Good! I wish I could go on the platform and read. And I could, if it could be kept out of the papers. There's a charity-school of 400 young girls in Boston that I would give my ears to talk to, if I had some more; but--oh, well, I can't go, and it's no use to grieve about it.
This morning Jean went to town; also Paine; also the butler; also Katy; also the laundress. The cook and the maid, and the boy and the roustabout and Jean's coachman are left--just enough to make it lonesome, because they are around yet never visible. However, the Harpers are sending Leigh up to play billiards; therefore I shall survive. Affectionately, S. L. CLEMENS.
Early in June that year, Clemens had developed unmistakable symptoms of heart trouble of a very serious nature. It was angina pectoris, and while to all appearances he was as well as ever and usually felt so, he was periodically visited by severe attacks of acute "breast pains" which, as the months passed, increased in frequency and severity. He was alarmed and distressed--not on his own account, but because of his daughter Jean--a handsome girl, who had long been subject to epileptic seizures. In case of his death he feared that Jean would be without permanent anchorage, his other daughter, Clara--following her marriage to Ossip Gabrilowitsch in October-- having taken up residence abroad.
This anxiety was soon ended. On the morning of December 24th, jean Clemens was found dead in her apartment. She was not drowned in her bath, as was reported, but died from heart exhaustion, the result of her malady and the shock of cold water. [Questionable diagnosis! D.W.]
The blow to her father was terrible, but heavy as it was, one may perhaps understand that her passing in that swift, painless way must have afforded him a measure of relief.
To Mrs. Gabrilowitsch, in Europe:
REDDING, CONN., Dec. 29, '09. O, Clara, Clara dear, I am so glad she is out of it and safe--safe! I am not melancholy; I shall never be melancholy again, I think. You see, I was in such distress when I came to realize that you were gone far away and no one stood between her and danger but me--and I could die at any moment, and then--oh then what would become of her! For she was wilful, you know, and would not have been governable.
You can't imagine what a darling she was, that last two or three days; and how fine, and good, and sweet, and noble-and joyful, thank Heaven!-- and how intellectually brilliant. I had never been acquainted with Jean before. I recognized that.
But I mustn't try to write about her--I can't. I have already poured my heart out with the pen, recording that last day or two.
I will send you that--and you must let no one but Ossip read it.
Good-bye. I love you so! And Ossip. FATHER.
The writing mentioned in the last paragraph was his article 'The Death of Jean,' his last serious writing, and one of the world's most beautiful examples of elegiac prose.--[Harper's Magazine, Dec., 1910,] and later in the volume, 'What Is Man and Other Essays.'
LETTERS OF 1910. LAST TRIP TO BERMUDA. LETTERS TO PAINE. THE LAST LETTER
Mark Twain had returned from a month's trip to Bermuda a few days before Jean died. Now, by his physician's advice, he went back to those balmy islands. He had always loved them, since his first trip there with Twichell thirty-three years earlier, and at "Bay House," the residence of Vice-Consul Allen, where he was always a welcome guest, he could have the attentions and care and comforts of a home. Taking Claude, the butler, as his valet, he sailed January 5th, and presently sent back a letter in which he said, "Again I am leading the ideal life, and am immeasurably content."
By his wish, the present writer and his family were keeping the Stormfield house open for him, in order that he might be able to return to its comforts at any time.