<%@LANGUAGE="JAVASCRIPT" CODEPAGE="65001"%> Letter from Mark Twain to Rev. J. H. Twichell - Jan. 5, 1874
Mark Twain Letters

Letter from Mark Twain to Rev. J. H. Twichell

LONDON, Jan. 5, 1874.

Mark Twain J. H. Twichell

MY DEAR OLD JOE,—I knew you would be likely to graduate into an ass if I came away; and so you have—if you have stopped smoking. However, I have a strong faith that it is not too late, yet, and that the judiciously managed influence of a bad example will fetch you back again.

I wish you had written me some news—Livy tells me precious little. She mainly writes to hurry me home and to tell me how much she respects me: but she's generally pretty slow on news. I had a letter from her along with yours, today, but she didn't tell me the book is out. However, it's all right. I hope to be home 20 days from today, and then I'll see her, and that will make up for a whole year's dearth of news. I am right down grateful that she is looking strong and "lovelier than ever." I only wish I could see her look her level best, once—I think it would be a vision.

I have just spent a good part of this day browsing through the Royal Academy Exhibition of Landseer's paintings. They fill four or five great salons, and must number a good many hundreds. This is the only opportunity ever to see them, because the finest of them belong to the queen and she keeps them in her private apartments. Ah, they're wonderfully beautiful! There are such rich moonlights and dusks in "The Challenge" and "The Combat;" and in that long flight of birds across a lake in the subdued flush of sunset (or sunrise—for no man can ever tell tother from which in a picture, except it has the filmy morning mist breathing itself up from the water). And there is such a grave analytical profundity in the faces of "The Connoisseurs;" and such pathos in the picture of the fawn suckling its dead mother, on a snowy waste, with only the blood in the footprints to hint that she is not asleep. And the way he makes animals absolute flesh and blood—insomuch that if the room were darkened ever so little and a motionless living animal placed beside a painted one, no man could tell which was which.

I interrupted myself here, to drop a line to Shirley Brooks and suggest a cartoon for Punch. It was this. In one of the Academy salons (in the suite where these pictures are), a fine bust of Landseer stands on a pedestal in the centre of the room. I suggest that some of Landseer's best known animals be represented as having come down out of their frames in the moonlight and grouped themselves about the bust in mourning attitudes.

Well, old man, I am powerful glad to hear from you and shall be powerful glad to see you and Harmony. I am not going to the provinces because I cannot get halls that are large enough. I always felt cramped in Hanover Square Rooms, but I find that everybody here speaks with awe and respect of that prodigious place, and wonder that I could fill it so long.

I am hoping to be back in 20 days, but I have so much to go home to and enjoy with a jubilant joy, that it seems hardly possible that it can ever come to pass in so uncertain a world as this.

I have read the novel—[The Gilded Age]—here, and I like it. I have made no inquiries about it, though. My interest in a book ceases with the printing of it.

With a world of love,
SAML.

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