Submitted by scott on

July 28 Sunday – In Saranac Lake, N.Y. Sam wrote to Joe Twichell. Sam opened with a short discussion of the impracticality of him appealing to President McKinley, whom he sarcastically referred to as “that fine ‘patriot’,” in the matter of abuses by missionaries to China. He wrote “Later” at the second paragraph and that he’d been reading Yung Wing’s letter again. He thought Wing might have been “over wrought by his sympathy.” He speculated as to reasons the missionaries were silent about the “Shensi 2-year famine & cannibalism.”

That crude ideal of appealing to this Government for help in a cause which has no money in it, & no politics rises before me again in all its admirable innocence! Doesn’t Yung Wing know us yet? However, he has been absent since ’96 or ‘7. We have gone to hell since then. Kassuth couldn’t raise 30 cents in Congress, now, if he were back with his moving Magyar-tale.

Sam then wrote of the idyllic setting above Lake Saranac, their few visitors, and some future plans:

I am on the the front porch (lower one—main deck) of our little bijou of a dwelling-house. The lake-edge (lower Saranac) is so nearly under me that I can’t see the shore, but only the water, small-poxed with splashes—for there is a heavy down-pour. It is charmingly like sitting snuggled up on a ship’s deck with the stretching sea all around—but very much more satisfactory, for at sea a rain-storm is depressing, which here of course the effect engendered is just a deep sense of comfort & contentment. The heavy forest shuts us solidly in on three sides—there are no neighbors. There are beautiful little tan-colored impudent squirrels about. They take tea at 5 p.m., (not invited) at the table in the woods where Jean does my type-writing, & one of them has been brave enough to sit up on Jean’s knee on his hams with his tail curved over his back & munch his food. They come to dinner 7 p.m., on the front porch (not invited) but Clara drives them away. It is an occupation which requires some industry, & attention to business. They all have the one name— Blennerhasset, from Burr’s friend—& none of them answers to it except when hungry.

We have been here since June 21st. For a little while we had some warm days—according to the family’s estimate; I was hardly discommoded myself. Otherwise the weather has been of the sort you are familiar with in these regions: cool days & cold nights. We have heard of the hot wave every Wednesday, per the weekly newspaper—we allow no dailies to intrude. Last week through visitors also—the only ones we have had—Dr. Root & John Howells.

[Insert: Sam Clemens at Lake Saranac, N.Y.]

We have the daily lake-swim; & all the tribe, servants included (but not I) do a great deal of boating; sometimes with the guide, sometimes without him— Jean & Clara are competent with the oars. If we live another year, I hope we shall spend its summer in this house.

We have taken the Appleton country seat, overlooking the Hudson, at Riverdale, 25 minutes from Grand Central station, for a year, beginning Oct.1, with option for another year. We are obliged to be close to New York for a year or two.

Aug. 3d, I go yachting a fortnight up north in a 20-knot boat 225 feet long, with the owner, (Mr. Rogers,) Tom Reid [sic Reed], Dr. Rice, a Mr. Paine, & one other. Judge Howland would go, but can’t get away from engagements; Professor Sloane would go but is in the grip of an illness. Come—with you go? If you can manage it, drop a post-card to me, c/o H.H. Rogers, 26 Broadway. I shall be in New York a couple of days before we sail—July 31 or Aug. 1, perhaps the latter—& I think I shall stop at the Hotel Grosvenor, cor. 10th st & 5th ave.

We all send you & the Harmonies lots of gobs of love [MTP]. Note: Harmony Twichell and her daughter, Harmony were the “Harmonies”. Ferenc Kossuth, Hungarian statesman; see Mar. 28, 1899 entry. Yung Wing: see Vol. I entries.

The Brooklyn Eagle ran an anonymous article, “Mark Twain Is at Last Able to Enjoy a Vacation,” section 2, p. 3. Tenney: “A photograph of ‘The Summer Home of Mark Twain at Saranac Lake, in the Adirondacks’ (which looks much larger than the cottage he called ‘Thage,’ or ‘The Lair’) accompanies a brief article on his spacious summer quarters. ‘Big fireplaces drive away all cold’ (but nights at Saranac are not particularly chilly until later in August). MT’s financial recovery and return from travels abroad are noted, but this article is thin and forced, and the picture seems wrong” [MTJ Bibliographic Issue Number Four 42:1 (Spring 2004) 8].

Day By Day Acknowledgment

Mark Twain Day By Day was originally a print reference, meticulously created by David Fears, who has generously made this work available, via the Center for Mark Twain Studies, as a digital edition.