the companion of his
home, who could not be there to share his evening's triumph. This
peroration--a beautiful heart-offering to her and to those that had
shared in long friendship--demands admission:

    Now, there is one invisible guest here. A part of me is not
    present; the larger part, the better part, is yonder at her home;
    that is my wife, and she has a good many personal friends here, and
    I think it won't distress any one of them to know that, although she
    is going to be confined to her bed for many months to come from that
    nervous prostration, there is not any danger and she is coming along
    very well--and I think it quite appropriate that I should speak of
    her. I knew her for the first time just in the same year that I
    first knew John Hay and Tom Reed and Mr. Twichell--thirty-six years
    ago--and she has been the best friend I have ever had, and that is
    saying a good deal--she has reared me--she and Twichell together
    --and what I am I owe to them. Twichell--why, it is such a pleasure
    to look upon Twichell's face! For five and twenty years I was under
    the Rev. Mr. Twichell's tuition, I was in his pastorate occupying a
    pew in his church and held him in due reverence. That man is full
    of all the graces that go to make a person companionable and
    beloved; and wherever Twichell goes to start a church the people
    flock there to buy the land; they find real estate goes up all
    around the spot, and the envious and the thoughtful always try to
    get Twichell to move to their neighborhood and start a church; and
    wherever you see him go you can go and buy land there with
    confidence, feeling sure that there will be a double price for you
    before very long.

    I have tried to do good in this world, and it is marvelous in how
    many different ways I have done good, and it is comfortable to
    reflect--now, there's Mr. Rogers--just out of the affection I bear
    that man many a time I have given him points in finance that he had
    never thought of--and if he could lay aside envy, prejudice, and
    superstition, and utilize those ideas in his business, it would make
    a difference in his bank-account.

    Well, I liked the poetry. I liked all the speeches and the poetry,
    too. I liked Dr. van Dyke's poem. I wish I could return thanks in
    proper measure to you, gentlemen, who have spoken and violated your
    feelings to pay me compliments; some were merited and some you
    overlooked, it is true; and Colonel Harvey did slander every one of
    you, and put things into my mouth that I never said, never thought
    of at all.

    And now my wife and I, out of our single heart, return you our
    deepest and most grateful thanks, and--yesterday was her birthday.

The sixty-seventh birthday dinner was widely celebrated by the press, and
newspaper men generally took occasion to pay brilliant compliments to
Mark Twain. Arthur Brisbane wrote editorially:

    For more than a generation he has been the Messiah of a genuine
    gladness and joy to the millions of three continents.

It was little more than a week later that one of the old friends he had
mentioned, Thomas Brackett Reed, apparently well and strong that birthday
evening, passed from the things of this world. Clemens felt his death
keenly, and in a "good-by" which he wrote for Harper's Weekly he said:

    His was a nature which invited affection--compelled it, in fact--and
    met it half-way. Hence, he was "Tom" to the most of his friends and
    to half of the nation . . . .

    I cannot remember back to a time when he was not "Tom" Reed to me,
    nor to a time when he could have been offended at being so addressed
    by me. I cannot remember back to a time when I could let him alone
    in an after-dinner speech if he was present, nor to a time when he
    did not take my extravagance concerning him and misstatements about
    him in good part, nor yet to a time when he did not pay them back
    with usury when his turn came. The last speech he made was at my
    birthday dinner at the end of November, when naturally I was his
    text; my last word to him was in a letter the next day; a day later
    I was illustrating a fantastic article on art with his portrait
    among others--a portrait now to be laid reverently away among the
    jests that begin in humor and end in pathos. These things happened
    only eight days ago, and now he is gone from us, and the nation is
    speaking of him as one who was. It seems incredible, impossible.
    Such a man, such a friend, seems to us a permanent possession; his
    vanishing from our midst is unthinkable, as was the vanishing of the
    Campanile, that had stood for a thousand years and was turned to
    dust in a moment.

The appreciation closes:

    I have only wished to say how fine and beautiful was his life and
    character, and to take him by the hand and say good-by, as to a
    fortunate friend who has done well his work and gees a pleasant
    journey.




CCXXV

CHRISTIAN SCIENCE CONTROVERSIES

The North American Review for December (1902) contained an instalment of
the Christian Science series which Mark Twain had written in Vienna
several years before. He had renewed his interest in the doctrine, and
his admiration for Mrs. Eddy's peculiar abilities and his antagonism
toward her had augmented in the mean time. Howells refers to the "mighty
moment when Clemens was building his engines of war for the destruction
of Christian Science, which superstition nobody, and he least of all,
expected to destroy":

    He believed that as a religious machine the Christian Science Church
    was as perfect as the Roman Church, and destined to be more
    formidable in its control of the minds of men . . . .

    An interesting phase of his psychology in this business was not.
    only his admiration for the masterly policy of the Christian Science
    hierarchy, but his willingness to allow the miracles of its healers
    to be tried on his friends and family if they wished it. He had a
    tender heart for the whole generation of empirics, as well as the
    newer sorts of scienticians, but he seemed to base his faith in them
    largely upon the failure of the regulars, rather than upon their own
    successes, which also he believed in. He was recurrently, but not
    insistently, desirous that you should try their strange magics when
    you were going to try the familiar medicines.

Clemens never had any quarrel with the theory of Christian Science or
mental healing, or with any of the empiric practices. He acknowledged
good in all of them, and he welcomed most of them in preference to
materia medica. It is true that his animosity for the founder of the
Christian Science cult sometimes seems to lap over and fringe the
religion itself; but this is apparent rather than real. Furthermore, he
frequently expressed a deep obligation which humanity owed to the founder
of the faith, in that she had organized a healing element ignorantly and
indifferently employed hitherto. His quarrel with Mrs. Eddy lay in the
belief that she herself, as he expressed it, was "a very unsound
Christian Scientist."

    I believe she has a serious malady--self-edification--and that it
    will be well to have one of the experts demonstrate over her. [But
    he added]: Closely examined, painstakingly studied, she is easily
    the most interesting person on the planet, and in several ways as
    easily the most extraordinary woman that was ever born upon it.

Necessarily, the forces of Christian Science were aroused by these
articles, and there were various replies, among them, one by the founder
herself, a moderate rejoinder in her usual literary form.

    "Mrs. Eddy in Error," in the North American Review for April, 1903,
    completed what Clemens had to say on the matter for this time.

He was putting together a book on the subject, comprised of his various
published papers and some added chapters. It would not be a large
volume, and he offered to let his Christian Science opponents share it
with him, stating their side of the case. Mr. William D. McCrackan, one
of the church's chief advocates, was among those invited to participate.
McCrackan and Clemens, from having begun as enemies, had become quite
friendly, and had discussed their differences face to face at
considerable length. Early in the controversy Clemens one night wrote
McCrackan a pretty savage letter. He threw it on the hall table for
mailing, but later got out of bed and slipped down-stairs to get it. It
was too late--the letters had been gathered up and mailed. Next evening
a truly Christian note came from McCrackan, returning the hasty letter,
which he said he was sure the writer would wish to recall. Their
friendship began there. For some reason, however, the collaborated
volume did not materialize. In the end, publication was delayed a number
of years, by which time Clemens's active interest was a good deal
modified, though the practice itself never failed to invite his
attention.

Howells refers to his anti-Christian Science rages, which began with the
postponement of the book, and these Clemens vented at the time in another
manuscript entitled, "Eddypus," an imaginary history of a thousand years
hence, when Eddyism should rule the world. By that day its founder would
have become a deity, and the calendar would be changed to accord with her
birth. It was not publishable matter, and really never intended as such.
It was just one of the things which Mark Twain wrote to relieve mental
pressure.




CCXXVI

"WAS IT HEAVEN? OR HELL?"

The Christmas number of Harper's Magazine for 1902 contained the story,
"Was it Heaven? or Hell?" and it immediately brought a flood of letters
to its author from grateful readers on both sides of the ocean. An
Englishman wrote: "I want to thank you for writing so pathetic and so
profoundly true a story"; and an American declared it to be the best
short story ever written. Another letter said:

    I have learned to love those maiden liars--love and weep over them
    --then put them beside Dante's Beatrice in Paradise.

There were plenty of such letters; but there was one of a different sort.
It was a letter from a man who had but recently gone through almost
precisely the experience narrated in the tale. His dead daughter had
even borne the same name--Helen. She had died of typhus while her mother
was prostrated with the same malady, and the deception had been
maintained in precisely the same way, even to the fictitiously written
letters. Clemens replied to this letter, acknowledging the striking
nature of the coincidence it related, and added that, had he invented the
story, he would have believed it a case of mental telegraphy.

    I was merely telling a true story just as it had been told to me by
    one who well knew the mother and the daughter & all the beautiful &
    pathetic details. I was living in the house where it had happened,
    three years before, & I put it on paper at once while it was fresh
    in my mind, & its pathos still straining at my heartstrings.

Clemens did not guess that the coincidences were not yet complete, that
within a month the drama of the tale would be enacted in his own home. In
his note-book, under the date of December 24(1902), he wrote:

    Jean was hit with a chill: Clara was completing her watch in her
    mother's room and there was no one able to force Jean to go to bed.
    As a result she is pretty ill to-day-fever & high temperature.

Three days later he added:

    It was pneumonia. For 5 days jean's temperature ranged between 103
    & 104 2/5, till this morning, when it got down to 101. She looks
    like an escaped survivor of a forest fire. For 6 days now my story
    in the Christmas Harper's "Was it Heaven? or Hell?"--has been
    enacted in this household. Every day Clara & the nurses have lied
    about Jean to her mother, describing the fine times she is having
    outdoors in the winter sports.

That proved a hard, trying winter in the Clemens home, and the burden of
it fell chiefly, indeed almost entirely, upon Clara Clemens. Mrs.
Clemens became still more frail, and no other member of the family, not
even her husband, was allowed to see her for longer than the briefest
interval. Yet the patient was all the more anxious to know the news, and
daily it had to be prepared--chiefly invented--for her comfort. In an
account which Clemens once set down of the "Siege and Season of
Unveracity," as he called it, he said:

    Clara stood a daily watch of three or four hours, and hers was a
    hard office indeed. Daily she sealed up in her heart a dozen
    dangerous truths, and thus saved her mother's life and hope and
    happiness with holy lies. She had never told her mother a lie in
    her life before, and I may almost say that she never told her a
    truth afterward. It was fortunate for us all that Clara's
    reputation for truthfulness was so well established in her mother's
    mind. It was our daily protection from disaster. The mother never
    doubted Clara's word. Clara could tell her large improbabilities
    without exciting any suspicion, whereas if I tried to market even a
    small and simple one the case would have been different. I was
    never able to get a reputation like Clara's. Mrs. Clemens
    questioned Clara every day concerning Jean's health, spirits,
    clothes, employments, and amusements, and how she was enjoying
    herself; and Clara furnished the information right along in minute
    detail--every word of it false, of course. Every day she had to
    tell how Jean dressed, and in time she got so tired of using Jean's
    existing clothes over and over again, and trying to get new effects
    out of them, that finally, as a relief to her hard-worked invention,
    she got to adding imaginary clothes to Jean's wardrobe, and probably
    would have doubled it and trebled it if a warning note in her
    mother's comments had not admonished her that she was spending more
    money on these spectral gowns and things than the family income
    justified.

Some portions of detailed accounts of Clara's busy days of this period,
as written at the time by Clemens to Twichell and to Mrs. Crane, are
eminently worth preserving. To Mrs. Crane:

    Clara does not go to her Monday lesson in New York today [her mother
    having seemed not so well through the night], but forgets that fact
    and enters her mother's room (where she has no business to be)
    toward train-time dressed in a wrapper.

    LIVY. Why, Clara, aren't you going to your lesson?
    CLARA (almost caught). Yes.
    L. In that costume?
    CL. Oh no.
    L. Well, you can't make your train; it's impossible.
    CL. I know, but I'm going to take the other one.
    L. Indeed that won't do--you'll be ever so much too late for
    your lesson.
    CL. No, the lesson-time has been put an hour later.
    L. (satisfied, then suddenly). But, Clara, that train and the late
    lesson together will make you late to Mrs. Hapgood's luncheon.
    CL. No, the train leaves fifteen minutes earlier than it used to.
    L. (satisfied). Tell Mrs. Hapgood, etc., etc., etc. (which Clara
    promises to do). Clara, dear, after the luncheon--I hate to put
    this on you--but could you do two or three little shopping-errands
    for me?
    CL. Oh, it won't trouble me a bit-I can do it. (Takes a list of
    the things she is to buy-a list which she will presently hand to
    another.)

    At 3 or 4 P.M. Clara takes the things brought from New York,
    studies over her part a little, then goes to her mother's room.

    LIVY. It's very good of you, dear. Of course, if I had known it
    was going to be so snowy and drizzly and sloppy I wouldn't have
    asked you to buy them. Did you get wet?
    CL. Oh, nothing to hurt.
    L. You took a cab both ways?
    CL. Not from the station to the lesson-the weather was good enough
    till that was over.
    L. Well, now, tell me everything Mrs. Hapgood said.

    Clara tells her a long yarn-avoiding novelties and surprises and
    anything likely to inspire questions difficult to answer; and of
    course detailing the menu, for if it had been the feeding of the
    5,000 Livy would have insisted on knowing what kind of bread it was
    and how the fishes were served. By and by, while talking of
    something else:

    LIVY. Clams!--in the end of December. Are you sure it was clams?
    CL. I didn't say cl---I meant Blue Points.
    L. (tranquilized). It seemed odd. What is Jean doing?
    CL. She said she was going to do a little typewriting.
    L. Has she been out to-day?
    CL. Only a moment, right after luncheon. She was determined to go
    out again, but----
    L. How did you know she was out?
    CL. (saving herself in time). Katie told me. She was determined
    to go out again in the rain and snow, but I persuaded her to stay
    in.
    L. (with moving and grateful admiration). Clara, you are
    wonderful! the wise watch you keep over Jean, and the influence you
    have over her; it's so lovely of you, and I tied here and can't take
    care of her myself. (And she goes on with these undeserved praises
    till Clara is expiring with shame.)

To Twichell:

    I am to see Livy a moment every afternoon until she has another bad
    night; and I stand in dread, for with all my practice I realize that
    in a sudden emergency I am but a poor, clumsy liar, whereas a fine
    alert and capable emergency liar is the only sort that is worth
    anything in a sick-chamber.

    Now, Joe, just see what reputation can do. All Clara's life she has
    told Livy the truth and now the reward comes; Clara lies to her
    three and a half hours every day, and Livy takes it all at par,
    whereas even when I tell her a truth it isn't worth much without
    corroboration . . . .

    Soon my brief visit is due. I've just been up listening at Livy's
    door.

    5 P.M. A great disappointment. I was sitting outside Livy's door
    waiting. Clara came out a minute ago and said L ivy is not so well,
    and the nurse can't let me see her to-day.

That pathetic drama was to continue in some degree for many a long month.
All that winter and spring Mrs. Clemens kept but a frail hold on life.
Clemens wrote little, and refused invitations everywhere he could. He
spent his time largely in waiting for the two-minute period each day when
he could stand at the bed-foot and say a few words to the invalid, and he
confined his writing mainly to the comforting, affectionate messages
which he was allowed to push under her door. He was always waiting there
long before the moment he was permitted to enter. Her illness and her
helplessness made manifest what Howells has fittingly characterized as
his "beautiful and tender loyalty to her, which was the most moving
quality of his most faithful soul."




CCXXVII

THE SECOND RIVERDALE WINTER

Most of Mark Twain's stories have been dramatized at one time or another,
and with more or less success. He had two plays going that winter, one
of them the little "Death Disk," which--in story form had appeared a year
before in Harper's Magazine. It was put on at the Carnegie Lyceum with
considerable effect, but it was not of sufficient importance to warrant a
long continuance.

Another play of that year was a dramatization of Huckleberry Finn, by Lee
Arthur. This was played with a good deal of success in Baltimore,
Philadelphia, and elsewhere, the receipts ranging from three hundred to
twenty-one hundred dollars per night, according to the weather and
locality. Why the play was discontinued is not altogether apparent;
certainly many a dramatic enterprise has gone further, faring worse.

Huck in book form also had been having adventures a little earlier, in
being tabooed on account of his morals by certain librarians of Denver
and Omaha. It was years since Huck had been in trouble of that sort, and
he acquired a good deal of newspaper notoriety in consequence.

Certain entries in Mark Twain's note-book reveal somewhat of his life and
thought at this period. We find such entries as this:

    Saturday, January 3, 1903. The offspring of riches: Pride, vanity,
    ostentation, arrogance, tyranny.

    Sunday, January 4, 1903. The offspring of poverty: Greed,
    sordidness, envy, hate, malice, cruelty, meanness, lying, shirking,
    cheating, stealing, murder.

    Monday, February 2, 1903. 33d wedding anniversary. I was allowed
    to see Livy 5 minutes this morning in honor of the day. She makes
    but little progress toward recovery, still there is certainly some,
    we are sure.

    Sunday, March 1, 1903. We may not doubt that society in heaven
    consists mainly of undesirable persons.

    Thursday, March 19, 1903. Susy's birthday. She would be 31 now.

The family illnesses, which presently included an allotment for himself,
his old bronchitis, made him rage more than ever at the imperfections of
the species which could be subject to such a variety of ills. Once he
wrote:

    Man was made at the end of the week's work when God was tired.

And again:

    Adam, man's benefactor--he gave him all that he has ever received
    that was worth having--death.

The Riverdale home was in reality little more than a hospital that
spring. Jean had scarcely recovered her physical strength when she was
attacked by measles, and Clara also fell a victim to the infection.
Fortunately Mrs. Clemens's health had somewhat improved.

It was during this period that Clemens formulated his eclectic
therapeutic doctrine. Writing to Twichell April 4, 1903, he said:

    Livy does make a little progress these past 3 or 4 days, progress
    which is visible to even the untrained eye. The physicians are
    doing good work for her, but my notion is, that no art of healing is
    the best for all ills. I should distribute the ailments around:
    surgery cases to the surgeon; lupus to the actinic-ray specialist;
    nervous prostration to the Christian Scientist; most ills to the
    allopath & the homeopath; & (in my own particular case) rheumatism,
    gout, & bronchial attack to the osteopathist.

He had plenty of time to think and to read during those weeks of
confinement, and to rage, and to write when he felt the need of that
expression, though he appears to have completed not much for print beyond
his reply to Mrs. Eddy, already mentioned, and his burlesque,
"Instructions in Art," with pictures by himself, published in the
Metropolitan for April and May.

Howells called his attention to some military outrages in the
Philippines, citing a case where a certain lieutenant had tortured one of
his men, a mild offender, to death out of pure deviltry, and had been
tried but not punished for his fiendish crime.--[The torture to death of
Private Edward C. Richter, an American soldier, by orders of a
commissioned officer of the United States army on the night of February
7, 1902. Private Richter was bound and gagged and the gag held in his
mouth by means of a club while ice-water was slowly poured into his face,
a dipper full at a time, for two hours and a half, until life became
extinct.]

Clemens undertook to give expression to his feelings on this subject, but
he boiled so when he touched pen to paper to write of it that it was
simply impossible for him to say anything within the bounds of print.
Then his only relief was to rise and walk the floor, and curse out his
fury at the race that had produced such a specimen.

Mrs. Clemens, who perhaps got some drift or the echo of these tempests,
now and then sent him a little admonitory, affectionate note.

Among the books that Clemens read, or tried to read, during his
confinement were certain of the novels of Sir Walter Scott. He had never
been able to admire Scott, and determined now to try to understand this
author's popularity and his standing with the critics; but after wading
through the first volume of one novel, and beginning another one, he
concluded to apply to one who could speak as having authority. He wrote
to Brander Matthews:

    DEAR BRANDER,--I haven't been out of my bed for 4 weeks, but-well, I
    have been reading a good deal, & it occurs to me to ask you to sit
    down, some time or other when you have 8 or 9 months to spare, & jot
    me down a certain few literary particulars for my help & elevation.
    Your time need not be thrown away, for at your further leisure you
    can make Columbian lectures out of the results & do your students a
    good turn.

    1. Are there in Sir Walter's novels passages done in good English
    --English which is neither slovenly nor involved?

    2. Are there passages whose English is not poor & thin &
    commonplace, but is of a quality above that?

    3. Are there passages which burn with real fire--not punk, fox-
    fire, make-believe?
    4. Has he heroes & heroines who are not cads and cadesses?

    5. Has he personages whose acts & talk correspond with their
    characters as described by him?

    6. Has he heroes & heroines whom the reader admires--admires and
    knows why?

    7. Has he funny characters that are funny, and humorous passages
    that are humorous?

    8. Does he ever chain the reader's interest & make him reluctant to
    lay the book down?

    9. Are there pages where he ceases from posing, ceases from
    admiring the placid flood & flow of his own dilution, ceases from
    being artificial, & is for a time, long or short, recognizably
    sincere & in earnest?

    10. Did he know how to write English, & didn't do it because he
    didn't want to?

    11. Did he use the right word only when he couldn't think of
    another one, or did he run so much to wrong words because he didn't
    know the right one when he saw it?

    12. Can you read him and keep your respect for him? Of course a
    person could in his day--an era of sentimentality & sloppy
    romantics--but land! can a body do it to-day?

    Brander, I lie here dying; slowly dying, under the blight of Sir
    Walter. I have read the first volume of Rob Roy, & as far as
    Chapter XIX of Guy Mannering, & I can no longer hold my head up or
    take my nourishment. Lord, it's all so juvenile! so artificial, so
    shoddy; & such wax figures & skeletons & specters. Interest? Why,
    it is impossible to feel an interest in these bloodless shams, these
    milk-&-water humbugs. And oh, the poverty of invention! Not
    poverty in inventing situations, but poverty in furnishing reasons
    for them. Sir Walter usually gives himself away when he arranges
    for a situation--elaborates & elaborates & elaborates till, if you
    live to get to it, you don't believe in it when it happens.

    I can't find the rest of Rob Roy, I, can't stand any more Mannering
    --I do not know just what to do, but I will reflect, & not quit this
    great study rashly ....

    My, I wish I could see you & Leigh Hunt!

    Sincerely yours,

                                   S. L. CLEMENS.

But a few days later he experienced a revelation. It came when he
perseveringly attacked still a third work of Scott--Quentin Durward.
Hastily he wrote to Matthews again:

I'm still in bed, but the days have lost their dullness since I broke
into Sir Walter & lost my temper. I finished Guy Mannering that curious,
curious book, with its mob of squalid shadows gibbering around a single
flesh-&-blood being--Dinmont; a book crazily put together out of the very
refuse of the romance artist's stage properties--finished it & took up
Quentin Durward & finished that.

It was like leaving the dead to mingle with the living; it was like
withdrawing from the infant class in the college of journalism to sit
under the lectures in English literature in Columbia University.

I wonder who wrote Quentin Durward?--[This letter, enveloped, addressed,
and stamped, was evidently mislaid. It was found and mailed seven years
later, June, 1910 message from the dead.]

Among other books which he read that winter and spring was Helen Keller's
'The Story of My Life', then recently published. That he finished it in
a mood of sweet gentleness we gather from a long, lovely letter which he
wrote her--a letter in which he said:

I am charmed with your book--enchanted. You are a wonderful creature,
the most wonderful in the world--you and your other half together--Miss
Sullivan, I mean--for it took the pair of you to make a complete &
perfect whole. How she stands out in her letters! her brilliancy,
penetration, originality, wisdom, character, & the fine literary
competencies of her pen--they are all there.

When reading and writing failed as diversion, Mark Twain often turned to
mathematics. With no special talent for accuracy in the matter of
figures, he had a curious fondness for calculations, scientific and
financial, and he used to cover pages, ciphering at one thing and
another, arriving pretty inevitably at the wrong results. When the
problem was financial, and had to do with his own fortunes, his figures
were as likely as not to leave him in a state of panic. The expenditures
were naturally heavy that spring; and one night, when he had nothing
better to do, he figured the relative proportion to his income. The
result showed that they were headed straight for financial ruin. He put
in the rest of the night fearfully rolling and tossing, and
reconstructing his figures that grew always worse, and next morning
summoned Jean and Clara and petrified them with the announcement that the
cost of living was one hundred and twenty-five per cent. more than the
money-supply.

Writing to MacAlister three days later he said:

    It was a mistake. When I came down in the morning, a gray and aged
    wreck, I found that in some unaccountable way (unaccountable to a
    business man, but not to me) I had multiplied the totals by two. By
    God, I dropped seventy-five years on the floor where I stood!

    Do you know it affected me as one is affected when one wakes out of
    a hideous dream & finds it was only a dream. It was a great comfort
    & satisfaction to me to call the daughters to a private meeting of
    the board again. Certainly there is a blistering & awful reality
    about a well-arranged unreality. It is quite within the
    possibilities that two or three nights like that of mine would drive
    a man to suicide. He would refuse to examine the figures, they
    would revolt him so, & he would go to his death unaware that there
    was nothing serious about them. I cannot get that night out of my
    head, it was so vivid, so real, so ghastly: In any other year of
    these thirty-three the relief would have been simple: go where you
    can, cut your cloth to fit your income. You can't do that when your
    wife can't be moved, even from one room to the next.

    The doctor & a specialist met in conspiracy five days ago, & in
    their belief she will by and by come out of this as good as new,
    substantially. They ordered her to Italy for next winter--which
    seems to indicate that by autumn she will be able to undertake the
    voyage. So Clara is writing to a Florence friend to take a look
    around among the villas for us in the regions near that city.




CCXXVIII

PROFFERED HONORS

Mark Twain had been at home well on toward three years; but his
popularity showed no signs of diminishing. So far from having waned, it
had surged to a higher point than ever before. His crusade against
public and private abuses had stirred readers, and had set them to
thinking; the news of illness in his household; a report that he was
contemplating another residence abroad--these things moved deeply the
public heart, and a tide of letters flowed in, letters of every sort--of
sympathy, of love, or hearty endorsement, whatever his attitude of
reform.

When a writer in a New York newspaper said, "Let us go outside the realm
of practical politics next time in choosing our candidates for the
Presidency," and asked, "Who is our ablest and most conspicuous private
citizen?" another editorial writer, Joseph Hollister, replied that Mark
Twain was "the greatest man of his day in private life, and entitled to
the fullest measure of recognition."

But Clemens was without political ambitions. He knew the way of such
things too well. When Hollister sent him the editorial he replied only
with a word of thanks, and did not, even in jest, encourage that tiny
seed of a Presidential boom. One would like to publish many of the
beautiful letters received during this period, for they are beautiful,
most of them, however illiterate in form, however discouraging in length
--beautiful in that they overflow with the writers' sincerity and
gratitude.

So many of them came from children, usually without the hope of a reply,
some signed only with initials, that the writers might not be open to the
suspicion of being seekers for his autograph. Almost more than any other
reward, Mark Twain valued this love of the children.

A department in the St. Nicholas Magazine offered a prize for a
caricature drawing of some well-known man. There were one or two of
certain prominent politicians and capitalists, and there was literally a
wheelbarrow load of Mark Twain. When he was informed of this he wrote:
"No tribute could have pleased me more than that--the friendship of the
children."

Tributes came to him in many forms. In his native State it was proposed
to form a Mark Twain Association, with headquarters at Hannibal, with the
immediate purpose of having a week set apart at the St. Louis World's
Fair, to be called the Mark Twain week, with a special Mark Twain day, on
which a national literary convention would be held. But when his consent
was asked, and his co-operation invited, he wrote characteristically:

It is indeed a high compliment which you offer me, in naming an
association after me and in proposing the setting apart of a Mark Twain
day at the great St. Louis Fair, but such compliments are not proper for
the living; they are proper and safe for the dead only. I value the
impulse which moves you to tender me these honors. I value it as highly
as any one can, and am grateful for it, but I should stand in a sort of
terror of the honors themselves. So long as we remain alive we are not
safe from doing things which, however righteously and honorably intended,
can wreck our repute and extinguish our friendships.

I hope that no society will be named for me while I am still alive, for I
might at some time or other do something which would cause its members to
regret having done me that honor. After I shall have joined the dead I
shall follow the custom of those people, and be guilty of no conduct that
can wound any friend; but until that time shall come I shall be a
doubtful quantity, like the rest of our race.

The committee, still hoping for his consent, again appealed to him. But
again he wrote:

While I am deeply touched by the desire of my friends of Hannibal to
confer these great honors upon me I must still forbear to accept them.
Spontaneous and unpremeditated honors, like those which came to me at
Hannibal, Columbia, St. Louis, and at the village stations all down the
line, are beyond all price and are a treasure for life in the memory, for
they are a free gift out of the heart and they come without solicitation;
but I am a Missourian, and so I shrink from distinctions which have to be
arranged beforehand and with my privity, for I then become a party to my
own exalting. I am humanly fond of honors that happen, but chary of
those that come by canvass and intention.

Somewhat later he suggested a different feature for the fair; one that
was not practical, perhaps, but which certainly would have aroused
interest--that is to say, an old-fashioned six-day steamboat-race from
New Orleans to St. Louis, with the old-fashioned accessories, such as
torch-baskets, forecastle crowds of negro singers, with a negro on the
safety-valve. In his letter to President Francis he said:

As to particulars, I think that the race should be a genuine reproduction
of the old-time race, not just an imitation of it, and that it should
cover the whole course. I think the boats should begin the trip at New
Orleans, and side by side (not an interval between), and end it at North
St. Louis, a mile or two above the Big Mound.

In a subsequent letter to Governor Francis he wrote:

It has been a dear wish of mine to exhibit myself at the great Fair & get
a prize, but circumstances beyond my control have interfered . . . .

I suppose you will get a prize, because you have created the most
prodigious Fair the planet has ever seen. Very well, you have indeed
earned it, and with it the gratitude of the State and the nation.

Newspaper men used every inducement to get interviews from him. They
invited him to name a price for any time he could give them, long or
short. One reporter offered him five hundred dollars for a two-hour
talk. Another proposed to pay him one hundred dollars a week for a
quarter of a day each week, allowing him to discuss any subject he
pleased. One wrote asking him two questions: the first, "Your favorite
method of escaping from Indians"; the second, "Your favorite method of
escaping capture by the Indians when they were in pursuit of you." They
inquired as to his favorite copy-book maxim; as to what he considered
most important to a young man's success; his definition of a gentleman.
They wished to know his plan for the settlement of labor troubles. But
they did not awaken his interest, or his cupidity. To one applicant he
wrote:

No, there are temptations against which we are fire-proof. Your
proposition is one which comes to me with considerable frequency, but it
never tempts me. The price isn't the objection; you offer plenty. It is
the nature of the work that is the objection--a kind of work which I
could not do well enough to satisfy me. To multiply the price by twenty
would not enable me to do the work to my satisfaction, & by consequence
would make no impression upon me.

Once he allowed himself to be interviewed for the Herald, when from Mr.
Rogers's yacht he had watched Sir Thomas Lipton's Shamrock go down to
defeat; but this was a subject which appealed to him--a kind of
hotweather subject--and he could be as light-minded about it as he chose.




CCXXXIX

THE LAST SUMMER AT ELMIRA

The Clemenses were preparing to take up residence in Florence, Italy. The
Hartford house had been sold in May, ending forever the association with
the city that had so long been a part of their lives. The Tarrytown
place, which they had never occupied, they also agreed to sell, for it
was the belief now that Mrs. Clemens's health would never greatly prosper
there. Howells says, or at least implies, that they expected their
removal to Florence to be final. He tells us, too, of one sunny
afternoon when he and Clemens sat on the grass before the mansion at
Riverdale, after Mrs. Clemens had somewhat improved, and how they "looked
up toward a balcony where by and by that lovely presence made itself
visible, as if it had stooped there from a cloud. A hand frailly waved a
handkerchief; Clemens ran over the lawn toward it, calling tenderly." It
was a greeting to Howells the last he would ever receive from her.

Mrs. Clemens was able to make a trip to Elmira by the end of June, and on
the 1st of July Mr. Rogers brought Clemens and his wife down the river on
his yacht to the Lackawanna pier, and they reached Quarry Farm that
evening. She improved in the quietude and restfulness of that beloved
place. Three weeks later Clemens wrote to Twichell:

Livy is coming along: eats well, sleeps some, is mostly very gay, not
very often depressed; spends all day on the porch, sleeps there a part of
the night; makes excursions in carriage & in wheel-chair; &, in the
matter of superintending everything & everybody, has resumed business at
the old stand.

During three peaceful months she spent most of her days reclining on the
wide veranda, surrounded by those dearest to her, and looking out on the
dreamlike landscape--the long, grassy slope, the drowsy city, and the
distant hills--getting strength for the far journey by sea. Clemens did
some writing, occupying the old octagonal study--shut in now and
overgrown with vines--where during the thirty years since it was built so
many of his stories had been written. 'A Dog's Tale'--that pathetic
anti-vivisection story--appears to have been the last manuscript ever
completed in the spot consecrated by Huck and Tom, and by Tom Canty the
Pauper and the little wandering Prince.

It was October 5th when they left Elmira. Two days earlier Clemens had
written in his note-book:

    Today I placed flowers on Susy's grave--for the last time probably
    --& read words:

       "Good-night, dear heart, good-night."

They did not return to Riverdale, but went to the Hotel Grosvenor for the
intervening weeks. They had engaged passage for Italy on the Princess
Irene, which would sail on the 24th. It was during the period of their
waiting that Clemens concluded his final Harper contract. On that day,
in his note-book, he wrote:

                      THE PROPHECY

In 1895 Cheiro the palmist examined my hand & said that in my 68th year
(1903) I would become suddenly rich. I was a bankrupt & $94,000 in debt
at the time through the failure of Charles L. Webster & Co. Two years
later--in London--Cheiro repeated this long-distance prediction, & added
that the riches would come from a quite unexpected source. I am
superstitious. I kept the prediction in mind & often thought of it. When
at last it came true, October 22, 1903, there was but a month & 9 days to
spare.

The contract signed that day concentrates all my books in Harper's hands
& now at last they are valuable; in fact they are a fortune. They
guarantee me $25,000 a year for 5 years, and they will yield twice as
much as that.--[In earlier note-books and letters Clemens more than once
refers to this prophecy and wonders if it is to be realized. The Harper
contract, which brought all of his books into the hands of one publisher
(negotiated for him by Mr. Rogers), proved, in fact, a fortune. The
books yielded always more than the guarantee; sometimes twice that
amount, as he had foreseen.]

During the conclusion of this contract Clemens made frequent visits to
Fairhaven on the Kanawha. Joe Goodman came from the Pacific to pay him a
good-by visit during this period. Goodman had translated the Mayan
inscriptions, and his work had received official recognition and
publication by the British Museum. It was a fine achievement for a man
in later life and Clemens admired it immensely. Goodman and Clemens
enjoyed each other in the old way at quiet resorts where they could talk
over the old tales. Another visitor of that summer was the son of an old
friend, a Hannibal printer named Daulton. Young Daulton came with
manuscripts seeking a hearing of the magazine editors, so Clemens wrote a
letter which would insure that favor:
INTRODUCING MR. GEO. DAULTON:

TO GILDER, ALDEN, HARVEY, McCLURE, WALKER, PAGE, BOK, COLLIER, and such
other members of the sacred guild as privilege me to call them
friends-these:

Although I have no personal knowledge of the bearer of this, I have what
is better: He comes recommended to me by his own father--a thing not
likely to happen in any of your families, I reckon. I ask you, as a
favor to me, to waive prejudice & superstition for this once & examine
his work with an eye to its literary merit, instead of to the chastity of
its spelling. I wish to God you cared less for that particular.

I set (or sat) type alongside of his father, in Hannibal, more than 50
years ago, when none but the pure in heart were in that business. A true
man he was; and if I can be of any service to his son--and to you at the
same time, let me hope--I am here heartily to try.

Yours by the sanctions of time & deserving,

              Sincerely,
                            S. L. CLEMENS.

Among the kindly words which came to Mark Twain before leaving America
was this one which Rudyard Kipling had written to his publisher, Frank
Doubleday:

    I love to think of the great and godlike Clemens. He is the biggest
    man you have on your side of the water by a damn sight, and don't
    you forget it. Cervantes was a relation of his.

It curiously happened that Clemens at the same moment was writing to
Doubleday about Kipling:

    I have been reading "The Bell Buoy" and "The Old Man" over and over
    again-my custom with Kipling's work--and saving up the rest for
    other leisurely and luxurious meals. A bell-buoy is a deeply
    impressive fellow-being. In these many recent trips up and down the
    Sound in the Kanawha he has talked to me nightly sometimes in his
    pathetic and melancholy way, sometimes with his strenuous and urgent
    note, and I got his meaning--now I have his words! No one but
    Kipling could do this strong and vivid thing. Some day I hope to
    hear the poem chanted or sung-with the bell-buoy breaking in out of
    the distance.

    P. S.--Your letter has arrived. It makes me proud and glad--what
    Kipling says. I hope Fate will fetch him to Florence while we are
    there. I would rather see him than any other man.




CCXXX

THE RETURN TO FLORENCE

From the note-book:

    Saturday, October 24, 1903. Sailed in the Princess Irene for Genoa
    at 11. Flowers & fruit from Mrs. Rogers & Mrs. Coe. We have with
    us Katie Leary (in our domestic service 23 years) & Miss Margaret
    Sherry (trained nurse).

Two days later he wrote:

    Heavy storm all night. Only 3 stewardesses. Ours served 60 meals
    in rooms this morning.

On the 27th:

    Livy is enduring the voyage marvelously well. As well as Clara &
    Jean, I think, & far better than the trained nurse.

    She has been out on deck an hour.

    November 2. Due at Gibraltar 10 days from New York. 3 days to
    Naples, then 2 day to Genoa.
    At supper the band played "Cavalleria Rusticana," which is forever
    associated in my mind with Susy. I love it better than any other,
    but it breaks my heart.

It was the "Intermezzo" he referred to, which had been Susy's favorite
music, and whenever he heard it he remembered always one particular
opera-night long ago, and Susy's face rose before him.

They were in Naples on the 5th; thence to Genoa, and to Florence, where
presently they were installed in the Villa Reale di Quarto, a fine old
Italian palace built by Cosimo more than four centuries ago. In later
times it has been occupied and altered by royal families of Wurtemberg
and Russia. Now it was the property of the Countess Massiglia, from whom
Clemens had leased it.

They had hoped to secure the Villa Papiniano, under Fiesole, near
Professor Fiske, but negotiations for it had fallen through. The Villa
Quarto, as it is usually called, was a more pretentious place and as
beautifully located, standing as it does in an ancient garden looking out
over Florence toward Vallombrosa and the Chianti hills. Yet now in the
retrospect, it seems hardly to have been the retreat for an invalid. Its
garden was supernaturally beautiful, all that one expects that a garden
of Italy should be--such a garden as Maxfield Parrish might dream; but
its beauty was that which comes of antiquity--the accumulation of dead
years. Its funereal cypresses, its crumbling walls and arches, its
clinging ivy and moldering marbles, and a clock that long ago forgot the
hours, gave it a mortuary look. In a way it suggested Arnold Bocklin's
"Todteninsel," and it might well have served as the allegorical setting
for a gateway to the bourne of silence.

The house itself, one of the most picturesque of the old Florentine
suburban palaces, was historically interesting, rather than cheerful. The
rooms, in number more than sixty, though richly furnished, were vast and
barnlike, and there were numbers of them wholly unused and never entered.
There was a dearth of the modern improvements which Americans have
learned to regard as a necessity, and the plumbing, such as it was, was
not always in order. The place was approached by narrow streets, along
which the more uninviting aspects of Italy were not infrequent. Youth and
health and romance might easily have reveled in the place; but it seems
now not to have been the best choice for that frail invalid, to whom
cheer and brightness and freshness and the lovelier things of hope meant
always so much.--[Villa Quarto has recently been purchased by Signor P.
de Ritter Lahony, and thoroughly restored and refreshed and beautified
without the sacrifice of any of its romantic features.]--Neither was the
climate of Florence all that they had hoped for. Their former sunny
winter had misled them. Tradition to the contrary, Italy--or at least
Tuscany--is not one perpetual dream of sunlight. It is apt to be damp
and cloudy; it is likely to be cold. Writing to MacAlister, Clemens
said:

Florentine sunshine? Bless you, there isn't any. We have heavy fogs
every morning & rain all day. This house is not merely large, it is
vast--therefore I think it must always lack the home feeling.

His dissatisfaction in it began thus early, and it grew as one thing
after another went wrong. With it all, however, Mrs. Clemens seemed to
gain a little, and was glad to see company--a reasonable amount of
company--to brighten her surroundings.

Clemens began to work and wrote a story or two, and those lively articles
about the Italian language.

To Twichell he reported progress:

    I have a handsome success in one way here. I left New York under a
    sort of half-promise to furnish to the Harper magazines 30,000 words
    this year. Magazining is difficult work because every third page
    represents two pages that you have put in the fire (you are nearly
    sure to start wrong twice), & so when you have finished an article &
    are willing to let it go to print it represents only 10 cents a word
    instead of 30.

    But this time I had the curious (& unprecedented) luck to start
    right in each case. I turned out 37,000 words in 25 working days; &
    the reason I think I started right every time is, that not only have
    I approved and accepted the several articles, but the court of last
    resort (Livy) has done the same.

    On many of the between-days I did some work, but only of an idle &
    not necessarily necessary sort, since it will not see print until I
    am dead. I shall continue this (an hour per day), but the rest of
    the year I expect to put in on a couple of long books (half-
    completed ones). No more magazine work hanging over my head.

    This secluded & silent solitude, this clean, soft air, & this
    enchanting view of Florence, the great valley & snow-mountains that
    frame it, are the right conditions for work. They are a persistent
    inspiration. To-day is very lovely; when the afternoon arrives
    there will be a new picture every hour till dark, & each of them
    divine--or progressing from divine to diviner & divinest. On this
    (second) floor Clara's room commands the finest; she keeps a window
    ten feet high wide open all the time & frames it in that. I go in
    from time to time every day & trade sass for a look. The central
    detail is a distant & stately snow-hump that rises above & behind
    black-forested hills, & its sloping vast buttresses, velvety & sun-
    polished, with purple shadows between, make the sort of picture we
    knew that time we walked in Switzerland in the days of our youth.

From this letter, which is of January 7, 1904, we gather that the weather
had greatly improved, and with it Mrs. Clemens's health, notwithstanding
she had an alarming attack in December. One of the stories he had
finished was "The $30,000 Bequest." The work mentioned, which would not
see print until after his death, was a continuation of those
autobiographical chapters which for years he had been setting down as the
mood seized him.

He experimented with dictation, which he had tried long before with
Redpath, and for a time now found it quite to his liking. He dictated
some of his copyright memories, and some anecdotes and episodes; but his
amanuensis wrote only longhand, which perhaps hampered him, for he tired
of it by and by and the dictations were discontinued.

Among these notes there is one elaborate description of the Villa di
Quarto, dictated at the end of the winter, by which time we are not
surprised to find he had become much attached to the place. The Italian
spring was in the air, and it was his habit to grow fond of his
surroundings. Some atmospheric paragraphs of these impressions invite us
here:

    We are in the extreme south end of the house, if there is any such
    thing as a south end to a house, whose orientation cannot be
    determined by me, because I am incompetent in all cases where an
    object does not point directly north & south. This one slants
    across between, & is therefore a confusion. This little private
    parlor is in one of the two corners of what I call the south end of
    the house. The sun rises in such a way that all the morning it is
    pouring its light through the 33 glass doors or windows which pierce
    the side of the house which looks upon the terrace & garden; the
    rest of the day the light floods this south end of the house, as I
    call it; at noon the sun is directly above Florence yonder in the
    distance in the plain, directly across those architectural features
    which have been so familiar to the world in pictures for some
    centuries, the Duomo, the Campanile, the Tomb of the Medici, & the
    beautiful tower of the Palazzo Vecchio; in this position it begins
    to reveal the secrets of the delicious blue mountains that circle
    around into the west, for its light discovers, uncovers, & exposes a
    white snowstorm of villas & cities that you cannot train yourself to
    have confidence in, they appear & disappear so mysteriously, as if
    they might not be villas & cities at all, but the ghosts of perished
    ones of the remote & dim Etruscan times; & late in the afternoon the
    sun sets down behind those mountains somewhere, at no particular
    time & at no particular place, so far as I can see.

Again at the end of March he wrote:

    Now that we have lived in this house four and a half months my
    prejudices have fallen away one by one & the place has become very
    homelike to me. Under certain conditions I should like to go on
    living in it indefinitely. I should wish the Countess to move out
    of Italy, out of Europe, out of the planet. I should want her
    bonded to retire to her place in the next world & inform me which of
    the two it was, so that I could arrange for my own hereafter.

Complications with their landlady had begun early, and in time, next to
Mrs. Clemens's health, to which it bore such an intimate and vital
relation, the indifference of the Countess Massiglia to their needs
became the supreme and absorbing concern of life at the villa, and led to
continued and almost continuous house-hunting.

Days when the weather permitted, Clemens drove over the hills looking for
a villa which he could lease or buy--one with conveniences and just the
right elevation and surroundings. There were plenty of villas; but some
of them were badly situated as to altitude or view; some were falling to
decay, and the search was rather a discouraging one. Still it was not
abandoned, and the reports of these excursions furnished new interest and
new hope always to the invalid at home.

"Even if we find it," he wrote Howells, "I am afraid it will be months
before we can move Mrs. Clemens. Of course it will. But it comforts us
to let on that we think otherwise, and these pretensions help to keep
hope alive in her."

She had her bad days and her good days, days when it was believed she had
passed the turning-point and was traveling the way to recovery; but the
good days were always a little less hopeful, the bad days a little more
discouraging. On February 22d Clemens wrote in his note-book:

At midnight Livy's pulse went to 192 & there was a collapse. Great
alarm. Subcutaneous injection of brandy saved her.

And to MacAlister toward the end of March:

We are having quite perfect weather now & are hoping that it will bring
effects for Mrs. Clemens.

But a few days later he added that he was watching the driving rain
through the windows, and that it was bad weather for the invalid. "But
it will not last," he said.

The invalid improved then, and there was a concert in Florence at which
Clara Clemens sang. Clemens in his note-book says:

    April 8. Clara's concert was a triumph. Livy woke up & sent for
    her to tell her all about it, near midnight.

But a day or two later she was worse again--then better. The hearts in
that household were as pendulums, swinging always between hope and
despair.

One familiar with the Clemens history might well have been filled with
forebodings. Already in January a member of the family, Mollie Clemens,
Orion's wife, died, news which was kept from Mrs. Clemens, as was the
death of Aldrich's son, and that of Sir Henry M. Stanley, both of which
occurred that spring.

Indeed, death harvested freely that year among the Clemens friendships.
Clemens wrote Twichell:

    Yours has just this moment arrived-just as I was finishing a note to
    poor Lady Stanley. I believe the last country-house visit we paid
    in England was to Stanley's. Lord! how my friends & acquaintances
    fall about me now in my gray-headed days! Vereshchagin, Mommsen,
    Dvorak, Lenbach, & Jokai, all so recently, & now Stanley. I have
    known Stanley 37 years. Goodness, who is there I haven't known?




CCXXXI

THE CLOSE OF A BEAUTIFUL LIFE

In one of his notes near the end of April Clemens writes that once more,
as at Riverdale, he has been excluded from Mrs. Clemens's room except for
the briefest moment at a time. But on May 12th, to R. W. Gilder, he
reported:

    For two days now we have not been anxious about Mrs. Clemens
    (unberufen). After 20 months of bedridden solitude & bodily misery
    she all of a sudden ceases to be a pallid, shrunken shadow, & looks
    bright & young & pretty. She remains what she always was, the most
    wonderful creature of fortitude, patience, endurance, and
    recuperative power that ever was. But ah, dear! it won't last;
    this fiendish malady will play new treacheries upon her, and I shall
    go back to my prayers again--unutterable from any pulpit!

    May 13, A.M. I have just paid one of my pair of permitted 2-minute
    visits per day to the sick-room. And found what I have learned to
    expect--retrogression.

There was a day when she was brought out on the terrace in a wheel-chair
to see the wonder of the early Italian summer. She had been a prisoner
so long that she was almost overcome with the delight of it all--the more
so, perhaps, in the feeling that she might so soon be leaving it.

It was on Sunday, the 5th of June, that the end came. Clemens and Jean
had driven out to make some calls, and had stopped at a villa, which
promised to fulfil most of the requirements. They came home full of
enthusiasm concerning it, and Clemens, in his mind, had decided on the
purchase. In the corridor Clara said:

"She is better to-day than she has been for three months."

Then quickly, under her breath, "Unberufen," which the others, too, added
hastily--superstitiously.

Mrs. Clemens was, in fact, bright and cheerful, and anxious to hear all
about the new property which was to become their home. She urged him to
sit by her during the dinner-hour and tell her the details; but once,
when the sense of her frailties came upon her, she said they must not
mind if she could not go very soon, but be content where they were. He
remained from half past seven until eight--a forbidden privilege, but
permitted because she was so animated, feeling so well. Their talk was
as it had been in the old days, and once during it he reproached himself,
as he had so often done, and asked forgiveness for the tears he had
brought into her life. When he was summoned to go at last he chided
himself for remaining so long; but she said there was no harm, and kissed
him, saying: "You will come back," and he answered, "Yes, to say good
night," meaning at half past nine, as was the permitted custom. He stood
a moment at the door throwing kisses to her, and she returning them, her
face bright with smiles.

He was so hopeful and happy that it amounted to exaltation. He went to
his room at first, then he was moved to do a thing which he had seldom
done since Susy died. He went to the piano up-stairs and sang the old
jubilee songs that Susy had liked to hear him sing. Jean came in
presently, listening. She had not done this before, that he could
remember. He sang "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot," and "My Lord He Calls Me."
He noticed Jean then and stopped, but she asked him to go on.

Mrs. Clemens, in her room, heard the distant music, and said to her
attendant:

"He is singing a good-night carol to me."

The music ceased presently, and then a moment later she asked to be
lifted up. Almost in that instant life slipped away without a sound.

Clemens, coming to say good night, saw a little group about her bed,
Clara and Jean standing as if dazed. He went and bent over and looked
into her face, surprised that she did not greet him. He did not suspect
what had happened until he heard one of the daughters ask:

"Katie, is it true? Oh, Katie, is it true?"

He realized then that she was gone.

In his note-book that night he wrote:

    At a quarter past 9 this evening she that was the life of my life
    passed to the relief & the peace of death after as months of unjust
    & unearned suffering. I first saw her near 37 years ago, & now I
    have looked upon her face for the last time. Oh, so unexpected!...
    I was full of remorse for things done & said in these 34 years of
    married life that hurt Livy's heart.

He envied her lying there, so free from it all, with the great peace upon
her face. He wrote to Howells and to Twichell, and to Mrs. Crane, those
nearest and dearest ones. To Twichell he said:

    How sweet she was in death, how young, how beautiful, how like her
    dear girlish self of thirty years ago, not a gray hair showing!
    This rejuvenescence was noticeable within two hours after her death;
    & when I went down again (2.30) it was complete. In all that night
    & all that day she never noticed my caressing hand--it seemed
    strange.

To Howells he recalled the closing scene:

    I bent over her & looked in her face & I think I spoke--I was
    surprised & troubled that she did not notice me. Then we understood
    & our hearts broke. How poor we are to-day!

    But how thankful I am that her persecutions are ended! I would not
    call her back if I could.

    To-day, treasured in her worn, old Testament, I found a dear &
    gentle letter from you dated Far Rockaway, September 13, 1896, about
    our poor Susy's death. I am tired & old; I wish I were with Livy.

And in a few days:

It would break Livy's heart to see Clara. We excuse ourself from all the
friends that call--though, of course, only intimates come. Intimates
--but they are not the old, old friends, the friends of the old, old
times when we laughed. Shall we ever laugh again? If I could only see a
dog that I knew in the old times & could put my arms around his neck and
tell him all, everything, & ease my heart!




CCXXXII

THE SAD JOURNEY HOME

A tidal wave of sympathy poured in. Noble and commoner, friend and
stranger--humanity of every station--sent their messages of condolence to
the friend of mankind. The cablegrams came first--bundles of them from
every corner of the world--then the letters, a steady inflow. Howells,
Twichell, Aldrich--those oldest friends who had themselves learned the
meaning of grief--spoke such few and futile words as the language can
supply to allay a heart's mourning, each recalling the rarity and beauty
of the life that had slipped away. Twichell and his wife wrote:

DEAR, DEAR MARK,--There is nothing we can say. What is there to say?
But here we are--with you all every hour and every minute--filled with
unutterable thoughts; unutterable affection for the dead and for the
living.
                            HARMONY AND JOE.

Howells in his letter said:

She hallowed what she touched far beyond priests . . . . What are you
going to do, you poor soul?

A hundred letters crowd in for expression here, but must be denied--not,
however, the beam of hope out of Helen Keller's illumined night:

    Do try to reach through grief and feel the pressure of her hand, as
    I reach through darkness and feel the smile on my friends' lips and
    the light in their eyes though mine are closed.

They were adrift again without plans for the future. They would return
to America to lay Mrs. Clemens to rest by Susy and little Langdon, but
beyond that they could not see. Then they remembered a quiet spot in
Massachusetts, Tyringham, near Lee, where the Gilders lived, and so, on
June 7th, he wrote:

    DEAR GILDER FAMILY,--I have been worrying and worrying to know what
    to do; at last I went to the girls with an idea--to ask the Gilders
    to get us shelter near their summer home. It was the first time
    they have not shaken their heads. So to-morrow I will cable to you
    and shall hope to be in time.

    An hour ago the best heart that ever beat for me and mine was
    carried silent out of this house, and I am as one who wanders and
    has lost his way. She who is gone was our head, she was our hands.
    We are now trying to make plans--we: we who have never made a plan
    before, nor ever needed to. If she could speak to us she would make
    it all simple and easy with a word, & our perplexities would vanish
    away. If she had known she was near to death she would have told us
    where to go and what to do, but she was not suspecting, neither were
    we. She was all our riches and she is gone; she was our breath, she
    was our life, and now we are nothing.

    We send you our love-and with it the love of you that was in her
    heart when she died.
                            S. L. CLEMENS.

They arranged to sail on the Prince Oscar on the 29th of June. There was
an earlier steamer, but it was the Princess Irene, which had brought
them, and they felt they would not make the return voyage on that vessel.
During the period of waiting a curious thing happened. Clemens one day
got up in a chair in his room on the second floor to pull down the high
window-sash. It did not move easily and his hand slipped. It was only
by the merest chance that he saved himself from falling to the ground far
below. He mentions this in his note-book, and once, speaking of it to
Frederick Duneka, he said:

"Had I fallen it would probably have killed me, and in my bereaved
circumstances the world would have been convinced that it was suicide. It
was one of those curious coincidences which are always happening and
being misunderstood."

The homeward voyage and its sorrowful conclusion are pathetically
conveyed in his notes:

    June 29, 1904. Sailed last night at 10. The bugle-call to
    breakfast. I recognized the notes and was distressed. When I heard
    them last Livy heard them with me; now they fall upon her ear
    unheeded.

    In my life there have been 68 Junes--but how vague & colorless 67 of
    them are contrasted with the deep blackness of this one!

    July 1, 1904. I cannot reproduce Livy's face in my mind's eye--I
    was never in my life able to reproduce a face. It is a curious
    infirmity--& now at last I realize it is a calamity.

    July 2, 1904. In these 34 years we have made many voyages together,
    Livy dear--& now we are making our last; you down below & lonely; I
    above with the crowd & lonely.

    July 3, 1904. Ship-time, 8 A.M. In 13 hours & a quarter it will be
    4 weeks since Livy died.

    Thirty-one years ago we made our first voyage together--& this is
    our last one in company. Susy was a year old then. She died at 24
    & had been in her grave 8 years.

    July 10, 1904. To-night it will be 5 weeks. But to me it remains
    yesterday--as it has from the first. But this funeral march--how
    sad & long it is!

    Two days more will end the second stage of it.

    July 14, 1904 (ELMIRA). Funeral private in the house of Livy's
    young maidenhood. Where she stood as a bride 34 years ago there her
    coffin rested; & over it the same voice that had made her a wife
    then committed her departed spirit to God now.

It was Joseph Twichell who rendered that last service. Mr. Beecher was
long since dead. It was a simple, touching utterance, closing with this
tender word of farewell:

    Robert Browning, when he was nearing the end of his earthly days,
    said that death was the thing that we did not believe in. Nor do we
    believe in it. We who journeyed through the bygone years in
    companionship with the bright spirit now withdrawn are growing old.
    The way behind is long; the way before is short. The end cannot be
    far off. But what of that? Can we not say, each one:

       "So long that power hath blessed me, sure it still
                   Will lead me on;
        O'er moor and fen; o'er crag and torrent, till
                   The night is gone;
         And with the morn, their angel faces smile,
        Which I have loved long since, and lost awhile!"

    And so good-by. Good-by, dear heart! Strong, tender, and true.
    Good-by until for us the morning break and these shadows fly away.

Dr. Eastman, who had succeeded Mr. Beecher, closed the service with a
prayer, and so the last office we can render in this life for those we
love was finished.

Clemens ordered that a simple marker should be placed at the grave,
bearing, besides the name, the record of birth and death, followed by the
German line:

            'Gott sei dir gnadig, O meine Wonne'!




CCXXXIII

BEGINNING ANOTHER HOME

There was an extra cottage on the Gilder place at Tyringham, and this
they occupied for the rest of that sad summer. Clemens, in his
note-book, has preserved some of its aspects and incidents.

July 24, 1904. Rain--rain--rain. Cold. We built a fire in my room.
Then clawed the logs out & threw water, remembering there was a brood of
swallows in the chimney. The tragedy was averted.

July 31. LEE, MASSACHUSETTS (BERKSHIRE HILLS). Last night the young
people out on a moonlight ride. Trolley frightened Jean's horse
--collision--horse killed. Rodman Gilder picked Jean up, unconscious;
she was taken to the doctor, per the car. Face, nose, side, back
contused; tendon of left ankle broken.

August 10. NEW YORK. Clam here sick--never well since June 5. Jean is
at the summer home in the Berkshire Hills crippled.

The next entry records the third death in the Clemens family within a
period of eight months--that of Mrs. Moffett, who had been Pamela
Clemens. Clemens writes:

    September 1. Died at Greenwich, Connecticut, my sister, Pamela
    Moffett, aged about 73.

    Death dates this year January 14, June 5, September 1.

That fall they took a house in New York City, on the corner of Ninth
Street and Fifth Avenue, No. 21, remaining for a time at the Grosvenor
while the new home was being set in order. The home furniture was
brought from Hartford, unwrapped, and established in the light of strange
environment. Clemens wrote:

We have not seen it for thirteen years. Katie Leary, our old
housekeeper, who has been in our service more than twenty-four years,
cried when she told me about it to-day. She said, "I had forgotten it
was so beautiful, and it brought Mrs. Clemens right back to me--in that
old time when she was so young and lovely."

Clara Clemens had not recovered from the strain of her mother's long
illness and the shock of her death, and she was ordered into retirement
with the care of a trained nurse. The life at 21 Fifth Avenue,
therefore, began with only two remaining members of the broken family
--Clemens and Jean.

Clemens had undertaken to divert himself with work at Tyringham, though
without much success. He was not well; he was restless and disturbed;
his heart bleak with a great loneliness. He prepared an article on
Copyright for the 'North American Review',--[Published Jan., 7905. A
dialogue presentation of copyright conditions, addressed to Thorwald
Stolberg, Register of Copyrights, Washington, D. C. One of the best of
Mark Twain's papers on the subject.]--and he began, or at least
contemplated, that beautiful fancy, 'Eve's Diary', which in the widest
and most reverential sense, from the first word to the last, conveys his
love, his worship, and his tenderness for the one he had laid away.
Adam's single comment at the end, "Wheresoever she was, there was Eden,"
was his own comment, and is perhaps the most tenderly beautiful line he
ever wrote. These two books, Adam's Diary and Eve's--amusing and
sometimes absurd as they are, and so far removed from the literal--are as
autobiographic as anything he has done, and one of them as lovely in its
truth. Like the first Maker of men, Mark Twain created Adam in his own
image; and his rare Eve is no less the companion with whom, half a
lifetime before, he had begun the marriage journey. Only here the
likeness ceases. No Serpent ever entered their Eden. And they never
left it; it traveled with them so long as they remained together.

In the Christmas Harper for 1904 was published "Saint Joan of Arc"--the
same being the Joan introduction prepared in London five years before.
Joan's proposed beatification had stirred a new interest in the martyred
girl, and this most beautiful article became a sort of key-note of the
public heart. Those who read it were likely to go back and read the
Recollections, and a new appreciation grew for that masterpiece. In his
later and wider acceptance by his own land, and by the world at large,
the book came to be regarded with a fresh understanding. Letters came
from scores of readers, as if it were a newly issued volume. A
distinguished educator wrote:

    I would rather have written your history of Joan of Arc than any
    other piece of literature in any language.

And this sentiment grew. The demand for the book increased, and has
continued to increase, steadily and rapidly. In the long and last
analysis the good must prevail. A day will come when there will be as
many readers of Joan as of any other of Mark Twain's works.

[The growing appreciation of Joan is shown by the report of sales for the
three years following 1904. The sales for that year in America were
1,726; for 1905, 2,445 for 1906, 5,381; for 1907, 6,574. At this point
it passed Pudd'nhead Wilson, the Yankee, The Gilded Age, Life on the
Mississippi, overtook the Tramp Abroad, and more than doubled The
American Claimant. Only The Innocents Abroad, Huckleberry Finn, Tom
Sawyer, and Roughing It still ranged ahead of it, in the order named.]




CCXXXIV

LIFE AT 21 FIFTH AVENUE

The house at 21 Fifth Avenue, built by the architect who had designed
Grace Church, had a distinctly ecclesiastical suggestion about its
windows, and was of fine and stately proportions within. It was a proper
residence for a venerable author and a sage, and with the handsome
Hartford furnishings distributed through it, made a distinctly suitable
setting for Mark Twain. But it was lonely for him. It lacked soul. He
added, presently, a great AEolian Orchestrelle, with a variety of music
for his different moods. He believed that he would play it himself when
he needed the comfort of harmony, and that Jean, who had not received
musical training, or his secretary could also play to him. He had a
passion for music, or at least for melody and stately rhythmic measures,
though his ear was not attuned to what are termed the more classical
compositions. For Wagner, for instance, he cared little, though in a
letter to Mrs. Crane he said:

Certainly nothing in the world is so solemn and impressive and so
divinely beautiful as "Tannhauser." It ought to be used as a religious
service.

Beethoven's sonatas and symphonies also moved him deeply. Once, writing
to Jean, he asked:

What is your favorite piece of music, dear? Mine is Beethoven's Fifth
Symphony. I have found that out within a day or two.

It was the majestic movement and melodies of the second part that he
found most satisfying; but he oftener inclined to the still tenderer
themes of Chopin's nocturnes and one of Schubert's impromptus, while the
"Lorelei" and the "Erlking" and the Scottish airs never wearied him.
Music thus became a chief consolation during these lonely days--rich
organ harmonies that filled the emptiness of his heart and beguiled from
dull, material surroundings back into worlds and dreams that he had known
and laid away.

He went out very little that winter--usually to the homes of old and
intimate friends. Once he attended a small dinner given him by George
Smalley at the Metropolitan Club; but it was a private affair, with only
good friends present. Still, it formed the beginning of his return to
social life, and it was not in his nature to retire from the brightness
of human society, or to submerge himself in mourning. As the months wore
on he appeared here and there, and took on something of his old-time
habit. Then his annual bronchitis appeared, and he was confined a good
deal to his home, where he wrote or planned new reforms and enterprises.

The improvement of railway service, through which fewer persons should be
maimed and destroyed each year, interested him. He estimated that the
railroads and electric lines killed and wounded more than all of the wars
combined, and he accumulated statistics and prepared articles on the
subject, though he appears to have offered little of such matter for
publication. Once, however, when his sympathy was awakened by the victim
of a frightful trolley and train collision in Newark, New Jersey, he
wrote a letter which promptly found its way into print.

    DEAR MISS MADELINE, Your good & admiring & affectionate brother has
    told me of your sorrowful share in the trolley disaster which
    brought unaccustomed tears to millions of eyes & fierce resentment
    against those whose criminal indifference to their responsibilities
    caused it, & the reminder has brought back to me a pang out of that
    bygone time. I wish I could take you sound & whole out of your bed
    & break the legs of those officials & put them in it--to stay there.
    For in my spirit I am merciful, and would not break their necks &
    backs also, as some would who have no feeling.

    It is your brother who permits me to write this line--& so it is not
    an intrusion, you see.

    May you get well-& soon!
                     Sincerely yours,
                                S. L. CLEMENS.

A very little later he was writing another letter on a similar subject to
St. Clair McKelway, who had narrowly escaped injury in a railway
accident.

    DEAR McKELWAY, Your innumerable friends are grateful, most grateful.

    As I understand the telegrams, the engineers of your train had never
    seen a locomotive before . . . . The government's official
    report, showing that our railways killed twelve hundred persons last
    year & injured sixty thousand, convinces me that under present
    conditions one Providence is not enough properly & efficiently to
    take care of our railroad business. But it is characteristically
    American--always trying to get along short-handed & save wages.

A massacre of Jews in Moscow renewed his animosity for semi-barbaric
Russia. Asked for a Christmas sentiment, he wrote:

    It is my warm & world-embracing Christmas hope that all of us that
    deserve it may finally be gathered together in a heaven of rest &
    peace, & the others permitted to retire into the clutches of Satan,
    or the Emperor of Russia, according to preference--if they have a
    preference.

An article, "The Tsar's Soliloquy," written at this time, was published
in the North American Review for March (1905). He wrote much more, but
most of the other matter he put aside. On a subject like that he always
discarded three times as much as he published, and it was usually about
three times as terrific as that which found its way into type. "The
Soliloquy," however, is severe enough. It represents the Tsar as
contemplating himself without his clothes, and reflecting on what a poor
human specimen he presents:

    Is it this that 140,000,000 Russians kiss the dust before and
    worship?--manifestly not! No one could worship this spectacle which
    is Me. Then who is it, what is it, that they worship? Privately,
    none knows better than I: it is my clothes! Without my clothes I
    should be as destitute of authority as any other naked person. No
    one could tell me from a parson and barber tutor. Then who is the
    real Emperor of Russia! My clothes! There is no other.

The emperor continues this fancy, and reflects on the fierce cruelties
that are done in his name. It was a withering satire on Russian
imperialism, and it stirred a wide response. This encouraged Clemens to
something even more pretentious and effective in the same line. He wrote
"King Leopold's Soliloquy," the reflections of the fiendish sovereign who
had maimed and slaughtered fifteen millions of African subjects in his
greed--gentle, harmless blacks-men, women, and little children whom he
had butchered and mutilated in his Congo rubber-fields. Seldom in the
history of the world have there been such atrocious practices as those of
King Leopold in the Congo, and Clemens spared nothing in his picture of
them. The article was regarded as not quite suitable for magazine
publication, and it was given to the Congo Reform Association and issued
as a booklet for distribution, with no return to the author, who would
gladly have written a hundred times as much if he could have saved that
unhappy race and have sent Leopold to the electric chair.--[The book was
price-marked twenty-five cents, but the returns from such as were sold
went to the cause. Thousands of them were distributed free. The Congo,
a domain four times as large as the German empire, had been made the ward
of Belgium at a convention in Berlin by the agreement of fourteen
nations, America and thirteen European states. Leopold promptly seized
the country for his personal advantage and the nations apparently found
themselves powerless to depose him. No more terrible blunder was ever
committed by an assemblage of civilized people.]

Various plans and movements were undertaken for Congo reform, and Clemens
worked and wrote letters and gave his voice and his influence and
exhausted his rage, at last, as one after another of the half-organized
and altogether futile undertakings showed no results. His interest did
not die, but it became inactive. Eventually he declared: "I have said
all I can say on that terrible subject. I am heart and soul in any
movement that will rescue the Congo and hang Leopold, but I cannot write
any more."

His fires were likely to burn themselves out, they raged so fiercely. His
final paragraph on the subject was a proposed epitaph for Leopold when
time should have claimed him. It ran:

    Here under this gilded tomb lies rotting the body of one the smell
    of whose name will still offend the nostrils of men ages upon ages
    after all the Caesars and Washingtons & Napoleons shall have ceased
    to be praised or blamed & been forgotten--Leopold of Belgium.

Clemens had not yet lost interest in the American policy in the
Philippines, and in his letters to Twichell he did not hesitate to
criticize the President's attitude in this and related matters. Once,
in a moment of irritation, he wrote:

    DEAR JOE,--I knew I had in me somewhere a definite feeling about the
    President. If I could only find the words to define it with! Here
    they are, to a hair--from Leonard Jerome:

    "For twenty years I have loved Roosevelt the man, and hated
    Roosevelt the statesman and politician."

    It's mighty good. Every time in twenty-five years that I have met
    Roosevelt the man a wave of welcome has streaked through me with the
    hand-grip; but whenever (as a rule) I meet Roosevelt the statesman &
    politician I find him destitute of morals & not respect-worthy. It
    is plain that where his political self & party self are concerned he
    has nothing resembling a conscience; that under those inspirations
    he is naively indifferent to the restraints of duty & even unaware
    of them; ready to kick the Constitution into the back yard whenever
    it gets in his way....

    But Roosevelt is excusable--I recognize it & (ought to) concede it.
    We are all insane, each in his own way, & with insanity goes
    irresponsibility. Theodore the man is sane; in fairness we ought to
    keep in mind that Theodore, as statesman & politician, is insane &
    irresponsible.

He wrote a great deal more from time to time on this subject; but that is
the gist of his conclusions, and whether justified by time, or otherwise,
it expresses today the deduction of a very large number of people. It is
set down here, because it is a part of Mark Twain's history, and also
because a little while after his death there happened to creep into print
an incomplete and misleading note (since often reprinted), which he once
made in a moment of anger, when he was in a less judicial frame of mind.
It seems proper that a man's honest sentiments should be recorded
concerning the nation's servants.

Clemens wrote an article at this period which he called the "War Prayer."
It pictured the young recruits about to march away for war--the
excitement and the celebration--the drum-beat and the heart-beat of
patriotism--the final assembly in the church where the minister utters
that tremendous invocation:

           God the all-terrible! Thou who ordainest,
           Thunder, Thy clarion, and lightning, Thy sword!

and the "long prayer" for victory to the nation's armies. As the prayer
closes a white-robed stranger enters, moves up the aisle, and takes the
preacher's place; then, after some moments of impressive silence, he
begins:

    "I come from the Throne-bearing a message from Almighty God!.....
    He has heard the prayer of His servant, your shepherd, & will grant
    it if such shall be your desire after I His messenger shall have
    explained to you its import--that is to say its full import. For it
    is like unto many of the prayers of men in that it asks for more
    than he who utters it is aware of--except he pause & think.

    "God's servant & yours has prayed his prayer. Has he paused & taken
    thought? Is it one prayer? No, it is two--one uttered, the other
    not. Both have reached the ear of Him who heareth all
    supplications, the spoken & the unspoken . . . .

    "You have heard your servant's prayer--the uttered part of it. I am
    commissioned of God to put into words the other part of it--that
    part which the pastor--and also you in your hearts--fervently
    prayed, silently. And ignorantly & unthinkingly? God grant that it
    was so! You heard these words: 'Grant us the victory, O Lord our
    God!' That is sufficient. The whole of the uttered prayer is
    completed into those pregnant words.

    "Upon the listening spirit of God the Father fell also the unspoken
    part of the prayer. He commandeth me to put it into words. Listen!

       "O Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of our hearts, go
       forth to battle--be Thou near them! With them--in spirit--we
       also go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved firesides to
       smite the foe.

       "O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody
       shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields
       with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the
       thunder of the guns with the wounded, writhing in pain; help us
       to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help
       us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with
       unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with their
       little children to wander unfriended through wastes of their
       desolated land in rags & hunger & thirst, sport of the sun-
       flames of summer & the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit,
       worn with travail, imploring Thee for the refuge of the grave &
       denied it--for our sakes, who adore Thee, Lord, blast their
       hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimage,
       make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain
       the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet! We ask of
       one who is the Spirit of love & who is the ever-faithful refuge
       & friend of all that are sore beset, & seek His aid with humble
       & contrite hearts. Grant our prayer, O Lord; & Thine shall be
       the praise & honor & glory now & ever, Amen."

       (After a pause.) "Ye have prayed it; if ye still desire it,
       speak!--the messenger of the Most High waits."

              . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

       It was believed, afterward, that the man was a lunatic, because
       there was no sense in what he said.

To Dan Beard, who dropped in to see him, Clemens read the "War Prayer,"
stating that he had read it to his daughter Jean, and others, who had
told him he must not print it, for it would be regarded as sacrilege.

"Still you--are going to publish it, are you not?"

Clemens, pacing up and down the room in his dressing-gown and slippers,
shook his head.

"No," he said, "I have told the whole truth in that, and only dead men
can tell the truth in this world. It can be published after I am dead."

He did not care to invite the public verdict that he was a lunatic, or
even a fanatic with a mission to destroy the illusions and traditions and
conclusions of mankind. To Twichell he wrote, playfully but sincerely:

Am I honest? I give you my word of honor (privately) I am not. For
seven years I have suppressed a book which my conscience tells me I ought
to publish. I hold it a duty to publish it. There are other difficult
duties which I am equal to, but I am not equal to that one. Yes, even I
am dishonest. Not in many ways, but in some. Forty-one, I think it is.
We are certainly all honest in one or several ways--every man in the
world--though I have a reason to think I am the only one whose blacklist
runs so light. Sometimes I feel lonely enough in this lofty solitude.

It was his Gospel he referred to as his unpublished book, his doctrine of
Selfishness, and of Man the irresponsible Machine. To Twichell he
pretended to favor war, which he declared, to his mind, was one of the
very best methods known of diminishing the human race.

What a life it is!--this one! Everything we try to do, somebody intrudes
& obstructs it. After years of thought & labor I have arrived within one
little bit of a step of perfecting my invention for exhausting the oxygen
in the globe's air during a stretch of two minutes, & of course along
comes an obstructor who is inventing something to protect human life.
Damn such a world anyway.

He generally wrote Twichell when he had things to say that were outside
of the pale of print. He was sure of an attentive audience of one, and
the audience, whether it agreed with him or not, would at least
understand him and be honored by his confidence. In one letter of that
year he said:

I have written you to-day, not to do you a service, but to do myself one.
There was bile in me. I had to empty it or lose my day to-morrow. If I
tried to empty it into the North American Review--oh, well, I couldn't
afford the risk. No, the certainty! The certainty that I wouldn't be
satisfied with the result; so I would burn it, & try again to-morrow;
burn that and try again the next day. It happens so nearly every time. I
have a family to support, & I can't afford this kind of dissipation. Last
winter when I was sick I wrote a magazine article three times before I
got it to suit me. I Put $500 worth of work on it every day for ten
days, & at last when I got it to suit me it contained but 3,000
words-$900. I burned it & said I would reform.

And I have reformed. I have to work my bile off whenever it gets to
where I can't stand it, but I can work it off on you economically,
because I don't have to make it suit me. It may not suit you, but that
isn't any matter; I'm not writing it for that. I have used you as an
equilibrium--restorer more than once in my time, & shall continue, I
guess. I would like to use Mr. Rogers, & he is plenty good-natured
enough, but it wouldn't be fair to keep him rescuing me from my
leather-headed business snarls & make him read interminable
bile-irruptions besides; I can't use Howells, he is busy & old & lazy, &
won't stand it; I dasn't use Clara, there's things I have to say which
she wouldn't put up with--a very dear little ashcat, but has claws. And
so--you're It.

    [See the preface to the "Autobiography of Mark Twain": 'I am writing
    from the grave. On these terms only can a man be approximately
    frank. He cannot be straitly and unqualifiedly frank either in the
    grave or out of it.' D.W.]




CCXXXV

A SUMMER IN NEW HAMPSHIRE

He took for the summer a house at Dublin, New Hampshire, the home of
Henry Copley Greene, Lone Tree Hill, on the Monadnock slope. It was in a
lovely locality, and for neighbors there were artists, literary people,
and those of kindred pursuits, among them a number of old friends.
Colonel Higginson had a place near by, and Abbott H. Thayer, the painter,
and George de Forest Brush, and the Raphael Pumpelly family, and many
more.

Colonel Higginson wrote Clemens a letter of welcome as soon as the news
got out that he was going to Dublin; and Clemens, answering, said:

    I early learned that you would be my neighbor in the summer & I
    rejoiced, recognizing in you & your family a large asset. I hope
    for frequent intercourse between the two households. I shall have
    my youngest daughter with me. The other one will go from the rest-
    cure in this city to the rest-cure in Norfolk, Connecticut; & we
    shall not see her before autumn. We have not seen her since the
    middle of October.

    Jean, the younger daughter, went to Dublin & saw the house & came
    back charmed with it. I know the Thayers of old--manifestly there
    is no lack of attractions up there. Mrs. Thayer and I were
    shipmates in a wild excursion perilously near 40 years ago.

    Aldrich was here half an hour ago, like a breeze from over the
    fields, with the fragrance still upon his spirit. I am tired
    wanting for that man to get old.

They went to Dublin in May, and became at once a part of the summer
colony which congregated there. There was much going to and fro among
the different houses, pleasant afternoons in the woods, mountain-climbing
for Jean, and everywhere a spirit of fine, unpretentious comradeship.

The Copley Greene house was romantically situated, with a charming
outlook. Clemens wrote to Twichell:

    We like it here in the mountains, in the shadows of Monadnock. It
    is a woody solitude. We have no near neighbors. We have neighbors
    and I can see their houses scattered in the forest distances, for we
    live on a hill. I am astonished to find that I have known 8 of
    these 14 neighbors a long time; 10 years is the shortest; then seven
    beginning with 25 years & running up to 37 years' friendship. It is
    the most remarkable thing I ever heard of.

This letter was written in July, and he states in it that he has turned
out one hundred thousand words of a large manuscript. . It was a
fantastic tale entitled "3,000 Years among the Microbes," a sort of
scientific revel--or revelry--the autobiography of a microbe that had
been once a man, and through a failure in a biological experiment
transformed into a cholera germ when the experimenter was trying to turn
him into a bird. His habitat was the person of a disreputable tramp
named Blitzowski, a human continent of vast areas, with seething microbic
nations and fantastic life problems. It was a satire, of course
--Gulliver's Lilliput outdone--a sort of scientific, socialistic,
mathematical jamboree.

He tired of it before it reached completion, though not before it had
attained the proportions of a book of size. As a whole it would hardly
have added to his reputation, though it is not without fine and humorous
passages, and certainly not without interest. Its chief mission was to
divert him mentally that summer during, those days and nights when he
would otherwise have been alone and brooding upon his loneliness.--[For
extracts from "3,000 Years among the Microbes" see Appendix V, at the end
of this work.]
MARK TWAIN'S SUGGESTED TITLE-PAGE FOR HIS MICROBE BOOK:

                      3000 YEARS
                   AMONG THE MICROBES

                     By a Microbe

                      WITH NOTES
                  added by the same Hand
                   7000 years later

               Translated from the Original
                      Microbic
                         by

                      Mark Twain

His inability to reproduce faces in his mind's eye he mourned as an
increasing calamity. Photographs were lifeless things, and when he tried
to conjure up the faces of his dead they seemed to drift farther out of
reach; but now and then kindly sleep brought to him something out of that
treasure-house where all our realities are kept for us fresh and fair,
perhaps for a day when we may claim them again. Once he wrote to Mrs.
Crane:

    SUSY DEAR,--I have had a lovely dream. Livy, dressed in black, was
    sitting up in my bed (here) at my right & looking as young & sweet
    as she used to when she was in health. She said, "What is the name
    of your sweet sister?" I said, "Pamela." "Oh yes, that is it, I
    thought it was--(naming a name which has escaped me) won't you write
    it down for me?" I reached eagerly for a pen & pad, laid my hands
    upon both, then said to myself, "It is only a dream," and turned
    back sorrowfully & there she was still. The conviction flamed
    through me that our lamented disaster was a dream, & this a reality.
    I said, "How blessed it is, how blessed it is, it was all a dream,
    only a dream!" She only smiled and did not ask what dream I meant,
    which surprised me. She leaned her head against mine & kept saying,
    "I was perfectly sure it was a dream; I never would have believed it
    wasn't." I think she said several things, but if so they are gone
    from my memory. I woke & did not know I had been dreaming. She was
    gone. I wondered how she could go without my knowing it, but I did
    not spend any thought upon that. I was too busy thinking of how
    vivid & real was the dream that we had lost her, & how unspeakably
    blessed it was to find that it was not true & that she was still
    ours & with us.

He had the orchestrelle moved to Dublin, although it was no small
undertaking, for he needed the solace of its harmonies; and so the days
passed along, and he grew stronger in body and courage as his grief
drifted farther behind him. Sometimes, in the afternoon or in the
evening; when the neighbors had come in for a little while, he would walk
up and down and talk in his old, marvelous way of all the things on land
and sea, of the past and of the future, "Of Providence, foreknowledge,
will, and fate," of the friends he had known and of the things he had
done, of the sorrow and absurdities of the world.

It was the same old scintillating, incomparable talk of which Howells
once said:

"We shall never know its like again. When he dies it will die with him."

It was during the summer at Dublin that Clemens and Rogers together made
up a philanthropic ruse on Twichell. Twichell, through his own prodigal
charities, had fallen into debt, a fact which Rogers knew. Rogers was a
man who concealed his philanthropies when he could, and he performed many
of them of which the world will never know: In this case he said:

"Clemens, I want to help Twichell out of his financial difficulty. I
will supply the money and you will do the giving. Twichell must think it
comes from you."

Clemens agreed to this on the condition that he be permitted to leave a
record of the matter for his children, so that he would not appear in a
false light to them, and that Twichell should learn the truth of the
gift, sooner or later. So the deed was done, and Twichell and his wife
lavished their thanks upon Clemens, who, with his wife, had more than
once been their benefactors, making the deception easy enough now.
Clemens writhed under these letters of gratitude, and forwarded them to
Clara in Norfolk, and later to Rogers himself. He pretended to take
great pleasure in this part of the conspiracy, but it was not an unmixed
delight. To Rogers he wrote:

    I wanted her [Clara] to see what a generous father she's got. I
    didn't tell her it was you, but by and by I want to tell her, when I
    have your consent; then I shall want her to remember the letters. I
    want a record there, for my Life when I am dead, & must be able to
    furnish the facts about the Relief-of-Lucknow-Twichell in case I
    fall suddenly, before I get those facts with your consent, before
    the Twichells themselves.

    I read those letters with immense pride! I recognized that I had
    scored one good deed for sure on my halo account. I haven't had
    anything that tasted so good since the stolen watermelon.

    P. S.-I am hurrying them off to you because I dasn't read them
    again! I should blush to my heels to fill up with this unearned
    gratitude again, pouring out of the thankful hearts of those poor
    swindled people who do not suspect you, but honestly believe I gave
    that money.

Mr. Rogers hastily replied:

    MY DEAR CLEMENS,--The letters are lovely. Don't breathe. They are
    so happy! It would be a crime to let them think that you have in
    any way deceived them. I can keep still. You must. I am sending
    you all traces of the crime, so that you may look innocent and tell
    the truth, as you usually do when you think you can escape
    detection. Don't get rattled.

    Seriously. You have done a kindness. You are proud of it, I know.
    You have made your friends happy, and you ought to be so glad as to
    cheerfully accept reproof from your conscience. Joe Wadsworth and I
    once stole a goose and gave it to a poor widow as a Christmas
    present. No crime in that. I always put my counterfeit money on
    the plate. "The passer of the sasser" always smiles at me and I get
    credit for doing generous things. But seriously again, if you do
    feel a little uncomfortable wait until I see you before you tell
    anybody. Avoid cultivating misery. I am trying to loaf ten solid
    days. We do hope to see you soon.

The secret was kept, and the matter presently (and characteristically)
passed out of Clemens's mind altogether. He never remembered to tell
Twichell, and it is revealed here, according to his wish.

The Russian-Japanese war was in progress that summer, and its settlement
occurred in August. The terms of it did not please Mark Twain. When a
newspaper correspondent asked him for an expression of opinion on the
subject he wrote:

    Russia was on the highroad to emancipation from an insane and
    intolerable slavery. I was hoping there would be no peace until
    Russian liberty was safe. I think that this was a holy war, in the
    best and noblest sense of that abused term, and that no war was ever
    charged with a higher mission.

    I think there can be no doubt that that mission is now defeated and
    Russia's chain riveted; this time to stay. I think the Tsar will
    now withdraw the small humanities that have been forced from him,
    and resume his medieval barbarisms with a relieved spirit and an
    immeasurable joy. I think Russian liberty has had its last chance
    and has lost it.

    I think nothing has been gained by the peace that is remotely
    comparable to what has been sacrificed by it. One more battle would
    have abolished the waiting chains of billions upon billions of
    unborn Russians, and I wish it could have been fought. I hope I am
    mistaken, yet in all sincerity I believe that this peace is entitled
    to rank as the most conspicuous disaster in political history.

It was the wisest public utterance on the subject--the deep, resonant
note of truth sounding amid a clamor of foolish joy-bells. It was the
message of a seer--the prophecy of a sage who sees with the clairvoyance
of knowledge and human understanding. Clemens, a few days later, was
invited by Colonel Harvey to dine with Baron Rosen and M. Sergius Witte;
but an attack of his old malady--rheumatism--prevented his acceptance.
His telegram of declination apparently pleased the Russian officials, for
Witte asked permission to publish it, and declared that he was going to
take it home to show to the Tsar. It was as follows:

To COLONEL HARVEY,--I am still a cripple, otherwise I should be more than
glad of this opportunity to meet the illustrious magicians who came here
equipped with nothing but a pen, & with it have divided the honors of the
war with the sword. It is fair to presume that in thirty centuries
history will not get done in admiring these men who attempted what the
world regarded as the impossible & achieved it.
                                   MARK TWAIN.

But this was a modified form. His original draft would perhaps have been
less gratifying to that Russian embassy. It read:

    To COLONEL HARVEY,--I am still a cripple, otherwise I should be more
    than glad of this opportunity to meet those illustrious magicians
    who with the pen have annulled, obliterated, & abolished every high
    achievement of the Japanese sword and turned the tragedy of a
    tremendous war into a gay & blithesome comedy. If I may, let me in
    all respect and honor salute them as my fellow-humorists, I taking
    third place, as becomes one who was not born to modesty, but by
    diligence & hard work is acquiring it.
                                       MARK.

There was still another form, brief and expressive:

DEAR COLONEL,--No, this is a love-feast; when you call a lodge of sorrow
send for me.                       MARK.

Clemens's war sentiment was given the widest newspaper circulation, and
brought him many letters, most of them applauding his words. Charles
Francis Adams wrote him:

    It attracted my attention because it so exactly expresses the views
    I have myself all along entertained.

And this was the gist of most of the expressed sentiments which came to
him.

Clemens wrote a number of things that summer, among them a little essay
entitled, "The Privilege of the Grave"--that is to say, free speech. He
was looking forward, he said, to the time when he should inherit that
privilege, when some of the things he had said, written and laid away,
could be published without damage to his friends or family. An article
entitled, "Interpreting the Deity," he counted as among the things to be
uttered when he had entered into that last great privilege. It is an
article on the reading of signs and auguries in all ages to discover the
intentions of the Almighty, with historical examples of God's judgments
and vindications. Here is a fair specimen. It refers to the chronicle
of Henry Huntington:

    All through this book Henry exhibits his familiarity with the
    intentions of God and with the reasons for the intentions.
    Sometimes very often, in fact--the act follows the intention after
    such a wide interval of time that one wonders how Henry could fit
    one act out of a hundred to one intention, and get the thing right
    every time, when there was such abundant choice among acts and
    intentions. Sometimes a man offends the Deity with a crime, and is
    punished for it thirty years later; meantime he has committed a
    million other crimes: no matter, Henry can pick out the one that
    brought the worms. Worms were generally used in those days for the
    slaying of particularly wicked people. This has gone out now, but
    in the old times it was a favorite. It always indicated a case of
    "wrath." For instance:

    "The just God avenging Robert Fitzhildebrand's perfidity, a worm
    grew in his vitals which, gradually gnawing its way through his
    intestines, fattened on the abandoned man till, tortured with
    excruciating sufferings and venting himself in bitter moans, he was
    by a fitting punishment brought to his end" (p. 400).

    It was probably an alligator, but we cannot tell; we only know it
    was a particular breed, and only used to convey wrath. Some
    authorities think it was an ichthyosaurus, but there is much doubt.

The entire article is in this amusing, satirical strain, and might well
enough be printed to-day. It is not altogether clear why it was
withheld, even then.

He finished his Eve's Diary that summer, and wrote a story which was
originally planned to oblige Mrs. Minnie Maddern Fiske, to aid her in a
crusade against bullfighting in Spain. Mrs. Fiske wrote him that she had
read his dog story, written against the cruelties of vivisection, and
urged him to do something to save the horses that, after faithful
service, were sacrificed in the bull-ring. Her letter closed:

    I have lain awake nights very often wondering if I dare ask you to
    write a story of an old horse that is finally given over to the
    bull-ring. The story you would write would do more good than all
    the laws we are trying to have made and enforced for the prevention
    of cruelty to animals in Spain. We would translate and circulate
    the story in that country. I have wondered if you would ever write
    it.

    With most devoted homage,
                         Sincerely yours,
                                MINNIE MADDERN FISKE.

Clemens promptly replied:

DEAR MRS. FISKE, I shall certainly write the story. But I may not get it
to suit me, in which case it will go in the fire. Later I will try it
again--& yet again--& again. I am used to this. It has taken me twelve
years to write a short story--the shortest one I ever wrote, I think.
--[Probably "The Death Disk:"]--So do not be discouraged; I will stick to
this one in the same way.

                  Sincerely yours,
                                   S. L. CLEMENS.

It was an inspiring subject, and he began work on it immediately. Within
a month from the time he received Mrs. Fiske's letter he had written that
pathetic, heartbreaking little story, "A Horse's Tale," and sent it to
Harper's Magazine for illustration. In a letter written to Mr. Duneka at
the time, he tells of his interest in the narrative, and adds:

    This strong interest is natural, for the heroine is my small
    daughter Susy, whom we lost. It was not intentional--it was a good
    while before I found it out, so I am sending you her picture to use
    --& to reproduce with photographic exactness the unsurpassable
    expression & all. May you find an artist who has lost an idol.

He explains how he had put in a good deal of work, with his secretary, on
the orchestrelle to get the bugle-calls.

    We are to do these theatricals this evening with a couple of
    neighbors for audience, and then pass the hat.

It is not one of Mark Twain's greatest stories, but its pathos brings the
tears, and no one can read it without indignation toward the custom which
it was intended to oppose. When it was published, a year later, Mrs.
Fiske sent him her grateful acknowledgments, and asked permission to have
it printed for pamphlet circulation m Spain.

A number of more or less notable things happened in this, Mark Twain's
seventieth year. There was some kind of a reunion going on in
California, and he was variously invited to attend. Robert Fulton, of
Nevada, was appointed a committee of one to invite him to Reno for a
great celebration which was to be held there. Clemens replied that he
remembered, as if it were but yesterday, when he had disembarked from the
Overland stage in front of the Ormsby Hotel, in Carson City, and told how
he would like to accept the invitation.

If I were a few years younger I would accept it, and promptly, and I
would go. I would let somebody else do the oration, but as for me I
would talk--just talk. I would renew my youth; and talk--and talk--and
talk--and have the time of my life! I would march the unforgotten and
unforgetable antiques by, and name their names, and give them reverent
hail and farewell as they passed--Goodman, McCarthy, Gillis, Curry,
Baldwin, Winters, Howard, Nye, Stewart, Neely Johnson, Hal Clayton,
North, Root--and my brother, upon whom be peace!--and then the
desperadoes, who made life a joy, and the "slaughter-house," a precious
possession: Sam Brown, Farmer Pete, Bill Mayfield, Six-fingered Jake,
Jack Williams, and the rest of the crimson discipleship, and so on, and
so on. Believe me, I would start a resurrection it would do you more
good to look at than the next one will, if you go on the way you are
going now.

Those were the days!--those old ones. They will come no more; youth will
come no more. They were so full to the brim with the wine of life; there
have been no others like them. It chokes me up to think of them. Would
you like me to come out there and cry? It would not beseem my white
head.

Good-by. I drink to you all. Have a good time-and take an old man's
blessing.

In reply to another invitation from H. H. Bancroft, of San Francisco, he
wrote that his wandering days were over, and that it was his purpose to
sit by the fire for the rest of his "remnant of life."

    A man who, like me, is going to strike 70 on the 30th of next
    November has no business to be flitting around the way Howells does
    --that shameless old fictitious butterfly. (But if he comes don't
    tell him I said it, for it would hurt him & I wouldn't brush a flake
    of powder from his wing for anything. I only say it in envy of his
    indestructible youth anyway. Howells will be 88 in October.)

And it was either then or on a similar occasion that he replied after
this fashion:

    I have done more for San Francisco than any other of its old
    residents. Since I left there it has increased in population fully
    300,000. I could have done more--I could have gone earlier--it was
    suggested.

Which, by the way, is a perfect example of Mark Twain's humorous manner,
the delicately timed pause, and the afterthought. Most humorists would
have been contented to end with the statement, "I could have gone
earlier." Only Mark Twain could have added that final exquisite touch
--"it was suggested."




CCXXXVI

AT PIER 70

Mark Twain was nearing seventy, the scriptural limitation of life, and
the returns were coming in. Some one of the old group was dying all the
time. The roll-call returned only a scattering answer. Of his oldest
friends, Charles Henry Webb, John Hay, and Sir Henry Irving, all died
that year. When Hay died Clemens gave this message to the press:

    I am deeply grieved, & I mourn with the nation this loss which is
    irreparable. My friendship with Mr. Hay & my admiration of him
    endured 38 years without impairment.

It was only a little earlier that he had written Hay an anonymous letter,
a copy of which he preserved. It here follows:

    DEAR & HONORED SIR,--I never hear any one speak of you & of your
    long roll of illustrious services in other than terms of pride &
    praise--& out of the heart. I think I am right in believing you to
    be the only man in the civil service of the country the cleanness of
    whose motives is never questioned by any citizen, & whose acts
    proceed always upon a broad & high plane, never by accident or
    pressure of circumstance upon a narrow or low one. There are
    majorities that are proud of more than one of the nation's great
    servants, but I believe, & I think I know, that you are the only one
    of whom the entire nation is proud. Proud & thankful.

    Name & address are lacking here, & for a purpose: to leave you no
    chance to make my words a burden to you and a reproach to me, who
    would lighten your burdens if I could, not add to them.

Irving died in October, and Clemens ordered a wreath for his funeral. To
MacAlister he wrote:

    I profoundly grieve over Irving's death. It is another reminder.
    My section of the procession has but a little way to go. I could
    not be very sorry if I tried.

Mark Twain, nearing seventy, felt that there was not much left for him to
celebrate; and when Colonel Harvey proposed a birthday gathering in his
honor, Clemens suggested a bohemian assembly over beer and sandwiches in
some snug place, with Howells, Henry Rogers, Twichell, Dr. Rice, Dr.
Edward Quintard, Augustus Thomas, and such other kindred souls as were
still left to answer the call. But Harvey had something different in
view: something more splendid even than the sixty-seventh birthday feast,
more pretentious, indeed, than any former literary gathering. He felt
that the attainment of seventy years by America's most distinguished man
of letters and private citizen was a circumstance which could not be
moderately or even modestly observed. The date was set five days later
than the actual birthday--that is to say, on December 5th, in order that
it might not conflict with the various Thanksgiving holidays and
occasions. Delmonico's great room was chosen for the celebration of it,
and invitations were sent out to practically every writer of any
distinction in America, and to many abroad. Of these nearly two hundred
accepted, while such as could not come sent pathetic regrets.

What an occasion it was! The flower of American literature gathered to
do honor to its chief. The whole atmosphere of the place seemed
permeated with his presence, and when Colonel Harvey presented William
Dean Howells, and when Howells had read another double-barreled sonnet,
and introduced the guest of the evening with the words, "I will not say,
'O King, live forever,' but, 'O King, live as long as you like!'" and
Mark Twain rose, his snow-white hair gleaming above that brilliant
assembly, it seemed that a world was speaking out in a voice of applause
and welcome. With a great tumult the throng rose, a billow of life, the
white handkerchiefs flying foam-like on its crest. Those who had
gathered there realized that it was a mighty moment, not only in his life
but in theirs. They were there to see this supreme embodiment of the
American spirit as he scaled the mountain-top. He, too, realized the
drama of that moment--the marvel of it--and he must have flashed a swift
panoramic view backward over the long way he had come, to stand, as he
had himself once expressed it, "for a single, splendid moment on the Alps
of fame outlined against the sun." He must have remembered; for when he
came to speak he went back to the very beginning, to his very first
banquet, as he called it, when, as he said, "I hadn't any hair; I hadn't
any teeth; I hadn't any clothes." He sketched the meagerness of that
little hamlet which had seen his birth, sketched it playfully,
delightfully, so that his hearers laughed and shouted; but there was
always a tenderness under it all, and often the tears were not far
beneath the surface. He told of his habits of life, how he had attained
seventy years by simply sticking to a scheme of living which would kill
anybody else; how he smoked constantly, loathed exercise, and had no
other regularity of habits. Then, at last, he reached that wonderful,
unforgetable close:

    Threescore years and ten!

    It is the scriptural statute of limitations. After that you owe no
    active duties; for you the strenuous life is over. You are a time-
    expired man, to use Kipling's military phrase: You have served your
    term, well or less well, and you are mustered out. You are become
    an honorary member of the republic, you are emancipated, compulsions
    are not for you, nor any bugle-call but "lights out." You pay the
    time-worn duty bills if you choose, or decline if you prefer--and
    without prejudice--for they are not legally collectable.

    The previous-engagement plea, which in forty years has cost you so
    many twinges, you can lay aside forever; on this side of the grave
    you will never need it again. If you shrink at thought of night,
    and winter, and the late homecomings from the banquet and the lights
    and laughter through the deserted streets--a desolation which would
    not remind you now, as for a generation it did, that your friends
    are sleeping and you must creep in a-tiptoe and not disturb them,
    but would only remind you that you need not tiptoe, you can never
    disturb them more--if you shrink at the thought of these things you
    need only reply, "Your invitation honors me and pleases me because
    you still keep me in your remembrance, but I am seventy; seventy,
    and would nestle in the chimney-corner, and smoke my pipe, and read
    my book, and take my rest, wishing you well in all affection, and
    that when you in your turn shall arrive at Pier 70 you may step
    aboard your waiting ship with a reconciled spirit, and lay your
    course toward the sinking sun with a contented heart."

The tears that had been lying in wait were not restrained now. If there
were any present who did not let them flow without shame, who did not
shout their applause from throats choked with sobs, the writer of these
lines failed to see them or to hear of them. There was not one who was
ashamed to pay the great tribute of tears.

Many of his old friends, one after another, rose to tell their love for
him--Brander Matthews, Cable, Kate Douglas Riggs, Gilder, Carnegie,
Bangs, Bacheller--they kept it up far into the next morning. No other
arrival at Pier 70 ever awoke a grander welcome.




CCXXXVII

AFTERMATH

The announcement of the seventieth birthday dinner had precipitated a
perfect avalanche of letters, which continued to flow in until the news
accounts of it precipitated another avalanche. The carriers' bags were
stuffed with greetings that came from every part of the world, from every
class of humanity. They were all full of love and tender wishes. A card
signed only with initials said: "God bless your old sweet soul for having
lived."

Aldrich, who could not attend the dinner, declared that all through the
evening he had been listening in his mind to a murmur of voices in the
hall at Delmonico's. A group of English authors in London combined in a
cable of congratulations. Anstey, Alfred Austin, Balfour, Barrie, Bryce,
Chesterton, Dobson, Doyle, Gosse, Hardy, Hope, Jacobs, Kipling, Lang,
Parker, Tenniel, Watson, and Zangwill were among the signatures.

Helen Keller wrote:

    And you are seventy years old? Or is the report exaggerated, like
    that of your death? I remember, when I saw you last, at the house
    of dear Mr. Hutton, in Princeton, you said:

    "If a man is a pessimist before he is forty-eight he knows too much.
    If he is an optimist after he is forty-eight he knows too little."

    Now we know you are an optimist, and nobody would dare to accuse one
    on the "seven-terraced summit" of knowing little. So probably you
    are not seventy after all, but only forty-seven!

Helen Keller was right. Mark Twain was not a pessimist in his heart, but
only by premeditation. It was his observation and his logic that led him
to write those things that, even in their bitterness, somehow conveyed
that spirit of human sympathy which is so closely linked to hope. To
Miss Keller he wrote:

"Oh, thank you for your lovely words!"

He was given another birthday celebration that month--this time by the
Society of Illustrators. Dan Beard, president, was also toast-master;
and as he presented Mark Twain there was a trumpet-note, and a lovely
girl, costumed as Joan of Arc, entered and, approaching him, presented
him with a laurel wreath. It was planned and carried out as a surprise
to him, and he hardly knew for the moment whether it was a vision or a
reality. He was deeply affected, so much so that for several moments he
could not find his voice to make any acknowledgments.

Clemens was more than ever sought now, and he responded when the cause
was a worthy one. He spoke for the benefit of the Russian sufferers at
the Casino on December 18th. Madame Sarah Bernhardt was also there, and
spoke in French. He followed her, declaring that it seemed a sort of
cruelty to inflict upon an audience our rude English after hearing that
divine speech flowing in that lucid Gallic tongue.

    It has always been a marvel to me--that French language; it has
    always been a puzzle to me. How beautiful that language is! How
    expressive it seems to be! How full of grace it is!

    And when it comes from lips like those, how eloquent and how limpid
    it is! And, oh, I am always deceived--I always think I am going to
    understand it.

    It is such a delight to me, such a delight to me, to meet Madame
    Bernhardt, and laugh hand to hand and heart to heart with her. I
    have seen her play, as we all have, and, oh, that is divine; but I
    have always wanted to know Madame Bernhardt herself--her fiery self.
    I have wanted to know that beautiful character.

    Why, she is the youngest person I ever saw, except myself--for I
    always feel young when I come in the presence of young people.

And truly, at seventy, Mark Twain was young, his manner, his movement,
his point of view-these were all, and always, young.

A number of palmists about that time examined impressions of his hand
without knowledge as to the owner, and they all agreed that it was the
hand of a man with the characteristics of youth, with inspiration, and
enthusiasm, and sympathy--a lover of justice and of the sublime. They
all agreed, too, that he was a deep philosopher, though, alas! they
likewise agreed that he lacked the sense of humor, which is not as
surprising as it sounds, for with Mark Twain humor was never mere
fun-making nor the love of it; rather it was the flower of his philosophy
--its bloom and fragrance.

When the fanfare and drum-beat of his birthday honors had passed by, and
a moment of calm had followed, Mark Twain set down some reflections on
the new estate he had achieved. The little paper, which forms a perfect
pendant to the "Seventieth Birthday Speech," here follows:

                    OLD AGE

    I think it likely that people who have not been here will be
    interested to know what it is like. I arrived on the thirtieth of
    November, fresh from carefree & frivolous 69, & was disappointed.

    There is nothing novel about it, nothing striking, nothing to thrill
    you & make your eye glitter & your tongue cry out, "Oh, it is
    wonderful, perfectly wonderful!" Yes, it is disappointing. You
    say, "Is this it?--this? after all this talk and fuss of a thousand
    generations of travelers who have crossed this frontier & looked
    about them & told what they saw & felt? Why, it looks just like
    69."

    And that is true. Also it is natural, for you have not come by the
    fast express; you have been lagging & dragging across the world's
    continents behind oxen; when that is your pace one country melts
    into the next one so gradually that you are not able to notice the
    change; 70 looks like 69; 69 looked like 68; 68 looked like 67--& so
    on back & back to the beginning. If you climb to a summit & look
    back--ah, then you see!

    Down that far-reaching perspective you can make out each country &
    climate that you crossed, all the way up from the hot equator to the
    ice-summit where you are perched. You can make out where Infancy
    verged into Boyhood; Boyhood into down-lipped Youth; Youth into
    bearded, indefinite Young-Manhood; indefinite Young-Manhood into
    definite Manhood; definite Manhood, with large, aggressive
    ambitions, into sobered & heedful Husbandhood & Fatherhood; these
    into troubled & foreboding Age, with graying hair; this into Old
    Age, white-headed, the temple empty, the idols broken, the
    worshipers in their graves, nothing left but You, a remnant, a
    tradition, belated fag-end of a foolish dream, a dream that was so
    ingeniously dreamed that it seemed real all the time; nothing left
    but You, center of a snowy desolation, perched on the ice-summit,
    gazing out over the stages of that long trek & asking Yourself,
    "Would you do it again if you had the chance?"




CCXXXVIII

THE WRITER MEETS MARK TWAIN

We have reached a point in this history where the narrative becomes
mainly personal, and where, at the risk of inviting the charge of
egotism, the form of the telling must change.

It was at the end of 1901 that I first met Mark Twain--at The Players
Club on the night when he made the Founder's Address mentioned in an
earlier chapter.

I was not able to arrive in time for the address, but as I reached the
head of the stairs I saw him sitting on the couch at the dining-room
entrance, talking earnestly to some one, who, as I remember it, did not
enter into my consciousness at all. I saw only that crown of white hair,
that familiar profile, and heard the slow modulations of his measured
speech. I was surprised to see how frail and old he looked. From his
pictures I had conceived him different. I did not realize that it was a
temporary condition due to a period of poor health and a succession of
social demands. I have no idea how long I stood there watching him. He
had been my literary idol from childhood, as he had been of so many
others; more than that, for the personality in his work had made him
nothing less than a hero to his readers.

He rose presently to go, and came directly toward me. A year before I
had done what new writers were always doing--I had sent him a book I had
written, and he had done what he was always doing--acknowledged it with a
kindly letter. I made my thanks now an excuse for addressing him. It
warmed me to hear him say that he remembered the book, though at the time
I confess I thought it doubtful. Then he was gone; but the mind and ear
had photographed those vivid first impressions that remain always clear.

It was the following spring that I saw him again--at an afternoon
gathering, and the memory of that occasion is chiefly important because I
met Mrs. Clemens there for the only time, and like all who met her,
however briefly, felt the gentleness and beauty of her spirit. I think I
spoke with her at two or three different moments during the afternoon,
and on each occasion was impressed with that feeling of acquaintanceship
which we immediately experience with those rare beings whose souls are
wells of human sympathy and free from guile. Bret Harte had just died,
and during the afternoon Mr. Clemens asked me to obtain for him some item
concerning the obsequies.

It was more than three years before I saw him again. Meantime, a sort of
acquaintance had progressed. I had been engaged in writing the life of
Thomas Nast, the cartoonist, and I had found among the material a number
of letters to Nast from Mark Twain. I was naturally anxious to use those
fine characteristic letters, and I wrote him for his consent. He wished
to see the letters, and the permission that followed was kindness itself.
His admiration of Nast was very great.

It was proper, under the circumstances, to send him a copy of the book
when it appeared; but that was 1904, his year of sorrow and absence, and
the matter was postponed. Then came the great night of his seventieth
birthday dinner, with an opportunity to thank him in person for the use
of the letters. There was only a brief exchange of words, and it was the
next day, I think, that I sent him a copy of the book. It did not occur
to me that I should hear of it again.

We step back a moment here. Something more than a year earlier, through
a misunderstanding, Mark Twain's long association with The Players had
been severed. It was a sorrow to him, and a still greater sorrow to the
club. There was a movement among what is generally known' as the "Round
Table Group"--because its members have long had a habit of lunching at a
large, round table in a certain window--to bring him back again. David
Munro, associate editor of the North American Review--"David," a man well
loved of men--and Robert Reid, the painter, prepared this simple
document:

                             TO
                         MARK TWAIN
                            from
                        THE CLANSMEN

                  Will ye no come back again?
                  Will ye no come back again?
                  Better lo'ed ye canna be,
                  Will ye no come back again?

It was signed by Munro and by Reid and about thirty others, and it
touched Mark Twain deeply. The lines had always moved him. He wrote:

    TO ROBT. REID & THE OTHERS--

    WELL-BELOVED,--Surely those lovely verses went to Prince Charlie's
    heart, if he had one, & certainly they have gone to mine. I shall
    be glad & proud to come back again after such a moving & beautiful
    compliment as this from comrades whom I have loved so long. I hope
    you can poll the necessary vote; I know you will try, at any rate.
    It will be many months before I can foregather with you, for this
    black border is not perfunctory, not a convention; it symbolizes the
    loss of one whose memory is the only thing I worship.

    It is not necessary for me to thank you--& words could not deliver
    what I feel, anyway. I will put the contents of your envelope in
    the small casket where I keep the things which have become sacred to
    me.
                         S. L. C.

So the matter was temporarily held in abeyance until he should return to
social life. At the completion of his seventieth year the club had taken
action, and Mark Twain had been brought back, not in the regular order of
things, but as an honorary life member without dues or duties. There was
only one other member of this class, Sir Henry Irving.

The Players, as a club, does not give dinners. Whatever is done in that
way is done by one or more of the members in the private dining-room,
where there is a single large table that holds twenty-five, even thirty
when expanded to its limit. That room and that table have mingled with
much distinguished entertainment, also with history. Henry James made
his first after-dinner speech there, for one thing--at least he claimed
it was his first, though this is by the way.

A letter came to me which said that those who had signed the plea for the
Prince's return were going to welcome him in the private dining-room on
the 5th of January. It was not an invitation, but a gracious privilege.
I was in New York a day or two in advance of the date, and I think David
Munro was the first person I met at The Players. As he greeted me his
eyes were eager with something he knew I would wish to hear. He had been
delegated to propose the dinner to Mark Twain, and had found him propped
up in bed, and noticed on the table near him a copy of the Nast book. I
suspect that Munro had led him to speak of it, and that the result had
lost nothing filtered through that radiant benevolence of his.

The night of January 5, 1906, remains a memory apart from other dinners.
Brander Matthews presided, and Gilder was there, and Frank Millet and
Willard Metcalf and Robert Reid, and a score of others; some of them are
dead now, David Munro among them. It so happened that my seat was nearly
facing the guest of the evening, who, by custom of The Players, is placed
at the side and not at the end of the long table. He was no longer frail
and thin, as when I had first met him. He had a robust, rested look; his
complexion had the tints of a miniature painting. Lit by the glow of the
shaded candles, relieved against the dusk richness of the walls, he made
a picture of striking beauty. One could not take his eyes from it, and
to one guest at least it stirred the farthest memories. I suddenly saw
the interior of a farm-house sitting-room in the Middle West, where I had
first heard uttered the name of Mark Twain, and where night after night a
group gathered around the evening lamp to hear the tale of the first
pilgrimage, which, to a boy of eight, had seemed only a wonderful poem
and fairy tale. To Charles Harvey Genung, who sat next to me, I
whispered something of this, and how, during the thirty-six years since
then, no other human being to me had meant quite what Mark Twain had
meant--in literature, in life, in the ineffable thing which means more
than either, and which we call "inspiration," for lack of a truer word.
Now here he was, just across the table. It was the fairy tale come true.

Genung said:

"You should write his life."

His remark seemed a pleasant courtesy, and was put aside as such. When
he persisted I attributed it to the general bloom of the occasion, and a
little to the wine, maybe, for the dinner was in its sweetest stage just
then--that happy, early stage when the first glass of champagne, or the
second, has proved its quality. He urged, in support of his idea, the
word that Munro had brought concerning the Nast book, but nothing of what
he said kindled any spark of hope. I could not but believe that some one
with a larger equipment of experience, personal friendship, and abilities
had already been selected for the task. By and by the speaking began
--delightful, intimate speaking in that restricted circle--and the matter
went out of my mind.

When the dinner had ended, and we were drifting about the table in
general talk, I found an opportunity to say a word to the guest of the
evening about his Joan of Arc, which I had recently re-read. To my
happiness, he detained me while he told me the long-ago incident which
had led to his interest, not only in the martyred girl, but in all
literature. I think we broke up soon after, and descended to the lower
rooms. At any rate, I presently found the faithful Charles Genung
privately reasserting to me the proposition that I should undertake the
biography of Mark Twain. Perhaps it was the brief sympathy established
by the name of Joan of Arc, perhaps it was only Genung's insistent
purpose--his faith, if I may be permitted the word. Whatever it was,
there came an impulse, in the instant of bidding good-by to our guest of
honor, which prompted me to say:

"May I call to see you, Mr. Clemens, some day?"

And something--dating from the primal atom, I suppose--prompted him to
answer:

"Yes, come soon."

This was on Wednesday night, or rather on Thursday morning, for it was
past midnight, and a day later I made an appointment with his secretary
to call on Saturday.

I can say truly that I set out with no more than the barest hope of
success, and wondering if I should have the courage, when I saw him, even
to suggest the thought in my mind. I know I did not have the courage to
confide in Genung that I had made the appointment--I was so sure it would
fail. I arrived at 21 Fifth Avenue and was shown into that long library
and drawing-room combined, and found a curious and deep interest in the
books and ornaments along the shelves as I waited. Then I was summoned,
and I remember ascending the stairs, wondering why I had come on so
futile an errand, and trying to think of an excuse to offer for having
come at all.

He was propped up in bed--in that stately bed-sitting, as was his habit,
with his pillows placed at the foot, so that he might have always before
him the rich, carved beauty of its headboard. He was delving through a
copy of Huckleberry Finn, in search of a paragraph concerning which some
random correspondent had asked explanation. He was commenting
unfavorably on this correspondent and on miscellaneous letter-writing in
general. He pushed the cigars toward me, and the talk of these matters
ran along and blended into others more or less personal. By and by I
told him what so many thousands had told him before: what he had meant to
me, recalling the childhood impressions of that large,
black-and-gilt-covered book with its wonderful pictures and
adventures--the Mediterranean pilgrimage. Very likely it bored him--he
had heard it so often--and he was willing enough, I dare say, to let me
change the subject and thank him for the kindly word which David Munro
had brought. I do not remember what he said then, but I suddenly found
myself suggesting that out of his encouragement had grown a hope--though
certainly it was something less--that I might some day undertake a book
about himself. I expected the chapter to end at this point, and his
silence which followed seemed long and ominous.

He said, at last, that at various times through his life he had been
preparing some autobiographical matter, but that he had tired of the
undertaking, and had put it aside. He added that he had hoped his
daughters would one day collect his letters; but that a biography--a
detailed story of personality and performance, of success and failure
--was of course another matter, and that for such a work no arrangement
had been made. He may have added one or two other general remarks; then,
turning those piercing agate-blue eyes directly upon me, he said:

"When would you like to begin?"

There was a dresser with a large mirror behind him. I happened to catch
my reflection in it, and I vividly recollect saying to it mentally: "This
is not true; it is only one of many similar dreams." But even in a dream
one must answer, and I said:

"Whenever you like. I can begin now."

He was always eager in any new undertaking.

"Very good," he said. "The sooner, then, the better. Let's begin while
we are in the humor. The longer you postpone a thing of this kind the
less likely you are ever to get at it."

This was on Saturday, as I have stated. I mentioned that my family was
still in the country, and that it would require a day or two to get
established in the city. I asked if Tuesday, January 9th, would be too
soon to begin. He agreed that Tuesday would do, and inquired something
about my plan of work. Of course I had formed nothing definite, but I
said that in similar undertakings a part of the work had been done with a
stenographer, who had made the notes while I prompted the subject to
recall a procession of incidents and episodes, to be supplemented with
every variety of material obtainable--letters and other documentary
accumulations. Then he said:

"I think I should enjoy dictating to a stenographer, with some one to
prompt me and to act as audience. The room adjoining this was fitted up
for my study. My manuscripts and notes and private books and many of my
letters are there, and there are a trunkful or two of such things in the
attic. I seldom use the room myself. I do my writing and reading in
bed. I will turn that room over to you for this work. Whatever you need
will be brought to you. We can have the dictation here in the morning,
and you can put in the rest of the day to suit yourself. You can have a
key and come and go as you please."

That was always his way. He did nothing by halves; nothing without
unquestioning confidence and prodigality. He got up and showed me the
lovely luxury of the study, with its treasures of material. I did not
believe it true yet. It had all the atmosphere of a dream, and I have no
distinct recollection of how I came away. When I returned to The Players
and found Charles Harvey Genung there, and told him about it, it is quite
certain that he perjured himself when he professed to believe it true and
pretended that he was not surprised.




CCXXXIX

WORKING WITH MARK TWAIN

On Tuesday, January 9, 1906, I was on hand with a capable stenographer
--Miss Josephine Hobby, who had successively, and successfully, held
secretarial positions with Charles Dudley Warner and Mrs. Mary Mapes
Dodge, and was therefore peculiarly qualified for the work in hand.

Clemens, meantime, had been revolving our plans and adding some features
of his own. He proposed to double the value and interest of our
employment by letting his dictations continue the form of those earlier
autobiographical chapters, begun with Redpath in 1885, and continued
later in Vienna and at the Villa Quarto. He said he did not think he
could follow a definite chronological program; that he would like to
wander about, picking up this point and that, as memory or fancy
prompted, without any particular biographical order. It was his purpose,
he declared, that his dictations should not be published until he had
been dead a hundred years or more--a prospect which seemed to give him an
especial gratification.--[As early as October, 1900, he had proposed to
Harper & Brothers a contract for publishing his personal memoirs at the
expiration of one hundred years from date; and letters covering the
details were exchanged with Mr. Rogers. The document, however, was not
completed.]

He wished to pay the stenographer, and to own these memoranda, he said,
allowing me free access to them for any material I might find valuable. I
could also suggest subjects for dictation, and ask particulars of any
special episode or period. I believe this covered the whole arrangement,
which did not require more than five minutes, and we set to work without
further prologue.

I ought to state that he was in bed when we arrived, and that he remained
there during almost all of these earlier dictations, clad in a handsome
silk dressing-gown of rich Persian pattern, propped against great snowy
pillows. He loved this loose luxury and ease, and found it conducive to
thought. On the little table beside him, where lay his cigars, papers,
pipes, and various knickknacks, shone a reading-lamp, making more
brilliant the rich coloring of his complexion and the gleam of his
shining hair. There was daylight, too, but it was north light, and the
winter days were dull. Also the walls of the room were a deep,
unreflecting red, and his eyes were getting old. The outlines of that
vast bed blending into the luxuriant background, the whole focusing to
the striking central figure, remain in my mind to-day--a picture of
classic value.

He dictated that morning some matters connected with the history of the
Comstock mine; then he drifted back to his childhood, returning again to
the more modern period, and closed, I think, with some comments on
current affairs. It was absorbingly interesting; his quaint, unhurried
fashion of speech, the unconscious movement of his hands, the play of his
features as his fancies and phrases passed in mental review and were
accepted or waved aside. We were watching one of the great literary
creators of his time in the very process of his architecture. We
constituted about the most select audience in the world enjoying what
was, likely enough, its most remarkable entertainment. When he turned at
last and inquired the time we were all amazed that two hours and more had
slipped away.

"And how much I have enjoyed it!" he said. "It is the ideal plan for
this kind of work. Narrative writing is always disappointing. The
moment you pick up a pen you begin to lose the spontaneity of the
personal relation, which contains the very essence of interest. With
shorthand dictation one can talk as if he were at his own dinner-table
--always a most inspiring place. I expect to dictate all the rest of my
life, if you good people are willing to come and listen to it."

The dictations thus begun continued steadily from week to week, and
always with increasing charm. We never knew what he was going to talk
about, and it was seldom that he knew until the moment of beginning; then
he went drifting among episodes, incidents, and periods in his
irresponsible fashion; the fashion of table-conversation, as he said, the
methodless method of the human mind. It was always delightful, and
always amusing, tragic, or instructive, and it was likely to be one of
these at one instant, and another the next. I felt myself the most
fortunate biographer in the world, as undoubtedly I was, though not just
in the way that I first imagined.

It was not for several weeks that I began to realize that these marvelous
reminiscences bore only an atmospheric relation to history; that they
were aspects of biography rather than its veritable narrative, and built
largely--sometimes wholly--from an imagination that, with age, had
dominated memory, creating details, even reversing them, yet with a
perfect sincerity of purpose on the part of the narrator to set down the
literal and unvarnished truth. It was his constant effort to be frank
and faithful to fact, to record, to confess, and to condemn without
stint. If you wanted to know the worst of Mark Twain you had only to ask
him for it. He would give it, to the last syllable--worse than the
worst, for his imagination would magnify it and adorn it with new
iniquities, and if he gave it again, or a dozen times, he would improve
upon it each time, until the thread of history was almost impossible to
trace through the marvel of that fabric; and he would do the same for
another person just as willingly. Those vividly real personalities that
he marched and countermarched before us were the most convincing
creatures in the world; the most entertaining, the most excruciatingly
humorous, or wicked, or tragic; but, alas, they were not always safe to
include in a record that must bear a certain semblance to history. They
often disagreed in their performance, and even in their characters, with
the documents in the next room, as I learned by and by when those
records, disentangled, began to rebuild the structure of the years.

His gift of dramatization had been exercised too long to be discarded
now. The things he told of Mrs. Clemens and of Susy were true
--marvelously and beautifully true, in spirit and in aspect--and the
actual detail of these mattered little in such a record. The rest was
history only as 'Roughing It' is history, or the 'Tramp Abroad'; that is
to say, it was fictional history, with fact as a starting-point. In a
prefatory note to these volumes we have quoted Mark Twain's own lovely
and whimsical admission, made once when he realized his deviations:

"When I was younger I could remember anything, whether it happened or
not; but I am getting old, and soon I shall remember only the latter."

At another time he paraphrased one of Josh Billings's sayings in the
remark: "It isn't so astonishing, the number of things that I can
remember, as the number of things I can remember that aren't so."

I do not wish to say, by any means, that his so-called autobiography is a
mere fairy tale. It is far from that. It is amazingly truthful in the
character-picture it represents of the man himself. It is only not
reliable--and it is sometimes even unjust--as detailed history. Yet,
curiously enough, there were occasional chapters that were
photographically exact, and fitted precisely with the more positive, if
less picturesque, materials. It is also true that such chapters were
likely to be episodes intrinsically so perfect as to not require the
touch of art.

In the talks which we usually had, when the dictations were ended and
Miss Hobby had gone, I gathered much that was of still greater value.
Imagination was temporarily dispossessed, as it were, and, whether
expounding some theory or summarizing some event, he cared little for
literary effect, and only for the idea and the moment immediately
present.

It was at such times that he allowed me to make those inquiries we had
planned in the beginning, and which apparently had little place in the
dictations themselves. Sometimes I led him to speak of the genesis of
his various books, how he had come to write them, and I think there was
not a single case where later I did not find his memory of these matters
almost exactly in accord with the letters of the moment, written to
Howells or Twichell, or to some member of his family. Such reminiscence
was usually followed by some vigorous burst of human philosophy, often
too vigorous for print, too human, but as dazzling as a search-light in
its revelation.

It was during this earlier association that he propounded, one day, his
theory of circumstance, already set down, that inevitable sequence of
cause and effect, beginning with the first act of the primal atom. He
had been dictating that morning his story of the clairvoyant dream which
preceded his brother's death, and the talk of foreknowledge had
continued. I said one might logically conclude from such a circumstance
that the future was a fixed quantity.

"As absolutely fixed as the past," he said; and added the remark already
quoted.--[Chap. lxxv] A little later he continued:

"Even the Almighty Himself cannot check or change that sequence of events
once it is started. It is a fixed quantity, and a part of the scheme is
a mental condition during certain moments usually of sleep--when the mind
may reach out and grasp some of the acts which are still to come."

It was a new angle to me--a line of logic so simple and so utterly
convincing that I have remained unshaken in it to this day. I have never
been able to find any answer to it, nor any one who could even attempt to
show that the first act of the first created atom did not strike the
key-note of eternity.

At another time, speaking of the idea that God works through man, he
burst out:

"Yes, of course, just about as much as a man works through his microbes!"

He had a startling way of putting things like that, and it left not much
to say.

I was at this period interested a good deal in mental healing, and had
been treated for neurasthenia with gratifying results. Like most of the
world, I had assumed, from his published articles, that he condemned
Christian Science and its related practices out of hand. When I
confessed, rather reluctantly, one day, the benefit I had received, he
surprised me by answering:

"Of course you have been benefited. Christian Science is humanity's
boon. Mother Eddy deserves a place in the Trinity as much as any member
of it. She has organized and made available a healing principle that for
two thousand years has never been employed, except as the merest kind of
guesswork. She is the benefactor of the age."

It seemed strange, at the time, to hear him speak in this way concerning
a practice of which he was generally regarded as the chief public
antagonist. It was another angle of his many-sided character.




CCXL

THE DEFINITION OF A GENTLEMAN

That was a busy winter for him socially. He was constantly demanded for
this thing and that--for public gatherings, dinners--everywhere he was a
central figure. Once he presided at a Valentine dinner given by some
Players to David Munro. He had never presided at a dinner before, he
said, and he did it in his own way, which certainly was a taking one,
suitable to that carefree company and occasion--a real Scotch occasion,
with the Munro tartan everywhere, the table banked with heather, and a
wild piper marching up and down in the anteroom, blowing savage airs in
honor of Scotland's gentlest son.

An important meeting of that winter was at Carnegie Hall--a great
gathering which had assembled for the purpose of aiding Booker T.
Washington in his work for the welfare of his race. The stage and the
auditorium were thronged with notables. Joseph H. Choate and Mark Twain
presided, and both spoke; also Robert C. Ogden and Booker T. Washington
himself. It was all fine and interesting. Choate's address was ably
given, and Mark Twain was at his best. He talked of politics and of
morals--public and private--how the average American citizen was true to
his Christian principles three hundred and sixty-three days in the year,
and how on the other two days of the year he left those principles at
home and went to the tax-office and the voting-booths, and did his best
to damage and undo his whole year's faithful and righteous work.

    I used to be an honest man, but I am crumbling--no, I have crumbled.
    When they assessed me at $75,000 a fortnight ago I went out and
    tried to borrow the money and couldn't. Then when I found they were
    letting a whole crowd of millionaires live in New York at a third of
    the price they were charging me I was hurt, I was indignant, and
    said, this is the last feather. I am not going to run this town all
    by myself. In that moment--in that memorable moment, I began to
    crumble. In fifteen minutes the disintegration was complete. In
    fifteen minutes I was become just a mere moral sand-pile, and I
    lifted up my hand, along with those seasoned and experienced
    deacons, and swore off every rag of personal property I've got in
    the world.

I had never heard him address a miscellaneous audience. It was marvelous
to see how he convulsed it, and silenced it, and controlled it at will.
He did not undertake any special pleading for the negro cause; he only
prepared the way with cheerfulness.

Clemens and Choate joined forces again, a few weeks later, at a great
public meeting assembled in aid of the adult blind. Helen Keller was to
be present, but she had fallen ill through overwork. She sent to Clemens
one of her beautiful letters, in which she said:

    I should be happy if I could have spelled into my hand the words as
    they fall from your lips, and receive, even as it is uttered, the
    eloquence of our newest ambassador to the blind.

Clemens, dictating the following morning, told of his first meeting with
Helen Keller at a little gathering in Lawrence Hutton's home, when she
was about the age of fourteen. It was an incident that invited no
elaboration, and probably received none.

    Henry Rogers and I went together. The company had all assembled and
    had been waiting a while. The wonderful child arrived now with her
    about equally wonderful teacher, Miss Sullivan, and seemed quite
    well to recognize the character of her surroundings. She said, "Oh,
    the books, the books, so many, many books. How lovely!"

    The guests were brought one after another. As she shook hands with
    each she took her hand away and laid her fingers lightly against
    Miss Sullivan's lips, who spoke against them the person's name.

    Mr. Howells seated himself by Helen on the sofa, and she put her
    fingers against his lips and he told her a story of considerable
    length, and you could see each detail of it pass into her mind and
    strike fire there and throw the flash of it into her face.

    After a couple of hours spent very pleasantly some one asked if
    Helen would remember the feel of the hands of the company after this
    considerable interval of time and be able to discriminate the hands
    and name the possessors of them. Miss Sullivan said, "Oh, she will
    have no difficulty about that." So the company filed past, shook
    hands in turn, and with each hand-shake Helen greeted the owner of
    the hand pleasantly and spoke the name that belonged to it without
    hesitation.

    By and by the assemblage proceeded to the dining-room and sat down
    to the luncheon. I had to go away before it was over, and as I
    passed by Helen I patted her lightly on the head and passed on.
    Miss Sullivan called to me and said, "Stop, Mr. Clemens, Helen is
    distressed because she did not recognize your hand. Won't you come
    back and do that again?" I went back and patted her lightly on the
    head, and she said at once, "Oh, it's Mr. Clemens."

    Perhaps some one can explain this miracle, but I have never been
    able to do it. Could she feel the wrinkles in my hand through her
    hair? Some one else must answer this.

It was three years following this dictation that the mystery received a
very simple and rather amusing solution. Helen had come to pay a visit
to Mark Twain's Connecticut home, Stormfield, then but just completed. He
had met her, meantime, but it had not occurred to him before to ask her
how she had recognized him that morning at Hutton's, in what had seemed
such a marvelous way. She remembered, and with a smile said:

"I smelled you." Which, after all, did not make the incident seem much
less marvelous.

On one of the mornings after Miss Hobby had gone Clemens said:

"A very curious thing has happened--a very large-sized-joke." He was
shaving at the time, and this information came in brief and broken
relays, suited to a performance of that sort. The reader may perhaps
imagine the effect without further indication of it.

"I was going on a yachting trip once, with Henry Rogers, when a reporter
stopped me with the statement that Mrs. Astor had said that there had
never been a gentleman in the White House, and he wanted me to give him
my definition of a gentleman. I didn't give him my definition; but he
printed it, just the same, in the afternoon paper. I was angry at first,
and wanted to bring a damage suit. When I came to read the definition it
was a satisfactory one, and I let it go. Now to-day comes a letter and a
telegram from a man who has made a will in Missouri, leaving ten thousand
dollars to provide tablets for various libraries in the State, on which
shall be inscribed Mark Twain's definition of a gentleman. He hasn't got
the definition--he has only heard of it, and he wants me to tell him in
which one of my books or speeches he can find it. I couldn't think, when
I read that letter, what in the nation the man meant, but shaving somehow
has a tendency to release thought, and just now it all came to me."

It was a situation full of amusing possibilities; but he reached no
conclusion in the matter. Another telegram was brought in just then,
which gave a sadder aspect to his thought, for it said that his old
coachman, Patrick McAleer, who had begun in the Clemens service with the
bride and groom of thirty-six years before, was very low, and could not
survive more than a few days. This led him to speak of Patrick, his
noble and faithful nature, and how he always claimed to be in their
service, even during their long intervals of absence abroad. Clemens
gave orders that everything possible should be done for Patrick's
comfort. When the end came, a few days later, he traveled to Hartford to
lay flowers on Patrick's bier, and to serve, with Patrick's friends
--neighbor coachmen and John O'Neill, the gardener--as pall-bearer,
taking his allotted place without distinction or favor.

It was the following Sunday, at the Majestic Theater, in New York, that
Mark Twain spoke to the Young Men's Christian Association. For several
reasons it proved an unusual meeting. A large number of free tickets had
been given out, far more than the place would hold; and, further, it had
been announced that when the ticket-holders had been seated the admission
would be free to the public. The subject chosen for the talk was
"Reminiscences."

When we arrived the streets were packed from side to side for a
considerable distance and a riot was in progress. A great crowd had
swarmed about the place, and the officials, instead of throwing the doors
wide and letting the theater fill up, regardless of tickets, had locked
them. As a result there was a shouting, surging human mass that
presently dashed itself against the entrance. Windows and doors gave
way, and there followed a wild struggle for entrance. A moment later the
house was packed solid. A detachment of police had now arrived, and in
time cleared the street. It was said that amid the tumult some had lost
their footing and had been trampled and injured, but of this we did not
learn until later. We had been taken somehow to a side entrance and
smuggled into boxes.--[The paper next morning bore the head-lines:
"10,000 Stampeded at the Mark Twain Meeting. Well-dressed Men and Women
Clubbed by Police at Majestic Theater." In this account the paper stated
that the crowd had collected an hour before the time for opening; that
nothing of the kind had been anticipated and no police preparation had
been made.]

It was peaceful enough in the theater until Mark Twain appeared on the
stage. He was wildly greeted, and when he said, slowly and seriously, "I
thank you for this signal recognition of merit," there was a still
noisier outburst. In the quiet that followed he began his memories, and
went wandering along from one anecdote to another in the manner of his
daily dictations.

At last it seemed to occur to him, in view of the character of his
audience, that he ought to close with something in the nature of counsel
suited to young men.

    It is from experiences such as mine [he said] that we get our
    education of life. We string them into jewels or into tinware, as
    we may choose. I have received recently several letters asking for
    counsel or advice, the principal request being for some incident
    that may prove helpful to the young. It is my mission to teach, and
    I am always glad to furnish something. There have been a lot of
    incidents in my career to help me along--sometimes they helped me
    along faster than I wanted to go.

He took some papers from his pocket and started to unfold one of them;
then, as if remembering, he asked how long he had been talking. The
answer came, "Thirty-five minutes." He made as if to leave the stage,
but the audience commanded him to go on.

"All right," he said, "I can stand more of my own talk than any one I
ever knew." Opening one of the papers, a telegram, he read:

"In which one of your works can we find the definition of a gentleman?"
Then he added:

    I have not answered that telegram. I couldn't. I never wrote any
    such definition, though it seems to me that if a man has just,
    merciful, and kindly instincts he would be a gentleman, for he would
    need nothing else in this world.

He opened a letter. "From Howells," he said.

    My old friend, William Dean Howells--Howells, the head of American
    literature. No one is able to stand with him. He is an old, old
    friend of mine, and he writes me, "To-morrow I shall be sixty-nine
    years old." Why, I am surprised at Howells writing so. I have
    known him myself longer than that. I am sorry to see a man trying
    to appear so young. Let's see. Howells says now, "I see you have
    been burying Patrick. I suppose he was old, too."

The house became very still. Most of them had read an account of Mark
Twain's journey to Hartford and his last service to his faithful
servitor. The speaker's next words were not much above a whisper, but
every syllable was distinct.

    No, he was never old-Patrick. He came to us thirty-six years ago.
    He was our coachman from the day that I drove my young bride to our
    new home. He was a young Irishman, slender, tall, lithe, honest,
    truthful, and he never changed in all his life. He really was with
    us but twenty-five years, for he did not go with us to Europe; but
    he never regarded that a separation. As the children grew up he was
    their guide. He was all honor, honesty, and affection. He was with
    us in New Hampshire last summer, and his hair was just as black, his
    eyes were just as blue, his form just as straight, and his heart
    just as good as on the day we first met. In all the long years
    Patrick never made a mistake. He never needed an order; he never
    received a command. He knew. I have been asked for my idea of an
    ideal gentleman, and I give it to you--Patrick McAleer.

It was the sort of thing that no one but Mark Twain has quite been able
to do, and it was just that recognized quality behind it that had made
crowds jam the street and stampede the entrance to be in his presence-to
see him and to hear his voice.




CCXLI

GORKY, HOWELLS, AND MARK TWAIN

Clemens was now fairly back again in the wash of banquets and
speech-making that had claimed him on his return from England, five years
before. He made no less than a dozen speeches altogether that winter,
and he was continually at some feasting or other, where he was sure to be
called upon for remarks. He fell out of the habit of preparing his
addresses, relying upon the inspiration of the moment, merely following
the procedure of his daily dictations, which had doubtless given him
confidence for this departure from his earlier method. There was seldom
an afternoon or an evening that he was not required, and seldom a morning
that the papers did not have some report of his doings. Once more, and
in a larger fashion than ever, he had become "the belle of New York." But
he was something further. An editorial in the Evening Mail said:

    Mark Twain, in his "last and best of life for which the first was
    made," seems to be advancing rapidly to a position which makes him a
    kind of joint Aristides, Solon, and Themistocles of the American
    metropolis--an Aristides for justness and boldness as well as
    incessancy of opinion, a Solon for wisdom and cogency, and a
    Themistocles for the democracy of his views and the popularity of
    his person.

    Things have reached the point where, if Mark Twain is not at a
    public meeting or banquet, he is expected to console it with one of
    his inimitable letters of advice and encouragement. If he deigns to
    make a public appearance there is a throng at the doors which
    overtaxes the energy and ability of the police. We must be glad
    that we have a public commentator like Mark Twain always at hand and
    his wit and wisdom continually on tap. His sound, breezy
    Mississippi Valley Americanism is a corrective to all sorts of
    snobbery. He cultivates respect for human rights by always making
    sure that he has his own.

He talked one afternoon to the Barnard girls, and another afternoon to
the Women's University Club, illustrating his talk with what purported to
be moral tales. He spoke at a dinner given to City Tax Commissioner Mr.
Charles Putzel; and when he was introduced there as the man who had said,
"When in doubt tell the truth," he replied that he had invented that
maxim for others, but that when in doubt himself, he used more sagacity.

The speeches he made kept his hearers always in good humor; but he made
them think, too, for there was always substance and sound reason and
searching satire in the body of what he said.

It was natural that there should be reporters calling frequently at Mark
Twain's home, and now and then the place became a veritable storm-center
of news. Such a moment arrived when it became known that a public
library in Brooklyn had banished Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer from the
children's room, presided over by a young woman of rather severe morals.
The incident had begun in November of the previous year. One of the
librarians, Asa Don Dickinson, who had vigorously voted against the
decree, wrote privately of the matter. Clemens had replied:

    DEAR SIR,--I am greatly troubled by what you say. I wrote Tom
    Sawyer & Huck Finn for adults exclusively, & it always distresses me
    when I find that boys & girls have been allowed access to them. The
    mind that becomes soiled in youth can never again be washed clean.
    I know this by my own experience, & to this day I cherish an
    unappeasable bitterness against the unfaithful guardians of my young
    life, who not only permitted but compelled me to read an
    unexpurgated Bible through before I was 15 years old. None can do
    that and ever draw a clean, sweet breath again this side of the
    grave. Ask that young lady--she will tell you so.

    Most honestly do I wish that I could say a softening word or two in
    defense of Huck's character since you wish it, but really, in my
    opinion, it is no better than those of Solomon, David, & the rest of
    the sacred brotherhood.

    If there is an unexpurgated in the Children's Department, won't you
    please help that young woman remove Tom & Huck from that
    questionable companionship?

                  Sincerely yours,
                                S. L. CLEMENS.

    I shall not show your letter to any one-it is safe with me.

Mr. Dickinson naturally kept this letter from the public, though he read
it aloud to the assembled librarians, and the fact of its existence and
its character eventually leaked out.--[It has been supplied to the writer
by Mr. Dickinson, and is published here with his consent.]--One of the
librarians who had heard it mentioned it at a theater-party in hearing of
an unrealized newspaper man. This was near the end of the following
March.

The "tip" was sufficient. Telephone-bells began to jingle, and groups of
newspaper men gathered simultaneously on Mr. Dickinson's and on Mark
Twain's door-steps. At a 21 Fifth Avenue you could hardly get in or out,
for stepping on them. The evening papers surmised details, and Huck and
Tom had a perfectly fresh crop of advertising, not only in America, but
in distant lands. Dickinson wrote Clemens that he would not give out the
letter without his authority, and Clemens replied:

    Be wise as a serpent and wary as a dove! The newspaper boys want
    that letter--don't you let them get hold of it. They say you refuse
    to allow them to see it without my consent. Keep on refusing, and
    I'll take care of this end of the line.

In a recent letter to the writer Mr. Dickinson states that Mark Twain's
solicitude was for the librarian, whom he was unwilling to involve in
difficulties with his official superiors, and he adds:

    There may be some doubt as to whether Mark Twain was or was not a
    religious man, for there are many definitions of the word religion.
    He was certainly a hater of conventions, had no patience with
    sanctimony and bibliolatry, and was perhaps irreverent. But any one
    who reads carefully the description of the conflict in Huck's soul,
    in regard to the betrayal of Jim, will credit the creator of the
    scene with deep and true moral feeling.

The reporters thinned out in the course of a few days when no result was
forthcoming; but they were all back again presently when the Maxim Gorky
fiasco came along. The distinguished revolutionist, Tchaykoffsky, as a
sort of advance agent for Gorky, had already called upon Clemens to
enlist his sympathy in their mission, which was to secure funds in the
cause of Russian emancipation. Clemens gave his sympathy, and now
promised his aid, though he did not hesitate to discourage the mission.
He said that American enthusiasm in such matters stopped well above their
pockets, and that this revolutionary errand would fail. Howells, too,
was of this opinion. In his account of the episode he says:

    I told a valued friend of his and mine that I did not believe he
    could get twenty-five hundred dollars, and I think now I set the
    figure too high.

Clemens's interest, however, grew. He attended a dinner given to Gorky
at the "A Club," No. 3 Fifth Avenue, and introduced Gorky to the diners.
Also he wrote a letter to be read by Tchaykoffsky at a meeting held at
the Grand Central Palace, where three thousand people gathered to hear
this great revolutionist recite the story of Russia's wrongs. The letter
ran:

    DEAR MR. TCHAYKOFFSKY,--My sympathies are with the Russian
    revolution, of course. It goes without saying. I hope it will
    succeed, and now that I have talked with you I take heart to believe
    it will. Government by falsified promises, by lies, by treachery,
    and by the butcher-knife, for the aggrandizement of a single family
    of drones and its idle and vicious kin has been borne quite long
    enough in Russia, I should think. And it is to be hoped that the
    roused nation, now rising in its strength, will presently put an end
    to it and set up the republic in its place. Some of us, even the
    white-headed, may live to see the blessed day when tsars and grand
    dukes will be as scarce there as I trust they are in heaven.
           Most sincerely yours,
                            MARK TWAIN.

Clemens and Howells called on Gorky and agreed to figure prominently in a
literary dinner to be given in his honor. The movement was really
assuming considerable proportions, when suddenly something happened which
caused it to flatten permanently, and rather ridiculously.

Arriving at 21 Fifth Avenue, one afternoon, I met Howells coming out. I
thought he had an unhappy, hunted look. I went up to the study, and on
opening the door I found the atmosphere semi-opaque with cigar smoke, and
Clemens among the drifting blue wreaths and layers, pacing up and down
rather fiercely. He turned, inquiringly, as I entered. I had clipped a
cartoon from a morning paper, which pictured him as upsetting the Tsar's
throne--the kind of thing he was likely to enjoy. I said:

"Here is something perhaps you may wish to see, Mr. Clemens."

He shook his head violently.

"No, I can't see anything now," and in another moment had disappeared
into his own room. Something extraordinary had happened. I wondered if,
after all their lifelong friendship, he and Howells had quarreled. I was
naturally curious, but it was not a good time to investigate. By and by
I went down on the street, where the newsboys were calling extras. When
I had bought one, and glanced at the first page, I knew. Gorky had been
expelled from his hotel for having brought to America, as his wife, a
woman not so recognized by the American laws. Madame Andreieva, a
Russian actress, was a leader in the cause of freedom, and by Russian
custom her relation with Gorky was recognized and respected; but it was
not sufficiently orthodox for American conventions, and it was certainly
unfortunate that an apostle of high purpose should come handicapped in
that way. Apparently the news had already reached Howells and Clemens,
and they had been feverishly discussing what was best to do about the
dinner.

Within a day or two Gorky and Madame Andreieva were evicted from a
procession of hotels, and of course the papers rang with the head-lines.
An army of reporters was chasing Clemens and Howells. The Russian
revolution was entirely forgotten in this more lively, more intimate
domestic interest. Howells came again, the reporters following and
standing guard at the door below. In 'My Mark Twain' he says:

    That was the moment of the great Vesuvian eruption, and we figured
    ourselves in easy reach of a volcano which was every now and then
    "blowing a cone off," as the telegraphic phrase was. The roof of
    the great market in Naples had just broken in under its load of
    ashes and cinders, and crushed hundreds of people; and we asked each
    other if we were not sorry we had not been there, where the pressure
    would have been far less terrific than it was with us in Fifth
    Avenue. The forbidden butler came up with a message that there were
    some gentlemen below who wanted to see Clemens.

    "How many?" he demanded.

    "Five," the butler faltered.

    "Reporters?"

    The butler feigned uncertainty.

    "What would you do?" he asked me.

    "I wouldn't see them," I said, and then Clemens went directly down
    to them. How or by what means he appeased their voracity I cannot
    say, but I fancy it was by the confession of the exact truth, which
    was harmless enough. They went away joyfully, and he came back in
    radiant satisfaction with having seen them.

It is not quite clear at this time just what word was sent to Gorky but
the matter must have been settled that night, for Clemens was in a fine
humor next morning. It was before dictation time, and he came drifting
into the study and began at once to speak of the dinner and the
impossibility of its being given now. Then he said:

"American public opinion is a delicate fabric. It shrivels like the webs
of morning at the lightest touch."

Later in the day he made this memorandum:

    Laws can be evaded and punishment escaped, but an openly
    transgressed custom brings sure punishment. The penalty may be
    unfair, unrighteous, illogical, and a cruelty; no matter, it will be
    inflicted just the same. Certainly, then, there can be but one wise
    thing for a visiting stranger to do--find out what the country's
    customs are and refrain from offending against them.

    The efforts which have been made in Gorky's justification are
    entitled to all respect because of the magnanimity of the motive
    back of them, but I think that the ink was wasted. Custom is
    custom: it is built of brass, boiler-iron, granite; facts,
    seasonings, arguments have no more effect upon it than the idle
    winds have upon Gibraltar.--[To Dan Beard he said, "Gorky made an
    awful mistake, Dan. He might as well have come over here in his
    shirt-tail."]

The Gorky disturbance had hardly begun to subside when there came another
upheaval that snuffed it out completely. On the afternoon of the 18th of
April I heard, at The Players, a wandering telephonic rumor that a great
earthquake was going on in San Francisco. Half an hour later, perhaps, I
met Clemens coming out of No. 21. He asked:

"Have you heard the news about San Francisco?"

I said I had heard a rumor of an earthquake; and had seen an extra with
big scare-heads; but I supposed the matter was exaggerated.

"No," he said, "I am afraid it isn't. We have just had a telephone
message that it is even worse than at first reported. A great fire is
consuming the city. Come along to the news-stand and we'll see if there
is a later edition."

We walked to Sixth Avenue and Eighth Street and got some fresh extras.
The news was indeed worse, than at first reported. San Francisco was
going to destruction. Clemens was moved deeply, and began to recall this
old friend and that whose lives and property might be in danger. He
spoke of Joe Goodman and the Gillis families, and pictured conditions in
the perishing city.




CCXLII

MARK TWAIN'S GOOD-BY TO THE PLATFORM

It was on April 19, 1906, the day following the great earthquake, that
Mark Twain gave a "Farewell Lecture" at Carnegie Hall for the benefit of
the Robert Fulton Memorial Association. Some weeks earlier Gen.
Frederick D. Grant, its president, had proposed to pay one thousand
dollars for a Mark Twain lecture; but Clemens' had replied that he was
permanently out of the field, and would never again address any audience
that had to pay to hear him.

"I always expect to talk as long as I can get people to listen to me," he
sand, "but I never again expect to charge for it." Later came one of his
inspirations, and he wrote: "I will lecture for one thousand dollars, on
one condition: that it will be understood to be my farewell lecture, and
that I may contribute the thousand dollars to the Fulton Association."

It was a suggestion not to be discouraged, and the bills and notices,
"Mark Twain's Farewell Lecture," were published without delay.

I first heard of the matter one afternoon when General Grant had called.
Clemens came into the study where I was working; he often wandered in and
out-sometimes without a word, sometimes to relieve himself concerning
things in general. But this time he suddenly chilled me by saying:

"I'm going to deliver my farewell lecture, and I want you to appear on
the stage and help me."

I feebly expressed my pleasure at the prospect. Then he said:

"I am going to lecture on Fulton--on the story of his achievements. It
will be a burlesque, of course, and I am going to pretend to forget my
facts, and I want you to sit there in a chair. Now and then, when I seem
to get stuck, I'll lean over and pretend to ask you some thing, and I
want you to pretend to prompt me. You don't need to laugh, or to pretend
to be assisting in the performance any more than just that."
HANDBILL OF MARK TWAIN'S "FAREWELL LECTURE":

                      MARK TWAIN

             Will Deliver His Farewell Lecture
            ---------------------------------

                    CARNEGIE HALL

                   APRIL 19TH, 1906

                   FOR THE BENEFIT OF

             Robert Fulton Memorial Association

             MILITARY ORGANIZATION OLD GUARD IN
             FULL DRESS UNIFORM WILL BE PRESENT

                MUSIC BY OLD GUARD BAND

           TICKETS AND BOXES ON SALE AT CARNEGIE HALL
                  AND WALDORF-ASTORIA

               SEATS $1.50, $1.00, 50 CENTS

It was not likely that I should laugh. I had a sinking feeling in the
cardiac region which does not go with mirth. It did not for the moment
occur to me that the stage would be filled with eminent citizens and
vice-presidents, and I had a vision of myself sitting there alone in the
chair in that wide emptiness, with the chief performer directing
attention to me every other moment or so, for perhaps an hour. Let me
hurry on to say that it did not happen. I dare say he realized my
unfitness for the work, and the far greater appropriateness of conferring
the honor on General Grant, for in the end he gave him the assignment, to
my immeasurable relief.

It was a magnificent occasion. That spacious hall was hung with bunting,
the stage was banked and festooned with decoration of every sort. General
Grant, surrounded by his splendidly uniformed staff, sat in the
foreground, and behind was ranged a levee of foremost citizens of the
republic. The band played "America" as Mark Twain entered, and the great
audience rose and roared out its welcome. Some of those who knew him
best had hoped that on this occasion of his last lecture he would tell of
that first appearance in San Francisco, forty years before, when his
fortunes had hung in the balance. Perhaps he did not think of it, and no
one had had the courage to suggest it. At all events, he did a different
thing. He began by making a strong plea for the smitten city where the
flames were still raging, urging prompt help for those who had lost not
only their homes, but the last shred of their belongings and their means
of livelihood. Then followed his farcical history of Fulton, with
General Grant to make the responses, and presently he drifted into the
kind of lecture he had given so often in his long trip around the
world-retelling the tales which had won him fortune and friends in many
lands.

I do not know whether the entertainment was long or short. I think few
took account of time. To a letter of inquiry as to how long the
entertainment would last, he had replied:

    I cannot say for sure. It is my custom to keep on talking till I
    get the audience cowed. Sometimes it takes an hour and fifteen
    minutes, sometimes I can do it in an hour.

There was no indication at any time that the audience was cowed. The
house was packed, and the applause was so recurrent and continuous that
often his voice was lost to those in its remoter corners. It did not
matter. The tales were familiar to his hearers; merely to see Mark
Twain, in his old age and in that splendid setting, relating them was
enough. The audience realized that it was witnessing the close of a
heroic chapter in a unique career.




CCXLIII

AN INVESTMENT IN REDDING

Many of the less important happenings seem worth remembering now. Among
them was the sale, at the Nast auction, of the Mark Twain letters,
already mentioned. The fact that these letters brought higher prices
than any others offered in this sale was gratifying. Roosevelt, Grant,
and even Lincoln items were sold; but the Mark Twain letters led the
list. One of them sold for forty-three dollars, which was said to be the
highest price ever paid for the letter of a living man. It was the
letter written in 1877, quoted earlier in this work, in which Clemens
proposed the lecture tour to Nast. None of the Clemens-Nast letters
brought less than twenty-seven dollars, and some of them were very brief.
It was a new measurement of public sentiment. Clemens, when he heard of
it, said:

"I can't rise to General Grant's lofty place in the estimation of this
country; but it is a deep satisfaction to me to know that when it comes
to letter-writing he can't sit in the front seat along with me. That
forty-three-dollar letter ought to be worth as much as eighty-six dollars
after I'm dead."

A perpetual string of callers came to 21 Fifth Avenue, and it kept the
secretary busy explaining to most of them why Mark Twain could not
entertain their propositions, or listen to their complaints, or allow
them to express in person their views on public questions. He did see a
great many of what might be called the milder type persons who were
evidently sincere and not too heavily freighted with eloquence. Of these
there came one day a very gentle-spoken woman who had promised that she
would stay but a moment, and say no more than a few words, if only she
might sit face to face with the great man. It was in the morning hour
before the dictations, and he received her, quite correctly clad in his
beautiful dressing-robe and propped against his pillows. She kept her
contract to the letter; but when she rose to go she said, in a voice of
deepest reverence:

"May I kiss your hand?"

It was a delicate situation, and might easily have been made ludicrous.
Denial would have hurt her. As it was, he lifted his hand, a small,
exquisite hand it was, with the gentle dignity and poise of a king, and
she touched her lips to it with what was certainly adoration. Then, as
she went, she said:

"How God must love you!"

"I hope so," he said, softly, and he did not even smile; but after she
had gone he could not help saying, in a quaint, half-pathetic voice "I
guess she hasn't heard of our strained relations."

Sitting in that royal bed, clad in that rich fashion, he easily conveyed
the impression of royalty, and watching him through those marvelous
mornings he seemed never less than a king, as indeed he was--the king of
a realm without national boundaries. Some of those nearest to him fell
naturally into the habit of referring to him as "the King," and in time
the title crept out of the immediate household and was taken up by others
who loved him.

He had been more than once photographed in his bed; but it was by those
who had come and gone in a brief time, with little chance to study his
natural attitudes. I had acquired some knowledge of the camera, and I
obtained his permission to let me photograph him--a permission he seldom
denied to any one. We had no dictations on Saturdays, and I took the
pictures on one of these holiday mornings. He was so patient and
tractable, and so natural in every attitude, that it was a delight to
make the negatives. I was afraid he would become impatient, and made
fewer exposures than I might otherwise have done. I think he expected
very little from this amateur performance; but, by that happy element of
accident which plays so large a part in photographic success, the results
were better than I had hoped for. When I brought him the prints, a few
days later, he expressed pleasure and asked, "Why didn't you make more?"

Among them was one in an attitude which had grown so familiar to us, that
of leaning over to get his pipe from the smoking-table, and this seemed
to give him particular satisfaction. It being a holiday, he had not
donned his dressing-gown, which on the whole was well for the
photographic result. He spoke of other pictures that had been made of
him, especially denouncing one photograph, taken some twenty years before
by Sarony, a picture, as he said, of a gorilla in an overcoat, which the
papers and magazines had insisted on using ever since.

"Sarony was as enthusiastic about wild animals as he was about
photography, and when Du Chaillu brought over the first gorilla he sent
for me to look at it and see if our genealogy was straight. I said it
was, and Sarony was so excited that I had recognized the resemblance
between us, that he wanted to make it more complete, so he borrowed my
overcoat and put it on the gorilla and photographed it, and spread that
picture out over the world as mine. It turns up every week in some
newspaper or magazine; but it's not my favorite; I have tried to get it
suppressed."

Mark Twain made his first investment in Redding that spring. I had
located there the autumn before, and bought a vacant old house, with a
few acres of land, at what seemed a modest price. I was naturally
enthusiastic over the bargain, and the beauty and salubrity of the
situation. His interest was aroused, and when he learned that there was
a place adjoining, equally reasonable and perhaps even more attractive,
he suggested immediately that I buy it for him; and he wanted to write a
check then for the purchase price, for fear the opportunity might be
lost. I think there was then no purpose in his mind of building a
country home; but he foresaw that such a site, at no great distance from
New York, would become more valuable, and he had plenty of idle means.
The purchase was made without difficulty--a tract of seventy-five acres,
to which presently was added another tract of one hundred and ten acres,
and subsequently still other parcels of land, to complete the ownership
of the hilltop, for it was not long until he had conceived the idea of a
home. He was getting weary of the heavy pressure of city life. He
craved the retirement of solitude--one not too far from the maelstrom, so
that he might mingle with it now and then when he chose. The country
home would not be begun for another year yet, but the purpose of it was
already in the air. No one of the family had at this time seen the
location.




CCXLIV

TRAITS AND PHILOSOPHIES

I brought to the dictation one morning the Omar Khayyam card which
Twichell had written him so long ago; I had found it among the letters.
It furnished him a subject for that morning. He said:

    How strange there was a time when I had never heard of Omar Khayyam!
    When that card arrived I had already read the dozen quatrains or so
    in the morning paper, and was still steeped in the ecstasy of
    delight which they occasioned. No poem had ever given me so much
    pleasure before, and none has given me so much pleasure since. It
    is the only poem I have ever carried about with me. It has not been
    from under my hand all these years.

He had no general fondness for poetry; but many poems appealed to him,
and on occasion he liked to read them aloud. Once, during the dictation,
some verses were sent up by a young authoress who was waiting below for
his verdict. The lines pictured a phase of negro life, and she wished to
know if he thought them worthy of being read at some Tuskegee ceremony.
He did not fancy the idea of attending to the matter just then and said:

"Tell her she can read it. She has my permission. She may commit any
crime she wishes in my name."

It was urged that the verses were of high merit and the author a very
charming young lady.

"I'm very glad," he said, "and I am glad the Lord made her; I hope He
will make some more just like her. I don't always approve of His
handiwork, but in this case I do."

Then suddenly he added:

"Well, let me see it--no time like the present to get rid of these
things."

He took the manuscript and gave such a rendition of those really fine
verses as I believe could not be improved upon. We were held breathless
by his dramatic fervor and power. He returned a message to that young
aspirant that must have made her heart sing. When the dictation had
ended that day, I mentioned his dramatic gift.

"Yes," he said, "it is a gift, I suppose, like spelling and punctuation
and smoking. I seem to have inherited all those." Continuing, he spoke
of inherited traits in general.

"There was Paige," he said; "an ignorant man who could not make a machine
himself that would stand up, nor draw the working plans for one; but he
invented the eighteen thousand details of the most wonderful machine the
world has ever known. He watched over the expert draftsmen, and
superintended the building of that marvel. Pratt & Whitney built it; but
it was Paige's machine, nevertheless--the child of his marvelous gift. We
don't create any of our traits; we inherit all of them. They have come
down to us from what we impudently call the lower animals. Man is the
last expression, and combines every attribute of the animal tribes that
preceded him. One or two conspicuous traits distinguish each family of
animals from the others, and those one or two traits are found in every
member of each family, and are so prominent as to eternally and
unchangeably establish the character of that branch of the animal world.
In these cases we concede that the several temperaments constitute a law
of God, a command of God, and that whatsoever is done in obedience to
that law is blameless. Man, in his evolution, inherited the whole sum of
these numerous traits, and with each trait its share of the law of God.
He widely differs from them in this: that he possesses not a single
characteristic that is equally prominent in each member of his race. You
can say the housefly is limitlessly brave, and in saying it you describe
the whole house-fly tribe; you can say the rabbit is limitlessly timid,
and by the phrase you describe the whole rabbit tribe; you can say the
spider and the tiger are limitlessly murderous, and by that phrase you
describe the whole spider and tiger tribes; you can say the lamb is
limitlessly innocent and sweet and gentle, and by that phrase you
describe all the lambs. There is hardly a creature that you cannot
definitely and satisfactorily describe by one single trait--except man.
Men are not all cowards like the rabbit, nor all brave like the
house-fly, nor all sweet and innocent and gentle like the lamb, nor all
murderous like the spider and the tiger and the wasp, nor all thieves
like the fox and the bluejay, nor all vain like the peacock, nor all
frisky like the monkey. These things are all in him somewhere, and they
develop according to the proportion of each he received in his allotment:
We describe a man by his vicious traits and condemn him; or by his fine
traits and gifts, and praise him and accord him high merit for their
possession. It is comical. He did not invent these things; he did not
stock himself with them. God conferred them upon him in the first
instant of creation. They constitute the law, and he could not escape
obedience to the decree any more than Paige could have built the
type-setter he invented, or the Pratt & Whitney machinists could have
invented the machine which they built."

He liked to stride up and down, smoking as he talked, and generally his
words were slowly measured, with varying pauses between them. He halted
in the midst of his march, and without a suggestion of a smile added:

"What an amusing creature the human being is!"

It is absolutely impossible, of course, to preserve the atmosphere and
personality of such talks as this--the delicacies of his speech and
manner which carried an ineffable charm. It was difficult, indeed, to
record the substance. I did not know shorthand, and I should not have
taken notes at such times in any case; but I had trained myself in
similar work to preserve, with a fair degree of accuracy, the form of
phrase, and to some extent its wording, if I could get hold of pencil and
paper soon enough afterward. In time I acquired a sort of phonographic
faculty; though it always seemed to me that the bouquet, the subtleness
of speech, was lacking in the result. Sometimes, indeed, he would
dictate next morning the substance of these experimental reflections; or
I would find among his papers memoranda and fragmentary manuscripts where
he had set them down himself, either before or after he had tried them
verbally. In these cases I have not hesitated to amend my notes where it
seemed to lend reality to his utterance, though, even so, there is always
lacking--and must be--the wonder of his personality.




CCXLV

IN THE DAY'S ROUND

A number of dictations of this period were about Susy, her childhood, and
the biography she had written of him, most of which he included in his
chapters. More than once after such dictations he reproached himself
bitterly for the misfortunes of his house. He consoled himself a little
by saying that Susy had died at the right time, in the flower of youth
and happiness; but he blamed himself for the lack of those things which
might have made her childhood still more bright. Once he spoke of the
biography she had begun, and added:

"Oh, I wish I had paid more attention to that little girl's work! If I
had only encouraged her now and then, what it would have meant to her,
and what a beautiful thing it would have been to have had her story of me
told in her own way, year after year! If I had shown her that I cared,
she might have gone on with it. We are always too busy for our children;
we never give them the time nor the interest they deserve. We lavish
gifts upon them; but the most precious gift-our personal association,
which means so much to them-we give grudgingly and throw it away on those
who care for it so little." Then, after a moment of silence: "But we are
repaid for it at last. There comes a time when we want their company and
their interest. We want it more than anything in the world, and we are
likely to be starved for it, just as they were starved so long ago. There
is no appreciation of my books that is so precious to me as appreciation
from my children. Theirs is the praise we want, and the praise we are
least likely to get."

His moods of remorse seemed to overwhelm him at times. He spoke of
Henry's death and little Langdon's, and charged himself with both. He
declared that for years he had filled Mrs. Clemens's life with
privations, that the sorrow of Susy's death had hastened her own end. How
darkly he painted it! One saw the jester, who for forty years had been
making the world laugh, performing always before a background of tragedy.

But such moods were evanescent. He was oftener gay than somber. One
morning before we settled down to work he related with apparent joy how
he had made a failure of story-telling at a party the night before. An
artist had told him a yarn, he said, which he had considered the most
amusing thing in the world. But he had not been satisfied with it, and
had attempted to improve on it at the party. He had told it with what he
considered the nicest elaboration of detail and artistic effect, and when
he had concluded and expected applause, only a sickening silence had
followed.

"A crowd like that can make a good deal of silence when they combine," he
said, "and it probably lasted as long as ten seconds, because it seemed
an hour and a half. Then a lady said, with evident feeling, 'Lord, how
pathetic!' For a moment I was stupefied. Then the fountains of my great
deeps were broken up, and I rained laughter for forty days and forty
nights during as much as three minutes. By that time I realized it was
my fault. I had overdone the thing. I started in to deceive them with
elaborate burlesque pathos, in order to magnify the humorous explosion at
the end; but I had constructed such a fog of pathos that when I got to
the humor you couldn't find it."

He was likely to begin the morning with some such incident which perhaps
he did not think worth while to include in his dictations, and sometimes
he interrupted his dictations to relate something aside, or to outline
some plan or scheme which his thought had suggested.

Once, when he was telling of a magazine he had proposed to start, the
Back Number, which was, to contain reprints of exciting events from
history--newspaper gleanings--eye-witness narrations, which he said never
lost their freshness of interest--he suddenly interrupted himself to
propose that we start such a magazine in the near future--he to be its
publisher and I its editor. I think I assented, and the dictation
proceeded, but the scheme disappeared permanently.

He usually had a number of clippings or slips among the many books on the
bed beside him from which he proposed to dictate each day, but he seldom
could find the one most needed. Once, after a feverishly impatient
search for a few moments, he invited Miss Hobby to leave the room
temporarily, so, as he said, that he might swear. He got up and we began
to explore the bed, his profanity increasing amazingly with each moment.
It was an enormously large bed, and he began to disparage the size of it.

"One could lose a dog in this bed," he declared.

Finally I suggested that he turn over the clipping which he had in his
hand. He did so, and it proved to be the one he wanted. Its discovery
was followed by a period of explosions, only half suppressed as to
volume. Then he said:

"There ought to be a room in this house to swear in. It's dangerous to
have to repress an emotion like that."

A moment later, when Miss Hobby returned, he was serene and happy again.
He was usually gentle during the dictations, and patient with those
around him--remarkably so, I thought, as a rule. But there were moments
that involved risk. He had requested me to interrupt his dictation at
any time that I found him repeating or contradicting himself, or
misstating some fact known to me. At first I hesitated to do this, and
cautiously mentioned the matter when he had finished. Then he was likely
to say:

"Why didn't you stop me? Why did you let me go on making a jackass of
myself when you could have saved me?"

So then I used to take the risk of getting struck by lightning, and
nearly always stopped him at the time. But if it happened that I upset
his thought the thunderbolt was apt to fly. He would say:

"Now you've knocked everything out of my head."

Then, of course, I would apologize and say I was sorry, which would
rectify matters, though half an hour later it might happen again. I
became lightning-proof at last; also I learned better to select the
psychological moment for the correction.

There was a humorous complexion to the dictations which perhaps I have
not conveyed to the reader at all; humor was his natural breath and life,
and was not wholly absent in his most somber intervals.

But poetry was there as well. His presence was full of it: the grandeur
of his figure; the grace of his movement; the music of his measured
speech. Sometimes there were long pauses when he was wandering in
distant valleys of thought and did not speak at all. At such times he
had a habit of folding and refolding the sleeve of his dressing-gown
around his wrist, regarding it intently, as it seemed. His hands were so
fair and shapely; the palms and finger-tips as pink as those of a child.
Then when he spoke he was likely to fling back his great, white mane, his
eyes half closed yet showing a gleam of fire between the lids, his
clenched fist lifted, or his index-finger pointing, to give force and
meaning to his words. I cannot recall the picture too often, or remind
myself too frequently how precious it was to be there, and to see him and
to hear him. I do not know why I have not said before that he smoked
continually during these dictations--probably as an aid to thought
--though he smoked at most other times, for that matter. His cigars were
of that delicious fragrance which characterizes domestic tobacco; but I
had learned early to take refuge in another brand when he offered me one.
They were black and strong and inexpensive, and it was only his early
training in the printing-office and on the river that had seasoned him to
tobacco of that temper. Rich, admiring friends used to send him
quantities of expensive imported cigars; but he seldom touched them, and
they crumbled away or were smoked by visitors. Once, to a minister who
proposed to send him something very special, he wrote:

    I should accept your hospitable offer at once but for the fact that
    I couldn't do it and remain honest. That is to say, if I allowed
    you to send me what you believed to be good cigars it would
    distinctly mean that I meant to smoke them, whereas I should do
    nothing of the kind. I know a good cigar better than you do, for I
    have had 60 years' experience.

    No, that is not what I mean; I mean I know a bad cigar better than
    anybody else. I judge by the price only; if it costs above 5 cents
    I know it to be either foreign or half foreign & unsmokable--by me.
    I have many boxes of Havana cigars, of all prices from 20 cents
    apiece up to $1.66 apiece; I bought none of them, they were all
    presents; they are an accumulation of several years. I have never
    smoked one of them & never shall; I work them off on the visitor.
    You shall have a chance when you come.

He smoked a pipe a good deal, and he preferred it to be old and violent;
and once, when he had bought a new, expensive English brier-root he
regarded it doubtfully for a time, and then handed it over to me, saying:

"I'd like to have you smoke that a year or two, and when it gets so you
can't stand it, maybe it will suit me."

I am happy to add that subsequently he presented me with the pipe
altogether, for it apparently never seemed to get qualified for his
taste, perhaps because the tobacco used was too mild.

One day, after the dictation, word was brought up that a newspaper man
was down-stairs who wished to see him concerning a report that Chauncey
Depew was to resign his Senatorial seat and Mark Twain was to be
nominated in his place. The fancy of this appealed to him, and the
reporter was allowed to come up. He was a young man, and seemed rather
nervous, and did not wish to state where the report had originated. His
chief anxiety was apparently to have Mark Twain's comment on the matter.
Clemens said very little at the time. He did not wish to be a Senator;
he was too busy just now dictating biography, and added that he didn't
think he would care for the job, anyway. When the reporter was gone,
however, certain humorous possibilities developed. The Senatorship would
be a stepping-stone to the Presidency, and with the combination of
humorist, socialist, and peace-patriot in the Presidential chair the
nation could expect an interesting time. Nothing further came of the
matter. There was no such report. The young newspaper man had invented
the whole idea to get a "story" out of Mark Twain. The item as printed
next day invited a good deal of comment, and Collier's Weekly made it a
text for an editorial on his mental vigor and general fitness for the
place.

If it happened that he had no particular engagement for the afternoon, he
liked to walk out, especially when the pleasant weather came. Sometimes
we walked up Fifth Avenue, and I must admit that for a good while I could
not get rid of a feeling of self-consciousness, for most people turned to
look, though I was fully aware that I did not in the least come into
their scope of vision. They saw only Mark Twain. The feeling was a more
comfortably one at The Players, where we sometimes went for luncheon, for
the acquaintance there and the democracy of that institution had a
tendency to eliminate contrasts and incongruities. We sat at the Round
Table among those good fellows who were always so glad to welcome him.

Once we went to the "Music Master," that tender play of Charles Klein's,
given by that matchless interpreter, David Warfield. Clemens was
fascinated, and said more than once:

"It is as permanent as 'Rip Van Winkle.' Warfield, like Jefferson, can go
on playing it all his life."

We went behind when it was over, and I could see that Warfield glowed
with Mark Twain's unstinted approval. Later, when I saw him at The
Players, he declared that no former compliment had ever made him so
happy.

There were some billiard games going on between the champions Hoppe and
Sutton, at the Madison Square Garden, and Clemens, with his eager
fondness for the sport, was anxious to attend them. He did not like to
go anywhere alone, and one evening he invited me to accompany him. Just
as he stepped into the auditorium there was a vigorous round of applause.
The players stopped, somewhat puzzled, for no especially brilliant shot
had been made. Then they caught the figure of Mark Twain and realized
that the game, for the moment, was not the chief attraction. The
audience applauded again, and waved their handkerchiefs. Such a tribute
is not often paid to a private citizen.

Clemens had a great admiration for the young champion Hoppe, which the
billiardist's extreme youth and brilliancy invited, and he watched his
game with intense eagerness. When it was over the referee said a few
words and invited Mark Twain to speak. He rose and told them a
story-probably invented on the instant. He said:

    "Once in Nevada I dropped into a billiard-room casually, and picked
    up a cue and began to knock the balls around. The proprietor, who
    was a red-haired man, with such hair as I have never seen anywhere
    except on a torch, asked me if I would like to play. I said, 'Yes.'
    He said, 'Knock the balls around a little and let me see how you can
    shoot.' So I knocked them around, and thought I was doing pretty
    well, when he said, 'That's all right; I'll play you left-handed.'
    It hurt my pride, but I played him. We banked for the shot and he
    won it. Then he commenced to play, and I commenced to chalk my cue
    to get ready to play, and he went on playing, and I went on chalking
    my cue; and he played and I chalked all through that game. When he
    had run his string out I said:

    "That's wonderful! perfectly wonderful! If you can play that way
    left-handed what could you do right-handed?'

    "'Couldn't do anything,' he said. 'I'm a left-handed man.'"

How it delighted them! I think it was the last speech of any sort he
made that season. A week or two later he went to Dublin, New Hampshire,
for the summer--this time to the Upton House, which had been engaged a
year before, the Copley Greene place being now occupied by its owner.




CCXLVI

THE SECOND SUMMER AT DUBLIN

The Upton House stands on the edge of a beautiful beech forest some two
or three miles from Dublin, just under Monadnock--a good way up the
slope. It is a handsome, roomy frame-house, and had a long colonnaded
veranda overlooking one of the most beautiful landscape visions on the
planet: lake, forest, hill, and a far range of blue mountains--all the
handiwork of God is there. I had seen these things in paintings, but I
had not dreamed that such a view really existed. The immediate
foreground was a grassy slope, with ancient, blooming apple-trees; and
just at the right hand Monadnock rose, superb and lofty, sloping down to
the panorama below that stretched away, taking on an ever deeper blue,
until it reached that remote range on which the sky rested and the world
seemed to end. It was a masterpiece of the Greater Mind, and of the
highest order, perhaps, for it had in it nothing of the touch of man. A
church spire glinted here and there, but there was never a bit of field,
or stone wall, or cultivated land. It was lonely; it was unfriendly; it
cared nothing whatever for humankind; it was as if God, after creating
all the world, had wrought His masterwork here, and had been so engrossed
with the beauty of it that He had forgotten to give it a soul. In a
sense this was true, for He had not made the place suitable for the
habitation of men. It lacked the human touch; the human interest, and I
could never quite believe in its reality.

The time of arrival heightened this first impression. It was mid-May and
the lilacs were prodigally in bloom; but the bright sunlight was chill
and unnatural, and there was a west wind that laid the grass flat and
moaned through the house, and continued as steadily as if it must never
stop from year's end to year's end. It seemed a spectral land, a place
of supernatural beauty. Warm, still, languorous days would come, but
that first feeling of unreality would remain permanent. I believe Jean
Clemens was the only one who ever really loved the place. Something
about it appealed to her elemental side and blended with her melancholy
moods. She dressed always in white, and she was tall and pale and
classically beautiful, and she was often silent, like a spirit. She had
a little retreat for herself farther up the mountain-side, and spent most
of her days there wood-carving, which was her chief diversion.

Clara Clemens did not come to the place at all. She was not yet strong,
and went to Norfolk, Connecticut, where she could still be in quiet
retirement and have her physician's care. Miss Hobby came, and on the
21st of May the dictations were resumed. We began in his bedroom, as
before, but the feeling there was depressing--the absence of the great
carved bed and other furnishings, which had been so much a part of the
picture, was felt by all of us. Nothing of the old luxury and richness
was there. It was a summer-furnished place, handsome but with the
customary bareness. At the end of this first session he dressed in his
snowy flannels, which he had adopted in the place of linen for summer
wear, and we descended to the veranda and looked out over that wide,
wonderful expanse of scenery.

"I think I shall like it," he said, "when I get acquainted with it, and
get it classified and labeled, and I think we'll do our dictating out
here hereafter. It ought to be an inspiring place."

So the dictations were transferred to the long veranda, and he was
generally ready for them, a white figure pacing up and down before that
panoramic background. During the earlier, cooler weeks he usually
continued walking with measured step during the dictations, pausing now
and then to look across the far-lying horizon. When it stormed we moved
into the great living-room, where at one end there was a fireplace with
blazing logs, and at the other the orchestrelle, which had once more been
freighted up those mountain heights for the comfort of its harmonies.
Sometimes, when the wind and rain were beating outside, and he was
striding up and down the long room within, with only the blurred shapes
of mountains and trees outlined through the trailing rain, the feeling of
the unreality became so strong that it was hard to believe that somewhere
down below, beyond the rain and the woods, there was a literal world--a
commonplace world, where the ordinary things of life were going on in the
usual way. When the dictation finished early, there would be music--the
music that he loved most--Beethoven's symphonies, or the Schubert
impromptu, or the sonata by Chopin.--[Schubert, Op. 142, No. 2; Chopin,
Op. 37, No. 2.]--It is easy to understand that this carried one a remove
farther from the customary things of life. It was a setting far out of
the usual, though it became that unique white figure and his occupation.
In my notes, made from day to day, I find that I have set down more than
once an impression of the curious unreality of the place and its
surroundings, which would show that it was not a mere passing fancy.

I had lodgings in the village, and drove out mornings for the dictations,
but often came out again afoot on pleasant afternoons; for he was not
much occupied with social matters, and there was opportunity for quiet,
informing interviews. There was a woods path to the Upton place, and it
was a walk through a fairyland. A part of the way was through such a
growth of beech timber as I have never seen elsewhere: tall, straight,
mottled trees with an undergrowth of laurel, the sunlight sifting
through; one found it easy to expect there storybook ladies, wearing
crowns and green mantles, riding on white palfreys. Then came a more
open way, an abandoned grass-grown road full of sunlight and perfume; and
this led to a dim, religious place, a natural cathedral, where the
columns were stately pine-trees branching and meeting at the top: a
veritable temple in which it always seemed that music was about to play.
You crossed a brook and climbed a little hill, and pushed through a hedge
into a place more open, and the house stood there among the trees.

The days drifted along, one a good deal like another, except, as the
summer deepened, the weather became warmer, the foliage changed, a drowsy
haze gathered along the valleys and on the mountain-side. He sat more
often now in a large rocking-chair, and generally seemed to be looking
through half-dosed lids toward the Monadnock heights, that were always
changing in aspect-in color and in form--as cloud shapes drifted by or
gathered in those lofty hollows. White and yellow butterflies hovered
over the grass, and there were some curious, large black ants--the
largest I have ever seen and quite harmless--that would slip in and out
of the cracks on the veranda floor, wholly undisturbed by us. Now and
then a light flutter of wind would come murmuring up from the trees
below, and when the apple-bloom was falling there would be a whirl of
white and pink petals that seemed a cloud of smaller butterflies.

On June 1st I find in my note-book this entry:

    Warm and pleasant. The dictation about Grant continues; a great
    privilege to hear this foremost man, of letters review his
    associations with that foremost man of arms. He remained seated
    today, dressed in white as usual, a large yellow pansy in his
    buttonhole, his white hair ruffled by the breeze. He wears his worn
    morocco slippers with black hose; sits in the rocker, smoking and
    looking out over the hazy hills, delivering his sentences with a
    measured accuracy that seldom calls for change. He is speaking just
    now of a Grant dinner which he attended where Depew spoke. One is
    impressed with the thought that we are looking at and listening to
    the war-worn veteran of a thousand dinners--the honored guest of
    many; an honored figure of all. Earlier, when he had been
    chastising some old offender, he added, "However, he's dead, and I
    forgive him." Then, after a moment's reflection, "No; strike that
    last sentence out." When we laughed, he added, "We can't forgive
    him yet."

A few days later--it was June 4th, the day before the second anniversary
of the death of Mrs. Clemens--we found him at first in excellent humor
from the long dictation of the day before. Then his mind reverted to the
tragedy of the season, and he began trying to tell of it. It was hard
work. He walked back and forth in the soft sunlight, saying almost
nothing. He gave it up at last, remarking, "We will not work to-morrow."
So we went away.

He did not dictate on the 5th or the 6th, but on the 7th he resumed the
story of Mrs. Clemens's last days at Florence. The weather had changed:
the sunlight and warmth had all gone; a chill, penetrating mist was on
the mountains; Monadnock was blotted out. We expected him to go to the
fire, but evidently he could not bear being shut in with that subject in
his mind. A black cape was brought out and thrown about his shoulders,
which seemed to fit exactly into the somberness of the picture. For two
hours or more we sat there in the gloom and chill, while he paced up and
down, detailing as graphically as might be that final chapter in the life
of the woman he had loved.

It is hardly necessary to say that beyond the dictation Clemens did very
little literary work during these months. He had brought his "manuscript
trunk" as usual, thinking, perhaps, to finish the "microbe" story and
other of the uncompleted things; but the dictation gave him sufficient
mental exercise, and he did no more than look over his "stock in trade,"
as he called it, and incorporate a few of the finished manuscripts into
"autobiography." Among these were the notes of his trip down the Rhone,
made in 1891, and the old Stormfield story, which he had been treasuring
and suppressing so long. He wrote Howells in June:

    The dictating goes lazily and pleasantly on. With intervals. I
    find that I've been at it, off & on, nearly two hours for 155 days
    since January 9. To be exact, I've dictated 75 hours in 80 days &
    loafed 75 days. I've added 60,000 words in the month that I've been
    here; which indicates that I've dictated during 20 days of that
    time--40 hours, at an average of 1,500 words an hour. It's a
    plenty, & I'm satisfied.

    There's a good deal of "fat." I've dictated (from January 9)
    210,000 words, & the "fat" adds about 50,000 more.

    The "fat" is old pigeonholed things of the years gone by which I or
    editors didn't das't to print. For instance, I am dumping in the
    little old book which I read to you in Hartford about 30 years ago &
    which you said "publish & ask Dean Stanley to furnish an
    introduction; he'll do it" (Captain Stormfield's Visit to Heaven).
    It reads quite to suit me without altering a word now that it isn't
    to see print until I am dead.

    To-morrow I mean to dictate a chapter which will get my heirs &
    assigns burned alive if they venture to print it this side of A.D.
    2006--which I judge they won't. There'll be lots of such chapters
    if I live 3 or 4 years longer. The edition of A.D. 2006 will make a
    stir when it comes out. I shall be hovering around taking notice,
    along with other dead pals. You are invited.

The chapter which was to invite death at the stake for his successors was
naturally one of religious heresies a violent attack on the orthodox,
scriptural God, but really an expression of the highest reverence for the
God which, as he said, had created the earth and sky and the music of the
constellations. Mark Twain once expressed himself concerning reverence
and the lack of it:

"I was never consciously and purposely irreverent in my life, yet one
person or another is always charging me with a lack of reverence.
Reverence for what--for whom? Who is to decide what ought to command my
reverence--my neighbor or I? I think I ought to do the electing myself.
The Mohammedan reveres Mohammed--it is his privilege; the Christian
doesn't--apparently that is his privilege; the account is square enough.
They haven't any right to complain of the other, yet they do complain of
each other, and that is where the unfairness comes in. Each says that
the other is irreverent, and both are mistaken, for manifestly you can't
have reverence for a thing that doesn't command it. If you could do that
you could digest what you haven't eaten, and do other miracles and get a
reputation."

He was not reading many books at this time--he was inclined rather to be
lazy, as he said, and to loaf during the afternoons; but I remember that
he read aloud 'After the Wedding' and 'The Mother'--those two beautiful
word-pictures by Howells--which he declared sounded the depths of
humanity with a deep-sea lead. Also he read a book by William Allen
White, 'In Our Town', a collection of tales that he found most admirable.
I think he took the trouble to send White a personal, hand-written letter
concerning them, although, with the habit of dictation, he had begun, as
he said, to "loathe the use of the pen."

There were usually some sort of mild social affairs going on in the
neighborhood, luncheons and afternoon gatherings like those of the
previous year, though he seems to have attended fewer of them, for he did
not often leave the house. Once, at least, he assisted in an afternoon
entertainment at the Dublin Club, where he introduced his invention of
the art of making an impromptu speech, and was assisted in its
demonstration by George de Forest Brush and Joseph Lindon Smith, to the
very great amusement of a crowd of summer visitors. The "art" consisted
mainly of having on hand a few reliable anecdotes and a set formula which
would lead directly to them from any given subject.

Twice or more he collected the children of the neighborhood for charades
and rehearsed them, and took part in the performance, as in the Hartford
days. Sometimes he drove out or took an extended walk. But these things
were seldom.

Now and then during the summer he made a trip to New York of a
semi-business nature, usually going by the way of Fairhaven, where he
would visit for a few days, journeying the rest of the way in Mr.
Rogers's yacht. Once they made a cruise of considerable length to Bar
Harbor and elsewhere. Here is an amusing letter which he wrote to Mrs.
Rogers after such a visit:

    DEAR MRS. ROGERS,--In packing my things in your house yesterday
    morning I inadvertently put in some articles that was laying around,
    I thinking about theology & not noticing, the way this family does
    in similar circumstances like these. Two books, Mr. Rogers' brown
    slippers, & a ham. I thought it was ourn, it looks like one we used
    to have. I am very sorry it happened, but it sha'n't occur again &
    don't you worry. He will temper the wind to the shorn lamb & I will
    send some of the things back anyway if there is some that won't
    keep.




CCXLVI

DUBLIN, CONTINUED

In time Mark Twain became very lonely in Dublin. After the brilliant
winter the contrast was too great. He was not yet ready for exile. In
one of his dictations he said:

    The skies are enchantingly blue. The world is a dazzle of sunshine.
    Monadnock is closer to us than usual by several hundred yards. The
    vast extent of spreading valley is intensely green--the lakes as
    intensely blue. And there is a new horizon, a remoter one than we
    have known before, for beyond the mighty half-circle of hazy
    mountains that form the usual frame of the picture rise certain
    shadowy great domes that are unfamiliar to our eyes . . . .

    But there is a defect--only one, but it is a defect which almost
    entitles it to be spelled with a capital D. This is the defect of
    loneliness. We have not a single neighbor who is a neighbor.
    Nobody lives within two miles of us except Franklin MacVeagh, and he
    is the farthest off of any, because he is in Europe . . . .

    I feel for Adam and Eve now, for I know how it was with them. I am
    existing, broken-hearted, in a Garden of Eden.... The Garden of
    Eden I now know was an unendurable solitude. I know that the advent
    of the serpent was a welcome change--anything for society . . . .

    I never rose to the full appreciation of the utter solitude of this
    place until a symbol of it--a compact and visible allegory of it
    --furnished me the lacking lift three days ago. I was standing alone
    on this veranda, in the late afternoon, mourning over the stillness,
    the far-spreading, beautiful desolation, and the absence of visible
    life, when a couple of shapely and graceful deer came sauntering
    across the grounds and stopped, and at their leisure impudently
    looked me over, as if they had an idea of buying me as bric-a-brac.
    Then they seemed to conclude that they could do better for less
    money elsewhere, and they sauntered indolently away and disappeared
    among the trees. It sized up this solitude. It is so complete, so
    perfect, that even the wild animals are satisfied with it. Those
    dainty creatures were not in the least degree afraid of me.

This was no more than a mood--though real enough while it lasted--somber,
and in its way regal. It was the loneliness of a king--King Lear. Yet
he returned gladly enough to solitude after each absence.

It was just before one of his departures that I made another set of
pictures of him, this time on the colonnaded veranda, where his figure
had become so familiar. He had determined to have his hair cut when he
reached New York, and I was anxious to get the pictures before this
happened. When the proofs came seven of them--he arranged them as a
series to illustrate what he called "The Progress of a Moral Purpose." He
ordered a number of sets of this series, and he wrote a legend on each
photograph, numbering them from 1 to 7, laying each set in a sheet of
letter-paper which formed a sort of wrapper, on which was written:

    This series of q photographs registers with scientific precision,
    stage by stage, the progress of a moral purpose through the
    mind of the human race's Oldest Friend.        S. L. C.

He added a personal inscription, and sent one to each of his more
intimate friends. One of the pictures amused him more than the others,
because during the exposure a little kitten, unnoticed, had walked into
it, and paused near his foot. He had never outgrown his love for cats,
and he had rented this kitten and two others for the summer from a
neighbor. He didn't wish to own them, he said, for then he would have to
leave them behind uncared for, so he preferred to rent them and pay
sufficiently to insure their subsequent care. These kittens he called
Sackcloth and Ashes--Ashes being the joint name of the two that looked
exactly alike, and so did not need distinctive titles. Their gambols
always amused him. He would stop any time in the midst of dictation to
enjoy them. Once, as he was about to enter the screen-door that led into
the hall, two of the kittens ran up in front of him and stood waiting.
With grave politeness he opened the door, made a low bow, and stepped
back and said: "Walk in, gentlemen. I always give precedence to
royalty." And the kittens marched in, tails in air. All summer long
they played up and down the wide veranda, or chased grasshoppers and
butterflies down the clover slope. It was a never-ending amusement to
him to see them jump into the air after some insect, miss it and tumble
back, and afterward jump up, with a surprised expression and a look of
disappointment and disgust. I remember once, when he was walking up and
down discussing some very serious subject--and one of the kittens was
lying on the veranda asleep--a butterfly came drifting along three feet
or so above the floor. The kitten must have got a glimpse of the insect
out of the corner of its eye, and perhaps did not altogether realize its
action. At all events, it suddenly shot straight up into the air,
exactly like a bounding rubber ball, missed the butterfly, fell back on
the porch floor with considerable force and with much surprise. Then it
sprang to its feet, and, after spitting furiously once or twice, bounded
away. Clemens had seen the performance, and it completely took his
subject out of his mind. He laughed extravagantly, and evidently cared
more for that moment's entertainment than for many philosophies.

In that remote solitude there was one important advantage--there was no
procession of human beings with axes to grind, and few curious callers.
Occasionally an automobile would find its way out there and make a
circuit of the drive, but this happened too seldom to annoy him. Even
newspaper men rarely made the long trip from Boston or New York to secure
his opinions, and when they came it was by permission and appointment.
Newspaper telegrams arrived now and then, asking for a sentiment on some
public condition or event, and these he generally answered willingly
enough. When the British Premier, Campbell-Bannerman, celebrated his
seventieth birthday, the London Tribune and the New York Herald requested
a tribute. He furnished it, for Bannerman was a very old friend. He had
known him first at Marienbad in '91, and in Vienna in '98, in daily
intercourse, when they had lived at the same hotel. His tribute ran:

To HIS EXCELLENCY THE BRITISH PREMIER,--Congratulations, not condolences.
Before seventy we are merely respected, at best, and we have to behave
all the time, or we lose that asset; but after seventy we are respected,
esteemed, admired, revered, and don't have to behave unless we want to.
When I first knew you, Honored Sir, one of us was hardly even respected.
                                   MARK TWAIN.

He had some misgivings concerning the telegram after it had gone, but he
did not recall it.

Clemens became the victim of a very clever hoax that summer. One day a
friend gave him two examples of the most deliciously illiterate letters,
supposed to have been written by a woman who had contributed certain
articles of clothing to the San Francisco sufferers, and later wished to
recall them because of the protests of her household. He was so sure
that the letters were genuine that he included them in his dictations,
after reading them aloud with great effect. To tell the truth, they did
seem the least bit too well done, too literary in their illiteracy; but
his natural optimism refused to admit of any suspicion, and a little
later he incorporated one of the Jennie Allen letters in a speech which
he made at a Press Club dinner in New York on the subject of simplified
spelling--offering it as an example of language with phonetic brevity
exercising its supreme function, the direct conveyance of ideas. The
letters, in the end, proved to be the clever work of Miss Grace Donworth,
who has since published them serially and in book form. Clemens was not
at all offended or disturbed by the exposure. He even agreed to aid the
young author in securing a publisher, and wrote to Miss Stockbridge,
through whom he had originally received the documents:

    DEAR MISS STOCKBRIDGE (if she really exists),

    257 Benefit Street (if there is any such place):

    Yes, I should like a copy of that other letter. This whole fake is
    delightful; & I tremble with fear that you are a fake yourself &
    that I am your guileless prey. (But never mind, it isn't any
    matter.)

    Now as to publication----

He set forth his views and promised his assistance when enough of the
letters should be completed.

Clemens allowed his name to be included with the list of spelling
reformers, but he never employed any of the reforms in his letters or
writing. His interest was mainly theoretical, and when he wrote or spoke
on the subject his remarks were not likely to be testimonials in its
favor. His own theory was that the alphabet needed reform, first of all,
so that each letter or character should have one sound, and one sound
only; and he offered as a solution of this an adaptation of shorthand. He
wrote and dictated in favor of this idea to the end of his life. Once he
said:

"Our alphabet is pure insanity. It can hardly spell any large word in
the English language with any degree of certainty. Its sillinesses are
quite beyond enumeration. English orthography may need reforming and
simplifying, but the English alphabet needs it a good many times as
much."

He would naturally favor simplicity in anything. I remember him reading,
as an example of beautiful English, The Death of King Arthur, by Sir
Thomas Malory, and his verdict:

"That is one of the most beautiful things ever written in English, and
written when we had no vocabulary."

"A vocabulary, then, is sometimes a handicap?"

"It is indeed."

Still I think it was never a handicap with him, but rather the plumage of
flight. Sometimes, when just the right word did not come, he would turn
his head a little at different angles, as if looking about him for the
precise term. He would find it directly, and it was invariably the word
needed. Most writers employ, now and again, phrases that do not sharply
present the idea--that blur the picture like a poor opera-glass. Mark
Twain's English always focused exactly.




CCXLVIII

"WHAT IS MAN?" AND THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY

Clemens decided to publish anonymously, or, rather, to print privately,
the Gospel, which he had written in Vienna some eight years before and
added to from time to time. He arranged with Frank Doubleday to take
charge of the matter, and the De Vinne Press was engaged to do the work.
The book was copyrighted in the name of J. W. Bothwell, the
superintendent of the De Vinne company, and two hundred and fifty
numbered copies were printed on hand-made paper, to be gradually
distributed to intimate friends.--[In an introductory word (dated
February, 1905) the author states that the studies for these papers had
been made twenty-five or twenty-seven years before. He probably referred
to the Monday Evening Club essay, "What Is Happiness?" (February, 1883).
See chap. cxli.]--A number of the books were sent to newspaper
reviewers, and so effectually had he concealed the personality of his
work that no critic seems to have suspected the book's authorship. It
was not over-favorably received. It was generally characterized as a
clever, and even brilliant, expose of philosophies which were no longer
startlingly new. The supremacy of self-interest and "man the
irresponsible machine" are the main features of 'What Is Man' and both of
these and all the rest are comprehended in his wider and more absolute
doctrine of that inevitable life-sequence which began with the first
created spark. There can be no training of the ideals, "upward and still
upward," no selfishness and unselfishness, no atom of voluntary effort
within the boundaries of that conclusion. Once admitting the postulate,
that existence is merely a sequence of cause and effect beginning with
the primal atom, and we have a theory that must stand or fall as a whole.
We cannot say that man is a creature of circumstance and then leave him
free to select his circumstance, even in the minutest fractional degree.
It was selected for him with his disposition; in that first instant of
created life. Clemens himself repeatedly emphasized this doctrine, and
once, when it was suggested to him that it seemed to "surround every
thing, like the sky," he answered:

"Yes, like the sky; you can't break through anywhere."

Colonel Harvey came to Dublin that summer and persuaded Clemens to let
him print some selections from the dictations in the new volume of the
North American Review, which he proposed to issue fortnightly. The
matter was discussed a good deal, and it was believed that one hundred
thousand words could be selected which would be usable forthwith, as well
as in that long-deferred period for which it was planned. Colonel Harvey
agreed to take a copy of the dictated matter and make the selections
himself, and this plan was carried out. It may be said that most of the
chapters were delightful enough; though, had it been possible to edit
them with the more positive documents as a guide, certain complications
might have been avoided. It does not matter now, and it was not a matter
of very wide import then.

The payment of these chapters netted Clemens thirty thousand dollars--a
comfortable sum, which he promptly proposed to spend in building on the
property at Redding. He engaged John Mead Howells to prepare some
preliminary plans.

Clara Clemens, at Norfolk, was written to of the matter.

A little later I joined her in Redding, and she was the first of the
family to see that beautiful hilltop. She was well pleased with the
situation, and that day selected the spot where the house should stand.
Clemens wrote Howells that he proposed to call it "Autobiography House,"
as it was to be built out of the Review money, and he said:

"If you will build on my farm and live there it will set Mrs. Howells's
health up for sure. Come and I'll sell you the site for twenty-five
dollars. John will tell you it is a choice place."

The unusual summer was near its close. In my notebook, under date of
September 16th, appears this entry:

    Windy in valleys but not cold. This veranda is protected. It is
    peaceful here and perfect, but we are at the summer's end.

This is my last entry, and the dictations must have ceased a few days
later. I do not remember the date of the return to New York, and
apparently I made no record of it; but I do not think it could have been
later than the 20th. It had been four months since the day of arrival, a
long, marvelous summer such as I would hardly know again. When I think
of that time I shall always hear the ceaseless slippered, shuffling walk,
and see the white figure with its rocking, rolling movement passing up
and down the long gallery, with that preternaturally beautiful landscape
behind, and I shall hear his deliberate speech--always deliberate, save
at rare intervals; always impressive, whatever the subject might be;
whether recalling some old absurdity of youth, or denouncing orthodox
creeds, or detailing the shortcomings of human-kind.




CCXLIX

BILLIARDS

The return to New York marked the beginning of a new era in my relations
with Mark Twain. I have not meant to convey up to this time that there
was between us anything resembling a personal friendship. Our relations
were friendly, certainly, but they were relations of convenience and
mainly of a business, or at least of a literary nature. He was
twenty-six years my senior, and the discrepancy of experience and
attainments was not measurable. With such conditions friendship must be
a deliberate growth; something there must be to bridge the dividing gulf.
Truth requires the confession that, in this case, the bridge took a very
solid, material form, it being, in fact, nothing less than a
billiard-table.--[Clemens had been without a billiard-table since 1891,
the old one having been disposed of on the departure from Hartford.]

It was a present from Mrs. Henry H. Rogers, and had been intended for
his Christmas; but when he heard of it he could not wait, and suggested
delicately that if he had it "right now" he could begin using it sooner.
So he went one day with Mr. Rogers to the Balke-Collender Company, and
they selected a handsome combination table suitable to all games--the
best that money could buy. He was greatly excited over the prospect, and
his former bedroom was carefully measured, to be certain that it was
large enough for billiard purposes. Then his bed was moved into the
study, and the bookcases and certain appropriate pictures were placed and
hung in the billiard-room to give it the proper feeling.

The billiard-table arrived and was put in place, the brilliant green
cloth in contrast with the rich red wallpaper and the bookbindings and
pictures making the room wonderfully handsome and inviting.

Meantime, Clemens, with one of his sudden impulses, had conceived the
notion of spending the winter in Egypt, on the Nile. He had gone so far,
within a few hours after the idea developed, as to plan the time of his
departure, and to partially engage a traveling secretary, so that he
might continue his dictations. He was quite full of the idea just at the
moment when the billiard table was being installed. He had sent for a
book on the subject--the letters of Lady Duff-Gordon, whose daughter,
Janet Ross, had become a dear friend in Florence during the Viviani days.
He spoke of this new purpose on the morning when we renewed the New York
dictations, a month or more following the return from Dublin. When the
dictation ended he said:

"Have you any special place to lunch to-day?"

I replied that I had not.

"Lunch here," he said, "and we'll try the new billiard-table."

I said what was eminently true--that I could not play--that I had never
played more "than a few games of pool, and those very long ago.

"No matter," he answered; "the poorer you play, the better I shall like
it."

So I remained for luncheon and we began, November 2d, the first game ever
played on the Christmas table. We played the English game, in which
caroms and pockets both count. I had a beginner's luck, on the whole,
and I remember it as a riotous, rollicking game, the beginning of a
closer understanding between us--of a distinct epoch in our association.
When it was ended he said:

"I'm not going to Egypt. There was a man here yesterday afternoon who
said it was bad for bronchitis, and, besides, it's too far away from this
billiard-table."

He suggested that I come back in the evening and play some more. I did
so, and the game lasted until after midnight. He gave me odds, of
course, and my "nigger luck," as he called it, continued. It kept him
sweating and swearing feverishly to win. Finally, once I made a great
fluke--a carom, followed by most of the balls falling into the pockets.

"Well," he said, "when you pick up that cue this damn table drips at
every pore."

After that the morning dictations became a secondary interest. Like a
boy, he was looking forward to the afternoon of play, and it never seemed
to come quick enough to suit him. I remained regularly for luncheon, and
he was inclined to cut the courses short, that he might the sooner get
up-stairs to the billiard-room. His earlier habit of not eating in the
middle of the day continued; but he would get up and dress, and walk
about the dining-room in his old fashion, talking that marvelous,
marvelous talk which I was always trying to remember, and with only
fractional success at best. To him it was only a method of killing time.
I remember once, when he had been discussing with great earnestness the
Japanese question, he suddenly noticed that the luncheon was about
ending, and he said:

"Now we'll proceed to more serious matters--it's your--shot." And he was
quite serious, for the green cloth and the rolling balls afforded him a
much larger interest.

To the donor of his new possession Clemens wrote:

    DEAR MRS. ROGERS,--The billiard-table is better than the doctors.
    I have a billiardist on the premises, & walk not less than ten miles
    every day with the cue in my hand. And the walking is not the whole
    of the exercise, nor the most health giving part of it, I think.
    Through the multitude of the positions and attitudes it brings into
    play every muscle in the body & exercises them all.

    The games begin right after luncheons, daily, & continue until
    midnight, with 2 hours' intermission for dinner & music. And so it
    is 9 hours' exercise per day & 10 or 12 on Sunday. Yesterday & last
    night it was 12--& I slept until 8 this morning without waking. The
    billiard-table as a Sabbath-breaker can beat any coal-breaker in
    Pennsylvania & give it 30 in the game. If Mr. Rogers will take to
    daily billiards he can do without the doctors & the massageur, I
    think.

    We are really going to build a house on my farm, an hour & a half
    from New York. It is decided.

    With love & many thanks.
                                S. L. C.

Naturally enough, with continued practice I improved my game, and he
reduced my odds accordingly. He was willing to be beaten, but not too
often. Like any other boy, he preferred to have the balance in his
favor. We set down a record of the games, and he went to bed happier if
the tally-sheet showed him winner.

It was natural, too, that an intimacy of association and of personal
interest should grow under such conditions--to me a precious boon--and I
wish here to record my own boundless gratitude to Mrs. Rogers for her
gift, which, whatever it meant to him, meant so much more to me. The
disparity of ages no longer existed; other discrepancies no longer
mattered. The pleasant land of play is a democracy where such things do
not count.

To recall all the humors and interesting happenings of those early
billiard-days would be to fill a large volume. I can preserve no more
than a few characteristic phases.

He was not an even-tempered player. When the balls were perverse in
their movements and his aim unsteady, he was likely to become short with
his opponent--critical and even fault-finding. Then presently a reaction
would set in, and he would be seized with remorse. He would become
unnecessarily gentle and kindly--even attentive--placing the balls as I
knocked them into the pockets, hurrying from one end of the table to
render this service, endeavoring to show in every way except by actual
confession in words that he was sorry for what seemed to him, no doubt,
an unworthy display of temper, unjustified irritation.

Naturally, this was a mood that I enjoyed less than that which had
induced it. I did not wish him to humble himself; I was willing that he
should be severe, even harsh, if he felt so inclined; his age, his
position, his genius entitled him to special privileges; yet I am glad,
as I remember it now, that the other side revealed itself, for it
completes the sum of his great humanity.

Indeed, he was always not only human, but superhuman; not only a man, but
superman. Nor does this term apply only to his psychology. In no other
human being have I ever seen such physical endurance. I was
comparatively a young man, and by no means an invalid; but many a time,
far in the night, when I was ready to drop with exhaustion, he was still
as fresh and buoyant and eager for the game as at the moment of
beginning. He smoked and smoked continually, and followed the endless
track around the billiard-table with the light step of youth. At three
or four o'clock in the morning he would urge just one more game, and
would taunt me for my weariness. I can truthfully testify that never
until the last year of his life did he willingly lay down the
billiard-cue, or show the least suggestion of fatigue.

He played always at high pressure. Now and then, in periods of
adversity, he would fly into a perfect passion with things in general.
But, in the end, it was a sham battle, and he saw the uselessness and
humor of it, even in the moment of his climax. Once, when he found it
impossible to make any of his favorite shots, he became more and more
restive, the lightning became vividly picturesque as the clouds
blackened. Finally, with a regular thunder-blast, he seized the cue with
both hands and literally mowed the balls across the table, landing one or
two of them on the floor. I do not recall his exact remarks during the
performance; I was chiefly concerned in getting out of the way, and those
sublime utterances were lost. I gathered up the balls and we went on
playing as if nothing had happened, only he was very gentle and sweet,
like the sun on the meadows after the storm has passed by. After a
little he said:

"This is a most amusing game. When you play badly it amuses me, and when
I play badly and lose my temper it certainly must amuse you."

His enjoyment of his opponent's perplexities was very keen. When he had
left the balls in some unfortunate position which made it almost
impossible for me to score he would laugh boisterously. I used to affect
to be injured and disturbed by this ridicule. Once, when he had made the
conditions unusually hard for me, and was enjoying the situation
accordingly, I was tempted to remark:

"Whenever I see you laugh at a thing like that I always doubt your sense
of humor." Which seemed to add to his amusement.

Sometimes, when the balls were badly placed for me, he would offer
ostensible advice, suggesting that I should shoot here and there--shots
that were possible, perhaps, but not promising. Often I would follow his
advice, and then when I failed to score his amusement broke out afresh.

Other billiardists came from time to time: Colonel Harvey, Mr. Duneka,
and Major Leigh, of the Harper Company, and Peter Finley Dunne (Mr.
Dooley); but they were handicapped by their business affairs, and were
not dependable for daily and protracted sessions. Any number of his
friends were willing, even eager, to come for his entertainment; but the
percentage of them who could and would devote a number of hours each day
to being beaten at billiards and enjoy the operation dwindled down to a
single individual. Even I could not have done it--could not have
afforded it, however much I might have enjoyed the diversion--had it not
been contributory to my work. To me the association was invaluable; it
drew from him a thousand long-forgotten incidents; it invited a stream of
picturesque comments and philosophies; it furnished the most intimate
insight into his character.

He was not always glad to see promiscuous callers, even some one that he
might have met pleasantly elsewhere. One afternoon a young man whom he
had casually invited to "drop in some day in town" happened to call in
the midst of a very close series of afternoon games. It would all have
been well enough if the visitor had been content to sit quietly on the
couch and "bet on the game," as Clemens suggested, after the greetings
were over; but he was a very young man, and he felt the necessity of
being entertaining. He insisted on walking about the room and getting in
the way, and on talking about the Mark Twain books he had read, and the
people he had met from time to time who had known Mark Twain on the
river, or on the Pacific coast, or elsewhere. I knew how fatal it was
for him to talk to Clemens during his play, especially concerning matters
most of which had been laid away. I trembled for our visitor. If I
could have got his ear privately I should have said: "For heaven's sake
sit down and keep still or go away! There's going to be a combination of
earthquake and cyclone and avalanche if you keep this thing up."

I did what I could. I looked at my watch every other minute. At last,
in desperation, I suggested that I retire from the game and let the
visitor have my cue. I suppose I thought this would eliminate an element
of danger. He declined on the ground that he seldom played, and
continued his deadly visit. I have never been in an atmosphere so
fraught with danger. I did not know how the game stood, and I played
mechanically and forgot to count the score. Clemens's face was grim and
set and savage. He no longer ventured even a word. By and by I noticed
that he was getting white, and I said, privately, "Now, this young man's
hour has come."

It was certainly by the mercy of God just then that the visitor said:

"I'm sorry, but I've got to go. I'd like to stay longer, but I've got an
engagement for dinner."

I don't remember how he got out, but I know that tons lifted as the door
closed behind him. Clemens made his shot, then very softly said:

"If he had stayed another five minutes I should have offered him
twenty-five cents to go."

But a moment later he glared at me.

"Why in nation did you offer him your cue?"

"Wasn't that the courteous thing to do?" I asked.

"No!" he ripped out. "The courteous and proper thing would have been to
strike him dead. Did you want to saddle that disaster upon us for life?"

He was blowing off steam, and I knew it and encouraged it. My impulse
was to lie down on the couch and shout with hysterical laughter, but I
suspected that would be indiscreet. He made some further comment on the
propriety of offering a visitor a cue, and suddenly began to sing a
travesty of an old hymn:

         "How tedious are they
           Who their sovereign obey,"

and so loudly that I said:

"Aren't you afraid he'll hear you and come back?" Whereupon he pretended
alarm and sang under his breath, and for the rest of the evening was in
boundless good-humor.

I have recalled this incident merely as a sample of things that were
likely to happen at any time in his company, and to show the difficulty
one might find in fitting himself to his varying moods. He was not to be
learned in a day, or a week, or a month; some of those who knew him
longest did not learn him at all.

We celebrated his seventy-first birthday by playing billiards all day. He
invented a new game for the occasion; inventing rules for it with almost
every shot.

It happened that no member of the family was at home on this birthday.
Ill health had banished every one, even the secretary. Flowers,
telegrams, and congratulations came, and there was a string of callers;
but he saw no one beyond some intimate friends--the Gilders--late in the
afternoon. When they had gone we went down to dinner. We were entirely
alone, and I felt the great honor of being his only guest on such an
occasion. Once between the courses, when he rose, as usual, to walk
about, he wandered into the drawing-room, and seating himself at the
orchestrelle began to play the beautiful flower-song from "Faust." It
was a thing I had not seen him do before, and I never saw him do it
again. When he came back to the table he said:

"Speaking of companions of the long ago, after fifty years they become
only shadows and might as well be in the grave. Only those whom one has
really loved mean anything at all. Of my playmates I recall John Briggs,
John Garth, and Laura Hawkins--just those three; the rest I buried long
ago, and memory cannot even find their graves."

He was in his loveliest humor all that day and evening; and that night,
when he stopped playing, he said:

"I have never had a pleasanter day at this game."

I answered, "I hope ten years from to-night we shall still be playing
it."

"Yes," he said, "still playing the best game on earth."




CCL

PHILOSOPHY AND PESSIMISM

In a letter to MacAlister, written at this time, he said:

    The doctors banished Jean to the country 5 weeks ago; they banished
    my secretary to the country for a fortnight last Saturday; they
    banished Clara to the country for a fortnight last Monday . . . .
    They banished me to Bermuda to sail next Wednesday, but I struck and
    sha'n't go. My complaint is permanent bronchitis & is one of the
    very best assets I've got, for it excuses me from every public
    function this winter--& all other winters that may come.

If he had bronchitis when this letter was written, it must have been of a
very mild form, for it did not interfere with billiard games, which were
more protracted and strenuous than at almost any other period. I
conclude, therefore, that it was a convenient bronchitis, useful on
occasion.

For a full ten days we were alone in the big house with the servants. It
was a holiday most of the time. We hurried through the mail in the
morning and the telephone calls; then, while I answered such letters as
required attention, he dictated for an hour or so to Miss Hobby, after
which, billiards for the rest of the day and evening. When callers were
reported by the butler, I went down and got rid of them. Clara Clemens,
before her departure, had pinned up a sign, "NO BILLIARDS AFTER 10 P.M.,"
which still hung on the wall, but it was outlawed. Clemens occasionally
planned excursions to Bermuda and other places; but, remembering the
billiard-table, which he could not handily take along, he abandoned these
projects. He was a boy whose parents had been called away, left to his
own devices, and bent on a good time.

There were likely to be irritations in his morning's mail, and more often
he did not wish to see it until it had been pretty carefully sifted. So
many people wrote who wanted things, so many others who made the claim of
more or less distant acquaintanceship the excuse for long and trivial
letters.

"I have stirred up three generations," he said; "first the grandparents,
then the children, and now the grandchildren; the great-grandchildren
will begin to arrive soon."

His mail was always large; but often it did not look interesting. One
could tell from the envelope and the superscription something of the
contents. Going over one assortment he burst out:

"Look at them! Look how trivial they are! Every envelope looks as if it
contained a trivial human soul."

Many letters were filled with fulsome praise and compliment, usually of
one pattern. He was sated with such things, and seldom found it possible
to bear more than a line or two of them. Yet a fresh, well-expressed
note of appreciation always pleased him.

"I can live for two months on a good compliment," he once said. Certain
persistent correspondents, too self-centered to realize their lack of
consideration, or the futility of their purpose, followed him
relentlessly. Of one such he remarked:

"That woman intends to pursue me to the grave. I wish something could be
done to appease her."

And again:

"Everybody in the world who wants something--something of no interest to
me--writes to me to get it."

These morning sessions were likely to be of great interest. Once a
letter spoke of the desirability of being an optimist. "That word
perfectly disgusts me," he said, and his features materialized the
disgust, "just as that other word, pessimist, does; and the idea that one
can, by any effort of will, be one or the other, any more than he can
change the color of his hair. The reason why a man is a pessimist or an
optimist is not because he wants to be, but because he was born so; and
this man [a minister of the Gospel who was going to explain life to him]
is going to tell me why he isn't a pessimist. Oh, he'll do it, but he
won't tell the truth; he won't make it short enough."

Yet he was always patient with any one who came with spiritual messages,
theological arguments, and consolations. He might have said to them:
"Oh, dear friends, those things of which you speak are the toys that long
ago I played with and set aside." He could have said it and spoken the
truth; but I believe he did not even think it. He listened to any one
for whom he had respect, and was grateful for any effort in his behalf.
One morning he read aloud a lecture given in London by George Bernard
Shaw on religion, commenting as he read. He said:

"This letter is a frank breath of expression [and his comments were
equally frank]. There is no such thing as morality; it is not immoral
for the tiger to eat the wolf, or the wolf the cat, or the cat the bird,
and so on down; that is their business. There is always enough for each
one to live on. It is not immoral for one nation to seize another nation
by force of arms, or for one man to seize another man's property or life
if he is strong enough and wants to take it. It is not immoral to create
the human species--with or without ceremony; nature intended exactly
these things."

At one place in the lecture Shaw had said: "No one of good sense can
accept any creed to-day without reservation."

"Certainly not," commented Clemens; "the reservation is that he is a d--d
fool to accept it at all."

He was in one of his somber moods that morning. I had received a print
of a large picture of Thomas Nast--the last one taken. The face had a
pathetic expression which told the tragedy of his last years. Clemens
looked at the picture several moments without speaking. Then he broke
out:

"Why can't a man die when he's had his tragedy? I ought to have died
long ago." And somewhat later: "Once Twichell heard me cussing the human
race, and he said, 'Why, Mark, you are the last person in the world to do
that--one selected and set apart as you are.' I said 'Joe, you don't
know what you are talking about. I am not cussing altogether about my
own little troubles. Any one can stand his own misfortunes; but when I
read in the papers all about the rascalities and outrages going on I
realize what a creature the human animal is. Don't you care more about
the wretchedness of others than anything that happens to you?' Joe said
he did, and shut up."

It occurred to me to suggest that he should not read the daily papers.
"No difference," he said. "I read books printed two hundred years ago,
and they hurt just the same."

"Those people are all dead and gone," I objected.

"They hurt just the same," he maintained.

I sometimes thought of his inner consciousness as a pool darkened by his
tragedies, its glassy surface, when calm, reflecting all the joy and
sunlight and merriment of the world, but easily--so easily--troubled and
stirred even to violence. Once following the dictation, when I came to
the billiard-room he was shooting the balls about the table, apparently
much depressed. He said:

"I have been thinking it out--if I live two years more I will put an end
to it all. I will kill myself."

"You have much to live for----"

"But I am so tired of the eternal round," he interrupted; "so tired." And
I knew he meant that he was ill of the great loneliness that had come to
him that day in Florence, and would never pass away.

I referred to the pressure of social demands in the city, and the relief
he would find in his country home. He shook his head.

"The country home I need," he said, fiercely, "is a cemetery."

Yet the mood changed quickly enough when the play began. He was gay and
hilarious presently, full of the humors and complexities of the game. H.
H. Rogers came in with a good deal of frequency, seldom making very long
calls, but never seeming to have that air of being hurried which one
might expect to find in a man whose day was only twenty-four hours long,
and whose interests were so vast and innumerable. He would come in where
we were playing, and sit down and watch the game, or perhaps would pick
up a book and read, exchanging a remark now and then. More often,
however, he sat in the bedroom, for his visits were likely to be in the
morning. They were seldom business calls, or if they were, the business
was quickly settled, and then followed gossip, humorous incident, or
perhaps Clemens would read aloud something he had written. But once,
after greetings, he began:

"Well, Rogers, I don't know what you think of it, but I think I have had
about enough of this world, and I wish I were out of it."

Mr. Rogers replied, "I don't say much about it, but that expresses my
view."

This from the foremost man of letters and one of the foremost financiers
of the time was impressive. Each at the mountain-top of his career, they
agreed that the journey was not worth while--that what the world had
still to give was not attractive enough to tempt them to prevent a desire
to experiment with the next stage. One could remember a thousand poor
and obscure men who were perfectly willing to go on struggling and
starving, postponing the day of settlement as long as possible; but
perhaps, when one has had all the world has to give, when there are no
new worlds in sight to conquer, one has a different feeling.

Well, the realization lay not so far ahead for either of them, though at
that moment they both seemed full of life and vigor--full of youth. One
could not imagine the day when for them it would all be over.




CCLI

A LOBBYING EXPEDITION

Clara Clemens came home now and then to see how matters were progressing,
and very properly, for Clemens was likely to become involved in social
intricacies which required a directing hand. The daughter inherited no
little of the father's characteristics of thought and phrase, and it was
always a delight to see them together when one could be just out of range
of the crossfire. I remember soon after her return, when she was making
some searching inquiries concerning the billiard-room sign, and other
suggested or instituted reforms, he said:

"Oh well, never mind, it doesn't matter. I'm boss in this house."

She replied, quickly: "Oh no, you're not. You're merely owner. I'm the
captain--the commander-in-chief."

One night at dinner she mentioned the possibility of going abroad that
year. During several previous summers she had planned to visit Vienna to
see her old music-master, Leschetizky, once more before his death. She
said:

"Leschetizky is getting so old. If I don't go soon I'm afraid I sha'n't
be in time for his funeral."

"Yes," said her father, thoughtfully, "you keep rushing over to
Leschetizky's funeral, and you'll miss mine."

He had made one or two social engagements without careful reflection, and
the situation would require some delicacy of adjustment. During a moment
between the courses, when he left the table and was taking his exercise
in the farther room, she made some remark which suggested a doubt of her
father's gift for social management. I said:

"Oh, well, he is a king, you know, and a king can do no wrong."

"Yes, I know," she answered. "The king can do no wrong; but he frightens
me almost to death, sometimes, he comes so near it."

He came back and began to comment rather critically on some recent
performance of Roosevelt's, which had stirred up a good deal of newspaper
amusement--it was the Storer matter and those indiscreet letters which
Roosevelt had written relative to the ambassadorship which Storer so much
desired. Miss Clemens was inclined to defend the President, and spoke
with considerable enthusiasm concerning his elements of popularity, which
had won him such extraordinary admiration.

"Certainly he is popular," Clemens admitted, "and with the best of
reasons. If the twelve apostles should call at the White House, he would
say, 'Come in, come in! I am delighted to see you. I've been watching
your progress, and I admired it very much.' Then if Satan should come,
he would slap him on the shoulder and say, 'Why, Satan, how do you do? I
am so glad to meet you. I've read all your works and enjoyed every one
of them.' Anybody could be popular with a gift like that."

It was that evening or the next, perhaps, that he said to her:

"Ben [one of his pet names for her], now that you are here to run the
ranch, Paine and I are going to Washington on a vacation. You don't seem
to admire our society much, anyhow."

There were still other reasons for the Washington expedition. There was
an important bill up for the extension of the book royalty period, and
the forces of copyright were going down in a body to use every possible
means to get the measure through.

Clemens, during Cleveland's first administration, some nineteen years
before, had accompanied such an expedition, and through S. S. ("Sunset")
Cox had obtained the "privileges of the floor" of the House, which had
enabled him to canvass the members individually. Cox assured the
doorkeeper that Clemens had received the thanks of Congress for national
literary service, and was therefore entitled to that privilege. This was
not strictly true; but regulations were not very severe in those days,
and the ruse had been regarded as a good joke, which had yielded
excellent results. Clemens had a similar scheme in mind now, and
believed that his friendship with Speaker Cannon--"Uncle Joe"--would
obtain for him a similar privilege. The Copyright Association working in
its regular way was very well, he said, but he felt he could do more as
an individual than by acting merely as a unit of that body.

"I canvassed the entire House personally that other time," he said. "Cox
introduced me to the Democrats, and John D. Long, afterward Secretary of
the Navy, introduced me to the Republicans. I had a darling time
converting those members, and I'd like to try the experiment again."

I should have mentioned earlier, perhaps, that at this time he had begun
to wear white clothing regularly, regardless of the weather and season.
On the return from Dublin he had said:

"I can't bear to put on black clothes again. I wish I could wear white
all winter. I should prefer, of course, to wear colors, beautiful
rainbow hues, such as the women have monopolized. Their clothing makes a
great opera audience an enchanting spectacle, a delight to the eye and to
the spirit--a garden of Eden for charm and color.

"The men, clothed in odious black, are scattered here and there over the
garden like so many charred stumps. If we are going to be gay in spirit,
why be clad in funeral garments? I should like to dress in a loose and
flowing costume made all of silks and velvets resplendent with stunning
dyes, and so would every man I have ever known; but none of us dares to
venture it. If I should appear on Fifth Avenue on a Sunday morning
clothed as I would like to be clothed the churches would all be vacant
and the congregation would come tagging after me. They would scoff, of
course, but they would envy me, too. When I put on black it reminds me
of my funerals. I could be satisfied with white all the year round."

It was not long after this that he said:

"I have made up my mind not to wear black any more, but white, and let
the critics say what they will."

So his tailor was sent for, and six creamy flannel and serge suits were
ordered, made with the short coats, which he preferred, with a gray suit
or two for travel, and he did not wear black again, except for evening
dress and on special occasions. It was a gratifying change, and though
the newspapers made much of it, there was no one who was not gladdened by
the beauty of his garments and their general harmony with his person. He
had never worn anything so appropriate or so impressive.

This departure of costume came along a week or two before the Washington
trip, and when his bags were being packed for the excursion he was
somewhat in doubt as to the propriety of bursting upon Washington in
December in that snowy plumage. I ventured:

"This is a lobbying expedition of a peculiar kind, and does not seem to
invite any half-way measures. I should vote in favor of the white suit."

I think Miss Clemens was for it, too. She must have been or the vote
wouldn't have carried, though it was clear he strongly favored the idea.
At all events, the white suits came along.

We were off the following afternoon: Howells, Robert Underwood Johnson,
one of the Appletons, one of the Putnams, George Bowker, and others were
on the train. On the trip down in the dining-car there was a discussion
concerning the copyrighting of ideas, which finally resolved itself into
the possibility of originating a new one. Clemens said:

"There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take
a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We
give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations. We keep on
turning and making new combinations indefinitely; but they are the same
old pieces of colored glass that have been in use through all the ages."

We put up at the Willard, and in the morning drove over to the
Congressional Library, where the copyright hearing was in progress. There
was a joint committee of the two Houses seated round a long table at
work, and a number of spectators more or less interested in the bill,
mainly, it would seem, men concerned with the protection of mechanical
music-rolls. The fact that this feature was mixed up with literature was
not viewed with favor by most of the writers. Clemens referred to the
musical contingent as "those hand-organ men who ought to have a bill of
their own."

I should mention that early that morning Clemens had written this letter
to Speaker Cannon:

December 7, 1906.

DEAR UNCLE JOSEPH,--Please get me the thanks of the Congress--not next
week, but right away. It is very necessary. Do accomplish this for your
affectionate old friend right away; by persuasion, if you can; by
violence, if you must, for it is imperatively necessary that I get on the
floor for two or three hours and talk to the members, man by man, in
behalf of the support, encouragement, and protection of one of the
nation's most valuable assets and industries--its literature. I have
arguments with me, also a barrel with liquid in it.

Give me a chance. Get me the thanks of Congress. Don't wait for others
--there isn't time. I have stayed away and let Congress alone for
seventy-one years and I am entitled to thanks. Congress knows it
perfectly well, and I have long felt hurt that this quite proper and
earned expression of gratitude has been merely felt by the House and
never publicly uttered. Send me an order on the Sergeant-at-Arms quick.
When shall I come?
              With love and a benediction;
                                   MARK TWAIN.

We went over to the Capitol now to deliver to "Uncle Joe" this
characteristic letter. We had picked up Clemens's nephew, Samuel E.
Moffett, at the Library, and he came along and led the way to the
Speaker's room. Arriving there, Clemens laid off his dark overcoat and
stood there, all in white, certainly a startling figure among those
clerks, newspaper men, and incidental politicians. He had been noticed
as he entered the Capitol, and a number of reporters had followed close
behind. Within less than a minute word was being passed through the
corridors that Mark Twain was at the Capitol in his white suit. The
privileged ones began to gather, and a crowd assembled in the hall
outside.

Speaker Cannon was not present at the moment; but a little later he
"billowed" in--which seems to be the word to express it--he came with
such a rush and tide of life. After greetings, Clemens produced the
letter and read it to him solemnly, as if he were presenting a petition.
Uncle Joe listened quite seriously, his head bowed a little, as if it
were really a petition, as in fact it was. He smiled, but he said, quite
seriously:

"That is a request that ought to be granted; but the time has gone by
when I am permitted any such liberties. Tom Reed, when he was Speaker,
inaugurated a strict precedent excluding all outsiders from the use of
the floor of the House."

"I got in the other time," Clemens insisted.

"Yes," said Uncle Joe; "but that ain't now. Sunset Cox could let you in,
but I can't. They'd hang me." He reflected a moment, and added: "I'll
tell you what I'll do: I've got a private room down-stairs that I never
use. It's all fitted up with table and desk, stationery, chinaware, and
cutlery; you could keep house there, if you wanted to. I'll let you have
it as long as you want to stay here, and I'll give you my private
servant, Neal, who's been here all his life and knows every official,
every Senator and Representative, and they all know him. He'll bring you
whatever you want, and you can send in messages by him. You can have the
members brought down singly or in bunches, and convert them as much as
you please. I'd give you a key to the room, only I haven't got one
myself. I never can get in when I want to, but Neal can get in, and
he'll unlock it for you. You can have the room, and you can have Neal.
Now, will that do you?"

Clemens said it would. It was, in fact, an offer without precedent.
Probably never in the history of the country had a Speaker given up his
private room to lobbyists. We went in to see the House open, and then
went down with Neal and took possession of the room. The reporters had
promptly seized upon the letter, and they now got hold of its author, led
him to their own quarters, and, gathering around him, fired questions at
him, and kept their note-books busy. He made a great figure, all in
white there among them, and they didn't fail to realize the value of it
as "copy." He talked about copyright, and about his white clothes, and
about a silk hat which Howells wore.

Back in the Speaker's room, at last, he began laying out the campaign,
which would begin next day. By and by he said:

"Look here! I believe I've got to speak over there in that
committee-room to-day or to-morrow. I ought to know just when it is."

I had not heard of this before, and offered to go over and see about it,
which I did at once. I hurried back faster than I had gone.

"Mr. Clemens, you are to speak in half an hour, and the room is crowded
full; people waiting to hear you."

"The devil!" he said. "Well, all right; I'll just lie down here a few
minutes and then we'll go over. Take paper and pencil and make a few
headings."

There was a couch in the room. He lay down while I sat at the table with
a pencil, making headings now and then, as he suggested, and presently he
rose and, shoving the notes into his pocket, was ready. It was half past
three when we entered the committee-room, which was packed with people
and rather dimly lighted, for it was gloomy outside. Herbert Putnam, the
librarian, led us to seats among the literary group, and Clemens,
removing his overcoat, stood in that dim room clad as in white armor.
There was a perceptible stir. Howells, startled for a moment, whispered:

"What in the world did he wear that white suit for?" though in his heart
he admired it as much as the others.

I don't remember who was speaking when we came in, but he was saying
nothing important. Whoever it was, he was followed by Dr. Edward Everett
Hale, whose age always commanded respect, and whose words always invited
interest. Then it was Mark Twain's turn. He did not stand by his chair,
as the others had done, but walked over to the Speaker's table, and,
turning, faced his audience. I have never seen a more impressive sight
than that snow-white figure in that dim-lit, crowded room. He never
touched his notes; he didn't even remember them. He began in that even,
quiet, deliberate voice of his the most even, the most quiet, the most
deliberate voice in the world--and, without a break or a hesitation for a
word, he delivered a copyright argument, full of humor and serious
reasoning, such a speech as no one in that room, I suppose, had ever
heard. Certainly it was a fine and dramatic bit of impromptu pleading.
The weary committee, which had been tortured all day with dull,
statistical arguments made by the mechanical device fiends, and dreary
platitudes unloaded by men whose chief ambition was to shine as copyright
champions, suddenly realized that they were being rewarded for the long
waiting. They began to brighten and freshen, and uplift and smile, like
flowers that have been wilted by a drought when comes the refreshing
shower that means renewed life and vigor. Every listener was as if
standing on tiptoe. When the last sentence was spoken the applause came
like an explosion.--[Howells in his book My Mark Twain speaks of
Clemens's white clothing as "an inspiration which few men would have had
the courage to act upon." He adds: "The first time I saw him wear it
was at the authors' hearing before the Congressional Committee on
Copyright in Washington. Nothing could have been more dramatic than the
gesture with which he flung off his long, loose overcoat and stood forth
in white from his feet to the crown of his silvery head. It was a
magnificent coup, and he dearly loved a coup; but the magnificent speech
which he made, tearing to shreds the venerable farrago of nonsense about
nonproperty in ideas which had formed the basis of all copyright
legislation, made you forget even his spectacularity."]

There came a universal rush of men and women to get near enough for a
word and to shake his hand. But he was anxious to get away. We drove to
the Willard and talked and smoked, and got ready for dinner. He was
elated, and said the occasion required full-dress. We started down at
last, fronted and frocked like penguins.

I did not realize then the fullness of his love for theatrical effect. I
supposed he would want to go down with as little ostentation as possible,
so took him by the elevator which enters the dining-room without passing
through the long corridor known as "Peacock Alley," because of its being
a favorite place for handsomely dressed fashionables of the national
capital. When we reached the entrance of the dining-room he said:

"Isn't there another entrance to this place?"

I said there was, but that it was very conspicuous. We should have to go
down the long corridor.

"Oh, well," he said, "I don't mind that. Let's go back and try it over."

So we went back up the elevator, walked to the other end of the hotel,
and came down to the F Street entrance. There is a fine, stately flight
of steps--a really royal stair--leading from this entrance down into
"Peacock Alley." To slowly descend that flight is an impressive thing to
do. It is like descending the steps of a throne-room, or to some royal
landing-place where Cleopatra's barge might lie. I confess that I was
somewhat nervous at the awfulness of the occasion, but I reflected that I
was powerfully protected; so side by side, both in full-dress, white
ties, white-silk waistcoats, and all, we came down that regal flight.

Of course he was seized upon at once by a lot of feminine admirers, and
the passage along the corridor was a perpetual gantlet. I realize now
that this gave the dramatic finish to his day, and furnished him with
proper appetite for his dinner. I did not again make the mistake of
taking him around to the more secluded elevator. I aided and abetted him
every evening in making that spectacular descent of the royal stairway,
and in running that fair and frivolous gantlet the length of "Peacock
Alley." The dinner was a continuous reception. No sooner was he seated
than this Congressman and that Senator came over to shake hands with Mark
Twain. Governor Francis of Missouri also came. Eventually Howells
drifted in, and Clemens reviewed the day, its humors and successes. Back
in the rooms at last he summed up the progress thus far--smoked, laughed
over "Uncle Joe's" surrender to the "copyright bandits," and turned in
for the night.

We were at the Capitol headquarters in Speaker Cannon's private room
about eleven o'clock next morning. Clemens was not in the best humor
because I had allowed him to oversleep. He was inclined to be
discouraged at the prospect, and did not believe many of the members
would come down to see him. He expressed a wish for some person of
influence and wide acquaintance, and walked up and down, smoking
gloomily. I slipped out and found the Speaker's colored body-guard,
Neal, and suggested that Mr. Clemens was ready now to receive the
members.

That was enough. They began to arrive immediately. John Sharp Williams
came first, then Boutell, from Illinois, Littlefield, of Maine, and after
them a perfect procession, including all the leading lights--Dalzell,
Champ Clark, McCall--one hundred and eighty or so in all during the next
three or four hours.

Neal announced each name at the door, and in turn I announced it to
Clemens when the press was not too great. He had provided boxes of
cigars, and the room was presently blue with smoke, Clemens in his white
suit in the midst of it, surrounded by those darker figures--shaking
hands, dealing out copyright gospel and anecdotes--happy and wonderfully
excited. There were chairs, but usually there was only standing room. He
was on his feet for several hours and talked continually; but when at
last it was over, and Champ Clark, who I believe remained longest and was
most enthusiastic in the movement, had bade him good-by, he declared that
he was not a particle tired, and added:

"I believe if our bill could be presented now it would pass."

He was highly elated, and pronounced everything a perfect success. Neal,
who was largely responsible for the triumph, received a ten-dollar bill.

We drove to the hotel and dined that night with the Dodges, who had been
neighbors at Riverdale. Later, the usual crowd of admirers gathered
around him, among them I remember the minister from Costa Rica, the
Italian minister, and others of the diplomatic service, most of whom he
had known during his European residence. Some one told of traveling in
India and China, and how a certain Hindu "god" who had exchanged
autographs with Mark Twain during his sojourn there was familiar with
only two other American names--George Washington and Chicago; while the
King of Siam had read but three English books--the Bible, Bryce's
American Commonwealth, and The Innocents Abroad.

We were at Thomas Nelson Page's for dinner next evening--a wonderfully
beautiful home, full of art treasures. A number of guests had been
invited. Clemens naturally led the dinner-talk, which eventually drifted
to reading. He told of Mrs. Clemens's embarrassment when Stepniak had
visited them and talked books, and asked her what her husband thought of
Balzac, Thackeray, and the others. She had been obliged to say that he
had not read them.

"'How interesting!' said Stepniak. But it wasn't interesting to Mrs.
Clemens. It was torture."

He was light-spirited and gay; but recalling Mrs. Clemens saddened him,
perhaps, for he was silent as we drove to the hotel, and after he was in
bed he said, with a weary despair which even the words do not convey:

"If I had been there a minute earlier, it is possible--it is possible
that she might have died in my arms. Sometimes I think that perhaps
there was an instant--a single instant--when she realized that she was
dying and that I was not there."

In New York I had once brought him a print of the superb "Adams
Memorial," by Saint-Gaudens--the bronze woman who sits in the still court
in the Rock Creek Cemetery at Washington.

On the morning following the Page dinner at breakfast, he said:

"Engage a carriage and we will drive out and see the Saint-Gaudens
bronze."

It was a bleak, dull December day, and as we walked down through the
avenues of the dead there was a presence of realized sorrow that seemed
exactly suited to such a visit. We entered the little inclosure of
cedars where sits the dark figure which is art's supreme expression of
the great human mystery of life and death. Instinctively we removed our
hats, and neither spoke until after we had come away. Then:

"What does he call it?" he asked.

I did not know, though I had heard applied to it that great line of
Shakespeare's--"the rest is silence."

"But that figure is not silent," he said.

And later, as we were driving home:

"It is in deep meditation on sorrowful things."

When we returned to New York he had the little print framed, and kept it
always on his mantelpiece.




CCLII

THEOLOGY AND EVOLUTION

From the Washington trip dates a period of still closer association with
Mark Twain. On the way to New York he suggested that I take up residence
in his house--a privilege which I had no wish to refuse. There was room
going to waste, he said, and it would be handier for the early and late
billiard sessions. So, after that, most of the days and nights I was
there.

Looking back on that time now, I see pretty vividly three quite distinct
pictures. One of them, the rich, red interior of the billiard-room with
the brilliant, green square in the center, on which the gay balls are
rolling, and bending over it that luminous white figure in the instant of
play. Then there is the long, lighted drawing-room with the same figure
stretched on a couch in the corner, drowsily smoking, while the rich
organ tones fill the place summoning for him scenes and faces which
others do not see. This was the hour between dinner and billiards--the
hour which he found most restful of the day. Sometimes he rose, walking
the length of the parlors, his step timed to the music and his thought.
Of medium height, he gave the impression of being tall-his head thrown
up, and like a lion's, rather large for his body. But oftener he lay
among the cushions, the light flooding his white hair and dress and
heightening his brilliant coloring.

The third picture is that of the dinner-table--always beautifully laid,
and always a shrine of wisdom when he was there. He did not always talk;
but it was his habit to do so, and memory holds the clearer vision of him
when, with eyes and face alive with interest, he presented some new angle
of thought in fresh picturesqueness of speech. These are the pictures
that have remained to me out of the days spent under his roof, and they
will not fade while memory lasts.

Of Mark Twain's table philosophies it seems proper to make rather
extended record. They were usually unpremeditated, and they presented
the man as he was, and thought. I preserved as much of them as I could,
and have verified phrase and idea, when possible, from his own notes and
other unprinted writings.

This dinner-table talk naturally varied in character from that of the
billiard-room. The latter was likely to be anecdotal and personal; the
former was more often philosophical and commentative, ranging through a
great variety of subjects scientific, political, sociological, and
religious. His talk was often of infinity--the forces of creation--and
it was likely to be satire of the orthodox conceptions, intermingled with
heresies of his own devising.

Once, after a period of general silence, he said:

"No one who thinks can imagine the universe made by chance. It is too
nicely assembled and regulated. There is, of course, a great Master
Mind, but it cares nothing for our happiness or our unhappiness."

It was objected, by one of those present, that as the Infinite Mind
suggested perfect harmony, sorrow and suffering were defects which that
Mind must feel and eventually regulate.

"Yes," he said, "not a sparrow falls but He is noticing, if that is what
you mean; but the human conception of it is that God is sitting up nights
worrying over the individuals of this infinitesimal race."

Then he recalled a fancy which I have since found among his memoranda. In
this note he had written:

    The suns & planets that form the constellations of a billion billion
    solar systems & go pouring, a tossing flood of shining globes,
    through the viewless arteries of space are the blood-corpuscles in
    the veins of God; & the nations are the microbes that swarm and
    wiggle & brag in each, & think God can tell them apart at that
    distance & has nothing better to do than try. This--the
    entertainment of an eternity. Who so poor in his ambitions as to
    consent to be God on those terms? Blasphemy? No, it is not
    blasphemy. If God is as vast as that, He is above blasphemy; if He
    is as little as that, He is beneath it.

"The Bible," he said, "reveals the character of its God with minute
exactness. It is a portrait of a man, if one can imagine a man with evil
impulses far beyond the human limit. In the Old Testament He is pictured
as unjust, ungenerous, pitiless, and revengeful, punishing innocent
children for the misdeeds of their parents; punishing unoffending people
for the sins of their rulers, even descending to bloody vengeance upon
harmless calves and sheep as punishment for puny trespasses committed by
their proprietors. It is the most damnatory biography that ever found
its way into print. Its beginning is merely childish. Adam is forbidden
to eat the fruit of a certain tree, and gravely informed that if he
disobeys he shall die. How could that impress Adam? He could have no
idea of what death meant. He had never seen a dead thing. He had never
heard of one. If he had been told that if he ate the apples he would be
turned into a meridian of longitude that threat would have meant just as
much as the other one. The watery intellect that invented that notion
could be depended on to go on and decree that all of Adam's descendants
down to the latest day should be punished for that nursery trespass in
the beginning.

"There is a curious poverty of invention in Bibles. Most of the great
races each have one, and they all show this striking defect. Each
pretends to originality, without possessing any. Each of them borrows
from the other, confiscates old stage properties, puts them forth as
fresh and new inspirations from on high. We borrowed the Golden Rule
from Confucius, after it had seen service for centuries, and copyrighted
it without a blush. We went back to Babylon for the Deluge, and are as
proud of it and as satisfied with it as if it had been worth the trouble;
whereas we know now that Noah's flood never happened, and couldn't have
happened--not in that way. The flood is a favorite with Bible-makers.
Another favorite with the founders of religions is the Immaculate
Conception. It had been worn threadbare; but we adopted it as a new
idea. It was old in Egypt several thousand years before Christ was born.
The Hindus prized it ages ago. The Egyptians adopted it even for some of
their kings. The Romans borrowed the idea from Greece. We got it
straight from heaven by way of Rome. We are still charmed with it."

He would continue in this strain, rising occasionally and walking about
the room. Once, considering the character of God--the Bible God-he said:

"We haven't been satisfied with God's character as it is given in the Old
Testament; we have amended it. We have called Him a God of mercy and
love and morals. He didn't have a single one of those qualities in the
beginning. He didn't hesitate to send the plagues on Egypt, the most
fiendish punishments that could be devised--not for the king, but for his
innocent subjects, the women and the little children, and then only to
exhibit His power just to show off--and He kept hardening Pharaoh's heart
so that He could send some further ingenuity of torture, new rivers of
blood, and swarms of vermin and new pestilences, merely to exhibit
samples of His workmanship. Now and then, during the forty years'
wandering, Moses persuaded Him to be a little more lenient with the
Israelites, which would show that Moses was the better character of the
two. That Old Testament God never had an inspiration of His own."

He referred to the larger conception of God, that Infinite Mind which had
projected the universe. He said:

"In some details that Old Bible God is probably a more correct picture
than our conception of that Incomparable One that created the universe
and flung upon its horizonless ocean of space those giant suns, whose
signal-lights are so remote that we only catch their flash when it has
been a myriad of years on its way. For that Supreme One is not a God of
pity or mercy--not as we recognize these qualities. Think of a God of
mercy who would create the typhus germ, or the house-fly, or the
centipede, or the rattlesnake, yet these are all His handiwork. They are
a part of the Infinite plan. The minister is careful to explain that all
these tribulations are sent for a good purpose; but he hires a doctor to
destroy the fever germ, and he kills the rattlesnake when he doesn't run
from it, and he sets paper with molasses on it for the house-fly.

"Two things are quite certain: one is that God, the limitless God,
manufactured those things, for no man could have done it. The man has
never lived who could create even the humblest of God's creatures. The
other conclusion is that God has no special consideration for man's
welfare or comfort, or He wouldn't have created those things to disturb
and destroy him. The human conception of pity and morality must be
entirely unknown to that Infinite God, as much unknown as the conceptions
of a microbe to man, or at least as little regarded.

"If God ever contemplates those qualities in man He probably admires
them, as we always admire the thing which we do not possess ourselves;
probably a little grain of pity in a man or a little atom of mercy would
look as big to Him as a constellation. He could create a constellation
with a thought; but He has been all the measureless ages, and He has
never acquired those qualities that we have named--pity and mercy and
morality. He goes on destroying a whole island of people with an
earthquake, or a whole cityful with a plague, when we punish a man in the
electric chair for merely killing the poorest of our race. The human
being needs to revise his ideas again about God. Most of the scientists
have done it already; but most of them don't dare to say so."

He pointed out that the moral idea was undergoing constant change; that
what was considered justifiable in an earlier day was regarded as highly
immoral now. He pointed out that even the Decalogue made no reference to
lying, except in the matter of bearing false witness against a neighbor.
Also, that there was a commandment against covetousness, though
covetousness to-day was the basis of all commerce: The general conclusion
being that the morals of the Lord had been the morals of the beginning;
the morals of the first-created man, the morals of the troglodyte, the
morals of necessity; and that the morals of mankind had kept pace with
necessity, whereas those of the Lord had remained unchanged. It is
hardly necessary to say that no one ever undertook to contradict any
statements of this sort from him. In the first place, there was no
desire to do so; and in the second place, any one attempting it would
have cut a puny figure with his less substantial arguments and his less
vigorous phrase. It was the part of wisdom and immeasurably the part of
happiness to be silent and listen.

On another evening he began:

"The mental evolution of the species proceeds apparently by regular
progress side by side with the physical development until it comes to
man, then there is a long, unexplained gulf. Somewhere man acquired an
asset which sets him immeasurably apart from the other animals--his
imagination. Out of it he created for himself a conscience, and clothes,
and immodesty, and a hereafter, and a soul. I wonder where he got that
asset. It almost makes one agree with Alfred Russel Wallace that the
world and the universe were created just for his benefit, that he is the
chief love and delight of God. Wallace says that the whole universe was
made to take care of and to keep steady this little floating mote in the
center of it, which we call the world. It looks like a good deal of
trouble for such a small result; but it's dangerous to dispute with a
learned astronomer like Wallace. Still, I don't think we ought to decide
too soon about it--not until the returns are all in. There is the
geological evidence, for instance. Even after the universe was created,
it took a long time to prepare the world for man. Some of the
scientists, ciphering out the evidence furnished by geology, have arrived
at the conviction that the world is prodigiously old. Lord Kelvin
doesn't agree with them. He says that it isn't more than a hundred
million years old, and he thinks the human race has inhabited it about
thirty thousand years of that time. Even so, it was 99,970,000 years
getting ready, impatient as the Creator doubtless was to see man and
admire him. That was because God first had to make the oyster. You
can't make an oyster out of nothing, nor you can't do it in a day. You've
got to start with a vast variety of invertebrates, belemnites,
trilobites, jebusites, amalekites, and that sort of fry, and put them
into soak in a primary sea and observe and wait what will happen. Some
of them will turn out a disappointment; the belemnites and the amalekites
and such will be failures, and they will die out and become extinct in
the course of the nineteen million years covered by the experiment; but
all is not lost, for the amalekites will develop gradually into
encrinites and stalactites and blatherskites, and one thing and another,
as the mighty ages creep on and the periods pile their lofty crags in the
primordial seas, and at last the first grand stage in the preparation of
the world for man stands completed; the oyster is done. Now an oyster
has hardly any more reasoning power than a man has, so it is probable
this one jumped to the conclusion that the nineteen million years was a
preparation for him. That would be just like an oyster, and, anyway,
this one could not know at that early date that he was only an incident
in a scheme, and that there was some more to the scheme yet.

"The oyster being finished, the next step in the preparation of the world
for man was fish. So the old Silurian seas were opened up to breed the
fish in. It took twenty million years to make the fish and to fossilize
him so we'd have the evidence later.

"Then, the Paleozoic limit having been reached, it was necessary to start
a new age to make the reptiles. Man would have to have some reptiles
--not to eat, but to develop himself from. Thirty million years were
required for the reptiles, and out of such material as was left were made
those stupendous saurians that used to prowl about the steamy world in
remote ages, with their snaky heads forty feet in the air and their sixty
feet of body and tail racing and thrashing after them. They are all gone
now, every one of them; just a few fossil remnants of them left on this
far-flung fringe of time.

"It took all those years to get one of those creatures properly
constructed to proceed to the next step. Then came the pterodactyl, who
thought all that preparation all those millions of years had been
intended to produce him, for there wasn't anything too foolish for a
pterodactyl to imagine. I suppose he did attract a good deal of
attention, for even the least observant could see that there was the
making of a bird in him, also the making of a mammal, in the course of
time. You can't say too much for the picturesqueness of the pterodactyl
--he was the triumph of his period. He wore wings and had teeth, and was
a starchy-looking creature. But the progression went right along.

"During the next thirty million years the bird arrived, and the kangaroo,
and by and by the mastodon, and the giant sloth, and the Irish elk, and
the old Silurian ass, and some people thought that man was about due. But
that was a mistake, for the next thing they knew there came a great
ice-sheet, and those creatures all escaped across the Bering Strait and
wandered around in Asia and died, all except a few to carry on the
preparation with. There were six of those glacial periods, with two
million years or so between each. They chased those poor orphans up and
down the earth, from weather to weather, from tropic temperature to fifty
degrees below. They never knew what kind of weather was going to turn up
next, and if they settled any place the whole continent suddenly sank
from under them, and they had to make a scramble for dry land. Sometimes
a volcano would turn itself loose just as they got located. They led
that uncertain, strenuous existence for about twenty-five million years,
always wondering what was going to happen next, never suspecting that it
was just a preparation for man, who had to be done just so or there
wouldn't be any proper or harmonious place for him when he arrived, and
then at last the monkey came, and everybody could see at a glance that
man wasn't far off now, and that was true enough. The monkey went on
developing for close upon five million years, and then he turned into a
man--to all appearances.

"It does look like a lot of fuss and trouble to go through to build
anything, especially a human being, and nowhere along the way is there
any evidence of where he picked up that final asset--his imagination. It
makes him different from the others--not any better, but certainly
different. Those earlier animals didn't have it, and the monkey hasn't
it or he wouldn't be so cheerful."

    [Paine records Twain's thoughts in that magnificent essay: "Was the
    World Made for Man" published long after his death in the group of
    essays under the title "Letters from the Earth." There are minor
    additions in the published version: "coal to fry the fish"; and
    the remnants of life being chased from pole to pole "without a dry
    rag on them,"; and the "coat of paint" on top of the bulb on top
    the Eiffel Tower representing "man's portion of this world's
    history."  Ed.]

He often held forth on the shortcomings of the human race--always a
favorite subject--the incompetencies and imperfections of this final
creation, in spite of, or because of, his great attribute--the
imagination. Once (this was in the billiard-room) I started him by
saying that whatever the conditions in other planets, there seemed no
reason why life should not develop in each, adapted as perfectly to
prevailing conditions as man is suited to conditions here. He said:

"Is it your idea, then, that man is perfectly adapted to the conditions
of this planet?"

I began to qualify, rather weakly; but what I said did not matter. He
was off on his favorite theme.

"Man adapted to the earth?" he said. "Why, he can't sleep out-of-doors
without freezing to death or getting the rheumatism or the malaria; he
can't keep his nose under water over a minute without being drowned; he
can't climb a tree without falling out and breaking his neck. Why, he's
the poorest, clumsiest excuse of all the creatures that inhabit this
earth. He has got to be coddled and housed and swathed and bandaged and
up holstered to be able to live at all. He is a rickety sort of a thing,
anyway you take him, a regular British Museum of infirmities and
inferiorities. He is always under going repairs. A machine that is as
unreliable as he is would have no market. The higher animals get their
teeth without pain or inconvenience. The original cave man, the
troglodyte, may have got his that way. But now they come through months
and months of cruel torture, and at a time of life when he is least able
to bear it. As soon as he gets them they must all be pulled out again,
for they were of no value in the first place, not worth the loss of a
night's rest. The second set will answer for a while; but he will never
get a set that can be depended on until the dentist makes one. The
animals are not much troubled that way. In a wild state, a natural
state, they have few diseases; their main one is old age. But man starts
in as a child and lives on diseases to the end as a regular diet. He has
mumps, measles, whooping-cough, croup, tonsilitis, diphtheria,
scarlet-fever, as a matter of course. Afterward, as he goes along, his
life continues to be threatened at every turn by colds, coughs, asthma,
bronchitis, quinsy, consumption, yellow-fever, blindness, influenza,
carbuncles, pneumonia, softening of the brain, diseases of the heart and
bones, and a thousand other maladies of one sort and another. He's just
a basketful of festering, pestilent corruption, provided for the support
and entertainment of microbes. Look at the workmanship of him in some of
its particulars. What are his tonsils for? They perform no useful
function; they have no value. They are but a trap for tonsilitis and
quinsy. And what is the appendix for? It has no value. Its sole
interest is to lie and wait for stray grape-seeds and breed trouble. What
is his beard for? It is just a nuisance. All nations persecute it with
the razor. Nature, however, always keeps him supplied with it, instead
of putting it on his head, where it ought to be. You seldom see a man
bald-headed on his chin, but on his head. A man wants to keep his hair.
It is a graceful ornament, a comfort, the best of all protections against
weather, and he prizes it above emeralds and rubies, and Nature half the
time puts it on so it won't stay.

"Man's sight and smell and hearing are all inferior. If he were suited
to the conditions he could smell an enemy; he could hear him; he could
see him, just as the animals can detect their enemies. The robin hears
the earthworm burrowing his course under the ground; the bloodhound
follows a scent that is two days old. Man isn't even handsome, as
compared with the birds; and as for style, look at the Bengal tiger--that
ideal of grace, physical perfection, and majesty. Think of the lion and
the tiger and the leopard, and then think of man--that poor thing!--the
animal of the wig, the ear-trumpet, the glass eye, the porcelain teeth,
the wooden leg, the trepanned skull, the silver wind-pipe--a creature
that is mended and patched all over from top to bottom. If he can't get
renewals of his bric-a-brac in the next world what will he look like? He
has just that one stupendous superiority--his imagination, his intellect.
It makes him supreme--the higher animals can't match him there. It's
very curious."

A letter which he wrote to J. Howard Moore concerning his book The
Universal Kinship was of this period, and seems to belong here.

    DEAR MR. MOORE, The book has furnished me several days of deep
    pleasure & satisfaction; it has compelled my gratitude at the same
    time, since it saves me the labor of stating my own long-cherished
    opinions & reflections & resentments by doing it lucidly & fervently
    & irascibly for me.

    There is one thing that always puzzles me: as inheritors of the
    mentality of our reptile ancestors we have improved the inheritance
    by a thousand grades; but in the matter of the morals which they
    left us we have gone backward as many grades. That evolution is
    strange & to me unaccountable & unnatural. Necessarily we started
    equipped with their perfect and blemishless morals; now we are
    wholly destitute; we have no real morals, but only artificial ones
    --morals created and preserved by the forced suppression of natural
    & healthy instincts. Yes, we are a sufficiently comical invention,
    we humans.

              Sincerely yours,
                                S. L. CLEMENS.




CCLIII

AN EVENING WITH HELEN KELLER

I recall two pleasant social events of that winter: one a little party
given at the Clemenses' home on New-Year's Eve, with charades and
story-telling and music. It was the music feature of this party that was
distinctive; it was supplied by wire through an invention known as the
telharmonium which, it was believed, would revolutionize musical
entertainment in such places as hotels, and to some extent in private
houses. The music came over the regular telephone wire, and was
delivered through a series of horns or megaphones--similar to those used
for phonographs--the playing being done, meanwhile, by skilled performers
at the central station. Just why the telharmonium has not made good its
promises of popularity I do not know. Clemens was filled with enthusiasm
over the idea. He made a speech a little before midnight, in which he
told how he had generally been enthusiastic about inventions which had
turned out more or less well in about equal proportions. He did not
dwell on the failures, but he told how he had been the first to use a
typewriter for manuscript work; how he had been one of the earliest users
of the fountain-pen; how he had installed the first telephone ever used
in a private house, and how the audience now would have a demonstration
of the first telharmonium music so employed. It was just about the
stroke of midnight when he finished, and a moment later the horns began
to play chimes and "Auld Lang Syne" and "America."

The other pleasant evening referred to was a little company given in
honor of Helen Keller. It was fascinating to watch her, and to realize
with what a store of knowledge she had lighted the black silence of her
physical life. To see Mark Twain and Helen Keller together was something
not easily to be forgotten. When Mrs. Macy (who, as Miss Sullivan, had
led her so marvelously out of the shadows) communicated his words to her
with what seemed a lightning touch of the fingers her face radiated every
shade of his meaning-humorous, serious, pathetic. Helen visited the
various objects in the room, and seemed to enjoy them more than the usual
observer of these things, and certainly in greater detail. Her sensitive
fingers spread over articles of bric-a-brac, and the exclamations she
uttered were always fitting, showing that she somehow visualized each
thing in all its particulars. There was a bronze cat of handsome
workmanship and happy expression, and when she had run those all--seeing
fingers of hers over it she said: "It is smiling."




CCLIV

BILLIARD-ROOM NOTES

The billiard games went along pretty steadily that winter. My play
improved, and Clemens found it necessary to eliminate my odds altogether,
and to change the game frequently in order to keep me in subjection.
Frequently there were long and apparently violent arguments over the
legitimacy of some particular shot or play--arguments to us quite as
enjoyable as the rest of the game. Sometimes he would count a shot which
was clearly out of the legal limits, and then it was always a delight to
him to have a mock-serious discussion over the matter of conscience, and
whether or not his conscience was in its usual state of repair. It would
always end by him saying: "I don't wish even to seem to do anything which
can invite suspicion. I refuse to count that shot," or something of like
nature. Sometimes when I had let a questionable play pass without
comment, he would watch anxiously until I had made a similar one and then
insist on my scoring it to square accounts. His conscience was always
repairing itself.

He had experimented, a great many years before, with what was in the
nature of a trick on some unsuspecting player. It consisted in turning
out twelve pool-balls on the table with one cue ball, and asking his
guest how many caroms he thought he could make with all those twelve
balls to play on. He had learned that the average player would seldom
make more than thirty-one counts, and usually, before this number was
reached, he would miss through some careless play or get himself into a
position where he couldn't play at all. The thing looked absurdly easy.
It looked as if one could go on playing all day long, and the victim was
usually eager to bet that he could make fifty or perhaps a hundred; but
for more than an hour I tried it patiently, and seldom succeeded in
scoring more than fifteen or twenty without missing. Long after the play
itself ceased to be amusing to me, he insisted on my going on and trying
it some more, and he would throw himself back and roar with laughter, the
tears streaming down his cheeks, to see me work and fume and fail.

It was very soon after that that Peter Dunne ("Mr. Dooley") came down for
luncheon, and after several games of the usual sort, Clemens quietly--as
if the idea had just occurred to him--rolled out the twelve balls and
asked Dunne how, many caroms he thought he could make without a miss.
Dunne said he thought he could make a thousand. Clemens quite
indifferently said that he didn't believe he could make fifty. Dunne
offered to bet five dollars that he could, and the wager was made. Dunne
scored about twenty-five the first time and missed; then he insisted on
betting five dollars again, and his defeats continued until Clemens had
twenty-five dollars of Dunne's money, and Dunne was sweating and
swearing, and Mark Twain rocking with delight. Dunne went away still
unsatisfied, promising that he would come back and try it again. Perhaps
he practised in his absence, for when he returned he had learned
something. He won his twenty-five dollars back, and I think something
more added. Mark Twain was still ahead, for Dunne furnished him with a
good five hundred dollars' worth of amusement.

Clemens never cared to talk and never wished to be talked to when the
game was actually in progress. If there was anything to be said on
either side, he would stop and rest his cue on the floor, or sit down on
the couch, until the matter was concluded. Such interruptions happened
pretty frequently, and many of the bits of personal comment and incident
scattered along through this work are the result of those brief rests.
Some shot, or situation, or word would strike back through the past and
awaken a note long silent, and I generally kept a pad and pencil on the
window-sill with the score-sheet, and later, during his play, I would
scrawl some reminder that would be precious by and by.

On one of these I find a memorandum of what he called his three recurrent
dreams. All of us have such things, but his seem worth remembering.

"There is never a month passes," he said, "that I do not dream of being
in reduced circumstances, and obliged to go back to the river to earn a
living. It is never a pleasant dream, either. I love to think about
those days; but there's always something sickening about the thought that
I have been obliged to go back to them; and usually in my dream I am just
about to start into a black shadow without being able to tell whether it
is Selma bluff, or Hat Island, or only a black wall of night.

"Another dream that I have of that kind is being compelled to go back to
the lecture platform. I hate that dream worse than the other. In it I
am always getting up before an audience with nothing to say, trying to be
funny; trying to make the audience laugh, realizing that I am only making
silly jokes. Then the audience realizes it, and pretty soon they
commence to get up and leave. That dream always ends by my standing
there in the semidarkness talking to an empty house.

"My other dream is of being at a brilliant gathering in my
night-garments. People don't seem to notice me there at first, and then
pretty soon somebody points me out, and they all begin to look at me
suspiciously, and I can see that they are wondering who I am and why I am
there in that costume. Then it occurs to me that I can fix it by making
myself known. I take hold of some man and whisper to him, 'I am Mark
Twain'; but that does not improve it, for immediately I can hear him
whispering to the others, 'He says he is Mark Twain,' and they all look
at me a good deal more suspiciously than before, and I can see that they
don't believe it, and that it was a mistake to make that confession.
Sometimes, in that dream, I am dressed like a tramp instead of being in
my night-clothes; but it all ends about the same--they go away and leave
me standing there, ashamed. I generally enjoy my dreams, but not those
three, and they are the ones I have oftenest."

Quite often some curious episode of the world's history would flash upon
him--something amusing, or coarse, or tragic, and he would bring the game
to a standstill and recount it with wonderful accuracy as to date and
circumstance. He had a natural passion for historic events and a gift
for mentally fixing them, but his memory in other ways was seldom
reliable. He was likely to forget the names even of those he knew best
and saw oftenest, and the small details of life seldom registered at all.

He had his breakfast served in his room, and once, on a slip of paper, he
wrote, for his own reminder:

The accuracy of your forgetfulness is absolute--it seems never to fail. I
prepare to pour my coffee so it can cool while I shave--and I always
forget to pour it.

Yet, very curiously, he would sometimes single out a minute detail,
something every one else had overlooked, and days or even weeks afterward
would recall it vividly, and not always at an opportune moment. Perhaps
this also was a part of his old pilot-training. Once Clara Clemens
remarked:

"It always amazes me the things that father does and does not remember.
Some little trifle that nobody else would notice, and you are hoping that
he didn't, will suddenly come back to him just when you least expect it
or care for it."

My note-book contains the entry:

    February 11, 1907. He said to-day:

    "A blindfolded chess-player can remember every play and discuss the
    game afterward, while we can't remember from one shot to the next."

    I mentioned his old pilot-memory as an example of what he could do
    if he wished.

    "Yes," he answered, "those are special memories; a pilot will tell
    you the number of feet in every crossing at any time, but he can't
    remember what he had for breakfast."

    "How long did you keep your pilot-memory?" I asked.

    "Not long; it faded out right away, but the training served me, for
    when I went to report on a paper a year or two later I never had to
    make any notes."

    "I suppose you still remember some of the river?"

    "Not much. Hat Island, Helena and here and there a place; but that
    is about all."




CCLV

FURTHER PERSONALITIES

Like every person living, Mark Twain had some peculiar and petty
economies. Such things in great men are noticeable. He lived
extravagantly. His household expenses at the time amounted to more than
fifty dollars a day. In the matter of food, the choicest, and most
expensive the market could furnish was always served in lavish abundance.
He had the best and highest-priced servants, ample as to number. His
clothes he bought generously; he gave without stint to his children; his
gratuities were always liberal. He never questioned pecuniary outgoes
--seldom worried as to the state of his bank-account so long as there was
plenty. He smoked cheap cigars because he preferred their flavor. Yet
he had his economies. I have seen him, before leaving a room, go around
and carefully lower the gas-jets, to provide against that waste. I have
known him to examine into the cost of a cab, and object to an apparent
overcharge of a few cents.

It seemed that his idea of economy might be expressed in these words: He
abhorred extortion and visible waste.

Furthermore, he had exact ideas as to ownership. One evening, while we
were playing billiards, I noticed a five-cent piece on the floor. I
picked it up, saying:

"Here is five cents; I don't know whose it is."

He regarded the coin rather seriously, I thought, and said:

"I don't know, either."

I laid it on the top of the book-shelves which ran around the room. The
play went on, and I forgot the circumstance. When the game ended that
night I went into his room with him, as usual, for a good-night word. As
he took his change and keys from the pocket of his trousers, he looked
the assortment over and said:

"That five-cent piece you found was mine."

I brought it to him at once, and he took it solemnly, laid it with the
rest of his change, and neither of us referred to it again. It may have
been one of his jokes, but I think it more likely that he remembered
having had a five-cent piece, probably reserved for car fare, and that it
was missing.

More than once, in Washington, he had said:

"Draw plenty of money for incidental expenses. Don't bother to keep
account of them."

So it was not miserliness; it was just a peculiarity, a curious attention
to a trifling detail.

He had a fondness for riding on the then newly completed Subway, which he
called the Underground. Sometimes he would say:

"I'll pay your fare on the Underground if you want to take a ride with
me." And he always insisted on paying the fare, and once when I rode far
up-town with him to a place where he was going to luncheon, and had taken
him to the door, he turned and said, gravely:

"Here is five cents to pay your way home." And I took it in the same
spirit in which it had been offered. It was probably this trait which
caused some one occasionally to claim that Mark Twain was close in money
matters. Perhaps there may have been times in his life when he was
parsimonious; but, if so, I must believe that it was when he was sorely
pressed and exercising the natural instinct of self-preservation. He
wished to receive the full value (who does not?) of his labors and
properties. He took a childish delight in piling up money; but it became
greed only when he believed some one with whom he had dealings was trying
to get an unfair division of profits. Then it became something besides
greed. It became an indignation that amounted to malevolence. I was
concerned in a number of dealings with Mark Twain, and at a period in his
life when human traits are supposed to become exaggerated, which is to
say old age, and if he had any natural tendency to be unfair, or small,
or greedy in his money dealings I think I should have seen it.
Personally, I found him liberal to excess, and I never observed in him
anything less than generosity to those who were fair with him.

Once that winter, when a letter came from Steve Gillis saying that he was
an invalid now, and would have plenty of time to read Sam's books if he
owned them, Clemens ordered an expensive set from his publishers, and did
what meant to him even more than the cost in money--he autographed each
of those twenty-five volumes. Then he sent them, charges paid, to that
far Californian retreat. It was hardly the act of a stingy man.

He had the human fondness for a compliment when it was genuine and from
an authoritative source, and I remember how pleased he was that winter
with Prof. William Lyon Phelps's widely published opinion, which ranked
Mark Twain as the greatest American novelist, and declared that his fame
would outlive any American of his time. Phelps had placed him above
Holmes, Howells, James, and even Hawthorne. He had declared him to be
more American than any of these--more American even than Whitman.
Professor Phelps's position in Yale College gave this opinion a certain
official weight; but I think the fact of Phelps himself being a writer of
great force, with an American freshness of style, gave it a still greater
value.

Among the pleasant things that winter was a meeting with Eugene F. Ware,
of Kansas, with whose penname--"Ironquill"--Clemens had long been
familiar.

Ware was a breezy Western genius of the finest type. If he had abandoned
law for poetry, there is no telling how far his fame might have reached.
There was in his work that same spirit of Americanism and humor and
humanity that is found in Mark Twain's writings, and he had the added
faculty of rhyme and rhythm, which would have set him in a place apart. I
had known Ware personally during a period of Western residence, and
later, when he was Commissioner of Pensions under Roosevelt. I usually
saw him when he came to New York, and it was a great pleasure now to
bring together the two men whose work I so admired. They met at a small
private luncheon at The Players, and Peter Dunne was there, and Robert
Collier, and it was such an afternoon as Howells has told of when he and
Aldrich and Bret Harte and those others talked until the day faded into
twilight, and twilight deepened into evening. Clemens had put in most of
the day before reading Ware's book of poems, 'The Rhymes of Ironquill',
and had declared his work to rank with the very greatest of American
poetry--I think he called it the most truly American in flavor. I
remember that at the luncheon he noted Ware's big, splendid physique and
his Western liberties of syntax with a curious intentness. I believe he
regarded him as being nearer his own type in mind and expression than any
one he had met before.

Among Ware's poems he had been especially impressed with the "Fables,"
and with some verses entitled "Whist," which, though rather more
optimistic, conformed to his own philosophy. They have a distinctly
"Western" feeling.

                       WHIST
        Hour after hour the cards were fairly shuffled,
           And fairly dealt, and still I got no hand;
         The morning came; but I, with mind unruffled,
            Did simply say, "I do not understand."
         Life is a game of whist. From unseen sources
        The cards are shuffled, and the hands are dealt.
         Blind are our efforts to control the forces
        That, though unseen, are no less strongly felt.
         I do not like the way the cards are shuffled,
         But still I like the game and want to play;
       And through the long, long night will I, unruffled,
           Play what I get, until the break of day.



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