We have plowed a long way over the sea, and there’s twenty-two hundred miles of restless water between us now, besides the railway stretch. And yet you are so present with us, so close to us, that a span and a whisper would bridge the distance.
So it would seem that of all the many memories of that eventful half-year, that of Dr. Brown was the most present, the most tender.
FURTHER LONDON LECTURE TRIUMPHS
Orion Clemens records that he met “Sam and Livy” on their arrival from England, November 2d, and that the president of the Mercantile Library Association sent up his card “four times,” in the hope of getting a chance to propose a lecture engagement—an incident which impressed Orion deeply in its evidence of his brother’s towering importance. Orion himself was by this time engaged in various projects. He was inventing a flying-machine, for one thing, writing a Jules Verne story, reading proof on a New York daily, and contemplating the lecture field. This great blaze of international appreciation which had come to the little boy who used to set type for him in Hannibal, and wash up the forms and cry over the dirty proof, made him gasp.
They went to see Booth in Hamlet [he says], and Booth sent for Sam to come behind the scenes, and when Sam proposed to add a part to Hamlet, the part of a bystander who makes humorous modern comment on the situations in the play, Booth laughed immoderately.
Proposing a sacrilege like that to Booth! To what heights had this printer-pilot, miner-brother not attained!—[This idea of introducing a new character in Hamlet was really attempted later by Mark Twain, with the connivance of Joe Goodman [of all men], sad to relate. So far as is known it is the one stain on Goodman’s literary record.]
Clemens returned immediately to England—the following Saturday, in fact —and was back in London lecturing again after barely a month’s absence. He gave the “Roughing It” address, this time under the title of “Roughing It on the Silver Frontier,” and if his audiences were any less enthusiastic, or his houses less crowded than before, the newspapers of that day have left no record of it. It was the height of the season now, and being free to do so, he threw himself into the whirl of it, and for two months, beyond doubt, was the most talked-of figure in London. The Athenaeum Club made him a visiting member (an honor considered next to knighthood); Punch quoted him; societies banqueted him; his apartments, as before; were besieged by callers. Afternoons one was likely to find him in “Poets’ Corner” of the Langham smoking-room, with a group of London and American authors—Reade, Collins, Miller, and the others —frankly rioting in his bold fancies. Charles Warren Stoddard was in London at the time, and acted as his secretary. Stoddard was a gentle poet, a delightful fellow, and Clemens was very fond of him. His only complaint of Stoddard was that he did not laugh enough at his humorous yarns. Clemens once said: