Mark Twain, a Biography volume III Part 1 1900-1907 Page 01
MARK TWAIN, A BIOGRAPHY
By Albert Bigelow Paine
Mark Twain, A Biography 1907-1910, by Albert Paine
Mark Twain, A Biography 1900-1907, by Albert Paine
Mark Twain, A Biography 1886-1900, by Albert Paine
Mark Twain, A Biography 1875-1886, by Albert Paine
Mark Twain, A Biography 1866-1875, by Albert Paine
Mark Twain, A Biography 1835-1866, by Albert Paine
VOLUME III, Part 1: 1900-1907
THE RETURN OF THE CONQUEROR
It would be hard to exaggerate the stir which the newspapers and the public generally made over the homecoming of Mark Twain. He had left America, staggering under heavy obligation and set out on a pilgrimage of redemption. At the moment when this Mecca, was in view a great sorrow had befallen him and, stirred a world-wide and soul-deep tide of human sympathy. Then there had followed such ovation as has seldom been conferred upon a private citizen, and now approaching old age, still in the fullness of his mental vigor, he had returned to his native soil with the prestige of these honors upon him and the vast added glory of having made his financial fight single-handed-and won.
He was heralded literally as a conquering hero. Every paper in the land had an editorial telling the story of his debts, his sorrow, and his triumphs.
"He had behaved like Walter Scott," says Howells, "as millions rejoiced to know who had not known how Walter Scott had behaved till they knew it was like Clemens."
Howells acknowledges that he had some doubts as to the permanency of the vast acclaim of the American public, remembering, or perhaps assuming, a national fickleness. Says Howells:
He had hitherto been more intelligently accepted or more largely imagined in Europe, and I suppose it was my sense of this that inspired the stupidity of my saying to him when we came to consider "the state of polite learning" among us, "You mustn't expect people to keep it up here as they do in England." But it appeared that his countrymen were only wanting the chance, and they kept it up in honor of him past all precedent.
Clemens went to the Earlington Hotel and began search for a furnished house in New York. They would not return to Hartford--at least not yet. The associations there were still too sad, and they immediately became more so. Five days after Mark Twain's return to America, his old friend and co-worker, Charles Dudley Warner, died. Clemens went to Hartford to act as a pall-bearer and while there looked into the old home. To Sylvester Baxter, of Boston, who had been present, he wrote a few days later:
It was a great pleasure to me to renew the other days with you, & there was a pathetic pleasure in seeing Hartford & the house again; but I realized that if we ever enter the house again to live our hearts will break. I am not sure that we shall ever be strong enough to endure that strain.
Even if the surroundings had been less sorrowful it is not likely that Clemens would have returned to Hartford at this time. He had become a world-character, a dweller in capitals. Everywhere he moved a world revolved about him. Such a figure in Germany would live naturally in Berlin; in England London; in France, Paris; in Austria, Vienna; in America his headquarters could only be New York.
Clemens empowered certain of his friends to find a home for him, and Mr. Frank N. Doubleday discovered an attractive and handsomely furnished residence at 14 West Tenth Street, which was promptly approved. Doubleday, who was going to Boston, left orders with the agent to draw the lease and take it up to the new tenant for signature. To Clemens he said:
"The house is as good as yours. All you've got to do is to sign the lease. You can consider it all settled."
When Doubleday returned from Boston a few days later the agent called on him and complained that he couldn't find Mark Twain anywhere. It was reported at his hotel that he had gone and left no address. Doubleday was mystified; then, reflecting, he had an inspiration. He walked over to 14 West Tenth Street and found what he had suspected--Mark Twain had moved in. He had convinced the caretaker that everything was all right and he was quite at home. Doubleday said:
"Why, you haven't executed the lease yet."
"No," said Clemens, "but you said the house was as good as mine," to which Doubleday agreed, but suggested that they go up to the real-estate office and give the agent notice that he was in possession of the premises.