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Add to My Citations To Jane Lampton Clemens and Family
15 April 1867 • New York, N.Y.
(MS: ViU, UCCL 00122)
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New York, Ap15.

Dear Folks—

I need not have hurried here so fast, but I didn’t know that. I All passages had to be secured & the Twelve hundred & fifty dollars fare paid in to-day the 15th, for the Holy Land Excursion, & so I had to be here I thought—but the first man I met this morning was the chief of the Alta bureau with a check for $1,250 in his hand & a telegraphic dispatch from the proprietors of the Alta saying “Ship Mark Twain in the Holy Land Pleasure Excursion & pay his passage.”1 So we just went down & attended [ th ] to the matter. We had to wait awhile, because the chief manager was not in & we did not make ourselves known.2 A newspaper man came in to get & asked how many names were booked & what notabilities were going, & a fellow (I don’t know who he was, but he seemed to be connected with the concern,) said, “Lt. Gen. Sherman, Henry Ward Beecher & Mark Twain are going, & probably Gen. Banks!”3 I thought that was very good—an exceedingly good joke. [in brown ink instead of black: caretfor a poor ignorant clerk.caret]

When my jolly old Captain came in, we squared accounts & then went down to look at the ship (steamer Quaker City.) She is a right stately-looking vessel.4

My book will probably be in the booksellers’ hands in about two weeks. After that I shall lecture. Since I have been gone, the boys have gotten up a “call” on me, signed by about 200 Californians.5

Don’t forget to remember me to Essie, & “Lou,” & all the folks at 1312,—& tell my pet, Annie, that I will write her just as soon as the press of business is over. I will write Katie Lampton, too. 6

Send letters to Metropolitan Hotel till further instructions.

Yrs affctin

Sam.

Scrap-book my letters in Alta. 7


Explanatory Notes | Textual Commentary

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1 Clemens returned to New York “in an express train ... a distance of nearly twelve hundred miles by the route I came,” probably arriving on the day before he wrote this letter. John J. Murphy, who was the “New York business agent” for the Alta, was probably “the chief of the Alta bureau” referred to here (SLC 1867 [MT00540], 1867 [MT00536]). The “telegraphic dispatch from the proprietors of the Alta” in Murphy’s hands was presumably sent to him on or shortly after 9 April, when the Alta published Mark Twain’s 2 March dispatch (SLC 1867 [MT00529]). The owners may have sent Clemens a separate telegram, or he could have been referring to the one Murphy received when he said on 19 April that he had “taken passage” on the excursion, “As per order of the Alta, just received by telegraph.... You could not have suited me better” (SLC 1867 [MT00536]). Murphy subsequently gave Mark Twain the following undated letter of agreement (NPV):
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The $1,250 passage money was part of an advance against fifty letters to be written about the excursion, the number of letters being determine by doubling Mark Twain’s usual rate of one per week over an estimated twenty-five weeks, or five months, needed to complete the voyage between “the 1st of June” and “near the beginning of November.” Murphy’s letter of agreement implies that what Mark Twain described in his 2 March Alta letter as an “additional expense of $500 in gold” for travel ashore was also part of the advance (SLC 1867 [MT00529]). If the cost of the ticket, which was specified as $1,250 in currency, or “greenbacks,” is converted to gold ($900 at the current exchange rate of 72 percent) and added to the $500 in gold, the total is $1,400, or $28 per letter, even though Clemens’s later memory was that the rate was $20 per letter (Barrett, 96; SLC 1904, 74–75). As a check on this calculation, if we convert $1,400 gold into greenbacks, the total is $1,944, which closely approximates Clemens’s statement to Mollie Clemens in February 1868 that he had “only charged them for 50 letters what (even in) greenbacks would amount to less than two thousand dollars” (22? Feb 68 to MEC).

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2 Captain Charles C. Duncan (1821–98) was the “chief manager” and organizer of the excursion. Born in Bath, Maine, he went to sea as a boy and took his first command while still in his twenties. In 1853 he settled in Brooklyn and established himself as a shipping and commission merchant in South Street, New York, moving in 1855 to the 117 Wall Street office from which he now ran the excursion, and where Clemens and House had encountered him in late February. He soon became closely associated with Plymouth Church and friendly with Beecher himself, although he did not join the church formally until 1866. Shortly before the war he moved to England, where he continued his shipping business, leaving his New York office under the management of George W. Kendall. Duncan claimed that when he returned to New York in 1865, he found that Kendall had absconded with all the company funds, precipitating the bankruptcy of Charles C. Duncan and Company in 1866. Duncan nevertheless resumed his business at the same address. A desire to recover from bankruptcy played a part in Duncan’s eagerness to undertake the excursion in the first place, although the basic conception of the trip had evidently come from Beecher (John E. Duncan, 2, 14, 23, 30–33, 39, 125–27; “Charles C. Duncan’s Death,” New York Times, 31 Mar 98, 12; Rode, 201; Wilson 1855, 266; Thompson, 241; Wilson 1867, 552; Gingrich, 6; “What an Old Shipmaster Thinks of the ‘Head-Waiter,’” editorial addendum to SLC 1877; “Letters from New York,” letter dated 7 June, San Francisco Evening Bulletin, 3 July 67, 1).

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3 On 23 March, Lieutenant General William Tecumseh Sherman (1820–91), then stationed in St. Louis, wrote to Captain Duncan: “I am now fully authorized to act, both General Grant and the President having committed themselves to my leave for the summer. You may therefore register my name and that of my daughter Minnie for your excursion. I have much to do in April and May, but can be in New York punctually in any day you may appoint in June” (“General Sherman Going to Europe,” New York Evening Post, 1 Apr 67, 3). The excursion managers soon began exploiting Sherman’s commitment, which was announced in most New York newspapers by 5 April. General Nathaniel Prentiss Banks (1816–94), then serving as a congressman from Massachusetts, was also reportedly “added to the party, which, with the Rev. Henry Ward Beecher, at its head, is going to make the tour of the Holy Land” (“Gen. Banks,” Keokuk Gate City, 11 Apr 67, 3). Henry Ward Beecher, unlike Sherman, was not—and evidently could not be—quoted as affirming his intention to accompany the excursion. But this did not prevent the New York Times, among others, from reporting as early as 29 January that “Mr. Beecher and his family will be of the party—a party which will be select, and composed of friends, neighbors and acquaintances” (“Ocean Enterprise—A Grand Pilgrimage to the East,” 29 Jan 67, 4). On 2 April, however, the Brooklyn Eagle reported that

a rumor has reached us, and it appears to have some foundation, that Mr. Beecher is not going. This will be sad news for the Captain and may be fatal to his expedition. Mr. Beecher is the bell-wether of his flock,—where he goes they will go, where he don’t go they will stay away from. Only seventy berths have been engaged so far, and if Mr. Beecher backs out, a dozen or two of his flock who have promised to go will withdraw, and the Captain will be left in the lurch. (“Is Mr. Beecher Going to Palestine?” 2 Apr 67, 2)

On 13 April the Eagle confirmed the rumor: Beecher would not go. Two reasons for his withdrawal seem plausible. First, he did not have the time to complete (let alone finish proofreading) his novel, Norwood, which would begin to appear in the New York Ledger on 18 May and would not conclude until November 1867. Second, he was responding to pressure from some “pew-holders who are not going to Palestine,” who had objected to his planned absence for five months, saying “they paid high prices for seats to hear first class preaching, and they are not going to be put off with any second rate article from a substitute for the regular pastor” (Brooklyn Eagle: “Amusements,” 13 Apr 67, 2; “Is Mr. Beecher Going to Palestine?” 2 Apr 67, 2). As the present letter implies, Clemens himself was soon reported among the celebrities joining the excursion. On 20 April, for instance, the New York Times ran a brief squib: “Saml. Clemens, Esq., (Mark Twain,) has taken passage in the Quaker City for the Mediterranean excursion. He is to furnish letters while absent for a San Francisco paper” And the New York World reporter soon included his name, among those “booked and berthed,” as one “Samuel F. Clemens (Mark Twain)” (“Personal,” New York Times, 20 Apr 67, 2; “The Mediterranean Excursion,” New York World, 10 May 67, 2).

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4 Duncan leased the Quaker City around 1 April and promptly began to have her refitted. The ship was a 1,428-ton sidewheeler with a white-oak hull, built in Philadelphia in 1854. Converted to a gunboat during the war, at war’s end it was purchased and reconverted to a passenger ship by Charles C. Leary, who ran it between New York and Charleston under the command of William H. West until Duncan’s lease took effect (“The Mediterranean Excursion,” Brooklyn Eagle, 5 Apr 67, 2; Lytle, 157; advertisement, New York Herald, 14 Mar 67, 12; Heyl, 355–56; “The Steamship Quaker City—Order to Stay Proceedings in Court,” New York Herald, 19 Feb 68, 5). On about 1 May the ship was “taken up to Delamater’s iron-works, at the foot of Thirteenth street,” to be

thoroughly repainted, refurnished, and refitted generally, together with having put in her four new tubular boilers.... Since Captain Duncan chartered her, her upper saloons have been added to the general dining and sitting hall to enlarge it, and the berths run now entirely underneath the main decks, and are fifty-three in number. Though their capacity is for three, only two are to be placed in each, with one or two exceptions, as the complement of passengers, 110, will not require more. (“The Mediterranean Excursion,” New York World, 10 May 67, 2)

Clemens’s “look at the ship” occurred before it was moved from pier 14 on the East River, within a few yards of Duncan’s Wall Street office. The ship was completely refitted and back at pier 14 by 3 June (“The Mediterranean Excursion,” New York World, 2 May 67, 5; “Ocean Steamers,” New York Tribune, 3 June 67, 7).

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5 Clemens’s estimated date of publication is accurate. The “call” from his fellow Californians had been in evidence during January and February, and a version of the document mentioned here (albeit with about half this number of names) would soon be published to help advertise his lecture. The earliest public indication that Clemens had tentatively decided to lecture appeared on 21 April, a week after his return from St. Louis: “Many resident Californians and others, friends of Mr. Samuel Clemens, better known as Mark Twain, have invited him to deliver in this City his lecture on the Sandwich Islands, which was received with considerable favor in California” (“Mark Twain,” New York Times, 21 Apr 67, 5; see also “Lecture by ‘Mark Twain,’” New York Dispatch, 21 Apr 67, 5).

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6 Esther (Essie) Pepper and Louisa (Lou) Conrad were friends and neighbors of Clemens’s niece, Annie Moffett. Essie, aged eighteen, was the daughter of Samuel Pepper (1820–93) and Helen Leavenworth Pepper (b. 1829 or 1830) (see 23 Apr 67 to Stoddard, n. 2). The Peppers lived next door to the Leavenworths on Chesnut Street, one block from the Moffetts. Samuel Webster indicated that Lou Conrad was “generally adored, especially by Annie, who was some years younger,” and Annie testified that “Uncle Sam admired Lou Conrad.” Clemens may have known Conrad by sight when he lived in St. Louis, but he first became genuinely acquainted with her during his recent trip home, for on 7 January 1869 he referred to her as “a most estimable young lady whose friendship I acquired in St. Louis two years ago.” Catherine C. (Kate) Lampton (b. 1856) was Clemens’s first cousin, the daughter of his mother’s half-brother, James A. H. Lampton, and Ella Hunter Lampton (L1, 280 n. 12; Webster, 1; TS for MTBus, CU-MARK, 136; St. Louis Census 1860, 180; Edwards 1867, 511, 582, 632; SLC to OLL, 7 Jan 69 [2nd of 2], CU-MARK; SLC to PAM, 14 Jan 69, NPV; L1, 367 n. 1; see also SLC to JLC, 2 Apr 62, L1, 181).

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7 Annie Moffett recalled that Clemens “bought a scrapbook and asked my mother to paste the articles in it as we received them. She was very conscientious and careful about it” (MTBus, 92). This document survives: Scrapbook 7 in the Moffett Collection (CU-MARK). Mark Twain subsequently revised and removed clippings from it to make up the printer’s copy for The Innocents Abroad (SLC 1869).



glyphglyphCopy-text:glyphMS, Clifton Waller Barrett Library, University of Virginia, Charlottesville (ViU).

glyphglyphPrevious publication:glyph L2, 22–26; MTB, 1:310–12, paraphrase and brief excerpts.

glyphglyphProvenance:glyphdeposited at ViU on 17 December 1963.

glyphglyphEmendations and textual notes:glyph


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