AP Story, 22 April 1910


REDDING (Ct.) April 21. -- Samuel Langhorne Clemens (Mark Twain) died painlessly at 6:30 tonight of angina pectoris. He lapsed into coma at 3 o'clock this afternoon and never recovered consciousness.

It was the end of a man outworn by grief and acute agony of body. He was 74 years old. The breakdown which brought on the end is attributed to disheartenment following the death of his invalid daughter Jean. The death of his friends H. H. Rogers, W. M. Laffan, and R. W. Gilder, also affected him.

Yesterday was a bad day for the little knot of anxious watchers at the bedside. For long hours the gray, aquiline features lay moulded in the inertia of death, while the pulse sunk steadily, but at night he passed from stupor into the first natural sleep he had known since he returned from Bermuda, and then he woke refreshed, even faintly cheerful, and in full possession of his faculties.

He recognized his daughter, Clara (Mrs. Ossip Gabrilowitsch,) spoke a rational word or two, and feeling himself unequal to conversation, wrote out in pencil:

"Give me my glasses."

These were his last words. Laying them aside, he sank first into reverie and later into final unconsciousness.

There was no thought at the time, however, that the end was so near. At 5 o'clock Dr. Robert Halsey, who had been continuously in attendance, said:

"Mr. Clemens is not so strong at this hour as he was at the corresponding hour yesterday, but he has wonderful vitality and he may rally again."

Albert Bigelow Paine, Mark Twain's biographer and literary executor, said to a caller who had desired to inquire for Mr. Clemens: "I do not think you will have to call often again."

Nevertheless Mr. and Mrs. E. E. Loomis, who had come up from New York to give their love in person, left "Stormfield" without seeing Mr. Clemens and only heard of his death as they were taking the train to New York again. Mrs. Loomis was Clemens' favorite niece. Mr. Loomis is vice president of the Lackawanna Railroad.

Similarly, Jarvis Langdon, a nephew, who had run up for the day, left even earlier and wholly uninformed.

At the deathbed were only Mrs. Gabrilowitsch and her husband, Dr. Robert Halsey, Dr. Quintard, Albert Bigelow Paine, who will write Mark Twain's biography and is his literary executor, and the two trained nurses. Restoratives -- digitalis, strychnine, and camphor -- were administered, but the patient failed to respond.

A tank of oxygen still stands uncalled for at Redding station. Oxygen was tried yesterday, and the physicians explained that it was of no value, because the valvular action of the heart was not disordered. The was only an extreme and increasing debility, accompanied by labored respiration.

Angina pectoris is a paroxysmal affection of the chest, of baffling and obscure origin, characterized by severe pain, faintness, and deep depression of the spirits. The pain is severe, and of an oppressive, crushing, or stabbing character. The attacks progress in frequency and severity with uncertain intermissions, sometimes of long duration, to a fatal termination.

Mark Twain did not die in anguish. Sedatives soothed his pain, but in his moments of consciousness the mental depression persisted. On the way up from Bermuda he said to Albert Bigelow Paine, who had been his constant companion in illness:

"This is a bad job; we'll never pull through with it."

On shore once more, and longing for the serenity of the New England hills, he took heart, and said to those who sorrowfully noted his enfeeblement:

"Give me a breath of Redding air once more and this will pass." But it did not pass, and, tired of body and weary of spirit, the old warrior against shams and snobs finally said faintly to his nurses:

"Why do you fight to keep me alive? Two days of life are as good to me as four."

It is certain to be recalled that Mark Twain was for more than fifty years an inveterate smoker, and the first conjecture of the layman would be that he had weakened his heart by overindulgence in tobacco.

Dr. Halsey said tonight that he was unable to predicate that the angina pectoris from which Mark Twain died was in any way a sequel of nicotine poisoning. Some constitutions, he said, seem immune from the effects of tobacco. This was one of them. Yet it is true that since his illness began the doctors had cut down Mark Twain's daily allowance of twenty cigars and countless pipes to four cigars a day.

No deprivation was a greater sorrow to him. He tried to smoke on the steamer while returning from Bermuda, and only gave it up because he was too feeble to draw on his pipe. Even on his deathbed, when he had passed the point of speech and it was no longer certain that his ideas were lucid, he would make the motion of waving a cigar, and, smiling, would expel empty air from under the mustache still stained with smoke.

This city, where Mark Twain chose to spend his declining years, was the first outpost of Methodism in New England, and it was among the hills of Redding that General Putnam of Revolutionary fame mustered his sparse ranks. Putnam Park now encloses the memory of his camp.

Mark Twain first heard of it at the dinner given him on his 70th birthday, when a fellow guest who lived there mentioned its beauties, and added that there was a vacant house adjoining his own.

"I think I may buy that old house for me," said Mark Twain.

"Sherwood Place" was the delectable name of that old house, and where it had stood Mark Twain reared the white walls of the Italian villa he first named "Innocence at Home," but a first experience of what a New England winter storm could be in its whitest fury, quickly caused him to christen it anew, "Stormfield."

The house has been described thus by Albert Bigelow Paine:

"Set on a fair hillside, with such a green slope below, such a view outspread across the valley as made one catch his breath a little when he first turned to look at it. A trout stream flows through one of the meadows. There are apple trees and gray stone walls. The entrance to that is a winding leafy lane."

Through these leafy lanes the innocent at home loved to wander in his white flannels for homely gossip with his neighbors. They remember him best as one who loved above all things a good listener, for Mark Twain was a good talker, stored with fairy tales for the little maids he adored, and racier, ruder speech for more accustomed masculine ears. It is a legend that he was vastly proud of his famous mop of white hair and used to spend the pains of a court lady in getting it to just the proper stage of artistic disarray.

Last summer the walks began to falter, last fall they ceased for good. The death of H. H. Rogers, a close friend, was a severe blow. The death of his daughter Jean, who was seized with an attack of epilepsy last fall while in her bath, was an added blow from which he never recovered. It was then that the stabbing pains in the heart began. Mark Twain died as truly as it can be said of any man of a broken heart.

The last bit of literary work he did was a chapter of his unfinished autobiography describing his daughter Jean's death. He sought diversion in Bermuda, where he was the guest of the American vice consul, William H. Allen, whose young daughter, Helen, acted as amanuensis for what few letters he cared to dictate. His winter was gay, but not happy.

When he heard of the successive deaths of his two friends, William M. Laffan of the Sun, and Richard Watson Gilder, editor of The Century, he said sadly:

"How fortunate they are; no good fortune of that kind ever comes to me."

Life had no further allurements for him. Mr. Paine said tonight that the book Mark Twain took up from the coverlet beside him when he asked for his glasses was Carlyle's "History of the French Revolution," his inseparable companion and greatest favorite.

The burial will be in the family plot at Elmira, N.Y, where lie already his wife, his two daughters Susan and Jean, and his infant son Langhorne. No date has yet been set, as the family still is undecided whether or not there shall be a public funeral first in New York City.

It is probable that "Stormfield" will be kept as a summer place by Mrs. Gabrilowitsch, who is fond both of the house and of the country, although her husband's musical engagements make it necessary for her to spend a part of each year abroad.

Mr. Paine said tonight that Mark Twain had put his affairs in perfect order, and that he died well off, though by no means a rich man.

He leaves a considerable number of unfinished manuscripts, in all stages of completion and of all characters, many of them begun years ago and put aside as unsatisfactory. Mrs. Gabrilowitsch shall aid Mr. Paine in the final decision as to what use shall be made of these.

[Many of the papers also published, often on the first page and occasionally as a lead into the story itself, the following AP sidebar:]

WASHINGTON (D.C.) April 21. -- President Taft, who has expressed the keenest interest in the condition of Samuel L. Clemens, since the report of his serious illness, when informed of the death of Mr. Clemens tonight, wrote personally this statement:

"Mark Twain gave pleasure -- real intellectual enjoyment -- to millions, and his works will continue to give such pleasure to millions yet to come. He never wrote a line that a father could not read to a daughter. His humor was American, but he was nearly as much appreciated by Englishmen and people of other countries as by his own countrymen. He has made an enduring part of American literature."

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