“Dollis Hill comes nearer to being a paradise than any other home I ever occupied,” he wrote when the summer was about over.
But there was still a greater attraction than Dollis Hill. Toward the end of summer they willingly left that paradise, for they had decided at last to make that home-returning voyage which had invited them so long. They were all eager enough to go—Clemens more eager than the rest, though he felt a certain sadness, too, in leaving the tranquil spot which in a brief summer they had so learned to love.
Writing to W. H. Helm, a London newspaper man who had spent pleasant hours with him chatting in the shade, he said:
. . . The packing & fussing & arranging have begun, for the removal to America &, by consequence, the peace of life is marred & its contents & satisfactions are departing. There is not much choice between a removal & a funeral; in fact, a removal is a funeral, substantially, & I am tired of attending them.
They closed Dollis Hill, spent a few days at Brown’s Hotel, and sailed for America, on the Minnehaha, October 6, 1900, bidding, as Clemens believed, and hoped, a permanent good-by to foreign travel. They reached New York on the 15th, triumphantly welcomed after their long nine years of wandering. How glad Mark Twain was to get home may be judged from his remark to one of the many reporters who greeted him.
“If I ever get ashore
I am going to break both of my legs so I
can’t, get away again.”
MARK TWAIN, A BIOGRAPHY
By Albert Bigelow Paine
VOLUME III, Part 1: 1900-1907
THE RETURN OF THE CONQUEROR
It would be hard to exaggerate the stir which the newspapers and the public generally made over the homecoming of Mark Twain. He had left America, staggering under heavy obligation and set out on a pilgrimage of redemption. At the moment when this Mecca, was in view a great sorrow had befallen him and, stirred a world-wide and soul-deep tide of human sympathy. Then there had followed such ovation as has seldom been conferred upon a private citizen, and now approaching old age, still in the fullness of his mental vigor, he had returned to his native soil with the prestige of these honors upon him and the vast added glory of having made his financial fight single-handed-and won.
He was heralded literally as a conquering hero. Every paper in the land had an editorial telling the story of his debts, his sorrow, and his triumphs.
“He had behaved like Walter Scott,” says Howells, “as millions rejoiced to know who had not known how Walter Scott had behaved till they knew it was like Clemens.”
Howells acknowledges that he had some doubts as to the permanency of the vast acclaim of the American public, remembering, or perhaps assuming, a national fickleness. Says Howells: