Year of the Angelfish – “A Good Place to Live in, a Good Place to Die In” - Autobiography House” becomes “Innocents at Home” becomes “Stormfield” - Doe Luncheons – Elinor Glyn – Knickerbocker Crisis - Bermuda Trips: Margaret, Maude, Reginald; HHR – Children’s Theatre - Jubilee City College – Aldrich Memorial– Commodore Dow – Moffett Drowns - Guests, Guests, More Guests – Redding Library “Tax” Dedication - Burglars! Staff Quits – Requires Cat in Pace – Elizabeth Wallace Visits
1908 – Hill notes that of known 1908 letters by Clemens, “nearly half” were to his Members of the Aquarium, or Angelfish. “Almost always they were long, chatty, childlike letters, frequently composed over a number of days. All pleaded for visits.” Hill, as others have done, also makes a connection from the Angelfish to the late Susy Clemens [195-6].
Sometime during the year Sam inscribed an illustration pasted on the front cover of Richard Le Gallienne’s The Old Country House (1905) to Isabel V. Lyon: “S.L. Clemens, 1905, to J.V. Lyon, 1908.” [MTP]. Note: not in Gribben.
Sometime during the year, likely in December, Elizabeth Wallace inscribed for Sam a copy of Aspects of the Earth: A Popular Account of Some Familiar Geological Phenomena (1904) by Nathaniel Southgate Shaler (1841-1906): “To the King / with / the affectionate homage / of Betsy.” Sam signed the half-title page: “SL. Clemens / 1908 / from Betsy Wallace.” Clemens wrote a note on the top of page 69, and dated it Dec. 29, 1909. See entry [Gribben 636].
At 21 Fifth Ave, N.Y. Sam wrote a short reply to Brander Matthews (whose incoming is not extant):
“Would I like to have that MS? Indeed I would!
I reckon it is a good idea, to collect the speeches. I will speak to the Harpers” [MTP].
A section in American Literature, “American Humor” (1908), by Julian W. Abernethy, p. 465-72: Tenney: “The book is a broad survey, intended for use in schools, and the treatment of MT is superficial, though laudatory (except for regretting his frequent coarseness). TS and HF are ‘astonishingly clever studies of the American bad boy, and LOM is ‘his best autobiographic narrative,’ a product of the river which inspired him. Abernethy appears to be guided primarily by Brander Matthews and H.R. Haweis, both of whom he quotes in praise of MT (the attributions are unclear, but the sources seem to be Aspects of Fiction, Harper, 1892, and American Humorists, Funk, 1883, respectively) .
The Life of Henry Irving (London; 1908) by Austin Brereton contains accounts of Clemens. Tenney: “MT a guest at a dinner given in Irving’s honor at the Somerset Club by Charles Fairchild and James R. Osgood; Howells and Aldrich were also present 1884 (p. 37); Irving a guest at MT’s home in Hartford, 1884 (p. 42). MT’s name was among over a hundred signatures on a letter dated 14th March, 1885, inviting Irving to a banquet in his honor at Delmonico’s, April 6 (p. 68)” .
The Life of Thomas Bailey Aldrich (1908) by Ferris Greenslet contains letters by Clemens: Tenney: “Includes the correspondence with MT that followed Aldrich’s attribution in Every Saturday of the ‘Carl Byng’ and ‘Hy Slocum’ sketches in the Buffalo Express to him, with MT’s tribute to Harte’s influence as literary mentor, although their friendship had ended (pp. 94-99); correspondence in which MT deluged Aldrich with photographs in response to a request for one (pp. 112-17, including a self-portrait sketch, facing p. 114); anecdote on their comparative popularity in France (p. 117A); quotes MT declaring ‘that if he was a fool, he was at least God’s fool, and entitled to some respect’ (p. 192); on MT as so well known that ‘little donkey-boys on the Nile…will tell you that they were “Mark Twain’s” donkey boys’” [45-6].
Life of Bret Harte (1908) by Edgar T. Pemberton contains references to Mark Twain [Tenney 46].
The New American Type, and Other Essays (1908) by Henry Dwight Sedgwick contains a section, “Mark Twain” (p. 281-313). Tenney: “On MT as the embodiment of a democratic, American spirit in literature” .
Reminiscences of Senator William M. Stewart of Nevada (1908), ed. George Rothwell Brown.
Tenney quotes: “‘Chapter XXIII. Mark Twain becomes my secretary—Back from the Holy Land, and he looks it—the landlady terrorized—I interfere with a humorist’s pleasures and get a black patch—Revenge!—Clemens the hero of a Nevada hold-up’ (pp.219-24). An unsympathetic portrayal of MT, who briefly was Stewart’s secretary in Washington. Concludes: ‘Clemens remained with me for some time. He wrote his book in my room, and named it The Innocents Abroad. I was so confident that he would come to no good end, but I have heard of him from time to time since then and I understand that he has settled down since then and become respectable [’”] .
Patrick Cooke published a 63-page pamphlet of criticism of Twain’s “Concerning the Jews”: Our Misunderstanding Concerning the Jews, etc. (1908). Tenney: “…arguing that although MT claimed to be unprejudiced he shared the racial, caste, and sectarian prejudices of his time;
MT’s essay ‘Concerning the Jews,’ though kindly mean, serves to perpetuate bigotry” [Tenney, ALR First Annual Supplement to the Reference Guide (Autumn, 1977) 335].
The Wine of the Puritans: A Study of Present-Day America (London 1908), by Van Wyck Brooks. Tenney: “On pp. 105, 109, 114, briefly mentions MT as simply one more of the popular humorists, sharing their deficiencies” [Tenney, ALR Second Annual Supplement to the Reference Guide (Autumn, 1978) 176].
Sometime during 1908 Louise Freeman and Mary E. Freeman (mother and daughter) wrote to Sam, thanking him for the pictures and sending love [MTP].
On a Thursday in 1908 Polly Porter, daughter of Robert Porter, Oxford, wrote on The Buckingham Hotel notepaper to Sam:
Dear Dr. Clemens: / The fascinating cards you so kindly sent us are greatly appreciated, and more still your thought of us in this, the busiest of seasons. Thank you many times for them.
“Peter Pan” is still a vivid and delightful dream to me, which will never fade.
After leaving you and Miss Lyon at the theatre Miss Clinton and I have a pleasant tea together and walk home. I missed her call today, but am going to her “At Home” in Monday. She is a charming acquaintance, I think, for which I’m grateful to you as for many other pleasures.
With sincere regard from us all, / Polly Porter [MTP]. Note: Clemens first saw Peter Pan on Nov. 15, 1905.
Also sometime during 1908 A.J. Schortkapp (Mrs. Walter Schortkapp) of Buffalo, NY wrote from Baden Baden, Germany while traveling in Europe. This is a fan letter. She urged him to travel and write more travel books [MTP].
Sometime in 1908 Zene Spurrier wrote from Kingman Kansas to send a poem titled “Mark Twain” done for his 70th and “mailed to the author at this late date on the impulse of the moment” [MTP].
Mrs. Esther Ogden Sturgis (Mrs. Richard Clipson Sturgis) wrote on a Tuesday from Kingston, NY: “It is very kind of you to ask me to go to you with Dorothy [Sturgis] , & I should like so much to do so, were I not very much of an invalid & still in the clutches of a trained nurse” [MTP].
Dorothy Sturgis (1891-1978) wrote sometime during 1908 after Apr. 13:
My dear Mr. Clemens / I got the photographs the other day and I was awfully glad to hear from you, because I was beginning to think you didn’t love me any more, you hadn’t written for so long!
The photographs are really very good, aren’t they? Especially of you.
It was so very sweet of you to be so hospitable about my coming to you next time I come to New York, but I should hate to give you the bother of having me on your hands in that way.
I know I shouldn’t revert to subjects which I have dropped, but I forgot to say that those pictures you sent me do not quite fit my picture frames as the opening is a circle, and I wish that if it isn’t too much bother you or Miss Lyon could send me a nice big picture of you, all alone, just head and shoulders, if you have one. (The diameter is 4 inches.)
Have you taken those dancing lessons yet? Don’t forget that you are reserving a dance for me in the Princess Hotel, on the first Friday in January of next year!
With oceans, and seas, and rivers of love to you and Miss Lyon, / Dorothy [MTP].
John Vanderbilt, NYC, sent a long printed poem, “Lake Mohonk” [MTP]. Note: Lyon wrote for Sam on the letter, “Oh, damn this poet!”
Helen M. Turner wrote from Cincinnati sometime during the year with this ditty:
Life’s a game each one must play,
Humor shines forth night or day;
In the game when brains are wit
I must remark Twain, you are “it” [MTP].
Elizabeth Wallace also sent a little tale on Princess Hotel notepaper, including stick figures inserted at various points of the poem. The poem related the walk with Maude the donkey, her master Reginald, “a kind gentleman” (Twain) and others. “When they came back…the kind gentleman was so very tired that he did not come to dinner” [MTP].
An unidentified person sent a postcard: “In reply to yours of many and some recent dates, let my eloquent New Years Greeting attest an appreciation which–alack—must be voiceless as well as nameless. [other side:] I always thought that old Dean Howells as a muck-raker—& a slush slinger—don’t let him defile you!” [MTP].
George Harvey wrote on Hotel Touraine, Boston, notepaper to Sam: “The name of that hotel in Portsmouth is the Wentworth. I knew all the time. / Uncle William was enchanted with the selections from the motor—I mean the Auto. / But he has doubtless written you / Yours” [MTP] Note: staff note: “end of June 1908 SLC went to Portsmouth for Aldrich Memorial.”