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Add to My Citations To William A. Seaver
10 November 1875 • Hartford, Conn.
(MS: WU, UCCL 07707)
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Hartford, 10th.

My Dear Seaver:

I would have been there, but I couldn’t. I was careful to let you go on & provide my share of the meal, though, because I knew Hay wouldnt need it. The sort of [belly ] he is sporting, these days, can’t be conducted on single rations, my boy. I was afraid you wouldn’t think of that.1

Now I’m still wroth with you because you didn’t come up here that time. Come & smoke the calumet.

Ever Yrs


Explanatory Notes | Textual Commentary

Add to My Citations

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1 Clemens evidently replied to a telegram (or even a letter), now lost, which was sent and received on the same day, asking why he had failed to appear at a breakfast hosted by Seaver that morning. He must have previously accepted the following invitation, for a breakfast that was to take place on “Wednesday”—that is, 10 November (CU-MARK):
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Frederick Lehmann (1826–91) was born in Hamburg to an artistic and musical family. Through his brother-in-law he entered the English firm of Naylor and Vickers, which supplied much of the steel used by the North during the Civil War. His wife, Nina, was the eldest daughter of Robert Chambers, an Edinburgh scholar and publisher. In their elegant home in Berkeley Square, they entertained London’s most talented musicians, artists, and writers (Browning, 9–11). Harte was scheduled to lecture in Providence, Rhode Island, on the evening of 10 November, but that would not have precluded his being in New York that morning, particularly since he canceled his lecture “on account of a sudden and severe illness” that was suspected of actually being “a case of shirking” (“Personal,” New York Tribune, 11 Nov 75, 4; “Personal Gossip,” Hartford Courant, 11 Nov 75, 2). By the late spring of 1875, Hay had left the New York Tribune and moved to Cleveland, his wife’s home city, but he might well have been visiting New York in November. The meaning of Clemens’s joke about Hay’s “belly” would have been clear to his friends, since he was notably thin. Moncure Conway’s “Decorative Art and Architecture in England” devoted about three pages to a description of Lehmann’s house (780–83). The Union Club, founded in 1836 as “the representative organization of members of old families,” was housed in “a beautiful structure of brown stone ... completed for it on the corner of Twenty-first Street and Fifth Avenue, at a cost of $250,000” (Lossing, 434–35; “William A. Seaver,” New York Times, 8 Jan 83, 5; Thayer, 1:388; Wilson 1875, 24, 1206, “City Register,” 26; Brady has not been identified). The month and year assigned to this letter are based, in part, on the inference that Clemens was apologizing for his nonappearance on the same day of the missed appointment. Given that assumption, it is highly improbable that the date he wrote (“10th.”) and the date of the breakfast are the same by coincidence. But the month and year are also consistent with his use of this relatively rare type of monogram stationery (see 16 Dec? 74 to Gratz, n. 1).

glyphglyphCopy-text:glyphMS, Rare Book Department, Memorial Library, University of Wisconsin, Madison (WU).

glyphglyphPrevious publication:glyph L6, 588–89.

glyphglyphProvenance:glyphNorman D. Bassett, a Madison alumnus, owned the MS by October 1942. He donated his Mark Twain collection to WU on 9 July 1955.

glyphglyphEmendations and textual notes:glyph

belly • bel belly [corrected miswriting]