Mark Twain’s Letters— Volume 5 (1901-1906)

Author: Mark Twain

XLII Letters of 1903. to Various Persons. Hard Days at Riverdale. Last Summer at Elmira. the Return to Italy

The reader may perhaps recall that H. H. Rogers, some five or six years earlier, had taken charge of the fortunes of Helen Keller, making it possible for her to complete her education. Helen had now written her first book—a wonderful book—’The Story of My Life’, and it had been successfully published. For a later generation it may be proper to explain that the Miss Sullivan, later Mrs. Macy, mentioned in the letter which follows, was the noble woman who had devoted her life to the enlightenment of this blind, dumb girl—had made it possible for her to speak and understand, and, indeed, to see with the eyes of luminous imagination.

The case of plagiarism mentioned in this letter is not now remembered, and does not matter, but it furnished a text for Mark Twain, whose remarks on the subject in general are eminently worth while.

To Helen Keller, in Wrentham, Mass.:

ST. PATRICK’S DAY, ’03. DEAR HELEN,—I must steal half a moment from my work to say how glad I am to have your book, and how highly I value it, both for its own sake and as a remembrances of an affectionate friendship which has subsisted between us for nine years without a break, and without a single act of violence that I can call to mind. I suppose there is nothing like it in heaven; and not likely to be, until we get there and show off. I often think of it with longing, and how they’ll say, "There they come—sit down in front!" I am practicing with a tin halo. You do the same. I was at Henry Rogers’s last night, and of course we talked of you. He is not at all well; you will not like to hear that; but like you and me, he is just as lovely as ever.

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 and perfect whole. How she stands out in her letters! her brilliancy, penetration, originality, wisdom, character, and the fine literary competencies of her pen—they are all there.

Oh, dear me, how unspeakably funny and owlishly idiotic and grotesque was that "plagiarism" farce! As if there was much of anything in any human utterance, oral or written, except plagiarism! The kernal, the soul—let us go further and say the substance, the bulk, the actual and valuable material of all human utterances—is plagiarism. For substantially all ideas are second-hand, consciously and unconsciously drawn from a million outside sources, and daily used by the garnerer with a pride and satisfaction born of the superstition that he originated them; whereas there is not a rag of originality about them anywhere except the little discoloration they get from his mental and moral calibre and his temperament, and which is revealed in characteristics of phrasing. When a great orator makes a great speech you are listening to ten centuries and ten thousand men—but we call it his speech, and really some exceedingly small portion of it is his. But not enough to signify. It is merely a Waterloo. It is Wellington’s battle, in some degree, and we call it his; but there are others that contributed. It takes a thousand men to invent a telegraph, or a steam engine, or a phonograph, or a photograph, or a telephone or any other important thing—and the last man gets the credit and we forget the others. He added his little mite—that is all he did. These object lessons should teach us that ninety-nine parts of all things that proceed from the intellect are plagiarisms, pure and simple; and the lesson ought to make us modest. But nothing can do that.

Then why don’t we unwittingly reproduce the phrasing of a story, as well as the story itself? It can hardly happen—to the extent of fifty words except in the case of a child: its memory-tablet is not lumbered with impressions, and the actual language can have graving-room there, and preserve the language a year or two, but a grown person’s memory-tablet is a palimpsest, with hardly a bare space upon which to engrave a phrase. It must be a very rare thing that a whole page gets so sharply printed upon a man’s mind, by a single reading, that it will stay long enough to turn up some time or other and be mistaken by him for his own. No doubt we are constantly littering our literature with disconnected sentences borrowed from books at some unremembered time and now imagined to be our own, but that is about the most we can do. In 1866 I read Dr. Holmes’s poems, in the Sandwich Islands. A year and a half later I stole his dictation, without knowing it, and used it to dedicate my "Innocents Abroad" with. Then years afterwards I was talking with Dr. Holmes about it. He was not an ignorant ass—no, not he: he was not a collection of decayed human turnips, like your "Plagiarism Court;" and so when I said, "I know now where I stole it, but whom did you steal it from," he said, "I don’t remember; I only know I stole it from somebody, because I have never originated anything altogether myself, nor met anybody who had."

To think of those solemn donkeys breaking a little child’s heart with their ignorant rubbish about plagiarism! I couldn’t sleep for blaspheming about it last night. Why, their whole lives, their whole histories, all their learning, all their thoughts, all their opinions were one solid ruck of plagiarism, and they didn’t know it and never suspected it. A gang of dull and hoary pirates piously setting themselves the task of disciplining and purifying a kitten that they think they’ve caught filching a chop! Oh, dam—

But you finish it, dear, I am running short of vocabulary today. Ever lovingly your friend,

(Edited and modified by Clara Clemens, deputy to her mother, who for more than 7 months has been ill in bed and unable to exercise her official function.)

The burden of the Clemens household had fallen almost entirely upon
Clara Clemens. In addition to supervising its customary affairs,
she also shouldered the responsibility of an unusual combination of
misfortunes, for besides the critical condition of her mother, her
sister, Jean Clemens, was down with pneumonia, no word of which must
come to Mrs. Clemens. Certainly it was a difficult position. In
some account of it, which he set down later, Clemens wrote: "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."

The accumulation of physical ailments in the Clemens home had
somewhat modified Mark Twain’s notion of medical practice. He was
no longer radical; he had become eclectic. It is a good deal of a
concession that he makes to Twichell, after those earlier letters
from Sweden, in which osteopathy had been heralded as the anodyne
for all human ills.

To Rev. J. H. Twichell, in Hartford:

DEAR JOE,—Livy does really 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 with 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 surgeons; lupus to the actinic-ray specialist; nervous prostration to the Christian Scientist; most ills to the allopath and the homeopath; (in my own particular case) rheumatism, gout and bronchial attacks to the osteopathist.

Mr. Rogers was to sail southward this morning—and here is this weather! I am sorry. I think it’s a question if he gets away tomorrow.
Ys Ever

It was through J. Y. M. MacAlister, to whom the next letter is
written, that Mark Twain had become associated with the Plasmon
Company, which explains the reference to "shares." He had seen much
of MacAlister during the winter at Tedworth Square, and had grown
fond of him. It is a characteristic letter, and one of interesting

To J. Y. M. MacAlister, in London:

April, 7, ’03. DEAR MACALISTER,—Yours arrived last night, and God knows I was glad to get it, for I was afraid I had blundered into an offence in some way and forfeited your friendship—a kind of blunder I have made so many times in my life that I am always standing in a waiting and morbid dread of its occurrence.

Three days ago I was in condition—during one horribly long night—to sympathetically roast with you in your "hell of troubles." During that night I was back again where I was in the black days when I was buried under a mountain of debt. I called the daughters to me in private council and paralysed them with the announcement, "Our outgo has increased in the past 8 months until our expenses are now 125 per cent. greater than our income."

It was a mistake. When I came down in the morning a gray and aged wreck, and went over the figures again, I found that in some unaccountable way (unaccountable to a business man but not to me) I had multiplied the totals by 2. By God I dropped 75 years on the floor where I stood.

Do you know it affected me as one is affected when he wakes out of a hideous dream and finds that it was only a dream. It was a great comfort and satisfaction to me to call the daughters to a private meeting of the Board again and say, "You need not worry any more; our outgo is only a third more than our income; in a few months your mother will be out of her bed and on her feet again—then we shall drop back to normal and be all right."

Certainly there is a blistering and awful reality about a well-arranged unreality. It is quite within the possibilities that two or three nights like that night of mine could drive a man to suicide. He would refuse to examine the figures; they would revolt him so, and he could 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 33 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.

Clam spells the trained nurse afternoons; I am allowed to see Mrs. Clemens 20 minutes twice a day and write her two letters a day provided I put no news in them. No other person ever sees her except the physician and now and then a nerve-specialist from New York. She saw there was something the matter that morning, but she got no facts out of me. But that is nothing—she hasn’t had anything but lies for 8 months. A fact would give her a relapse.

The doctor and a specialist met in conspiracy five days ago, and 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 a Florence friend to take a look round among the villas for us in the regions near that city. It seems early to do this, but Joan Bergheim thought it would be wise.

He and his wife lunched with us here yesterday. They have been abroad in Havana 4 months, and they sailed for England this morning.

I am enclosing an order for half of my (your) Founders shares. You are not to refuse them this time, though you have done it twice before. They are yours, not mine, and for your family’s sake if not your own you cannot in these cloudy days renounce this property which is so clearly yours and theirs. You have been generous long enough; be just, now to yourself. Mr. Rogers is off yachting for 5 or 6 weeks—I’ll get them when he returns. The head of the house joins me in warmest greetings and remembrances to you and Mrs. MacAlister.
Ever yours,

May 8. Great Scott! I never mailed this letter! I addressed it, put "Registered" on it—then left it lying unsealed on the arm of my chair, and rushed up to my bed quaking with a chill. I’ve never been out of the bed since—oh, bronchitis, rheumatism, two sets of teeth aching, land, I’ve had a dandy time for 4 weeks. And to-day—great guns, one of the very worst! . . .

I’m devilish sorry, and I do apologise—for although I am not as slow as you are about answering letters, as a rule, I see where I’m standing this time.

Two weeks ago Jean was taken down again—this time with measles, and I haven’t been able to go to her and she hasn’t been able to come to me.

But Mrs. Clemens is making nice progress, and can stand alone a moment or two at a time.

Now I’ll post this.

The two letters that follow, though written only a few days apart,
were separated in their arrival by a period of seven years. The
second letter was, in some way, mislaid and not mailed; and it was
not until after the writer of it was dead that it was found and

Mark Twain could never get up much enthusiasm for the writings of
Scott. His praise of Quentin Durward is about the only approval he
ever accorded to the works of the great romanticist.

To Brander Matthews, in New York:

NEW YORK CITY, May 4, ’03. DEAR BRANDER,—I haven’t been out of my bed for four weeks, but—well, I have been reading, a good deal, and it occurs to me to ask you to sit down, some time or other when you have 8 or 9 months to spare, and jot me down a certain few literary particulars for my help and elevation. Your time need not be thrown away, for at your further leisure you can make Colombian lectures out of the results and do your students a good turn.

1. Are there in Sir Walter’s novels passages done in good English— English which is neither slovenly or involved?

2. Are there passages whose English is not poor and thin and 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 and heroines who are not cads and cadesses?

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

6. Has he heroes and 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, and make him reluctant to lay the book down?

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

10. Did he know how to write English, and 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 because he didn’t know the right one when he saw it?

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

Brander, I lie here dying, slowly dying, under the blight of Sir Walter. I have read the first volume of Rob Roy, and as far as chapter XIX of Guy Mannering, and I can no longer hold my head up nor take my nourishment. Lord, it’s all so juvenile! so artificial, so shoddy; and such wax figures and skeletons and spectres. Interest? Why, it is impossible to feel an interest in these bloodless shams, these milk-and-water humbugs. And oh, the poverty of the 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, and elaborates, and 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, and not quit this great study rashly. He was great, in his day, and to his proper audience; and so was God in Jewish times, for that matter, but why should either of them rank high now? And do they?—honest, now, do they? Dam’d if I believe it.

My, I wish I could see you and Leigh Hunt! ` Sincerely Yours

To Brander Matthews, in New York:

RIVERDALE, May 8,’03 (Mailed June, 1910). DEAR BRANDER,—I’m still in bed, but the days have lost their dulness since I broke into Sir Walter and lost my temper. I finished Guy Mannering—that curious, curious book, with its mob of squalid shadows jabbering around a single flesh-and-blood being—Dinmont; a book crazily put together out of the very refuse of the romance-artist’s stage properties—finished it and took up Quentin Durward, and 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?
Yrs ever

In 1903, preparations were going on for a great world’s fair, to be
held in St. Louis, and among other features proposed was a World’s
Literary Convention, with a week to be set apart in honor of Mark
Twain, and a special Mark Twain Day in it, on which the National
Association would hold grand services in honor of the distinguished
Missourian. A letter asking his consent to the plan brought the
following reply.

To T. F. Gatts, of Missouri:

NEW YORK, May 30, 1903. DEAR MR. GATTS,—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 customs 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.
Very truly yours,

The National Mark Twain Association did not surrender easily. Mr.
Gatts wrote a second letter full of urgent appeal. If Mark Twain
was tempted, we get no hint of it in his answer.

To T. F. Gatts, of Missouri:

NEW YORK, June 8, 1903. DEAR MR. GATTS,—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 solicitations; but I am a Missourian and so I shrink from distinctions which have to be arranged beforehand and with my privity, for I then became a party to my own exalting. I am humanly fond of honors that happen but chary of those that come by canvass and intention. With sincere thanks to you and your associates for this high compliment which you have been minded to offer me, I am,
Very truly yours,

We have seen in the letter to MacAlister that Mark Twain’s wife had
been ordered to Italy and plans were in progress for an
establishment there. By the end of June Mrs. Clemens was able to
leave Riverdale, and she made the journey to Quarry Farm, Elmira,
where they would remain until October, the month planned for their
sailing. The house in Hartford had been sold; and a house which,
prior to Mrs. Clemens’s breakdown they had bought near Tarrytown
(expecting to settle permanently on the Hudson) had been let. They
were going to Europe for another indefinite period.

At Quarry Farm Mrs. Clemens continued to improve, and Clemens, once
more able to work, occupied the study which Mrs. Crane had built for
him thirty years before, and where Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn and the
Wandering Prince had been called into being.

To Rev. J. H. Twichell, in Hartford, Conn.:

July 21, ’03. DEAR JOE,—That love-letter delighted Livy beyond any like utterance received by her these thirty years and more. I was going to answer it for her right away, and said so; but she reserved the privilege to herself. I judge she is accumulating Hot Stuff—as George Ade would say . . . .

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 and in wheel-chair; and, in the matter of superintending everything and everybody, has resumed business at the old stand.

Did you ever go house-hunting 3,000 miles away? It costs three months of writing and telegraphing to pull off a success. We finished 3 or 4 days ago, and took the Villa Papiniano (dam the name, I have to look at it a minutes after writing it, and then am always in doubt) for a year by cable. Three miles outside of Florence, under Fiesole—a darling location, and apparently a choice house, near Fiske.

There’s 7 in our gang. All women but me. It means trunks and things. But thanks be! To-day (this is private) comes a most handsome voluntary document with seals and escutcheons on it from the Italian Ambassador (who is a stranger to me) commanding the Customs people to keep their hands off the Clemens’s things. Now wasn’t it lovely of him? And wasn’t it lovely of me to let Livy take a pencil and edit my answer and knock a good third of it out?

And that’s a nice ship—the Irene! new—swift—13,000 tons—rooms up in the sky, open to sun and air—and all that. I was desperately troubled for Livy—about the down-cellar cells in the ancient "Latin."

The cubs are in Riverdale, yet; they come to us the first week in August.
With lots and lots of love to you all,

The arrangement for the Villa Papiniano was not completed, after
all, and through a good friend, George Gregory Smith, a resident of
Florence, the Villa Quarto, an ancient home of royalty, on the hills
west of Florence, was engaged. Smith wrote that it was a very
beautiful place with a south-eastern exposure, looking out toward
Valombrosa and the Chianti Hills. It had extensive grounds and
stables, and the annual rental for it all was two thousand dollars a
year. It seemed an ideal place, in prospect, and there was great
hope that Mrs. Clemens would find her health once more in the
Italian climate which she loved.

Perhaps at this point, when Mark Twain is once more leaving America,
we may offer two letters from strangers to him—letters of
appreciation—such as he was constantly receiving from those among
the thousands to whom he had given happiness. The first is from
Samuel Merwin, one day to become a popular novelist, then in the
hour of his beginnings.

To Mark Twain, from Samuel Merwin:

August 4, 1903. DEAR MR. CLEMENS,—For a good many years I have been struggling with the temptation to write you and thank you for the work you have done; and today I seem to be yielding.

During the past two years I have been reading through a group of writers who seem to me to represent about the best we have—Sir Thomas Malory, Spenser, Shakespeare, Boswell, Carlyle, Le Sage. In thinking over one and then another, and then all of them together, it was plain to see why they were great men and writers: each brought to his time some new blood, new ideas,—turned a new current into the stream. I suppose there have always been the careful, painstaking writers, the men who are always taken so seriously by their fellow craftsmen. It seems to be the unconventional man who is so rare—I mean the honestly unconventional man, who has to express himself in his own big way because the conventional way isn’t big enough, because ne needs room and freedom.

We have a group of the more or less conventional men now—men of dignity and literary position. But in spite of their influence and of all the work they have done, there isn’t one of them to whom one can give one’s self up without reservation, not one whose ideas seem based on the deep foundation of all true philosophy,—except Mark Twain.

I hope this letter is not an impertinence. I have just been turning about, with my head full of Spenser and Shakespeare and "Gil Blas," looking for something in our own present day literature to which I could surrender myself as to those five gripping old writings. And nothing could I find until I took up "Life on the Mississippi," and "Huckleberry Finn," and, just now, the "Connecticut Yankee." It isn’t the first time I have read any of these three, and it’s because I know it won’t be the last, because these books are the only ones written in my lifetime that claim my unreserved interest and admiration and, above all, my feelings, that I’ve felt I had to write this letter.

I like to think that "Tom Sawyer" and "Huckleberry Finn" will be looked upon, fifty or a hundred years from now, as the picture of buoyant, dramatic, human American life. I feel, deep in my own heart, pretty sure that they will be. They won’t be looked on then as the work of a "humorist" any more than we think of Shakespeare as a humorist now. I don’t mean by this to set up a comparison between Mark Twain and Shakespeare: I don’t feel competent to do it; and I’m not at all sure that it could be done until Mark Twain’s work shall have its fair share of historical perspective. But Shakespeare was a humorist and so, thank Heaven! is Mark Twain. And Shakespeare plunged deep into the deep, sad things of life; and so, in a different way (but in a way that has more than once brought tears to my eyes) has Mark Twain. But after all, it isn’t because of any resemblance for anything that was ever before written that Mark Twain’s books strike in so deep: it’s rather because they’ve brought something really new into our literature—new, yet old as Adam and Eve and the Apple. And this achievement, the achievement of putting something into literature that was not there before, is, I should think, the most that any writer can ever hope to do. It is the one mark of distinction between the "lonesome" little group of big men and the vast herd of medium and small ones. Anyhow, this much I am sure of—to the young man who hopes, however feebly, to accomplish a little something, someday, as a writer, the one inspiring example of our time is Mark Twain.
Very truly yours,

Mark Twain once said he could live a month on a good compliment, and from his reply, we may believe this one to belong in, that class.

To Samuel Merwin, in Plainfield, N. J.:

Aug. 16, ’03. DEAR MR. MERWIN,—What you have said has given me deep pleasure—indeed I think no words could be said that could give me more.
Very sincerely yours,

The next "compliment" is from one who remains unknown, for she
failed to sign her name in full. But it is a lovely letter, and
loses nothing by the fact that the writer of it was willing to
remain in obscurity.

To Mark Twain, from Margaret M----:

Aug. 18, 1903. MY DEAR, DEAR MARK TWAIN,—May a little girl write and tell you how dearly she loves and admires your writings? Well, I do and I want to tell you your ownself. Don’t think me too impertinent for indeed I don’t mean to be that! I have read everything of yours that I could get and parts that touch me I have read over and over again. They seem such dear friends to me, so like real live human beings talking and laughing, working and suffering too! One cannot but feel that it is your own life and experience that you have painted. So do not wonder that you seem a dear friend to me who has never even seen you. I often think of you as such in my own thoughts. I wonder if you will laugh when I tell you I have made a hero of you? For when people seem very sordid and mean and stupid (and it seems as if everybody was) then the thought will come like a little crumb of comfort "well, Mark Twain isn’t anyway." And it does really brighten me up.

You see I have gotten an idea that you are a great, bright spirit of kindness and tenderness. One who can twist everybody’s-even your ownfaults and absurdities into hearty laughs. Even the person mocked must laugh! Oh, Dear! How often you have made me laugh! And yet as often you have struck something infinite away down deep in my heart so that I want to cry while half laughing!

So this all means that I want to thank you and to tell you. "God always love Mark Twain!" is often my wish. I dearly love to read books, and I never tire of reading yours; they always have a charm for me. Good-bye, I am afraid I have not expressed what I feel. But at least I have tried.
Sincerely yours.

Clemens and family left Elmira October the 5th for New York City.
They remained at the Hotel Grosvenor until their sailing date,
October 24th. A few days earlier, Mr. Frank Doubleday sent a volume
of Kipling’s poems and de Blowitz’s Memoirs for entertainment on the
ship. Mark Twain’s acknowledgment follows.

To F. N. Doubleday, in New York:

October 12, ’03. DEAR DOUBLEDAY,—The books came—ever so many thanks. I have been reading "The Bell Buoy" and "The Old Men" 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 — [Mr. Rogers’s yacht.]— 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.

"The Old Men," delicious, isn’t it? And so comically true. I haven’t arrived there yet, but I suppose I am on the way....
Yours ever,

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.

We’ve let the Tarrytown house for a year. Man, you would never have believed a person could let a house in these times. That one’s for sale, the Hartford one is sold. When we buy again may we—may I—be damned....

I’ve dipped into Blowitz and find him quaintly and curiously interesting. I think he tells the straight truth, too. I knew him a little, 23 years ago.

The appreciative word which Kipling had sent Doubleday was: "I love
to think of the great and God-like 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."


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Chicago: Mark Twain, "XLII Letters of 1903. To Various Persons. Hard Days at Riverdale. Last Summer at Elmira. The Return to Italy," Mark Twain’s Letters— Volume 5 (1901-1906), ed. Paine, Albert Bigelow, 1861-1937 and trans. Townsend, R.S. in Mark Twain’s Letters—Volume 5 (1901-1906) (New York: A. L. Burt Company, 1916), Original Sources, accessed March 25, 2023,

MLA: Twain, Mark. "XLII Letters of 1903. To Various Persons. Hard Days at Riverdale. Last Summer at Elmira. The Return to Italy." Mark Twain’s Letters— Volume 5 (1901-1906), edited by Paine, Albert Bigelow, 1861-1937, and translated by Townsend, R.S., in Mark Twain’s Letters—Volume 5 (1901-1906), Vol. 22, New York, A. L. Burt Company, 1916, Original Sources. 25 Mar. 2023.

Harvard: Twain, M, 'XLII Letters of 1903. To Various Persons. Hard Days at Riverdale. Last Summer at Elmira. The Return to Italy' in Mark Twain’s Letters— Volume 5 (1901-1906), ed. and trans. . cited in 1916, Mark Twain’s Letters—Volume 5 (1901-1906), A. L. Burt Company, New York. Original Sources, retrieved 25 March 2023, from