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Add to My Citations To Olivia L. Clemens
1 November 1871 • Boston, Mass.
(MS: CU-MARK, UCCL 00669)
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Boston, Nov. 1. PM.

Livy darling, it was a bad night, but we had a packed house, & if the papers say any disparaging things, don’t you believe a single word of it, for I never saw a lecture go off so magnificently before. I tell you it made me feel like my old self again. I wanted to talk a week. People say Boston audiences ain’t responsive. People lie. Boston audiences get perfectly uproarious when they get started. I am satisfied with to-night.1

“Hope” & my other little Auburndale friend, Bessie, were there, in front seats.2 They sent me a note beforehand to say so, but in the confusion after the lecture I missed seeing them. I have just written them a note urging them to visit us the first time they come to Hartford—& to let us know when they arrive, & we’ll meet them at the depot & take them home & make everything jolly for them. Remember this & act accordingly in case I am away.

I am going to lunch with Ralph Keeler, Thomas Bailey Aldrich & one or two others tomorrow,3—& tomorrow night I talk in Exeter, N. H.

Will send you my new list tomorrow, if they’ve got it ready.4

Your Easton & Reading letters are here.

Will try & remember to send you some money for the Hookers tomorrow.5

I’ve a perfect feast of [letters ] (& socks) from you tonight, darling— God bless you my dearest love, my precious wife.



Mrs. Sam. L. Clemens | Cor. Forest & Hawthorne | Hartford | Conn. [postmarked:] [boston ] mass. nov. 2em space2 pm

Explanatory Notes | Textual Commentary

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1 Having been anxious the previous day about his Boston reception, Clemens here expressed his relief in much the same way he had after his first Boston lecture on 10 November 1869. The Boston Evening Transcript reported that the Artemus Ward talk was “listened to with pleasure by a very large audience” and elicited “much merriment” (“Mark Twain’s Lecture on Artemus Ward,” 2 Nov 71, 4). The Boston Advertiser published a synopsis (a practice that had irritated Clemens in 1869), nevertheless expressing disapproval of the performance (“Mark Twain in the Lyceum Course,” Boston Advertiser, 2 Nov 71, 1; L3, 391–92, 394–95 n. 3).

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2 Auburndale, Massachusetts, about ten miles west of Boston, was not on Clemens’s present or past lecture itineraries, but these unidentified acquaintances may have attended his 1869 Boston lecture, or one of his other lectures in the vicinity during November and December of that year (L3, 484–85).

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3 Clemens had known Ralph Olmstead Keeler (1840–73) since the 1860s, when they were contributors to the San Francisco Golden Era. Keeler had led a varied and vagrant life since the age of ten—as a performer with a minstrel troupe, an indigent student in Germany, a teacher of languages in San Francisco, and as a journalist, lecturer, and writer. He was an eastern correspondent for the San Francisco Alta California in 1868, then published an unsuccessful novel, Gloverson and His Silent Partners, in 1869 and his autobiographical Vagabond Adventures in 1870. While working as a special correspondent to the New York Tribune he was murdered at sea off the coast of Cuba in December 1873. Keeler had many good friends among the Boston literati, including Thomas Bailey Aldrich and William Dean Howells. He had only just returned from an extensive tour along the Mississippi River, which in part formed the basis of a series of articles he published in Aldrich’s Every Saturday from 20 May through 9 December 1871. In 1898 Clemens recalled that Keeler had been a lecture tour companion, presumably during the first week or two of November 1871:

Ralph had little or nothing to do, & he often went out with me to the small lecture-towns in the neighborhood of Boston. These lay within an hour of town, & we usually started at six or thereabouts, & returned to the city in the morning. It took about a month to do these Boston annexes, & that was the easiest & pleasantest month of the four or five which constituted the “lecture season.” . . .

Ralph Keeler was pleasant company on my lecture-excursions flights out of Boston, & we had plenty of good talks & smokes in our rooms after the committee had escorted us to the inn & made their good-night. (SLC 1898, 5, 14)

The 2 November lunch may have been the memorable occasion attended by Clemens, Keeler, Aldrich, Howells, publisher James T. Fields, and Bret Harte, later described by Howells in three separate accounts. In a letter of 7 May 1902 to Aldrich, Howells recalled:

That lurid lunch which the divine Keeler gave us out of his poverty at Obers, where the beefsteak with shoe-pegs (your name for the champignons) came in together with the flattened omelette soufflé, looms before my dim eyes, and I see Harte putting his hand on Clemens’s sealskin shoulder, and sputtering out, “This is the dream of his life,” while Fields pauses from his cursing can-of-peaches story,—O me, O my! (Howells 1928, 2:156–57)

According to Howells, the lunch was Clemens’s introduction to the Boston circle, which had already warmly accepted Harte. Harte’s “fleering” comment was acknowledged by a “glance from under Clemens’s feathery eyebrows which betrayed his enjoyment of the fun” (Howells 1910, 6–7; see also Howells 1903, 156). If the 2 November lunch was indeed the gathering at Louis P. Ober’s restaurant on Winter Place, then it may have been the first public evidence of a reconciliation between Clemens and Harte (see 26 Nov 70 to Webb and 7 June–28 Sept 71 to Harte; Walker, 138–42; Howells 1874; Howells 1900, 275–79; SLC 1898, 1; Boston Directory 1871, 528, 835).

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4 Olivia received Clemens’s itinerary in installments, to insure that she remained current as to his whereabouts. His own itinerary book could be most conveniently updated when he was in Boston (9 Oct 71 to Redpath, n. 1; 20 Nov 71 to Howland).

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5 Clemens did not remember to send the rent payment. See 28 Dec 71 to OLC, n. 3.

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

glyphglyphPrevious publication:glyph L4, 484–486; LLMT, 362, brief paraphrase.

glyphglyphProvenance:glyphsee Samossoud Collection in Description of Provenance.

glyphglyphEmendations and textual notes:glyph

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