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Add to My Citations To Olivia L. Langdon with a note to Charles J. Langdon
6 March 1869 • (2nd of 2) • Hartford, Conn.
(MS: CU-MARK, UCCL 00269)
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Hartford, March 6.
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Livy dear, I have already mailed to-days letter, but I am so proud of my privilege of writing the dearest girl in the world whenever I please, that I must add a few lines, if only to say I love you, Livy. For I do love you, Livy—as the dew loves the flowers; as the birds love the sunshine; as the wavelets love the breeze; as mothers love their [first-born ] as memory loves old faces; as the yearning tides love the moon; as the angels love the pure in heart. I so love you that if you were taken from me it seems as if all my love would follow after you & leave my heart a dull & vacant ruin forever & forever. And so loving you I do also honor you, as never vassal, leal & true, honored sceptred king since this good world of ours began. And now that is honest, & I think you ought to reach up & give me a kiss, Livy. {Or I will stoop down to your dainty little altitude, very willingly, for such a guerdon.}

I suppose I have been foolish, Livy dear, but [ bless you ] I couldn’t help it. I have walked all the way out to Nook Farm from this hotel, (the Allyn House,) this bitter-cold stormy night—& then concluded I would call on the Hookers another [ time Now ] hold on, Livy dear—don’t ruffle your feathers too soon—don’t “fly off the handle,” as we say in Paris—but hear me out. I was going to call on the Burtons, you know. Well, it’s an awful night outside—& breasting the blinding gusts of snow (for the wind was lifting it out of the streets & blowing it in clouds that made the gas [ lap lamps ] loom vaguely, as in a fog,) it took me half an hour to g walk there, & then—why then, the depraved & unreliable Burtons were not at home. Johnny (I think that is Mr. Hooker’s boy’s name,)2 was there, & said his folks were all at home & he thought they would be glad to see me—& that there was a young lady there from somewhere—& so forth & so on. But I was justly incensed at the unaccountable conduct of those Burtons in being out on such a night; & I—I—I—I—I—

Well, I thought I had a splendid excuse to give you, & so escape a scolding, but I don’t know what the mischief has become of it. There wasn’t fire enough to get right warm by, & I thought I had better get back into the cold quick, while I was used to it—so I left my card, & said that as it was nearly 9 o’clock & consequently too late for visiting, in this land of steady habits, I would not go to Mr. Hooker’s now, but would come again at a more proper time—& then went away, thinking to myself, “What a [ perfect ] mercy it is that I am alone—if Livy were here I should “catch it” for just such conduct as these.” I struggled against it, Livy, but I couldn’t help it—I couldn’t help it. Scold away, you darling little rascal sweetheart—because I just know you [will. And ] I expect I deserve it, maybe. {But I wanted to come back & go on writing to you, Livy dear, I guess that was the reason—now can’t you let that appease you? [ , honey? ]—there’s a dear, sweet, precious, good Livy. I’m bound to call on the Hooker’s! E pluribus Unum! [(Done’t ] caret(I do notcaret know what E pluribus Unum means, but it is a good word, [anyway.) Let’s ] caretNow we willcaret kiss & make friends, Livy.}

[ You little ras darling, ] caret{How’s this?}caret 3 y You mustn’t p enclose other people’s letters in yours—put them in another envelop. Here I thought I had a good long letter from you to-day, & behold, half of it was from my sister. What do you want to disappoint me so, for?

She has read the I Letter to Vanderbilt in a Western paper, & says—however, it is too much trouble to copy the passage—I will send the whole letter—there are no secrets in it, & besides it refers to my princess in one place, anyhow. She naturally feels drawn toward you, & has asked, in her diffident way, about the propriety of writing a line to you. I am not going I guess I’ll caretI willcaret tell her to bang away. {Because, you know, you like to write to strangers, & it will just be fine for you to acknowledge the receipt of her letter & say a pleasant word in reply.} All that ever you will need to say will be to tell her that I am earnestly seeking a Christian life, & no letter that ever fell under her eye will seem so beautiful. caretto her.caret My sister is a good woman, familiar [with ] grief, though bearing it bravely & giving no sign upon the surface; & she is [kind-hearted ], void of folly or vanity, perfectly unacquainted with deceit or dissimulation, diffident about her own faults, & slow to discover those of others. She isn’t such a gem as you, [ by a long shot, ] & neither is any other woman, but then she is a very, very go excellent woman [anyway. , Livy. ] 4 You’ll like her, Livy—she don’t seem to spell worth a cent. You see she spells cow with a k. And she has spelled “tripped” with only one p, & she puts only one t in “delighted,” & only two s’s in “expression.” I can stand those little blunders well enough, but I do hate to see anybody spell John with a G. I look upon that as perfectly awful. I notice that you always spell John with a [G. {Now ] forgive me, Livy darling—you know I wouldn’t poke fun at you to save a man’s life if I thought it would wound you. I don’t care a straw how you spell, Livy dear—I hardly ever notice when you make a mistake—& bless you I am just as proud of you as if you could beat the Unabridged Dictionary spelling. It would be a pity indeed if I presumed to criticise your spelling—I who am sown as thick with faults as you are with merits, & shining virtues, & beautiful traits of character; & yet you have found it in your heart to take me just as I am & lift me up & bless me with your priceless love—I never can be your critic, my loved & honored Livy.}

I called at the Courant office yesterday, but Gov. Hawley was absent in Washington. They said he would arrive in town tonight & call on me at the hotel.5

George Francis Train is here, lecturing to-night at Allyn Hall, about Ireland. I have not called on the distinguished jail-bird—I don’t like him. He may have some little reason to dislike me, but none to like me. I blackguarded him like everything in a [newspaper ] letter once, which was pretty widely copied. I would like to trot him out again, ever so well—{excuse that slangy language, Livy—I am on a slangy subject.} He is lecturing to the Irish, to-night, & lying like all possessed, I make no manner of doubt—{excuse that, too, Livy—I guess I had better get off of this subject.}6

Yes, Livy, as you say, I suspect that if you write me every second day it will be as much as I ought to expect of you—& as much as your various taxes upon your time, & your frequent company-interruptions, will allow you to do. I must [ bef beware ] how I run the risk of being a burden to you, in either great or small things, instead of a [help. Therefore ], make sunshine for me—make me glad & happy, & generous toward the world & its ills, with one of those prized little missives signed “Your Livy” only when you have plenty of time at hand or when desire prompts you. {You compel yourself to write sometimes when you simply feel that you ought to write—& then it is a hardship to you.} Never mind me—see that you make yourself contented & happy—for that is what I want to see, my dear.

Well, some things can’t be done as well as others,7 do you know that? I have been trying my very best, for two days, to answer your letters received yesterday & [to-day ]—& the first letter I wrote, yesterday, I laid yours on the table by me & got ready—but I wrote about twenty pages of stuff & never got to it. This evening I laid your two letters by me & began again—& wrote fifteen or sixteen pages of rubbish, & never once got to them. And now [to-night ] I placed them by me once more, determined to answer them this time, anyway—& here I am. The fact is, I think to myself, every time, “Now I will just chat a little with Livy about one thing or another, & then after that I will read her letters over again & answer them.” But then I chat too long—& so the answering has to be deferred. I guess I’ll accomplish it tomorrow, Livy—be patient, my little treasure. To think that in within the last twenty-four hours I should have written fifty mortal pages of manuscript to you, & yet am obliged at last to beg further time wherein to answer your two letters.8 I am acting a good deal like a “Committee of the Whole” in one of these one-horse State Legislatures, early in the session when they keep sounding the lobby’s financial pulse on certain bills, by “reporting progress” & and “asking leave to sit again” till the lobby grows frantic & disgusted.

Goodnight & God bless you, my [darling. Take ] my kiss & my benediction, & try to be reconciled to the fact that I am

Yours, forever & always,

Sam

P.S.—I have read this letter over & it is flippant, & foolish & puppyish. I wish I had gone to bed when I got back, without writing. You said I must never tear up a letter after writing it to you—& so I send it. Burn it, Livy—I did not think I was writing so clownishly & shabbily. I was in much too good a humor for sensible letter writing.

altalt

Miss Olivia L. Langdon

Present.

Cart it home, Charlie., please.

[docketed by OLL:] [50th ]

Explanatory Notes | Textual Commentary

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1 The Hookers’ house was about a mile and a quarter west of the Allyn House, which was at 80 Asylum Street (Geer 1869, map facing 29, 29, 40). In 1853 John Hooker had been one of the original purchasers of Nook Farm, a 140-acre plot of land in Hartford.

This acreage was bounded on the north by Farmington Avenue; the north branch of the Park River formed the western boundary. The south branch of and then the main Park River made the southern boundary as far as the eastern limit of Sigourney Street. In this same year John Hooker opened Forest Street and built his imposing brick Gothic home at the northeast corner of that street and Hawthorn Street. ... During the years between 1853 and 1873 a community of relatives and friends grew at Nook Farm. Their activities and interests ranged from politics to journalism to the woman suffrage movement and literature. (Van Why, 7)

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2 Actually Edward Beecher Hooker (1855–1927), known as Ned (“Nook Farm Genealogy,” 16, Beecher Addenda, iv).

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3 This teasing insertion invited Olivia to inspect the especially thorough way Clemens had canceled the preceding phrase. Although his initial impulse was to cancel “ras” in a way that was clearly intended to be read (as he had already canceled “rascal” in the preceding paragraph), he ended by heavily canceling the whole phrase, adding a few false leads for good measure (crossing the first letter of “little,” for instance). He used the same heavy method to cancel two words in the previous paragraph (“perfect” and “honey?”) and one phrase in the paragraph following (“by a long shot”).

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4 Pamela A. Moffett was nearly thirty-eight when her husband, William, died in 1865 at the age of forty-nine, leaving her with two children, aged thirteen and four. Pamela had long been keenly interested in her brother’s salvation. In a letter of 6 March 1864, for example, she wrote to him:

My dear brother, you talk of pursuing happiness, but never overtaking it. This may be, and doubtless is true, of him whose hopes caretof happinesscaret all centre in this world, but it is not, and never can be true, of the genuine christian. He sees in every trial, in every bereavement, in every seeming misfortune, the hand of God interposed for his good.

He may grieve, for he is still human, indeed he must grieve, for by sorrow the heart is I softened, the mind purified and refined, and thus he becomes susceptible of higher and purer joys than he coold ever otherwise know.

My dear Brother, let me implore you, if not for your own sake, for the sake of all who love you in this world, let not this admonition pass unheeded. “Turn ye, turn ye, for why will ye die saith the Lord.” Let the Spirit of God, which has been knocking at the door of your heart for years, now come in, and make you a new man in Christ Jesus.

All the family but you, have given evidence of an interest in religion, and will you stand alone, and be separated from the rest, not only in this world, but in the world to come? No no it cannot be; I cannot bear to think of it. I wish you would read at least one chapter in your Testament every day, and think seriously upon it; and I will send you papers from time to time, which I hope you will read care carefully. (CU-MARK)

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5 Hawley was in Washington to attend the presidential inauguration of Ulysses S. Grant on 4 March. Clemens still wanted to discuss purchasing a share of Hawley’s Hartford Courant (see 13 and 14 Feb 69 to OLL, p. 96).

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6 The widely reprinted letter was “Information Wanted,” addressed to the editor of and published in the New York Tribune on 22 January 1868 (SLC 1868). It burlesqued Train (1829–1904), the flamboyant shipping and railroad promoter, world traveler, pamphleteer, lecturer, political agitator, and Fenian. According to Train’s own account, by the time of his Hartford lecture he had been jailed on thirteen occasions. “My prison experience has been more varied than that of the most confirmed and hardened criminal; and yet I have never committed a crime, cheated a human being, or told a lie” (Train, 314–25, 329). The Hartford Courant, in reviewing the lecture that had been announced as “Ireland’s Persecutions and Ireland’s Future Prosperity,” observed that Train’s actual subject

was Train. Titles to his discourses are always purely ornamental; he discards them entirely in his speeches. The persecutions of Ireland were the persecutions of Train in Ireland, the future prosperity of Ireland, was the future of Train, depending upon Irishmen to place him in the White House in 1872[.] ... His speech, however, was greatly enjoyed by all present; its scattering shots hit everybody and everything, and made fun enough for half a dozen lectures. The assurance of the man, his pluck, his sublime “cheek,” and withal his keen satire, made him an attraction, for there is not his equal in this country. (“George Francis Train,” 8 Mar 69, 2)

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7 The daredevil Sam Patch’s motto, reversed: see L2, 254 n. 1.

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8 The three letters to Olivia written “within the last twenty-four hours” fill forty-one manuscript pages.



glyphglyphCopy-text:glyphMS, Mark Twain Papers, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley (CU-MARK).

glyphglyphPrevious publication:glyph L3, 143–148; LLMT, 79–83.

glyphglyphProvenance:glyphsee Samossoud Collection, p. 586.

glyphglyphEmendations and textual notes:glyph


first-born • first-ǀborn

bless you[This was the first of several cancellations in this letter; some, like this, were heavily canceled; some, in addition, used false ascenders and descenders; one was lightly canceled, intended to be read; and one was a combination of the various kinds of cancellations, with Clemens’s comment on it (see the entries and illustrations below, and p. 147, n. 3).]

time.1 Now • time.—ǀNow

lap lamps • lapmps [p partly formed]

perfect[false ascenders/descenders]

will. And • will.—ǀ And

, honey?[heavily canceled; for this and the following two cancellations, see the illustration]

(Done’t[heavily canceled]

anyway.) Let’s • anyway.)—ǀ Let’s [‘Let’s’ possibly Lets; heavily canceled]

You little ras darling, • [Clemens first lightly canceled ‘ras’, intending Olivia to read it; he then heavily canceled all four words, crossed an ‘l’ and used a false ascender to hinder decipherment; see the illustration below.]

figure
figure

Letter of 6 March 1869 to Olivia L. Langdon (2nd of 2). MS page 6, showing a cancellation intended to be read and three unusually heavy cancellations (CU-MARK).

with • with ǁ with

kind-hearted • kind-ǀhearted

by a long shot,[heavily canceled]

anyway. , Livy.[heavily canceled]

G. {Now • G.—ǀ{Now

newspaper • news-ǀpaper

bef beware • befware [‘f’ partly formed]

help. Therefore • help.—ǀTherefore

to-day • to-ǀday

to-night • to-ǀnight

darling. Take • darling.—ǀTake

50th50 th ǀ50th [corrected miswriting]