The Boys’ Life of Mark Twain
by Paine

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Public Domain Books

XXXI. Mark Twain in Buffalo

Mark Twain remained less than two years in Buffalo–a period of much affliction.

In the beginning, prospects could hardly have been brighter. His beautiful home seemed perfect. At the office he found work to his hand, and enjoyed it. His co-editor, J. W. Larned, who sat across the table from him, used to tell later how Mark enjoyed his work as he went along– the humor of it–frequently laughing as some new absurdity came into his mind. He was not very regular in his arrivals, but he worked long hours and turned in a vast amount of “copy"–skits, sketches, editorials, and comments of a varied sort. Not all of it was humorous; he would stop work any time on an amusing sketch to attack some abuse or denounce an injustice, and he did it in scorching words that made offenders pause. Once, when two practical jokers had sent in a marriage notice of persons not even contemplating matrimony, he wrote:

“This deceit has been practised maliciously by a couple of men whose small souls will escape through their pores some day if they do not varnish their hides.”

In May he considerably increased his income by undertaking a department called “Memoranda” for the new “Galaxy” magazine. The outlook was now so promising that to his lecture agent, James Redpath, he wrote:

“DEAR RED: I’m not going to lecture any more forever. I’ve got things ciphered down to a fraction now. I know just about what it will cost to live, and I can make the money without lecturing. Therefore, old man, count me out.”

And in a second letter:

“I guess I’m out of the field permanently. Have got a lovely wife, a lovely house bewitchingly furnished, a lovely carriage, and a coachman whose style and dignity are simply awe-inspiring, nothing less; and I’m making more money than necessary, by considerable, and therefore why crucify myself nightly on the platform! The subscriber will have to be excused, for the present season, at least.”

The little household on Delaware Avenue was indeed a happy place during those early months. Neither Clemens nor his wife in those days cared much for society, preferring the comfort of their own home. Once when a new family moved into a house across the way they postponed calling until they felt ashamed. Clemens himself called first. One Sunday morning he noticed smoke pouring from an upper window of their neighbor’s house. The occupants, seated on the veranda, evidently did not suspect their danger. Clemens stepped across to the gate and, bowing politely, said:

“My name is Clemens; we ought to have called on you before, and I beg your pardon for intruding now in this informal way, but your house is on fire.”

It was at the moment when life seemed at its best that shadows gathered. Jervis Langdon had never accepted his son-in-law’s playful invitation to “bring his bag and stay overnight,” and now the time for it was past. In the spring his health gave way. Mrs. Clemens, who adored him, went to Elmira to be at his bedside. Three months of lingering illness brought the end. His death was a great blow to Mrs. Clemens, and the strain of watching had been very hard. Her own health, never robust, became poor. A girlhood friend, who came to cheer her with a visit, was taken down with typhoid fever. Another long period of anxiety and nursing ended with the young woman’s death in the Clemens home.

To Mark Twain and his wife it seemed that their bright days were over. The arrival of little Langdon Clemens, in November, brought happiness, but his delicate hold on life was so uncertain that the burden of anxiety grew.

Amid so many distractions Clemens found his work hard. His “Memoranda" department in the “Galaxy” must be filled and be bright and readable. His work at the office could not be neglected. Then, too, he had made a contract with Bliss for another book “Roughing It"–and he was trying to get started on that.

He began to chafe under the relentless demands of the magazine and newspaper. Finally he could stand it no longer. He sold his interest in the “Express,” at a loss, and gave up the “Memoranda.” In the closing number (April, 1871) he said:

“For the last eight months, with hardly an interval, I have had for my fellows and comrades, night and day, doctors and watchers of the sick! During these eight months death has taken two members of my home circle and malignantly threatened two others. All this I have experienced, yet all the time have been under contract to furnish humorous matter, once a month, for this magazine .... To be a pirate on a low salary and with no share of the profits in the business used to be my idea of an uncomfortable occupation, but I have other views now. To be a monthly humorist in a cheerless time is drearier.”


Preface  •  I. The Family of John Clemens  •  II. The New Home, and Uncle John Quarles’s Farm  •  IV. Education Out of School  •  V. Tom Sawyer and His Band  •  VI. Closing School-Days  •  VII. The Apprentice  •  VIII. Orion’s Paper  •  IX. The Open Road  •  X. A Wind of Chance  •  XI. The Long Way to the Amazon  •  XII. Renewing an Old Ambition  •  XIII. Learning the River  •  XIV. River Days  •  XV. The Wreck of the “Pennsylvania”  •  XVI. The Pilot  •  XVII. The End of Piloting  •  XVIII. The Soldier  •  XIX. The Pioneer  •  XX. The Miner  •  XXI. The Territorial Enterprise  •  XXII. “Mark Twain”  •  XXIII. Artemus Ward and Literary San Francisco  •  XXIV. The Discovery of “The Jumping Frog”  •  XXV. Hawaii and Anson Burlingame  •  XXVI. Mark Twain, Lecturer  •  XXVII. An Innocent Abroad, and Home Again  •  XXVIII. Olivia Langdon. Work on the “Innocents”  •  XXIX. The Visit to Elmira and Its Consequences  •  XXX. The New Book and a Wedding  •  XXXI. Mark Twain in Buffalo  •  XXXII. At Work on “Roughing It”  •  XXXIII. In England  •  XXXIV. A New Book and New English Triumphs  •  XXXV. Beginning “Tom Sawyer”  •  XXXVI. The New Home  •  XXXVII. “Old Times,” “Sketches,” And “Tom Sawyer”  •  XXXVIII. Home Pictures  •  XXXIX. Tramping Abroad  •  XL. “The Prince and the Pauper”  •  XLI. General Grant at Hartford  •  XLII. Many Investments  •  XLIII. Back to the River, With Bixby  •  XLIV. A Reading-Tour With Cable  •  XLV. “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”  •  XLVI. Publisher to General Grant  •  XLVII. The High-Tide of Fortune  •  XLVIII. Business Difficulties. Pleasanter Things  •  XLIX. Kipling at Elmira. Elsie Leslie. The “Yankee”  •  L. The Machine. Good-By to Hartford. “Joan” Is Begun  •  LI. The Failure of Webster & Co. Around the World. Sorrow  •  LII. European Economies  •  LIII. Mark Twain Pays His Debts  •  LIV. Return After Exile  •  LV. A Prophet At Home  •  LVI. Honored by Missouri  •  LVII. The Close of a Beautiful Life  •  LVIII. Mark Twain at Seventy  •  LIX. Mark Twain Arranges for His Biography  •  LX. Working With Mark Twain  •  LXI. Dictations at Dublin, N. H.  •  LXII. A New Era of Billiards  •  LXIII. Living With Mark Twain  •  LXIV. A Degree From Oxford  •  LXV. The Removal to Redding  •  LXVI. Life at Stormfield  •  LXVII. The Death of Jean  •  LXVIII. Days in Bermuda  •  LXIX. The Return to Redding  •  LXX. The Close of a Great Life

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The boys' life of Mark Twain: The story of a man who made the world laugh and love him
By Albert Bigelow Paine
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