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Add to My Citations To Jervis Langdon
2 December 1868 • New York, N.Y.
(MS: CtHMTH, UCCL 02772)
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A. M.

Everett House em spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceN. York, [ N ]Dec. 2.


Dear Mr Langdon—

I wish I hadn’t come away, now. I might just as well as have spent two or three days persuading Mrs. Langdon to let me stay longer. I don’t know what I could have been thinking about, that I hadn’t sagacity enough to think of that. However, during the last day or two I suppose my head was so full of lecturing, & writing for newspapers, & other matters of a strictly business nature, that I couldn’t think of anything I ought to have thought of. You may have noticed that I was a good deal absorbed—in business. You may n have noticed that I hadn’t much time to be around with family.— Well, it was because I had to get off in the drawing-room by myself, so I could think about those lectures & things. I can always think better when I get off in a drawing-room by myself. So you see that was how it was. I thought I ought to make this explanation, because, latterly, you know, I was not as sociable as I might have been. I meant to be sociable. I meant to be uncommonly very sociable with all the family. And I did make as fair a start for it as I could—but I never got very far—there wasn’t enough to go around, maybe. I suppose. I never finished the list.

But notwithstanding all this pretended cheerfulness, I am not boisterously cheerful. I know from what Miss Langdon said the night I left, that she would have answered my letter yesterday if she had been well. There is nothing tranquilizing about that reflection. I— — however, I will not try to wet-blanket your spirits. You will need all your hopefulness & all your cheer when Mrs. Crane goes from you—when every heart in your household shall yield up a sunbeam & take to itself a shadow. Even the dumb brutes will know that a friend is gone from among them. And the flowers will, I am sure—& if they exhale a sweeter incense that day, you may know it for a payer prayer they are sending up for their lost mistress. Everything & everybody will miss her, from Mrs. Ford down to the captive birds in the cages—& missing her will grieve that she is gone. Without knowing [ Mr Mrs. ]Crane very well—certainly not as well as I wish to—I know how you all regard her & how keenly her going forth from your midst is going to be felt.1

But I am not cheering you up as much as I meant to when I sat down. Dan & I had conspired to get Jack over to my Newark lecture, ten 7 days hence, & I was to tell the “Moses Who?” story in most elaborate detail & enlarge on Jack’s peculiarities unstintedly—but I fear the scheme must fail, because Dan cannot get any tickets. They have used the plan of reserving seats at an extra price, & that has persuaded the people that I am a prodigy of some kind—a gorilla, maybe—& so the seats are all sold. {The truth is, it is not my popularity that has caused this, I think, but the fact that I am to lecture for an energetic, well-organized Association.}2 Dan says he wishes he was out of the blank-book business, because he believes it is more respectable to be a fraud & go around deluding the ignorant, like me! But Dan’s an old fool—I mentioned it to him. I am invited back to Pittsburgh to repeat—& by people of standing, too—& by the same lecture committee, [ all also]—& that shows that when I delude people they don’t know it—& consequently it is no sin.

John Russell Young (the Managing Editor,) tells me that the price of Tribune shares is $7,000 each, & none in market just now. There are 100 shares, altogether, & a share yields $1,000 a year—sometimes as high as $2,000. He wants me to buy—told him I would take as many shares as I could mortgage my book for, & as many more as I could pay for with labor of hand & brain. I shan’t make up my mind, yet in indecent haste (because I haven’t heard from Cleveland & am waiting,)3 but if I do make it up in that direction I will own in that high-toned stuck-up institution yet. But in the midst of these grave [delibera- but if I do buy, I shall retain Horace Greeley on the paper.

Chase ]of the Herald says Frank Leslie wishes to see me—thinks he wants me to edit a new paper he designs issuing, but don’t know. I I can’t make pictures. However, I will go & see him.4

If you hear that I didn’t get away in the 11.30 train this morning, & didn’t lecture in Rondout to-night, you will know that the reason was because I was writing to you, & so you will be responsible for the damage done to my pocket—but you can come back on the Rondouters, you know, for the damage you have saved them.5

If you please, I wish you would say to Mrs. Langdon that I wish to go back to Elmira—for a little while—only a little while—only just long enough to say to Miss Langdon a few things which I hadn’t quite finished telling her—it will only take a couple of weeks, or a couple of months, or such a matter? Will she let [me? But ]really, I suppose I could get along with just one evening—or just one hour—if I couldn’t do any better. Now be good—you are the splendidest man in the world !—be generous, now—be merciful—do aske her, please? I’ll call you all the nice names I can think of if you will enter into this little conspir—

Time’s up—good-bye—love to all—

Yrs ever

Sam . L. Clemens

Please don’t let Miss L. hear the first part of this letter—she won’t like to be [w] 6

Explanatory Notes | Textual Commentary

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1 Eunice Ford (1782–1873) was Jervis Langdon’s mother. Born Eunice King, she was married three times: first to Jervis’s father, Andrew Langdon (1774–1811); then to Jonathan Williams; and finally to Jonathan Ford, who died in 1843. She now lived with the Langdons (Towner, 609–10; Jerome and Wisbey, 236–37). Susan Langdon Crane, Jervis’s thirty-two-year-old adopted daughter, was about to leave on an extended southern vacation with her husband, Theodore. On 16 December, Olivia wrote to Alice Hooker: “Sue and Theodore left us for the South two weeks ago tomorrow night— They staid in Washington about a week, then were in Richmond a few days. I suppose that they are now in Charleston, they will go on to Florida— We hope a great deal from the change for Sue’s throat” (CTHSD).

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2 Clemens first published his anecdote about Jack Van Nostrand in chapter 6 of Roughing It, as it was ostensibly “set down in my Holy Land note-book” (SLC 1872, 57). But he evidently told the story on various occasions after September 1867, when Colonel Denny’s “impressive speeches” about Moses first elicited Van Nostrand’s innocently irreverent remark, “Moses who?” (MTB, 3:1290). In May 1868, while writing The Innocents Abroad in California, Clemens expressed mock indignation that “here, all of a sudden, this anecdote, all garbled & mutilated, turns up in San Francisco., I and I am accused of making that remark. I did not make it, & never thought of do making it. I get enough abuse, without having to suffer for the acts of others” (SLC 1868 [MT00733], 7). The manuscript for “The American Vandal Abroad” contains some evidence that Clemens considered using the anecdote in that lecture, and he is known to have done so at least three times: in Newark (New Jersey) on 9 December 1868, in Tecumseh (Michigan) on 26 December 1868, and in Peoria (Illinois) on 11 January 1869. It was not included in The Innocents Abroad (SLC 1868 [MT00749], 42; Lorgnette, no page; SLC to OLL, 14 Jan 69, CU-MARK; “Mark Twain’s Lecture,” Peoria Transcript, 12 Jan 69, PH in CU-MARK). Clemens’s Newark lecture was sponsored by the Clayonian Society, which remained a favorite: even three years later he said he preferred “to talk for my same old society—the Clayonians—good boys” (SLC to James Redpath and George L. Fall, 10 June 71, NHi).

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3 For Clemens’s account of his negotiations with the Cleveland Herald, see 29 Dec 68 to Langdon.

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4 It is not known when or whether Clemens consulted with Frank Leslie about “a new paper.” Leslie, whose real name was Henry Carter (1821–80), was the son of an English glove manufacturer. He began his career as an artist and engraver, became (while still very young) superintendent of the art department of the London Illustrated News, and in 1855 in New York began to issue Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, which by 1868 had achieved a circulation of 70,000, largely because of its numerous and timely engravings. During the postwar period, Leslie created and managed a virtual journalistic empire, which included as many as ten illustrated papers: among them were Frank Leslie’s Illustrirte Zeitung (a German-language edition of his newspaper, circulation 25,000); Frank Leslie’s Boys’ and Girls’ Weekly (circulation 27,000); and two monthly publications, Frank Leslie’s Ladies’ Magazine (circulation 50,000) and Frank Leslie’s Budget of Fun (circulation 25,000). In 1871, William H. Chase, whom Clemens knew as an editor on the Herald, went to work for Leslie (Rowell, 72, 76; “Death of William H. Chase,” New York Times, 24 June 81, 4).

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5 Clemens presumably caught the Hudson River Railroad’s 11:30 a.m. express to Albany and Troy, leaving the train en route to cross the Hudson River to Rondout. The next such train left at 3:30 p.m.—evidently too late for comfort (“Railroads,” New York Evening Post, 2 Dec 68, 4).

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6 Clemens broke off in the middle of a line, probably to catch his train.

glyphglyphCopy-text:glyphMS, Jervis Langdon Collection, Mark Twain Memorial, Hartford (CtHMTH).

glyphglyphPrevious publication:glyph L2, 297–300; LLMT, 29–31.

glyphglyphProvenance:glyphdonated to CtHMTH in October 1963 by Jervis Langdon’s granddaughter Ida Langdon.

glyphglyphEmendations and textual notes:glyph

N[partly formed]

Mr Mrs. • Mrrs.

all also • allso

delibera- but . . . paper. [] Chase • delibera- | but . . . paper. | | [] Chase [Since delibera- originally ended the last line on MS page 6, the passage may have continued onto a subsequently discarded (now lost) MS page 7, and ‘but . . . paper.’ may then have been squeezed in below delibera- before the new paragraph beginning ‘Chase’ was begun on the present MS page 7. If so, ‘but . . . paper.’ was added, but not inserted.]

me? But • me?—|But

w • [This character falls in the middle of a line; Clemens himself left his last sentence incomplete.]