A Page from Susy's Book

One of the most poignant MT items in the Barrett Collection is the "biography" Susy Clemens began to write about her famous father when she was twelve years old. On this page she transcribes one of the letters MT wrote her from the road, while he was touring with George W. Cable. Dated Indianapolis, 8 February 1885, the whole transcription reads as follows (preserving Susy's spelling -- the spelling of Susy as "Susie" is accurate; MT used both spellings when he wrote her name):
Susie dear,
        When I get home, you must
take my Morte Arthur & read it
It is the quaintest and sweetest
of all books. And is full of the
absolute English of 400 years ago.
For instance here is a paragraph
which I will quot from memory.
And you too may learn it by heart
for its worth it. There are only
two other things in our language
comparable to it for tender eloquence
& simplicity, one is Mr. Lincolns
Gettysburg speech, & the other has for
the moment escaped my memory.
------The paragraph just referred
to is given a little further back
under the heading "Gen. Grant."
"There isnt that beautiful? In
this book one finds out where Tennyson
got the quaint & pretty phrases which
he uses in The "Idols of the king"
-- "Lightly" & "Wave" & the rest. Yes you
[next sheet]
must read it when I come sweetheart.
Kiss mamma for me; and Ben and Jean.

"Ben" was the family nickname for Clara. The passage from Malory MT quoted must have been the following, reproduced here with Susy's spelling and punctuation. MT used it in a tribute to Grant after his death:

          Ah Launcelot thou were head of all christian knights! And now I dare say, thou Sir Launcelot, there thou liest, that thou were never matched of earthly knits hands; and thou were the courtiest knight, that ever bare shield, and thou were the truest friend to thy friend that ever bestrode horse; and thou were the truest lover, of a sinful man, that ever loved woman, and thou were the kindest man that ever strake with sword; and thou were the goodliest person that ever came among the press of knights; and thou were the meekest man and the gentlest that ever ate in hall among ladies, and thou were the sternest knight to thy mortal foe that ever put spear in rest.

Susy's "biography" contains one other passage pertaining directly to the composition of Connecticut Yankee. In a paragraph dated "Feb. 22" [1886], she writes, "Yesterday evening papa read to us the beginning of his new book, in manuscript, and we enjoyed it very much, it was founded on a New Englanders visit to England in the time of King Arthur and his round table."