The San Francisco Call/Mark Twain Called by Death

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Mark Twain Called by Death

The San Francisco Call, April 22, 1910; front page continued on page two. see Mark Twain. Digitised by the Library of Congress.


Tragic End of Daughter Jeane Has Fatal Effect on King of Humor


Samuel Langhorn Clemens Passes Away After Long Siege of Angina Pectoris


REDDING, Conn., April 21.

Samuel Langhorn Clemens ("Mark Twain") died painlessly at 6:30 tonight of angina pectoris. He lapsed into coma at 3 o'clock this aftennoon and never recovered consciousness. It was the end of a man worn out by grief and acute agony of body.

Yesterday was a bad day for the little knot of anxious watchers at the bedside. For long hours the gray, aquiline features lay molded in the ineritia (wikt:inertia?) of death, while the pulse sank steadily, but late at night Mark Twain passed from stupor in to the first naural sleep he had known since he returned from Bermuda, and this morning he woke refreshed, even faintly cheerful, and in full possession of his faculties.

Unequal to Conversation

He recognized his daughter, Clara (Mrs. Ossip Gabrilowitsch), spoke a rational word or two and, feeling himself unequal to conversation, wrote out in pencil:

"Give me my glasses."

These were his last words. Laying them aside, he sank first into reverie and later into final unconsciousness.

There was no thought at the time, however, that the end was so near. At 5 o'clock Dr. Robert Halsey, who had been continuously in attendance, said:

"Mr. Clemens is not as strong as he was at the corresponding hour yesterday, but he has wonderful vitality and he may rally again."

Albert Bigelow Paine, Mark Twain's biographer and literary executor, said to a caller who desired to inquire for Mr. Clemens:

"I think you will not have to call often again."

Mr. and Mrs. E. E. Loomis. who had come up from New York to give their love in person, left Stormfield, Mr. Clemens house, without seeing him and only heard of his death as they were taking the train to New York again. Mrs. Loomis was Mr. Clemens' favorite niece and Loomis is vice president of the Lackawanna railroad.

Oxygen Proves Useless

Similarly, Jarvls Langdon, a nephew, who had run up for the day, left wholly uninformed.

At the deathbed were only Mrs. Gabrilowitsch (Clara Clemens), her husband, Dr. Robert Halsey, Dr. Quintart, Albert Bigelow Paine and two trained nurses. Restoratives — digitalis, strychnine and camphor — were administered, but the patient failed to respond.

A tank of oxygen still stands, uncalled for, at Redding station. Oxygen was tried yesterday and the physicians explained it was of no value, because the valvular action of the heart was so disordered. There was only ar extreme and increasing debility, accompanied by labored respiration.

Angina pectoris is a paroxysmal affection of the chest, baffling and obscure of origin, characterized by severe pain, faintness and deep depression of spirit. The pain is severe and of an oppressive, crushing or stabbing character. The attacks increase in frequency and severity with uncertain intermissions, sometimes of long duration, to a fatal termination.

Had Anticipated End

Mark Twain did not die in anguish. Sedatives soothed his pain, but in his moments of consciousness the mental depression persisted. On the way up from Bermuda he said to Albert Bigelow Paine, who had been his constant companion in illness:

"This Is a bad job: we'll never pull through with it."

On shore once more and longing for the serenity of the New England hills, he took heart and said to those who noted bis enfeeblement:

"Give me a breath of Redding air once more and this will pass."

But it did not pass, and, tired of body and weary of spirit, the old warrior against shams and snobs said faintly to his nurses:

"Why do you fight to keep me alive? Two day of life are as good to me as four."

It is to be recalled that Mark Twain was for more than 50 years an inveterate smoker and the first conjecture of the layman would be that he had weakened his heart by overindulgence in tobacco. Doctor Halsey said tonight that he was unable to predicate that the angina pectoris from which Mark Twain died was in any way a sequel to nicotine poisoning. Some constitutions, he said, seem immune to the effect of tobacco. This was one of them.

Longed for a Smoke

Yet it is true that since his illness began the doctors had cut down Mark Twain's daily allowance of 20 cigars and countless pipes to four cigars a day.

No privation was a greater sorrow to him. He tried to smoke on the steamer while returning from Bermuda, and only gave it up because he was too feeble to draw on his pipe. On his deathbed, when he had passed the point of speech and it was no longer certain his ideas were lucid, he would make the motion of waving a cigar and smilingly expel the air from under the mustache still stained with smoke.

Where Mark Twain chose to spend his declining years was the first outpost of Methodism in New England and it was among the hills of Redding that General Putnam of Revolutionary fame mustered his sparse ranks. Putnam park now incloses the memory of his camp.

Mark Twain first heard of it at the dinner given him on his seventieth birthday when a fellow guest who lived there mentioned its beauties and added that there was a vacant house adjoining his own.

"I think you may buy that old house for me," Mark Twain said.
Loved a Good Listener

Sherwood Place was the delectable name of that old house, and where it stood Mark Twain reared the white walls of the Italian villa he first named Innocents at Home, but a first experience of what a New England winter storm can be in its whitest fury quickly caused him to christen it anew Stormfieid.

In this retreat the innocent at home loved to wander in his white flannels for gossip with his neighbors. They remember him best as one who, above all things, loved a good listener, for Mark was a mighty talker, stored with fairy tales for the little maids he adored, and ruddier speech for more stalwart, masculine ears. It is a legend that he was vastly proud of his famous mop of white hair, and used to spend the pains of a court lady in getting it to just the proper stage of artistic disarray.


Last summer the walks began to falter: last fall they ceased for good. The death of H. H. Rogers, a close friend, was a severe blow. The death of his daughter, Jeane, who was seized with an attack of epilepsy last fall while in her bath, was another blow from which he never recovered. It was then that the stabbing pains in the heart began. Mark Twain died, as truly as it can be said of any man, of a broken heart.

The last bit of literary work he did was a chapter of his unfinished autobiography describing his daughter Jeanes death. He sought diversion in Bermuda, where he was the guest of the American vice consul, William H. Allen, whose young daughter, Helen, acted as amanuensis for what few letters he cared to dictate.

The burial will be in the family plot at Elmira, N. Y., where lie already his wife, his two daughters, Susan and Jeane, and his infant son, Langhorn. No date has yet been set, as the family is still undecided whether there shall be a public funeral in this city.

Twain on the Pacific Coast

Mark Twain's life work began on the Pacific coast, and the fact that he could write was discovered and first recognized by Joseph T. Goodman, now of Alameda. who in the early sixties was owner and editor of the Territorial Enterprise at Virginia City.

When the civil war broke out Clemens lost his job as a pilot on the Mississippi river and joined the confederate army. His military career lasted two weeks and he then came out to Nevada with his elder brother, Orion, who had been appointee secretary of the new territory of Nevada. The speedily reconstructed younger Clemens had the position of private secretary to the secretary "with nothing to do and no salary."' After a few months he took to the silver mines, but had little luck.

In the latter part of 1861 he wrote his first article for the Territorial Enterprise. It was a burlesque on a lecture by Chief Justice George Turner in Carbon City. Turner was a man noted for his egotism, and the burlesque by Clemens was printed in the Enterprise under the heading, "Lecture by Mr. Per sonal Pronoun."

In the spring of 1862 Clemens went to Esmeralda, and from that camp wrote four news letters to the Enterprise that were printed over the signature "Josh." Many a search has been made for those articles, but it is not likely that they ever will be found. There is not a file of the Enterprise of that day extant. The last one known was in the San Francisco free library and was burned four years ago.

In the fall of 1862 Goodman gave him a place as reporter on the Enterprise, and there he worked with the late Dan de Quille, the other member of the "local staff" until the summer of 1864, when he came to San Francisco and found a place as reporter on The Call. In this city he wrote a few news articles for the Enterprise and he and Goodman remained warm personal friends through all the years.

The routine work of a reporter in San Francisco was not congenial to Twain and in the fall of 1864 he left the paper. His closest friend and roommate here was Steve Gillis, a printer who had set type in the Enterprise office, and who came "down to the bay" just before Twain did. When the latter quitted The Call he went up to Jackass Hill in Tuolumne county, where Steve Gillis had two brothers, "Jim" and "Billy" Gillis, who were engaged in pocket mining. Twain lived with them and another miner named Jacob R. Stoker four months, but he could not become interested in mining. He did, however, in that short time pick up a wealth of material which he afterward put into books, and Stoker was the original of Dick Baker in "Roughing It."

One rainy day he heard the outline of "The Jumping Frog' in a barroom at Angels Camp across the Stanislaus river, the next day he wrote the story, and that was the solid foundation of his fame and fortune.

"Jim" Gillis is dead, but Steve still lives on the summit of Jackass hill. In I87O Mark Twain wrote from Elmira, N. Y., to "Jim" Gillis, inviting them all to his wedding, and he concluded his letter:

I remember that old night just as well. And somewhere among my relics I have your remembrance stored away. It makes my heart ache yet to call to mind some of those days. Still, it shouldn't, for right in the depths of their poverty and their pocket hunting vagabondage lay the germ of my coming good fortune. You remember the one gleam of jollity that shot across our dismal sojourn in the rain and wind of Angels Camp. I mean that day we sat around the tavern stove and heard that chap tell about the frog and how they tilled him with shot. And you remember how we quoted from the yam and laughed over it there on the hillside while you and dear old Stoker panned and washed. I jotted the story down in my notebook that day and would have been glad to get $10 or $15 for it — I was that blind. But then, we were so hard up.
I published that story and it became widely known in America, India, China, England; and the reputation it made for me has paid me thousands of dollars since. Four or five months ago I bought into that Express and went heavily in debt — never could have dared to do that, Jim, if we hadn't heard the jumping frog story that day. Truly your friend,

The next year Twain went to the Hawaiian islands for the Sacramento Union and from that time on his history and successes are, very well known. More has been written of him and his work than of any other contemporary American. He evolved from a jokesmith into one of the greatest literary figures of his. time. Such discerning critics as Andrew Lang and Ambrose Bierce have called him the foremost man of American letters. It was a long leap from "The Jumping Frog of Calaveras" to "Joan of Arc," but Mark Twain was more than humorist and wit — he was a profound philosopher with the vision of a prophet.