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Add to My Citations To Robert Watt
26 January 1875 • Hartford, Conn.
(MS: NN-B, UCCL 02484)
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slc em spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spacefarmington avenue, hartford.

Jan. 26/75.

My Dear Mr. Watt:

Your New Year letter just received, through the kindness of Mr. Christensen.1 Many thanks for your New Year good wishes—& I cordially offcaretercaret mine to you; & also to Mr. Jorgensen, whom I wrote, some time ago, thanking him heartily for the pains he took, in not only having the Danish press notices translated into English but in sending copies to [our] newspapers. Even the “Nation,” here, unbent sufficiently to mention the Danish compliments & Mr. Jorgensen without adding its customary snarl. You know the “Nation” always snarls. It would think it was impairing its reputation as our first critical authority if it failed to do that.2

As I wrote Mr. Jorgensen, I finally concluded not to print the play.3 Our country is so large that actors in remote cities would have got hold of copies & played it before I could stop them. The play is a singularly emphatic success. It ran 115 nights in New York; & as it has no scenic effects & no bare legs, this is extraordinary & was not a thing to be expected. It pays me from five hundred to a thousand dollars a week, & my Col. Sellers (John T. Raymond, comedian) the same; for we divide [profits. We] suppose caret(at least we hope)caret it will run twenty years, in this country, like Jo Jefferson’s “Rip Van Winkle” & John E. Owens’s “Solon Shingle.”4

I am publishing some old Mississippi river Reminiscences in the Atlantic Monthly, now. I propose to stop in September with the ninth chapter, & then add fifty chapters more & bring the whole out in book form in November. I shall then try to forward an early copy to you. I am a good deal flattered by the reception which my two opening chapters have received. The Atlantic people want the articles continued throughout the year, but I cannot do that because it would delay the book too much.

I am going to enclose a picture of our new house which we have for the past 2 years been building. I may have sent you one heretofore, but if so I have forgotten it. We take as much delight in our new house as we do in our new baby. The grounds have 800 feet frontage on the principal avenue & are so high that we overlook a great extent of city & country. Nobody else in Hartford has such a view, I or so excellent a location. We were very fortunate to get it. We could not have bought it but for the fact that the owner was an invalid & had to lay aside all business concerns.5 In the picture, beyond our coach-house, you have a glimpse of the beginning of a great grove of old forest trees. Let us hope that we may have the pleasure of seeing you & Mr. Jorgensen under our roof some day.

With kindest remembrances to you both—

Yrs Truly

Sam L. Clemens

P. S. What an admirable piece of photography your new picture is!6

Explanatory Notes | Textual Commentary

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1 Christen T. Christensen (1832–1905), who regularly forwarded Watt’s letters and Danish translations to Clemens, came to America from Denmark in 1850. After distinguished service in the Union army (1861–65), during which he attained the rank of brigadier general, he established a grocery business in New York. From 1869 until 1873 he also acted as the Danish consul there (Heitman, 300; Wilson: 1871, 198; 1874, 217; Enkvist, 85 n. 2; Christensen to SLC, 8 Oct 88, CU-MARK).

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2 Clemens answered the following letter (CU-MARK):
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Watt enclosed a second copy of the pamphlet of Scandinavian press reviews that he had sent in May 1874 with his first volume of Danish translations of Clemens’s sketches and Roughing It excerpts. The “second volume” he now alluded to, which evidently contained additional sketches and excerpts, has not been found or identified. In December 1875 he would send Clemens his complete translation of Roughing It (see 15 and 16 July 74 to Watt, nn. 1, 3; 8 Mar 75 to Watt, n. 1; and see Scandinavian Press Reviews). The Nation notice had appeared on 10 December 1874 (19:382): “Mark Twain’s works have found a Danish translator in Mr. Robert Watt, editor of one of the daily journals of Copenhagen, and author of a book of travels in the United States; and a publisher in Mr. L. A. Jörgensen, of the same city, who sends us a number of favorable notices of the book from the Scandinavian press.” Watt was familiar with the Nation’s tendency to snarl, as he explained in his next letter. The “stereoscopes” were photographs of Clemens’s Quarry Farm study, probably sent to Watt in late 1874 (see 2 Sept 74 to Howells and 4 Sept 74 to Brown).

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3 The Gilded Age play. Clemens probably wrote to L. A. Jorgensen not long after 15–16 July 1874, when he first wrote to Watt. The letter is not known to survive.

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4 Jefferson’s Rip Van Winkle was a staple of the American theater for nearly forty years (see 5 May 74 to Warner, n. 3). Owens (1823–86), another prominent comic actor, was well known for his portrayal of Solon Shingle, the principal character in The People’s Lawyer, by Joseph S. Jones. Raymond achieved a similar success as Colonel Sellers, touring extensively with the Gilded Age play during the next few years and staging revivals until his death in 1887. In 1881 and again in 1889 Clemens claimed to have made seventy thousand dollars from it (see 3 Nov 74 to the editor of the Hartford Evening Post, n. 5; Bryant Morey French, 242).

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5 Clemens purchased the land from Hartford attorney Franklin Chamberlin (L5, 270–71). The enclosed photograph of the house, which Watt acknowledged on 15 February, has not been found. See the next letter.

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6 The photograph of Watt does not survive.



glyphglyphCopy-text:glyphMS, Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection, The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations (NN-B).

glyphglyphPrevious publication:glyph L6, 359–61.

glyphglyphProvenance:glyphThe MS was owned by businessman William T. H. Howe (1874–1939); in 1940 Dr. Albert A. Berg bought and donated the Howe Collection to NN.

glyphglyphEmendations and textual notes:glyph


our • our our [corrected miswriting]

profits. We • profits.—ǀWe