Mark Twain, a Biography — Volume II, Part 2: 1886-1900 eBook

Albert Bigelow Paine
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 310 pages of information about Mark Twain, a Biography — Volume II, Part 2.


They landed at Havre and went directly to Paris, where they remained about a week.  From Paris Clemens wrote to Hall that a deal by which he had hoped to sell out his interest in the type-setter to the Mallorys, of the Churchman, had fallen through.

“Therefore,” he said, “you will have to modify your instalment system to meet the emergency of a constipated purse; for if you should need to borrow any more money I would not know how or where to raise it.”

The Clemens party went to Geneva, then rested for a time at the baths of Aix; from Aix to Bayreuth to attend the Wagner festival, and from Bayreuth to Marienbad for further additions of health.  Clemens began writing his newspaper letters at Aix, the first of which consists of observations at that “paradise of rheumatics.”  This letter is really a careful and faithful description of Aix-les-Bains, with no particular drift of humor in it.  He tells how in his own case the baths at first developed plenty of pain, but that the subsequent ones removed almost all of it.

“I’ve got back the use of my arm the last few days, and I am going away now,” he says, and concludes by describing the beautiful drives and scenery about Aix—­the pleasures to be found paddling on little Lake Bourget and the happy excursions to Annecy.

At the end of an hour you come to Annecy and rattle through its old crooked lanes, built solidly up with curious old houses that are a dream of the Middle Ages, and presently you come to the main object of your trip—­Lake Annecy.  It is a revelation.  It is a miracle.  It brings the tears to a body’s eyes.  It is so enchanting.  That is to say, it affects you just as all other things that you instantly recognize as perfect affect you—­perfect music, perfect eloquence, perfect art, perfect joy, perfect grief.

He was getting back into his old descriptive swing, but his dislike for travel was against him, and he found writing the letters hard.  From Bayreuth he wrote “At the Shrine of St. Wagner,” one of the best descriptions of that great musical festival that has been put into words.  He paid full tribute to the performance, also to the Wagner devotion, confessing its genuineness.

This opera of “Tristan and Isolde” last night broke the hearts of all witnesses who were of the faith, and I know of some, and have heard of many, who could not sleep after it, but cried the night away.  I feel strongly out of place here.  Sometimes I feel like the one sane person in the community of the mad; sometimes I feel like the one blind man where all others see; the one groping savage in the college of the learned, and always during service I feel like a heretic in heaven.

He tells how he really enjoyed two of the operas, and rejoiced in supposing that his musical regeneration was accomplished and perfected; but alas! he was informed by experts that those particular events were not real music at all.  Then he says: 

Project Gutenberg
Mark Twain, a Biography — Volume II, Part 2: 1886-1900 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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