501
501
Clemens, Samuel L.
Estimate
20,00030,000
JUMP TO LOT
501
Clemens, Samuel L.
Estimate
20,00030,000
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

THE JAMES S. COPLEY LIBRARY: ARTS & SCIENCES, INCLUDING THE MARK TWAIN COLLECTION

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New York

Clemens, Samuel L.
Autograph letter signed ("S. L. Clemens"), 3 pages (8 x 5 1/4 in.; 203 x 131 mm), Hartford ("In the Sick-room"), 15–17 April 1888, to Robert Louis Stevenson, discussing plans to meet in New York City, with mention of Matthew Arnold's death as well as thanks for writing Treasure Island and Kidnapped, and for liking Huck Finn; 3 small water spots smudging 3 words.
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Literature

"Letter from Robert Louis Stevenson to Mark Twain," Twainian 9 (September–October 1950): 1, 4

Catalogue Note

The meeting of two great literary minds. Clemens explains that the his wife's unfortunate bout with diphtheria forced him to cancel a business trip to Canada but allowed the opportunity for the two authors to meet in New York City. "How fortunate! — I mean, that I shall have a chance to see you after all. When my wife was taken down with a savage attack of diphtheria six days ago I knew she could not be strong again for two or three weeks; so I gave up my trip to Canada ..." On the seventeenth, he reports that Livy is on the mend and that "the madam will be out of this room in about a week I judge, if all continues to go well; & then I will run down & see you—timing myself to get within the dates you name for your stay at the St. Stephens—19th to 26th ..."

He then thanks Stevenson "for writing Kidnapped and Treasure island, & for liking Huckleberry." He heaps praise on Stevenson's novels: "Those two great books! — how we bathed in them last summer, & refreshed our spirits."  Clemens entry for the seventeenth also mentions Matthew Arnold, who had died of a sudden heart attack on the fifteenth. Although in the past Clemens had taken offense at Arnold's snobbish criticism of American manners and culture, here he shields Arnold from the negative reception of his essay "Civilization in the United States," which had appeared in the April issue of Nineteenth Century. "Poor Matthew Arnold; I am glad he passed away before he knew that his article was judged by this heedless press here before it was read; before he knew that Smalley's indigestion had turned some of the most appreciative & valuable compliments ever paid this country into malicious fault-finding; beforehe knew that his kind intent had been misconstrued & basely received."   

The two authors spent a memorable afternoon together in Washington Square, conversing, as Stevenson later recalled, "like a couple of characters out of a story by Henry James" (Stevenson to Clemens, 16 April 1893). After Stevenson settled in Samoa, the two began a correspondence.

THE JAMES S. COPLEY LIBRARY: ARTS & SCIENCES, INCLUDING THE MARK TWAIN COLLECTION

|
New York