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Full Online Book HomeNonfictionsThe Letters Of Mark Twain (complete) - Volume IV - MARK TWAIN'S LETTERS 1886-1900 - Chapter XXXIX - LETTERS OF 1900, MAINLY TO TWICHELL. THE BOER WAR. BOXER TROUBLES. THE RETURN TO AMERICA
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The Letters Of Mark Twain (complete) - Volume IV - MARK TWAIN'S LETTERS 1886-1900 - Chapter XXXIX - LETTERS OF 1900, MAINLY TO TWICHELL. THE BOER WAR. BOXER TROUBLES. THE RETURN TO AMERICA Post by :37285 Category :Nonfictions Author :Mark Twain Date :April 2011 Read :1192

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The New Year found Clemens still in London, chiefly interested in
osteopathy and characteristically glorifying the practice at the expense
of other healing methods.

To Rev. J. H. Twichell, in Hartford:

LONDON, Jan. 8, 1900.
DEAR JOE,--Mental Telepathy has scored another. Mental Telegraphy will
be greatly respected a century hence.

By the accident of writing my sister and describing to her the remarkable
cures made by Kellgren with his hands and without drugs, I brought upon
myself a quite stunning surprise; for she wrote to me that she had been
taking this very treatment in Buffalo--and that it was an American

Well, it does really turn out that Dr. Still, in the middle of Kansas, in
a village, began to experiment in 1874, only five years after Kellgren
began the same work obscurely in the village of Gotha, in Germany. Dr.
Still seems to be an honest man; therefore I am persuaded that Kellgren
moved him to his experiments by Mental Telegraphy across six hours of
longitude, without need of a wire. By the time Still began to
experiment, Kellgren had completed his development of the principles of
his system and established himself in a good practice in London--1874
--and was in good shape to convey his discovery to Kansas, Mental

Yes, I was greatly surprised to find that my mare's nest was much in
arrears: that this new science was well known in America under the name
of Osteopathy. Since then, I find that in the past 3 years it has got
itself legalized in 14 States in spite of the opposition of the
physicians; that it has established 20 Osteopathic schools and colleges;
that among its students are 75 allopathic physicians; that there is a
school in Boston and another in Philadelphia, that there are about 100
students in the parent college (Dr. Still's at Kirksville, Missouri,) and
that there are about 2,000 graduates practicing in America. Dear me,
there are not 30 in Europe. Europe is so sunk in superstitions and
prejudices that it is an almost impossible thing to get her to do
anything but scoff at a new thing--unless it come from abroad; as witness
the telegraph, dentistry, &c.

Presently the Osteopath will come over here from America and will soon
make himself a power that must be recognized and reckoned with; and then,
25 years from now, England will begin to claim the invention and tell all
about its origin, in the Cyclopedia B-----as in the case of the
telegraph, applied anaesthetics and the other benefactions which she
heaped her abuse upon when her inventors first offered them to her.

I cannot help feeling rather inordinately proud of America for the gay
and hearty way in which she takes hold of any new thing that comes along
and gives it a first rate trial. Many an ass in America, is getting a
deal of benefit out of X-Science's new exploitation of an age-old healing
principle--faith, combined with the patient's imagination--let it boom
along! I have no objection. Let them call it by what name they choose,
so long as it does helpful work among the class which is numerically
vastly the largest bulk of the human race, i.e. the fools, the idiots,
the pudd'nheads.

We do not guess, we know that 9 in 10 of the species are pudd'nheads.
We know it by various evidences; and one of them is, that for ages the
race has respected (and almost venerated) the physician's grotesque
system--the emptying of miscellaneous and harmful drugs into a person's
stomach to remove ailments which in many cases the drugs could not reach
at all; in many cases could reach and help, but only at cost of damage to
some other part of the man; and in the remainder of the cases the drug
either retarded the cure, or the disease was cured by nature in spite of
the nostrums. The doctor's insane system has not only been permitted to
continue its follies for ages, but has been protected by the State and
made a close monopoly--an infamous thing, a crime against a free-man's
proper right to choose his own assassin or his own method of defending
his body against disease and death.

And yet at the same time, with curious and senile inconsistency, the
State has allowed the man to choose his own assassin--in one detail--the
patent-medicine detail--making itself the protector of that perilous
business, collecting money out of it, and appointing no committee of
experts to examine the medicines and forbid them when extra dangerous.
Really, when a man can prove that he is not a jackass, I think he is in
the way to prove that he is no legitimate member of the race.

I have by me a list of 52 human ailments--common ones--and in this list I
count 19 which the physician's art cannot cure. But there isn't one
which Osteopathy or Kellgren cannot cure, if the patient comes early.

Fifteen years ago I had a deep reverence for the physician and the
surgeon. But 6 months of closely watching the Kellgren business has
revolutionized all that, and now I have neither reverence nor respect for
the physician's trade, and scarcely any for the surgeon's,--I am
convinced that of all quackeries, the physician's is the grotesquest and
the silliest. And they know they are shams and humbugs. They have taken
the place of those augurs who couldn't look each other in the face
without laughing.

See what a powerful hold our ancient superstitions have upon us: two
weeks ago, when Livy committed an incredible imprudence and by
consequence was promptly stricken down with a heavy triple attack--
influenza, bronchitis, and a lung affected--she recognized the gravity of
the situation, and her old superstitions rose: she thought she ought to
send for a doctor--Think of it--the last man in the world I should want
around at such a time. Of course I did not say no--not that I was
indisposed to take the responsibility, for I was not, my notion of a
dangerous responsibility being quite the other way--but because it is
unsafe to distress a sick person; I only said we knew no good doctor,
and it could not be good policy to choose at hazard; so she allowed me to
send for Kellgren. To-day she is up and around-Lured. It is safe to say
that persons hit in the same way at the same time are in bed yet, and
booked to stay there a good while, and to be in a shackly condition and
afraid of their shadows for a couple of years or more to come.

It will be seen by the foregoing that Mark Twain's interest in the
Kellgren system was still an ardent one. Indeed, for a time he gave most
of his thought to it, and wrote several long appreciations, perhaps with
little idea of publication, but merely to get his enthusiasm physically
expressed. War, however, presently supplanted medicine--the Boer
troubles in South Africa and the Boxer insurrection in China. It was a
disturbing, exciting year.

To W. D. Howells, in Boston:

Jan. 25, 1900.
DEAR HOWELLS,--If you got half as much as Pond prophesied, be content and
praise God--it has not happened to another. But I am sorry he didn't go
with you; for it is marvelous to hear him yarn. He is good company,
cheery and hearty, and his mill is never idle. Your doing a lecture tour
was heroic. It was the highest order of grit, and you have a right to be
proud of yourself. No mount of applause or money or both could save it
from being a hell to a man constituted as you are. It is that even to
me, who am made of coarser stuff.

I knew the audiences would come forward and shake hands with you--that
one infallible sign of sincere approval. In all my life, wherever it
failed me I left the hall sick and ashamed, knowing what it meant.

Privately speaking, this is a sordid and criminal war, and in every way
shameful and excuseless. Every day I write (in my head) bitter magazine
articles about it, but I have to stop with that. For England must not
fall; it would mean an inundation of Russian and German political
degradations which would envelop the globe and steep it in a sort of
Middle-Age night and slavery which would last till Christ comes again.
Even wrong--and she is wrong--England must be upheld. He is an enemy of
the human race who shall speak against her now. Why was the human race
created? Or at least why wasn't something creditable created in place of
it. God had his opportunity. He could have made a reputation. But no,
He must commit this grotesque folly--a lark which must have cost him a
regret or two when He came to think it over and observe effects. For a
giddy and unbecoming caprice there has been nothing like it till this
war. I talk the war with both sides--always waiting until the other man
introduces the topic. Then I say "My head is with the Briton, but my
heart and such rags of morals as I have are with the Boer--now we will
talk, unembarrassed and without prejudice." And so we discuss, and have
no trouble.

Jan. 26.
It was my intention to make some disparaging remarks about the human
race; and so I kept this letter open for that purpose, and for the
purpose of telling my dream, wherein the Trinity were trying to guess a
conundrum, but I can do better--for I can snip out of the "Times" various
samples and side-lights which bring the race down to date, and expose it
as of yesterday. If you will notice, there is seldom a telegram in a
paper which fails to show up one or more members and beneficiaries of our
Civilization as promenading in his shirt-tail, with the rest of his
regalia in the wash.

I love to see the holy ones air their smug pieties and admire them and
smirk over them, and at the same moment frankly and publicly show their
contempt for the pieties of the Boer--confidently expecting the approval
of the country and the pulpit, and getting it.

I notice that God is on both sides in this war; thus history repeats
itself. But I am the only person who has noticed this; everybody here
thinks He is playing the game for this side, and for this side only.

With great love to you all

One cannot help wondering what Mark Twain would have thought of
human nature had he lived to see the great World War, fought mainly
by the Christian nations who for nearly two thousand years had been
preaching peace on earth and goodwill toward men. But his opinion
of the race could hardly have been worse than it was. And nothing
that human beings could do would have surprised him.

To Rev. J. H. Twichell, in Hartford:

LONDON, Jan. 27, 1900.
DEAR JOE,--Apparently we are not proposing to set the Filipinos free and
give their islands to them; and apparently we are not proposing to hang
the priests and confiscate their property. If these things are so, the
war out there has no interest for me.

I have just been examining chapter LXX of "Following the Equator," to see
if the Boer's old military effectiveness is holding out. It reads
curiously as if it had been written about the present war.

I believe that in the next chapter my notion of the Boer was rightly
conceived. He is popularly called uncivilized, I do not know why.
Happiness, food, shelter, clothing, wholesale labor, modest and rational
ambitions, honesty, kindliness, hospitality, love of freedom and
limitless courage to fight for it, composure and fortitude in time of
disaster, patience in time of hardship and privation, absence of noise
and brag in time of victory, contentment with a humble and peaceful life
void of insane excitements--if there is a higher and better form of
civilization than this, I am not aware of it and do not know where to
look for it. I suppose we have the habit of imagining that a lot of
artistic, intellectual and other artificialities must be added, or it
isn't complete. We and the English have these latter; but as we lack the
great bulk of these others, I think the Boer civilization is the best of
the two. My idea of our civilization is that it is a shabby poor thing
and full of cruelties, vanities, arrogancies, meannesses, and
hypocrisies. As for the word, I hate the sound of it, for it conveys a
lie; and as for the thing itself, I wish it was in hell, where it

Provided we could get something better in the place of it. But that is
not possible, perhaps. Poor as it is, it is better than real savagery,
therefore we must stand by it, extend it, and (in public) praise it.
And so we must not utter any hateful word about England in these days,
nor fail to hope that she will win in this war, for her defeat and fall
would be an irremediable disaster for the mangy human race.... Naturally,
then, I am for England; but she is profoundly in the wrong, Joe, and no
(instructed) Englishman doubts it. At least that is my belief.

Maybe I managed to make myself misunderstood, as to the Osteopathists.
I wanted to know how the men impress you. As to their Art, I know fairly
well about that, and should not value Hartford's opinion of it; nor a
physician's; nor that of another who proposed to enlighten me out of his
ignorance. Opinions based upon theory, superstition and ignorance are
not very precious.

Livy and the others are off for the country for a day or two.
Love to you all

The next letter affords a pleasant variation. Without doubt it was
written on realizing that good nature and enthusiasm had led him
into indiscretion. This was always happening to him, and letters
like this are not infrequent, though generally less entertaining.

To Mr. Ann, in London:

DEAR MR. ANN,--Upon sober second thought, it won't do!--I withdraw that
letter. Not because I said anything in it which is not true, for I
didn't; but because when I allow my name to be used in forwarding a
stock-scheme I am assuming a certain degree of responsibility as toward
the investor, and I am not willing to do that. I have another objection,
a purely selfish one: trading upon my name, whether the enterprise scored
a success or a failure would damage me. I can't afford that; even the
Archbishop of Canterbury couldn't afford it, and he has more character to
spare than I have. (Ah, a happy thought! If he would sign the letter
with me that would change the whole complexion of the thing, of course.
I do not know him, yet I would sign any commercial scheme that he would
sign. As he does not know me, it follows that he would sign anything
that I would sign. This is unassailable logic--but really that is all
that can be said for it.)

No, I withdraw the letter. This virgin is pure up to date, and is going
to remain so.
Ys sincerely,
S. L. C.

To Rev. J. H. Twichell, in Hartford:

DEAR JOE,--Henry Robinson's death is a sharp wound to me, and it goes
very deep. I had a strong affection for him, and I think he had for me.
Every Friday, three-fourths of the year for 16 years he was of the
billiard-party in our house. When we come home, how shall we have
billiard-nights again--with no Ned Bunce and no Henry Robinson?
I believe I could not endure that. We must find another use for that
room. Susy is gone, George is gone, Libby Hamersley, Ned Bunce, Henry
Robinson. The friends are passing, one by one; our house, where such
warm blood and such dear blood flowed so freely, is become a cemetery.
But not in any repellent sense. Our dead are welcome there; their life
made it beautiful, their death has hallowed it, we shall have them with
us always, and there will be no parting.

It was a moving address you made over Ward Cheney--that fortunate, youth!
Like Susy, he got out of life all that was worth the living, and got his
great reward before he had crossed the tropic frontier of dreams and
entered the Sahara of fact. The deep consciousness of Susy's good
fortune is a constant comfort to me.

London is happy-hearted at last. The British victories have swept the
clouds away and there are no uncheerful faces. For three months the
private dinner parties (we go to no public ones) have been Lodges of
Sorrow, and just a little depressing sometimes; but now they are smiley
and animated again. Joe, do you know the Irish gentleman and the Irish
lady, the Scotch gentleman and the Scotch lady? These are darlings,
every one. Night before last it was all Irish--24. One would have to
travel far to match their ease and sociability and animation and sparkle
and absence of shyness and self-consciousness.

It was American in these fine qualities. This was at Mr. Lecky's. He is
Irish, you know. Last night it was Irish again, at Lady Gregory's. Lord
Roberts is Irish; and Sir William Butler; and Kitchener, I think; and a
disproportion of the other prominent Generals are of Irish and Scotch
breed-keeping up the traditions of Wellington, and Sir Colin Campbell of
the Mutiny. You will have noticed that in S. A. as in the Mutiny, it is
usually the Irish and the Scotch that are placed in the fore-front of the
battle. An Irish friend of mine says this is because the Kelts are
idealists, and enthusiasts, with age-old heroisms to emulate and keep
bright before the world; but that the low-class Englishman is dull and
without ideals, fighting bull-doggishly while he has a leader, but losing
his head and going to pieces when his leader falls--not so with the Kelt.
Sir Wm. Butler said "the Kelt is the spear-head of the British lance."
Love to you all.

The Henry Robinson mentioned in the foregoing letter was Henry C.
Robinson, one-time Governor of Connecticut, long a dear and intimate
friend of the Clemens household. "Lecky" was W. E. H. Lecky, the
Irish historian whose History of European Morals had been, for many
years, one of Mark Twain's favorite books:

In July the Clemenses left the small apartment at 30 Wellington
Court and established a summer household a little way out of London,
at Dollis Hill. To-day the place has been given to the public under
the name of Gladstone Park, so called for the reason that in an
earlier time Gladstone had frequently visited there. It was a
beautiful spot, a place of green grass and spreading oaks. In a
letter in which Mrs. Clemens wrote to her sister she said: "It is
simply divinely beautiful and peaceful; the great, old trees are
beyond everything. I believe nowhere in the world do you find such
trees as in England." Clemens wrote to Twichell: "From the house
you can see little but spacious stretches of hay-fields and green
turf..... Yet the massed, brick blocks of London are reachable in
three minutes on a horse. By rail we can be in the heart of London,
in Baker Street, in seventeen minutes--by a smart train in five."

Mail, however, would seem to have been less prompt.

To the Editor of the Times, in London:

SIR,--It has often been claimed that the London postal service was
swifter than that of New York, and I have always believed that the claim
was justified. But a doubt has lately sprung up in my mind. I live
eight miles from Printing House Square; the Times leaves that point at 4
o'clock in the morning, by mail, and reaches me at 5 in the afternoon,
thus making the trip in thirteen hours.

It is my conviction that in New York we should do it in eleven.


To Rev. J. H. Twichell, in Hartford:

LONDON, Aug. 12, '00.
DEAR JOE,--The Sages Prof. Fiske and Brander Matthews were out here to
tea a week ago and it was a breath of American air to see them. We
furnished them a bright day and comfortable weather--and they used it all
up, in their extravagant American way. Since then we have sat by coal
fires, evenings.

We shall sail for home sometime in October, but shall winter in New York
where we can have an osteopath of good repute to continue the work of
putting this family in proper condition.

Livy and I dined with the Chief justice a month ago and he was as well-
conditioned as an athlete.

It is all China, now, and my sympathies are with the Chinese. They have
been villainously dealt with by the sceptred thieves of Europe, and I
hope they will drive all the foreigners out and keep them out for good.
I only wish it; of course I don't really expect it.

Why, hang it, it occurs to me that by the time we reach New York you
Twichells will be invading Europe and once more we shall miss the
connection. This is thoroughly exasperating. Aren't we ever going to
meet again?
With no end of love from all of us,

P. S. Aug. 18.
DEAR JOE,--It is 7.30 a. m. I have been waking very early, lately. If
it occurs once more, it will be habit; then I will submit and adopt it.

This is our day of mourning. It is four years since Susy died; it is
five years and a month that I saw her alive for the last time-throwing
kisses at us from the railway platform when we started West around the

Sometimes it is a century; sometimes it was yesterday.
With love

We discover in the foregoing letter that the long European residence
was drawing to an end. More than nine years had passed since the
closing of the Hartford house--eventful years that had seen failure,
bereavement, battle with debt, and rehabilitated fortunes. All the
family were anxious to get home--Mark Twain most anxious of all.

They closed Dollis Hill House near the end of September, and put up
for a brief period at a family hotel, an amusing picture of which

To J. Y. M. MacAlister, in London:

Sep. 1900.
MY DEAR MACALISTER,--We do really start next Saturday. I meant to sail
earlier, but waited to finish some studies of what are called Family
Hotels. They are a London specialty, God has not permitted them to exist
elsewhere; they are ramshackle clubs which were dwellings at the time of
the Heptarchy. Dover and Albemarle Streets are filled with them. The
once spacious rooms are split up into coops which afford as much
discomfort as can be had anywhere out of jail for any money. All the
modern inconveniences are furnished, and some that have been obsolete for
a century. The prices are astonishingly high for what you get. The
bedrooms are hospitals for incurable furniture. I find it so in this
one. They exist upon a tradition; they represent the vanishing home-like
inn of fifty years ago, and are mistaken by foreigners for it. Some
quite respectable Englishmen still frequent them through inherited habit
and arrested development; many Americans also, through ignorance and
superstition. The rooms are as interesting as the Tower of London, but
older I think. Older and dearer. The lift was a gift of William the
Conqueror, some of the beds are prehistoric. They represent geological
periods. Mine is the oldest. It is formed in strata of Old Red
Sandstone, volcanic tufa, ignis fatuus, and bicarbonate of hornblende,
superimposed upon argillaceous shale, and contains the prints of
prehistoric man. It is in No. 149. Thousands of scientists come to see
it. They consider it holy. They want to blast out the prints but
cannot. Dynamite rebounds from it.

Finished studies and sail Saturday in Minnehaha.
Yours ever affectionately,

They sailed for New York October 6th, and something more than a week
later America gave them a royal welcome. The press, far and wide,
sounded Mark Twain's praises once more; dinners and receptions were
offered on every hand; editors and lecture agents clamored for him.

The family settled in the Earlington Hotel during a period of house-
hunting. They hoped eventually to return to Hartford, but after a
brief visit paid by Clemens alone to the old place he wrote:

To Sylvester Baxter, in Boston:

NEW YORK, Oct. 26, 1900.
DEAR MR. BAXTER,--It was a great pleasure to me to renew the other days
with you, and there was a pathetic pleasure in seeing Hartford and the
house again; but I realize that if we ever enter the house again to live,
our hearts will break. I am not sure that we shall ever be strong enough
to endure that strain.
Sincerely yours,

Mr. and Mrs. Rogers wished to have them in their neighborhood, but
the houses there were not suitable, or were too expensive. Through
Mr. Frank Doubleday they eventually found, at 14 West Tenth Street,
a large residence handsomely furnished, and this they engaged for
the winter. "We were lucky to get this big house furnished," he
wrote MacAlister in London. "There was not another one in town
procurable that would answer us, but this one is all right--space
enough in it for several families, the rooms all old-fashioned,
great size."

The little note that follows shows that Mark Twain had not entirely
forgotten the days of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn.

To a Neighbor on West Tenth Street, New York:

Nov. 30.
DEAR MADAM,--I know I ought to respect my duty and perform it, but I am
weak and faithless where boys are concerned, and I can't help secretly
approving pretty bad and noisy ones, though I do object to the kind that
ring door-bells. My family try to get me to stop the boys from holding
conventions on the front steps, but I basely shirk out of it, because I
think the boys enjoy it.

My wife has been complaining to me this evening about the boys on the
front steps and under compulsion I have made some promises. But I am
very forgetful, now that I am old, and my sense of duty is getting
Very truly yours,

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An editorial in the Louisville Courier-Journal, early in 1901, said: "A remarkable transformation, or rather a development, has taken place in Mark Twain. The genial humorist of the earlier day is now a reformer of the vigorous kind, a sort of knight errant who does not hesitate to break a lance with either Church or State if he thinks them interposing on that broad highway over which he believes not a part but the whole of

The Letters Of Mark Twain (complete) - Volume IV - MARK TWAIN'S LETTERS 1886-1900 - Chapter XXXVIII - LETTERS, 1899, TO HOWELLS AND OTHERS. VIENNA. LONDON. A SUMMER IN SWEDEN The Letters Of Mark Twain (complete) - Volume IV - MARK TWAIN'S LETTERS 1886-1900 - Chapter XXXVIII - LETTERS, 1899, TO HOWELLS AND OTHERS. VIENNA. LONDON. A SUMMER IN SWEDEN

The Letters Of Mark Twain (complete) - Volume IV - MARK TWAIN'S LETTERS 1886-1900 - Chapter XXXVIII - LETTERS, 1899, TO HOWELLS AND OTHERS. VIENNA. LONDON. A SUMMER IN SWEDEN
The beginning of 1899 found the Clemens family still in Vienna, occupyinghandsome apartments at the Hotel Krantz. Their rooms, so often throngedwith gay and distinguished people, were sometimes called the "SecondEmbassy." Clemens himself was the central figure of these assemblies.Of all the foreign visitors in the Austrian capital he was the mostnotable. Everywhere he was surrounded by a crowd of listeners--hissayings and opinions were widely quoted.A project for world disarmament promulgated by the Czar of Russia wouldnaturally interest Mark Twain, and when William T. Stead, of the Reviewof Reviews, cabled him for an opinion on the matter, he