To Olivia L. Clemens
15 October 1871 • Bethlehem, Pa.
Livy darling, I got here at 4 oclock yesterday afternoon. It is now nearly noon, & still I don’t feel moved to begin studying my lecture1—so the wisdom of coming here so soon, is apparent. It is better that this feeling should be on me today than tomorrow. By tomorrow I shall be rested up & brisk.
This is an old Dutch settlement, & I hear that tongue here as often as ours.2 All the clerks in the stores seem to talk both languages. This is one of the old original Moravian Missionary settlements;3 & the Moravian college is still the feature of the place.4
I [ cl ] entered an assumed name on the hotel register (learned from Redpath that a reception was intended & rooms sumptuous rooms provided for me,) & so, as simple “Samuel Langhorne, New York,” I occupy the shabbiest little den in the house & am left wholly & happily unnoticed.5 It is luxury. I talk to nobody. This morning I have spent a solitary hour in the cemetery, ...
...It is a handsome town, this—very substantial—set upon a hill—girdled with a deep valley—& overlooked by dominant hills beyond—& all splendid with autumn-rainbowed forests.
1 “Reminiscences of Some un-Commonplace Characters I have Chanced to Meet,” written in July. Clemens opened his tour with it in Bethlehem on Monday, 16 October (10 July 71 to Redpath [3rd]; McIlhaney).
2 Although the earliest explorers of the area were Dutch, as evidenced by some local names, their influence all but ceased when the British took control in 1664. The large number of German immigrants who settled in Pennsylvania in the 1700s spoke a dialect known as Pennsylvania German—sometimes called Pennsylvania Dutch, from the German Deutsch—but it was less common in the Bethlehem area than in the surrounding counties (Northampton County Guide, 23, 43).
3 The Moravians were members of a Christian sect founded in Bohemia in 1457 by followers of John Huss, who had been burned at the stake in 1415. By the eighteenth century, after more than two centuries of persecution, the number of adherents had dwindled to a handful. In 1727 they established the Renewed Moravian Church, also known as the United Brethren, which was active in evangelical and missionary work. In 1735 a small group emigrated to Georgia from Moravia, Bohemia, and Saxony; five years later they moved on to the Lehigh River valley region of Pennsylvania, where they founded Bethlehem, as well as nearby Nazareth.
4 The Moravian College and Theological Seminary was founded in Nazareth in 1807 and moved to Bethlehem in 1858, where, until 1892, it was located on Church Street. Possibly Clemens was referring to an even older institution, however: the Moravian Seminary and College for Women, the first female boarding school in America, was founded in 1742 and since 1815 had also been located on Church Street (Northampton County Guide, 170, 189, 232, and map inside back cover; Levering, 593 n. 1).
5 Clemens did not always seek anonymity while touring (8 Jan 70 to OLC [2nd]). He was staying at the Eagle Hotel, since 1823 located on Bethlehem’s Main Street, close to both of the Moravian colleges. His host, who presumably planned the reception, was Henry T. Clauder, publisher since 1868 of the weekly Bethlehem Moravian and representative of the sponsoring society, the Winter Evening Entertainment Committee of the local Y.M.C.A. (Redpath and Fall 1871–72, 1–2; Levering, 634, 712; McIlhaney).
6 The Old Moravian Burying Ground, in use since 1742, was a short walk from Clemens’s hotel (Northampton County Guide, 146, 173–74, and map inside back cover). Theodore Crane evidently shared Clemens’s interest in such historical sites (Sharlow, 2–3).
7 “In [the Burying Ground] are laid side by side, bishops of the Moravian church, converted Indians, missionaries, Moravian soldiers of the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, and private citizens. . . . No stone is raised above the others, conforming with the sects’ tradition that all men are equal in the sight of God” (Northampton County Guide, 173, 52 illustration).