Dear Joe,—I’ve no business in here-I ought to be outside. I shall never see another sunset to begin with it this side of heaven. Venice? land, what a poor interest that is! This is the place to be. I have seen about 60 sunsets here; & a good 40 of them were away & beyond anything I had ever imagined before for dainty & exquisite & marvelous beauty & infinite change & variety. America? Italy? the tropics? They have no notion of what a sunset ought to be. And this one—this unspeakable wonder! It discounts all the rest. It brings the tears, it is so unutterably beautiful.
Clemens read a book during his stay in Sweden which interested him deeply. It was the Open Question, by Elizabeth Robbins—a fine study of life’s sterner aspects. When he had finished he was moved to write the author this encouraging word:
Dear miss Robbins,—A relative of Matthew Arnold lent us your ’Open Question’ the other day, and Mrs. Clemens and I are in your debt. I am not able to put in words my feeling about the book—my admiration of its depth and truth and wisdom and courage, and the fine and great literary art and grace of the setting. At your age you cannot have lived the half of the things that are in the book, nor personally penetrated to the deeps it deals in, nor covered its wide horizons with your very own vision—and so, what is your secret? how have you written this miracle? Perhaps one must concede that genius has no youth, but starts with the ripeness of age and old experience.
Well, in any case, I am grateful
to you. I have not been so
enriched by a book for many years, nor so enchanted by one. I seem
to be using strong language; still, I have weighed it.
S. L. Clemens.
30, Wellington court
Clemens himself took the Kellgren treatment and received a good deal of benefit.
“I have come back in sound condition and braced for work,” he wrote MacAlister, upon his return to London. “A long, steady, faithful siege of it, and I begin now in five minutes.”
They had settled in a small apartment at 30, Wellington Court, Albert Gate, where they could be near the London branch of the Kellgren institution, and he had a workroom with Chatto & Windus, his publishers. His work, however, was mainly writing speeches, for he was entertained constantly, and it seemed impossible for him to escape. His note-book became a mere jumble of engagements. He did write an article or a story now and then, one of which, “My First Lie, and How I Got Out of It,” was made the important Christmas feature of the ‘New York Sunday World.’ —[Now included in the Hadleyburg volume; “Complete Works.”]