• A Tramp Abroad

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    Sam wrote to his mother that the distractions of life in America were too interruptive of his writing, so he decided to relocate to Europe "until I shall have completed one of the half dozen books that lie begun, up stairs.". Part of this period was spent in the company of Joe Twichell, in the guise of Mr. Harris in the book "A Tramp Abroad". Sam and his family spent most of this time in Germany and Switzerland but also visited France, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, and England before returning to Hartford, Connecticut.
  • Mark Twain Day By Day: 1878

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    Aftermath of Disgrace – Orion Apes Jules Verne – Bliss Contract for Europe Travel Book Quick
    Jaunts to Fredonia & Elmira – Family Sails for Europe
    Frankfort, Hamburg to Heidelberg – Mannheim Operas – Speech at Heidelberg University Twichell
    Joined in Baden Baden – Excursions by Foot, Boat, Rail, and Cart – The Alps Twichell Departs – Italy
    – Munich for the Winter

  • April 11, 1878 Thursday

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    April 11 Thursday – Before sailing, Sam wrote from New York to Moncure Conway, sending a letter of introduction for his nephew, Samuel Moffett, who would also travel to England. From the New York Times of Apr. 12:


  • April 12, 1878 Friday

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    April 12 Friday – The New York Times, on page 8, ran an interview titled, “The Start for Germany,” where Sam said his new travel book would not imitate Innocents Abroad [Scharnhorst, Interviews 14-16].

  • April 14, 1878 Sunday

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    April 14 Sunday – From Sam’s notebook:

    3d day out, Bayard Taylors’ colored man, being constipated, applied to the ship’s doctor for relief, who sent him 6 large rhubarb pills, to be taken one every 4 hours; the pills came by a German steward, who delivered the directions in German, the darkey not understanding a word of it. Result: the darkey took all the pills at once & appeared no more on deck for 6 days [MTNJ 2: 68].

  • April 17, 1878 Wednesday

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    April 17 Wednesday From Sam’s en route letter of Apr. 20 to his mother-in-law, Olivia Lewis Langdon:

    “On the 17th we had heavy seas, then easy ones, then rough again; then brilliant skies, with thick driving storms of rain, hail, sleet & snow—sunshine again, followed by more snow, hail, rain & sleet—& so on, all day long; we sighted an ice-berg in the morning & a water-spout in the afternoon” [MTLE 3: 47-8].

  • April 22, 1878 Monday

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    April 22 Monday – From Sam’s notebook:

    “It breaks out hearts, this sunny magnificent morning, to sail along the lovely shores of England & can’t go ashore. Inviting” [MTNJ 2: 68].

    Sam reflected on “Lying story-books which make boys fall in love with the sea.” He referred to more realistic stories, such as Richard Henry Dana’s Two Years Before the Mast (1840). Sam wrote:

  • April 24, 1878 Wednesday

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    April 24 Wednesday The Holsatia stopped at Cherbourg and/or Le Havre, France. The American-Hamburg line went through Havre and normally took twelve days from New York to Havre, then an additional day from Havre to Hamburg, a deep-water port in Germany. However, Sam’s notebook mentions passengers getting off at Cherbourg [MTNJ 2: 69].

  • May 1878

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    May – Sam’s short story, “About Magnanimous-Incident Literature” ran in the Atlantic Monthly [Wells, 22]. During this month, Sam pinned a clipping from a James Payn essay, “An Adventure in a Forest; or, Dickens’s Maypole Inn,” to his Notebook 14. “Payn describes his futile search for Epping Forest and the famous Maypole Inn of Barnaby Rudge” [Gribben 536]

    An entry following one dated May 25 in Sam’s notebook decries the censorship of his age:

  • May 1, 1878 Wednesday

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    May 1 Wednesday From Hamburg, the Clemens family traveled south by rail to Hanover and Göttingen. They took an excursion to Wilhelmshöhe [MTNJ 2: 46]. MTNJ says they “stopped briefly” at these places [73n65]. From Sam’s notebook:

    “Woman at Napoleon’s prison-palace at Wilhelmshöhe–Heinrich said ‘If she look at you, if she say something, if she do anything, she all time look like a cat which is unwell’” [MTNJ 2: 74].

  • May 2, 1878 Thursday

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    May 2 Thursday The Clemens family traveled by rail through the Harz Mountains, to Cassel (Kassel) [MTLE 3: 49-50]. They took rooms at the Hotel du Nord in Cassel [MTNJ 2: 73]. From Sam’s notebook: 

    Who is buried here?


    Then why the monument?

    It is not a monument. It is a stove.

    We had reverently removed our hats. We now put them on again.

  • May 3, 1878 Friday

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    May 3 Friday The Clemens family traveled to Frankfort where they rested a day or so [MTNJ 2: 46]. “The prettiest effect is a cloud-ceiling in fresco in our parlor at Frankfort” [74].

  • May 4, 1878 Saturday

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    May 4 Saturday Sam wrote from Frankfort on the Main, Germany to Howells. Sam felt a relaxing sense of escape, described as only he might:

    “Ah, I have such a deep, grateful, unutterable sense of being ‘out of it all.’ I think I foretaste some of the advantage of being dead. Some of the joy of it. I don’t read any newspapers or care for them.”

  • May 5 or May 6, 1878 Monday

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    May 5 or May 6 Monday The Clemens family arrived in Heidelberg, Germany and stayed at the beautiful Schloss Hotel, which overlooked the old castle with its forest setting, the flowing Neckar River, and the distant valley of the Rhine [MTLE 3: 50]. Rodney notes that the hotel’s “family-style accommodations suited the needs of the party.

  • May 8, 1878 Wednesday

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    May 8 WednesdayEdmond About (1828-1885), French novelist and journalist wrote from Paris in French [MTP]. Note: Sam wrote on the margin., “Autograph of Edmond About. Preserve it.”

  • May 17, 1878 Friday

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    May 17 Friday – Sam’s notebook about the traditional dueling (“How I Escaped Being Killed in a Duel”) of Heidelberg college students:

    One knows a college bred man by his scars.

    This morning 8 couples fought—2 spectators fainted. One student had a piece of his scalp taken. The others faces so gashed up & floor all covered with blood. They only wear protecting spectacles [MTNJ 2: 82] (See chapter 7 of A Tramp Abroad.)

  • May 21, 1878 Tuesday

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    May 21 Tuesday – From Sam’s notebook:

    “At breakfast we saw the fields & villages or landslides (whichever they were) on the great sides of the Haard Mts, 35 or 40 miles away—the first time these mountains have shown anything but dark blue distance…Pink sunset through haze—black cloud with fringe circling over end of ridge at that town” [MTNJ 2: 84].

    From Livy’s May 26 letter, referring to this day:

  • May 23, 1878 Thursday

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    May 23 Thursday Sam wrote from the Schloss Hotel in Heidelberg to Joe Twichell, enclosing a note to George P. Bissell & Co., Hartford to pay Joseph H. Twichell three hundred dollars and charge it to Sam’s account [MTLE 3: 52].