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Add to My Citations To William Bowen
7 June 1867 • New York, N.Y.
(TS and MS, damage emended: CU-MARK and TxU, UCCL 00133)
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Westminster [Hotel, ]
em spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceNew York, June 7, 1867

Dear Will:

We leave tomorrow at 3:00 P.M.1 Everything is ready but my trunks. I will pack them first thing in the morning.

We have got a crowd of tiptop people, [&] shall have a jolly, sociable, homelike trip of it for the next five or six months. And [then—]if we all go to the bottom, I think we shall be fortunate. There is no unhappiness like the misery of sighting land (& work) again after a cheerful, careless voyage. They were lucky boys that went down in sight of home the other day when the Santiago de Cuba stranded on the New Jersey shore.2 However I have a roving commission, anyhow, & if I don’t like to land when we get back, I will just shift on to some other ship & go away again.

I am going on this trip for fun only. I have to keep up my San Francisco correspondence, of course, & must write two letters a month for the New York Tribune (they pay best & that is what I work for) till we reach Egypt, & then I have to write oftener.3 [Herbert of the World] has just taken passage [to-day, &] he is [a splendid ship-mate—][knows everything] it [is possible for] one man to know, [& is almighty jolly—& ]is also the most brilliant writer in America, except, perhaps House.4 I guess we [shan’t] have any [very] bad time, my son. All the [World’s] foreign correspondents [will have] [to put him through, &] all the [Tribune’s & the San] Francisco [ Alta’s ]will have to waltz me along, [&] so I do not see that we need care particularly whether school keeps or not.5

Remember me lovingly to [Mrs] Bowen, [&] say to Bart [that] if I can favor him by [walking into a furnace, I will do it. I] [want to be] [remembered to all your] [mother’s family & its branches] except Sam Bowen. But the idea of that fellow’s being in [St Louis 3 days &] never calling on [me, &] never being where [I could find him, is infamous.] [I’ll recollect the scoundrel.]6

How is [Miriam? Tell] her I [dream of her still.] And I [dream of Mrs. Robbins] too, but [not so much].7 [Good bye, my oldest] friend.

[Yrs Ever,]

Sam Clemens


Explanatory Notes | Textual Commentary

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1 This departure time had been fixed since at least the beginning of April, when the Quaker City was selected for the trip (“The Mediterranean Excursion,” Brooklyn Eagle, 5 Apr 67, 2).

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2 In the early morning of 22 May, the Santiago de Cuba, bound for New York out of Greytown, ran aground within two hundred and fifty yards of the New Jersey shore, about six miles below Atlantic City. Two men and five women, out of about four hundred passengers and crew, drowned when their lifeboats capsized (New York Times: “Marine Disasters,” 23 May 67, 1; “The Stranding of the Santiago de Cuba,” 24 May 67, 1; “Marine Disasters,” New York Tribune, 23 May 67, 1).

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3 Clemens agreed to correspond for the Tribune and, without signature, for the rival New York Herald (Ganzel 1964, 270–73). The Tribune probably paid him at the rate of forty dollars per column of type (1 Dec 67 to Young, n. 1), eventually publishing six letters that averaged slightly more than a column apiece. He published four letters in the Herald, three at an unknown but presumably lower rate (because they were unsigned) and, upon his return, one that was supposed to be signed, at a rate comparable or identical to the Tribune’s : fifty dollars for one and one-quarter columns, notably better than the thirty-nine dollars (in greenbacks) paid by the Alta (see 2 Dec 67 to Fairbanks, and 15 Apr 67 to JLC and family, n. 1).

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4 William Henry Hurlbert (1827–95) joined the staff of the New York World in 1862 and was its correspondent to the 1867 Paris exposition, but he was not finally one of the Quaker City’s passengers. He departed instead on the Arago, which sailed on the same day the Quaker City did, bound directly for Le Havre. On 13 February, Hurlbert had been elected second vice-president of the New York Press Club. He later served from 1876 to 1883 as editor-in-chief of the World (“Departures Yesterday,” New York Herald, 9 June 67, 9; “Ocean Steamers,” New York Tribune, 3 June 67, 7; “The New York Press Club,” New York Evening Post, 14 Feb 67, 2).

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5 The Alta’s correspondent at the Paris exposition was M. G. Upton (SLC 1867). On 5 June, John Russell Young (1840–99), the twenty-six-year-old managing editor of the New York Tribune, wrote at least three letters of introduction for Clemens: one to Lothar Bucher (1817–92) in Berlin, a high official in the Prussian government (NPV); one to W. D. Spalding in London (NPV); and one to William Henry Huntington (1820–85), the Tribune’s correspondent in Paris (CaQMMRB; Crankshaw, 232; Baehr, 33). Clemens carried the letters with him, but—since he did not visit either London or Berlin—presumably used only the letter to Huntington, which read as follows:

office of the tribune.

new york em space June 5th em space 186 7.

My Dear Mr Huntington:

This will introduce to you Mr Samuel Clemens of San Francisco, whose fame as a writer has I have no doubt reached you under his nom de plume of “Mark Twain.” He is a very nice gentleman, one whom I am certain you will be glad to know. Any courtesy you may extend to him will be appreciated by


Yrs

Jno. Russell Young

W. H. Huntington, Esq.

Paris, France

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6 William Bowen (1836–93) was still living in Hannibal, his birthplace, where he probably last saw Clemens when Clemens lectured there on 2 April. They had been schoolmates, close boyhood friends, and fellow pilots (see L1, 15–16 n. 8). Bowen was president of the Western Boatman’s Benevolent Association at this time, and he did not leave “the river” (piloting) until September 1868, soon thereafter joining the Hannibal insurance firm of Moses P. Green and Company, according to his son Royden Burwell Bowen (b. 1883). Evidently in anticipation of his retirement from piloting, however, Bowen was already a partner in a St. Louis restaurant: see note 7. Clemens asked to be remembered to Will’s wife, Mary (Mollie) Cunningham Bowen (d. 1873), whom he had married in 1857; to his mother, Amanda Warren Stone Bowen (1802–81), also in Hannibal, a widow since 1853; to his older brother Barton Stone Bowen (1830?–68), a steamboat pilot and later captain with whom Clemens had served as a pilot, now possibly living in Hannibal too; and, somewhat more irascibly, to Samuel Adams Bowen, Jr. (1838?–78), Bart’s and Will’s younger brother, still a pilot and evidently boarding in St. Louis (Edwards 1867, 131, 211; MTLBowen, 5–7; Inds, 303–6; L1, 340–41 n. 4; “Death of a Steamboat Captain,” San Francisco Times, 23 June 68, 1).

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7 Clemens was dreaming of Nancy Miriam Robbins (1848–81), also known as Myra, and of her mother, Susan L. Robbins (1819–73). Miriam was the only daughter of Susan and James Kenyon Robbins (1812–83) of St. Louis. Clemens’s acquaintance with the family probably dated from his own piloting days, in 1858–61. It is likely he asked Bowen to pass along his message because he knew that Bowen was a partner with James Robbins and Oscar F. Summers in a restaurant located at 24 Olive Street in St. Louis. Bowen’s granddaughter Agnes recalled “a family tradition that Miriam, the daughter of Mrs. Robbins, was one of Clemens’s ‘sweethearts ,’ and something of a beauty” (MTLBowen, 10, 30). Her memory is corroborated by June Ransburgh, a distant relative of Myra Robbins, who in 1960 related several plausible details of the Robbins-Clemens relationship, quite independently of the Bowen family’s “tradition”:

During her young days in St. Louis ... Miss Myra met a riverboat pilot by the name of Samuel L. Clemens (later, the famous Mark Twain). During the friendship which followed the riverboat pilot would bring fine foods and gifts to Miss Myra when he returned from New Orleans.

At one time, when Miss Myra was visiting at the Robbins farm near Point Pleasant [near New Madrid, Missouri, an area Clemens knew well as a pilot], Clemens tied his boat up at the Point and sent a beautiful decorated cake which he had the chef make for Miss Myra.

After Miss Myra returned to St. Louis, this friendship had gotten to the point that Clemens spoke to her father asking permission to pay court to his daughter. At this James Kenyon Robbins refused, telling Clemens that he did not approve of river men. (“Mark Twain Pays Court to Miss Myra Robbins at Point Pleasant,” New Madrid Weekly Record, 20 or 21 Oct 1960, 3)

(Edwards 1866, 692, 780; St. Louis Census 1870, 345; St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “Died,” 23 Nov 81, 5; “Died,” 7 July 83, 5; “Deaths,” St. Louis Missouri Republican, 24 Jan 73, 5; New Madrid Census, 707; Branch and Hirst, 33–61.)



glyphglyphCopy-text:glyphTS (a transcription), Mark Twain Papers, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley (CU-MARK), is copy-text for ‘Westminster . . . I’ (54.1–17); MS, pages 3–4, Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, University of Texas, Austin (TxU), is copy-text for the remainder (54.17–34); extensive damage has been emended. MS pages numbered ‘3’ and ‘4’, the only ones known to survive, have been silked to prevent further loss, a process that immobilized the several fragments but did not always perfectly align them as they were originally written. A photographic facsimile of the MS is on pp. 452–53. The MS consists of two leaves of off-white wove paper, originally measuring approximately 5¼ by 8⅛ inches (13.2 by 20.8 cm). Inscribed on one side only in black ink (now faded to brown), each leaf has twenty-two horizontal rules. TS is a carbon copy of a modern typescript of the entire letter, including what was presumably on MS pages 1–2, which are lost, but also parts of the text now missing from MS pages 3–4. TS was made in 1940 by Theodore Hornberger while preparing Mark Twain’s Letters to Will Bowen. He typed it not from the MS, which was even then reduced to something very close to its present condition, but from a document he described to Bernard DeVoto as “some kind of a proofsheet or off-print” from the weekly humor journal Texas Siftings, supplied to him “by Mr. R. B. Bowen” (Hornberger to DeVoto, 13 Jan 1941, CU-MARK). When Hornberger published the letter, however, he described this same source as “a typescript of a letter the original of which is incomplete,” and, again, as “a typescript on a letterhead of Texas Siftings, now in the possession of Mr. R. B. Bowen.” Royden Burwell Bowen (born 18 May 1883) was one of William Bowen’s sons; it was he who “presented to the Rare Book Collections [at the University of Texas] the fragments of the third and fourth pages of this letter, which he found among his papers” (MTLBowen, 3–4, 7 n. 12, 10, 29). Neither Hornberger nor the present editors were able to find the letter in the extant (but broken) file of Texas Siftings, which began publication in 1881 and ceased in 1897, four years after William Bowen’s death. The document owned by Royden Bowen is now lost, and its precise nature (whether proofsheet, offprint, or typed transcription on magazine letterhead) cannot now be verified, even though Hornberger’s published conclusion is probably correct. Collation of MS pages 3–4 with the corresponding part of TS shows that the missing document must have transcribed the letter not only when all four pages were present, but also in a relatively undamaged state. It is clear, for instance, that the references to Miriam and Mrs. Robbins in the final paragraph, which are not now legible in the damaged MS, could not have been supplied solely by conjecture. Since independent evidence confirms their accuracy (see p. 56 n. 7), the only reasonable inference is that the missing document transcribed by TS contained a more complete text derived directly (or indirectly) from the original. Where TS can still be compared with MS, however, it contains several errors in spelling, punctuation, and emphasis, as well as one substantive error, the omission of ‘that’ (54.25). It consistently renders ‘&’ as ‘and’ (ten times) and represents Clemens’s normal em dash as four hyphens (two times). These errors were probably introduced both by the earlier, missing document, and by Hornberger’s typescript of it (TS), for in the transcription that Hornberger published, he reproduced some twelve of them, despite the contrary evidence even of the damaged MS, while he also corrected others, such as all but one ‘and’ for ‘&’, by relying on that same damaged MS. (Hornberger’s handwritten corrections of TS, in ink, are here ignored because they were all drawn from the extant MS, not the missing document of which TS was a copy.) Where TS is the sole source for the text, therefore, it almost certainly contains similar errors in spelling, punctuation, and emphasis which cannot now be confidently identified or corrected. For instance, TS has no underscored words—not even where the extant MS shows Clemens consistently underscoring newspaper names like the World and the Tribune—perhaps because the nineteenth-century typewriter used to copy the letter lacked an underscore key. In other letters written at about this time, however, Clemens omitted the underscore more frequently than he supplied it, and often did both even in a single letter. On the evidence, therefore, unitalicized ‘Tribune’ (54.16) may be accurate, or in error. Only the most likely departures from the lost original are here corrected: ‘and’ is emended to ‘&’ (seven times), and a four-hyphen dash is emended to an em dash (once). On the other hand, where MS is copy-text, but so damaged as to be illegible, TS has independent authority because it derives from the relatively undamaged original. The TS reading is therefore adopted as an emendation, insofar as it is consistent with the remaining textual and physical evidence in MS. All variants between the edited text, MS, and TS are therefore recorded here, even when the reading of TS is manifestly mistaken.

glyphglyphPrevious publication:glyph L2, 54–56; possibly in an unidentified issue of Texas Siftings (see Copy-text); MTLBowen, 15–16.

glyphglyphProvenance:glyphMS was deposited at TxU by Royden Burwell Bowen in 1940. Theodore Hornberger sent TS to DeVoto in the Mark Twain Papers in 1941, when the archive was at Harvard (Hornberger to DeVoto, 13 Jan 1941, CU-MARK).

glyphglyphEmendations and textual notes:glyph


Hotel, ǀ New • Hotel, New [The place and date are on one line in TS, too long to have fit on a single line in the MS. They are emended here to follow Clemens’s practice in manuscripts for 1 May 67 to FLC and family, 1 May 67 to Harte, 14 May 67 to Stanton, and 1 June 67 to FLC and family]. (TS)

& • and [also at 54.9, 12, 13, 15, 16, 17] (TS)

then— • then---- (TS)

Herbert . . . World (MS) • Herbert, . . . World, (TS)

to-day, & (MS) • today and (TS)

a splendid ship-mate— • a [s]ple[n]d[iwhite diamond] ǀ ship-m[white diamond]t[white diamond][torn]; a splendid shipmate---- (MS,TS)

knows everything (TS) • k[nwhite diamondwhite diamondwhite diamond white diamondwhite diamondwhite diamond] ǀerything [torn] (MS)

is possible for (TS) • is [pwhite diamondwhite diamondwhite diamondwhite diamondwhite diamondwhite diamondwhite diamond] ǀ for [torn] (MS)

& . . .—& (MS) • and . . .----and (TS)

shan’t (MS) • shant (TS)

very (MS) • very (TS)

World’s (MS) • World’s (TS)

will have (TS) • will ǀ [white diamondwhite diamond]ve [torn] (MS)

to put him through, & • t[white diamond]p[white diamondt him] t[hwhite diamondwhite diamondwhite diamondwhite diamondwhite diamondwhite diamond] ǀ & [torn] ; to put him through, and (MS,TS)

Tribune’s & the San • Tribune’s & [white diamondwhite diamondwhite diamond] ǀ San [torn] ; Tribune’s and the San (MS,TS)

Alta’s (MS) • Alta’s (TS)

& (MS) • and (TS)

Mrs (MS) • Mrs. (TS)

& (MS) • and (TS)

that (MS) • [not in] (TS)

walking into a furnace, I will do it. I (TS) • wa[white diamond]king int[white diamond white diamond] furnace [white diamond ǀ I white diamondill do itwhite diamond] I [torn] (MS)

want to be (TS) • w[ant ǀ white diamondwhite diamond] be [torn] (MS)

remembered to all your (TS) • reme[white diamond]bered to ǀ [white diamondwhite diamond]1 your (MS)

mother’s family & its branches • [m]other’s famil[white diamond] ǀ & its branches [torn]; mother’s family and its branches, (MS,TS)

St Louis 3 days & • St Louis 3 day[s] ǀ & [torn]; St. Louis three days and (MS,TS)

me, & • m[white diamondwhite diamond] ǀ & [torn] ; me, and (MS,TS)

I could find him, is infamous. • I ǀ [c]o[ul]d f[in]d him, i[s iwhite diamond][white diamonda]mo[uwhite diamond]. [torn] ; I could find him, is infamous. (MS,TS)

I’ll recollect the scoundrel. (TS) • I’[l]l re[white diamondwhite diamondwhite diamondwhite diamondwhite diamondwhite diamondwhite diamond] ǀ the scoun[dwhite diamondwhite diamondwhite diamondwhite diamond] [torn] (MS)

Miriam? Tell (TS) • Mi[white diamondwhite diamondwhite diamondwhite diamondwhite diamond] ǀ Tell [torn] (MS)

dream of her still. (TS) • dream [white diamondwhite diamond white diamondwhite diamondwhite diamond] ǀ still. [torn] (MS)

dream of Mrs. Robbins • drea[white diamond white diamondwhite diamond white diamondwhite diamondwhite diamondwhite diamond] ǀ Robbins [torn] ; dream of Mrs. Robbins, (MS,TS)

not so much (TS) • no[white diamond white diamondwhite diamond] ǀ much (MS)

Good bye, my oldest • Good bye, [mwhite diamond white diamondwhite diamondwhite diamondwhite diamond] ǀest ; Goodbye, my oldest (MS,TS)

Yrs Ever, ǀ Sam Clemens • Yrs Eve[white diamondwhite diamond] ǀ Sam Cle[white diamondwhite diamondwhite diamondwhite diamond] [torn] ; yours ever, ǀ Sam Clemens (MS,TS)