Continuing the sub-series on Mark Twain (1835-1910), author of Extracts from Adam’s Diary…
Twain married Olivia Langdon in February 1870. He always said he fell in love with her at first sight.
In a letter to her of September 8, 1869 he wrote:
“This 4th of February will be the mightiest day in the history of our lives, the holiest, & the most generous toward us both — for it makes of two fractional lives a whole; it gives to two purposeless lives a work, & doubles the strength of each whereby to perform it; it gives to two questioning natures a reason for living, & something to live for; it will give a new gladness to the sunshine, a new fragrance to the flowers, a new beauty to the earth, a new mystery to life; & Livy it will give a new revelation to love, a new depth to sorrow, a new impulse to worship. In that day the scales will fall from our eyes & we shall look upon a new world. Speed it!”
In 1868 Twain wrote a 9-page letter to Olivia’s father, Jervis Langdon, giving a list of character references and presenting his case that he would be an excellent husband. He wrote,
“I am not hurrying my love, it is my love hurrying me…As to what I am going to be, henceforth, it is a thing which must be proven & established. I am upon the right path – I shall succeed, I hope. Men as lost as I have found a Savior, & why not I?”
Olivia was a devout Christian, and Twain’s unregenerate character concerned her. Sadly, Twain apparently never found the Savior.
Twain’s letter to Olivia’s father is up for auction at Sotheby’s on June 17 if you would like to purchase it and read the entire letter for yourself. It’s expected to go for $30,000-$50,000. It’s from the collection of the late media executive James S. Copley. The entire collection of 200 Twain manuscripts, letters, and photographs is expected to auction for $1.2 million.
Sam and Livy Clemens enjoyed 34 good years of marriage till she died in 1904 after years of declining health. Olivia was the model for Eve in Extracts from Adam’s Diary.
Near the end of the book, Adam says, “After all these years, I see that I was mistaken about Eve in the beginning; it is better to live outside the Garden with her than inside it without her.” Most think Twain was talking about his wife when he put these words in Adam’s mouth. The words are representative of his relationship with her.
Twain lived in Buffalo, NY (near Niagara Falls, the supposed location of the Garden of Eden in Adam’s Diary) from 1869 to 1871 where he worked as an editor and writer for the Buffalo Express newspaper, before moving to Hartford, CT for 20 years.
The Clemens’ first child was a boy. Langdon died at 19 months of diphtheria. Three daughters followed in Hartford: Susy in 1872, Clara in 1874, and Jean in 1880. Only Clara survived her father, passing in 1862 at age 88. Susy and Jean died in their twenties without children. Clara had only a daughter who died without offspring, so there are no living direct descendants of Mark Twain and Olivia Clemens.
Susy’s death at 24 of spinal meningitis in 1896 was a huge blow for the Clemens. Twain described his favorite and eldest daughter:
“She was a magazine of feelings, & they were of all kinds & of all shades of force. In all things she was intense: in her this characteristic was not a mere glow, dispensing warmth, but a consuming fire.”
The next post, 12. Adam’s Diary – Mark Twain IV, will continue with Twain’s house that he built in Hartford, CT.
Read the prequels in this series on Adam’s Diary:
1. Adam’s Diary – A New Creature
2. Adam’s Diary – Naming the Animals
3. Adam’s Diary – Garden of Eden
4. Adam’s Diary – “We”
5. Adam’s Diary – Sunday
6. Adam’s Diary – Eve
7. Adam’s Diary – Niagara Falls
8. Adam’s Diary – Escape
9. Adam’s Diary – Mark Twain I
10. Adam’s Diary – Mark Twain II
Read the sequel:
12. Adam’s Diary – Mark Twain IV
©William T. Pelletier, Ph.D.
Monday May 3, 2010 A.D.
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge.
Fools despise wisdom and instruction.