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Add to My Citations To Orion Clemens
29 July 1874 • Elmira, N.Y.
(MS: CU-MARK, UCCL 01114)
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Elmira, July 29.

My Dear Bro:

We had a delightful visit with Ed Brownell, up he who was one of the best boys in Keokuk in my day, & one of the smartest, taking rank, in [ bu ] precocious business talent, with the precocious & surprising oratorical talent shown by Billy Clagett & Billy Dickson. Dixon.1 Its Ed’s visit had but one fault—it was too short. I usually hate any man, friend or foe, who comes up on the hill, but I would have been glad to have Ed here for a [ wr weeek ] if we had had house room & he the time to spare. - - - - - - - - And now at this moment cometh the photographer to make a lot of views of my study & the distant city—& it is a faultless, cloudless day, & he will have good success no doubt.2

Two or three times the baby has threatened to wink out like a snuffed candle, at 5 minutes notice; & each times the trouble was laid to prepared food, & the same discarded & a wet nurse employed——& each time the wet nurse went dry or something happened.— We have fled to wet nurses four times & to-day we are after two others down town. Livy is about worn out; the present wet nurse is pumped out; & my profanity is played out—for it no longer brings healing & satisfaction to the soul.3

Our love to Mollie.

Ys Affly


It begins to be almost questionable, as things look, now, whether we can visit mas as soon as we expected.


Orion Clemens, Esq
Iowa. [on flap:] figure slc/mt [postmarked:] elmira [n. y. jul 31]

Explanatory Notes | Textual Commentary

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1 Probably as early as June 1856, when Clemens was working as a typesetter in Orion’s Ben Franklin Book and Job Office in Keokuk, Edward (or Edwin) F. Brownell was a partner, with R. B. and J. W. Ogden, in Ogden, Brownell and Company, “Wholesale and Retail Booksellers, Stationers and Publishers” at 52 Main Street. Orion’s business stationery at the time shows that his print shop was located at the same address, on the “third story, over the ‘City Book Store’” (OC 1857, 16, 55, 86; L1, 63–64). Clemens may have last seen Brownell while in Keokuk to lecture in April 1867 (10 June 74 to OC and MEC, n. 5). Brownell was now a Keokuk banker (see 28 Aug 74 to OC). William H. Clagett had been a law student, and William W. Dixon a notary public, in Keokuk in the mid-1850s. Clemens renewed his friendships with both men in Nevada Territory in the early 1860s. In May 1872 he sent a copy of Roughing It to Clagett, who figured in chapter 27 (RI 1993, 180, 627; L1, 123 n. 1, 168 n. 11; L6, 96). No recent contact with Dixon has been documented.

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2 The photographer was Elisha M. Van Aken (1828–1904), who had established his studio in Elmira in 1873. Over the next three decades he took pictures of and for the Clemens and Langdon families (Wisbey 1989; Cotton, 46–49, 55, 60, 63). For the photographs he took on 29 July 1874, see 4 Sept 74 to Brown.

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3 See 11 July 74 to JLC, n. 2.

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

glyphglyphPrevious publication:glyph L6, 196–197.

glyphglyphProvenance:glyphsee Moffett Collection in Description of Provenance.

glyphglyphEmendations and textual notes:glyph

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