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Add to My Citations To Jane Lampton Clemens and Family
5 February 1869 • Elmira, N.Y.
(MS facsimile and paraphrase: Davis and CU-MARK, UCCL 00245)
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Elmira, N. Y.,
em spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem space Feb. 5, 1869.


My Dear Mother & Brother
em spaceem space& Sisters & Nephew
em spaceem space& Niece, & [Margaret]:

This is to inform you that on yesterday, the 4th of February, I was duly & solemnly & irrevocably engaged to be married to Miss Olivia L. Langdon, aged 23½, only daughter of Jervis and Olivia Langdon, of Elmira, New York. Amen. She is the best girl in all the world, & the most sensible, & I am just as proud of her as I can be.1

It may be a good while before we are married, for I am not rich enough to give her a comfortable home right away, & I don’t want anybody’s help. I can get an eighth of the Cleveland Herald for $25,000, & have it so arranged that I can pay for it as I earn the money with my unaided hands. I shall look around a little more, & if I can do no better elsewhere, I shall take it.2

I am not worrying about whether you will love my future wife or not—if you know her twenty-four hours & then don’t love her, you will accomplish what nobody else has ever succeeded in doing since she was born. She just naturally drops into everybody’s affections that comes across her. My prophecy was correct. She said she never could or would love me—but she set herself the task of making a Christian of me. I said she would succeed, but that in the meantime she would unwittingly dig a matrimonial pit & end by tumbling into it—& lo! the prophecy is fulfilled. She was in New York a day or two ago, & George Wiley & his wife & Clara know her now. Pump them, if you [want . ]to.3 You shall see her before very long. Love to all.



P.S. Shall be here a week.


[paraphrase: S. L. C. to Mrs. Moffett, his sister. Addressed to St. Louis. Postmarked Feb. 6. Return Address: J. Langdon, Elmira on env.] 4

Explanatory Notes | Textual Commentary

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1 In addition to his mother and brother, Clemens addressed both his sister Pamela and his sister-in-law Mollie Clemens, as well as Pamela’s children, Annie and Samuel, and the Moffetts’ maid, Margaret. All were living in St. Louis, although Orion and Mollie may have been at a separate address (see 14 Jan 69 to PAM, nn. 7 and 8). Clemens had previously informed only Pamela of his love of Olivia, instructing her to “not even hint it, to any one—I make no exceptions” (L2, 295).

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2 Before leaving Cleveland on 25 January, Clemens may have received assurances that George A. Benedict, who had been too ill to meet with him, was nonetheless prepared to sell him part of his and his son’s shares in the Herald.

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3 George and Elmira Wiley, their daughter Clara, and their four sons had been friends of the Clemenses’ in Hannibal and St. Louis. They subsequently moved to New York City, where they became acquainted with the Langdons’ friends Henry and Fidele Brooks. Olivia Langdon doubtless had been introduced to the Wileys during her recent visit with the Brookses, although the Wileys had known of Clemens’s interest in her since early November 1868 (L2, 278–79 n. 2).

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4 Only this description of the envelope has been found, mistakenly included in a transcription made for Dixon Wecter of 29? Nov 68 to PAM (L2, 294–95). In writing to his family in St. Louis, Clemens typically addressed the envelope to Pamela or to Orion, even when the letter was intended for his mother as well.

glyphglyphCopy-text:glyphMS facsimile serves as copy-text for the letter. The editors have not seen the MS, but in 1982 Chester L. Davis, Sr., then executive secretary of the Mark Twain Research Foundation in Perry, Mo., provided a photocopy to the Mark Twain Papers. Copy-text for the envelope paraphrase is a typescript, made for Dixon Wecter, Mark Twain Papers, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley (CU-MARK).

glyphglyphPrevious publication:glyph L3, 84–86; LLMT, 64; MTMF, 69, brief quotation.

glyphglyphProvenance:glyphThe letter and envelope were returned to Clemens, presumably by Pamela Moffett, for they both survived in the Samossoud Collection at least until 1947: sometime between then and 1949 Wecter saw the MS there and had the letter transcribed and the envelope paraphrase made. The envelope had evidently become separated from the letter, for the paraphrase of its text was mistakenly typed with the transcription of a letter to Pamela Moffett, now dated 29? November 1868 (L2, 294–96). Davis acquired the MS of the letter and the envelope directly from Clara Clemens Samossoud after 1947 (see Samossoud Collection, p. 586).

glyphglyphEmendations and textual notes:glyph

Margaret • [‘M’ possibly written over a partly formed, uppercase character]

want .[deletion implied]