They did not always approve of him, but they adored him: The Rev. Mr. Rising, of the Comstock, was an early example of his ministerial friendships, and we have seen that Henry Ward Beecher cultivated his company. In a San Francisco letter of two years before, Mark Twain wrote his mother, thinking it would please her:
I am as thick as thieves with the Reverend Stebbins. I am laying for the Reverend Scudder and the Reverend Doctor Stone. I am running on preachers now altogether, and I find them gay.
So it may be that his first impulse toward Joseph Twichell was due to the fact that he was a young member of that army whose mission is to comfort and uplift mankind. But it was only a little time till the impulse had grown into a friendship that went beyond any profession or doctrine, a friendship that ripened into a permanent admiration and love for "Joe" Twichell himself, as one of the noblest specimens of his race.
He was invited to the Twichell home, where he met the young wife and got a glimpse of the happiness of that sweet and peaceful household. He had a neglected, lonely look, and he loved to gather with them at their fireside. He expressed his envy of their happiness, and Mrs. Twichell asked him why, since his affairs were growing prosperous, he did not establish a household of his own. Long afterward Mr. Twichell wrote:
Mark made no answer for a little, but, with his eyes bent on the floor, appeared to be deeply pondering. Then he looked up, and said slowly, in a voice tremulous with earnestness (with what sympathy he was heard may be imagined): "I am taking thought of it. I am in love beyond all telling with the dearest and best girl in the whole world. I don't suppose she will marry me. I can't think it possible. She ought not to. But if she doesn't I shall be sure that the best thing I ever did was to fall in love with her, and proud to have it known that I tried to win her!"
It was only a brief time until the Twichell fireside was home to him. He came and went, and presently it was "Mark" and "Joe," as by and by it would be "Livy" and "Harmony," and in a few years "Uncle Joe" and "Uncle Mark," "Aunt Livy" and "Aunt Harmony," and so would remain until the end.
A LECTURE TOUR
James Redpath, proprietor of the Boston Lyceum Bureau, was the leading lecture agent of those days, and controlled all, or nearly all, of the platform celebrities. Mark Twain's success at the Cooper Union the year before had interested Redpath. He had offered engagements then and later, but Clemens had not been free for the regular circuit. Now there was no longer a reason for postponement of a contract. Redpath was eager for the new celebrity, and Clemens closed with him for the season of 1868-9. With his new lecture, "The Vandal Abroad," he was presently earning a hundred dollars and more a night, and making most of the nights count.
This was affluence indeed. He had become suddenly a person of substance- an associate of men of consequence, with a commensurate income. He could help his mother lavishly now, and he did.
His new lecture was immensely popular. It was a resume of the 'Quaker City' letters--a foretaste of the book which would presently follow. Wherever he went, he was hailed with eager greetings. He caught such drifting exclamations as, "There he is! There goes Mark Twain!" People came out on the street to see him pass. That marvelous miracle which we variously call "notoriety," "popularity," "fame," had come to him. In his notebook he wrote, "Fame is a vapor, popularity an accident; the only, earthly certainty oblivion."
The newspapers were filled with enthusiasm both as to his matter and method. His delivery was described as a "long, monotonous drawl, with the fun invariably coming in at the end of a sentence--after a pause." His appearance at this time is thus set down:
Mark Twain is a man of medium height, about five feet ten, sparsely built, with dark reddish-brown hair and mustache.