to Jervis and Olivia Lewis Langdon
1 April 1870 • Buffalo, N.Y.
(Transcripts: CU-MARK, UCCL 00452)
Buf. Mch Apl. 1.
Dear Father & Mother:1
I can use this heading just as well as Samuel and why shouldn’t I do it while he is folding a letter to go to some one else. I am sitting on his lap and so helping him along, oh I am of unbounded help to him in this way. If I had a couple more such helps I wouldn’t have to do anything at all. I don’t know whether that last is complimentary or not but I am afraid it is not—he is a witch, but then I have to get along with him—
We are to have the [Twins], Monday evening, to stay a week or so— I mean the [Spaldingzes].2 And the advance guard of my tribe will make their exodus from St. Louis about the 10th of April—the same consisting of my mother & the German girl.3 They will visit relatives & friends before coming finally hither, but they don’t know whether to visit up the [Mississippi ] in or in Kentucky, & the chances are that at the last moment they will try to go both ways & damage themselves. My sister & Young Sam will follow them after a brief interval, & Annie will straggle along after her school is finished.4
They seem to be using my editorial in Pennsylvania—I received the enclosed today from Pottstown or Pottsville, Pa., simply directed to Mark Twain, & with no comments.5
Yes, I guess we are about ready to start for England. My Galaxy work gives me a chance to travel if I want to—but if I hadn’t taken it I would have been tied hand & foot here & forever & ever. It also gives me a chance to write what I please, not what I must. Thus far I am very glad I undertook it.6
Love to you both, & large amounts of it.
[P. S. ] Livy is abusing me about using this fine paper, when she knows that I always go to all the expense I can when I write you, so as to show that I love you & that there ain’t anything mean about me. He fabricates. I only desire that he be duly economical and use up his half sheets clean—you see ‸he uses‸ two stamped pages8 and the others are left, that is the way he uses paper leaving half of it unused. I fix common paper for him ‸so—‸ but it is very wrong for him to used stamped paper in this way—still he does it, and although he is so bad, “I care for [um ]”
Again lovingly Livy—
Talk about economy! If I hadn’t just happened to come along in the nick of time, she would have had this into an envelop & there would have been a clean waste of a page & a half of good paper, & of the stamped kind at that. It is the subscriber that undersigned that looks after the real economies of this establishment.
And this evening she had shad for dinner—[word illegible] she has shad four times a day [(She ] [word illegible] thinks they are shad, but privately between ourselves, they are [mackerel— Still ] it is a comfort to her to talk
But nonsense enough for one time—Good-bye
“MORE WISDOM.” 1
“They that go down to the sea in ships, see the wonders of the deep;”2 and they that buy coal mines in Pennsylvania and work them see wonders likewise.
They see the wonder of finding themselves suddenly stripped of their independence and converted into the servants of their own employés.
They learn to come and go, do and undo, bow and scrape, simper, smile, shuffle and smirk, at the behest of the “Miners’ Union.”3
They enjoy the wonder of seeing orderly men murdered and little or no notice taken of it by Pennsylvania law officers sworn to execute the statutes, but who prefer perjury to unpopularity, apparently.
They enjoy also the wonder of seeing a legislature lavish all its solicitude upon the miner, without seeming to reflect that his employer has a soul to save too.4
They enjoy, finally, the spectacle of a legislature delivering into the hands of an irresponsible mob the actual control of property belonging wholly to their employers.
Such are some of the wonders these men see. The secret of it all lies in the fact that the members of the Miners’ Union are a political power. They have votes, and therefore legislatures must not offend them nor petty officers see the small indiscretions which they commit with scalping knife and Deringer.5
But the latest wonder is a certain thing which has just become a law in Pennsylvania. It is, that every mine shall be under the control of three persons, whose prerogative it shall be to order alterations in the manner of opening or working it, and who shall also close up and stop work upon such mine when in their discretion it shall seem proper to do so. And who appoints these autocrats? The owners of the mine? No. Their employees do it. 6
Nothing need now be deemed impossible to a Pennsylvania legislature.
And who is it into whose hands the legislature has given this high appointing power? Simply an irresponsible society of men who hold meetings, pass laws, and enforce them by the agencies of terrorism and blood. When a man goes to work in a colliery tabooed by the Miners’ Union, they stick a notice on his door-post suggesting that he resign his situation with all convenient dispatch—and they emphasize this suggestion by printing at its top the sign of a coffin.
That these “coffin notices,” as they are called, are not inspired by empty bravado, may be gathered from the following telegram, dated Shamokin, March 5, and signed by an old and respectable resident of that locality:
“Luke Fidler colliery was going to work without the Union. The ‘Mollie McGuires’ of the Union men murdered the watchman. Three superintendents in one colliery in [Shamokin] have been murdered since the troubles in the coal mining districts began, and nothing done about it.”7
These are the sort of people who are to choose three absolute sovereigns to preside over each mine. These are the people for whose “protection” the Pennsylvania legislature is straining itself to provide. It seems an unnecessary courtesy while ammunition is so cheap.
After saying so much about it, do we suggest a remedy? A remedy for secret assassination; for blind and deaf and dumb officers of justice; for mob terrorism; for truckling legislatures? No; there is no remedy for these things. That is, no remedy that can be brought into instant use. There is one, but time is required for it. It applies itself, and is simply that remedy which comes to the relief of all disorder, viz: the teaching of reason and fair dealing to all parties concerned, through the convincing agencies of hardship, disaster and weariness of fighting each other.
However, should the Pennsylvania legislature take the only step now left it to take for the “protection” of those persecuted lambs, the miners, and make them absolute, joint and equal owners with the present nominal proprietors of the collieries, it is fair to presume that the millenium of peace and order in that Pandemonium8 would be greatly hastened. Until then, let us continue, as is usual and proper, to wail for the poor oppressed and [down-trodden ] miner, whose only solace, in this cold world, is putting up his little “coffin notice” on his neighbor’s door and then helping to get him ready for the funeral.
CU-MARK). A TS and its carbon transcribed from the MS and corrected and annotated by Dixon Wecter together provide the text for this letter. Wecter distinguished Olivia’s and Clemens’s handwriting on the TS by means of asterisks and, in part, on the carbon by means of brackets with identifying notes. The transcripts as corrected by Wecter serve as copy-text with all corrections, interlineations, and cancellations transcribed as typed and marked if they are believed to be Olivia’s or Clemens’s. Doubtful corrections are reported in the commentary only; changes deemed to be simple corrections of typing errors or omissions are not reported. In two cases where Wecter could not supply canceled readings the typist omitted, he wrote “[word illegible]” and his language is preserved in this text. In two instances where the TS and the carbon are marked differently, the discrepancy is reported below; the carbon is not fully marked, however, and failure to mark it is therefore not reported.
Provenance:Wecter identified his source as the “Jervis Langdon
Collection.” The present location of the MS is not known.
Emendations and textual notes:
England— I • England—|I
bearable— Lovingly • bearable—Lovingly
Twins • t Twins [transcription corrected, probably by Wecter]
Spauldingzes • [marked ‘[sic]’ by Wecter]
Mississippi • Miss‸iss‸ippi [transcription corrected, probably by Wecter]
needs • need
spring • S spring [transcription corrected by Wecter]
P. S. • P.S.
um • him ‸um‸ [probably corrected transcription, by Wecter]
(She (TS) • (she (carbon) [no closing parenthesis; transcribed by Wecter on TS and carbon]
mackerel— Still (TS) • mackerel—still (carbon) [transcribed by Wecter on TS and carbon]