Dear aunt sue,—It was a most moving, a most heartbreaking sight, the spectacle of that stunned & crushed & inconsolable family. I came back here in bad shape, & had a bilious collapse, but I am all right again, though the doctor from New York has given peremptory orders that I am not to stir from here before frost. O fortunate Sam Moffett! fortunate Livy Clemens! doubly fortunate Susy! Those swords go through & through my heart, but there is never a moment that I am not glad, for the sake of the dead, that they have escaped.
How Livy would love this place! How her very soul would steep itself thankfully in this peace, this tranquillity, this deep stillness, this dreamy expanse of woodsy hill & valley! You must come, Aunt Sue, & stay with us a real good visit. Since June 26 we have had 21 guests, & they have all liked it and said they would come again.
To Howells, on the same day, he wrote:
Won’t you & Mrs. Howells & Mildred come & give us as many days as you can spare & examine John’s triumph? It is the most satisfactory house I am acquainted with, & the most satisfactorily situated . . . . I have dismissed my stenographer, & have entered upon a holiday whose other end is the cemetery.
Clemens had fully decided, by this time, to live the year round in the retirement at Stormfield, and the house at 21 Fifth Avenue was being dismantled. He had also, as he said, given up his dictations for the time, at least, after continuing them, with more or less regularity, for a period of two and a half years, during which he had piled up about half a million words of comment and reminiscence. His general idea had been to add portions of this matter to his earlier books as the copyrights expired, to give them new life and interest, and he felt that he had plenty now for any such purpose.
He gave his time mainly to his guests, his billiards, and his reading, though of course he could not keep from writing on this subject and that as the fancy moved him, and a drawer in one of his dressers began to accumulate fresh though usually fragmentary manuscripts. . . He read the daily paper, but he no longer took the keen, restless interest in public affairs. New York politics did not concern him any more, and national politics not much. When the Evening Post wrote him concerning the advisability of renominating Governor Hughes he replied:
If you had asked me two months ago my answer would have been prompt & loud & strong: yes, I want Governor Hughes renominated. But it is too late, & my mouth is closed. I have become a citizen & taxpayer of Connecticut, & could not now, without impertinence, meddle in matters which are none of my business. I could not do it with impertinence without trespassing on the monopoly of another.
Howells speaks of Mark Twain’s “absolute content” with his new home, and these are the proper words’ to express it. He was like a storm-beaten ship that had drifted at last into a serene South Sea haven.