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Add to My Citations To Olivia L. Langdon
4 December 1868 • (1st of 2) • New York, N.Y.
(MS: CU-MARK, UCCL 02724)
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Metropolitan Hotel
em spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceNew York, Dec. 4.


My Dear, Dear Livy:

A blessed peace has folded its wings over my spirit, & I am at rest. For your letter is come! It seemed to me that my feet could not carry me fast enough—to my room, to read it. Now that I have read it, & re-read it, I am perfectly satisfied & happy—for you are well. And you are not only well, but you are coming to love me better & better. I know it, albeit you may not know it yourself. You are building up this love as I would have it built—upon a basis of reason, not passion. You are raising this edifice gradually, course by course, & proving each as it is laid. And when, in the fulness of time, it is finished, its walls shall be eternal! Passion is born without springs full-grown from the heart (& hea the heart alone)—& when lagging Reason follows & strips off its finery & exposes the skeleton beneath, Passion dies. The love that lasts, & [ it is ]genuine, is that love which is born of both heart & brain. It has an i Infancy—a Youth—a Maturity. The [ heat heart ] [siezes ]upon each stage, & accepts it, & takes it to itself—but not until the grave, calm, i Inspector-General, Reason, has passed upon it & endorsed it with his approval. Livy, was ever the love of an ill-matched couple born of both [ heat heart ]& brain? Do superiors ever love, revere & honor inferiors with the brain’s consent? Hardly, I think. Mrs. Brooks & Mrs. Fairbanks, brilliant women both, have married away down below them—& it would be hard to convince me that they did not love first & think afterward.

Yes, my own dear Livy, paradoxical as it may sound, your first page did pain me—& sharply, too—& yet I wanted to hear you say it. [ It I ]knew it would hurt, & yet I coveted the words—because they would so surely prove that eternal love was growing up in your heart of hearts, right under the [ exe exacting ]eye of Reason—love, that shall stand calmly above [ b ]vanquished doubts & bodings, at last, [ as even ]as at times Gibraltar stands above the slumbering sea that so lately wasted its wrath against his everlasting walls. I can bide my time, my Livy, being full of faith in you & without fear—for your love is growing, growing, growing (you proved it before you reached your final page,) & it will reach its maturity all in good time. And then, pray Heaven enlarge my capacity!—for lo! such degree of your love as I [already ]possess does so fill all my being with happiness that it is a mystery to me how I am to accommodate an increase! This is not idle talk, Livy—I am so happy I hardly know what to do with myself—& I bless you, & give honest gratitude to God that it is so. How easy it was to pray, when your letter came—for the heart [ looks naturally ]looks upward for something to thank when a great generous wave of gratitude sweeps over its parched & thirsty deserts. This thought struck me, then: How vapid & inefficient the loves of the gods of mythology—the loves of Joves & Juno—for when the music of love [ wov woke ]its grand symphonies in their hearts, there was none above them to thank. I prayed that at last you might come to love me freely & fully, & that He would prepare me to be worthy of it—which could only be, in its utter completeness, through my investment with His spirit. Some of my other prayers have seemed only faint-hearted words, words, words, compared to this, which surged up came surging up out of my heart—a great tide of feeling, which scorned set phrase & tricks of speech, & prayed itself!

Your letter was due here Wednesday, & yet only reached me to-day (Friday.) What a world of distress it would have saved me if it had come when it ought to have come! But never mind—it is over now. The fault was in the New York postoffice—for the Elmira postmark was Dec. 1. This morning when the postman came without the longed-for letter, I could bear it no longer, & so I wrote & mailed a little note beseeching you to write.1 I must close, now, & mail this much of my letter right away, to keep you from being uneasy about your letter.

I kiss you, darling—& thank you from my heart for the wished-for kiss you sent to me.

Lovingly & devotedly,em spaceem space

Sam. L. C.

[in margin:]

I forgot Mother Fairbank’s letter—I will write again tomorrow, & inclose it. You knew I would tell her—& I knew it would make her so proud & happy.


Miss Olivia L. Langdon | Present. [docketed by OLL:] 8th

Explanatory Notes | Textual Commentary

Add to My Citations

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1 Clemens’s “little note,” his seventh letter to Olivia, does not survive. That she received it, however, is established by the docket number “8th” on the envelope of the present letter.

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

glyphglyphPrevious publication:glyph L2, 300–302; MFMT, 13, excerpts.

glyphglyphProvenance:glyphsee Samossoud Collection, pp. 515–16.

glyphglyphEmendations and textual notes:glyph

it is • is t

heat heart • heatrt

siezes • [sic]

heat heart • heatrt

It I • [‘I’ over wiped-out ‘It’]

exe exacting • exeacting

b[partly formed]

as even • [‘ev’ over ‘as’]

already • alr already [corrected miswriting]

looks naturally[naturally over wiped-out ‘looks’]

wov woke • wovke