The visitors to the Palace average 6,000 daily--double the population of Hannibal. The price of admission being 50 cents, they take in about $3,000.

The Latting Observatory (height about 280 feet) is near the Palace- from it you can obtain a grand view of the city and the country around. The Croton Aqueduct, to supply the city with water, is the greatest wonder yet. Immense sewers are laid across the bed of the Hudson River, and pass through the country to Westchester County, where a whole river is turned from its course and brought to New York. From the reservoir in the city to the Westchester County reservoir the distance is thirty-eight miles and, if necessary, they could easily supply every family in New York with one hundred barrels of water per day!

I am very sorry to learn that Henry has been sick. He ought to go to the country and take exercise, for he is not half so healthy as Ma thinks he is. If he had my walking to do, he would be another boy entirely. Four times every day I walk a little over a mile; and working hard all day and walking four miles is exercise. I am used to it now, though, and it is no trouble. Where is it Orion's going to? Tell Ma my promises are faithfully kept; and if I have my health I will take her to Ky. in the spring--I shall save money for this. Tell Jim (Wolfe) and all the rest of them to write, and give me all the news ....

(It has just struck 2 A.M., and I always get up at 6, and am at work at 7.) You ask where I spend my evenings. Where would you suppose, with a free printer's library containing more than 4,000 volumes within a quarter of a mile of me, and nobody at home to talk to? Write soon.

Truly your brother, SAM

P.S.-I have written this by a light so dim that you nor Ma could not read by it. Write, and let me know how Henry is.

It is a good letter; it is direct and clear in its descriptive quality, and it gives us a scale of things. Double the population of Hannibal visited the Crystal Palace in one day! and the water to supply the city came a distance of thirty-eight miles! Doubtless these were amazing statistics.

Then there was the interest in family affairs--always strong--his concern for Henry, whom he loved tenderly; his memory of the promise to his mother; his understanding of her craving to visit her old home. He did not write to her direct, for the reason that Orion's plans were then uncertain, and it was not unlikely that he had already found a new location. From this letter, too, we learn that the boy who detested school was reveling in a library of four thousand books--more than he had ever seen together before. We have somehow the feeling that he had all at once stepped from boyhood to manhood, and that the separation was marked by a very definite line.

The work he had secured was in Cliff Street in the printing establishment of John A. Gray & Green, who agreed to pay him four dollars a week, and did pay that amount in wildcat money, which saved them about twenty-five per cent. of the sum. He lodged at a mechanics' boarding-house in Duane Street, and when he had paid his board and washing he sometimes had as much as fifty cents to lay away.

He did not like the board. He had been accustomed to the Southern mode of cooking, and wrote home complaining that New-Yorkers did not have "hot-bread" or biscuits, but ate "light-bread," which they allowed to get stale, seeming to prefer it in that way. On the whole, there was not much inducement to remain in New York after he had satisfied himself with its wonders. He lingered, however, through the hot months of 1853, and found it not easy to go. In October he wrote to Pamela, suggesting plans for Orion; also for Henry and Jim Wolfe, whom he seems never to have overlooked. Among other things he says:

I have not written to any of the family for some time, from the fact, firstly, that I didn't know where they were, and, secondly, because I have been fooling myself with the idea that I was going to leave New York every day for the last two weeks.

Mark Twain
Classic Literature Library

All Pages of This Book