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Add to My Citations To Orion and Mary E. (Mollie) Clemens
25 May 1864 • Virginia City, Nev. Terr.
(MS: CU-MARK, UCCL 00081)
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Va, Wednesday A.M.

My Dear Bro.

Don’t stump for the Sanitary Fund—Billy Clagett says he certainly will not. If I have been so unlucky as to rob you of some of your [popo ularity ]by that unfortunate item, I claim at your hands that you neither increase nor diminish it by so fruitless a proceeding as making speeches for the Fund. I am mighty sick of that fund—it has caused me all my d—d troubles—& I shall leave the Territory when your first speech is announced, & leave it for good.1

I see by the Union of this morning, that those ladies have seduced from me what I consider was a sufficient apology, under coming from a man open to a challenge from three persons, & already awaiting the issue of such a message to another2—they got out of me what no man would ever have got, & then—well, they are ladies, & I shall not speak harshly of them.3 Now although the Union folks have kept quiet this morning, (much against my expectations,) I still have a quarrel or two on hand—so that this flour sack business may rest, as far as Carson is concerned. I shall take no notice of it at all, except to mash Mr Laird over the head with my revolver for publishing it [ to if ]I meet him to-day—otherwise, I do nothing. I consider that I have triumphed over those ladies at last, & I am quits with them. But when I forgive the injury—or forget it—may or fail to set up a score against it, as opportunity offers—may I be able to console myself for it with the consciousness that I have become a marvellously better man. At I have no intention of hunting for the puppy, Laird, Mollie, but he had better let me have 24 hours unmolested, to get cool in.

We await the result of

But for Heaven’s sake give me at least the [ q peace ]& quiet it will afford me to know that no stumping is to be done for the unlucky Sanitary Fund.

[Yro ]Bro


Explanatory Notes | Textual Commentary

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1 Orion Clemens had been appointed president of the Ormsby County sanitary committee on 14 April. In this capacity he was expected to help organize “a thorough Territorial Sanitary Commission through every city and town in the Territory” (“The Union Territorial Convention—Concluded,” Virginia City Union, 16 Apr 64, 2).

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2 Three of these adversaries were James L. Laird and J. W. Wilmington, of the Union, and William K. Cutler, husband of the president of the Sanitary Ball committee (see 28 May 64 to Cutler). As the next letter indicates, Clemens was also anticipating challenges from the husbands of the other committee members. Years later—alluding to this sanitary-fund imbroglio but mistakenly placing it during his March–April 1864 tenure as Enterprise chief editor—Clemens claimed, “When I laid down my editorial pen I had four horse-whippings and two duels owing to me” (AD, 19 Jan 1906, CU-MARK, in MTA, 1:360).

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3 Clemens was tempted to speak harshly of the Carson City women because their complaint about his “miscegenation society” remarks appeared in the 25 May Virginia City Union, despite his apology in the Enterprise of the twenty-fourth. In belatedly airing the women’s protest, the Union had to adopt the lame pretext that Clemens’s “individual” apology was insufficient atonement for the Enterprise’s offense in printing his “scurrilous item.” The awkwardness of this attempt to prolong the dispute evidently helped Clemens feel, as he goes on to tell Orion here, that he had “triumphed over those ladies at last.”

glyphglyphCopy-text:glyphMS, Mark Twain Papers, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley (CU-MARK). The MS consists of a folder of blue-lined off-white laid paper, 7¾ by 9¾ inches (19.7 by 24.8 cm), blind embossed in the upper left corner with the word ‘bancroft’ in a decorative lozenge. The folder is inscribed on the first three pages in black ink, now faded to brown. The MS is reproduced in Photographs and Manuscript Facsimiles.

glyphglyphPrevious publication:glyph L1, 297–299; MTEnt, 201–2.

glyphglyphProvenance:glyphprobably Moffett Collection; see p. 462. On the last page of the MS folder someone, probably Orion, wrote in pencil: ‘For Mr & Mrs Sam’l L. Clemens, Care of Mrs Crane Elmira n y’. This address could have been written in almost any year during the period from 1871 to 1897, when the Clemenses spent many summers at Susan Crane’s Elmira home. Orion Clemens died on 11 December 1897. Next to the address Paine wrote in pencil ‘1864’. Also on the last page, a penciled note that may have been in Paine’s hand has been erased: ‘These letters are not to be published or used in any way. They are to be destroyed.’ At the top of the first MS page Paine wrote in pencil ‘May ’64’ and ‘[May 25? 1864]’.

glyphglyphEmendations and textual notes:glyph

popo ularity • [‘u’ inserted over ‘o’]

to if • [‘if’ over ‘to’]

q peace • [‘p’ over ‘q’]

Yro • [sic]