Albert Bigelow Paine.

Mark Twain, a Biography — Volume II, Part 1: 1886-1900 online

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lot, and stay by her half an hour, till Eliza, the German nurse,
comes to take her to bed. The cows merely stand there, and do
nothing; yet the mere sight of them is all-sufficient for Jean. She
requires nothing more. The other evening, after contemplating them
a long time, as they stood in the muddy muck chewing the cud, she
said, with deep and reverent appreciation, "Ain't this a sweet
little garden?"

Yesterday evening our cows (after being inspected and worshiped by
Jean from the shed for an hour) wandered off down into the pasture
and left her bereft. I thought I was going to get back home, now,
but that was an error. Jean knew of some more cows in a field
somewhere, and took my hand and led me thitherward. When we turned
the corner and took the right-hand road, I saw that we should
presently be out of range of call and sight; so I began to argue
against continuing the expedition, and Jean began to argue in favor
of it, she using English for light skirmishing and German for
"business." I kept up my end with vigor, and demolished her
arguments in detail, one after the other, till I judged I had her
about cornered. She hesitated a moment, then answered up, sharply:

"Wir werden nichts mehr daruber sprechen!" (We won't talk any more
about it.)

It nearly took my breath away, though I thought I might possibly
have misunderstood. I said:

"Why, you little rascal! Was hast du gesagt?"

But she said the same words over again, and in the same decided way.
I suppose I ought to have been outraged, but I wasn't; I was

His own note-books of that summer are as full as usual, but there are
fewer literary ideas and more philosophies. There was an excitement,
just then, about the trichina germ in pork, and one of his memoranda

I think we are only the microscopic trichina concealed in the blood
of some vast creature's veins, and that it is that vast creature
whom God concerns himself about and not us.

And there is another which says:

People, in trying to justify eternity, say we can put it in by
learning all the knowledge acquired by the inhabitants of the
myriads of stars. We sha'n't need that. We could use up two
eternities in learning all that is to be learned about our own
world, and the thousands of nations that have risen, and flourished,
and vanished from it. Mathematics alone would occupy me eight
million years.

He records an incident which he related more fully in a letter to

Before I forget it I must tell you that Mrs. Clemens has said a
bright thing. A drop-letter came to me asking me to lecture here
for a church debt. I began to rage over the exceedingly cool
wording of the request, when Mrs. Clemens said: "I think I know that
church, and, if so, this preacher is a colored man; he doesn't know
how to write a polished letter. How should he?"

My manner changed so suddenly and so radically that Mrs. C. said: "I
will give you a motto, and it will be useful to you if you will
adopt it: 'Consider every man colored till he is proved white.'"

It is dern good, I think.

One of the note-books contains these entries:

Talking last night about home matters, I said, "I wish I had said to
George when we were leaving home, 'Now, George, I wish you would
take advantage of these three or four months' idle time while I am
away - - '"

"To learn to let my matches alone," interrupted Livy. The very
words I was going to use. Yet George had not been mentioned before,
nor his peculiarities.

Several years ago I said:

"Suppose I should live to be ninety-two, and just as I was dying a
messenger should enter and say - - "

"You are become Earl of Durham," interrupted Livy. The very words I
was going to utter. Yet there had not been a word said about the
earl, or any other person, nor had there been any conversation
calculated to suggest any such subject.



The Republican Presidential nomination of James G. Blaine resulted in a
political revolt such as the nation had not known. Blaine was immensely
popular, but he had many enemies in his own party. There were strong
suspicions of his being connected with doubtful financiering-enterprises,
more or less sensitive to official influence, and while these scandals
had become quieted a very large portion of the Republican constituency
refused to believe them unjustified. What might be termed the
intellectual element of Republicanism was against Blame: George William
Curtis, Charles Dudley Warner, James Russell Lowell, Henry Ward Beecher,
Thomas Nast, the firm of Harper & Brothers, Joseph W. Hawley, Joseph
Twichell, Mark Twain - in fact the majority of thinking men who held
principle above party in their choice.

On the day of the Chicago nomination, Henry C. Robinson, Charles E.
Perkins, Edward M. Bunce, F. G. Whitmore, and Samuel C. Dunham were
collected with Mark Twain in his billiard-room, taking turns at the game
and discussing the political situation, with George, the colored butler,
at the telephone down-stairs to report the returns as they came in. As
fast as the ballot was received at the political headquarters down-town,
it was telephoned up to the house and George reported it through the

The opposition to Blaine in the convention was so strong that no one of
the assembled players seriously expected his nomination. What was their
amazement, then, when about mid-afternoon George suddenly announced
through the speaking-tube that Blaine was the nominee. The butts of the
billiard cues came down on the floor with a bump, and for a moment the
players were speechless. Then Henry Robinson said:

"It's hard luck to have to vote for that man."

Clemens looked at him under his heavy brows.

"But - we don't - have to vote for him," he said.

"Do you mean to say that you're not going to vote for him?"

"Yes, that is what I mean to say. I am not going to vote for him."

There was a general protest. Most of those assembled declared that when
a party's representatives chose a man one must stand by him. They might
choose unwisely, but the party support must be maintained. Clemens said:

"No party holds the privilege of dictating to me how I shall vote. If
loyalty to party is a form of patriotism, I am no patriot. If there is
any valuable difference between a monarchist and an American, it lies in
the theory that the American can decide for himself what is patriotic and
what isn't. I claim that difference. I am the only person in the sixty
millions that is privileged to dictate my patriotism."

There was a good deal of talk back and forth, and, in the end, most of
those there present remained loyal to Blaine. General Hawley and his
paper stood by Blaine. Warner withdrew from his editorship of the
Courant and remained neutral. Twichell stood with Clemens and came near
losing his pulpit by it. Open letters were published in the newspapers
about him. It was a campaign when politics divided neighbors, families,
and congregations. If we except the Civil War period, there never had
been a more rancorous political warfare than that waged between the
parties of James G. Blaine and Grover Cleveland in 1884.

That Howells remained true to Blaine was a grief to Clemens. He had gone
to the farm with Howells on his political conscience and had written
fervent and imploring letters on the subject. As late as September 17th,
he said:

Somehow I can't seem to rest quiet under the idea of your voting for
Blaine. I believe you said something about the country and the
party. Certainly allegiance to these is well, but certainly a man's
first duty is to his own conscience and honor; the party and country
come second to that, and never first. I don't ask you to vote at
all. I only urge you not to soil yourself by voting for Blaine....
Don't be offended; I mean no offense. I am not concerned about the
rest of the nation, but well, good-by.
Yours ever, MARK.

Beyond his prayerful letters to Howells, Clemens did not greatly concern
himself with politics on the farm, but, returning to Hartford, he went
vigorously into the campaign, presided, as usual, at mass-meetings, and
made political speeches which invited the laughter of both parties, and
were universally quoted and printed without regard to the paper's

It was during one such speech as this that, in the course of his remarks,
a band outside came marching by playing patriotic music so loudly as to
drown his voice. He waited till the band got by, but by the time he was
well under way again another band passed, and once more he was obliged to
wait till the music died away in the distance. Then he said, quite

"You will find my speech, without the music, in the morning paper."

In introducing Carl Schurz at a great mugwump mass-meeting at Hartford,
October 20, 1884., he remarked that he [Clemens] was the only
legitimately elected officer, and was expected to read a long list of
vice-presidents; but he had forgotten all about it, and he would ask all
the gentlemen there, of whatever political complexion, to do him a great
favor by acting as vice-presidents. Then he said:

As far as my own political change of heart is concerned, I have not
been convinced by any Democratic means. The opinion I hold of Mr.
Blaine is due to the comments of the Republican press before the
nomination. Not that they have said bitter or scandalous things,
because Republican papers are above that, but the things they said
did not seem to be complimentary, and seemed to me to imply
editorial disapproval of Mr. Blame and the belief that he was not
qualified to be President of the United States.

It is just a little indelicate for me to be here on this occasion
before an assemblage of voters, for the reason that the ablest
newspaper in Colorado - the ablest newspaper in the world - has
recently nominated me for President. It is hardly fit for me to
preside at a discussion of the brother candidate, but the best among
us will do the most repulsive things the moment we are smitten with
a Presidential madness. If I had realized that this canvass was to
turn on the candidate's private character I would have started that
Colorado paper sooner. I know the crimes that can be imputed and
proved against me can be told on the fingers of your hands. This
cannot be said of any other Presidential candidate in the field.

Inasmuch as the Blaine-Cleveland campaign was essentially a campaign of
scurrility, this touch was loudly applauded.

Mark Twain voted for Grover Cleveland, though up to the very eve of
election he was ready to support a Republican nominee in whom he had
faith, preferably Edmunds, and he tried to inaugurate a movement by which
Edmunds might be nominated as a surprise candidate and sweep the country.

It was probably Dr. Burchard's ill-advised utterance concerning the three
alleged R's of Democracy, "Rum, Romanism, and Rebellion," that defeated
Blaine, and by some strange, occult means Mark Twain's butler George got
wind of this damning speech before it became news on the streets of
Hartford. George had gone with his party, and had a considerable sum of
money wagered on Blaine's election; but he knew it was likely to be very
close, and he had an instant and deep conviction that these three fatal
words and Blaine's failure to repudiate them meant the candidate's
downfall. He immediately abandoned everything in the shape of household
duties, and within the briefest possible time had changed enough money to
make him safe, and leave him a good margin of winnings besides, in the
event of Blame's defeat. This was evening. A very little later the news
of Blaine's blunder, announced from the opera-house stage, was like the
explosion of a bomb. But it was no news to George, who went home
rejoicing with his enemies.



The drain of many investments and the establishment of a publishing house
had told heavily on Clemens's finances. It became desirable to earn a
large sum of money with as much expedition as possible. Authors'
readings had become popular, and Clemens had read in Philadelphia and
Boston with satisfactory results. He now conceived the idea of a grand
tour of authors as a commercial enterprise. He proposed to Aldrich,
Howells, and Cable that he charter a private car for the purpose, and
that with their own housekeeping arrangements, cooking, etc., they could
go swinging around the circuit, reaping, a golden harvest. He offered to
be general manager of the expedition, the impresario as it were, and
agreed to guarantee the others not less than seventy-five dollars a day
apiece as their net return from the "circus," as he called it.

Howells and Aldrich liked well enough to consider it as an amusing
prospect, but only Cable was willing to realize it. He had been scouring
the country on his own account, and he was willing enough to join forces
with Mark Twain.

Clemens detested platforming, but the idea of reading from his books or
manuscript for some reason seemed less objectionable, and, as already
stated, the need of much money had become important.

He arranged with J. B. Pond for the business side of the expedition,
though in reality he was its proprietor. The private-car idea was given
up, but he employed Cable at a salary of four hundred and fifty dollars a
week and expenses, and he paid Pond a commission. Perhaps, without going
any further, we may say that the tour was a financial success, and
yielded a large return of the needed funds.

Clemens and Cable had a pleasant enough time, and had it not been for the
absence from home and the disagreeableness of railway travel, there would
have been little to regret. They were a curiously associated pair. Cable
was orthodox in his religion, devoted to Sunday-school, Bible reading,
and church affairs in general. Clemens - well, Clemens was different. On
the first evening of their tour, when the latter was comfortably settled
in bed with an entertaining book, Cable appeared with his Bible, and
proceeded to read a chapter aloud. Clemens made no comment, and this
went on for an evening or two more. Then he said:

"See here, Cable, we'll have to cut this part of the program out. You
can read the Bible as much as you please so long as you don't read it to

Cable retired courteously. He had a keen sense of humor, and most things
that Mark Twain did, whether he approved or not, amused him. Cable did
not smoke, but he seemed always to prefer the smoking compartment when
they traveled, to the more respectable portions of the car. One day
Clemens sand to him:

"Cable, why do you sit in here? You don't smoke, and you know I always
smoke, and sometimes swear."

Cable said, "I know, Mark, I don't do these things, but I can't help
admiring the way you do them."

When Sunday came it was Mark Twain's great happiness to stay in bed all
day, resting after his week of labor; but Cable would rise, bright and
chipper, dress himself in neat and suitable attire, and visit the various
churches and Sunday-schools in town, usually making a brief address at
each, being always invited to do so.

It seems worth while to include one of the Clemens-Cable programs here
- a most satisfactory one. They varied it on occasion, and when they
were two nights in a place changed it completely, but the program here
given was the one they were likely to use after they had proved its


Richling's visit to Kate Riley

King Sollermun

(a) Kate Riley and Ristofolo
(b) Narcisse in mourning for "Lady Byron"
(c) Mary's Night Ride
(a) Tragic Tale of the Fishwife
(b) A Trying Situation
(c) A Ghost Story

At a Mark Twain memorial meeting (November 30, 1910), where the few who
were left of his old companions told over quaint and tender memories,
George Cable recalled their reading days together and told of Mark
Twain's conscientious effort to do his best, to be worthy of himself,
regardless of all other concerns. He told how when they had been
traveling for a while Clemens seemed to realize that he was only giving
the audience nonsense; making them laugh at trivialities which they would
forget before they had left the entertainment hall. Cable said that up
to that time he had supposed Clemens's chief thought was the
entertainment of the moment, and that if the audience laughed he was
satisfied. He told how he had sat in the wings, waiting his turn, and
heard the tides of laughter gather and roll forward and break against the
footlights, time and time again, and how he had believed his colleague to
be glorying in that triumph. What was his surprise, then, on the way to
the hotel in the carriage, when Clemens groaned and seemed writhing in
spirit and said:

"Oh, Cable, I am demeaning myself. I am allowing myself to be a mere
buffoon. It's ghastly. I can't endure it any longer."

Cable added that all that night and the next day Mark Twain devoted
himself to the study and rehearsal of selections which were justified not
only as humor, but as literature and art.

A good many interesting and amusing things would happen on such a tour.
Many of these are entirely forgotten, of course, but of others certain
memoranda have been preserved. Grover Cleveland had been elected when
they set out on their travels, but was still holding his position in
Albany as Governor of New York. When they reached Albany Cable and
Clemens decided to call on him. They drove to the Capitol and were shown
into the Governor's private office. Cleveland made them welcome, and,
after greetings, said to Clemens:

"Mr. Clemens, I was a fellow-citizen of yours in Buffalo a good many
months some years ago, but you never called on me then. How do you
explain this?"

Clemens said: "Oh, that is very simple to answer, your Excellency. In
Buffalo you were a sheriff. I kept away from the sheriff as much as
possible, but you're Governor now, and on the way to the Presidency. It's
worth while coming to see you."

Clemens meantime had been resting, half sitting, on the corner of the
Executive desk. He leaned back a little, and suddenly about a dozen
young men opened various doors, filed in and stood at attention, as if
waiting for orders.

No one spoke for a moment; then the Governor said to this collection of

"You are dismissed, young gentlemen. Your services are not required. Mr.
Clemens is sitting on the bells."

In Buffalo, when Clemens appeared on the stage, he leisurely considered
the audience for a moment; then he said:

"I miss a good many faces. They have gone - gone to the tomb, to the
gallows, or to the White House. All of us are entitled to at least one
of these distinctions, and it behooves us to be wise and prepare for

On Thanksgiving Eve the readers were in Morristown, New Jersey, where
they were entertained by Thomas Nast. The cartoonist prepared a quiet
supper for them and they remained overnight in the Nast home. They were
to leave next morning by an early train, and Mrs. Nast had agreed to see
that they were up in due season. When she woke next morning there seemed
a strange silence in the house and she grew suspicious. Going to the
servants' room, she found them sleeping soundly. The alarm-clock in the
back hall had stopped at about the hour the guests retired. The studio
clock was also found stopped; in fact, every timepiece on the premises
had retired from business. Clemens had found that the clocks interfered
with his getting to sleep, and he had quieted them regardless of early
trains and reading engagements. On being accused of duplicity he said:

"Well, those clocks were all overworked, anyway. They will feel much
better for a night's rest."

A few days later Nast sent him a caricature drawing - a picture which
showed Mark Twain getting rid of the offending clocks.

At Christmas-time they took a fortnight's holiday and Clemens went home
to Hartford. A surprise was awaiting him there. Mrs. Clemens had made
an adaptation of 'The Prince and the Pauper' play, and the children of
the neighborhood had prepared a presentation of it for his special
delectation. He knew, on his arrival home, that something mysterious was
in progress, for certain rooms were forbidden him; but he had no inkling
of their plan until just before the performance - when he was led across
the grounds to George Warner's home, into the large room there where it
was to be given, and placed in a seat directly in front of the stage.

Gerhardt had painted the drop-curtain, and assisted in the general
construction of scenery and effects. The result was really imposing; but
presently, when the curtain rose and the guest of honor realized what it
was all about, and what they had undertaken for his pleasure, he was
deeply moved and supremely gratified.

There was but one hitch in the performance. There is a place where the
Prince says, "Fathers be alike, mayhap; mine hath not a doll's temper."

This was Susy's part, and as she said it the audience did not fail to
remember its literal appropriateness. There was a moment's silence, then
a titter, followed by a roar of laughter, in which everybody but the
little actors joined. They did not see the humor and were disturbed and
grieved. Curiously enough, Mrs Clemens herself, in arranging and casting
the play, had not considered the possibility of this effect. The parts
were all daintily played. The children wore their assumed personalities
as if native to them. Daisy Warner played the part of Tom Canty, Clara
Clemens was Lady Jane Grey.

It was only the beginning of The Prince and the Pauper productions. The
play was repeated, Clemens assisting, adding to the parts, and himself
playing the role of Miles Hendon. In her childish biography Susy says:

Papa had only three days to learn the part in, but still we were all
sure that he could do it. The scene that he acted in was the scene
between Miles Hendon and the Prince, the "Prithee, pour the water"
scene. I was the Prince and papa and I rehearsed together two or
three times a day for the three days before the appointed evening.
Papa acted his part beautifully, and he added to the scene, making
it a good deal longer. He was inexpressibly funny, with his great
slouch hat and gait - - oh such a gait! Papa made the Miles Hendon
scene a splendid success and every one was delighted with the scene,
and papa too. We had great fun with our "Prince and Pauper," and I
think we none of us shall forget how immensely funny papa was in it.
He certainly could have been an actor as well as an author.

The holidays over, Cable and Clemens were off on the circuit again. At
Rochester an incident happened which led to the writing of one of Mark
Twain's important books, 'A Connecticut Yankee at King Arthur's Court'.
Clemens and Cable had wandered into a book-store for the purpose of
finding something to read. Pulling over some volumes on one of the
tables, Clemens happened to pick up a little green, cloth-bound book, and
after looking at the title turned the pages rather curiously and with
increasing interest.

"Cable," he said, "do you know anything about this book, the Arthurian
legends of Sir Thomas Malory, Morte Arthure?"

Cable answered: "Mark, that is one of the most beautiful books in the
world. Let me buy it for you. You will love it more than any book you
ever read."

So Clemens came to know the old chronicler's version of the rare Round
Table legends, and from that first acquaintance with them to the last
days of his life seldom let the book go far from him. He read and reread
those quaint, stately tales and reverenced their beauty, while fairly
reveling in the absurdities of that ancient day. Sir Ector's lament he
regarded as one of the most simply beautiful pieces of writing in the
English tongue, and some of the combats and quests as the most ridiculous
absurdities in romance. Presently he conceived the idea of linking that
day, with its customs, costumes, and abuses, with the progress of the

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Online LibraryAlbert Bigelow PaineMark Twain, a Biography — Volume II, Part 1: 1886-1900 → online text (page 16 of 20)