To Mrs. Jane Clemens and family, in St. Louis:
LOCKPORT, N. Y. Feb. 27, 1868. DEAR FOLKS,--I enclose $20 for Ma. I thought I was getting ahead of her little assessments of $35 a month, but find I am falling behind with her instead, and have let her go without money. Well, I did not mean to do it. But you see when people have been getting ready for months in a quiet way to get married, they are bound to grow stingy, and go to saving up money against that awful day when it is sure to be needed. I am particularly anxious to place myself in a position where I can carry on my married life in good shape on my own hook, because I have paddled my own canoe so long that I could not be satisfied now to let anybody help me--and my proposed father-in-law is naturally so liberal that it would be just like him to want to give us a start in life. But I don't want it that way. I can start myself. I don't want any help. I can run this institution without any outside assistance, and I shall have a wife who will stand by me like a soldier through thick and thin, and never complain. She is only a little body, but she hasn't her peer in Christendom. I gave her only a plain gold engagement ring, when fashion imperatively demands a two-hundred dollar diamond one, and told her it was typical of her future lot--namely, that she would have to flourish on substantials rather than luxuries. (But you see I know the girl--she don't care anything about luxuries.) She is a splendid girl. She spends no money but her usual year's allowance, and she spends nearly every cent of that on other people. She will be a good sensible little wife, without any airs about her. I don't make intercession for her beforehand and ask you to love her, for there isn't any use in that--you couldn't help it if you were to try.
I warn you that whoever comes within the fatal influence of her beautiful nature is her willing slave for evermore. I take my affidavit on that statement. Her father and mother and brother embrace and pet her constantly, precisely as if she were a sweetheart, instead of a blood relation. She has unlimited power over her father, and yet she never uses it except to make him help people who stand in need of help....
But if I get fairly started on the subject of my bride, I never shall get through--and so I will quit right here. I went to Elmira a little over a week ago, and staid four days and then had to go to New York on business.
No further letters have been preserved until June, when he is in Elmira and with his fiancee reading final proofs on the new book. They were having an idyllic good time, of course, but it was a useful time, too, for Olivia Langdon had a keen and refined literary instinct, and the Innocents Abroad, as well as Mark Twain's other books, are better to-day for her influence.
It has been stated that Mark Twain loved the lecture platform, but from his letters we see that even at this early date, when he was at the height of his first great vogue as a public entertainer, he had no love for platform life. Undoubtedly he rejoiced in the brief periods when he was actually before his audience and could play upon it with his master touch, but the dreary intermissions of travel and broken sleep were too heavy a price to pay.
To Mrs. Jane Clemens and family, in St. Louis
ELMIRA, June 4. (1868) DEAR FOLKS,-- Livy sends you her love and loving good wishes, and I send you mine. The last 3 chapters of the book came tonight--we shall read it in the morning and then thank goodness, we are done.