He added, presently, a great AEolian Orchestrelle, with a variety of music for his different moods. He believed that he would play it himself when he needed the comfort of harmony, and that Jean, who had not received musical training, or his secretary could also play to him. He had a passion for music, or at least for melody and stately rhythmic measures, though his ear was not attuned to what are termed the more classical compositions. For Wagner, for instance, he cared little, though in a letter to Mrs. Crane he said:
Certainly nothing in the world is so solemn and impressive and so divinely beautiful as "Tannhauser." It ought to be used as a religious service.
Beethoven's sonatas and symphonies also moved him deeply. Once, writing to Jean, he asked:
What is your favorite piece of music, dear? Mine is Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. I have found that out within a day or two.
It was the majestic movement and melodies of the second part that he found most satisfying; but he oftener inclined to the still tenderer themes of Chopin's nocturnes and one of Schubert's impromptus, while the "Lorelei" and the "Erlking" and the Scottish airs never wearied him. Music thus became a chief consolation during these lonely days--rich organ harmonies that filled the emptiness of his heart and beguiled from dull, material surroundings back into worlds and dreams that he had known and laid away.
He went out very little that winter--usually to the homes of old and intimate friends. Once he attended a small dinner given him by George Smalley at the Metropolitan Club; but it was a private affair, with only good friends present. Still, it formed the beginning of his return to social life, and it was not in his nature to retire from the brightness of human society, or to submerge himself in mourning. As the months wore on he appeared here and there, and took on something of his old-time habit. Then his annual bronchitis appeared, and he was confined a good deal to his home, where he wrote or planned new reforms and enterprises.
The improvement of railway service, through which fewer persons should be maimed and destroyed each year, interested him. He estimated that the railroads and electric lines killed and wounded more than all of the wars combined, and he accumulated statistics and prepared articles on the subject, though he appears to have offered little of such matter for publication. Once, however, when his sympathy was awakened by the victim of a frightful trolley and train collision in Newark, New Jersey, he wrote a letter which promptly found its way into print.
DEAR MISS MADELINE, Your good & admiring & affectionate brother has told me of your sorrowful share in the trolley disaster which brought unaccustomed tears to millions of eyes & fierce resentment against those whose criminal indifference to their responsibilities caused it, & the reminder has brought back to me a pang out of that bygone time. I wish I could take you sound & whole out of your bed & break the legs of those officials & put them in it--to stay there. For in my spirit I am merciful, and would not break their necks & backs also, as some would who have no feeling.
It is your brother who permits me to write this line--& so it is not an intrusion, you see.
May you get well-& soon! Sincerely yours, S. L. CLEMENS.
A very little later he was writing another letter on a similar subject to St. Clair McKelway, who had narrowly escaped injury in a railway accident.
DEAR McKELWAY, Your innumerable friends are grateful, most grateful.
As I understand the telegrams, the engineers of your train had never seen a locomotive before . . . . The government's official report, showing that our railways killed twelve hundred persons last year & injured sixty thousand, convinces me that under present conditions one Providence is not enough properly & efficiently to take care of our railroad business.