I want the sketches, if you can make them, every month."

The "low-lived little town" was Hannibal, and the reader can turn to the vivid description of it in the chapter already mentioned.

In the same letter Howells refers to a "letter from Limerick," which he declares he shall keep until he has shown it around--especially to Aldrich and Osgood.

The "letter from Limerick" has to do with a special episode. Mention has just been made of Mark Twain's walk with Twichell. Frequently their walks were extended tramps, and once in a daring moment one or the other of them proposed to walk to Boston. The time was November, and the bracing air made the proposition seem attractive. They were off one morning early, Twichell carrying a little bag, and Clemens a basket of luncheon. A few days before, Clemens had written Redpath that the Rev. J. H. Twichell and he expected to start at eight o'clock Thursday morning "to walk to Boston in twenty-four hours--or more. We shall telegraph Young's Hotel for rooms Saturday night, in order to allow for a low average of pedestrianism."

They did not get quite to Boston. In fact, they got only a little farther than the twenty-eight miles they made the first day. Clemens could hardly walk next morning, but they managed to get to North Ashford, where they took a carriage for the nearest railway station. There they telegraphed to Redpath and Howells that they would be in Boston that evening. Howells, of course, had a good supper and good company awaiting them at his home, and the pedestrians spent two happy days visiting and recounting their adventures.

It was one morning, at his hotel, that Mark Twain wrote the Limerick letter. It was addressed to Mrs. Clemens, but was really intended for Howells and Twichell and the others whom it mentions. It was an amusing fancy, rather than a letter, but it deserves place here.

To Mrs. Clemens---intended for Howells, Aldrich, etc.

BOSTON, Nov. 16, 1935. [1874] DEAR LIVY, You observe I still call this beloved old place by the name it had when I was young. Limerick! It is enough to make a body sick.

The gentlemen-in-waiting stare to see me sit here telegraphing this letter to you, and no doubt they are smiling in their sleeves. But let them! The slow old fashions are good enough for me, thank God, and I will none other. When I see one of these modern fools sit absorbed, holding the end of a telegraph wire in his hand, and reflect that a thousand miles away there is another fool hitched to the other end of it, it makes me frantic with rage; and then am I more implacably fixed and resolved than ever, to continue taking twenty minutes to telegraph you what I communicate in ten sends by the new way if I would so debase myself. And when I see a whole silent, solemn drawing-room full of idiots sitting with their hands on each other's foreheads "communing," I tug the white hairs from my head and curse till my asthma brings me the blessed relief of suffocation. In our old day such a gathering talked pure drivel and "rot," mostly, but better that, a thousand times, than these dreary conversational funerals that oppress our spirits in this mad generation.

It is sixty years since I was here before. I walked hither, then, with my precious old friend. It seems incredible, now, that we did it in two days, but such is my recollection. I no longer mention that we walked back in a single day, it makes me so furious to see doubt in the face of the hearer. Men were men in those old times. Think of one of the puerile organisms in this effeminate age attempting such a feat.

My air-ship was delayed by a collision with a fellow from China loaded with the usual cargo of jabbering, copper-colored missionaries, and so I was nearly an hour on my journey. But by the goodness of God thirteen of the missionaries were crippled and several killed, so I was content to lose the time.

Mark Twain
Classic Literature Library

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