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Add to My CitationsTo William Dean Howells
3 April 1876 • Hartford, Conn.
(MS: NN-BGC, UCCL 02499)
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Apl. 3.

My Dear Howells:

It is a splendid notice, & will embolden weak-kneed journalistic admirers to speak out, & will modify or shut up the unfriendly. To “fear God & dread the Sunday school” exactly describes d that old feeling which I used to have but I couldn’t have formulated it.1 I want to enclose of one of the illustrations in this letter, if I do not forget it.2 Of course the book is to be elaborately illustrated, & I think that many of the pictures are considerably above the American average, in conception if not in execution.

I do not re-enclose your review to you, for h you have evidently read & corrected it, & so I judge you do not need it. About two days after the Atlantic issues I mean to begin to send books to principal journals & magazines.3

I read that “Carnival of Crime” proof in New York when worn & witless & so left some things unamended which I might possibly have altered had I been at home. For instance “I shall always address you in your own s-n-i-v-e-l-ing d-r-a-w-l—baby!” I saw that you objected to something there, but I did not understand what. Was it that it was too [personal?—Should] the language have been [altered?—or] the hyphens taken out? Won’t you please fix it the way it ought to be, altering the language as you choose, only making it bitter & contemptuous?

“Deuced” was not strong enough; so I met you half way with “devilish.”4

Mrs. Clemens has returned from New York with dreadful sore throat, & bones racked with rheumatism. She keeps her bed. “Aloha nui!” as the Kanakas say5

Mark.

Explanatory Notes | Textual Commentary

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1 Howells <HO047> had sent proofs of his review of Tom Sawyer, for the May Atlantic Monthly. In it he observed that Tom “has been bred to fear God and dread the Sunday-school according to the strictest rite of the faiths that have characterized all the respectability of the West” (Howells 1876, 621; for the full review, see Reviews of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer). He possibly enclosed the review with the following letter (CU-MARK):
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The proofs of Howells’s review do not survive and the song by Francis Boott, who published at least eight new songs in 1876, has not been identified. Howells had also sent Clemens music by Boott in 1875 (see L6, 492–94, 506 n. 8). Clemens’s immediate acknowledgment to Boott of this latest song, probably enclosed with the present letter to Howells, has not been found, but it elicited this reply (CU-MARK):

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2 If Clemens enclosed one of True Williams’s Tom Sawyer illustrations, it does not survive with this letter.

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3 The Atlantic Monthly issued mid-month in advance of the cover date, so the May number was available in mid-April.

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4 Clemens read the proofs of “The Facts Concerning the Recent Carnival of Crime in Connecticut” while he was in New York lecturing (see 17 Mar 76 to Redpath, n. 2). In the published version the hyphenated phrase is “o-w-n s-n-i-v-e-l-i-n-g d-r-a-w-l,” a variation that may reflect Clemens’s imprecise transcription in this letter rather than an alteration to the manuscript reading initiated by Howells. And in the “devilish” remark by Clemens’s conscience (“Seems to me it’s devilish odd weather for this time of year”), the adjective, as the editors of the Mark Twain-Howells Letters noted, probably was a compromise between Clemens’s original “damned” and Howells’s proposed “deuced” ( SLC 1876, 642, 645; MTHL, 1:129 n. 4).

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5 Meaning “great love,” as Clemens learned in 1866, while in Hawaii as correspondent for the Sacramento Union ( N&J1, 224).



glyphglyphCopy-text:glyphMS, NN-BGC.

glyphglyphPrevious publication:glyph MTL, 1:274–75; MTHL, 1:128–29.

glyphglyphProvenance:glyphSee Howells Letters in Description of Provenance.

glyphglyphEmendations and textual notes:glyph


personal?—Should • personal?—ǀShould

altered?—or • altered?—ǀor