Allentown, Penn. -- 17 October 1871|
Livy darling, this lecture will never do. I hate it & won't keep it. I can't even handle these chuckle-headed Dutch with it.
Have blocked out a lecture on Artemus Ward, & shall write it next Saturday & deliver it next Monday in Washington. Poor child, I am so sorry you are so lonely & forlorn -- but cheer up -- just think, you don't have to lecture!...
Wilkesbarre, Penn. -- 18 October 1871
Livy darling, I am in a bother, & don't know whether to be irritated or amused. I was mourning over my miserable lecture this afternoon, & saying I would give Reading & Easton a lecture for nothing in February & do it gladly, if I could get off from those engagements now & thus gain time to write a new lecture. I was thoroughly miserable and broken-hearted. An old California friend proposed various ways to accomplish the thing -- none seemed to hit it -- finally he said leave it to him & let him telegraph those people in my name & he would fix it. I said go it! The next I saw of him he told me he had telegraphed them that I was called away immediately by sickness in my family; & that they must advertise the postponement amply at my expense, & that I would come & lecture for them for nothing between the 5th & tenth of February! Horrible -- but in spite of everything I could not keep from secretly rejoicing there was such a load taken from my breast. I am beginning to get really happy & light hearted & by morning shall be absolutely jubilant, I think. Reading & Easton promptly telegraphed acceptance of the proposition....
Bless your dear old heart, I shall reach Washington tomorrow night, & then for two days & nights I shall work like a beaver on my new lecture. How I ever came to get up such a mess of rubbish as this & imagine it good, is too many for me....
Milford, Mass. -- 31 October 1871
Livy darling, the same old practising on audiences still goes on -- the same old feeling of pulses & altering manner & matter to suit the symptoms. The very same lecture that convulsed Great Barrington was received with the gentlest & most well-bred smiles & rippling comfort by Milford. Now we'll see what Boston is going to do. Boston must sit up & behave, & do right by me. As Boston goes, so goes New England.
Boston, Mass. -- 1 November 1871
Livy darling, it was a bad night, but we had a packed house, & if the papers say any disparaing things, don't you believe a single word of it, for I never saw a lecture go off so magnificently before. I tell you it made me feel like me old self again. I wanted to talk a week. People say Boston audiences ain't responsive. People lie. Boston audiences get perfectly uproarious when they get started. I am satisfied with to-night!
Worcester, Mass. -- 9 November 1871
Livy darling, am just in from the lecture -- just in from talking to 1700 of the staidest, puritanical people you ever saw -- one of the hardest gangs to move, that ever was. By George the next time I come here I mean to put some cathartic pills in my lecture. The confounded chairman sat on the stage behind me -- a thing I detest. He is the last one that can air his good clothes & his owlish mug on my platform I will have no more of this.
I'm going to bed -- I'm disgusted. This chairman was in very good spirits after the lecture. Said he -- "Can't anybody rouse up our audiences, but by George you fetched 'em; & kept 'em at it, too." "Fetched your grandmother!" I said, -- "a man couldn't fetch them with a hundred thousand yoke of oxen."
Haverhhill, Mass. -- 15 November 1871
Livy darling, it was a dreadfully stormy night, the train was delayed a while, & when I got to the hall it was half an hour after the time for the lecture to begin. But not a soul had left the house. I went right through the audience in my overcoat & overshoes with carpet bag in hand & undressed on the stage in full view. It was not time to stand on ceremony. I told them I knew they were indignant with me, & righteously so -- & that if any aggrieved gentleman would rise in his place & abuse my for 15 minutes, I would feel better, would take it as a great kindness, & would do as much for him sometime. That broke the ice & we went through with colors flying & drums beating....
I am getting my lecture in better shape, now. I end it with the poetry, every time, & a description of Artemus's death in a foreign land....
I don't get a chance to read anything, my old darling -- am patching at my lecture all the time -- trying to weed Artemus out of it & work myself in. What I say, fetches 'em -- but what he says, don't....
Bennington, Vt. -- 27 November 1871
Livy darling, good house, but they laughed too much. A great fault with this lecture is, that I have no way of turning it into a serious & instructive vein at will. Any lecture of mine ought to be a running narrative-plank, with square holes in it, six inches apart, all the length of it; & then in my mental shop I ought to have plugs (half marked "serious" & the others marked "humorous") to select from & jam into these holes according to the temper of the audience....
Geneva, NY -- 4 December 1871
Livy darling, I am thus far.... Last night when the lecture was over, two ladies came forward heartily & shook my by the hand & called me "Sam Clemens, the very same old Sam" -- & when the explanations came out, by & by, they were two-little-girl friends of my early boyhood -- children with me when I was half as old [as] Sammy Moffett. They both saw me once, ten years ago, but I did not see them. One has been married 13 years & the other about 20. One was Mary Bacon & the other Kitty Shoot. They seemed like waifs from some vague world I had lived in ages & ages ago -- myths -- creatures of a dream....
Champaign, Ill -- 26 December 1871
Livy Darling, it is almost lecture time, & I thought I would rattle off a line to tell you how dearly I love you, child -- for I cannot abide this execrable hotel & shall leave for Tuscola after the lecture & see if I can't do better. My new lecture is about licked into shape, & this afternoon; after trimming at it all afternoon I memorized one-fourth of it. Shall commit another fourth tomorrow, maybe more -- & shall begin talking it the moment I get out of the range of the cursed Chicago Tribune that printed my new lecture & so made it impossible for me to talk it with any spirit in Illinois. If these devils incarnate only appreciated what suffering they inflict with their infernal synopses, maybe they would try to have humanity enough to refrain....
Paris, Ill -- 31 December 1871
Livy my darling, I am getting well rested up, to-day; & now, it being the middle of the afternoon, I am going regularly to bed, & shall rest, & read just what I please -- the very first day wherein I have not worked & studied for lo, these many weeks -- seven, it is, counting the week of lecture-work at home before I started out. I tell you I never want to go through such a terrific seige again, my sweetheart.
Mark Twain's Letters, Volume 4: 1870"-1"871
Edited by Victor Fischer & Michael B. Frank
Associate Editor: Lin Salamo
Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995