TWAIN-L Archives

Mark Twain Forum


Options: Use Forum View

Use Monospaced Font
Show Text Part by Default
Show All Mail Headers

Message: [<< First] [< Prev] [Next >] [Last >>]
Topic: [<< First] [< Prev] [Next >] [Last >>]
Author: [<< First] [< Prev] [Next >] [Last >>]

Print Reply
"KEVIN J. BOCHYNSKI" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 2 Nov 1993 18:23:18 -0500
text/plain (77 lines)
 Mark Twain's Autobiography
 Additional Notes
 Susy's Biography Continued.

     From Susy's Biography

     Mamma was the daughter of Mr. Jervis Langdon, (I don't know whether
Grandpa had a middle name or not) and Mrs. Olivia Lewis Langdon, of Elmira,
New York.  She had one brother and one sister, Uncle Charlie (Charles J.
Langdon) and Aunt Susie (Susan Langdon Crane).  Mamma loved Grandpa more
than any one else in the world.  He was her idol and she his; I think
mamma's love for grandpa must have very much resembled my love for mamma.
Grandpa was a great and good man and we all think of him with respect and
love. Mamma was an invalid when she was young, and had to give up study a
long time.
          She became an invalid at sixteen, through a partial paralysis
caused by falling on the ice, and she was never strong again while her life
lasted. After that fall she was not able to leave her bed during two years,
nor was she able to lie in any position except upon her back.  All the
great physicians were brought to Elmira, one after another, during that
time, but there was no helpful result.  In those days both worlds were well
acquainted with the name of Doctor Newton, a man who was regarded in both
worlds as a quack.  He moved through the land in state; in magnificence,
like a portent; like a circus.  Notice of his coming was spread upon
the dead walls in vast colored posters, along with his formidable portrait,
several weeks beforehand.
          One day Andrew Langdon, a relative of the Langdon family, came to
the house and said: "You have tried everybody else; now try Doctor Newton,
the quack.  He is downtown at the Rathbun House, practicing upon
the well-to-do at war prices and upon the poor for nothing.  I saw him wave
his hands over Jake Brown's head and take his crutches away from him and
send him about his business as good as new.  I saw him do the like
with some other cripples. They may have been 'temporaries' instituted for
advertising purposes, and not genuine.  But Jake is genuine.  Send for
          Newton came.  He found the young girl upon her back.  Over her
was suspended a tackle from the ceiling.  It had been there a long time,
but unused.  It was put there in the hope that by its steady motion she
might be lifted to a sitting posture, at intervals, for rest.  But it
proved a failure. Any attempt to raise her brought nausea and exhaustion,
and had to be relinquished.  Newton opened the windows - long darkened -
and delivered a short fervent prayer; then he put an arm behind her
shoulders and said, "Now we will sit up,
my child."
          The family were alarmed and tried to stop him, but he was not
disturbed, and raised her up.  She sat several minutes, without nausea or
discomfort. Then Newton said, "Now we will walk a few steps, my child."
He took her out of bed and supported her while she walked several steps;
then he said: "I have reached the limit of my art.  She is not cured.  It
is not likely that she will ever be cured.  She will never be able to walk
far, but after a little daily practice she will be able to walk one or two
hundred yards, and she can depend on being able to do that for the rest of
her life."
          His charge was fifteen hundred dollars, and it was easily worth a
hundred thousand.  For from the day that she was eighteen until she was
fifty-six she was always able to walk a couple of hundred yards without
stopping to rest; and more than once I saw her walk a quarter of a mile
without serious fatigue.
          Newton was mobbed in Dublin, in London, and in other places.  He
was rather frequently mobbed in Europe and in America, but never by the
grateful Langdons and Clemenses.  I met Newton once, in after years,
and asked him what his secret was.  He said he didn't know, but thought
perhaps some subtle form of electricity proceeded from his body and wrought
the cures.

See related article:

>From A REFERENCE GUIDE by Thomas A. Tenney:

ASPIZ, HAROLD.  "Mark Twain and 'Doctor' Newton," AMERICAN LITERATURE, XLIV
(March), 130-36.
     On James Rogers Newton, the faith doctor who successfully treated
Olivia Langdon (future wife of MT) for a partial paralysis.  Abstract in
AES, XVIII (1974-1975), 1904.  Abstract by Aspiz in ALA, V (June), 182; in
MLA Abstracts (1972), 8745.