The letter of appreciation which follows contains also reference to an amusing incident; but we shall come to that presently.
To T. B. Aldrich, in Ponkapog, Mass.
FARMINGTON AVENUE, HARTFORD. Dec. 18, 1874. MY DEAR ALDRICH,--I read the "Cloth of Gold" through, coming down in the cars, and it is just lightning poetry--a thing which it gravels me to say because my own efforts in that line have remained so persistently unrecognized, in consequence of the envy and jealousy of this generation. "Baby Bell" always seemed perfection, before, but now that I have children it has got even beyond that. About the hour that I was reading it in the cars, Twichell was reading it at home and forthwith fell upon me with a burst of enthusiasm about it when I saw him. This was pleasant, because he has long been a lover of it.
"Thos. Bailey Aldrich responded" etc., "in one of the brightest speeches of the evening."
That is what the Tribune correspondent says. And that is what everybody that heard it said. Therefore, you keep still. Don't ever be so unwise as to go on trying to unconvince those people.
I've been skating around the place all day with some girls, with Mrs. Clemens in the window to do the applause. There would be a power of fun in skating if you could do it with somebody else's muscles.--There are about twenty boys booming by the house, now, and it is mighty good to look at.
I'm keeping you in mind, you see, in the matter of photographs. I have a couple to enclose in this letter and I want you to say you got them, and then I shall know I have been a good truthful child.
I am going to send more as I ferret them out, about the place.--And I won't forget that you are a "subscriber."
The wife and I unite in warm regards to you and Mrs. Aldrich. Yrs ever, S. L. CLEMENS.
A letter bearing the same date as the above went back to Howells, we find, in reference to still another incident, which perhaps should come first.
Mark Twain up to this time had worn the black "string" necktie of the West--a decoration which disturbed Mrs. Clemens, and invited remarks from his friends. He had persisted in it, however, up to the date of the Atlantic dinner, when Howells and Aldrich decided that something must be done about it.
To W. D. Howells, in Boston:
HARTFORD, Dec. 18, 1874. MY DEAR HOWELLS,--I left No. 3, (Miss. chapter) in my eldest's reach, and it may have gone to the postman and it likewise may have gone into the fire. I confess to a dread that the latter is the case and that that stack of MS will have to be written over again. If so, O for the return of the lamented Herod!
You and Aldrich have made one woman deeply and sincerely grateful--Mrs. Clemens. For months--I may even say years--she had shown unaccountable animosity toward my neck-tie, even getting up in the night to take it with the tongs and blackguard it--sometimes also going so far as to threaten it.
When I said you and Aldrich had given me two new neck-ties, and that they were in a paper in my overcoat pocket, she was in a fever of happiness until she found I was going to frame them; then all the venom in her nature gathered itself together,--insomuch that I, being near to a door, went without, perceiving danger.
Now I wear one of the new neck-ties, nothing being sacred in Mrs. Clemens's eyes that can be perverted to a gaud that shall make the person of her husband more alluring than it was aforetime.
Jo Twichell was the delightedest old boy I ever saw, when he read the words you had written in that book. He and I went to the Concert of the Yale students last night and had a good time.
Mrs. Clemens dreads our going to New Orleans, but I tell her she'll have to give her consent this time.