It was a Diary, which professed to be the work of Shem, but wasn't. I began it again several months ago, but only for recreation; I hadn't any intention of carrying it to a finish --or even to the end of the first chapter, in fact.
As to the book whose action "takes place in Heaven." That was a small thing, ("Captain Stormfield's Visit to Heaven.") It lay in my pigeon- holes 40 years, then I took it out and printed it in Harper's Monthly last year. S. L. C.
In the next letter we get a pretty and peaceful picture of "Rest-and-be- Thankful." These were Mark Twain's balmy days. The financial drain of the type-machine was heavy but not yet exhausting, and the prospect of vast returns from it seemed to grow brighter each day. His publishing business, though less profitable, was still prosperous, his family life was ideal. How gratefully, then, he could enter into the peace of that "perfect day."
To Mrs. Orion Clemens, in Keokuk, Ia.:
ON THE HILL NEAR ELMIRA, July 10, '87. DEAR MOLLIE,--This is a superb Sunday for weather--very cloudy, and the thermometer as low as 65. The city in the valley is purple with shade, as seen from up here at the study. The Cranes are reading and loafing in the canvas-curtained summer-house 50 yards away on a higher (the highest) point; the cats are loafing over at "Ellerslie" which is the children's estate and dwellinghouse in their own private grounds (by deed from Susie Crane) a hundred yards from the study, amongst the clover and young oaks and willows. Livy is down at the house, but I shall now go and bring her up to the Cranes to help us occupy the lounges and hammocks--whence a great panorama of distant hill and valley and city is seeable. The children have gone on a lark through the neighboring hills and woods. It is a perfect day indeed. With love to you all. SAM.
Two days after this letter was written we get a hint of what was the beginning of business trouble--that is to say, of the failing health of Charles L. Webster. Webster was ambitious, nervous, and not robust. He had overworked and was paying the penalty. His trouble was neurasthenia, and he was presently obliged to retire altogether from the business. The "Sam and Mary" mentioned were Samuel Moffet and his wife.
To Mrs. Pamela Moffett, in Fredonia, N. Y.
ELMIRA, July 12, '87 MY DEAR SISTER,--I had no idea that Charley's case was so serious. I knew it was bad, and persistent, but I was not aware of the full size of the matter.
I have just been writing to a friend in Hartford' who treated what I imagine was a similar case surgically last fall, and produced a permanent cure. If this is a like case, Charley must go to him.
If relief fails there, he must take the required rest, whether the business can stand it or not.
It is most pleasant to hear such prosperous accounts of Sam and Mary, I do not see how Sam could well be more advantageously fixed. He can grow up with that paper, and achieve a successful life.
It is not all holiday here with Susie and Clara this time. They have to put in some little time every day on their studies. Jean thinks she is studying too, but I don't know what it is unless it is the horses; she spends the day under their heels in the stables--and that is but a continuation of her Hartford system of culture.
With love from us all to you all. Affectionately SAM.
Mark Twain had a few books that he read regularly every year or two. Among these were 'Pepys's Diary', Suetonius's 'Lives of the Twelve Caesars', and Thomas Carlyle's 'French Revolution'. He had a passion for history, biography, and personal memoirs of any sort. In his early life he had cared very little for poetry, but along in the middle eighties he somehow acquired a taste for Browning and became absorbed in it. A Browning club assembled as often as once a week at the Clemens home in Hartford to listen to his readings of the master.