And that’s a nice ship—the Irene! new—swift—13,000 tons—rooms up in the sky, open to sun and air—and all that. I was desperately troubled for Livy—about the down-cellar cells in the ancient “Latin.”
The cubs are in Riverdale, yet; they come to us the
first week in August.
With lots and lots of love to you all,
The arrangement for the Villa Papiniano was not completed, after all, and through a good friend, George Gregory Smith, a resident of Florence, the Villa Quarto, an ancient home of royalty, on the hills west of Florence, was engaged. Smith wrote that it was a very beautiful place with a south-eastern exposure, looking out toward Valombrosa and the Chianti Hills. It had extensive grounds and stables, and the annual rental for it all was two thousand dollars a year. It seemed an ideal place, in prospect, and there was great hope that Mrs. Clemens would find her health once more in the Italian climate which she loved.
Perhaps at this point, when Mark Twain is once more leaving America, we may offer two letters from strangers to him—letters of appreciation—such as he was constantly receiving from those among the thousands to whom he had given happiness. The first is from Samuel Merwin, one day to become a popular novelist, then in the hour of his beginnings.
To Mark Twain, from Samuel Merwin:
sp; Plainfield, N. J.
August 4, 1903.
Dear Mr. Clemens,—For a good many years I have been struggling with the temptation to write you and thank you for the work you have done; and to-day I seem to be yielding.
During the past two years I have been reading through a group of writers who seem to me to represent about the best we have—Sir Thomas Malory, Spenser, Shakespeare, Boswell, Carlyle, Le Sage. In thinking over one and then another, and then all of them together, it was plain to see why they were great men and writers: each brought to his time some new blood, new ideas,—turned a new current into the stream. I suppose there have always been the careful, painstaking writers, the men who are always taken so seriously by their fellow craftsmen. It seems to be the unconventional man who is so rare—I mean the honestly unconventional man, who has to express himself in his own big way because the conventional way isn’t big enough, because ne needs room and freedom.
We have a group of the more or less conventional men now—men of dignity and literary position. But in spite of their influence and of all the work they have done, there isn’t one of them to whom one can give one’s self up without reservation, not one whose ideas seem based on the deep foundation of all true philosophy,—except Mark Twain.