CORRECTING MY ERROR: "Oh Good Grief," to quote Charlie Brown: Friday was
the last business day of the month, but not the last day of it. So here's a
In 1863, 152 years ago, January 31 fell on a Saturday, just as it does
this year (2015). That makes today the 152nd anniversary, both in date and
day of the week, since the first known occasion on which Sam Clemens signed
a letter "Mark Twain."
He sent the letter up to Virginia City from Carson City on the Stage,
arriving there Sunday morning. The Territorial Enterprise typesetters and
printers did not work on Sundays, so there was no Monday morning paper. The
letter appeared in the Tuesday, Feb. 3, issue.*
To make up for my date error, I'll add something about that letter,
although it is not a happy thing: In it, Twain wrote: "Horace Smith, Esq., is
also very fond of mirrors. He came and looked in the glass for an hour, with
me. Finally, it cracked - the night was pretty cold - and Horace Smith's
reflection was split right down the centre. But where his face had been, the
damage was greatest - a hundred cracks converged from his reflected nose,
like spokes from the hub of a wagon wheel."
Superstition holds that breaking a mirror brings bad luck, but Twain could
never have known what ill fortune was to follow for Horace: That summer
his rooming house burned, than a couple of months later his law office
burned, then in November he was shot in a "discussion" over a legal fee. In
December, Horace Smith died of the bullet wound.
*the date of publication is inferred, no copies of the Feb. 3 or 4
Enterprise are known to exist, only the clipping, in Twain's scrapbook. The
letter itself is dated January 31 in type.