Jump to Content

Add to My Citations To Moncure D. Conway
16 December 1875 • Hartford, Conn.
(MS facsimile: CU-MARK, UCCL 01287)
Click to add citation to My Citations.

Hartford, Dec 16.

My Dear Conway:1

Good! Give us both days—can’t you do that? Just do your level best once more, & see if you can’t manage to come the 28th [& stay] several days. My wife & I will be delighted. Take the train that leaves at 10 AM—it is the best one—& telegraph or write & I will be at the station to receive you. Come!—is it a “go?”2

Mrs Clemens joins me in kindest regards & heartiest welcomes.

I won’t venture to add a sentence as the postman is in sight & I want him to get this.

Yrs Ever

Saml L. Clemens

Explanatory Notes | Textual Commentary

Add to My Citations

Click to add citation to My Citations.
1 Clemens answered the following letter (CU-MARK):
Click to add citation to My Citations.

Conway’s opening sentence echoes “He Done His Level Best,” which Clemens first published in “Answers to Correspondents” in the Californian on 17 June 1865 and reprinted in the American and English sketchbooks he issued between 1867 and 1875. Conway presumably visited the Howellses around 14 October, when he opened his fall and winter lecture tour in Boston, with a talk on “London.” Recently he had given three lectures in New York, at Masonic Temple Hall, on “Demonology” (10 December), “St. George and the Dragon” (11 December), and “Oriental Religions; Their Origin and Progress” (12 December). Clemens had first invited him to Hartford in a letter of 18 October (ET&S1, 187, 191; SLC: 1867, 37–38; 1867, 36–37; 1870, 31–32; 1872, 31–32; 1872, 189; 1875, 74–75; Boston Evening Transcript: “Moncure D. Conway on London,” 15 Oct 75, 3; New York Times: “Moncure D. Conway’s Lectures,” 10 Dec 75, 8; “St. George and the Dragon,” 12 Dec 75, 2; New York Evening Post: “Various Paragraphs,” 13 Dec 75, 1).

Add to My Citations

Click to add citation to My Citations.
2 Conway described his visit to Hartford in a letter to his sixteen-year-old son (PCarlD):

Farmington Avenue

Hartford, Conn.

Dec 30, 1875

Dear Eustace,

When I leave tomorrow at 12.30 I will have been staying with Mark Twain just three days; and very charming days they have been. His house is a perfect palace. It is more beautiful than the house of Lord Lonsdale near the Albert Hall, which your ma and I have said we like better than any house we have seen about London. It is about a mile out of Hartford, on the brow of a wooded hill, the back garden stretching down to a beautiful stream or little river which twists to a horse-shoe shape as it passes the house, and can be seen winding among the hills for a mile. Inside everything is of the finest and richest kind without being gaudy. There is a billiard room [in] whic[h] Mark and I have been passing much of our time. He plays better than I do, one reason being that it is the French game which is very different from the English. There are no pockets, and the balls and cues are much bigger. He got 11 games to my 4. He presented me to-day with a most beautiful volume of his sketches, beautifully illustrated & bound, which has in it, I believe, some things which you have never seen. He wrote his name in it. He is writing a new novel, the scene of which is laid in Sacramento, California. He has made about £20,000 by his books. “The Gilded Age” (which I hope your mama has got back since Mrs Brown’s death) has been made here into a play which has a great run, and every time it is acted he gets half of the proceeds. All of which goes to show that your mama is right in wishing me to write a novel. Nevertheless, Mark Twain’s publisher, hearing that I was staying with him, wrote to him to-day to use his influence with me to get me to publish my lectures on Demonology with illustrations; he was anxious to be the publisher & says such a book would be a great success. So my Devils are not to be slighted. I find too that my Anthology is used in many pulpits here. It is used as a Bible in both the Parker-Memorial Hall, in Boston and Mr Frothingham[’s,] the two great radical congregations. Mr. Holt says the book sells well.

Mark Twain has suffered a little lately from Dysentery[.] Last night he made a conundrum:—“If a collection of Presbyterians make a Presbytery, what does a collection of Dissenters make? Answer—a Dissentery.” He put this in an envelope and sent it to the chief minister of the town, in whose church he has a pew. He has also composed a sentiment which he claims to be “quite Emersonian.” It is this:—“The ease with which I perceive other peoples religion to be folly, makes me suspect that my religion may be folly also.” It is charming to hear him singing the old boatmen’s songs which he heard when on a Mississippi steamboat to his children—two lovely little girls, one 18 months, the other 5 months—acting as he does so the motions aboard ship. I never realised what a kind-hearted first-rate fellow he is until I have had this thoroughly delightful visit in his house. As to his wife—she is an angel.

And now Goodbye—

Your affectionate Father.

The enclosed Xmas card with frog was got out today by Mark Twain’s publisher

For the letter Clemens wrote in the gift copy of Sketches, New and Old, see 30 Dec 75 to Conway. When Conway left Hartford on 31 December, he returned to New York, where, on 2 January 1876, he was scheduled to give another lecture at Masonic Temple Hall, on “Science and Religion in England” (“Mr. Conway’s Lecture,” New York Times, 30 Dec 75, 5). Despite the overtures from Elisha Bliss, the American Publishing Company did not publish Conway’s demonology lectures. Demonology and Devil-Lore was finally published in 1879, in London by Chatto and Windus and in New York by Henry Holt and Company. Conway’s Sacred Anthology: A Book of Ethnical Scriptures had been published in 1874, in London by Trübner and Company and in New York by Holt (for a description of its contents, see L5, 502 n. 1). Among its users was Octavius Brooks Frothingham (1822–95), pastor of the Third Congregational Unitarian Society in New York. The “card with frog”—actually a New Year’s greeting—which Conway enclosed for Eustace does not survive with his letter. It is reproduced here from another, slightly damaged, card in the Mark Twain Papers. In the original, the text and illustration are in pink on a black background. These cards were designed by True Williams, who reportedly “sent them as a gift to Mark Twain for his use” (note of 3 May 1926 by Irving S. Underhill, CU-MARK).


New Year’s card, 1876. Mark Twain Papers, The Bancroft Library (CU-MARK).

glyphglyphCopy-text:glyphMS facsimile, printed from an unidentified microfilm, Mark Twain Papers, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley (CU-MARK).

glyphglyphPrevious publication:glyph L6, 599–601.

glyphglyphProvenance:glyphoffered for sale in 1938 as part of the collection of George C. Smith, Jr. (Parke-Bernet 1938, lot 121), and later owned by Justin G. Turner.

glyphglyphEmendations and textual notes:glyph

& stay • & stay | & stay [corrected miswriting]