This huge volume contains Mark Twains letters, starting from the year 1853, where he lived in New York and Phliadelphia, and ending with his last trip to Bermuda in the year of his death, 1910. His most important speeches are also included in this volume.
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Mark Twain’s Letters & Speeches
Complete And Unabridged Edition
Mark Twain – A Biographical Primer
Mark Twain's Letters
I. Early Letters, 1853. New York And Philadelphia
II. Letters 1856-61. Keokuk, And The River. End Of Piloting
III. Letters 1861-62. On The Frontier. Mining Adventures. Journalistic Beginnings.
IV. Letters 1863-64. "Mark Twain." Comstock Journalism. Artemus Ward
V. Letters 1864-66. San Francisco And Hawaii
VI. Letters 1866-67. The Lecturer. Success On The Coast. In New York. The Great Ocean Excursion.
VII. Letters 1867. The Traveler. The Voyage Of The "Quaker City"
VIII. Letters 1867-68. Washington And San Francisco. The Proposed Book Of Travel. A New Lecture.
IX. Letters 1868-70. Courtship, And "The Innocents Abroad"
X. Letters 1870-71. Mark Twain In Buffalo. Marriage. The Buffalo Express. "Memoranda." Lectures. A New Book.
XI. Letters 1871-72. Removal To Hartford. A Lecture Tour. "Roughing It." First Letter To Howells.
XII. Letters 1872-73. Mark Twain In England.London Honors. Acquaintance With Dr. John Brown. A Lecture Triumph. "The Gilded Age".
XIII. Letters 1874. Hartford And Elmira. A New Study. Beginning "Tom Sawyer." The Sellers Play.
XIV. Letters 1874. Mississippi Chapters. Visits To Boston. A Joke On Aldrich.
XV. Letters From Hartford, 1875. Much Correspondence With Howells.
XVI. Letters, 1876, Chiefly To W. D. Howells. Literature And Politics. Planning A Play With Bret Harte.
XVII. Letters, 1877. To Bermuda With Twichell. Proposition To Th. Nast. The Whittier Dinner.
XVIII. Letters From Europe, 1878-79. Tramping With Twichell. Writing A New Travel Book. Life In Munich.
XIX. Letters 1879. Return To America. The Great Grant Reunion
XX. Letters Of 1880, Chiefly To Howells. "The Prince And The Pauper." Mark Twain Mugwump Society.
XXI. Letters 1881, To Howells And Others. Assisting A Young Sculptor. Literary Plans.
XXII. Letters, 1882, Mainly To Howells. Wasted Fury. Old Scenes Revisited. The Mississippi Book.
XXIII. Letters, 1883, To Howells And Others. A Guest Of The Marquis Of Lorne. The History Game. A Play By Howells And Mark Twain.
XXIV. Letters, 1884, To Howells And Others. Cable's Great April Fool. "Huck Finn" In Press. Mark Twain For Cleveland. Clemens And Cable.
XXV. The Great Year Of 1885. Clemens And Cable. Publication Of "Huck Finn." The Grant Memoirs. Mark Twain At Fifty.
XXVI. Letters, 1886-87. Jane Clemens's Romance. Unmailed Letters, Etc.
XXVII. Miscellaneous Letters Of 1887. Literary Articles. Peaceful Days At The Farm. Favorite Reading. Apology To Mrs. Cleveland, Etc.
XXVIII. Letters,1888. A Yale Degree. Work On "The Yankee." On Interviewing, Etc.
XXIX. Letters, 1889. The Machine. Death Of Mr. Crane. Conclusion Of The Yankee.
XXX. Letters, 1890, Chiefly To Jos. T. Goodman. The Great Machine Enterprise
XXXI. Letters, 1891, To Howells, Mrs. Clemens And Others. Return To Literature. American Claimant. Leaving Hartford. Europe. Down The Rhine.
XXXII. Letters, 1892, Chiefly To Mr. Hall And Mrs. Crane. In Berlin, Mentone, Bad-Nauheim, Florence.
XXXIII. Letters, 1893, To Mr. Hall, Mrs. Clemens, And Others. Florence. Business Troubles. "Pudd'nhead Wilson." "Joan Of Arc." At The Players, New
XXXIV. Letters 1894. A Winter In New York. Business Failure. End Of The Machine.
XXXV. Letters, 1895-96, To H. H. Rogers And Others. Finishing "Joan Of Arc." The Trip Around The World. Death Of Susy Clemens.
XXXVI. Letters 1897. London, Switzerland, Vienna
XXXVII. Letters, 1898, To Howells And Twichell. Life In Vienna. Payment Of The Debts. Assassination Of The Empress.
XXXVIII. Letters, 1899, To Howells And Others. Vienna. London. A Summer In Sweden.
XXXIX. Letters Of 1900, Mainly To Twichell. The Boer War. Boxer Troubles. The Return To America.
XL. Letters Of 1901, Chiefly To Twichell. Mark Twain As A Reformer. Summer At Saranac. Assassination Of President Mckinley.
XLI. Letters Of 1902. Riverdale. York Harbor. Illness Of Mrs. Clemens
XLII. Letters Of 1903. To Various Persons. Hard Days At Riverdale. Last Summer At Elmira. The Return To Italy.
XLIII. Letters Of 1904. To Various Persons. Life In Villa Quarto. Death Of Mrs. Clemens. The Return To America.
XLIV. Letters Of 1905. To Twichell, Mr. Duneka And Others. Politics And Humanity. A Summer At Dublin. Mark Twain At 70.
XLV. Letters, 1906, To Various Persons. The Farewell Lecture. A Second Summer In Dublin. Billiards And Copyright.
XLVI. Letters 1907-08. A Degree From Oxford. The New Home At Redding.
XLVII. Letters, 1909. To Howells And Others. Life At Stormfield. Copyright Extension. Death Of Jean Clemens
XLVIII. Letters Of 1910. Last Trip To Bermuda. Letters To Paine. The Last Letter.
Mark Twain's Speeches
The Story Of A Speech
Plymouth Rock And The Pilgrims
Compliments And Degrees
Books, Authors, And Hats
Die Schrecken Der Deutschen Sprache [The Horrors Of The German Language]
German For The Hungarians
A New German Word
Our Children And Great Discoveries
The Educational Theatre
Poets As Policemen
Pudd'nhead Wilson Dramatized
The Dress Of Civilized Woman
Dress Reform And Copyright
Woman's Press Club
Votes For Women
Advice To Girls
Taxes And Morals
Tammany And Croker
China And The Philippines
University Settlement Society
Public Education Association
Education And Citizenship
The Dinner To Mr. Choate
On Stanley And Livingstone
Henry M. Stanley
Dinner To Mr. Jerome
Dinner To Hamilton W. Mabie
Introducing Nye And Riley
Dinner To Whitelaw Reid
Rogers And Railroads
The Old-Fashioned Printer
Society Of American Authors
Disappearance Of Literature
The New York Press Club Dinner
The Alphabet And Simplified Spelling
Spelling And Pictures
Books And Burglars
"Mark Twain's First Appearance"
Morals And Memory
Joan Of Arc
Cats And Candy
Cigars And Tobacco
The Union Right Or Wrong
An Ideal French Address
Galveston Orphan Bazaar
San Francisco Earthquake
Charity And Actors
Watterson And Twain As Rebels
Robert Fulton Fund
Fulton Day, Jamestown
Lotos Club Dinner In Honor Of Mark Twain
In Aid Of The Blind
Dr. Mark Twain, Farmeopath
Missouri University Speech
Carnegie The Benefactor
On Poetry, Veracity, And Suicide
An Undelivered Speech
To The Whitefriars
The Ascot Gold Cup
The Savage Club Dinner
General Miles And The Dog
When In Doubt, Tell The Truth
The Day We Celebrate
Americans And The English
The St. Louis Harbor-Boat "Mark Twain"
Mark Twain’s Letters & Speeches, M. Twain
Jazzybee Verlag Jürgen Beck
86450 Altenmünster, Loschberg 9
Mark Twain was the nom de plume of Samuel Langhorne Clemens (1835-1910), an American author who was born on the 30th of November 1835, at Florida, Missouri. His father was a country merchant from Tennessee, who moved soon after his son's birth to Hannibal, Missouri, a little town on the Mississippi. When the boy was only twelve his father died, and thereafter he had to get his education as best he could. Of actual schooling he had little. He learned how to set type, and as a journeyman printer he wandered widely, going even as far east as New York. At seventeen he went back to the Mississippi, determined to become a pilot on a river-steamboat. In his Life on the Mississippi he has recorded graphically his experiences while “learning the river.” But in 1861 the war broke out, and the pilot's occupation was gone. After a brief period of uncertainty the young man started West with his brother, who had been appointed lieutenant-governor of Nevada. He went to the mines for a season, and there he began to write in the local newspapers, adopting the pen name of “Mark Twain,” from a call used in taking soundings on the Mississippi steamboats. He drifted in time to San Francisco, and it was a newspaper of that city which in 1867 supplied the money for him to join a party going on a chartered steamboat to the Mediterranean ports. The letters which he wrote during this voyage were gathered in 1869 into a volume, The Innocents Abroad, and the book immediately won a wide and enduring popularity. This popularity was of service to him when he appeared on the platform with a lecture or rather with an apparently informal talk, rich in admirably delivered anecdote. He edited a daily newspaper in Buffalo for a few months, and in 1870 he married Miss Olivia L. Langdon (d. 1904), removing a year later to Hartford, where he established his home. Roughing It was published in 1872, and in 1874 he collaborated with Charles Dudley Warner in The Gilded Age, from which he made a play, acted many hundred times with John T. Raymond as “Colonel Sellers.” In 1875 he published The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, the sequel to which, Huckleberry Finn, did not appear until 1884. The result of a second visit to Europe was humorously recorded in A Tramp Abroad (1880), followed in 1882 by a more or less historical romance, The Prince and the Pauper; and a year later came Life on the Mississippi. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, the next of his books, was published (in 1884) by a New York firm in which the author was chief partner. This firm prospered for a while, and issued in 1889 Mark Twain's own comic romance, A Connecticut Yankee at King Arthur's Court, and in 1892 a less successful novel, The American Claimant. But after a severe struggle the publishing house failed, leaving the author charged with its very heavy debts. After this disaster he issued a third Mississippi Valley novel, The Tragedy of Pudd'nhead Wilson, in 1894, and in 1896 another historical romance, Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc, wherein the maid is treated with the utmost sympathy and reverence. He went on a tour round the world, partly to make money by lecturing and partly to get material for another book of travels, published in 1897, and called in America Following the Equator, and in England More Tramps Abroad. From time to time he had collected into volumes his scattered sketches; of these the first, The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, appeared in 1867, and the latest, The Man that Corrupted Hadleyburg, in 1900. To be recorded also is a volume of essays and literary criticisms, How to Tell a Story (1897). A complete edition of his works was published in twenty-two volumes in 1890-1900 by the American Publishing Company of Hartford. And in this last year, having paid off all the debts of his old firm, he returned to America. By the time he died his books had brought him a considerable fortune. In later years he published a few minor volumes of fiction, and a series of severe and also amusing criticisms of Christian Science (published as a book in 1907), and in 1906 he began an autobiography in the North American Review. He had a great reception in England in 1907, when he went over to receive from Oxford the degree of Doctor of Literature. He died at Redding, Connecticut, on the 21st of April 1910. Of his four daughters only one, who married the Russian pianist Gabrilowitch, survived him. Mark Twain was an outstanding figure for many years as a popular American personality in the world of letters. He is commonly considered as a humorist, and no doubt he is a humorist of a remarkable comic force and of a refreshing fertility. But the books in which his humour is broadly displayed, the travels and the sketches, are not really so significant of his power as the three novels of the Mississippi, Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn and Pudd'nhead Wilson, wherein we have preserved a vanished civilization, peopled with typical figures, and presented with inexorable veracity. There is no lack of humour in them, and there is never a hint of affectation in the writing; indeed, the author, doing spontaneously the work nearest to his hand, was very likely unconscious that he was making a contribution to history. But such Huckleberry Finn is, beyond all question; it is a story of very varied interest, now comic, now almost tragic, frequently poetic, unfailingly truthful, although not always sustained at its highest level. And in these three works of fiction there are not only humour and pathos, character and truth, there is also the largeness of outlook on life such as we find only in the works of the masters. Beneath his fun-making we can discern a man who is fundamentally serious, and whose ethical standards are ever lofty. Like Cervantes at times, Mark Twain reveals a depth of melancholy beneath his playful humour, and like Molière always, he has a deep scorn and a burning detestation of all sorts of sham and pretence, a scorching hatred of humbug and hypocrisy. Like Cervantes and like Molière, he is always sincere and direct.
We have no record of Mark Twain's earliest letters. Very likely
they were soiled pencil notes, written to some school sweetheart
—to "Becky Thatcher," perhaps—and tossed across at lucky moments,
or otherwise, with happy or disastrous results. One of those
smudgy, much-folded school notes of the Tom Sawyer period would be
priceless to-day, and somewhere among forgotten keepsakes it may
exist, but we shall not be likely to find it. No letter of his
boyhood, no scrap of his earlier writing, has come to light except
his penciled name, SAM CLEMENS, laboriously inscribed on the inside
of a small worn purse that once held his meager, almost non-existent
wealth. He became a printer's apprentice at twelve, but as he
received no salary, the need of a purse could not have been urgent.
He must have carried it pretty steadily, however, from its
appearance—as a kind of symbol of hope, maybe—a token of that
Sellers-optimism which dominated his early life, and was never
No other writing of any kind has been preserved from Sam Clemens's
boyhood, none from that period of his youth when he had served his
apprenticeship and was a capable printer on his brother's paper, a
contributor to it when occasion served. Letters and manuscripts of
those days have vanished—even his contributions in printed form are
unobtainable. It is not believed that a single number of Orion
Clemens's paper, the Hannibal Journal, exists to-day.
It was not until he was seventeen years old that Sam Clemens wrote a
letter any portion of which has survived. He was no longer in
Hannibal. Orion's unprosperous enterprise did not satisfy him.
His wish to earn money and to see the world had carried him first to
St. Louis, where his sister Pamela was living, then to New York
City, where a World's Fair in a Crystal Palace was in progress.
The letter tells of a visit to this great exhibition. It is not
complete, and the fragment bears no date, but it was written during
the summer of 1853.
Fragment of a letter from Sam L. Clemens to his sister Pamela Moffett, in St. Louis, summer of 1853:
... From the gallery (second floor) you have a glorious sight—the flags of the different countries represented, the lofty dome, glittering jewelry, gaudy tapestry, &c., with the busy crowd passing to and fro—tis a perfect fairy palace—beautiful beyond description.
The Machinery department is on the main floor, but I cannot enumerate any of it on account of the lateness of the hour (past 8 o'clock.) It would take more than a week to examine everything on exhibition; and as I was only in a little over two hours tonight, I only glanced at about one-third of the articles; and having a poor memory; I have enumerated scarcely any of even the principal objects. The visitors to the Palace average 6,000 daily—double the population of Hannibal. The price of admission being 50 cents, they take in about $3,000.
The Latting Observatory (height about 280 feet) is near the Palace—from it you can obtain a grand view of the city and the country round. The Croton Aqueduct, to supply the city with water, is the greatest wonder yet. Immense sewers are laid across the bed of the Hudson River, and pass through the country to Westchester county, where a whole river is turned from its course, and brought to New York. From the reservoir in the city to the Westchester county reservoir, the distance is thirty-eight miles! and if necessary, they could supply every family in New York with one hundred barrels of water per day!
I am very sorry to learn that Henry has been sick. He ought to go to the country and take exercise; for he is not half so healthy as Ma thinks he is. If he had my walking to do, he would be another boy entirely. Four times every day I walk a little over one mile; and working hard all day, and walking four miles, is exercise—I am used to it, now, though, and it is no trouble. Where is it Orion's going to? Tell Ma my promises are faithfully kept, and if I have my health I will take her to Ky. in the spring—I shall save money for this. Tell Jim and all the rest of them to write, and give me all the news. I am sorry to hear such bad news from Will and Captain Bowen. I shall write to Will soon. The Chatham-square Post Office and the Broadway office too, are out of my way, and I always go to the General Post Office; so you must write the direction of my letters plain, "New York City, N. Y.," without giving the street or anything of the kind, or they may go to some of the other offices. (It has just struck 2 A.M. and I always get up at 6, and am at work at 7.) You ask me where I spend my evenings. Where would you suppose, with a free printers' library containing more than 4,000 volumes within a quarter of a mile of me, and nobody at home to talk to? I shall write to Ella soon. Write soon
Truly your Brother
P. S. I have written this by a light so dim that you nor Ma could not read by it.
He was lodging in a mechanics' cheap boarding-house in Duane Street,
and we may imagine the bareness of his room, the feeble poverty of
"Tell Ma my promises are faithfully kept." It was the day when he
had left Hannibal. His mother, Jane Clemens, a resolute, wiry woman
of forty-nine, had put together his few belongings. Then, holding
up a little Testament:
"I want you to take hold of the end of this, Sam," she said, "and
make me a promise. I want you to repeat after me these words:
'I do solemnly swear that I will not throw a card, or drink a drop
of liquor while I am gone.'"
It was this oath, repeated after her, that he was keeping
faithfully. The Will Bowen mentioned is a former playmate, one of
Tom Sawyer's outlaw band. He had gone on the river to learn
piloting with an elder brother, the "Captain." What the bad news
was is no longer remembered, but it could not have been very
serious, for the Bowen boys remained on the river for many years.
"Ella" was Samuel Clemens's cousin and one-time sweetheart, Ella
Creel. "Jim" was Jim Wolfe, an apprentice in Orion's office, and
the hero of an adventure which long after Mark Twain wrote under the
title of, "Jim Wolfe and the Cats."
There is scarcely a hint of the future Mark Twain in this early
letter. It is the letter of a boy of seventeen who is beginning to
take himself rather seriously—who, finding himself for the first
time far from home and equal to his own responsibilities, is willing
to carry the responsibility of others. Henry, his brother, three
years younger, had been left in the printing-office with Orion, who,
after a long, profitless fight, is planning to remove from Hannibal.
The young traveler is concerned as to the family outlook, and will
furnish advice if invited. He feels the approach of prosperity, and
will take his mother on a long-coveted trip to her old home in the
spring. His evenings? Where should he spend them, with a free
library of four thousand volumes close by? It is distinctly a
youthful letter, a bit pretentious, and wanting in the spontaneity
and humor of a later time. It invites comment, now, chiefly because
it is the first surviving document in the long human story.
He was working in the printing-office of John A. Gray and Green, on
Cliff Street, and remained there through the summer. He must have
written more than once during this period, but the next existing
letter—also to Sister Pamela—was written in October. It is
perhaps a shade more natural in tone than the earlier example, and
there is a hint of Mark Twain in the first paragraph.
To Mrs. Moffett, in St. Louis:
NEW YORK..., Oct. Saturday '53.
MY DEAR SISTER,—I have not written to any of the family for some time, from the fact, firstly, that I didn't know where they were, and secondly, because I have been fooling myself with the idea that I was going to leave New York every day for the last two weeks. I have taken a liking to the abominable place, and every time I get ready to leave, I put it off a day or so, from some unaccountable cause. It is as hard on my conscience to leave New York, as it was easy to leave Hannibal. I think I shall get off Tuesday, though.
Edwin Forrest has been playing, for the last sixteen days, at the Broadway Theatre, but I never went to see him till last night. The play was the "Gladiator." I did not like parts of it much, but other portions were really splendid. In the latter part of the last act, where the "Gladiator" (Forrest) dies at his brother's feet, (in all the fierce pleasure of gratified revenge,) the man's whole soul seems absorbed in the part he is playing; and it is really startling to see him. I am sorry I did not see him play "Damon and Pythias" the former character being his greatest. He appears in Philadelphia on Monday night.
I have not received a letter from home lately, but got a "'Journal'" the other day, in which I see the office has been sold. I suppose Ma, Orion and Henry are in St. Louis now. If Orion has no other project in his head, he ought to take the contract for getting out some weekly paper, if he cannot get a foremanship. Now, for such a paper as the "Presbyterian" (containing about 60,000,—[Sixty thousand ems, type measurement.]) he could get $20 or $25 per week, and he and Henry could easily do the work; nothing to do but set the type and make up the forms....
If my letters do not come often, you need not bother yourself about me; for if you have a brother nearly eighteen years of age, who is not able to take care of himself a few miles from home, such a brother is not worth one's thoughts: and if I don't manage to take care of No. 1, be assured you will never know it. I am not afraid, however; I shall ask favors from no one, and endeavor to be (and shall be) as "independent as a wood-sawyer's clerk."
I never saw such a place for military companies as New York. Go on the street when you will, you are sure to meet a company in full uniform, with all the usual appendages of drums, fifes, &c. I saw a large company of soldiers of 1812 the other day, with a '76 veteran scattered here and there in the ranks. And as I passed through one of the parks lately, I came upon a company of boys on parade. Their uniforms were neat, and their muskets about half the common size. Some of them were not more than seven or eight years of age; but had evidently been well-drilled.
Passage to Albany (160 miles) on the finest steamers that ply' the Hudson, is now 25 cents—cheap enough, but is generally cheaper than that in the summer.
I want you to write as soon as I tell you where to direct your letter. I would let you know now, if I knew myself. I may perhaps be here a week longer; but I cannot tell. When you write tell me the whereabouts of the family. My love to Mr. Moffett and Ella. Tell Ella I intend to write to her soon, whether she wants me to nor not.
Truly your Brother,
SAML L. CLEMENS.
He was in Philadelphia when he wrote the nest letter that has come
down to us, and apparently satisfied with the change. It is a
letter to Orion Clemens, who had disposed of his paper, but
evidently was still in Hannibal. An extended description of a trip
to Fairmount Park is omitted because of its length, its chief
interest being the tendency it shows to descriptive writing—the
field in which he would make his first great fame. There is,
however, no hint of humor, and only a mild suggestion of the author
of the Innocents Abroad in this early attempt. The letter as here
given is otherwise complete, the omissions being indicated.
To Orion Clemens, in Hannibal:
PHILADELPHIA, PA. Oct. 26,1853.
MY DEAR BROTHER,—It was at least two weeks before I left New York, that I received my last letter from home: and since then, not a word have I heard from any of you. And now, since I think of it, it wasn't a letter, either, but the last number of the "Daily Journal," saying that that paper was sold, and I very naturally supposed from that, that the family had disbanded, and taken up winter quarters in St. Louis. Therefore, I have been writing to Pamela, till I've tired of it, and have received no answer. I have been writing for the last two or three weeks, to send Ma some money, but devil take me if I knew where she was, and so the money has slipped out of my pocket somehow or other, but I have a dollar left, and a good deal owing to me, which will be paid next Monday. I shall enclose the dollar in this letter, and you can hand it to her. I know it's a small amount, but then it will buy her a handkerchief, and at the same time serve as a specimen of the kind of stuff we are paid with in Philadelphia, for you see it's against the law, in Pennsylvania, to keep or pass a bill of less denomination than $5. I have only seen two or three bank bills since I have been in the State. On Monday the hands are paid off in sparkling gold, fresh from the Mint; so your dreams are not troubled with the fear of having doubtful money in your pocket.
I am subbing at the Inquirer office. One man has engaged me to work for him every Sunday till the first of next April, (when I shall return home to take Ma to Ky;) and another has engaged my services for the 24th of next month; and if I want it, I can get subbing every night of the week. I go to work at 7 o'clock in the evening, and work till 3 o'clock the next morning. I can go to the theatre and stay till 12 o'clock and then go to the office, and get work from that till 3 the next morning; when I go to bed, and sleep till 11 o'clock, then get up and loaf the rest of the day. The type is mostly agate and minion, with some bourgeois; and when one gets a good agate take,—["Agate," "minion," etc., sizes of type; "take," a piece of work. Type measurement is by ems, meaning the width of the letter 'm'.]—he is sure to make money. I made $2.50 last Sunday, and was laughed at by all the hands, the poorest of whom sets 11,000 on Sunday; and if I don't set 10,000, at least, next Sunday, I'll give them leave to laugh as much as they want to. Out of the 22 compositors in this office, 12 at least, set 15,000 on Sunday.
Unlike New York, I like this Philadelphia amazingly, and the people in it. There is only one thing that gets my "dander" up—and that is the hands are always encouraging me: telling me—"it's no use to get discouraged—no use to be down-hearted, for there is more work here than you can do!" "Down-hearted," the devil! I have not had a particle of such a feeling since I left Hannibal, more than four months ago. I fancy they'll have to wait some time till they see me down-hearted or afraid of starving while I have strength to work and am in a city of 400,000 inhabitants. When I was in Hannibal, before I had scarcely stepped out of the town limits, nothing could have convinced me that I would starve as soon as I got a little way from home....
The grave of Franklin is in Christ Church-yard, corner of Fifth and Arch streets. They keep the gates locked, and one can only see the flat slab that lies over his remains and that of his wife; but you cannot see the inscription distinctly enough to read it. The inscription, I believe, reads thus:
and | Franklin"
I counted 27 cannons (6 pounders) planted in the edge of the sidewalk in Water St. the other day. They are driven into the ground, about a foot, with the mouth end upwards. A ball is driven fast into the mouth of each, to exclude the water; they look like so many posts. They were put there during the war. I have also seen them planted in this manner, round the old churches, in N. Y.....
There is one fine custom observed in Phila. A gentleman is always expected to hand up a lady's money for her. Yesterday, I sat in the front end of the 'bus, directly under the driver's box—a lady sat opposite me. She handed me her money, which was right. But, Lord! a St. Louis lady would think herself ruined, if she should be so familiar with a stranger. In St. Louis a man will sit in the front end of the stage, and see a lady stagger from the far end, to pay her fare. The Phila. 'bus drivers cannot cheat. In the front of the stage is a thing like an office clock, with figures from 0 to 40, marked on its face. When the stage starts, the hand of the clock is turned toward the 0. When you get in and pay your fare, the driver strikes a bell, and the hand moves to the figure 1—that is, "one fare, and paid for," and there is your receipt, as good as if you had it in your pocket. When a passenger pays his fare and the driver does not strike the bell immediately, he is greeted "Strike that bell! will you?"
I must close now. I intend visiting the Navy Yard, Mint, etc., before I write again. You must write often. You see I have nothing to write interesting to you, while you can write nothing that will not interest me. Don't say my letters are not long enough. Tell Jim Wolfe to write. Tell all the boys where I am, and to write. Jim Robinson, particularly. I wrote to him from N. Y. Tell me all that is going on in H—l.
Truly your brother
Those were primitive times. Imagine a passenger in these
easy-going days calling to a driver or conductor to "Strike
"H—l" is his abbreviation for Hannibal. He had first used
it in a title of a poem which a few years before, during one
of Orion's absences, he had published in the paper. "To
Mary in Hannibal" was too long to set as a display head in
single column. The poem had no great merit, but under the
abbreviated title it could hardly fail to invite notice. It
was one of several things he did to liven up the circulation
during a brief period of his authority.
The doubtful money he mentions was the paper issued by
private banks, "wild cat," as it was called. He had been
paid with it in New York, and found it usually at a
discount—sometimes even worthless. Wages and money were
both better in Philadelphia, but the fund for his mother's
trip to Kentucky apparently did not grow very rapidly.
The next letter, written a month later, is also to Orion
Clemens, who had now moved to Muscatine, Iowa, and
established there a new paper with an old title, 'The
To Orion Clemens, in Muscatine, Iowa:
PHILADELPHIA, Nov. 28th, 1853.
MY DEAR BROTHER,—I received your letter today. I think Ma ought to spend the winter in St. Louis. I don't believe in that climate—it's too cold for her.
The printers' annual ball and supper came off the other night. The proceeds amounted to about $1,000. The printers, as well as other people, are endeavoring to raise money to erect a monument to Franklin, but there are so many abominable foreigners here (and among printers, too,) who hate everything American, that I am very certain as much money for such a purpose could be raised in St. Louis, as in Philadelphia. I was in Franklin's old office this morning—the "North American" (formerly "Philadelphia Gazette") and there was at least one foreigner for every American at work there.
How many subscribers has the Journal got? What does the job-work pay? and what does the whole concern pay?...
I will try to write for the paper occasionally, but I fear my letters will be very uninteresting, for this incessant night-work dulls one's ideas amazingly.
From some cause, I cannot set type nearly so fast as when I was at home. Sunday is a long day, and while others set 12 and 15,000, yesterday, I only set 10,000. However, I will shake this laziness off, soon, I reckon....
How do you like "free-soil?"—I would like amazingly to see a good old-fashioned negro.
My love to all
Truly your brother
We may believe that it never occurred to the young printer, looking
up landmarks of Ben Franklin, that time would show points of
resemblance between the great Franklin's career and his own. Yet
these seem now rather striking. Like Franklin, he had been taken
out of school very young and put at the printer's trade; like
Franklin, he had worked in his brother's office, and had written for
the paper. Like him, too, he had left quietly for New York and
Philadelphia to work at the trade of printing, and in time Samuel
Clemens, like Benjamin Franklin, would become a world-figure,
many-sided, human, and of incredible popularity. The boy Sam
Clemens may have had such dreams, but we find no trace of them.
There is but one more letter of this early period. Young Clemens
spent some time in Washington, but if he wrote from there his
letters have disappeared. The last letter is from Philadelphia and
seems to reflect homesickness. The novelty of absence and travel
was wearing thin.
To Mrs. Moffett, in St. Louis:
PHILADELPHIA, Dec. 5, '53.
MY DEAR SISTER,—I have already written two letters within the last two hours, and you will excuse me if this is not lengthy. If I had the money, I would come to St. Louis now, while the river is open; but within the last two or three weeks I have spent about thirty dollars for clothing, so I suppose I shall remain where I am. I only want to return to avoid night-work, which is injuring my eyes. I have received one or two letters from home, but they are not written as they should be, and I know no more about what is going on there than the man in the moon. One only has to leave home to learn how to write an interesting letter to an absent friend when he gets back. I suppose you board at Mrs. Hunter's yet—and that, I think, is somewhere in Olive street above Fifth. Philadelphia is one of the healthiest places in the Union. I wanted to spend this winter in a warm climate, but it is too late now. I don't like our present prospect for cold weather at all.
Truly your brother
But he did not return to the West for another half year. The
letters he wrote during that period have not survived. It was late
in the summer of 1854 when he finally started for St. Louis. He sat
up for three days and nights in a smoking-car to make the journey,
and arrived exhausted. The river packet was leaving in a few hours
for Muscatine, Iowa, where his mother and his two brothers were now
located. He paid his sister a brief visit, and caught the boat.
Worn-out, he dropped into his berth and slept the thirty-six hours
of the journey.
It was early when-he arrived—too early to arouse the family. In
the office of the little hotel where he waited for daylight he found
a small book. It contained portraits of the English rulers, with
the brief facts of their reigns. Young Clemens entertained himself
by learning this information by heart. He had a fine memory for
such things, and in an hour or two had the printed data perfectly
and permanently committed. This incidentally acquired knowledge
proved of immense value to him. It was his groundwork for all
There comes a period now of nearly four years, when Samuel Clemens
was either a poor correspondent or his letters have not been
preserved. Only two from this time have survived—happily of
intimate biographical importance.
Young Clemens had not remained in Muscatine. His brother had no
inducements to offer, and he presently returned to St. Louis, where
he worked as a compositor on the Evening News until the following
spring, rooming with a young man named Burrough, a journeyman
chair-maker with a taste for the English classics. Orion Clemens,
meantime, on a trip to Keokuk, had casually married there, and a
little later removed his office to that city. He did not move the
paper; perhaps it did not seem worth while, and in Keokuk he
confined himself to commercial printing. The Ben Franklin Book and
Job Office started with fair prospects. Henry Clemens and a boy
named Dick Hingham were the assistants, and somewhat later, when
brother Sam came up from St. Louis on a visit, an offer of five
dollars a week and board induced him to remain. Later, when it
became increasingly difficult to pay the five dollars, Orion took
his brother into partnership, which perhaps relieved the financial
stress, though the office methods would seem to have left something
to be desired. It is about at this point that the first of the two
letters mentioned was written. The writer addressed it to his
mother and sister—Jane Clemens having by this time taken up her
home with her daughter, Mrs. Moffett.
To Mrs. Clemens and Mrs. Moffett, in St. Louis:
KEOKUK, Iowa, June 10th, 1856.
MY DEAR MOTHER & SISTER,—I have nothing to write. Everything is going on well. The Directory is coming on finely. I have to work on it occasionally, which I don't like a particle I don't like to work at too many things at once. They take Henry and Dick away from me too. Before we commenced the Directory, I could tell before breakfast just how much work could be done during the day, and manage accordingly—but now, they throw all my plans into disorder by taking my hands away from their work. I have nothing to do with the book—if I did I would have the two book hands do more work than they do, or else I would drop it. It is not a mere supposition that they do not work fast enough—I know it; for yesterday the two book hands were at work all day, Henry and Dick all the afternoon, on the advertisements, and they set up five pages and a half—and I set up two pages and a quarter of the same matter after supper, night before last, and I don't work fast on such things. They are either excessively slow motioned or very lazy. I am not getting along well with the job work. I can't work blindly—without system. I gave Dick a job yesterday, which I calculated he would set in two hours and I could work off in three, and therefore just finish it by supper time, but he was transferred to the Directory, and the job, promised this morning, remains untouched. Through all the great pressure of job work lately, I never before failed in a promise of the kind.
Excuse brevity this is my 3rd letter to-night.
Samuel Clemens was never celebrated for his patience; we may imagine
that the disorder of the office tried his nerves. He seems, on the
whole, however, to have been rather happy in Keokuk. There were
plenty of young people there, and he was a favorite among them. But
he had grown dissatisfied, and when one day some weeks later there
fell into His hands an account of the riches of the newly explored
regions of the upper Amazon, he promptly decided to find his fortune
at the headwaters of the great South-American river. The second
letter reports this momentous decision. It was written to Henry
Clemens, who was temporarily absent-probably in Hannibal.
To Henry Clemens:
KEOKUK, August 5th, '56.
MY DEAR BROTHER,—.... Ward and I held a long consultation, Sunday morning, and the result was that we two have determined to start to Brazil, if possible, in six weeks from now, in order to look carefully into matters there and report to Dr. Martin in time for him to follow on the first of March. We propose going via New York. Now, between you and I and the fence you must say nothing about this to Orion, for he thinks that Ward is to go clear through alone, and that I am to stop at New York or New Orleans until he reports. But that don't suit me. My confidence in human nature does not extend quite that far. I won't depend upon Ward's judgment, or anybody's else—I want to see with my own eyes, and form my own opinion. But you know what Orion is. When he gets a notion into his head, and more especially if it is an erroneous one, the Devil can't get it out again. So I know better than to combat his arguments long, but apparently yielded, inwardly determined to go clear through. Ma knows my determination, but even she counsels me to keep it from Orion. She says I can treat him as I did her when I started to St. Louis and went to New York—I can start to New York and go to South America! Although Orion talks grandly about furnishing me with fifty or a hundred dollars in six weeks, I could not depend upon him for ten dollars, so I have "feelers" out in several directions, and have already asked for a hundred dollars from one source (keep it to yourself.) I will lay on my oars for awhile, and see how the wind sets, when I may probably try to get more. Mrs. Creel is a great friend of mine, and has some influence with Ma and Orion, though I reckon they would not acknowledge it. I am going up there tomorrow, to press her into my service. I shall take care that Ma and Orion are plentifully supplied with South American books. They have Herndon's Report now. Ward and the Dr. and myself will hold a grand consultation tonight at the office. We have agreed that no more shall be admitted into our company.
I believe the Guards went down to Quincy today to escort our first locomotive home.
Readers familiar with the life of Mark Twain know that none of the
would-be adventurers found their way to the Amazon: His two
associates gave up the plan, probably for lack of means. Young
Clemens himself found a fifty-dollar bill one bleak November day
blowing along the streets of Keokuk, and after duly advertising his
find without result, set out for the Amazon, by way of Cincinnati
and New Orleans.
"I advertised the find and left for the Amazon the same day," he
once declared, a statement which we may take with a literary
He remained in Cincinnati that winter (1856-57) working at his
trade. No letters have been preserved from that time, except two
that were sent to a Keokuk weekly, the Saturday Post, and as these
were written for publication, and are rather a poor attempt at
burlesque humor—their chief feature being a pretended illiteracy
—they would seem to bear no relation to this collection. He roomed
that winter with a rugged, self-educated Scotchman—a mechanic, but
a man of books and philosophies, who left an impress on Mark Twain's
In April he took up once more the journey toward South America, but
presently forgot the Amazon altogether in the new career that opened
to him. All through his boyhood and youth Samuel Clemens had wanted
to be a pilot. Now came the long-deferred opportunity. On the
little Cincinnati steamer, the Paul Jones, there was a pilot named
Horace Bixby. Young Clemens idling in the pilot-house was one
morning seized with the old ambition, and laid siege to Bixby to
teach him the river. The terms finally agreed upon specified a fee
to Bixby of five hundred dollars, one hundred down, the balance when
the pupil had completed the course and was earning money. But all
this has been told in full elsewhere, and is only summarized here
because the letters fail to complete the story.
Bixby soon made some trips up the Missouri River, and in his absence
turned his apprentice, or "cub," over to other pilots, such being
the river custom. Young Clemens, in love with the life, and a
favorite with his superiors, had a happy time until he came under a
pilot named Brown. Brown was illiterate and tyrannical, and from
the beginning of their association pilot and apprentice disliked
each other cordially.
It is at this point that the letters begin once more—the first
having been written when young Clemens, now twenty-two years old,
had been on the river nearly a year. Life with Brown, of course,
was not all sorrow, and in this letter we find some of the fierce
joy of adventure which in those days Samuel Clemens loved.
To Onion Clemens and Wife, in Keokuk, Iowa:
SAINT LOUIS, March 9th, 1858.
DEAR BROTHER AND SISTER,—I must take advantage of the opportunity now presented to write you, but I shall necessarily be dull, as I feel uncommonly stupid. We have had a hard trip this time. Left Saint Louis three weeks ago on the Pennsylvania. The weather was very cold, and the ice running densely. We got 15 miles below town, landed the boat, and then one pilot. Second Mate and four deck hands took the sounding boat and shoved out in the ice to hunt the channel. They failed to find it, and the ice drifted them ashore. The pilot left the men with the boat and walked back to us, a mile and a half. Then the other pilot and myself, with a larger crew of men started out and met with the same fate. We drifted ashore just below the other boat. Then the fun commenced. We made fast a line 20 fathoms long, to the bow of the yawl, and put the men (both crews) to it like horses, on the shore. Brown, the pilot, stood in the bow, with an oar, to keep her head out, and I took the tiller. We would start the men, and all would go well till the yawl would bring up on a heavy cake of ice, and then the men would drop like so many ten-pins, while Brown assumed the horizontal in the bottom of the boat. After an hour's hard work we got back, with ice half an inch thick on the oars. Sent back and warped up the other yawl, and then George (the first mentioned pilot,) and myself, took a double crew of fresh men and tried it again. This time we found the channel in less than half an hour, and landed on an island till the Pennsylvania came along and took us off. The next day was colder still. I was out in the yawl twice, and then we got through, but the infernal steamboat came near running over us. We went ten miles further, landed, and George and I cleared out again—found the channel first trial, but got caught in the gorge and drifted helplessly down the river. The Ocean Spray came along and started into the ice after us, but although she didn't succeed in her kind intention of taking us aboard, her waves washed us out, and that was all we wanted. We landed on an island, built a big fire and waited for the boat. She started, and ran aground! It commenced raining and sleeting, and a very interesting time we had on that barren sandbar for the next four hours, when the boat got off and took us aboard. The next day was terribly cold. We sounded Hat Island, warped up around a bar and sounded again—but in order to understand our situation you will have to read Dr. Kane. It would have been impossible to get back to the boat. But the Maria Denning was aground at the head of the island—they hailed us—we ran alongside and they hoisted us in and thawed us out. We had then been out in the yawl from 4 o'clock in the morning till half past 9 without being near a fire. There was a thick coating of ice over men, yawl, ropes and everything else, and we looked like rock-candy statuary. We got to Saint Louis this morning, after an absence of 3 weeks—that boat generally makes the trip in 2.
Henry was doing little or nothing here, and I sent him to our clerk to work his way for a trip, by measuring wood piles, counting coal boxes, and other clerkly duties, which he performed satisfactorily. He may go down with us again, for I expect he likes our bill of fare better than that of his boarding house.
I got your letter at Memphis as I went down. That is the best place to write me at. The post office here is always out of my route, somehow or other. Remember the direction: "S.L.C., Steamer Pennsylvania Care Duval & Algeo, Wharfboat, Memphis." I cannot correspond with a paper, because when one is learning the river, he is not allowed to do or think about anything else.
I am glad to see you in such high spirits about the land, and I hope you will remain so, if you never get richer. I seldom venture to think about our landed wealth, for "hope deferred maketh the heart sick."
I did intend to answer your letter, but I am too lazy and too sleepy now. We have had a rough time during the last 24 hours working through the ice between Cairo and Saint Louis, and I have had but little rest.
I got here too late to see the funeral of the 10 victims by the burning of the Pacific hotel in 7th street. Ma says there were 10 hearses, with the fire companies (their engines in mourning—firemen in uniform,) the various benevolent societies in uniform and mourning, and a multitude of citizens and strangers, forming, altogether, a procession of 30,000 persons! One steam fire engine was drawn by four white horses, with crape festoons on their heads.
Well I am—just—about—asleep—
Among other things, we gather from this letter that Orion Clemens
had faith in his brother as a newspaper correspondent, though the
two contributions from Cincinnati, already mentioned, were not
promising. Furthermore, we get an intimation of Orion's unfailing
confidence in the future of the "land"—that is to say, the great
tract of land in Eastern Tennessee which, in an earlier day, his
father had bought as a heritage for his children. It is the same
Tennessee land that had "millions in it" for Colonel Sellers—the
land that would become, as Orion Clemens long afterward phrased it,
"the worry of three generations."
The Doctor Kane of this letter is, of course, Dr. Elisha Kent Kane,
the American Arctic explorer. Any book of exploration always
appealed to Mark Twain, and in those days Kane was a favorite.
The paragraph concerning Henry, and his employment on the
Pennsylvania, begins the story of a tragedy. The story has been
fully told elsewhere,—[Mark Twain: A Biography, by same author.]
—and need only be sketched briefly here. Henry, a gentle, faithful
boy, shared with his brother the enmity of the pilot Brown. Some
two months following the date of the foregoing letter, on a down
trip of the Pennsylvania, an unprovoked attack made by Brown upon
the boy brought his brother Sam to the rescue. Brown received a
good pummeling at the hands of the future humorist, who, though
upheld by the captain, decided to quit the Pennsylvania at New
Orleans and to come up the river by another boat. The Brown episode
has no special bearing on the main tragedy, though now in retrospect
it seems closely related to it. Samuel Clemens, coming up the river
on the A. T. Lacey, two days behind the Pennsylvania, heard a voice
shout as they approached the Greenville, Mississippi, landing:
"The Pennsylvania is blown up just below Memphis, at Ship Island!
One hundred and fifty lives lost!"
It was a true report. At six o'clock of a warm, mid-June morning,
while loading wood, sixty miles below Memphis, the Pennsylvania's
boilers had exploded with fearful results. Henry Clemens was among
the injured. He was still alive when his brother reached Memphis on
the Lacey, but died a few days later. Samuel Clemens had idolized
the boy, and regarded himself responsible for his death. The letter
that follows shows that he was overwrought by the scenes about him
and the strain of watching, yet the anguish of it is none the less
To Mrs. Onion Clemens:
MEMPHIS, TENN., Friday, June 18th, 1858.
DEAR SISTER MOLLIE,—Long before this reaches you, my poor Henry my darling, my pride, my glory, my all, will have finished his blameless career, and the light of my life will have gone out in utter darkness. (O, God! this is hard to bear.) Hardened, hopeless,—aye, lost—lost—lost and ruined sinner as I am—I, even I, have humbled myself to the ground and prayed as never man prayed before, that the great God might let this cup pass from me—that he would strike me to the earth, but spare my brother—that he would pour out the fulness of his just wrath upon my wicked head, but have mercy, mercy, mercy upon that unoffending boy. The horrors of three days have swept over me—they have blasted my youth and left me an old man before my time. Mollie, there are gray hairs in my head tonight. For forty-eight hours I labored at the bedside of my poor burned and bruised, but uncomplaining brother, and then the star of my hope went out and left me in the gloom of despair. Men take me by the hand and congratulate me, and call me "lucky" because I was not on the Pennsylvania when she blew up! May God forgive them, for they know not what they say.
Mollie you do not understand why I was not on that boat—I will tell you. I left Saint Louis on her, but on the way down, Mr. Brown, the pilot that was killed by the explosion (poor fellow,) quarreled with Henry without cause, while I was steering. Henry started out of the pilot-house—Brown jumped up and collared him—turned him half way around and struck him in the face!—and him nearly six feet high—struck my little brother. I was wild from that moment. I left the boat to steer herself, and avenged the insult—and the Captain said I was right—that he would discharge Brown in N. Orleans if he could get another pilot, and would do it in St. Louis, anyhow. Of course both of us could not return to St. Louis on the same boat—no pilot could be found, and the Captain sent me to the A. T. Lacey, with orders to her Captain to bring me to Saint Louis. Had another pilot been found, poor Brown would have been the "lucky" man.
I was on the Pennsylvania five minutes before she left N. Orleans, and I must tell you the truth, Mollie—three hundred human beings perished by that fearful disaster. Henry was asleep—was blown up—then fell back on the hot boilers, and I suppose that rubbish fell on him, for he is injured internally. He got into the water and swam to shore, and got into the flatboat with the other survivors.—[Henry had returned once to the Pennsylvania to render assistance to the passengers. Later he had somehow made his way to the flatboat.]—He had nothing on but his wet shirt, and he lay there burning up with a southern sun and freezing in the wind till the Kate Frisbee came along. His wounds were not dressed till he got to Memphis, 15 hours after the explosion. He was senseless and motionless for 12 hours after that. But may God bless Memphis, the noblest city on the face of the earth. She has done her duty by these poor afflicted creatures—especially Henry, for he has had five—aye, ten, fifteen, twenty times the care and attention that any one else has had. Dr. Peyton, the best physician in Memphis (he is exactly like the portraits of Webster) sat by him for 36 hours. There are 32 scalded men in that room, and you would know Dr. Peyton better than I can describe him, if you could follow him around and hear each man murmur as he passes, "May the God of Heaven bless you, Doctor!" The ladies have done well, too. Our second Mate, a handsome, noble hearted young fellow, will die. Yesterday a beautiful girl of 15 stooped timidly down by his side and handed him a pretty bouquet. The poor suffering boy's eyes kindled, his lips quivered out a gentle "God bless you, Miss," and he burst into tears. He made them write her name on a card for him, that he might not forget it.
Pray for me, Mollie, and pray for my poor sinless brother.
Your unfortunate Brother,
SAML. L. CLEMENS.
P. S. I got here two days after Henry.
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