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Add to My CitationsFrom Samuel L. and Olivia L. Clemens
to Jervis and Olivia Lewis Langdon
9 February 1870 • Buffalo, N.Y.
(MS: CtHMTH, UCCL 00423)
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figure c

em spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceAt Home, Feb. 9. 1870.

My Dear Father & Mother—

Livy has gone shopping, & to visit the Slees, & I remained at home to write a newspaper letter, but find after pacing the floor for an hour that I have no special interest in the subjects that present themselves. A man cannot do a thing well which his heart is not in, & so I have dropped the newspaper scribbling for to-day.

We have called upon the Slees once—I have called upon them once—they have called upon us once—& now She has gone to call upon them——so the lines of communication between these two households are unbroken, thus far, & are likely to remain so.1

We telegraphed the Twichells to come, & they did—& remained twenty-four hours by the watch, & were happy, & so were we. They took full account of the house & all its belongings, partly because they vastly enjoyed doing it, & partly because they expect to have to tell, & retell, & iterate & reiterate the details of our grandeur to all them that be in Hartford, & & (& who somehow of late appear to take an interest in us.)2

I went after them with the carriage at 3.40 PM day before yesterday, & from that till dinner time (at 5,) we showed them elaborately over the house, & made Twichell wipe his feet & blow his nose before entering each apartment (so as to keep his respect up to an impressive altitude,)—& we listened to their raptures & enjoyed the same—w & I told them the story of what happened to l Little Sammy in Fairy Land when he was hunting for a [ Ba Boarding ] House, & they enjoyed that. But I never let them go near that drawing room they till they thought they had seen all the glories of the palace—till after dinner, in fact, for I wanted to have the gas ablaze & the furniture-covers removed. It looked magnificent! I think they will give a good account. Mrs. T. says Alice Day’s house is vulgarly showy & out of taste.3 I am awful glad of it. (So is Livy, but she don’t say so—at least she don’t want it mentioned outside.) (Its no such thing and Mrs T. did not say so—ahem! naughty Youth)

Livy makes a most excellent little housekeeper, & I always knew she would. Everything goes on as smoothly as if it were worked by hidden machinery. The servants are willing & entirely respectful toward her (which they had better be.)

Livy has a dreadful time making her cash account balance; & she has a dreadful time economising a turkey in such a way as to make him last a week; & she has a dreadful time making the servants comprehend that they must buy nothing whatever on credit & that whatever they mu buy they must make the butcher or the grocer set down in the pass-book to be critically scanned by her eagle eye. These are all the dreadful times she has on the surface. She naturally has her little down sad moments within, & she confesses it—but you may take an honest man’s word for it that I think she secretly reproaches herself for not being sad oftener, so as to show a proper grief for at leaving so lovely & so dear a home. The plain fact of the matter is that she has undergone the most astounding change—for verily she is become so boisterous, so noisy, & so lawless in her cheery happiness that I, even I, am forced int to put on an irksome gravity & decorum in order to uphold the dignity of the house. She pulls & hauls me around, & claws my hair, & bites my fingers, & laughs so that you might hear her across the street; & it does appear to me that I never saw anybody so happy as she is in all my life—except myself.

We entirely enjoy these glad days. We sit alone in the loveliest of libraries, in the evening, & she I read poetry—& every now & then I come to a passage that brings the tears to my eyes, & I look up to her for loving sympathy, & she inquires whether they sell sirloin steaks by the pound or by the yard. Ah, the child’s heart is in her househkeeping, not in the romance of life.4

We are very regular in our habits. We get up at 6 o’clock every morning, & we go to bed at 10 every evening. We have three meals a day—breakfast at 10 oclock, lunch at 1 PM & dinner at 5. The reason we get [ us up ] at 6 in the morning is because we want to see what time it is. We then go back to be Partly this, & partly because we have heard that early rising is beneficial. We then go back to bed, & get up finally at half past 9.

Lovingly Your Son

Sam. L. Clemens.

I have returned from my shopping expedition and now Mr Clemens has gone down town— I purchased a clothes bar, a bread box a flat iron stand, a flower stand &c &c—

The names enclosed Mr C. wants after cards sent to— Annie will probably know if he has duplicated any— 5 I would like it if Sue could find from Zippie Hattie Marsh Tylers address and send after cards to her also to Lucy Gage Cursons— 6

We are as p happy as two mortals can well be—

Lovingly Livy—

Explanatory Notes | Textual Commentary

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1 John D. F. Slee and his wife, the former Emma Virginia Underhill, returned Olivia’s call on 11 February. “Mr and Mrs Slee spent the evening with us last evening,” Olivia wrote her family on 12 February, “we had a good social chat, then Mrs Slee and Mr Clemens, Annie and I played High, Low, Jack—Mr Slee & Mrs Moffett visiting meanwhile—” (CtHMTH; L3, 119 n. 4). Pamela and Annie Moffett came to Buffalo from Elmira, probably on 11 February (see note 5).

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2 Clemens resented those Hartford residents who had hesitated to support his effort in 1869 to become a partner in the Hartford Courant (L3, 440). Upon his return to Hartford, Twichell reported on the Clemenses’ “grandeur” (6? Feb 70 to McComb, n. 2; 23 Feb 70 to Bliss, n. 1).

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3 Alice Hooker had married John C. Day on 17 June 1869 (L3, 265 n. 1, 276). The Days’ house was at 32 Garden Street in Hartford (Geer: 1869, 99; 1870, 106).

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4 Around the time he wrote this letter Clemens made two starts on a sketch (never finished) about his and Olivia’s inexperience at housekeeping (SLC 1870 [MT00875], 1870 [MT00876]). He returned to the theme of his own incompetence at it in “Political Economy,” part of his “Memoranda” in the Galaxy for September 1870 (SLC 1870 [MT00955], 424–26).

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5 The list of wedding card recipients enclosed for Annie Moffett does not survive. Her son, Samuel C. Webster, reported that she remembered

sitting at a table with Clara Spaulding, Livy’s girlhood friend, helping to address wedding announcements from a list of his friends that Uncle Sam had made out—with unconventional annotations on the character of the people involved. (MTBus, 112)

Webster also reported that after Clemens’s wedding, Annie and her mother “went to Fredonia, about forty miles away, and rented a house. . . . Then they returned to Elmira and spent a week with the Langdons” (MTBus, 112). But in a 16 February letter to her mother, Olivia said that “Mrs Moffett and Annie went yesterday to Fredonia to see if they could find any inducements there that would lead them to move East there— . . . We are having a very pleasant visit from them— We expect them back some time today—” (CtHMTH). So the house-hunting trip to Fredonia came during their visit to Buffalo, which followed their week-long stay with the Langdons.

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6 Mentioned here were Susan L. Crane; Lucy Zipporah Brooks (d. 1912), Rachel Brooks Gleason’s sister and, by 1873, also an Elmira physician; Hattie Marsh Tyler, possibly a daughter of Louisa Lewis (Mrs. Sheppard) Marsh, and therefore Olivia’s first cousin, who seems to have lived in or near Buffalo (see 26 Feb 70 to Jervis Langdon); and the former Lucy A. Gage, of Crittenden, New York, who in 1861–62 had been a student at Elmira Female College (Wisbey: 1990, 4; 1993, 2; “Dr. Zippie Brooks Wales Passes Away,” Elmira Advertiser, 5 July 1912, 5; “Capt. E. L. Marsh,” obituary from unidentified Elmira newspaper inserted in AD, 26 Mar 1906, CU-MARK, in MTA, 2:250–51; Elmira Female College, 11).

glyphglyphCopy-text:glyphMS, Mark Twain House, Hartford (CtHMTH).

glyphglyphPrevious publication:glyph L4, 66–69; LLMT, 144–46.

glyphglyphProvenance:glyphdonated to CtHMTH in 1963 by Ida Langdon.

glyphglyphEmendations and textual notes:glyph

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