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Add to My Citations From Samuel L. and Olivia L. Clemens
to Jervis and Olivia Lewis Langdon
16 and 17 April 1870 • Buffalo, N.Y.
(MS: CtHMTH, UCCL 00455)
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Buf Apl. [ 16 17. ] 1

Dear Father & Mother—

Day before yesterday I loaned Mr. Larned $3,000, on taking as security one-half of his ownership in the e Express—the loan is for one year. Bowen & Rogers drew the papers at Mr. Slee’s instance. Took Mr Slee’s advice in everything. I have concluded to keep him here, for I cannot well do without him, but will get you a good man in his place. My wife will still need Mrs. Slee for some time yet, also, & so there it seems absolutely necessary that we retain the family here for the present.2

Yesterday received a letter from Kennett asking if it would be convenient for me to pay something now as he has a couple of the Clapp notes to meet. I told him we might spend the summer in Europe, & in that case I would need the money myself. If he makes it an object to me I will let him have two or three thousand dollars, but not [ otherwise, caret I think caret, unless he is content to wait a fortnight or so ] otherwise, I think.3

We have had the twins here for ten days—Allie & Clara Spaulding—& we all enjoyed it [exceedingly. They ] went home day before yesterday— partly because Miss Clara had some trees to plant, & partly because we were beginning to look for my tribe from St. Louis. In which case we should want both the spare rooms.

Livy discharged Harriet yesterday, after a week of solemn & imposing preparation, & I tell you I am glad the thing is done, for it hung over us like a pall & shadowed all our [sunshine ]. Toward the last the mere mention of it was sufficient to make me shudder, & I came to regard it as an awful ordeal which we had got to pass through & which might let go in the midst & blow up us to Jericho. But it is all over, now, & we still live. But I had rather discharge the a perilous & unsound cannon than the soundest servant girl that ever was.

Livy overhauled her books yesterday & demonstrated that our living expenses average exactly fifty dollars a week. Other expenses will not m amount to more than fifty more, & so we are safe, beyond all peradventure. Every cent of the returns from the book can go to the liquidation of the “Express” debt if necessary. [in margin: (That includes servants & all—Livy)] 4

Mr. Beecher came Saturday & preached morning & evening. The evening [ sem sermon ], to a crowded house, was received with prodigious favor & he went away from here with leaving a great fame behind him. From Elmira we learn that M Dr Heacock created a similar furore in the [Opera ] House Sunday night. It does these people good to change off & shin around a little. {I was going to put that “move around,” but Livy said “shin around” was pleasanter. caretit iscaret ([ is it ] is a fabrication)}5

We think of you oftener than we write you, & a good deal oftener, too. There is no spot & no article in our lovely home but remind us of your love & loving care for [us. And ] we will write you oftener, too, in future—my word on that. I will now leave the other page to Livy.

Lovingly Yr Son

Samℓ.

Dear Father and Mother

I feel as if it was a little too bad to have had visits from so many of our friends before you have been here— I think that I shall be very proud when I can entertain you here— I am sure that you would luxuriate in the quiet of our dear little nest— We expect Mr Clemens friends now every day—after their visit I want Ida to come— 6 Then some time I want Emma Sayles and Sue 7 to come together— We f

We find that we are located in a very delightful neighborhood, there are four young married people that live on in the block below them, the four ladies are very pleasant, we have met only two of the gentlemen—another young married lady who has called here is going to move into the block this Spring— I liked what I saw of her very much

Lovingly Livy—

I neglected to bring my hand glass with me—did you send it in one of the boxes— It is too bad to trouble you with these things but I do not see any way to help it— I I know that it would be well for me to open the boxes before I write of these things, but I have not the time now to take care of the things—

Mrs Moffett says “give my love to your Mother”— 8

Mr Clemens and I went to church to day, Mr Dr Heacock gave us a very good sermon, at first I was afraid that it was to be treatise like, the sentences were perfect, the language felicitous, but at the end he gave us reflections on the subject (Our Father which who art in Heaven) which brought it home to our hearts—

Dr Heacock has and exceedingly fine face, when he was preaching, there would sometimes come into his face an expression that reminded me of Anna Dickinson— 9 I came about as near having a touch of home-sickness this morning in church as I have at any time— I thought of you in church, with the Spauldings 10 sitting in front of you, all listening to our teacher—and I thought that I should like to be there with you—

Lovingly Livy—

Explanatory Notes | Textual Commentary

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1 It is likely that Clemens in fact wrote his portion of this letter on 16 April: as the preceding letter makes clear, the firing of Harriet, the maid, reported in the fourth paragraph here as happening “yesterday,” came on 15 April. He may have changed the date simply to reconcile it with Olivia’s portion of the letter, clearly written on 17 April, Easter Sunday.

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2 Dennis Bowen and Sherman S. Rogers were the Buffalo lawyers who had managed the legal details of Clemens’s purchase of Thomas A. Kennett’s share of the Buffalo Express. Kennett and Larned were still in debt to Almon M. Clapp, their former partner in the paper (1 Apr 70 to the Langdons, n. 7). Jervis Langdon, who was increasingly unable to work and was currently traveling for his health, wanted Slee to relocate to Elmira, which he did soon after the formation of the new J. Langdon and Company partnership (9 Feb 70 to the Langdons; 2 and 3 Mar 70 to Langdon; 22 May to Langdon, n. 2; 25 June 70 to Fairbanks; L3, 294 n. 2; Reigstad 1989, 5).

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3 Clemens’s first payment to Kennett was not due until August (2 and 3 Mar 70 to Langdon, n. 4).

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4 In addition to the $10,000 he owed to Kennett, Clemens owed $12,500 to Jervis Langdon. Although in August 1869 Langdon was uninterested in discussing repayment, Clemens planned to sign a note and pay the interest “as it falls due” (L3, 311). By 9 November 1869, when he put his total Express in-debtedness at $22,000 and vowed to clear it “within two years,” he had apparently paid $500 to Langdon (L3, 387, 389 n. 5). He evidently paid another $5,000 before Langdon’s death on 6 August 1870 (11 Nov 70 to OC, n. 3). If innocents royalties were now averaging about $1,400 a month (27 Mar 70 to the Langdons), applying that much toward the Express debt could liquidate it by August, rather than November, 1871. But it is less clear how he then would have provided the $5,200 per year ($100 per week) he and Olivia required for living expenses. He could count on $2,000 from his contract with the Galaxy and perhaps another $2,500 from the Express if it paid him the same amount it did in 1869 (7 Jan 70 to Fairbanks, n. 6). The remaining $700 might have been made up, at least in part, from interest on investments or savings, which presumably had been bolstered by Jervis Langdon’s “handsome” wedding check and were about to be bolstered again by a further check for $1,000 (6? Feb 70 to McComb; 13 May 70 to Langdon). Finally, Olivia had a continuing interest in the Langdon coal firm, although Clemens prided himself on not using her money (26 Oct 70 to Bliss). In any event, he did not apply as much as $1,400 per month to his Express in-debtedness. By the end of December 1871 he was able to declare the Langdon portion of it “all paid up,” but he still owed $5,000 to Kennett (28 Dec 71 to OLC; 3 Mar 71 to Riley, n. 3).

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5 The Buffalo Express of Saturday, 9 April, had announced this pulpit exchange:

To-morrow the Rev. Thomas K. Beecher, of Elmira, will preach in Rev. Dr. Heacock’s place, in the Lafayette Street Church. Mr. Beecher is one of the ablest divines of the day, and will give the members of Dr. Heacock’s church a discourse worth listening to. (“The Churches,” 4)

Beecher gave complete satisfaction in both morning and evening sermons, although the Express singled out the first of these as “very able and eloquent,” printing a long synopsis (“The Pulpit,” 11 Apr 70, 4). Heacock’s performances in Elmira, in the morning at Congregational Church, and later at the Elmira Opera House, Beecher’s controversial Sunday evening stand (L3, 57 n. 9, 183 n. 7), demonstrated that he was “justly entitled to the reputation which he enjoys, of being one of the ablest and most eloquent Divines in the State.” The Langdons, who were still traveling in the South, missed the excitement (“City and Neighborhood,” Elmira Advertiser, 11 Apr 70, 4; 27 Mar 70 to the Langdons, n. 2; Buffalo Commercial Advertiser: “Religious,” 9 Apr 70, 3; “Church Services Yesterday,” 11 Apr 70, 3).

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6 Ida B. Clark was Charles Langdon’s fiancée. By “Mr Clemens friends” Olivia evidently meant the same thing her husband meant when he mentioned “my tribe from St. Louis” (third paragraph).

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7 That is, the younger Emma Sayles, not her mother (see p. 44), and Susan Crane.

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8 Pamela Moffett’s greetings arrived by letter; she had not yet reached Buffalo (21 Apr 70 to OC).

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9 The resemblance was more than skin-deep. Heacock shared the progressive social views espoused by Dickinson, the prominent lecturer on abolition and women’s rights, and by the Langdons, who were her close friends and regular Elmira hosts (she had most recently called at their house while passing through Elmira on 26 March, although the Langdons were away). On 17 April, for example, he delivered a second, evening sermon—on the “moral and religious lessons of the XVth Amendment,” which had become law on 30 March 1870 (“Easter,” Buffalo Express, 18 Apr 70, 4; L2, 337–38 n. 6; L3, 192 n. 2, 414 n. 1; “Local Jottings,” Elmira Saturday Evening Review, 2 Apr 70, 8).

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10 Alice and Clara Spaulding, their parents, Henry and Clara, and possibly their brother, Charles, who was a partner in the family lumber, building supplies, and coal business in Elmira (Boyd and Boyd, 2, 22, 197; Towner, 128; advertisement, Elmira Saturday Evening Review, 10 Dec 70, 5; L3, 182 n. 6).



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

glyphglyphPrevious publication:glyph L4, 109–113; Eastman, 139, excerpt.

glyphglyphProvenance:glyphdonated to CtHMTH in 1963 by Ida Langdon.

glyphglyphEmendations and textual notes:glyph


16 17. • 167.[possibly ‘167.’]

otherwise, caret I think caret, unless he is content to wait a fortnight or so otherwise • other-ǀ wise, caret I think.caret unless he is content to wait a fortnight or so ǀ wise

exceedingly. They • exceedingly.—ǀThey

sunshine • sun-ǀshine

sem sermon • semrmon

Opera • Oprera

is it • ist

us. And • us.—ǀAnd