October 10 Wednesday – Grace E. King arrived in Hartford for a visit with the Clemens [MTNJ 3: 434n90]. The visit would be interrupted when Sam and Livy went to New York to see Theodore and Susan L. Crane who had likely traveled there for medical treatment for Theo, who’d suffered a stroke. Grace was still there on Election Day, Nov. 6 when she wrote Sarah Ann Miller King of the goings-on in the Clemens home [Bush 41]. (See Nov. 6 entry.) Grace wrote in her notebook about her arrival in Hartford and new impressions of Sam (she did not date this entry but she arrived Oct. 10):
The train I was on reached Hartford after dark. I got off, and soon saw the grey head of Mr Clemens under his slouch hat — rushing to the further end, passing coach after coach, in hasty scrutiny, leaving me farther and farther behind. I took after him — and fortunately succeeded in arresting his attention before he turned off disgusted into the station house. His welcome was warm and sincere. There is good fellowship in his manner that is most pleasant. He is an easy man to get along with socially, in his own house, and with his own family. He is quick to catch your idea — and nice to it, after he catches it. He does not impose his opinions, at least on me he did not — and he listens — at least to me — with attention. His spirits rise easily — his fun is never asleep — at a wink he is alert. When he talks — there is something delightfully unpremeditated in the way he brings in his stories; good or bad, appropriate or inappropriate, egotistical or otherwise. He is not an egotist — but he is always, at any party, the entertainer, I might say, the entertainment. He does not mow from books, but from his own life, his absurd, grotesque Mark Twain mind — takes what the eye brings it — and turns out fun. His fun is so personal; it is autobiographical. He cannot conceal — his frankness is startling. He simply doesn’t care; he cannot stop to apologise or explain, and beg you not to consider him egotistical. And the absence of this uneasiness about the opinion of others, is perhaps the pleasantest trait in his intercourse, for it puts you also at your ease. If you do anything absurd or philistinish — or mean and stingy — he will notice it — and no doubt tell it on you some day when your character is being discussed. But he does not pick at your words, or test your sincerity or get shocked at a breach of etiquette — or sniff a lèse moralité — in you. He takes you at the moment for what you want to be taken. If you make an impression there is a sum-total of your character in his mind somewhere. He treats ladies generally as if they were nice clever boys — like himself. If they need his advice or protection — he treats them as if they were nice, good sort of sisters — without any sentiment, or exaggeration of his services. I should say that Mark Twain had a beautiful heart — a rough, country-beauty of a heart — awkward, shy — and heavily strong. It is grotesque, at times when it might be graceful. It has never been to dancing school. It may be rough — as country beauties have rough hands — but it is a heart — “brut” as the French say — original in its essence and strength. He has the great mind of a great humorist — not the great mind of a philosopher or moralist. He is not critical — not picturesque. If he were he would be a great novelist — but he is not. I cannot suspect such a mind as he has — of limitations. I would rather accuse it of underdevelopment. On the side of reverence there is lacking — and in the region of poetry — there are chords missing. History does not enter willingly into it. He has to face her in [word missing]. Strength always inspires him. He admires Ingersoll. He loves to see Ingersoll knock down his opponents. And yet — there is no man in the world further removed from the coarse athleticism, of Ingersoll. His family is refinement itself — his domestic horizon is bounded on all sides by religion — and sentiment [Bush 39-40 from King’s Notebook].
A Nov. 1 bill from Postal Telegraph-Cable Co. of Hartford shows a 69c telegram this date to Mrs. S.L. Clemens [MTP]. Note: King may have sent this before her arrival.